Pilot searching for firefighters lost at sea says this is some of the hardest flying he's done

Boaters never returned from fishing trip

Missing firefighters lost at sea: Searching from the sky

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax was over the Atlantic helping in the search for two missing firefighters. It can be hard to spot a piece of debris in the massive ocean.

A Jacksonville pilot, Joel Weaner, has volunteered hours of his time to help bring the two firefighters lost at sea home. He’s been looking for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker since Sunday.

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He told Action News Jax reporter Amber Krycka he’s never been in a search like this. He said this is some of the hardest flying he’s done. Weaner said whenever he sees a ripple or something shiny in the water, his heart skips a beat, and he goes to check it out.

“You get a real feeling of how vast the ocean is looking for something, and after about four hours, you have to rest your eyes. It’s pretty taxing. It’s some of the hardest flying I’ve ever done,” said Weaner.

Weaner said what’s really hard is thinking you found something and finding out it's nothing.


"My heart skipped a beat. You’re like, 'Oh, we found something,' and then when you get there, you realize it’s just some Styrofoam and/or insulation floating in the water. This morning, we had a bunch of weeds and trash, but it was just weeds,” Weaner said.


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