Wednesday morning briefing meeting. (Photo: Arkansas Forestry Commission)
MENA, Ark. (Arkansas Forestry Commission) - More than 200 are involved today by land and air in bringing home missing AFC pilot, Jake Harrell.
Fifteen aircraft are committed: nine planes from the Civil Air Patrol, four AFC planes, a State Police Helicopter, and two National Guard helicopters. Some 75 hours alone were flown by aircraft on Monday, not including hours flown by the National Guard.
Ground crews include more searchers today and are organized in divisions as follows: Forestry officials from the AFC, US Forest Service, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Search parties with Polk County Sherriff's Office; and search parties with Montgomery County Sherriff's Office. An entire division is also devoted to Air Operations. Search routes are expanding south and further west of the already searched area, just south of Oden.
Visibility is not as clear as it was on Monday; however, it continues to improve. At this time, no precipitation is falling. Ground crews are directed to wear hardhats and cold weather gear, as most terrain today will be extremely difficult to access. Search routes are directly tied to several tips from local residents who possibly heard or saw Jake's plane on Friday afternoon. Every call has been returned, and every piece of information has been used to route efforts and compared against his last known cell phone frequency with a known area tower.
The Incident Command structure in Mena continues as a Unified Command effort with the following partners involved: statewide Arkansas Forestry Commission crews, U.S. Forest Service, Polk and Montgomery Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk, Montgomery, and Scott County, local volunteer fire departments, the Red Cross, and the National Weather Service.