Photo: Dreamstime

Michigan State Police Find Missing Plane; Occupants Still Missing

May 23, 2019 - 9:46 am

FRANKFORT, Mich. (WWJ) - Authorities have located a small plane that went missing over Lake Michigan more than a week ago.

Michigan State Police say the Marine Services Team found the single-engine aircraft Wednesday evening in about 515 feet of water. A rover with video capability was able to positively identify it as the red Beechcraft Bonanza 35, tail number N1561Z, that disappeared near Frankfort on May 12. 

The rover searched the plane, Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel said, but did not find pilot or passenger.

"They did look inside to see if there were any bodies," Schendel told WWJ's Beth Fisher. "But unfortunately the door was open and there was nobody inside." 

Because the plane was in pristine condition, Schendel said investigators believe that Randal Dippold and Emanuel Manos were able to land on the lake and get out, but then did not survive the cold waters.  

It's still unclear exactly why the six-seater plane went down.

Schendel said the pair took off Sunday, May 12, in Ontanagon, Michigan and were headed to Monroe when the FAA lost contact with them at around 8 p.m. 

"We received a call from traffic control from Minneapolis stating that they'd received an emergency response from a single-engine aircraft that reported that his engine was locked up and dead...It then descended below 1,000 feet, so they lost it on radar," the sheriff said. 

An investigation is ongoing. 

"While we're happy to provide some additional information to their families, we recognize that closure may be difficult to find without the location of their missing loved ones. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with the family," State Police, in a release. 

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Benzie County Sheriff's Office at 231-882-4484.