A Middle Tennessee woman is playing a big role in the search for a Malaysian airliner that disappeared more than a week ago seemingly without a trace.

Erica Ross, 26, is a graduate of Franklin Road Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, and now she is part of a team scanning the ocean for the missing airplane.

"She's actually been there a week in Kuala Lampur, so she's been flying missions," said her father, Rick Glanz.

Ross is the commander of a 15-person team that's in the air for up to 12 hours at a time searching in and around the Indian Ocean.

Glanz said the plane Ross flies is specially equipped with technology designed to find things that can't be seen with the naked eye.

"They look for anomalies in the Earth's magnetic signature. So a submarine would disturb the Earth's magnetic pattern. An airplane would theoretically do the same," Glanz said.

This isn't the first time Glanz has watched the world news unfold knowing his daughter was right in the middle of it. While based in the Persian Gulf in 2011, it was pirates his daughter was chasing.

"There was actually a piracy attack on the ship and her plane was the first one on sight after that," he said.

It's pretty impressive for a young woman who just eight years ago was running cross country at FRA.

"You really like to see your kids strive for something and achieve it. She's very driven," Glanz said.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.