Idaho National Guard crews help find missing plane near Donnelly

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - The Idaho National Guard had two helicopters searching for the missing plane near Donnelly.

Snowy conditions and high, steep terrain hampered search efforts. Friday marked the third day of the search, but the Idaho National Guard said their mission wasn't over once they found the wreckage.

The missing plane's Emergency Locator Transmitter guided search crews within a football field's distance of the plane.

Chief Warrant Officer Ted Clemens was the right seat pilot in command. He had been involved in the search since it began on Wednesday.

"I helped bring some of that continuity along," chief warrant officer Clemens said. "Where we were picking up signals, where we had searched before and where we hadn't. I was able to help bring this crew back to the same spot, where we were getting some ELT signals yesterday."

But finding the plane is just Step 1.

"We'll fly over it, get a wind check, make sure we have the grid location," Staff Sgt. Brian Shields said.

Then, crews have to get on the ground to assess the wreckage.

Because the plane was found on the side of a mountain, between 7,000-8,000 ft in the air, the guardsmen had to lower someone out of the helicopter.

Staff Sgt. Allen Colson serves as the crew chief.

"As the crew chief on the aircraft, I'm standing outside of the aircraft at all times, and basically telling the pilots which direction they need to move for me to successfully do the hoist," Sgt. Colson said.

The crew chief helps hoist the medic out of the plane. Staff Sgt. Rob Toronto fills that role. He's lowered out of the plane using a harness. Once he hits the ground, he's responsible for checking out the damage and looking for any survivors.

All three people on the plane were killed in the crash. The guardsmen said when that happens, it's a difficult discovery, but that they're glad they can bring closure for the families.