RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Authorities said that a distress signal was sent and that a plane vanished from radar near Raleigh-Durham International Airport Sunday night and that a search is underway for a missing plane.
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 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., said that the airport had reopened.
RDU officials asked people to avoid the area of Umstead State Park while the search and rescue is underway.
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.
“Search and rescue efforts are underway and will continue to be RDU’s top priority,” Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, said in a news release.
A dozen local and state partners are in the area searching for the plane on the ground and from the air, RDU officials said. A North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter “is searching for a heat signature from the ground, a signal typical of an aircraft crash landing,” the release said.
“Umstead State Park is 5,200 acres of dense forest, with few roads and little to no light,” said Landguth. “Recovery efforts are extremely challenging in remote areas and it could take a long time to find this
People are being asked to avoid the area around Umstead State Park while authorities conduct search and rescue operations.
The park is officially closed to the public on Monday, according to their website.