Lake Erie is currently being searched for a missing Cessna Citation 525, which departed Cleveland, Ohio’s, Burke Lakefront Airport on Thursday evening. According to reports, the plane seemingly vanished without any indication of distress or malfunction.
CNN reported the passengers, which included three adults and three children, were in town to attend a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game. At approximately 10:50 p.m., they departed the Cleveland airport in a Cessna Citation 525 en route back to Ohio State University Airport in Columbus.
In a joint statement, The United States Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed the Cessna Citation 525 was approximately two miles off the coast of Lake Erie when it disappeared from radar.
Air traffic control notified the Coast Guard that the plane was missing at approximately 11:30 p.m.
Crews from the Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and the Canadian Air Force’s 424 Search and Rescue Squadron were immediately dispatched to search Lake Erie for the missing plane. Unfortunately, their efforts were hindered by 30-knot winds and 12 to 15-foot waves.
— WOOD TV8 (@WOODTV) December 30, 2016
As reported by Weather.com, the winds began to dissipate on Friday morning. However, search and rescue crews have not found any signs of the missing Cessna Citation 525.
During a Friday news conference, Coast Guard District 9 Chief of Response Captain Michael Mullen confirmed Lake Erie is approximately 50 feet deep where the Cessna Citation 525 vanished from the radar.
Although strong winds made the overnight search difficult, Mullen said the winds have begun to shift. As the winds are currently blowing in an easterly direction, any debris would likely be carried toward the shore.
Authorities confirmed six passengers, which included three adults and three children, were registered on the Cessna Citation 525’s flight plan. However, they have not confirmed the passengers’ identities.
In an exclusive interview with The Columbus Dispatch, John W. Fleming claimed his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren were on the missing plane.
According to Fleming, his son John T. Fleming was flying the Cessna Citation 525. The other passengers were reportedly John’s wife Suzanne, 46, and their children John Robert, 15, and Andrew Thomas, 14. The Flemings’ neighbor, who was not identified, and the neighbor’s teenage daughter, were also reportedly on the missing plane.
As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, John T. Fleming is the CEO of Superior Beverage Group, which is based in Columbus.
— FOX19 (@FOX19) December 30, 2016
John W. Fleming also confirmed his son is an experienced pilot. According to FAA records, John T. Fleming was indeed a licensed pilot and was certified to fly single and multi-engine planes and helicopters. According to Flight Aware, the missing Cessna Citation 525, which was manufactured in 2012, was registered to Maverick Air LLC.
Despite his son’s experience as a pilot, John W. Fleming said authorities believe his family “may have crashed into Lake Erie.”
Fleming did not confirm who made the foreboding statement. However, Capt. Michael Mullen said he is “very hopeful.”
“We will be very hopeful up until the point that we have to turn the search off and we switch over to assisting with recovery.”
During the news conference, Mullen also confirmed search and rescue crews detected “faint hints” from what they believe is the plane’s emergency transmitter. He confirmed the signal indicates the transmitter is in “search-and-rescue” as opposed to “recovery” mode — which could suggest there was at least one survivor.
Search and rescue crews, which include helicopters, small planes, and boats, are expected to continue scouring Lake Erie and theCleveland shore for the missing Cessna Citation 525 until further notice. Although they have not found any signs of this missing plane, authorities are trying to remain optimistic.
[Featured Image By Michael Shake Shutterstock]