BOISE, Idaho — More search and rescue personnel joined a team on Wednesday scouring the central Idaho mountains for five people, including four family members, who were onboard a plane that disappeared three days ago.
The search resumed with seven aircraft, up from five, and at least 18 new members of a ground party looking for the Beech Bonanza piloted by Dale Smith, a 51-year-old software executive from San Jose, Calif., said Rob Feeley of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security.
Smith and the others on board had spent the holiday together.
"He's flown all over, taking doctors and dentists down to Mexico to help the underprivileged," said Rand Kriech, who co-founded a data storage company with Smith in 2007. "He's a very giving man … from a very giving family."
At least 50 people were involved in the search.
Smith departed Sunday from Baker City in eastern Oregon with four passengers bound for Butte, Mont. He reported engine trouble and sought coordinates for a landing strip near the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, about 150 miles northeast of Boise.
A faint emergency beacon has been detected but pinpointing it has been difficult because it may be bouncing off the steep mountains. Additionally, temperatures that dipped overnight to around zero degrees coupled with snow showers have further slowed the search in dense stands of trees that could hide wreckage.
"It's heavily forested, which makes it more difficult to spot things, either from the ground or the air," Feeley said, adding mostly blue sky early Wednesday made search crews optimistic they could make progress.
Smith, an executive and co-founder of San Jose-based SerialTek, obtained his pilot's license in 2005 and had a second-class medical certification, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
Authorities identified others on board the aircraft as Smith's son Daniel Smith and his wife, Sheree; Dale Smith's daughter, Amber Smith and her fiance Jonathon Norton.
The search includes five Civil Air Patrol planes and two helicopters from the Idaho National Guard. On the ground, a volunteer crew from Boise-based Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue planned to access the area with snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and on foot.