CLEVELAND — The chief executive of a beverage distribution company and his family were among six people on a plane that disappeared overnight shortly after takeoff from Cleveland’s lakeshore airport, his family said Friday.
The parents of Superior Beverage Company executive John T. Fleming confirmed to multiple media outlets that he was the pilot of the Columbus-bound plane carrying three children and three adults when it vanished from radar late Thursday about 2 miles over Lake Erie.
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.”
Crews combing Lake Erie for the plane on Friday remain hopeful that the occupants could be found alive, and they are in search-and-rescue mode, not recovery mode, as they ply waters about 50 feet deep, said Capt. Michael Mullen, the chief of response for the Ninth Coast Guard District.
Authorities have detected “faint hints” but no strong pulse from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane, Mullen said. Searchers have found no sign of debris.
“We’re 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,” Mullen said at news conference Friday.
But when asked about the possibility of the single-engine jet landing safely on Lake Erie, Mullen said, “Aircraft are not designed to float, especially in…
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