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VALLEY COUNTY, Idaho — The search in the Idaho wilderness for a missing plane with five people on board was scaled back significantly Friday. It hasn't been called off, but without any new leads it's getting more difficult to proceed.
The continuation of the search will depend on the weather in the area, which isn't favorable for the near future. The Valley County Idaho Information Center said that due to the bad weather, there were no planes or helicopters in the air Friday, and that the number of ground searchers was reduced.
The single-engine plane was flown by pilot Dale Smith. His son, Daniel Smith, and his wife, Sheree Chalmers Smith, as well as his daughter, Amber Smith and her fiancé, Jonathan Norton, were also on board.
Today was the first day I ever considered that my family might not be found within the week. So many hard working people and so much equipment being used and there is no sign of them or our plane.
–Janis Smith, wife of pilot Dale Smith
The plane disappeared in the remote wilderness northeast of Boise last Sunday. The search has focused on the area where Smith made a cell phone call to report engine trouble.
"We covered somewhere about 9-15 mile area south of the strip walking through the flat part and even onto the hills looking for anything we could see," said Brad Norton, uncle of Jonathan Norton.
Since then, a multi-state effort to locate the plane has taken place, but authorities said Friday, with no new information and snow in the forecast into next week, further search efforts will be suspended, at least temporarily.
Six days with not much to go on is taking a toll on the family.
"Today was the first day I ever considered that my family might not be found within the week," Dale Smith's wife, Janis Smith, posted on Facebook Thursday night. "So many hard working people and so much equipment being used and there is no sign of them or our plane."
The Valley County Sheriff's Office said it will monitor the situation, and if new information becomes available and as conditions and resources allow, search efforts could resume.
The FAA had flight restrictions in place in the area all week, reserved for search planes only. That restriction was also lifted Friday, and authorities are asking for any pilot flying in the area to keep an eye out for any signs of the missing aircraft.