Search still on for missing plane

Volunteers comb areas between Meeker and Craig

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— The Colorado Civil Air Patrol on Friday stepped up its search for a small plane that disappeared in rural Northwest Colorado, but still found no signs of the plane or the four Nevada men on board.

The Civil Air Patrol had 15 Cessna-128 airplanes searching east of Meeker and west of Kremmling. The airplanes flew out of a search base the Civil Air Patrol has established at Steamboat Springs Airport.

The plane, a blue-and-white Cherokee-180, was last seen Tuesday afternoon taking off from the airport at Meeker, where the plane had stopped to refuel.

On the plane were pilot Dan Filippe, Ross Jones and brothers Jon and Mark Peters. The four men from Reno, Nev., were trying to get to the Jefferson County Airport in time to attend Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals in Denver. The plane never arrived and the Civil Air Patrol began its search on Wednesday.

On Friday, 40 volunteers from across the state began searching at 6 a.m. and ended their flights in the early evening. The search is expected to resume this morning.

Along with the aerial searches, two ground teams combed areas between Meeker and Craig.

"There is a lot of country out there," said Col. Vic Hauser, who is helping coordinate the search of the rugged, mountainous area where officials believe the plane may have gone down. "We are methodically dividing up the area and searching every part of it."

Expected to join the search this morning are Civil Air Patrols from Utah and Wyoming, Hauser said. Those units will provide additional planes as well as volunteers.

Friday's efforts marked the second day in a row searchers concentrated on the rural land east of Meeker.

Civil Air Patrol officials believe the plane went down shortly after its 3:10 p.m. departure from Meeker because the plane never showed up on radar east of the small town, said Jim Alsum, a 32-year veteran who is commanding the search.

On Friday, aerial searches were concentrated on low-lying areas between the mountains, Hauser said.

"It is questionable whether he was able to out climb the terrain," he said. "We are looking in the breaks between the mountains."

Authorities speculate the men may have been in a hurry to get to the 6 p.m. game and the weather could have been a factor, along with Filippe's flying experience he had between 600 and 800 hours of flying time.

The four men, who are all in their early 40s, were making the trip after a friend in Denver was able to get tickets for them to the hockey game.

Jones and the Peters brothers all work as bartenders in Reno, and Filippe is a close friend of the three men.

The search was started by the Civil Air Patrol Wednesday after a family member reported the men missing. On that day, a 160-mile route between Meeker and Denver was searched.

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