Missing Pilot Found Dead
Crews have identified the
body of a prominent Oklahoman after his plane went down in rural
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
Doctor Jack Nolen's plane was reported missing on January 14th
after he took off from
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
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.
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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
Nolen has been missing since Jan. 14, when he left a
"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."
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
"It had hit the ground and looked like somebody had been
"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."
"There's not much left ...," he said. "My sympathy just goes out to the family."
Finding the wreckage was a real shock, he said.
"The plane probably was on fire before it hit the
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Randy Rogers said the Federal Aviation Administration was alerted to the crash site, as was the National Transportation Safety Board.
Lawmen and investigators will return at 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.
had hit the ground and looked like somebody had been stuck,"
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."
crews with the Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol had searched wooded areas of
search had focused on a heavily wooded area in
plane probably was on fire before it hit the trees,"
state medical examiner's office in
recently retired as
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."
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."
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
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.
arrangements are pending with Foster-Petering Funeral Home in
Nolen said his father told family members earlier he wanted to be cremated.
Jack Nolen's ex-wife, Susan McColley, and his two
youngest children, Paige, 14, and Jack Jr., 22, live in the
also had three sons by an earlier marriage: Tim, an engineer; Matt Nolen, 44,
an artist and adjunct professor at
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.
of Jack Nolen, who had been the medical director at
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.