Coast Guard Searching for Missing Pilot

NEW YORK–The U.S. Coast Guard is assisting the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) in searching for a 76 year-old man in a single-engine Piper aircraft after he was reported missing in heavy fog on Long Island, N.Y., about 6 p.m. Saturday.Ken Eaton Sr. was en route Gabreskiin Westhampton, N.Y. from Spadaro airport in East Moriches, N.Y., Saturday when Gabreski Airport officials instructed Eaton to contact FAA’s New York Approach due to heavy fog. New York Approach reportedly never heard from Eaton. New York SEMO authorities checked known airports in the area, however neither Eaton nor his airplane were located.

Authorities initially focused search efforts along a flight path from Gabreski to Spadaro airports over land. The Coast Guard launched an Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., HU-25 Falcon jet 6 p.m. Sunday and searched for any type of aircraft location transponder along the shores and waterways of Connecticut, Long Island, and Rhode Island.

A Civilian Air Patrol (CAP) radar check 9 p.m. Sunday revealed that Eaton was last known to be about eight miles southeast of Shinnecock, N.Y., and authorities refocused search efforts.

A Coast Guard Station Shinnecock 47-foot rescue boat crew and the New London, Conn., based cutter Chinook crew searched throughout the night Sunday. Coast Guard aircraft and vessels have searched 1,350 square miles through Sunday night.

“At first the AFRCC [Air Force Rescue Coordination Center] was unsure whether the aircraft went missing over land or water, but after they confirmed Eaton’s plane was last known to be over water we immediate sent Coast Guard assets to assist in the search,” said Lt. Engrid Elso, First Coast Guard District Command Center Search and Rescue Controller.

A Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod HU-25 Falcon jet, HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter, and a Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft will resume searching Monday morning for any sign of Eaton or his airplane.

The AFRCC is the United States’ inland search and rescue coordinator. It serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada. The AFRCC directly ties in to the Federal Aviation Administration’s alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. In addition to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations, which can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America.

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