An Oklahoma volunteer pilot conducting an operation for an animal rescue group is missing after veering his aircraft hundreds of miles off course on his way to a Texas airport.
Dr. Bill Kinsinger, a 55-year-old anesthesiologist, was flying a Cirrus SR22T from Oklahoma City Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. He was supposed to land in Georgetown, Texas, for a mission with Pilots N Paws, a nonprofit that helps volunteer pilots connect with animal shelters and rescue groups in need of transportation. Kinsinger was on his way to pick up an 11-year-old male husky named Masaru and fly him to Oklahoma. Kinsinger hadn’t yet picked up the dog when his flight went off course.
His plane was last seen on radar more than 200 miles northwest of Cancun, Mexico, the AP reported.
Kate Quinn, executive director of Pilots N Paws, told HuffPost that Kinsinger has been involved with the group since 2014.
“He’s an incredibly active PNP pilot often flying a mission each week,” she said, adding that he also has fostered dogs in his own home when they needed temporary places to stay.
“Rescuing animals is Bill’s passion,” Quinn said. “He’s always very upbeat and positive. Very empathetic to everyone he volunteered with, encouraging us to ‘save some more.’”
Kinsinger’s Wednesday mission involved flying Masaru from Texas, where the dog was slated for euthanasia at an animal shelter, to Oklahoma City. From there, Masaru would be driven to Las Vegas where he would be cared for by Anchors Up Rescue Group, according to a statement from Anchors Up.
On Thursday, a group of other volunteers with Pilots N Paws completed Kinsinger’s mission in his honor.
As of Friday, neither Kinsinger nor his aircraft had been located, Coast Guard Petty Officer Travis McGee told HuffPost. McGee said the Coast Guard was continuing to search an area about 118 nautical miles north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
On Wednesday, The North American Aerospace Defense Command launched aircraft to monitor Kinsinger after he stopped making contact with air traffic control. NORAD pilots flew near Kinsinger and attempted unsuccessfully to get his attention, using tactics like dropping flares and performing “military maneuvers,” the AP reported.
When NORAD pilots had to return to base ― which a spokesman told the AP was because of both darkness and because the pilots were getting too close to Mexican air space ― the Coast Guard took over monitoring the plane using tracking software. McGee told HuffPost that the Coast Guard was unable to continue tracking the plane after it stopped transmitting its signal.
The Coast Guard noted in a news release that based on NORAD’s report, Kinsinger was likely suffering from hypoxia, meaning a lack of oxygen.