News Stories after Jack Nolen was Found

 

February 14, 2005

February 15, 2005

February 16, 2005

 

 

 

February 14, 2005

 

Monday, February 14, 2005 - 11:50:54 PM
Missing Pilot Found Dead

Crews have identified the body of a prominent Oklahoman after his plane went down in rural Hughes County.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the burned body of 73-year-old Dr. Jack Nolen was found today along with the burned plane.

F.A.A. spokesman Jack Cables says the plane probably crashed and burned on impact.

If you'll remember Dr. Nolen disappeared after taking off from a
Paris, Texas airport in his kitfox light squared plane on January 16th

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Missing plane found crashed in Hughes County

Investigators in Oklahoma have found the wreckage of a plane that's been missing for a month.

Doctor Jack Nolen's plane was reported missing on January 14th after he took off from Paris, Texas. The 73-year-old Muskogee, Oklahoma man was on his way to Shawnee, Oklahoma.

 

He was the only person on the small, single-engine, two-seat airplane.

 

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman John Clabes says the crashed Kitfox Lite Squared airplane was found about four miles north of Holdenville, Oklahoma.

 

He says officials identified the crashed plane as the missing plane by matching the tailfin number.

Clabes says investigators are still trying to figure out why the plane crashed.

 

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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February 15, 2005

Rancher finds plane; may be doctor's


A Holdenville rancher feeding cattle Monday found the remains of a small plane and its pilot who officials believe to be Dr. Jack Nolen, 73, of Muskogee.

Nolen has been missing since Jan. 14, when he left a Texas airport in a single engine kit-built plane.

"Everyone is 98 percent sure it's him," said Audi Sanford, 52, the rancher who found the debris. "His is the only plane missing, but they will have to check the numbers to be definitely sure."

Sanford found the debris about 4:15 p.m. Monday in his pasture about 4 miles north of U.S. 270 off Yeager Road while spreading Bermuda grass out to his cattle. Sanford moved his cattle to that pasture Saturday.

Nolen, who retired as medical director at Muskogee Regional Medical Center on Dec. 31 and still worked part-time at MRMC, flew out of a Paris, Texas, airport at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 14 headed to Shawnee to visit a friend.

After Nolen was reported missing the next day, Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol air and ground teams concentrated most of their search in an area in Hughes County and Pittsburg County from daylight to dark for nine days, giving up the search on Jan. 23.

The state medical examiner's office in Oklahoma City said the remains will be brought there for a positive identification.

Sanford described the crash site to the Phoenix during a telephone interview Monday night.

"It had hit the ground and looked like somebody had been stuck," Sanford said. "I visually followed on up another 40 yards to the actual wreckage.

"It was in a grove of thick trees - looked like it had hit almost dead on. The motor and undercarriage just circled a tree.

"I immediately went looking for a body. I knew what it (wreckage) was and how long it had been there. At first, I was afraid whoever had been in it had crawled toward the road to get help."

But when Sanford began finding body parts, he knew that the pilot had burned, he said.

"There's not much left ...," he said. "My sympathy just goes out to the family."

Sanford said he knows the family has been sick with uncertainty.

Finding the wreckage was a real shock, he said.

"The plane probably was on fire before it hit the trees," Sanford said. "There was burned material where it had hit the ground. I bet they could haul every bit of it off in a pickup."

Sanford said he called 911 after he found the wreckage.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Randy Rogers said the Federal Aviation Administration was alerted to the crash site, as was the National Transportation Safety Board.

Sanford said investigators found a couple of numbers on the plane.

Lawmen and investigators will return at 7 a.m. today to continue the search for any body parts, he said.

Nolen's ex-wife and the mother of his two youngest children, Susan McColley, said all the family had been told about the wreckage being found and that it probably was their loved one. Nolen had four sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.

"I didn't give up hope until now," McColley said. "It was just one of those things - wondering was just driving us crazy. We didn't know anything at all."

She said everyone has been so good to the family.

Originally published February 15, 2005

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Search for missing plane ends in rancher's pasture


Associated Press

After dozens of volunteers spent hours and hours looking by land and air, the monthlong search for a Muskogee doctor's plane ended in Audi Sanford's field.

Sanford was spreading Bermuda grass for his cattle around 4:15 p.m. Monday when he found the wreckage of a small plane in his pasture about four miles north of Holdenville.

"It had hit the ground and looked like somebody had been stuck," Sanford said. "I visually followed on up another 40 yards to the actual wreckage. It was in a grove of thick trees - looked like it had hit almost dead on. The motor and undercarriage just circled a tree."

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman John Clabes said the crashed plane's tailfin was found to match that of Nolen's missing plane. Officials from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive on Tuesday to find out why the plane crashed.

"That's a very wooded area over there," Clabes said. "You just never know what happened to it."

Search crews with the Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol had searched wooded areas of Hughes County and neighboring Pittsburg County after Nolen's plane was reported missing on Jan. 14, but called off the search nine days later after logging 300 hours of flight time over the area. Dozens of volunteers also helped in the search.

The search had focused on a heavily wooded area in Hughes County west of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant where air traffic controllers last picked up a signal.

Sanford, 52, moved his cattle to the pasture on Saturday, and was shocked at what he found when he returned two days later. He said he called 911 after he found the plane.

"The plane probably was on fire before it hit the trees," Sanford said. "There was burned material where it had hit the ground. I bet they could haul every bit of it off in a pickup."

The state medical examiner's office in Oklahoma City said remains found with the wreckage would be brought there for a positive identification. Nolen, 73, was last seen leaving the Paris, Texas, airport at about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 14 on his way to Shawnee. He was the only person on the small, single-engine, two-seat airplane. Clabes said the aircraft was very light and homebuilt.

Nolen recently retired as Muskogee Regional Medical Center's medical director after working there for seven years. He also was the medical director of Good Shepherd Health Clinic, a free clinic for the working poor in the Muskogee area.

Nolen had four sons, one daughter and two grandchildren. Nolen's ex-wife, Susan McColley, said the family had been told about the wreckage being found and that it probably was Nolen.

"I didn't give up hope until now," said McColley, the mother of Nolen's two youngest children. "It was just one of those things - wondering was just driving us crazy. We didn't know anything at all."

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February 16, 2005

 

Plane, remains are local doctor's


Pilot Dr. Jack Nolen's family, which has been in limbo emotionally since the Muskogee physician went missing Jan. 14, have accepted he died in the wreckage of his plane found in a Holdenville pasture Monday.

"I feel maybe we had adjusted to the situation of his being missing. Now it's kind of upside down and it's very, very different than yesterday (Monday)," said one of Nolen's five children, Tim Nolen, 43, of Kingsport, Tenn. "It's going to be hard to get to that point of accepting it. But I'm really glad this (not knowing) won't be going on."

Federal Aviation Administration officials said Tuesday that tailfin numbers on the wrecked plane matched those of Nolen's single-engine, kit-built plane that disappeared Jan. 14 after leaving an airport in Texas, FAA spokesman John Clabe said.

The plane's wreckage was found Monday in a pasture about 4 miles north of Holdenville.

The state medical examiner's office said a positive identification on the body found near the wreckage will be completed today.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Foster-Petering Funeral Home in Muskogee, Tim Nolen said. A decision as to where burial will be has not been made yet.

Nolen said his father told family members earlier he wanted to be cremated.

Dr. Jack Nolen's ex-wife, Susan McColley, and his two youngest children, Paige, 14, and Jack Jr., 22, live in the Muskogee area. Paige is a student at Fort Gibson, and Jack Jr. graduated in January from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama.

Nolen also had three sons by an earlier marriage: Tim, an engineer; Matt Nolen, 44, an artist and adjunct professor at New York University who holds a degree in architecture; Philip Nolen, 35, an actor associated with Walt Disney and living in Orlando, Fla.

Tim Nolen earlier talked of how industrious and giving his father was, saying he believed in what John Wesley said: "Work all you can. Save all you can and give all you can." Tim Nolen said his father could have taken life easy but continued to work and never stopped giving.

"We're just not going to be able to replace him," Tim Nolen said on Jan. 20, three days before a massive ground and air search for his father was called off.

Friends of Jack Nolen, who had been the medical director at Muskogee Regional Medical Center and Good Shepherd Health Clinic, were somber Tuesday.

"We knew that there was absolutely no hope he was alive. But we're all like family. And like the family, we wanted closure," MRMC spokesman Ched Wetz said. "We wanted them to find him and we wanted to know what happened to him."

Wetz said Nolen was a personable, friendly guy who had interesting ways about him that made people get attached to him.

Nolen had a pilot's license but not a current medical certificate, FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said. Whether or not Nolen needed the medical certificate for the type of plane he was piloting will be part of the FAA's investigation into the cause of the plane crash.

You can reach reporter Donna Hales at 684-2923 or dhales@muskogeephoenix.com.

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