Missing Ohio Pilot's Family Joins Search

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) - The brothers of a missing Ohio pilot whose plane was lost over Long Island Sound last weekend are coming to Connecticut to join the search.

John M. Hageman, a retired Cleveland police captain, was supposed to land his single-engine airplane at Sikorsky Memorial Airport Sunday evening, but never arrived. The U.S Coast Guard and others searched the Long Island Sound, but found no sign of pilot or plane.

Hageman's three brothers -- Jeff, Dan and Jim, all Cleveland firefighters -- left Ohio Wednesday morning, said Dan Hageman's wife, Jeanne.

"They are going to check out what is going on and see if they can help," she said.

Searchers on Wednesday said that they had little confidence the Piper Cherokee plane would be found.

The aircraft disappeared from Sikorsky Airport's radar at 6:08 p.m., after Hageman said that he could not see the runway. Air traffic controllers told him to follow a radio signal.

The Coast Guard suspended its search Tuesday, saying it was unlikely Hageman, an experienced pilot and flight instructor, would have survived the cold temperatures if he had landed in the water.

State and local police continued the search Wednesday. State police boats have been using side-scan sonar, which transmits sound waves to the bottom of a body of water to get a read on the contours of the sea floor.

Joseph Savino, Bridgeport's harbormaster, said that the search is daunting because the search area is more than 200 square miles.

"We are looking for a needle in a haystack, unfortunately," he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates civil airplane fatalities, has not decided how to proceed because no wreckage has been found, an agency spokesman said.

"We typically give it a couple of days," said Steve Demko, an air safety investigator with the agency's office in Parsippany, N.J.

If the plane is not found, it would be logged as missing and a preliminary report would be issued.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)