updated 10/26/2010 6:25:46 PM ET 2010-10-26T22:25:46

Searchers began scouring a rugged western Wyoming mountain range by helicopter Tuesday as they looked for a Minnesota executive and three children missing since their plane took off in snowy weather a day earlier.

Web development company Sierra Bravo Corp. in Bloomington, Minn., reported company President Luke Bucklin was the pilot. The company also does business as Nerdery Interactive Labs.

Bucklin's wife, Ginger, wrote on the couple's personal website that Bucklin's three sons, two age 14 and one age 12, were flying with him.

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The single-engine Mooney airplane left Jackson airport at about noon Monday, radio station KOVE/KDLY in Lander reported. The plane disappeared from radar about an hour later near Gannett Peak, which at over 13,800 feet is the highest mountain in Wyoming.

Sgt. Ryan Lee of the Fremont County sheriff's office said searchers in a helicopter scanned the area near Gannett Peak during a break in snowy weather but saw nothing.

Lee said more air searches were likely Tuesday as weather allowed. He said ground crews probably wouldn't head into the remote area of the Wind River Range until they had a specific destination.

Mark Hurlburt, vice president of marketing at Sierra Bravo, confirmed Tuesday the plane was piloted by Bucklin.

Bucklin, 41, was one of three co-founders of the computer company in 2003 and was in Jackson on a family vacation, Hurlburt said.

A posting on the company's blog said Chief Financial Officer Mike Derheim addressed the company's entire staff Tuesday.

"We know that he left Wyoming flying his own plane yesterday, and that ground control lost contact with him at about 2 p.m.," Derheim said on the website. "We know that search efforts have been hindered by bad weather, and that it has only recently cleared enough for planes and hikers to conduct a search."

Ray Bishop, director of the Jackson airport, declined to identify the pilot of the plane or the passengers. He said the plane took off while it was snowing heavily.

Despite the weather, Bishop said the decision to fly was up to the pilot. "The pilot in command is the pilot in command," he said.

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Bishop said there were other planes taking off and leaving the airport at about the same time.

Mike Fergus, spokesman for the FAA regional office in Seattle, said Tuesday said his agency has issued an alert notice to all airstrips the plane might have diverted to.

Meanwhile, authorities in Washington state say all three people on board a small plane that crashed in rugged terrain have died.

A ground team that reached the site Tuesday about 10 miles northeast of Morton found that the plane had disintegrated on impact.

The Lewis County sheriff's office says there were no survivors.

The pilot and two passengers took off Monday from Chehalis for Lewiston, Idaho, in a plane registered to Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute in Chehalis.

About 10 minutes into the flight, the pilot of the twin-engine Cessna radioed that he was turning back because he lost power in one engine.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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