Skip to main content

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.
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.

Next Up

fire truck

Explosion reported near Hastings; man airlifted to hospital

Authorities say the victim has serious injuries.

Screen Shot 2022-10-05 at 2.30.07 PM

School faces uncertain future after land sold to Catholic nonprofit

The school near Marine on St. Croix sits on land that's just been sold.


Boy suffers 'life-threatening' injuries in car-bike collision in Minneapolis

Police said the driver is cooperating with the investigation.

North Memorial Health Hospital

Man dies from gunshot wounds after Minneapolis shooting

The death marked the 69th homicide of the year in the city.


Gallery: Island cabin is one of northernmost homes for sale in MN

Want to buy one of the northernmost homes on the market in Minnesota?

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

Charges: Houston men robbed Edina bank of $110,000

A third suspect has not yet been identified.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys coming to Minnesota for 2023 tour

The rock band hasn't gone on tour in the United States since 2019.


Thomas Stillwell

Bad weather a possible factor in plane crash that killed doctor

The 65-year-old was bound for Crystal Airport, but never arrived.

3 Wyoming men killed when plane crashes in northwest Minnesota

The aircraft went down just west of Thief River Falls airport.

court gavel

Carlton County reaches $6.2M settlement with man shot by deputies

The man suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in quadriplegia.

Anthony Puckett

Missing Superior man's body found in Wisconsin river

The 40-year-old was reported missing late Monday, April 22.

Hailey Anderson Cumberland WI police

Authorities find body, vehicle in search for missing WI woman

Hailey Anderson was supposed to be travelling to Hibbing, but never showed up.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Woman dies after her ATV collides with car near Moose Lake

The crash happened Saturday on the Soo Line North Trail.

What to do with $4B worth of airplanes you didn't actually order

Northwest Airlines placed the order. Now they don't exist.