'No traces': Two weeks after plane disappears in Washington, search ends for missing pilot

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Officials are calling off the search for a pilot after an extensive two-week effort produced no trace of the missing Washington man or his plane, authorities announced Monday.

Rod Collen, of Tacoma, and his 2006 Cessna Turbo T182 Skylane disappeared off radar March 6 a few minutes after he took off from the Tacoma Narrows Airport at 5:35 p.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

There has been no sign of him since, the agency said.

Collen’s daughter, Audrey Collen, said in a Facebook post that her dad “left behind his phone, work laptop, and flight bag and did not tell anyone where he was going.”

“This is not the outcome searchers and the many partners had hoped for and our thoughts are with both the family and everyone who worked to try and locate the aircraft,” WSDOT said in a statement. “The family has been kept informed of search activities and has been briefed about this decision.”

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A volunteer search aircraft  helps the Washington State Department of Transportation look for Rod Collen in the forests of Queets, Washington.
A volunteer search aircraft helps the Washington State Department of Transportation look for Rod Collen in the forests of Queets, Washington.

Radar forensics specialists determined that the aircraft made a rapid descent toward the ground within a 36-square mile section of forest near Queets and Lake Quinault, roughly a two and half hour drive west of Seattle, officials said.

Flight paths published by officials showed search planes covered substantial portions of the search area. Officials were still asking the public to report any leads to the state emergency operations center by calling 800-258-5990.

The number on the plane’s tail is N24289, officials said.

Despite the call-off of the search by state officials, Collen’s family continued to organize volunteers to continue its own search efforts.

“I've been praying so hard every day that he comes back soon so I can give him a big hug,” Audrey Collen wrote in a Facebook post on March 13. “I love him so much. He's the coolest dad ever. I'm not ready to let him go.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Search for missing Tacoma, Washington pilot called off