North Shore ultralight pilot still missing; search continues

Missing pilot in Cook County

Missing pilot in Cook County

Volunteers have joined law enforcement in their search for ultralight pilot Denny Pachacek, who has been missing since Friday.

More than 70 volunteers have come out some days since, according to the Cook County Sheriff, to help comb the thick woods near Hovland, which is north of Grand Marais, on the shores of Lake Superior for any signs of the ultralight.

“He’s almost completely off the grid, living the dream, retired early, he’s living in God’s country,” said Sean Pachacek, son of the missing pilot. “He’s an adventurous guy.”

The ultralight with its blue parachute took off for a flight Friday evening but never returned.

RELATED: Search underway for missing pilot in Cook County

Pachacek has been flying an ultralight above the North Shore community for more than 12 years, according to his family.

Law enforcement on Wednesday was making plans for a boat to come to Lake Superior with sonar to help search, but there were rough conditions on the water earlier in the day.

The sheriff said investigators got an “alert” from Pachacek’s cellphone on Tuesday.

“It’s very difficult, the terrain is difficult,” said Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen.

Search crews have faced rugged terrain, along with large amounts of ground wasps, as they’ve searched for any signs of the pilot, ultralight, and blue parachute on the ground.

Eliasen said aircraft with forward-looking infrared have not been helpful due to the thick forest canopy in the air.

Plus, days with warm temperatures, he added, have made it difficult to use the technology.

“The weather has been rainy, humid, insects, the wasps,” Eliasen said about the conditions that volunteers faced. “God bless their hearts for what they are doing.”

“He touched a lot of the community’s heart,” said Sean Pachacek of his father. “A lot of the people who know my dad, personally, are just pushing a little bit harder because they have an attachment to him.”

The pilot’s family has been very thankful for those who have come to help search.

Volunteers have been gathering daily at 8 a.m. at the Hovland Fire Hall, 5049 East Highway 61.

The Cook County Sheriff said he’s open to suggestions about any technology or resources that are available that can help with the unique search conditions with the thick forest cover.

If you can help with search efforts, or have any information about the ultralight’s whereabouts, you can reach the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, at (218)-387-3030.