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Thu, May 31, 2012

Search Ongoing For Missing Pilot In Oregon

Plane's Last Known Location Was Near Plush, OR

The family of a missing Idaho pilot had not given up hope he'd be found as searchers fanned out Tuesday across 4,000 square miles of mountains, forest and high desert to find a plane they believe went down in Southern Oregon.

Tony Nicholls, 48, of Meridian, Idaho, dropped off his two stepsons in Lakeview on Thursday and was to return home that day because his daughter was graduating from high school over the weekend. Amy Nicholls told the Idaho Statesman Tuesday that her husband is a marathon runner with a high pain tolerance and called him "the toughest man I've ever met in my life."

Officials in Klamath County, OR, have said radar and cellphone records indicate the last known location for the 1978 Grumman Cheetah aircraft (similar airplane pictured in file photo) was near Hart Lake in the area of Plush, OR. Authorities say the search area reaches into Nevada and California. Sheriff Tim Evinger of Klamath County, the search spokesman said searchers had identified high-priority spots from cell phone and flight tracking data, but it's still a "needle in a haystack" search.

Besides rough terrain, there are stands of Ponderosa pine 100 feet tall that could conceal an aircraft on the ground. There's also been snowfall, and the plane is mostly white.

FMI: www.isp.idaho.gov

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