Search for missing plane in Idaho winding down

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SALT LAKE CITY — Family and friends of the five passengers aboard a small private airplane missing in central Idaho said the search effort for the craft has mostly ended.

A few family members were still searching on the ground in Idaho, but Alan Dayton, the uncle of passenger Jonathon Norton, said family members feel they've done everything they can and wound down the effort Tuesday.

An official search by county, state and military rescue crews ended Friday, five days after air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft in a mountainous, remote area.

On Dec. 1, 51-year-old Dale Smith, a software executive from San Jose, Calif., was flying the single-engine Beech Bonanza from Eastern Oregon to Butte, Mont., when he reported engine trouble.

Smith's son and his wife, along with Smith's daughter and her fiancé, Norton, were on board.

"We will, eventually, find them," Dayton, of Salt Lake City, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "Until then, we will always have our memories of them. Nothing changes that."

Bad weather, terrain

Nadine Bird, a San Jose, Calif.-based friend of the Smith family who has created a website dedicated to the search, said a few members of the pilot's family continued a search in Idaho Tuesday afternoon.

The family has also hired a private plane to search the area, the Tribune reported.

Until Tuesday, family and friends had searched a rugged 9-square-mile area about 100 miles northeast of Boise.

Law enforcement officials cited the dangerous terrain and bad winter weather when they suspended their search last week.