Data on the last radar location for a Piper Aztec plane that went missing Oct. 13 with Kirby Hodge in the pilot’s seat was used Friday to pinpoint where the craft went down, Government House spokesman Jean Greaux said.
“It uses coordinates,” Greaux said, though he did not know what those coordinates were.
Greaux said the coordinates were requested from the Federal Aviation Administration once it became apparent that the search, based on where the plane would have been when it last radioed the airport tower at eight miles out from St. Thomas, turned up nothing. The coordinate data was requested from the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida at mid-week and received on Thursday, Greaux said.
No trace of the plane, Hodge and two of the three passengers, Rachel Hamilton and Darwin Carr, has been found.
Searchers pulled the only survivor, Valerie Jackson Thompson, from the water about nine hours after the plane went down.
Hodge was on a routine newspaper delivery run between St. Croix and St. Thomas when the plane and passengers disappeared. Searchers discovered a bundle of Avis newspapers in the water Oct. 14, but since then no trace of the plane or missing passengers was found.
The last radio transmission to the tower at Cyril E. King Airport came at close to 5 a.m. The information was recorded because the tower was not operating at the early hour.
Although the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Monday, local search crews continued the recovery mission throughout the week. With the Planning and Natural Resources Department as the lead agency, the St. Thomas-based Sea Tow in addition to searchers from the V.I. Port Authority and the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management agency searched for the passengers and the aircraft.
Sea Tow owner Alan Wentworth, reached by phone Friday evening, said that he was asked by Planning Commissioner Alicia Barnes not to talk to the media.
Greaux said the mission will continue as long as it remains practical to do so. Searchers were expected to go out Saturday.