Thursday, February 23, 2012

Searchers can’t find possible downed plane in Forward, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth resident Kerri Bradshaw was driving along Williamsport Road toward the borough when she saw a small, low-flying airplane.

"I was coming around the bend when I saw it about 100 feet above the tree line," Bradshaw said. "It was shaking in the wind."

Bradshaw, who was one of several area residents who reported seeing the plane, called 911 after she lost sight of the craft at about 2:21 p.m. on Wednesday.

According to Bradshaw's description, the plane appeared to be traveling in a north-westerly direction toward the Monongahela River.

"Then I didn't see it anywhere," she said.

Firefighters from Forward Township, Elizabeth Township and Elizabeth responded and undertook an extensive search of the woods and fields in the area. A LifeFlight helicopter also was dispatched to conduct an aerial search from Donora to the Elizabeth Bridge.

No plane was found and the search ended around 4:30 p.m.

Authorities took Bradshaw's sighting seriously because several other people in the area also saw the airplane, which they described as white with a red stripe. One of the firefighters at the scene said he saw such a plane from Route 51. Two children living in the area also reported seeing the low-flying plane to their parents.

Forward Township Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Steve Pierce said area airports were contacted about the missing aircraft. He said there was a report from Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin that a plane fitting the description of the sighted plane had landed there, but its flight log indicated that it had not been flying in the Forward Township area.

Forward Township police Officer-in-Charge Robert Curdie said a lot of small aircraft don't file flight plans before taking to the air.

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