By Chris Collins
Mel Cross, a Baker City pilot who grew up in Idaho, has spent many hours flying over the rugged mountains where a single-engine plane that left Baker City Sunday has gone missing en route to Butte, Mont.
Cross is familiar with the Johnson Creek Airstrip, which is about 50 miles northeast of Cascade, Idaho, where he was raised.
That’s the unpaved airstrip where 51-year-old Dale Smith had hoped to land when his six-seat BE36 Beech Bonanza airplane began experiencing engine trouble Sunday afternoon.
“That’s rugged country — a lot of huge country,” Cross said.
Cross, 74, has accumulated 2,400 hours in the air over the past 38 years.