Missing airplane bound for Twins Cities found in river, along with man's body

The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at the Crystal Airport, but never landed.
Publish date:
An example of a Mooney M20J aircraft.

An example of a Mooney M20J aircraft.


The small plane that went missing between Moose Lake and Crystal has been found partially submerged in a river, and the body of a man recovered.

The Carlton County Sheriff's Office said that the plane was found crashed in the Moose Horn River, a short distance northwest of the Moose Lake Airport runway.

Inside was the body of a male that authorities believe to be Thomas Jay Stillwell, 65, of Plymouth, Minnesota.

The investigation into the cause of the crash will continue, with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board both sending investigators to the scene.

The plane, a Mooney M20J, is owned by the nonprofit Club Cherokee and lists Crystal Airport as its address.

A staff member at Moose Lake airport told the Star Tribune that the plane was regularly used by a doctor to do medical outreach around the state.

Original story

A small aircraft that was supposed to land at a Twin Cities area airport never showed up - and authorities have no idea what happened or where it is.

Someone filed a flight plan with the FAA to take off from Moose Lake Carlton County Airport at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, and land at Crystal Airport around 5:15 p.m., the Carlton County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

But at 8 p.m., the FAA called to report an overdue flight. The plane never arrived at the Crystal airport.

Authorities have been conducting a ground search, trying to locate the plane and pilot. (Snowy, rainy weather is preventing a search from the air.)

Deputies checked the Cloquet, Moose Lake, and Hinckley airports and didn't find the aircraft. The Carlton and Pine County Sheriff's offices have not received any reports of a downed aircraft from citizens.

And the plane was never picked up on radar at either the Duluth or Minneapolis airport towers.

As of Thursday morning, authorities had no idea where the plane was and had not had any contact with the pilot.

The plane in question is a Mooney model M20J single engine airplane with a tail number of N111JP. Anyone with information about what happened or where the plane might be is asked to call the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office at 218-384-4185.

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