Florida plane vanishes in Great Smoky Mountains area

Family members say David Starling, Kim Smith and Hunter Starling left on the plane at noon on Monday. (Photo courtesy of: Samantha Hodges)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) – Authorities say a small plane with three people aboard has been reported missing in mountainous eastern Tennessee.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says authorities are seeking a Cessna 182 aircraft and searchers are focusing about 15 miles south-southeast of the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport.

She said three people were aboard the aircraft that originated from a Jacksonville, Florida-area airport and was reported missing Monday evening. She had no immediate information on the plane’s whereabouts or what happened.

Family members told WATE TV that David Starling, Kim Smith and Hunter Starling left on the plane at noon on Monday.

The FAA says a concerned family member contacted the agency when the flight didn’t arrive at Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport as expected. The FAA issued an alert advising local authorities, which triggers a search.

Local media organizations said the plane was reported missing about 7:35 p.m. Monday around the airport in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park foothills.

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