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Search continues for missing plane near Petersburg

October 5, 2011
The Inter-Mountain

PETERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - Teams searching for a small plane that went missing focused Tuesday on a rugged mountainous area along the West Virginia-Virginia border.

The Piper PA-32 Saratoga was flying to Johnstown, Pa., when air-traffic controllers lost contact with it around 8:45 p.m. Sunday. The fixed-wing plane's last known position was 12 miles south of the Grant County Airport in Petersburg, the Civil Air Patrol's West Virginia Wing said Tuesday in a news release.

Three people were believed to be on board the airplane. The Civil Air Patrol on Tuesday identified the pilot as Michael Garrone of the Pittsburgh area.

Charles Armitage told the Valley News Dispatch that one of the people on board was his son, 52-year-old Chas Armitage Jr., the president of Uncle Charley's Sausage in Parks Township, Pa.

He told the newspaper the third person was his son's girlfriend.

He didn't provide her name.

Mike Rembold of General Aviation in Danville, Va., told the Danville Register & Bee that the flight originated in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Rembold said the plane stopped at Danville Regional Airport to drop off the pilot's wife before heading to Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, more than 100 people searched an area of rugged terrain south of Moorefield. Cloud cover prevented an aircraft search.

The searchers included six Civil Air Patrol ground teams from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, area fire departments and families and friends of the plane's occupants, the Civil Air Patrol said.

"The family is appreciative of all the support from CAP, fire departments, family and friends searching. We're still optimistic, they're very resourceful determined people," said Kathy Garrone, Michael Garrone's wife.

Arlene Salac, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, said the plane is registered to a corporation, Wings R Us Inc. of Leechburg, Pa., but directory assistance had no listing for a company by that name.



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