Parapedia - Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501

Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501 was operating its daily transcontinental service between New York City and Seattle when it disappeared on the night of June 23, 1950. The flight, a DC-4, was carrying 58 people (55 passengers and 3 crew members).

The plane was at approximately 3,500 feet (1070 m) over Lake Michigan 29 km (18.1 mi), NNW of Benton Harbor, Michigan when it vanished off the radar screens after requesting descent to 2,500 feet (760 m). A widespread search was commenced including searching with sonars and dragging the bottom of Lake Michigan with trawlers but to no avail. Considerable light debris, upholstery, and human body fragments were found floating on the surface, but divers were unable to locate the plane's wreckage.

There were many suggestions as to what caused the plane to vanish from the radar. It is known that Flight 2501 was entering a squall line and turbulence but since the plane's wreckage was not found, the cause of the crash was never discovered.

The missing airliner is the subject of an annual search by Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, a Michigan-based non-profit organization. The search is funded by author Clive Cussler.

In September 2008, a researcher investigating the crash of Flight 2501 has found an unmarked grave that she believes contains the remains of some of the 58 victims. Valerie van Heest says human remains from the June 1950 crash into Lake Michigan washed ashore and were buried in a mass grave. She claims they were buried in a St. Joseph-area cemetery without the knowledge of the victims' families, and the grave never was marked.