WSDOT calls off search for missing pilot

PORT ANGELES — The search for a small airplane that dropped off radar two weeks ago in the Queets area has been called off, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) posted Monday morning on its blog, wsdotblog.blogspot.com, that the Cessna T182 Turbo Skylane fell off radar a few minutes after it took off from Tacoma Narrows Airport in Gig Harbor on March 6.

The plane was piloted by Rod Collen of Tacoma.

Signals and military radars revealed the plane flew for 36 more minutes after its signal dropped, according to Thomas Peterson, coordinator for DOT’s Search and Rescue Team.

Neither the plane nor Collen have been located.

“This is not the outcome searchers and the many partners had hoped for and our thoughts are with both the family and everyone who worked to try and locate the aircraft,” the blog post stated. “The family has been kept informed of search activities and has been briefed about this decision.”

Absent any new leads or developments, no additional aerial searches are planned, DOT stated.

Collen, 53, had 15 years of flying experience and had flown to Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe and other places in the country in the airplane. Collen was a 1989 graduate of Orting High School in the Tacoma area.

Anyone who thinks they might have seen or heard the plane on March 6, or spotted anything in the area, is advised to call the State Emergency Operations Center at 800-258-5990. The plane’s tail number is N24289.

On March 18, two aircraft searched a 36-square-mile area 15 miles east of Queets and the Quinault Tribal Nation led a drone search. The area where the plane descended is on Quinault tribal land near Queets near the Jefferson and Grays Harbor county line.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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