A small plane bound for Orcas Island was found in Whatcom County wilderness, and two bodies were recovered.
A search crew has recovered two bodies from the wreckage from a small plane in Whatcom County.
The plane, which departed International Falls, Minn., on Saturday, was bound for Orcas Island, said Barbara LaBoe, a Washington Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
Shortly after 8:30 a.m., searchers spotted plane wreckage in wilderness near Twin Sisters Mountain in Whatcom County, about 10 miles east of the small town of Acme near the Mount Baker Highway, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said.
After reaching the craft later Wednesday, authorities found a registration number on the tail of the wreckage that matched the plane reported missing from Minnesota, Elfo said.
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Elfo declined to identify the plane’s occupants Wednesday afternoon. But a store owner in Kabetogama, Minn., told the International Falls Journal the occupants were a couple from Minnesota. The website of the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), a private firm that compiles safety and mishap statistics for the aviation-claims industry, provided a tail number for the plane that traces through FAA registration records to a 62-year-old pilot from Kabetogama.
The man, a married grandfather and licensed pilot since 2010, owned two small aircraft, records show. His social media accounts indicate he was self-employed as an aviation guide.
A daughter reached by telephone declined to comment on Wednesday.
The small aircraft dropped off radar sometime Saturday afternoon, LaBoe said — roughly two hours before the Beech A35 piloted by Leland Bowman from Montana disappeared from radar above the North Cascades about 3:21 p.m.
The occupants were on vacation and weren’t on a strict schedule, she said.
“They didn’t file a flight plan,” LaBoe said. “And you don’t have to for a small plane like that.”
When the plane hadn’t arrived at Orcas Island by Tuesday, family members tried unsuccessfully to contact the plane’s occupants and called local airports, LaBoe said. Relatives reported the plane missing Tuesday evening, she said. Authorities received no emergency transmissions from the plane before that, LaBoe added.
“We found out about it last night,” she said.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown would only say the crashed plane was a Piper PA-22, adding any further information about its occupants would need to come from local officials.
The website of the ASN said the plane “was destroyed and the two related occupants onboard received fatal injuries. Weather may have been a factor to the accident.”