Since then, Rachor has volunteered his helicopter for about a dozen searches, for the living and the dead, and delivered medicine to people snowed in at remote cabins.
He regularly trains with Curry County search and rescue. Though the state reimburses for fuel and federal timber funds help offset search and rescue operations, cash-strapped counties like Curry depend on volunteers who can help out for free, Sheriff John Bishop said.
"Any time we can get a helicopter in the air it gives us an advantage," Bishop said.
Rachor was planning to join the search for the Conne family last Friday, but had a cold, and waited a day.
He and Sheriff's Lt. John Ward had been flying about two hours when Rachor decided to go outside the search area. He knew from experience that when people get lost, they don't always go where you expect.
Rachor spotted a movement, something out of the ordinary on such a calm day. A man in tan bib overalls was waving his arms.
Two ground teams were within several hundred yards, and probably would have found them the same day, said Bishop and Rubrecht. But they were happy Rachor beat them to it.
"We kind of laugh about it now, after he found these folks," said Rubrecht. "I felt like, 'All right, next time somebody needs to call him earlier.'"
Associated Press writer Jeff Barnard can be reached on Twitter (at)Jeff BarnardAP
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