Search for Missing Forestry Pilot Continues

MENA, AR -- The search for a pilot missing since Friday afternoon is continuing in Western Arkansas.

Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot, Jake Harrell, failed to check-in with AFC Central Dispatch yesterday after 1:11 p.m. Jake was flying a regularly scheduled detection flight from Malvern to points throughout west Arkansas.

His last known location was Oden, with supposed intent of traveling toward Wickes.

Harrell is 34-years-old and is a seasoned pilot with the AFC, since 2005. 

He had flown many times on the very route that he traveled yesterday.

He currently flies as a part-time pilot with the AFC and works full time with the North Little Rock Police Department.

He also serves with the Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing.

Ground crews include two and three-person teams searching gridded locations in Montgomery and Polk Counties.

Crews are searching by foot and four-wheelers.

Chainsaw crews and dozers are on standby.

Two Civil Air Patrol planes and a National Guard helicopter are assisting with search efforts from the air.

Law enforcement and other crews are searching the Ouachita National Forest by air and on the ground.

Saturday morning fog is making the air search difficult.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot failed to check in with AFC Central Dispatch yesterday after 1:11 p.m.

The Incident Command Center at Mena is organizing search efforts, which will be ongoing through the day.

Ground crews and aircraft will begin search routes by following the path the missing pilot is thought to have been following during his usual detection flight path – closest in proximity to Oden and Wickes.

Search efforts were also ongoing through the night.

The Incident Command structure in Mena is a Unified Command team with the following partners involved: Arkansas Forestry Commission, Polk and Montgomery County Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk and Montgomery County, and the Civil Air Patrol.

“We are using every resource available to locate the whereabouts of our missing pilot.

We will focus today on the areas closest to his last known location and possible spots west and south of that point.

Thank you to everyone sending prayers and support,” said AFC Investigator and scene Incident Commander, Billy Black.

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