The sister of a missing Alberta pilot whose plane disappeared into the B.C. mountains has no doubt that her brother and his girlfriend are still alive.

Bound for the Villeneuve airport northwest of Edmonton, Dominic Neron of Spruce Grove and Ashley Bourgeault left Penticton, B.C., on a single-engine aircraft at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Dominic Neron

Neron, 28, left Penticton, B.C. with his girlfriend on a single-engine aircraft at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. (Supplied/Tammy Neron)

The plane, a 1963 Mooney M20D, was reported missing at 10:40 p.m. Saturday.

Neron, 28 and Bourgeault, 31, who have been dating for a few years, were the only people aboard.

"It comes in waves, but the mornings are very hopeful because we know they are out there looking for him," Tammy Neron said in an exclusive interview with CBC News on Tuesday.

"We're staying positive. I know that he's out there, I know that he's alive and it's just a matter of finding him."

Low cloud and heavy snowfall haven't stopped the search, which involves both ground and air crews.The search paused as darkness fell Monday but resumed at first light Tuesday morning.

Katelyn Moores, spokesperson for Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria, said the search area has been narrowed to a region 18 kilometres outside Revelstoke.

Moores said the area was refined based on more complete information from radar and a cellphone tower that picked up a signal from Neron's phone at about the same time the plane dropped off the radar on Saturday.

She said a Buffalo aircraft is flying over the most likely flight path of the missing plane, while two Parks Canada search-and-rescue ground teams are focused on specific locations northeast of Revelstoke.

'They will find him'

"Today is the first day they will be searching on the ground, by foot," Tammy Neron said from her home in Victoria, where the family has gathered to anxiously await any news of the search.

"From what I understand, there is a 25-mile radius that they're searching in. They have the best search and rescue team on it, and they've assured us they will find him."

Neron said the family is praying for her brother, a journeyman electrician set to celebrate his 29th birthday next month.

She has no idea what may have caused the plane to fall, but she's sure her brother was able to navigate the crisis.

"We don't know. It's just that his plane went off the radar. It went from 10,000 feet to 7,000 feet and then his plane was off the radar."

The family has been told the plane's emergency locator transmitter never went off.

"That usually would go off if there was a hard impact, so he got it down gently and he's waiting to be found.

"That's why I know he's fine."

With files from the Canadian Press Articled from the CBC RSS Syndication CBC.ca - RSS Feeds Copyright is that of their respective owners (CBC).


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