Friday, May 26, 2006

Search resumes for 1950 sunken plane


Daily India
May 25, 2006

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. -- A search has resumed in Lake Michigan for a near-forgotten Northwest Airlines DC-4 that crashed in a storm 56 years ago and took 58 lives.

Underwater archeologists and amateur historians have embarked on a mission to find the wreckage of Flight 2501 in 200 feet of water about 18 miles northwest of Benton Harbor, The Chicago Tribune reported.

On June 23, 1950, 55 passengers and a crew of three took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport bound for Seattle but encountered stormy weather over the lake and crashed.

Body parts, a fuel tank float, blankets, shredded arm rests and small wooden pieces from the 93-foot-long plane were about all that was recovered from Lake Michigan beaches for several days.

The aircraft had no data or voice recorders and an investigation concluded the plane either broke up or the crew lost control in turbulence.

Searchers this week finished scanning the lakebed with high-tech equipment, and divers hope to return to specific sites on Saturday, the newspaper said.

The search is being financed by Clive Cussler, author of underwater adventure fiction that has sold more than 100 million copies.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Piece Of Navy Jet That Crashed Off Florida Washes Up In Ireland

May 09, 2006

NORFOLK, Va. -- A tail section from a U.S. Navy fighter jet that crashed 3½ years ago off Key West, Fla., has turned up 4,900 miles away on a beach in Ireland.

A retired commercial airline captain, identified by the Irish Examiner newspaper as Charlie Coughlan, discovered the tail piece Friday. The Navy confirmed Tuesday that markings on the section, including squadron insignia and a serial number, pointed to the downed F-14 Tomcat.

Currents from the Gulf of Mexico near the tip of Florida might have floated the nearly 10-foot-long triangular piece of vertical stabilizer, one of two on the plane, to the beach in West Cork on Ireland's southern shore.

The F-14, based in Virginia, crashed near Key West in the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 3, 2002, during a training mission. Both crew members ejected safely.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Aviation buff on mission to find lost wreckage


Billings Gazette
May 01, 2006

POLSON -- Somewhere at the bottom of Flathead Lake not far from Yellow Bay sit the remains of a military jet that crashed more than 40 years ago. John Gisselbrecht is intent on finding them.

Gisselbrecht is with Missoula's Museum of Mountain Flying and is launching an underwater search this week to see if he can pinpoint the wreckage, and possibly the pilot's remains.

Gisselbrecht doesn't want to remove the wreckage, but hopes to locate it, identify it and prevent it from being removed by salvagers in the future.

"We will respect this and treat the site as a grave," he said. "We will not be recovering the pilot or the aircraft."

Capt. John Eaheart of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and a combat aviator during the war in Korea, was on a training flight from Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in California when the F9F Cougar fighter and pilot plunged into the lake the evening of March 21, 1960.

Eaheart, 30, had flown to Malmstrom Air Force Base to log training hours, then made a side trip to Missoula where he flew over the homes of his parents and sister -- and then north to Flathead Lake, where the parents of his fiance, Viola Pinkerman lived.

The late K.C. Pinkerman, Viola's father, saw the plane go down from his Blue Bay residence.

Pinkerman provided a good idea of where it crashed. He said it went down about 2 1/2 miles slightly east and north of Matterhorn Point on Wild Horse Island and on a direct line between Matterhorn Point and Blue Bay on the lake's east shore.

Boats and a barge scoured the surface during the days after the crash and found some debris, including Eaheart's aviation helmet with brain tissue inside.

Neither the plane nor its pilot were ever recovered because the lake depth between Wild Horse Island and the east shore exceeds 200 feet, making salvage attempts unfeasible 46 years ago.

Now, that might change.

Gisselbrecht, an aviator from Kalispell, said he's been interested in the fate of the aircraft since 1991. He wants to make sure the pilot and plane rest undisturbed by salvage profiteers and souvenir hunters.

"Technology is changing, and it's more and more likely someone could come in there and scoop that plane out of there and sell it for scrap," he said.

To protect the plane and make sure the body remains undisturbed -- which is also Viola Pinkerman Lewis' wish -- he needs the specific location of the plane and, if possible, the location of Eaheart's remains.

Once he has the information, which he says will remain confidential, he will notify the Montana Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of National Registry. Under a federal law called the Antiquities Act, these agencies can protect the site from disturbance.

The cause of the crash has never been determined, at least as far as Gisselbrecht has been able to determine. He made persistent requests for records from both the Air Force and the Marine Corps.