Sierra Bravo Co-founder Missing in Wyoming

On his way home from Wyoming on Monday, a small plane that Luke Bucklin was piloting lost contact with ground control.

Luke Bucklin, co-founder and president of Bloomington-based Sierra Bravo Corporation, and three of his sons were reported missing Tuesday after the small plane they were traveling in from Wyoming lost contact with ground control.

According to his family blog-through which his wife Ginger Bucklin has been posting regular updates-Bucklin, 40, and sons Nick (14), Nate (14), and Noah (12) took off from Jackson Hole Airport on Monday afternoon.

Bucklin, who was returning from a Wyoming vacation, had been flying the plane, a four-seat single-engine Mooney 201, for about an hour when radar contact was lost at about 3 p.m. Central Standard Time. Bucklin's three other children-Sarah (19), Samantha (16), and Oliver (5)-were not on the plane.

The Star Tribune reported that the plane was headed from Jackson Hole to Pierre, South Dakota. Mark Malmberg, a Sierra Bravo spokesman, could not confirm whether the plane was scheduled to stop on its way back to Minneapolis.

Ginger Bucklin wrote in the family blog that search and rescue teams were heading out on Tuesday from Lander, Wyoming. Sierra Bravo Chief Financial Officer Mike Derheim said in a company blog that the search efforts had been delayed by bad weather, and that it has only recently cleared enough for planes and hikers to conduct a search.

Sergeant Ryan Lee of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in Wyoming confirmed Tuesday afternoon that search efforts have begun but said that snow, strong winds, and low visibility were hindering those efforts. He said a four-person ground crew will be in place this evening and that the crew will stay the night in the area and continue the search in the morning. Lee also said that the search area is very large and described it as “rugged mountain terrain.” In the family blog, Ginger Bucklin said the mountains in the area have about two feet of snow cover.

Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said Tuesday said a notice was sent out to all airstrips that the plane may have diverted to, but there has been no response.

“You all know Luke as perhaps the most approachable, affable executive the world as ever known,” Derheim wrote in the company's blog. “He's been an open communicator in good times and bad times. I'm trying my best to follow his lead in that regard today.”

Ginger wrote posted the following on her Twitter page Tuesday afternoon: “Overwhelmed by love. Heartwarmed, deep thanks to you all. Hope to get more updates about [Luke] soon.”

Sierra Bravo, which was founded in 2003, has most recently been doing business as Nerdery Interactive Labs. It is among the state's largest Web development and design companies based on its Web revenue, which totaled $8.6 million in 2009. The company employs about 100 people and specializes in Web development, including application programming, user-contributed video content, lead generation microsites, and desktop widgets.