Family of missing pilot holds out hope

Family of missing pilot holds out hope »Play Video
A volunteer search plane is seen during the search for a missing Cessna on Thursday, May 24, 2007.
PUYALLUP, Wash. - Dozens of volunteer pilots resumed their search Thursday morning for a single-engine plane missing in the Chinook Pass area.

The state Aviation Division says the pilot is the only person aboard the Cessna 177B that dropped off radar Tuesday near Chinook Pass.

The missing pilot was identified by family members as 53-year-old George Trupp of Snoqualmie. His daughter said says Trupp has had his pilot's license for only six months.

George's son, Jim Trupp, said they don't know why he was in Idaho.

"Honestly, I hope he just got tired and found a clearing a put down and maybe just decided not to come back," he said.

Jim said that although his dad hasn't had his license for very long, he is an excellent pilot. He thinks his dad took his dog with him on the flight Tuesday.

"He should be fine and he's had a lot of survival training. He was in the Air Force," Jim said. "The only problem might be if like he's injured. I don't know what would happen if he got hurt."

Search and Rescue coordinator Tom Peterson said the pilot reported no problem, and there has been no signal from the plane's emergency locator.

Radar data from the Air Force showed the plane was last seen in the area of Chinook Pass west of Yakima at noon on Tuesday. The plane's elevation was last registered at 6,5000 feet, headed for 7,000-foot peaks.

"Here in the red we definitely know that's him," says Peterson as he points out markings on a map that show Trupp's flight path over Yakima and his communication with Yakima's Flight Approach.

The plane had been rented in Renton from Pro-Flight Aviation.

Volunteer aircraft from Washington Air Search and Rescue and the Civil Air Patrol are working out of Thun Field in Puyallup. Up to 10 planes were in the air Wednesday searching.

"It's very, very mountainous terrain, loaded with box canyons," said one of the search pilots. "Once you get in them you can't get out, it can be so windy the plane doesn't have enough power to climb out."

Teams of pilots worked five hours shifts searching. Several pilots they all ran into difficult wind conditions and tricky canyons.

"We just don't really know what happened," said Peterson. "We're trying to look at all aspects and possibilities and make sure we get him home as fast as we can."

The state Aviation Division also says King County's copter and ground teams from Yakima County Search and Rescue are taking part in the search for the missing plane.