Sequim family agrees to call off search for missing plane
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The state Department of Transportation's Aviation Emergency Services division decided Monday to end the search after failing to find any clue to the whereabouts of the white and yellow Glasair, a single-engine kit-built aircraft flown by Edward Jeffko, 72, of Tonasket, said a division spokeswoman.
“If there is any other information, we will reopen the case,” said Nisha Marvel, the spokeswoman.
Jeffko is the father of James Jeffko, 47, and grandfather of Joe Jeffko, 23, co-owners of Fresh Mix Grill-Mart in Sequim.
The younger Jeffkos closed their deli last week to join in the ground search in the rugged North Cascades.
Jeffko's family was involved in the decision to suspend the search, said Tom Peterson, search coordinator.
Jeffko took off alone in the home-built aircraft at 6:30 a.m. July 23 from Tonasket Municipal Airport in north-central Washington, but he never arrived in Sequim, where he had been planning to visit family members.
The Civil Air Patrol used at least 10 aircraft during a six-day air search but has exhausted available resources, Marvel said.
Search crews have flown more than 200 hours, she said.
Aviation Emergency Services coordinated the search from a base at Pangborn Memorial Airport in Wenatchee.
Searchers from Transportation, the Civil Air Patrol and Washington Air Search and Rescue were assisted by the Department of Natural Resources, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County firefighters and the Red Cross.
The overall search area included likely routes between Tonasket and Sequim, including the North Cascades, Winthrop, Stevens Pass and Stampede Pass and areas over Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Civil Air Patrol aircraft have flown the entire distance between the two airports several times, Peterson said.
The search area covered 18,000 square miles, and the plane could have ended up in a space of about 10 feet by 12 feet, he said, adding that no emergency beacon signal was located.
“Some of the area is heavily forested,” Peterson said.
Anyone who may have seen something that may have been Jeffko's plane is urged to phone the Department of Transportation's aviation hotline at 360-410-7757.
Peterson said the hotline will no longer be staffed live, but messages will be checked twice each day.
There was no flight plan filed at the airport from where Jeffko took off.
Authorities have said there was some concern that a storm system in the area Monday caused the experienced pilot to take a different course to avoid it.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: July 30. 2012 6:07PM