Search crews locate plane that vanished while coming in for landing in N.C. Sunday night

Search crews locate plane that vanished while coming in for landing in N.C. Sunday night
Emergency vehicles responded to Umstead Park after a plane went missing in the area (Source: CBS 17)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - The plane that disappeared from radar while approaching RDU airport on Sunday night has been located by search crews, RDU confirmed.

Authorities said that a distress signal was sent and that a plane disappeared from radar near RDU Sunday night. A search for the aircraft got underway shortly after.

The incident involved a single-engine plane and closed the airport for nearly an hour, according to Raleigh police and RDU officials.

The incident began around 7:25 p.m. when a small plane approaching the airport from the east was lost on radar near Umstead Park, according to a news release from RDU.

Raleigh police said a distress signal was sent.

CBS 17 journalists on scene Sunday night saw search and rescue crews — including ambulances — along Ebenezer Church Road, which is a boundary for Umstead State Park.

The RDU statement, released at 8:31 p.m. on Sunday, said that the airport had since reopened.

Crystal Feldman, RDU spokeswoman, said that the airport had to be closed because airport fire units initially responded to the missing plane. Once the fire units returned, the airport reopened, which officials said was only 20 minutes later.

RDU officials said that the search was suspended around 2 a.m. Monday and then resumed at daylight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement to CBS 17 on Monday that they “issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT) for a Piper PA-32 aircraft after air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight as it was approaching Runway 32 at Raleigh Durham International Airport at 7:40 p.m., [Sunday].”

A dozen local and state partners searched for the plane on the ground and from the air, RDU officials said.

A release said North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter “[was searching] for a heat signature from the ground, a signal typical of an aircraft crash landing.”

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