The Latest: Coast Guard suspends plane search; 6 onboard

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2016 7:29 PM
The Latest: Coast Guard suspends plane search; 6 onboard

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on the search for a missing plane in Lake Erie near Cleveland (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it's suspending search-and-rescue efforts for a plane that went missing over Lake Erie near Cleveland with six people onboard to allow the city to begin recovery efforts. The Coast Guard is no longer expecting to find anyone alive.

Coast Guard Capt. Michael Mullen says deciding to end a search is never easy. He says the Coast Guard extends its condolences to "the family and friends of those who lost loved ones during this tragedy."

The Coast Guard had been using planes, helicopters and a 140-foot-long cutter in searching a 128-square-mile area in the lake after the plane lost radar contact late Thursday.

The plane took off from Cleveland's lakefront airport piloted by John T. Fleming, president of a Columbus beverage distribution company. With him were his wife, their teenage sons, a neighbor and the neighbor's daughter.

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5:30 p.m.

An executive with the Columbus, Ohio-based beverage distributor where the pilot of a plane carrying five others over Lake Erie vanished is president and CEO says it's been a difficult day as the search continues.

Joseph McHenry says in a statement Friday that he and others are working to support the families of those on the plane piloted by Superior Beverage Group's John T. Fleming. The statement says others on the plane were Fleming's wife, Sue, their teenage sons Jack and Andrew and two close friends, who have been identified as a neighbor and the neighbor's daughter.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been searching an area about 2 miles out from the Cleveland lakeshore airport where the plane took off Thursday night. A flight-tracking service says it appears the plane rapidly lost altitude.

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2 p.m.

Data from a tracking service indicate a plane carrying six people rapidly lost altitude after taking off from a Cleveland airport along Lake Erie's shore and then vanished from radar.

The Columbus-bound aircraft disappeared about 2 miles over the lake late Thursday. Why remains unclear.

Tracking service FlightAware logged only three location pings for the plane after takeoff, and the last one indicated rapid altitude loss.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday that crews were searching for signs of the plane in waters about 50 feet deep. Searchers have found no sign of any debris or of the three adults and three children who were on board.

A Coast Guard official says there were only "faint hints" from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane.

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12:40 p.m.

Relatives say the chief executive of a beverage distribution company was piloting the plane that disappeared overnight shortly after takeoff from a Cleveland airport along Lake Erie's shore.

As crews searched the waters Friday, the parents of Superior Beverage Company executive John T. Fleming confirmed to multiple media outlets that he was the pilot.

Fleming's father tells The Blade newspaper in Toledo that the other five people on the plane were Fleming's wife, two teenage sons, a neighbor and the neighbor's daughter. John W. Fleming also described his son as "an experienced pilot."

The Columbus-bound aircraft disappeared from radar about 2 miles over the lake late Thursday. Why it vanished remained unclear.

Searchers have found no sign of debris. They say the waters being searched are about 50 feet deep.

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11:30 a.m.

A U.S. Coast Guard official says crews are in search-and-rescue mode, not recovery mode, as they look for a plane carrying six people that disappeared overnight shortly after takeoff from a Cleveland airport along Lake Erie's shore.

Capt. Michael Mullen says Friday that authorities have "faint hints" but no strong pulse from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane.

Three children and three adults were aboard when the Columbus-bound aircraft disappeared from radar about 2 miles over the lake late Thursday. Why it vanished remained unclear. Searchers have found no sign of debris.

Mullen says snow squalls, higher seas and darkness made nighttime searching difficult. He says it would have been the pilot's responsibility to determine whether it was safe to fly.

Authorities haven't identified the travelers.

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9 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says three children and three adults were on the plane that went missing overnight shortly after takeoff from a small Cleveland airport along the Lake Erie shore.

Coast Guard officials say crews searching the water had found no sign of debris or the passengers as of Friday morning, and no emergency beacon was detected.

The agency says the Columbus-bound Cessna Citation 525 departed Burke Lakefront Airport late Thursday and disappeared from radar about 2 miles over the lake. Why remains unclear.

A Coast Guard public affairs officer said he couldn't immediately confirm whether the passengers were related.

Weather prevented a boat search overnight, but aircraft were being used and a ship was headed from Detroit to help. Waters in the area are about 50 feet deep.

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7:25 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says crews are searching Lake Erie for a plane that went missing overnight shortly after takeoff from a small Cleveland airport along the shore.

The Columbus-bound Cessna Citation 525 departed Burke Lakefront Airport late Thursday night with six people aboard and disappeared from radar about 2 miles over the lake.

The Coast Guard says there's been no sign of debris or passengers. Coast Guard official James Cox in Buffalo, New York, says no emergency beacon has been detected.

Weather prevented a boat search overnight, but aircraft were being used. A ship was headed from Detroit to help. The agency says waters in the area are about 50 feet deep.

Cox says the plane is kept at Ohio State University's airfield, but the travelers aren't affiliated with OSU.

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6:30 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says there's been no sign of debris or those aboard a plane that took off from a small Ohio airport on the shores of Lake Erie and went missing overnight.

Coast Guard official James Cox in Buffalo, New York, says the search continues Friday for the Cessna Citation 525 that went missing after taking off from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, headed for an Ohio State University airfield. He says no emergency beacon has been detected, either.

Cox said the plane is kept at a hangar at the airfield, but the six people aboard the aircraft aren't affiliated with OSU. Their names weren't released, pending notification of their families.

Weather prevented a search by boat overnight. A helicopter was used.

Another helicopter and a ship from Detroit plus a C-130 from Canada are headed Friday to the search site.

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2:30 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a missing plane that took off from a small Ohio airport on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Cessna Citation 525 took off shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.

Coast Guard officials tell WEWS-TV that they received a report after the airport's air traffic control lost connection with the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the aircraft was headed to Ohio State University, but is not visible on FAA radar.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on board.