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Search fruitless so far for missing pilot

The Minnesota Civil Air Patrol search for former Hallock, Minn., man Andrew Lindberg continued full-bore again for the third day Monday, but there's still no trace of the missing pilot, a patrol spokesman said.

"We had 10 aircraft up today, including one from the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol," said Lt. George Supan. "And we had five ground teams working."

The Brainerd-based search involved 79 of the trained Civil Air Patrol volunteers working in close coordination over mapped areas. About 110 patrol volunteers searched Saturday and Sunday.

By late Monday night, nothing had been found, said a dispatcher with the Todd County Sheriff's Office, the lead law enforcement agency involved.

Supan, besides his full-time job as spokesman for the Air Force's nonprofit civilian auxiliary, is one of the volunteers working on the search.

He said the search will continue today.

Plea for help

The last person to hear from Lindberg, 32, was his father, Bill Lindberg. Andrew, who recently obtained his pilot's license, texted Bill about 6:30 pm. Friday while flying solo in a Piper Cherokee above the Staples, Minn.

He had taken off from Lakeville, Minn., heading for Hallock, Minn., to go hunting with family.

Bill waited at the Hallock airport until about 9 p.m., when he called Kittson County Sheriff Ken Hultgren. The sheriff called state officials to initiate the search that began Saturday, headed chiefly by the Civil Air Patrol.

Andrew's uncle, the Rev. Bob Griggs of Wadena, Minn., was introduced at a news conference Monday in Brainerd, Minn. Griggs, who is married to Bill's sister, is ministering to the family and acting as their spokesman.

He said his nephew has many looking for him besides the patrol volunteers.

"A lot of family members, friends, Andrew's colleagues from Met Life where he works, friends of his wife, are all gathered in Brainerd to search and pray and to be together and support each other and help each other to get through this difficult and very undecided time," the pastor said.

He told the Herald on Monday he was putting out a plea to everyone in the region to help.

"Our hope is that anyone who is a farmer or a landowner will check their property, the swamps, the woods, the fields, and standing crops," Griggs said. "If they have a neighbor who hasn't been home, to do the same on their land. Because we know it has to be somewhere."

Griggs officiated at the wedding of Andrew and his wife, Kate, six weeks ago in Lakeville. The couple lives in Farmington, Minn.

Search area

No good leads came Monday, Supan said, but the search continues along a pretty much straight-line vector from Lakeville to north of the Staples area toward Fosston.

The search has focused on the area roughly between St. Cloud and Fosston, based on the text message Lindberg sent Friday. The signal bounced off a cell phone tower in the vicinity Wadena and Staples, Supan said.

He asked that aircraft avoid that region during the search.

He also cautioned residents interested in helping out to check with their local authorities, "so we don't end up having another search and rescue," Supan said.

The weather was cloudy and possibly foggy with some rainfall Friday night, not great for flying, Supan said. The area over which Lindberg flew includes thousands of acres of trackless forests, swamps and brushy lake country.

The search aircraft are using visual "scanners" as part of their three-person crews, as well as electronically searching for the emergency locater transponder of the Piper. A newer piece of equipment, used only for the past three years by the Civil Air Patrol, uses two cameras and a laptop computer on board an airplane, Supan said. The system can detect and analyze anomalous images on the ground along a path about one-third of a mile wide, useful in forested areas to find objects that don't belong, he said.

The Minnesota State Patrol's helicopter also has been used and made available in the search.