My favorite phone call to answer at the AFSS I worked was the “family concerned” search and rescue.
They might know where the pilot departed. The city…not which airport. But they don’t know anything else.
What is the aircraft call sign? They don’t know.
What kind of aircraft? They aren’t sure. Maybe a Cessna?
When did they depart? Maybe yesterday. They aren’t sure.
They don’t know bupkis. And now, the AFSS has to ask every ATC facility, and every airport, pretty much anywhere along the “possible” route, to conduct record and field searches. A local tower won’t keep a record of VFR departures or overflights. Unless you talked to every center or approach control (and got flight following that they would have a record of) they don’t have any idea whether the aircraft flew through their airspace or not.
So, it was quite a lot of fun to call to the local Center or Approach Control to ask them to search all their records going back a day or so and look for this needle in a haystack. “You mean you have no data at all? No route, no nothing?”
Nope, none. Good luck! You can bet there were quite a lot of unenthusiastic field and record searches when we told the airports that this was a “family concerned” search, with absolutely no data to use as clues.
So, you can bet, over this long holiday weekend, that there are, at this very moment, several of these “family concerned” notices cluttering the AFSS and ATC system. And someone is saying, “Well, we will find them when the snow melts.”