The Mystery of Northwest Orient Flight 2501: South Haven, Michigan 1950
The bodies of the June 23, 1950 crash of the Northwest Orient Airline Flight 2501 have never been recovered. Pieces, yes, but nothing identifiable.
According to Fear of Landing, the plane was flying from New York’s La Guardia airport to Seattle Washington. At a quarter to 4 that afternoon, a special thunderstorm forecast came through for the Detroit-Minneapolis area. An updated forecast came over at 6:45 pm, but the NY dispatcher didn’t get it until the flight crew had left to make the flight check. Flight 2501 departed at 7:31pm with 55 passengers on board.
At 11:13pm, the flight requested a cruising altitude of 2,500 feet with no explanation why. The request was not approved and they continued the flight at 3,500 feet. This was the last anyone heard from anyone on board and the flight never showed up at its destination. Believing the worst, mass searches began through the foggy waters of Lake Michigan.
Underwater searches began the next day, followed by dragging the water with grapnel hooks. No luck. Later that evening, the coast guard found an oil slick on Lake Michigan, the aircraft log book, and other fragments. No plane wreckage could be found.
After four days, the only things recovered were numerous things like pillows, blankets, luggage, clothes, and arm rests. But no plane parts.
And then…..body parts began to wash up on the South Beach shore in South Haven. The shredded condition of these led the Coast Guard to believe an explosion must have occurred to put these parts in such terrible shape. With such a large number of parts that washed ashore, the beach had to be closed.
The pieces were hastily buried together in two mass graves: St. Joseph and South Haven’s Lakeview Cemetery. The names of all the victims are etched into the monuments. Well over 70 years later, the aircraft has still not been found.
Memorial for Northwest Orient Flight 2501: St. Joseph