Sunday, January 01, 2006

Groups team up to find long-lost plane


Detroit Free Press
May 2, 2005

Nearly 55 years after a passenger airplane with 58 people aboard disappeared over Lake Michigan, a local and an international group are teaming up to search for the wreckage.

For two weeks after the June 23, 1950, disappearance of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, body parts, clothing, personal effects and debris washed ashore all along Allegan County's coastline.

But the wreckage wasn't found, and the cause of the crash remains a mystery.

The local group, Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, and an international organization, National Underwater and Marine Agency, which is underwriting the project, have renewed interest in finding the wreckage of the DC4.

"Our goal is to determine what happened to the plane and offer closure to the families," said Valerie van Heest, a member of the Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, which works to preserve submerged maritime history.

Adventure author Clive Cussler is offering to bankroll the project by providing the assistance of Ralph Wilbanks, the same sonar expert who helped him discover the Confederate submarine C.S.S. Hunley off the coast of South Carolina.

South Haven officials closed the popular South Beach for nine days following the crash. John Fleming, who was a Van Buren County health inspector in 1950 and involved in the recovery, recalled the search.

"We never found any whole bodies," said Fleming, who now is 86 and lives in Big Rapids. "And we never found any large pieces of the plane."

By the Associated Press



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