Coast Guard suspends search for missing pilot flying from Ketchikan to Port Angeles, Washington

Yelllow lines zigzgging over a body of water on a map
U.S. Coast Guard graphic shows a pattern flown by an aircraft searching for the missing plane. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Authorities called off Wednesday’s search for the pilot of a missing Cessna airplane that went down near Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula. The U.S. and Canadian coast guards helped scour more than 1,000 square miles for the small plane that had left Ketchikan the day before.

The Coast Guard said the aircraft was flying from Ketchikan to Port Angeles, Wash.

A man piloting the single-engine Cessna radioed for help around 4:40 p.m. local time Tuesday. He reported he was about five miles north of Port Angeles and could see boat traffic below.

“Right in the middle — I’m out here by — there’s a boat going by. There’s a tanker getting drug. I’m out in the middle. I’m going down now. I’m going into the water,” the man said.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said Wednesday that units were activated to search both from the air and water.

“We also received help from our Canadian partners up north, as well as a Naval Air Station helicopter from Whidbey Island,” Strohmaier said by phone.

He said Coast Guard vessels from both nations used infrared cameras and radar to search for the lost plane overnight Tuesday. But as dusk fell Wednesday, Strohmaier said the search was called off.

“It’s very unfortunate and tragic that we have not been able to find any parts of the plane or anything in regards to the missing man,” he said.

He added the search may resume if more information becomes available.

Authorities have not released the name of the missing pilot or the Cessna’s tail number. Strohmaier said authorities are in touch with the man’s family.