SOUTHEASTERN NC (WECT) – The search for Luke Parker's single-engine plane started more than 24 hours after it crashed, according to accounts from local emergency management and federal aviation officials.
The plane departed Ellis Airport in Jacksonville early Sunday morning en route to Detroit. It crashed, likely 15 or 20 minutes later, in a heavily wooded area about two miles from the Kenansville airport, Reid Sutherland, Duplin County emergency management coordinator, told WITN.
Sutherland said the deceased pilot was found inside his downed plane, which had broken apart in the crash. He said there was no sign of a fire.
Parker did not file a flight plan or receive air-traffic control service, according to Kathleen Bergen of the FAA. She said it's routine for pilots to fly in clear weather without submitting a flight plan.
The official search for Parker's aircraft started when his family reported that the plane did not reach its destination, Bergen said.
Shortly after 1 p.m., the FAA notified the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which coordinates on-land federal search-and-rescue activities, according to Master Sgt. Jerry Harlan of the AFRCC.
The AFRCC contacted North Carolina Emergency Management, which coordinated search efforts with the county emergency management offices.
Pender County crews searched the area of Crooked Run Road near Penderlea starting about 2 p.m. after a distress signal was detected in the area.
The search then shifted to Duplin County after a more accurate transmission was picked up near Kenansville, where the plane was found around 10 p.m.