Cessna 172

A Cessna 172 similar to the missing plane

A Cessna 172 similar to the missing plane

On Sunday January 3, 1971, 24 year old Donald Tripplett and his 22 year old wife Kathie left Ladysmith, Wisconsin in their blue and white Cessna (registration number N8342L) heading for their home in Holland, Michigan, about 360 miles by air. They had been visiting Tripplett’s parents in Bruce, Wisconsin over the holidays.

┬áThe US Coast Guard stated that Tripplett reported to the Ladysmith tower that he had four hours of fuel remaining when he radioed to check weather conditions. Wisconsin was hit by a severe snowstorm on Sunday, the day they took off. While the Coast Guard reported that Tripplett’s flight plan called for circling Lake Michigan by a northern route, no flight plan had been filed.

From the Holland Sentinel, January 11, 1971:

The Civil Air patrol in Michigan and Wisconsin Sunday called off a six-day search for a private plane with a Holland couple aboard missing since Jan. 3 on a flight from Wisconsin to Holland. Aboard the single-engine Cessna were the pilot, Donald Triplett, 24, and his wife, Kathie, 22. They were returning from Ladysmith, Wis. after visiting relatives. The plane vanished in a snow storm after it was last heard from by radio at Wausau, Wis. The Tripletts lived at 311 West 17th St. Holland.

Michigan CAP officials today said 66 aircraft logged 200 hours of flying time in the search of Upper and Lower Michigan. In Wisconsin, Capt. William Reese of the CAP said flights Sunday turned up some possible leads and that they had been turned over to the Door County sheriff’s department. Reese said an intensive all-day reconnaissance was conducted Sunday in the Door county area where reports of several trees down on a hill side were received. The Coast Guard launched a helicopter to search Lake Michigan near Pentwater, Mich, after reports were received thai a one-man raft had been sighted in the lake. The search failed to turn up anything.”

It is believed the wreck is still somewhere in Lake Michigan.