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Search for missing Zephyrhills pilot enters fifth day

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Published Apr. 12, 2014

Times Staff Writer

The search for missing Zephyrhills pilot Theodore Weiss entered its fifth day on Friday, and searchers planned to cross the county line from Citrus into Hernando County.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney said authorities still hold out hope they'll find the missing pilot alive, even though he hasn't been seen since last Saturday.

"We're hoping for a positive outcome," she said. "But we don't know what we're going to find."

About 90 personnel from law enforcement agencies in Citrus, Hernando, Sarasota and Marion counties, as well as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and others, searched through the morning.

They concentrated their efforts in an area authorities believe to be the route Weiss took from Dunnellon/Marion County Airport to Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

Most of Thursday was spent in the thick foliage of Withlacoochee State Forest, east of County Road 491 and north of County Road 480, with some deputies actually hacking their way through forest vines with machetes.

Rescuers planned to cross the county line into Hernando, but the command post for the search remains at the Homosassa Fire Department in Lecanto.

Authorities are using police dog units, four-wheel-drive vehicles, horses and helicopters to aid in the search.

Weiss, 74, is a snowbird who splits his time between New York and Pasco County. He was reported missing after worried friends went to the Zephyrhills airport and found his car parked but his airplane hangar empty.

After an all-day search Friday, Hernando sheriff's officials said efforts would resume at 8 a.m. today, seven days since Weiss was last seen.