Coast Guard leads search for missing Big Island glider

HONOLULU — The U.S. Coast Guard, Hawaii County Fire Department, Civil Air Patrol and Good Samaritans are searching with air assets today for a missing man who was last seen Friday piloting a glider plane near the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island.

According to friends and witnesses, Dave Bigelo was piloting his glider plane near Mauna Kea in an effort to set a high altitude record and was scheduled to land at Waimea-Kohala Airport after the flight yesterday afternoon.

The glider was airborne mid-morning, but Bigelo has not been heard from since approximately 2 p.m. Friday. The glider was reported missing to the Coast Guard several hours later.

At first light today, a C-130 search plane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point was launched from Oahu and arrived on scene near Mauna Kea at 7:45 a.m.

The Coast Guard is concentrating search efforts in the areas of the intended flight path and areas around the plane’s last reported position — near the two peaks of the Big Island.

This morning, Coast Guard pilots reported good visibility at altitude and near the peaks of the mountains, but poor visibility at lower elevations.

No sign of Bigelo or his missing glider has been reported. The Coast Guard urges anyone with information to call its Honolulu Joint Rescue Coordination Center at 808-535-3333.

“We are in close coordination with Hawaii County rescuers and we urge anyone with information to call and help us focus the search,” said Lt. Danielle Renoud. “Weather is a factor right now but we are hopeful conditions will continue to improve.”

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