Search to resume for small plane with 3 people on board, including Bellingham teen

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BELLINGHAM – A search will resume Monday morning for three people aboard an aircraft, who were expected to land in Lynden Saturday evening.

Leland and Sharon Bowman left their home in Montana in their Beech 35 airplane, with their 16 year old step-granddaughter Autumn Veatch. But they never made it to the Lynden airport, like expected. Volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol are now trying to figure out where the aircraft might be.

“That’s Omak, that’s last radar data,” says Major Ralph Black, as he points out the flight plan on a map.

Black says Veatch was using her cell phone during the flight, and there are pings from cell phone towers near Winthrop. So they’ve been sending search crews there, trying to pick up the aircraft’s emergency beacon. Unfortunately he says beacons only work if there’s line of sight.

“If it’s in a valley, behind a hill, under something, we can’t get the signal.”

So they’ve also had pilots flying at different altitudes, visually looking for the plane.

“An aircraft is a very small thing to see in a very large area. So we’re looking for glints of light, someone maybe flashing us with something, trying to get our attention.”

Black doesn’t know the experience level of the pilot, or how familiar he might have been with the terrain. He was on a visual flight plan yesterday, so he could have changed his route if weather conditions changed. Black says that makes it difficult to know exactly where to look, but he says he’s still hopeful that they’ll be able to find the plane and the people in it soon.

“We haven’t gone into any other different type of search mode other than lost aircraft type mode right now.”

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