- Associated Press - Sunday, February 2, 2014

The search for a missing Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot and airplane was set to resume Monday following a winter storm that hampered Sunday’s search efforts, a commission spokeswoman sad.

“We’re frustrated. We’re mad at the weather, we’re just mad,” spokeswoman Adriane Barnes said Sunday. “We were not able to get in the air today. We were able to search all through the night last night and into this morning,” but had found no sign of pilot Jake Harrell, 34, and the Cessna 210 single-engine plane he was flying.

The search for Harrell, who is also a North Little Rock police officer and member of the Arkansas National Guard, began Friday afternoon after he failed to communicate as scheduled with the commission while surveying the area for possible wildfires. The search is north of Harrell’s suspected flight path from Oden to Wickes, based on information from Harrell’s cellphone provider on what is believed to be his last transmission.

“We are doing our best to speculate about which direction Jake may have taken the plane on Friday, if his visibility was becoming difficult. We are hopeful that by narrowing search efforts to this area, that we may have a good chance of locating him,” said Billy Black, a Forestry Commission investigator.

Barnes said searchers are hoping that Harrell, a sergeant in the Arkansas National Guard’s 188th Fighter Wing, has somehow managed to survive despite the conditions.

“He does have training in survival skills, so we are also hopeful because of that type of background and because it did not get below freezing until today, so Jake is more equipped to survive in this sort of weather than another pilot might be,” Barnes said. “It is a tiny bit of hope.”

Barnes said a National Guard helicopter is on standby near Mena in case the weather clears enough to provide a window for an aerial search

“We really do have a nice 100 mile circle” to search, Barnes said, noting that the search area has been narrowed from the original three-county search in the rugged mountains of the Ouachita National Forest.

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