Boy scouts led investigators to missing plane

The Missouri Wing Civil Air Patrol is looking for a single engine Piper Cherokee PA28 similar to this one.
The Missouri Wing Civil Air Patrol is looking for a single engine Piper Cherokee PA28 similar to this one.
The Civil Air Patrol looked for the missing twin engine plane Monday.
The Civil Air Patrol looked for the missing twin engine plane Monday.
Lyle Fettig (Source: Peggy Fettig Dorzok)
Lyle Fettig (Source: Peggy Fettig Dorzok)
Kim Reneau with her husband (Source:
Kim Reneau with her husband (Source:

IRONTON, MO (KFVS) - Investigators now say a group of boy scouts actually helped lead them to the missing plane's crash site.

A troop was camping near the crash site on Sunday and told authorities they heard a low flying aircraft.

After searching for five days, local authorities found the missing plane that went down last Sunday.

Lt.. Colonel David Miller of the Civil Air Patrol confirms there were no survivors.

According to Madison County Coroner Chris Follis the following people were on the plane: Pilot Lyle Fettig, 61, Violet Badagliacco, 52 and Eun Young Reneau, 55, all of Wisconsin.

Miller says an air crew first spotted the debris in a field eight miles southeast of Ironton, Mo. in Madison County around 5 p.m. Friday.

Then, at 11:45 p.m. Friday, the Madison County Sheriff's Department found the wreckage and verified there were no survivors. But Miller says they don't know if the three passengers died on impact.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.

The Civil Air Patrol began their search Monday morning after radar lost the Piper Lance early Sunday morning near Doniphan, Mo. The plane was traveling from Arkansas to Wisconsin.

The search included more than 50 Civil Air Patrol personnel and seven CAP aircraft covering more than 5,100 square miles.

Inclement weather, rough terrain, and no emergency locator transmitter signal heard made the search difficult for crews.

Pilot Lyle Fettig's sister, Peggy (Fettig) Dorzok has released a statement about her brother.

"It's hard to know what to say.  It's a shock and feels unreal.  Lyle was the 2nd oldest of 13 children so you can imagine the scope of our grief," said Dorzok.  "He had so many friends and family waiting and praying for good news.  Both of our parents are deceased and in a way I'm relieved they weren't here to go through this.  He will be so missed!"

Friday's search

The Civil Air Patrol searched for the fifth day Friday.

The search moved northwards into St. Francois and Iron counties after further evaluation of radar tracings, discussion with the U.S. Air Force, and reports of possible low flying aircraft.

The Missouri Wing Group II of the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary was activated by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center to help search for a plane flying from Arkansas to Wisconsin.

Searchers originally believed the plane was a Piper Navajo PA31, a twin engine, low wing aircraft but late Monday night the Civil Air Patrol said the plane was actually a Piper Cherokee PA28 which is a single engine plane.

Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett says the plane left Florida bound for Wisconsin.  He says it disappeared from the radar around the Fairdealing and Naylor areas on Sunday.

The Civil Air Patrol and some local sheriff's departments aided in the search.  No volunteers were needed Friday.

The mission base for the search was also moved from Malden Airport in Malden to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield overnight Thursday.

Two aircraft launched Friday morning with more to join later in the day.  Ground teams were also searching.

Improved weather Friday allowed four aircraft to search more than 1,400 square miles in Iron, Madison, and St. Francois Counties. The aircraft available were from the Fulton, Lebanon, Malden, and St. Louis areas.

Ground teams and local law enforcement remained on standby to assist in the follow-up of any leads seen by the aircraft or reported by possible witnesses.

"With the clear sky and the lack of leaves on the trees, we've been able to conduct effective searches throughout the day," Capt. Michael Schaefer, mission public information officer and aircrew member who flew earlier in the week, said on Friday.

After four days of searching, 50 Missouri Wing personnel and five CAP aircraft have been involved in the search.  They've logged more than 1,5000 man-hours and more than 65 flight-hours covering more than 3,7000 square miles.

While official search operations have been directed to the north, volunteer crews in rural Ripley County were on a mission of their own.

Members of the K Highway Volunteer Fire Department conducted a ground search.

"We will continue to search until the airplane is found or the people are found," said Chad Haywood.

Thursday's search

Search efforts on Thursday by members of the Missouri Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, winded down for the day in face of worsening weather with forecasted rain and high winds.

A total of four aircraft (from Malden, St. Louis, and Warrensburg) with supporting ground teams searched an area greater than 700 square miles Thursday without success.

Concerned family members assisted the search.

Tim Fettig questioned whether his brother Lyle flew in the direction that searchers were looking originally.

He says there were storms in the area near Corning, Arkansas and that would have changed his flight plan.

"I have flown with him," said Tim Fettig Thursday.  "He has many hours, thousands of hours of experience and there was weather there at the time and he would have headed west, northwest cause the weather was heading east so he's a went west to go around it."

Fettig also says the plane that his brother was flying in is tan and he hoped that information helped searchers.

He also wanted to thank everyone who is helping in the search for his brother.

The concentrated search area Thursday included more northern areas near Farmington, Missouri, in St. Francois County.

Three aircraft and one ground team searched Thursday morning.  Fog delayed the launch of the aircraft Thursday.  Crews are expanding the search to include the Farmington area.

Wednesday's search

"It's a challenge, we generally go over what's called a grid pattern," said 1st Lt. Michael Foppe. "They'll fly back and forth. Then they'll even go over that again because we figure we'll bank that aircraft, you know, there's blind spots in that so you go over it the opposite direction again, you may see something that you miss so go back over a grid a second or sometimes even a third time."

At least one local pilot told Heartland News Wednesday he was frustrated with the search.

"Nobody has said anything about what color the airplane is so we don't know whether we're looking for a white one a blue one red one or what in order to identify it whether you're identifying it from the ground or the air either one," said Thomas Reddish. "Somewhere along the line we need to really know what we're looking for in order to try and pinpoint the particular aircraft.  This is the shame because we have three people and being a pilot, a licensed pilot for all the years that I have, I put myself in their position and I'm thinking well, what would somebody be trying to do for me if I was out there crashed somewhere with an airplane."  The pilot's brother says the airplane is tan in color.

The Civil Air Patrol searched in a concentrated effort Wednesday in the search for a missing single engine airplane in Ripley and Butler counties.

Tuesday's search

The Civil Air Patrol called off its search for a missing plane in the Doniphan and Poplar Bluff areas Tuesday due to weather conditions.  One CAP aircraft from St. Louis and one ground team from Rolla were able to search Tuesday morning until weather canceled the rest of the day's planned search.

Four aircraft from Branson, Malden, and the St. Louis area and three ground teams from Lebanon and Rolla areas are planned to search on Wednesday.  The ground crews are on standby.

Crews are focusing around the highest priority sites based on radar tracking and interviews with possible witnesses.  They are also expanding the search to include Arkansas and Iron County.

An airplane headed to Eau Claire is still missing, and an Eau Claire family is on its way to help in the search.

According to WQOW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the family of a woman named Kim Reneau said she was supposed to return home Sunday.

WQOW reports Reneau is a well-known businesswoman in the area. WQOW News 18 spoke with her daughter Tuesday who said family members left for Missouri Tuesday afternoon because they, "Couldn't just sit here and mourn, and rely on strangers."

The heavily wooded hills with limited road access have proved to be difficult terrain for the all-volunteer CAP members.

Monday's search

Monday night, members of the Civil Air Patrol searched for the missing airplane in Ripley and Butler counties but had to stop when it became too dark.

CAP aircraft based out of Malden and Chesterfield searched most of the day Monday.

Crews thought they found something Monday but it turned out to be a dump site.

Lt. Col. David Miller, the public information officer with the Civil Air Patrol in Missouri, says the rescue team did a detailed grid search starting where the plane lost contact and searched outward. After searching more than 1600 square miles on Monday, crews continued their search Tuesday around the Doniphan and Poplar Bluff area before weather forced crews to stop.

Four CAP aircraft from Fulton, Malden, and St. Louis and four ground teams from Branson, Ft. Leonard Wood, Lebanon, and St. Louis areas searched more than 1,600 square miles without success Monday.

Officials believe a man and a woman are on the plane.  Authorities are checking cell phone records, but no names have been released.

Barnett says he does not believe the two are from the Heartland.  Although there are reports the two stopped in Corning, Ark.

Chief Air Traffic Controller Larry Davis out of the Cape Girardeau Airport explains that just because the plane vanished off radar doesn't necessarily mean it crashed.

"Radar coverage in that area goes down to about 1,900 feet," said Davis. "It would be possible for a pilot to descend below an overcast in order to stay in visual conditions and then continue along his route or turn towards a direction where he thought the weather was better."

Anyone with information about the missing plane, no matter how seemingly insignificant including sounds of a possible aircraft in trouble, is asked to call the CAP Mission Information Officer at 314-623-0831.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.