Steamboat Springs Rescue crews are moving their search for a downed aircraft from north of Hayden to Rabbit Ears Pass and have confirmed that at least one of its two passengers is from Routt County.
As of Sunday evening, search crews had yet to locate the missing Cessna and its two passengers, a father and son with local ties.
The two men, whose identities have not been released, left Yampa Valley Regional Airport shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday morning, headed for Fort Collins. The son flew from Durango, and picked up his father in Hayden, but the pair and their plane never made it to the Front Range, Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale said.
Search crews took to the air over Rabbit Ears Pass, in the Harrison Creek and Morrison Creek area, where the plane last made radar contact. Planes from Civil Air Patrol were searching the area along with a helicopter with heat-sensing capabilities from Three Forks Ranch in Savery, Wyo.
"We've got a helicopter in the air, and until the helicopter finds something for us to act on, we're standing by," said Routt County Search and Rescue President Darrel Levingston.
Civil Air Patrol began a search at about 11 a.m., after the plane did not reach its destination. Civil Air Patrol called for help from ground crews at about 3 p.m., when Routt County Search and Rescue initiated its search north of Hayden, between Wolf Mountain and Pilot Knob. Ground and air crews searched for several hours at that location until rescuers learned they were following the wrong radar path after reaching the missing mens' family.
Levingston said the missing plane flew due east from YVRA and lost radar contact over Rabbit Ears. Rescue crews have been talking with family members during the search, which was likely to last into the night Sunday and possibly continue for several days.
"When CAP can't fly anymore, we'll be calling the Army," Levingston said, referring to military personnel at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Laramie County, Wyo. The base has aircraft with night-vision capability.
Vale said the plane, which is white, could be difficult to spot from the air.
"The problem is, we've got white-capped mountains and a white plane," he said.