The disappearance of Flight 2501 next winter writers series topic.

March 8, 2018

Valerie van Heest

The disappearance of Flight 2501 next winter writers series topic.

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — The disappearance of Flight 2501 will be the topic of the next and final edition of the Ludington Winter Writers Series. The event will feature author, maritime historian, and diver Valerie van Heest on Thursday, March 15, 7 p.m., at United Methodist Church, 5601 W. Bryant Road. The series is sponsored by Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers, the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and the Mason County Historical Society.

Northwestern Airlines Flight 2501 was considered the worst aviation crash of its time and as one of the greatest tragedies of the Great Lakes. All 58 people aboard the flight on June 23, 1950 were lost when the plane went down over Lake Michigan. Aircraft debris and other evidence were found along the Lake Michigan shore near South Haven in the days following the accident.

Over the years, searchers have attempted to locate the plane at the bottom of the lake, to no avail. But van Heest, director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, said families of victims need not wait to learn what happened that night when 34-year-old Capt. Robert Lind decided to fly the plane into a dangerous storm that other pilots avoided.

Using 10 years of research, she recreates the last hours of the flight and connects a series of bad decisions and unfortunate events leading to the crash.

The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, and the National Underwater and Marine Agency, a non-profit organization founded by the famous mystery author Clive Cussler, decided in 2003 to look into the crash. 

The original government investigation never determined a cause for why the flight went down.

“The answers we’ve been looking for on the bottom of Lake Michigan are really hidden in the memories of people,” said van Heest, of Holland. “I’ve interviewed 50 of the 58 victims’ families and that’s been my job: to unlock their memories.

Admission to the lecture will be $5 and will support SPLKA, Port of Ludington Maritime Museum and the Mason County Historical Society.

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