(RALEIGH, N.C.) — After hours of searching, authorities in North Carolina have found a small plane that vanished from radar near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Sunday night.
The privately-owned aircraft was found on the ground near a hiking trail in the William B. Umstead State Park, east of the airport. The state park remains closed to the public as authorities secure the scene and evaluate the site, according to a press release from the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.
The incident remains under investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board — which participates in the investigation of aviation accidents — has been notified.
Air traffic controllers with the Federal Aviation Administration alerted the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority on Sunday at around 7:30 p.m. local time that radar contact was lost with a Piper PA32 approaching the airport, according to a statement from the FAA. The single-engine aircraft typically has around six seats.
The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority was advised that the plane had disappeared in the vicinity of William B. Umstead State Park. More than a dozen local and state agencies were on the ground in the area and overhead in the air searching for the aircraft since then, according to a press release from the airport authority.
“Umstead State Park is 5,200 acres of dense forest, with few roads and little to no light,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Recovery efforts are extremely challenging in remote areas and it could take a long time to find this plane.”
Authorities asked members of the public to avoid the area around the state park while search and rescue efforts were underway.
The runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport was shut down immediately after the FAA alert, but then reopened and resumed normal operations later that evening. Commercial operations remained normal Monday, according to the airport authority.
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