USM helps in search for missing plane

Published: Oct. 31, 2015 at 7:16 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2015 at 10:54 AM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Still no sign of three men who have been missing since their plane disappeared on Monday in Jackson County. As the Department of Marine Resources continues its search and recovery efforts, volunteers from the University of Southern Mississippi are taking to the water and sky to help look for the missing aircraft.

The search field for the missing plane covers a lot of water. When it comes to water, USM has a deep knowledge base.

USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab didn't hesitate to offer its services when hearing about the missing plane. The university loaned boats, sonar and more to the search.

According to director of external relations Pam Moeller researchers at the university can help in unique ways.

"If they have the location of a debris site or anything, they can map the currents of the ocean and wind and kind of back out from that where the particular debris came from," said Moeller.

This data is used to create computer models to aid in the search.

"Which is really useful because it lets the searchers know an idea of where we think the currents are going," said USM marine science professor Dr. Vernon Asper.

Asper adds another depth, or height, to USM's help in the search. He is volunteering his personal, home built aircraft to take trips over the search site now that the flight restrictions have been suspended.

He hopes his efforts will help to bring a sense of closure to the case and the families involved.

"The family has asked for everybody to do what they can, and this is what I can do," said Asper.

He also hopes to help shed light on what happened, so that other pilots can learn from the incident.

"The pilot was a very sharp cookie. He knew a lot more probably about flying than I do, and yet, something went wrong," said Asper.

What went wrong remains a mystery, but that may be something that USM's efforts could change.

According to Moeller and Asper, GCRL will continue to offer its services as long as the Department of Marine Resources needs.

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