OKLAHOMA CITY - The Coast Guard continues to search for a missing aircraft that disappeared over the Gulf of Mexico.
Family members say Dr. Bill Kinsinger left Wiley Post Airport to pick up a rescue dog in Georgetown, Texas, Wednesday.
The FAA said during the flight, Dr. Kinsinger didn't respond to air traffic control instructions.
The North American Aerospace Defense command, or NORAD, launched a pair of F-16 fighters to make contact with the plane. Those pilots dropped flares and performed other military maneuvers to get the pilot's attention, but Dr. Kinsinger appeared to be unresponsive.
"I was just devastated. I was out [at] a public restaurant. I could not believe what I was hearing," said Vikki Smith of her friend and former board member.
It was news Smith, with "Fetch Fido a Flight," wasn't ready to hear.
"We're praying that a miracle will happen and he will be brought back to us, so he can save a lot more lives, being four-legged and two," Smith said.
Besides being an anesthesiologist, Smith said Dr. Kinsinger helps with local animal rescue organizations. Her organization saves dogs and cats from being euthanized.
"Bill also flew for another rescue and so he was flying, you know, a few dogs or maybe two to 10 dogs at a time possibly," Smith said.
In the meantime, Smith said she's anxiously waiting to hear about Dr. Kinsinger's return.
"We're still holding out hope that he will be found, and that a miracle will happen and we'll be able to hear the great news," she said.
The 55-year-old father began working with the pet rescue organization to honor his brother who passed away four years ago.
Dr. Kinsinger's mother, Ann Kinsinger, who lives in Ponca City, said, "Bill decided if he took up flying, he would start to do this in Tim's name, to honor Tim. So, twice a week, he picked up dogs and took them all over this part of the country."
Experts tell us Dr. Kinsinger likely suffered from hypoxia, when the brain is deprived of oxygen, while flying the plane. It can cause confusion, nausea and breathlessness.
Despite the news, friends are clinging to hope.
"I hope that the family is holding out hope because we at Fetch Fido a Flight are very hopeful, you know, we're concerned, we're very concerned for his safety," Smith said.
The aircraft was last observed on radar about 219 miles northwest of Cancun at 15,000 ft. and was headed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Coast Guard is actively searching for Kinsinger.