Kevin Bomback took off in his plane two weeks ago to escape Hurricane Ivan. No one has seen him, the plane or his family since.
"Everything just vanished," Escambia County sheriff's investigator Jimmy James said Tuesday. "I'm wide open trying to find these folks."
Bomback's plane disappeared from radar at 2:49 a.m. Sept. 15 as he flew in the vicinity of Magee, Miss., about 40 miles southeast of Jackson, Miss., after taking off from Atmore, Ala., Municipal Airport, said Civil Air Patrol spokeswoman Marie Haberstroh.
Airport worker James Nixon fueled the plane and asked Bomback where he was going, said Elaine Godwin, a secretary for Atmore Flying Service.
"He said that he didn't know, that he was just getting out ahead of the storm," Godwin said.
She said Bomback, of Molino, 20 miles north of Pensacola, didn't file a flight plan and Nixon couldn't tell whether Bomback's wife, Sherri, and their two children, Alicia, 17, and Brent, 12, were aboard the twin-engine Cessna Skymaster because it was too dark to see into the cabin.
Family members in Houston reported the family missing a few days ago. James said their car is still at the airport and no one has heard from them since the plane's last radio call less than 24 hours before Ivan struck the Gulf Coast near the Florida-Alabama state line. And Bomback has not returned to work in New Orleans where he is an aircraft mechanic for Federal Express.
Atmore is just over Florida's northern border with Alabama. Magee is about 150 miles northwest of Atmore.
The plane was tracked from Atmore to Magee airport, where radar tapes showed it made a pass over the airport in an apparent landing attempt, circled and vanished, said Col. John Wilkes, Mississippi Civil Air Patrol commander. He said a woman living near the airport also reported that a plane had flown low over the area.
"We're pretty sure it didn't go straight down because we looked there," said Wilkes, who flew one of several CAP search missions over sometimes heavily wooded terrain in the Magee area. "I don't know if the radio was working or not. Apparently the guy wasn't talking to anybody."
An Alabama Civil Air Patrol search in the Atmore area also found no sign of the blue and white plane.
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Langley, Va., has notified airports and pilots to be on the lookout for the plane, said Capt. Tom Montgomery, a spokesman for the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field.