STUART, Fla. – Air and ground crews of the Florida Wing of Civil Air Patrol, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Martin County and St. Lucie County sheriff’s offices, are continuing their search efforts this morning to locate the pilot of an aircraft who failed to arrive at his intended destination Friday evening.
Air searches on Monday will concentrate on the possibility the aircraft crashed in the Gulf of Mexico or was ditched offshore and will be timed to take advantage of the local low tide, CAP officials explained.
The aircraft departed Florida Keys Marathon Airport, bound for Vero Beach Municipal Airport. After the aircraft was reported overdue, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center notified Civil Air Patrol to begin a search.
On Saturday, a backpack containing personal items and an identification card belonging to the pilot was discovered by a local resident along the beach in Stuart. No distress signals were received from the pilot or from the on-board distress beacon.
The pilot was identified as Andrei Postelnicu, a citizen of the United Kingdom. Postelnicu rented the plane, a Piper PA-28 Cherokee, from a local company and was returning to Vero Beach after a trip to the Florida Keys.
Anyone who discovers debris or items belonging to the pilot is asked to leave those items in place and to contact the Martin County Sheriff’s Office at 772-220-7171.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide. It performs about 85% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited with saving an average of 71 lives annually. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP has been performing missions for America since 1941.