CASCADE -- Family members of five people missing in the Idaho wilderness since December 1 are holding out hope their loved ones will be found.
Pilot Dale Smith's wife Janis Smith spoke exclusively with NBC Bay Area in San Jose, where he is a software executive. Along with Smith's husband on the plane were their daughter Amber Smith and her fiance Jonathan Norton, and their son Daniel Smith and daughter-in-law Sheree Smith.
Pilot's wife believes there is still a chance to find her family safe
To have that many family members missing is unimaginable for most, but Smith is showing a lot of strength and keeping her intense hope and faith.
"For me, there's always a chance. Until they find the plane, there's always a chance," Smith said.
Janis Smith explained that on Sunday, December 1, her husband was flying himself and his four passengers home from a big family Thanksgiving trip to Oregon.
Sunday, December 1: The unthinkable happens
That afternoon, she says her husband didn't call from Montana like she'd expected, so she tried to text message her children who were with him.
"I started to text my kids who were in the plane, just to get confirmation that they'd landed and find out what was going on. And one by one, they didn't text me back. That's when I started to get a little worried. My kids that love to text me back were not texting back," Smith said.
She found out her husband had called air traffic control, reporting icing and then engine trouble before disappearing off radar.
Smith figured her family would be found at a remote Valley County air strip Dale wanted directions to near Yellow Pine, but the next morning, her family was still gone.
Monday, December 2: A trip to Idaho to wait for news
That's when she and other family members headed to Cascade, where she would stay for 11 days as the Valley County Sheriff's Office and others searched and searched, while she hoped and hoped.
"Even when they're saying, it's negative two [degrees] up there, it's like, there's still a chance. There's still a chance," Smith said.
While the state called off the official search last week, the wife and mother says until that plane is found, she has hope, and notes the private and volunteer search isn't over.
"You know, I never really saw [the search] end. Because when it [officially] ended, I already had family up there planning their own search. There was never a day that no one was up there. There was always someone up there," Smith said.
Volunteer and private search continues
This week, Idaho natives who know the mountains volunteered to go out and have said they'll keep hiking until the Smiths are found. People from government agencies who have searched and those volunteer searchers are what Smith says she's thankful for.
"I just feel like the world is such a wonderful place," Smith said. "There are so many incredible, generous people who are sacrificing their time, their money, their resources, for my family. And most of them don't even know us."
As the search continues in the Idaho mountains, Smith continues to wait on the California coastline in hope and prayer, and says in her heart, there is peace.
Janis Smith: 'I feel like they're okay'
"I've always had this feeling that my family's okay. And whether they come walking out of those woods and they're okay, or they've already passed on, I feel like they're okay," Smith said.
Smith says if her husband were on the other side of this situation, he would be one of the first out searching for someone else's family, which is why she calls him a "hero."
She credits much of her strength to her family's LDS faith, which she says has always brought them closer.