JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Jackson County plane crash search and rescue operation began around 10:30 Monday. The plane took-off Monday afternoon at 12:22 p.m. from Gulfport headed to Summerville, South Carolina. Scheduled to land at 4:01 p.m., that plane never arrived to its destination.
"We're keeping our thoughts and prayers with the family of those meeting currently searching for survivors," said Captain Brandon Lechthaler with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Contact with the single engine Cessna plane lost just four minutes and seven seconds after take-off. Records indicating the Houston Center Tower loses radar with the aircraft.
Authorities confirm the three men on board that flight are passengers Dexter Brewer and Gerald Miletello along with the pilot Ron Gregory.
Around 10:30 Monday night the Coast Guard begins a search of the plane's last known location three and a half miles south of Pascagoula.
"We were notified yesterday evening, launched immediately. We've launched additional assets and boats from Pascagoula. We are currently actively searching and will continue to search for survivors. And we've launched an additional fixed wing asset and additional boats from station Pascagoula," said Captain Lechthaler.
Then Tuesday morning a Gautier resident looking for drift wood spots the plane's debris and calls the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. A few minutes later, DMR confirms wreckage of an aircraft was found on Belle Fountaine Beach in Jackson County.
"Actually the search the search pattern starts at the point we believe the plane may have entered the water we're trying to do what's called a back drift which will take us back from where the debris was found to the point at which it may have entered the water," said Captain Lechthaler
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was the first agency to begin search efforts. The Coast Guard takes in drift, water temperature, air temperature, weather conditions and a number of other factors to create the search pattern the captain was talking about. Coast Guard crews will remain there 24 hours.