3 kids, 3 adults on plane missing over Lake Erie

Posted at 10:45 AM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 14:15:10-05

CLEVELAND (AP) — Data from a tracking service indicates a plane carrying six people rapidly lost altitude after taking off from a Cleveland airport along Lake Erie’s shore and then vanished from radar.

The Columbus-bound aircraft disappeared about 2 miles over the lake late Thursday. Why remains unclear.

Tracking service FlightAware logged only three location pings for the plane after takeoff, and the last one indicated rapid altitude loss.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday that crews were searching for signs of the plane in waters about 50 feet deep. Searchers have found no sign of any debris or of the three adults and three children who were on board.

A Coast Guard official says there were only “faint hints” from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane.

Relatives say the chief executive of a beverage distribution company was piloting the plane.  The parents of Superior Beverage Company executive John T. Fleming confirmed to multiple media outlets that he was the pilot.

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.”