BOISE -- The family of missing Silicon Valley executive Dale Smith will continue searching for the plane he was piloting that disappeared into the Idaho Wilderness over a month ago.
The search is set to resume on Monday, January 7 with the help of expert pilots and ground searchers. Social media and word-of-mouth communication is largely responsible for spreading the word.
Smith's family is also regularly updating a blog regarding the search.
Five people were aboard the Beech Bonanaza when it went missing on Sunday, December 1, near the Johnson Creek Airstrip south of Yellow Pine. Those aboard include pilot Dale Smith, his father Steve Smith, son Daniel Smith, daughter Amber Smith, daughter-in-law Sheree Smith, along with Amber Smith's fiancee Jonathon Norton.
SEARCH IS RENEWED
Dellon Smith, the brother of Dale Smith, is organizing the upcoming, 4-day, aerial search from January 7th to the 10th. He plans to base out of the McCall Airport.
"It's mostly going to be an air-based search," Dellon Smith told KTVB. "We are going to have some ground crews helping out."
Smith is a commercial cargo pilot in Alaska, and has a work schedule that allows him to dedicate time searching for his brother. While he admits the likelihood of finding survivors is low, Smith says giving up isn't an option.
"You've got to find closure," he told KTVB.
Smith said rescuers plan to use high-definition photos, satellite imagery, and other cues to search promising new spots for wreckage of the plane.
"The idea is to take those and to look at some of the different scenarios, routes of flight," Smith said. "When you find images that correspond with those scenarios, you want to check them out."
Dellon Smith said his brother likely fell victim to bad weather that came on very quickly the day the plane disappeared in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. He says Dale Smith was an experienced pilot who had flown in the area several times, but hadn't yet landed at the Johnson Creek Airstrip -- known as one of the most challenging in Idaho.
"He's done it several times, and he was always very interested in the Johnson Creek Airport, and he's wanted to fly there for a lot of years," Dellon Smith told KTVB.
A GROUND SEARCH IN ROUGH TERRAIN
Smith says he'd like to find 20 expert volunteers capable of safely navigating on top of the steep alpine ridges that surround the airport.
"What's going to be really important for this search coming up is to get those helicopters in there," Dellon said, adding that helicopters could drop the searchers on ridges to investigate potential crash sites.
Smith hopes to have four helicopters and four airplanes committed to the search next week.
"We believe we have two helicopters for now, but would like an additional two helicopters," Smith told KTVB.
He repeatedly told KTVB that safety will be of utmost importance, and encourages only highly- qualified folks to contact him and volunteer their services.
"We're talking experts in backcountry Idaho," Smith said.
Limited volunteer housing and a warming area is available at the airstrip. To contact Dellon Smith, call 907-360-7854.