Authorities were investigating reports of a possible plane crash Thursday night in the remote hills northeast of Geyserville, but after finding no evidence of a downed aircraft, search efforts were suspended.
A Sonoma County Sheriff's lieutenant said his office planned to request resources for a second aerial search today.
Law enforcement and fire personnel along with a medical helicopter were thrown into a nighttime search of the area after a Cloverdale police officer was flagged down by a citizen who saw what appeared to be a plane flying erratically and trailed by smoke.
The emergency dispatch from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office went out at 6:08 p.m. Two hours later, searchers had found no evidence of a downed plane and their efforts were called off for the night.
A spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration said federal officials could find no evidence in flight paths or emergency transmissions that a plane had crashed.
An overflight Thursday night by a REACH helicopter using infrared equipment turned up no sign of a crash site, said Sonoma County Sheriff's Lt. Tim Duke.
No emergency transmission was broadcast from the area — a signal triggered by a device found in commercial and private planes, Duke said.
And all incoming and outgoing planes were accounted for at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, sheriff's officials said.
Officials with the Healdsburg and Cloverdale airports were also contacted, as were airport officials in Oakland and Sacramento. No reports were received of a missing plane, Duke said.
"We made all the appropriate calls for assistance," Duke said.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office checked with officials at the public Lampson Field Airport near Lakeport and received no word of a missing plane, said Deputy Gary Frace. No plans were in motion for a search today by the sheriff's office, he said.
The search area Thursday night was in the rugged Mayacamas Mountains dividing Sonoma and Lake counties, about 10 miles northeast of Geyserville in the area of Geysers and Mitchell roads.
Clear skies and a full moon provided good visibility at the time of emergency call.
Sheriff's deputies and firefighters who scanned the area from Geysers Road found no evidence of a crash.
"We don't know if it happened or not," Duke said. "It appears if there was an accident, that it couldn't be located."
Henry 1, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office helicopter, was unavailable because of annual repairs and a staffing overhaul. A CHP helicopter was not flying Thursday night, sheriff's officials said.
The Sheriff's Office also asked Civil Air Patrol volunteers from Mendocino and Sonoma counties if anyone was available to help search from the air.
Another request to the CHP, neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions and possibly REACH is to be made this morning, Duke said.
You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@ pressdemocrat.com.