Search continues a week after pilot’s disappearance

LITTLE ROCK — The search for missing Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot Jake Harrell continued Friday, one week after Harrell disappeared while spotting wildfires in southwestern Arkansas.

The commission said helicopters and planes from the commission, the National Guard, the Arkansas State Police, the U.S. Forest Service and the Civil Air Patrol took part in the search Friday in the area between Oden and Wickes and had been requested for Saturday as well.

Ground crews also continued to search Friday, but it was unknown whether weather conditions would permit them to be deployed on Saturday, the commission said.

“Incident Command continues to appreciate everyone’s support and prayers; however, conditions are not suitable for volunteer crews at this time,” the commission said in a news release. “This is a safety decision assessed by risk management factors. An official announcement will be made should that change.”

Local residents are continuing to report possible plane sightings and all credible leads are being documented to aid in the search, the agency said.

Harrell, 34, took off Friday from Malvern in a single-engine Cessna to spot wildfires and was last heard from when he checked in with commission dispatchers at 1:11 p.m. that day. His last known location was Oden and he was believed to be headed from there to Wickes.

Harrell is a part-time pilot for the commission, a North Little Rock police officer and a member of Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith.