Search to continue Friday for possible downed plane

By BETH BURGERbburger@bradenton.comMANATEE — Authorities plan to keep searching for a possible downed plane after witnesses said they saw a small engine plane lose power and disappear Thursday.Manatee County Sheriff’s Office had search teams using ATVs and four wheel drive trucks canvassing the area at about 6 p.m. Helicopters from the Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard combed the area just south of Buckeye Road west of U.S. 301.Helicopters quit searching the area in part due to weather after several hours. Witnesses told deputies they heard a loud bang and then no longer saw the plane.Terry Boozer, 36, of Parrish was working on a ranch across from U.S. 301 when he saw the small engine plane.“The motor made some kind of weird noises. It sputtered and then went out. It sounded like he tried to do a restart,” he said. “He made a circle and in the wind and he started losing altitude. He went down behind the tree line and never came out.”It’s common to see small engine planes in the area, Boozer said.“You’ll hear them turn their motors off, but this one never restarted,” he said.Boozer stayed on the scene as rescuers searched the area for the aircraft.But searchers had found nothing as of 10:30 p.m. Thursday. The land where deputies were searching is owned by Pacific Farms.“I was confident enough to call someone and check (on the plane),” Boozer said.There were two other witnesses on near by properties, he said.There were no reports of planes missing from any area airport, or any distress calls. Sheriff’s deputies contacted the nearby Manatee airport and confirmed that a plane had come through there matching the description earlier Thursday afternoon.Sgt. Darin Bankert said it also could be possible that there was no crash.“People aren’t really sure what they are seeing sometimes,” Bankert said referring to the tree lines which may have hid the small engine plane flying low. “It’s entirely possible there was no plane crash.”