• Mother of child on board Jacksonville-area missing plane speaks out on social media

    By: Action News Jax


    UPDATE: Officials say no one survived after a small plane from the Jacksonville area crashed in the Great Smoky Mountains.

    Crews were searching for Hunter Starling, 8, his father David Starling and his girlfriend Kim Smith.

    They were on board a small aircraft that was reported missing Tuesday in Tennessee.

    PHOTOS: 3 people from Jacksonville onboard missing plane

    Hunter's mom asked for prayers for the three of them on Facebook. 

    "Please pray for my baby. He is missing and his dad and girlfriend also! Please pray..." she wrote.

    Smith has one son, who is helping search for his mother and the Starlings, friends told Action News Jax.

    Smith's friends said held a prayer vigil Tuesday night at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.

    The Federal Aviation Administrations said it issued an Alert Notice Monday night advising public safety agencies and the U. S. National Park Service that the Cessna-182 aircraft was about 15 miles south-southeast of Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.

    Jacksonville plane missing near Great Smoky Mountains

    The National Park Service confirmed its search for the missing plane in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    The flight was headed to Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport from the Jacksonville area, FAA said. The plane is registered to David Starling, according to the FAA registry.

    The FAA issued the search alert when a concerned family member notified the agency that the flight didn't arrive as expected. 

    The National Park Service released a statement saying the single-engine plane probably went down somewhere in the ridges southwest of Mount LeConte Lodge on Dec. 26.

    Civil Air patrol conducted an aerial search Monday, but had no success.

    The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was able to use information from McGhee Tyson Airport tower radar and the plane’s emergency locator transmitter to determine a specific area where the plane is most likely located, the National Park Service said in the statement.  

    The flight had originated out of Florida and was bound for the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.

    The AFRCC has reported that the plane was in conversations with air traffic controllers at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, but there is no additional information on these conversations at this time. Information on passengers on board has not been confirmed.

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