Search crews looking for a missing pilot from Zephyrhills finished combing the Citrus County side of the Withlacoochee State Forest without any luck Thursday and will now continue the search on the Hernando County side.
Theodore Weiss, 74, has been missing since Saturday after he took off from the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport heading for his home in Zephyrhills and vanished from radar. Investigators believe his plane might have gone down in the Withlacoochee Forest.
"As every minute passes, that chance of finding a positive outcome or finding him alive probably lessens. But that doesn't mean that we're going to stop or slow down our search," said Citrus County commander Buddy Grant.
Grant said crews have been combing the forest for three days; Weiss was reported missing Monday after his relatives in upstate New York hadn't heard from him. Authorities are searching in the air, as well as on foot, ATVs, and horseback.
"We have been through the woods, grid by grid, mile after mile," Grant said.
Weiss had been in Dunnellon for a Florida Sonex Festival, which is for pilots who build and fly homemade planes.
The Civil Air Patrol's Maj. Joseph Tomasone said it appears Weiss was on a course due south when his plane vanished, which is a typical flight path for pilots flying small planes between Marion County and Zephyrhills. Tomasone said that very well could have taken Weiss into Hernando County.
Grant, meanwhile, said hope might be fading that Weiss survived a possible crash but added it's premature to assume that's the case.
"We always have to be careful about writing someone off because we've seen dramatic stories of people that have beaten the odds," he added.
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