Local search and rescue crews are hiking into a remote canyon today to retrieve the bodies of three people believed dead after their plane crashed north of Payson.
Officials believe the Piper single-engine aircraft that crews spotted Saturday may be the same one that went missing after taking off from Mesa's Falcon Field Airport Thursday.
The plane had planned stop in Payson on its way to Winslow, but never landed in Payson.
The flight school that operates the plane reported the plane missing and local Civil Air Patrol pilots started searching for the plane early Friday morning. Crews focused their efforts north of Strawberry were radar and cell phone record last tracked it.
On Saturday, a Department of Public Safety helicopter crew spotted what appeared to be the recent wreckage of a plane that had crashed into a cliff face.
Tonto Rim Search and Rescue volunteers driving out of Pine Saturday morning said they were hiking into an area known as Calf Pin, a remote, rugged canyon.
It is unlikely anyone survived the crash.