COMOX, B.C. and LETHBRIDGE - It could take weeks to cover the area where a four- seat Piper Warrior from Lethbridge went missing, according to the Air Task Force Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bryn Elliot.
21- year old Alex Simons and 24- year old Sydney Robillard left Lethbridge in the single engine plane on June 8, bound for Kamloops, but never arrived. They were last seen at the Cranbrook airport for a refuelling.
Elliot says hundreds of military and civilian personnel are now searching the flight path Simons filed just before leaving Cranbrook. He says Excel flight school in Lethbridge, where Simons got his pilots license, also trained him in mountain flying and weather dangers, along with survival skills. However, Colonel Elliot says they've been told Simons was not instrument-rated, meaning he was flying only visually.
In the meantime, an incoming weather system could add additional challenges to the search for the small plane.
Capt. Dennis Power, a 19 Wing public affairs officer in Comox, says weather is closing in along sections of the massive search area which stretches across rugged and mountainous terrain from Cranbrook west to Kamloops.
Power says if poor conditions prevent an adequate search of one part of the grid, the 15 military and civilian planes in the air Thursday will be reassigned to search other areas.
Power says 70 people are actively engaged in efforts to find Simons and Robillard. He says another 60 people are working at search headquarters, investigating leads or doing other support work.
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