Two on board missing airplane are BYU-Idaho students

Two on board missing airplane are BYU-Idaho students
Photo via Facebook.

McCALL, Idaho (KBOI) -- Two of the five people on a missing airplane in Valley County are BYU-Idaho students out of Rexburg in eastern Idaho.

Emergency crews are looking for the plane with five people on board. It's believed to have crashed near a remote wilderness airstrip near the small town of Yellow Pine in central Idaho.

A BYU-Idaho spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Amber Smith of San Jose, Calif., and her fiancee, Jonathan Norton of Sun Prairie, Wis., were in the missing single-engine Beech Bonanza.

The couple is engaged and according to Smith's Facebook page, they are expected to marry Jan. 4.

The plane was piloted by Dale Smith who is known to friends and neighbors near his Mindy Way home in San Jose as an experienced pilot, a devout Mormon and a father of five.

The Valley County Sheriff's Office says rescue crews and the Idaho Army National Guard are assisting in the search. The single engine Beech Bonanza was flying from Baker City, Ore., to Butte, Mont., when the pilot reported an engine failure near the Johnson Creek airstrip south of Yellowpine at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The plane hasn't been seen since, although officials said Tuesday that an emergency locator transmitter signal was picked up about one mile south of the airstrip late Tuesday morning by one of the search aircraft.

Search and rescue personnel are attempting to hone in on that signal, however the search has been suspended Tuesday due to darkness.

About 40 search personnel will continue the search Wednesday morning.

"We have significant resources dedicated to this search effort," said Lt. Dan Smith, incident commander.  "We are hopeful that the break in the weather will allow us to locate the missing aircraft."

An Army Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopter repeatedly attempted to fly into the area of the last known contact, about a mile east of Johnson Creek airstrip. Each time, however, the helicopter was turned back by poor weather.

Stay tuned for details.