After a briefing about carefully planned routes through the area that missing pilot, Jake Harrell, may be located, dozens of crews are headed out to cover the air – with a full ceiling of air support above them. Crews and equipment are engaging a lengthy, thorough search of segments of the Ouachita National Forest in the area south of Oden. Meetings included an overview of carefully designed search routes by land and air and a detailed weather forecast. Officials are hopeful that with improved weather conditions and clear visibility, the day will be productive in locating missing AFC pilot, Jake Harrell.
AFC pilot Jake Harrell failed to check in after 1:11 p.m. Friday afternoon. Harrell was flying a regularly scheduled detection flight from Malvern to points throughout west Arkansas.
Harrell is 34-years old and is a seasoned pilot with the AFC, since 2005. He had flown many times on the very route that he traveled yesterday. He currently flies as a part-time pilot and works full-time with the North Little Rock Police Department. He also serves with the Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing.
Crews include equipped teams, familiar with the challenging terrain consistent throughout the Ouachitas, from the Arkansas Forestry Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and law enforcement from Montgomery and Polk County. At this point, crews do not need assistance from volunteers, but appreciate deeply the support and concern of so many. A very tight accountability system is in place to ensure the safety of search crews amid thick forested land, steep hills, and heavy underbrush. Much of the region is still also affected by ice storm damage, which has created many roads that are impassable for vehicles altogether.
The Incident Command structure in Mena continues as a Unified Command effort with the following partners involved: statewide Arkansas Forestry Commission crews, U.S. Forest Service, Polk and Montgomery Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk and Montgomery County, local volunteer fire departments, the National Weather Service, and the North Little Rock Police Department.