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Search Resumes For Dean Martin’s Son

March 25, 1987

MARCH AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) _ The search for a jet fighter piloted by entertainer Dean Martin’s son entered its fourth day today, as experts said the crew was equipped to survive up to a week in the snowy wilderness where the craft disappeared.

The air and ground search for Dean Paul Martin and a fellow National Guard flier resumed at dawn on storm-lashed San Gorgonio Mountain, said Deputy Rick Eckley of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The search was moved down the mountain today from the 11,000-foot level to 9,300 feet, after computer-enhanced tapes showed the plane disappeared lower than had been thought, an Air National Guard spokeswoman said.

Martin’s squadron also sent up another F-4C Phantom jet, the type of plane Martin was piloting, to fly the same route as the missing plane, said Sgt. Carolyn Hamilton.″It will take the same route and will be controlled by radar.″

She said no emergency aircraft signals had been received at the 9,300-foot elevation, but ″we’ve got the highest hopes.″

″We have not in any way, shape or form given up hope. The feeling down in the unit is we’re going to find these guys,″ said Maj. Steve Mensik, a spokesman for the California Air National Guard.

Martin, 35, an actor and a California Air National Guard captain, was piloting the F-4C Phantom, accompanied by weapons officer Capt. Ramon Ortiz, 39, of Las Vegas, Nev. The plane disappeared from radar Saturday over the San Bernardino Mountains.

The search has covered the flank of the 11,500-foot mountain, where snow is 8 feet deep in places and temperatures were expected to dip into the teens overnight. A storm that moved in Tuesday forced an early end to the air search, but 48 people on the ground stayed at the task until dark, Mensik said.

″They should be able to survive a week out there,″ Mensik said of the missing men.

That is based on the assumption the fliers were able to eject from the jet before it crashed. Attached to their parachute packs were survival kits containing a little food, blankets, and other gear, Mensik said.

The elder Martin awaited word from the searchers at his Beverly Hills home, but was withholding comment pending the outcome, said his publicist, Warren Cowan.

″No one has given up hope,″ Cowan said.

Hopes were kindled briefly Tuesday when searchers picked up faint signals from an emergency radio beacon of the type carried on the jet, Mensik said. But a San Bernardino County sheriff’s helicopter crew failed to spot any sign of wreckage in the deep canyon that appeared to be the source of the signal.

The National Guard also was following up on more than 40 telephone tips from residents around the mountain 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

The Phantom was one of three jets that left March Air Force Base for a practice run with dummy bombs Saturday, Mensik said. Approaching the mountain in heavy clouds, the other two planes turned under the guidance of civilian air traffic controllers, but there was no response from Martin’s jet.

Martin is the eldest of Dean Martin’s three children by a former wife, Jeanne.

At 14, he formed a rock band with Desi Arnaz Jr., son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and neighbor Billy Hinsche. The group, Dino, Desi and Billy, had one hit single, ″I’m a Fool.″

Most recently, he starred in NBC’s ″Misfits of Science″ in the 1985-86 season and had a development deal with ABC. He also starred with Ali MacGraw in the 1979 tennis movie ″Players.″

He was married and divorced from actress Olivia Hussey and Olympic gold- medal skater Dorothy Hamill.

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