NDiesel
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Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:53 am

Hi everyone,

Reading about the recent tragedy in Pakistan, a link directed me to a historic overview of other air disasters in the country. One that stands out is the PIA flight PK404 with an F28 reg AP-BBF which took off from Gilgit Airport in Northern Pakistan in 1989 with 54 souls on board. The plane vanished, never to be found again - presumed crashed in the Himalayas.

Are there other crashes in history where the wreckage was never recovered? As we all know AF447 came close to such a fate, yet I'm unable to come up with any other ones in more recent times. And, with the technology now available such as Google Earth giving semi-high resolution images of virtually every part of the globe, wouldn't it be plausible to say, use the planned flightpath of PK404 and "search" the area where it may have gone down? Obviously this becomes impossible with crashes that have happened in water, but the aforementioned was in a mountainous area.

Any thoughts?

NDiesel
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aloges
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:05 pm

In 1979, there was a Varig Cargo 707 that went missing (1) somewhere between NRT and LAX, never to be found. Among its cargo were paintings worth over $1 million and the captain was one of the few survivors of an earlier Varig crash at ORY (2).

1: http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19790130-0
2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varig_Flight_820

edit: Wikipedia seems to have a category for everything.  eyebrow 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Missing_aircraft

[Edited 2012-04-21 05:22:01]
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maxpower1954
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:48 pm

I think you meant F-27, not F-28.

There have been a number of commercial aircraft missing over land that were not found for decades, including a BSAA Lancastrian and a Saeta Viscount, both in the Andes. But the most interesting to me was a Trans-Canada Lockheed Lodestar that vanished on approach to Vancouver in 1947. The wreckage was finally located by hikers in 1994 about 25 miles from the airport!

The largest loss of life involving a missing aircraft was a Flying Tigers Constellation that vanished over the Western Pacific in 1962 with 107 aboard. Not a trace was ever found.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:29 pm

Quoting NDiesel (Thread starter):
with the technology now available such as Google Earth giving semi-high resolution images of virtually every part of the globe,

Imagery of a lot less of the globe than you might thing is available at resolutions sufficient to recognize an aircraft. The good imagery you see on Google Earth is from aerial photography, not satellites.

Giglit Airport - GIL/ OPGT - is located in a mountain valley with an elevation near 4,800 feet. Satellite photography in mountains is subject to distortions on steep hillsides, making location of wreckage extremely difficult. The method air reconnissance folks like to use is to compare imagery taken a few days apart at the same time of day and look for changes.

The crash occured in August, and by September was likely covered with snow/ice. It could have crashed in an area of permanent snow/ ice - and the wreckage be buried under several dozen feet of snow and ice today. Even if it crashed in an area which is only seasonally covered with snow and ice, the spring melt would easily have moved parts of the wreckage down the mountains and scattered it across hundreds of miles.

An aircraft impact at cruise or climb speed into steep mountains often fractures the wreckage into very small pieces. Only very strong high density items like the engines and landing gear survive as recognizable aircraft parts. I've seen two major and several minor crash sites. The level of destruction of the aircraft is amazing. Hard to understand until you've seen it in person.

The search for Steve Fossett showed the limitations of using such imagery for searches. Some of the highest detail aerial imagery is available for the crash site. Even after the wreckage was located, folks were not able to find indications of the crashed aircraft in Google Earth.
 
cbphoto
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:34 pm

I am sure their are hundreds of General Aviation wreckages that have yet to be discovered out their! I had heard a story about a father and his son going up in a Piper cub in the Phoenix area and crashed into the McDowell Mountains, on the east side of Phoenix! That mountain is routinely hiked by people every day and yet to this day, no part of the wreckage has yet to be found!
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moo
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:41 pm

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 3):
The search for Steve Fossett showed the limitations of using such imagery for searches. Some of the highest detail aerial imagery is available for the crash site. Even after the wreckage was located, folks were not able to find indications of the crashed aircraft in Google Earth.

The search for Steve Fossett also discovered several other aircraft wrecks that had until then lain undiscovered.

Which does give a good indication of just how hard it is to find these things.
 
connies4ever
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 2):
There have been a number of commercial aircraft missing over land that were not found for decades, including a BSAA Lancastrian and a Saeta Viscount, both in the Andes. But the most interesting to me was a Trans-Canada Lockheed Lodestar that vanished on approach to Vancouver in 1947. The wreckage was finally located by hikers in 1994 about 25 miles from the airport!

There was a TCA North Star that vanished about 100nm east of YVR, returning to base at night after an engine failure. This was about 1953, wreckage was finally found about 15 years later near the peak of Mount Slesse.

TCA Lancastrian en route Goose Bay - Prestwick in 1944 vanished without a trace nor a Mayday. Only working theory to my knowledge was an explosion - not unknown with the Lancastrians, which were somewhat civilianized versions of the Lancaster bomber. Could carry 10 high priority pax plus a steward.

Bear in mind that with the technology available now, odds of something literally disappearing, at least on the commercial level, are fairly low. See AF447.
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rfields5421
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:56 pm

I need to add for the OP - no one is against using such tools as aerial or satellite imagery to search for long lost aircraft. It is done and occasionally produces a possible crash site worth searching on the ground.

But aerial imagery is not a 'cure' for the problem. A surprisingly large aircraft can completely disappear in the right type of terrain, snow, trees, etc.

The ValueJet DC-9 crash is an example. Had folks not seen where the plane went down - it might never have been found, or certainly not found after an extensive ground search in the swamp. For a limited time part of one engine was visible but later sank under the water. Otherwise there was no visible sign of a crash except for some scattered paper and other light debris.
 
Canadi>n
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:43 pm

In 1990 a Faucett 727 disappeared on a ferry flight from Malta to Peru. It was flying a leg over the NW Atlantic Ocean and disappeared off the coast of Newfounland.
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Confuscius
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:46 pm

Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra.
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connies4ever
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:48 pm

Quoting Confuscius (Reply 9):
Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra.

They were spotted on "Star Trek: Voyager".  
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longhauler
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:36 pm

British South American Airways lost two Avro Tudor IV aircraft, with no trace.

G-AHNP, Star Tiger, was lost flying from the Azores to Bermuda on Jan 31, 1948.
G-AGRE, Star Ariel, was lost flying from Bermuda to Kingston on Jan 17, 1949.

These and a few other unexplained, nor recovered losses around the same time, started the Bermuda Triangle myths.

[Edited 2012-04-21 09:39:25]
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antoniemey
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:56 pm

Quoting Confuscius (Reply 9):
Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra.

Forensic evidence suggests her remains were eaten by large, land-living crustaceans on an island in the Pacific a bit off of her intended course.
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SkyGazer
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:05 pm

KAL007, allegedly shot down by Soviet jets over Sakhalin island, never to be seen again.
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northstardc4m
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:12 pm

Quoting SkyGazer (Reply 13):

KAL007, allegedly shot down by Soviet jets over Sakhalin island, never to be seen again.

I thought the wreckage of KAL007 had been found?

But along the same line, there were 2 small aircraft found in the same lake in Northern Ontario when I was young, A Norseman and a Cessna 182, the Norseman had been missing for i think it was 25 years or so... was found by accident during the search for the 182!
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SEPilot
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:23 pm

I was involved in the search for a Lear that went down on Christmas Eve, 1996 near Lebanon, NH. It was not found until a hunter discovered it about two years later. It was found in a place where I had flown over at not more that 200' above ground level with two observers, and none of us saw anything suspicious. It had flown into rising terrain that was heavily wooded, and was completely invisible from above (I flew over the site after it was discovered; it was easy to see how we missed it.) So the idea of finding a crash site with Google Earth is laughable. High resolution military photos, perhaps; but Google Earth is woefully inadequate. Any heavily wooded area can conceal even a large aircraft wreck from all but the most intensive aerial search; although the larger the plane the more likely it is to be discovered. But when an aircraft hits a mountain at high speed it is amazing how small the pieces become.
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Buyantukhaa
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:29 pm

Quoting SkyGazer (Reply 13):
KAL007, allegedly shot down by Soviet jets over Sakhalin island, never to be seen again.

I was going to add that one. They showed wreckage on a press release, but closer examination revealed that it included at least one part of an ejection seat and other bits that also couldn't be part of a 747 but were military. At least that is what Michel Brun says in his book.
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PHX787
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:10 pm

There was that guy who parachuted out of the back of a NW plane over Oregon or Washington (I forgot which) back in the day. He was never found, apparently.
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canyonblue17
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:33 pm

I think Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner found one somewhere in Columbia once. It was carrying some interesting cargo.  
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United727
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:38 pm

Wasn't there an Eastern 727 wreck in South America that was never found??
 
WestJet747
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:41 pm

Quoting SkyGazer (Reply 13):
KAL007, allegedly shot down by Soviet jets over Sakhalin island, never to be seen again

Soviet divers claimed to have found it. They say they visited the site the site on more than one occasion. They never offered any wreckage as evidence.
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longhauler
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:47 pm

Quoting United727 (Reply 19):
Wasn't there an Eastern 727 wreck in South America that was never found??

EA980 crashed on January 1, 1985 into Mount Illimani.

The wreckage was not discovered until 2006, as the ice started to melt.
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northstardc4m
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:12 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 21):
EA980 crashed on January 1, 1985 into Mount Illimani.

The wreckage was not discovered until 2006, as the ice started to melt.

Well the wreck site was seen within a couple days of the crash but was too difficult to access from the ground so no major recovery efforts were attempted. Only some bodies were removed with great difficulty and even the flight recorder search was abandoned due to the impossible conditions.

Small pieces have been recovered over the years, including at least 2 complete flight manuals and several warning placards from inside the cabin.

More of the wreckage is coming to the surface lower down now because of the retreat of the glacier, and it is expected that the flight recorders will be found in the next few years.
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teneriffe77
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:01 pm

Wasn't there the case of the UA 721 in Lake Michigan in 1965 that was never found http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19650816-0 of only small fragments were found. Also the case of the Northwest DC7 the crashed in alaska in 1963 and whom only a small amount of wreckage was found http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19630603-1
 
OB1783P
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:06 pm

I have a classic, courtesy of aviation-safety.net:
Lockheed L-1049H Super Constellation, 107 occupants.
Flying Tiger Line Flight 7815/13, operating as Military Air Transport Service (MATS) Charter flight 739/14, originated at Travis AFB with refueling stops at Honolulu, Wake Island, Guam, Clark AFB and was to terminate at Saigon. The flight arrived at Guam at 11:14 GMT with the only irregularities on the way being minor maintenance on the ignition systems of engines no. 1 and 3 at Honolulu, a 30min delay at Honolulu because of stewardess complaints of inadequate rest facilities aboard, and minor maintenance at Wake Island (discrepancies in the no. 1 and 3 engine ignition systems). The flight departed Guam at 12:57 GMT for an IFR flight to Clark AFB, Philippine Islands with an ETA of 19:16 GMT.
The flight climbed to a cruising altitude of 18000 feet and reported being at position 13 40'N and 140 00'E at 14:22. The crew expected to reach position 14 00'N 135 00'E at 15:30. At 15:33 Guam IFSS was experiencing communication difficulties caused by heavy radio static and at 15:39 the operator attempted to contact N6921C to obtain its position report. No radio contact could be established. Search and rescue operations were instituted at 19:43.It appeared that at 15:30 GMT (01:30 local time) the crew of the SS TL Lenzen supertanker had sighted a midair explosion from their position at 13 44'N and 134 49'E. The subsequent search covered 144000 sq miles using 48 aircraft and 8 surface vessels, but nothing was found.
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Euclid
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:08 pm

Quoting cbphoto (Reply 4):
I am sure their are hundreds of General Aviation wreckages that have yet to be discovered out their!

Well, from South Africa, I can tell you about such a case. Two young guys, who were back then busy with their compulsory national service, took off from Wonderboom Airport with a Cherokee, for a flight to the Blyde River Canyon, a flight of probably around two hours or so. The year was 1980.

To this day, no trace of the airplane or the occupants has been found.

Then there is this case in America of a plane that failed to arrive at destination. Three years later the wreckage was found, and videotape recovered from the wreck showed the crash as it was filmed from inside the plane. Quite eerie.

Footage here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfPr_gZzHRw
 
speedbird217
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:10 pm

Interesting thread!
How about a whole formation of 5 aircraft? Flight 19 comes to mind, five TBM Avenger disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945. While searching for them, another PBM Mariner went missing.
They never found any wrecks.

I guess the waters off the coast of Florida must have one of the highest concentration of aircraft wrecks in the world. Conspiracy theories about the Bermuda Triangle aside, there's also a truckload of crashed smuggler planes that probably no one ever even searched for...
 
71Zulu
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:27 pm

Two of them close to MSY,

November 16, 1959, National Airlines flight 967, a DC-7, enroute TPA-MSY, disappeared from radar and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles southeast of MSY killing all 42 aboard. Only 10 of the 42 and parts of the plane were recovered, the main wreckage was never recovered.

February 25, 1964, Eastern Airlines flight 304, a DC-8, enroute MSY-ATL, crashed into Lake Pontchartrain shortly after departure from MSY and all 58 aboard were killed. Only about 65% of the plane was eventually recovered after months of searching and most victims were not recovered.
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Archer
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:00 pm

In New Zealand a Dragon Rapide disappeared near or in Cook Sound I believe. A flight with a honeymoon
couple and the pilot. No trace was ever found. I don't remember what year but 1950's? Not an airline flight
but it was a commercial sightseeing trip.
 
LVTMB
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:05 pm

On 3 November 1965 an Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Argentina) C-54 - registered TC48 - was lost off Costa Rica en route from Balboa-Howard AFB in Panama to San Salvador. 69 lives were lost. There were 3 crew members and 66 Air Force cadets. The wreck was never located and there are those who believe it crashed into the sea as well as those who state it crashed in the jungle.

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71Zulu
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:19 pm

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 15):
It had flown into rising terrain that was heavily wooded, and was completely invisible from above (I flew over the site after it was discovered; it was easy to see how we missed it.)

Some may have seen this video,

http://youtu.be/OgWfQoNaCZU

this pilot, his wife and 4 passengers went missing in Venezuela in 2009 and they have never been found.

With the way the jungle canopy is, might never be located.

http://www.findingbobnorton.org/

http://youtu.be/rKdLpxD-wtc
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COSPN
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:24 pm

Guam to the Philippines is missing two aircraft !!! Flying Tiger 739 (3/15/62), and the Hawaii Clipper (7/28/30)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii_Clipper

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tiger_Line_Flight_739
 
Viscount724
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:33 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 6):
There was a TCA North Star that vanished about 100nm east of YVR, returning to base at night after an engine failure. This was about 1953, wreckage was finally found about 15 years later near the peak of Mount Slesse.

5 months later, not 15 years. That crash occurred in December 1956 and the wreckage was found in May 1957.
http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19561209-1
 
Viscount724
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:44 pm

Quoting teneriffe77 (Reply 23):
Wasn't there the case of the UA 721 in Lake Michigan in 1965 that was never found http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19650816-0 of only small fragments were found.

Not correct. The wreckage was found and 82% (by weight) was recovered. Read the accident report (link to the report is in the link you posted.)
 
 
airplane
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:26 pm

In Ecuador August 15 1976 a vickers viscount flying for a domestic carrier "SAETA" carrying 55 passengers plus 4 crew, disappeared while on route from Quito to Cuenca.

I was amazing all the stories that came along. There were testimonies about that the plane might been taken by a UFO, some others said that they were hijacked and kept by the Colombian guerrilla and that the aircraft has been seen in Colombia. And all this was also a part of a major ripoff which is a book that was published and it actually became pretty famous called "Pasaje de ida" (One was ticket). That book had all kinds of testimonies even from passengers on the plane that didn't want to reveal their identity, it said the food their was on board, comments and conversations throughout the passengers.
How ever, it turns out that in October 2002 a group of Andean climbers were climbing mount Chimborazo and found the wreckage. They reported it to the authorities and it was confirmed in February 2003.

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19760815-0

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rleiro
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:24 am

On April 2nd 1993, a DC-9-10 of Aeropostal crashed nearby La Blanquilla Island during a test flight. All 11 on board perished. It was just found a life vest and a oil slick. Neither the aircraft or the crewmen were never found.

http://aviation-safety.net/photos/aircraft/750/19930402-0-P-d-1-750.jpg

Saludos,

Roberto.

[Edited 2012-04-21 17:27:37]
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GRZ-AIR
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:49 am

The planes that crashed into the WTC during 911 - was there any wreckage ever found?

rgds GRZ-AIR
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Okie
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:04 am

How about the 727 tail number 844AA that disappeared along with pilot and a mechanic.


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bok269
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:14 am

Quoting GRZ-AIR (Reply 37):
The planes that crashed into the WTC during 911 - was there any wreckage ever found?

Yes. http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/wtc/recovery/aircraft.html   
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SYfan100
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:46 am

I recall reading a story one time in a mag about KAL 007 when I was younger. Then the United over Lake Michigan and the Northwest in Alaska have always interested me.
Most recent though the Air France one even though some wreckage was found, that one does interest me as well with what did really happen?
I am sure in a mountain that you will find at least one plane wreck from the early days that got covered with snow and ice.
 
penguins
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:48 am

Air India 182 was destroyed by a bomb over the North Atlantic. I think it was too deep to bother recovering the wreck. In Australia a "UFO" abducted a small Cessna 182 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentich_disappearance.
 
flightsimer
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:07 am

What plane was just found last year or maybe the year prior that had been missing since the 70s I believe? I believe It was in Europe, possibly in the med, but it was definitely under water.
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connies4ever
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:20 am

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 32):

5 months later, not 15 years. That crash occurred in December 1956 and the wreckage was found in May 1957.
http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19561209-1

Perils of an aging memory. Thanks for the correction.

There is/was also the unusual and colourful case of the "Flying Bandit", Ken Leishman:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Leishman
http://thiswaswinnipeg.blogspot.ca/2008/07/flying-bandit.html

Leishman, while flying a mercy flight in December 1979, disappeared. Many people rolled their eyes and said "Here we go again", but in fact he had crashed into the NW Ontario boreal forest. The wreckage was not found until the following spring and the evacuee and nurse remains were IDed, but nothing was found of Leishman himself. The blogspot has the "most likely" outcome for Leishman.

At the time of the Great Gold Heist, security at airports was not a real big issue. In fact, the day of the heist my father was working at the AC mx base and he, like the rest of his crew, were seriously interrogated by the RCMP. IIRC he didn't get home until about 4 AM. The gold was shipped in small boxes, one bar per. YWG can be quite windy and hot in the summer, and to help prop the hangar doors open so people wouldn't suffocate, the staff would put 3 or 4 gold containing boxes against each door to stabilize them. No lie.

I guess that wouldn't be the case these days. There's no fun left.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
ltbewr
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:36 am

Quoting penguins (Reply 41):
Air India 182 was destroyed by a bomb over the North Atlantic. I think it was too deep to bother recovering the wreck

Per Wikipedea as to this crash, they did recover the 'black boxes', other parts as well as some bodies and parts of the bomb to clearly identiffy the wreck.
 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:49 am

Big band leader Glenn Miller, who went down somewhere over England during WWII. Nothing has ever been found.
 
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airportugal310
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:09 am

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 15):

I was going to mention this but you beat me to it. From what I read in the NTSB report, a farmer was out for a hike with his dogs near his farm and he spotted the wreck from the trail I believe.
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flyhigh@tom
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RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:34 am

Quoting flightsimer (Reply 42):
What plane was just found last year or maybe the year prior that had been missing since the 70s I believe? I believe It was in Europe, possibly in the med, but it was definitely under water.

I believe you mean this one:

Sata Caravelle 10R Wreckage Found After 34 Years (by pliersinsight Oct 25 2011 in Civil Aviation)

Quoting flightsimer (Reply 42):

The lost Caravelle wreckage found after 34 years! This was a crash with survivors on final approach and very close to the shore.
 
flightsimer
Posts: 902
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:34 am

RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:39 am

Quoting flyhigh@tom (Reply 47):

yup, thats it... I remembered the thread from here.... i was even thinking it might have been a caravelle, but then was thinking it might have been a DC-9 or F28...

Thanks
Commercial Pilot- SEL, MEL, Instrument
 
grimey
Posts: 309
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 2:48 am

RE: Never Found Wreckages

Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:46 am

What about the Star Dust air crash, it was found after 50 years but it shows that when an aircraft crashes into a snow covered mountain it can become buried and "invisible" to the naked eye. I remember watching a BBC documentary a few years ago on this and they never found out what STENDEC means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Dust_(aircraft)

Grimey