At the very least it was an exercise in emergency response.
Searchers from the air and on the ground converged at dusk Thursday east of Brainerd looking for a small, yellow plane that was reported to have gone down with one wing on fire.
North Air Care crossed overhead and rescuers waited for a clue along Thorson Road, but could find no trace of a plane or debris. Nearly an hour later as a nearly full moon lighted the clear, cold night sky, the search and rescue was called off. The reported sighting was suspected to be a false alarm, perhaps from the setting sun reflecting off the wing of a plane practicing takeoffs and landings on a nearby frozen lake.
About 16 Brainerd Fire Department firefighters, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department units and a North Ambulance crew gathered about 6 p.m. at the end of Thorson Road just off Highway 18.
Mark Cunningham unloaded his all-terrain vehicle Thursday night in Nokay Lake Township before joining the search for a possible plane crash.
Emergency vehicles and personnel waited at an intersection off Thorson Road. Walt Thorson's nearby small home was bathed in flashing emergency lights. He said he was sound asleep when he received a call asking if he saw or heard a small plane or was aware of a crash. He had not seen or heard any plane. Residents located at the end of Thorson Road said they had not reported the plane crash either.
As the temperature started to drop with the sun, firefighters were just glad the call had not come a day or so before when the biting wind would have been roaring across the nearby open field.
By 7 p.m. Engine 4 and the Northland Ambulance crew left the scene and made their way back to Brainerd.
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