RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Searchers found what’s believed to be the wreckage Monday of a small plane that disappeared from radar the previous night while approaching a busy North Carolina airport, authorities said.
The disappearance of the single-engine plane near Raleigh-Durham International Airport prompted an intensive overnight search of a nearby state park and temporarily halted departures and landings of commercial flights at the airport.
Airport officials issued a statement Monday saying the wreckage was found but offered no other details about who may have been aboard the plane.
ORIGINAL STORY: Search for small plane missing near North Carolina airport
“According to incident command, ground crews have located what they believe to be the missing aircraft,” the statement said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said radar lost track of the Piper PA32 at about 7:25 p.m. Sunday as it approached Runway 32, the smallest of three landing strips and perpendicular to what the airport considers its primary runway. The FAA website said the single-engine plane typically has around six seats.
Rescuers from at least a dozen state and local agencies spent the night searching in and around William B. Umstead State Park, a 5,600-acre (2,260-hectare) wooded expanse bounded by an interstate, the airport and a state highway.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be leading the investigation of what caused the plane’s trouble, according to the FAA.
Airport spokesman Crystal Feldman said Sunday night that the dense woods and darkness hindered initial phases of the search that included helicopters scanning for signs of heat coming from the wreck. Firefighters and other rescuers were shown on news footage heading into the woods with flashlights late Sunday and early Monday.
On Monday morning, authorities began launching drones from an airport runway to fly over the state park to assist in the search.
Air operations were halted for about 20 minutes Sunday night as firefighting and rescue units rushed to the wooded area. That caused a number of commercial flights into the airport to be delayed or diverted until regular operations resumed.