Seattle pilot and his brother missing near Yellowstone
SEATTLE - Bad weather is holding up the search for two pilots who haven't been seen since takeoff on Tuesday. Family members in the Seattle and Renton area say the brothers were on a cross-country trip when their plane disappeared near Yellowstone National Park.
Ward Zimmerman is 86 years old. His brother Robert is 84. Both share a passion for flying and family, and were known to travel the world to visit the people and places they loved.
"Big hearted" is one way family and friends describe Ward, and when it comes to staying in touch, Zimmerman goes the distance.
"He had family from all over the place and you always want to see your family," said Ramiro Rico, Zimmerman's grandson. "That's my opinion on why he wanted to go everywhere."
Rico says his grandfather left their Seattle home a couple months ago flying in a single engine plane with his brother Robert.
The two pilots were headed from Cody, Wyo., to Seattle with a stop in Twin Falls, Idaho, but they never arrived. Radar last spotted the plane flying near Yellowstone National Park, which is where search teams are now focusing their efforts.
"It's a shock. I just found out," the grandson said.
John Badovinac went to high school with Zimmerman's children. He says one memory stands out.
"He must have a great deal of compassion because ever since I was in high school, he was always taking care of a foster family," Badovinac said.
In addition to having children, Zimmerman and his wife, Elynor, adopted others and fostered even more.
"When I was a little kid, my grandparents always told me they had lots and lots of kids through their whole life in the house," Rico said.
The grandson says this latest flight was to visit people. Now family and friends are hoping for good news.
"It's just a loss," Badovinac said. I hope he's found safe."
Family members said Zimmerman and his brother made many flights together - some as far as South America.
Weather has kept aerial searches on hold since the pair went missing, but search teams are on the ground looking for the plane or its wreckage.