Wed, Jun 30, 2010
Four On Board The Aircraft Including Two Journalists
An airplane on a sightseeing trip to Glacier National Park has
apparently gone down and is missing, with no word on the four
people on board.
Sonny Kless of Missoula reportedly rented the Piper PA-28R for
the trip at Kalispell City Airport Sunday afternoon. Two reporters
for the Daily Inter Lake newspaper ... Melissa Weaver and Erika
Hoefer ... were also reportedly on board the plane. A second man,
who has not been named but who was reportedly also from Missoula,
was aboard as well.
Authorities were notified that the plane was missing Monday
morning when Weaver's roommate contacted the county sheriff because
Weaver had not returned or contacted her.
The Associated Press reports that the newspaper's publisher said
the two reporters were not working at the time the plane went
missing. "They were on their day off and just having fun," said
Rick Weaver, who is not related to Melissa Weaver.
Hoefer updated her Facebook page from the airplane shortly after
takeoff. "We're flying to the park and we're later going to a
barbecue," the message said. A spokeswoman for the park said there
was no indication that the airplane ever entered the park's
airspace. The last radio contact from Kless was with the tower at
Glacier Park International Airport about 1411 local time. He
reported that the plane was east of Kalispell, traveling north
about 40 minutes after takeoff.
There was also a report of a text message between Weaver's and
Hoefer's phones about an hour after the plane's last contact.
Authorities are working to retrieve that message.
The airplane is equipped with an ELT, but authorities said it is
"an old one," and Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said "you'd
have to fly almost directly over it to make contact."
The search area has been expanded to include Lake and Sanders
counties in Montana. Officials are also analyzing radar and cell
tower data in an effort to locate the plane and its occupants. The
CAP and CBP are also assisting in the SAR effort.
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