LITTLE ROCK — A crashed Arkansas Forestry Commission airplane and a body believed to be that of its pilot were located Tuesday in Montgomery County, the commission said.
Jake Harrell, 34, was spotting wildfires on Jan. 31 when he failed to check in with a dispatcher, prompting a search that was hindered by inclement weather and often poor visibility. On Tuesday, the sunniest day since the search began, a Civil Air Patrol plane spotted the single-engine Cessna on the ground near Glenwood, Forestry Commission spokeswoman Adriane Barnes said.
A National Guard member was lowered from a National Guard plane and confirmed the presence of a body, Barnes said. She said a ground crew hoped to recover the body Tuesday night.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
“We will never forget what kind of example he set in terms of the citizen that he was, the husband that he was, the daddy that he was,” Barnes said. “We really have no words for how distraught the entire commission is.”
Harrell had been a part-time pilot for the commission since 2005. He also was a North Little Rock police officer and a member of Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith.