Liferaft Determined to be from missing plane

MIAMI – Coast Guard crews continue to search Sunday for Harris Sullivan and his missing aircraft following the discovery of a life raft believed to be from his plane.

A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., located an orange life raft Saturday night approximately 15 miles southwest of the aircraft’s last-know position. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and an HU-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami were launched to investigate. Initial assessments of the life raft found no markings that would corroborate it to Sullivan or his aircraft.

On Sunday, an Air Force C-130, from the 39th Rescue Squadron and two Air Force HH-60 helicopters, from the 301st Rescue Squadron, all from Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral, Fla., arrived on scene at 11:30 a.m. to help with the search. An Air Force HH-60 helicopter hoisted the raft and passed it to the Coast Guard Cutter Forward. Closer examination by the Forward’s crew revealed information that indicates the raft is indeed from Sullivan’s missing aircraft.

Radio and radar contact was lost with Sullivan, 68, of Port Richie, Fla., (previously reported as being from Port St. Lucie, Fla.) Saturday, when he is believed to have been 50 miles northwest of Nassau, Bahamas. The Federal Aviation Administration notified Coast Guard search-and-rescue coordinators in Miami at about 11 a.m. who immediately launched numerous assets to search. Sullivan was en route to Palm Beach Airport, in West Palm Beach, Fla., from Nassau International Airport.

A Coast Guard C-130 from Air Station Clearwater and an HU-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami conducted first-light searches Sunday before being joined by the Air Force aircrews.

The Coast Guard Cutter Forward, a 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter homeported in Portsmouth, Va., has been conducting searches on the ocean’s surface since Saturday evening.

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