Plane search turns up nothing in Mercersburg

February 09, 2007|From staff reports

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Maryland and Pennsylvania State Police searched the area around Whitetail Resort near Mercersburg Thursday evening, but found no sign of an aircraft that a caller reported seeing burst into flames and crash into the mountains.

Pennsylvania State Police, fire engines and ambulances staged at Whitetail Resort, with a Maryland State Police helicopter landing and taking off from the resort's snow tubing area. The helicopter was seen searching in the area of Two Top and Blairs Valley Road, but was unable to spot anything, police said.

The 911 call came in at about 5:45 p.m. from an unknown person using a cell phone in Smithsburg, Cpl. Randy Kane of the Pennsylvania State Police said.

"The caller was having trouble pinpointing a location," Kane said. Smithsburg is about 30 miles from the ski resort.

The caller reported seeing fire coming from the plane, Kane said.

However, the infrared detection equipment on the helicopter was unable to pick up any heat signature that would have been left by wreckage, he said.


Authorities also were looking into a report that a plane experiencing engine trouble was in the area at about the same time, but landed safely at Hagers-town Airport, Kane said.

Hagerstown Regional Airport Manager Carolyn S. Motz said she was unaware of any planes reporting engine problems or having any difficulty with landings at the airport Thursday.

The Whitetail ski patrol also conducted a search in the area without results, Kane said. No other ground searches were conducted Thursday night, he said.

Kane said police checked with the Federal Aviation Administration and there were no reports of missing planes or distress calls from aircraft.

"We are going to put our helicopter up in the morning, just in case it was an aircraft that didn't have to file (a flight plan) with the FAA," Kane said.

Thursday's search was suspended at about 8 p.m., police said.

Staff writers Don Aines, Jennifer Fitch and Karen Hanna contributed to this story.

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