Plane vanishes in thunderstorm over Kentucky. Massive search finds wreckage in woods

Photo from Michael Fortsch, UnSplash

An airplane carrying two people crashed during a thunderstorm over Kentucky, prompting a massive search effort, police said.

An air traffic control tower reported a possible crash near the Kentucky-Indiana border around 11 p.m. on Sept. 27, according to a news release from the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office.

The two people onboard — a pilot and a student pilot — were flying from Bowling Green to Owensboro, a 70-mile journey, when the control tower lost contact, police said.

“At the time of the suspected crash a severe thunderstorm had developed in the area,” police said.

A multi-agency search including officials from the Kentucky State Police and Ohio County Sheriff’s Office soon began.

Officials used flight path information, an aviation app and pings from the pilot’s phone in order to narrow their search, police said.

An airplane and several drones were also launched in order to scan the area from the sky.

Eventually, the search became focused around New Panther Creek Church, located on a rural road in Whitesville, Kentucky, about 20 miles outside of their destination of Owensboro, police said.

“We started finding a little bit of debris after a couple hours,” Ohio County Sheriff Adam Wright told McClatchy News. “First thing we found was a navigational map and some paperwork.”

The plane’s wreckage was located several hours after sunrise on Sept. 28, Wright said. It was found about 600 yards from the search team’s mobile command post.

The aircraft was a single-engine Piper PA-28, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Two bodies were recovered at the scene, Wright said. The names of the deceased are being withheld until their next of kin are notified.

Whitesville is about 100 miles southwest of Louisville.

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