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Forestry officials: Search begins for missing pilot, plane

By ArkansasOnline

This article was published January 31, 2014 at 4:57 p.m.

An Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot has gone missing after, forestry officials say, the pilot failed to check in with dispatchers Friday afternoon.

Arkansas Forestry Commission spokesman Adriane Barnes told Arkansas Online that forestry officials are working with the U.S. forest service and 'local law enforcement' in locating the missing pilot and plane. "[We are in the] first stages of putting together a search team," she said. "We are doing absolutely everything we can."

Barnes declined to release the identity or last known location of the pilot.

The pilot was last heard by the commission's dispatch at 1:11 p.m., according to a statement from the commission. Pilots check in every 30 minutes as a standard safety procedure on all flights.

The plane was flying a "standard detection route" in west Arkansas, looking for possible wildfires in the area. Officials said the pilot failed to check in with the forestry commission's central dispatch in Malvern.

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