State police were searching Sunday morning for a small plane missing near Sussex Airport (search).

The pilot lost radio contact with authorities about 7:30 a.m. while returning to the airport after reporting trouble with his plane, said Jim Peters, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (search).

The small single-engine plane, a Cessna 182 (search), was about 4 miles north of the airport at the time, Peters said.

Only the pilot is believed to be aboard. No further information on him was immediately available.

Peters said the plane took off from the single-strip Sussex Airport shortly before it went missing. The pilot radioed the FAA in Westbury, N.Y., to report trouble with the aircraft before it lost radio contact.

Weather at the airport was overcast early Sunday morning, but visibility was good below the clouds, said Paul Styger, the airport's manager.

State police, who have jurisdiction in the area north of the airport, were searching for the plane on the ground Sunday morning. An aerial search with planes based at the air strip was also under way, Styger said.

Styger described the terrain north of the airport as hilly, wooded, and mostly rural, with some housing developments.