Update: No body found in plane; officials suspend search until Friday morning
POSTED: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 8:07pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 8:17pm
JACKSONVILLE — Officials have suspended the search until Friday morning.
Anderson County DPS officials tell KETK there was no body found in the plane in Lake Palestine.
The Anderson County game warden tells KETK, crews are still searching the rest of the surrounding lake area, and won't know for certain that there is no body near the plane until it is removed from the lake on Friday.
DPS officials are reporting that the plane appears to be intact, and believe that it may have had a soft landing in the lake.
KETK crews are still on scene and will continue to update as the details come in.
Here is an interview with an Anderson County DPS Trooper early Thursday afternoon, just as crews were arriving on scene:
The FAA released the following statement concerning the Lake Palestine plane crash.
The airplane was a single-engine Varga MOR2. It was flying from Jacksonville, TX, to Frankston yesterday when it crashed into Lake Palestine under unknown circumstances. The search began after concerned family members reported that the aircraft was overdue, with one person on board.
FAA investigators are on their way to the site.
In a team effort the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), have found the missing aircraft, a Varga that was flying from Jacksonville, Texas to Frankston, Texas. The aircraft took off at approximately 5:40 pm Wednesday and failed to arrive at its intended destination. The aircraft was found off the Aero Estates Airport in Lake Palestine.
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Tyndall AFB, Florida requested Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to conduct aerial and ground searches Wednesday evening after the aircraft was reported overdue. CAP requested support from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as radar forensic reports narrowed the search to the Lake Palestine area. Both departments confirmed that the aircraft had been found by the lake patrol’s side scan sonar.
Information from Civil Air Patrol
A neighbor of the reportedly missing man, Fred Scholz, has provided the following picture to KETK.
It is the plane registered to Mr. Scholz, matching the description of the alleged missing plane (an orange Varga two seater). See the press release at the bottom of this story for a more detailed description of the plane.
Neighbors and close friends of the pilot's family tell KETK, the pilot's name is Fred Scholz. The family has been notified of the situation.
Friends of Mr. Scholz tell us, he is an 82-year old man from Iowa, with a part time residence in the Frankston area.
KETK crews on scene are reporting that recovery crews are searching the area near the Aero Estates Air Park.
KETK crews have just arrived on scene.
Texas Parks and Wildlife divers are preparing to launch into the water near the dam in the southern portion of Lake Palestine.
The missing plane has been found in Lake Palestine, according to airport officials. Divers are currently on the scene.
The plane is reportedly owned by a Frankston man, who would have been flying the plane on Wednesday evening. Family members believe he was travelling alone.
The Henderson County Game Warden found the plane early Thursday morning.
KETKNBC.com will bring you more information as it becomes available.
Texas Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), is searching for a low wing aircraft flying from Jacksonville, Texas to Frankston, Texas that has been reported overdue. The aircraft took off at approximately 5:40 pm Wednesday and failed to arrive at its intended destination. The pilot flying the single engine Varga, described as primarily orange in color had one passenger aboard. The Varga is a fixed gear, low wing, two seat aircraft with a plexi-glass cockpit cover. The wing span is 30’ and is 21 feet long. Picture of a similar aircraft attached.
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Tyndall AFB, Florida has requested Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to conduct aerial and ground searches. Any information that anyone could provide about the plane from Jacksonville to the Aero Estates area, around Lake Palestine from 5:40 pm to 7:00 pm would be appreciated. Please contact either Maj. Steve Hudson or the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department.
Information from: Maj. Sandra Smith, Public Information Officer, CAP
This is a picture of a plane of the same type as the one missing:
About the Civil Air Patrol:
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 54 lives in fiscal year 2011. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to nearly 27,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. CAP received the World Peace Prize in 2011 and has been performing missions for America for 70 years. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com or www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.