Newspaper Articles about the Disappearance of Jack Richard Nolen, M.D.




January 21, 2005  Missing local doctor's plight hits his family hard

January 22, 2005  Search for doctor zones in on Eufaula Lake area

January 24, 2005  Search to find Muskogee doctor ends

January 24, 2005  Search for missing aircraft called off

Monday, January 24, 2005  Search Called Off for Missing Pilot



January 16th, 2005  Local doctor's plane goes missing
Recently retired MRMC director was flying from Paris, Texas to Shawnee

By Donna Hales
Phoenix Staff Writer


Civil Air Patrol volunteers from Muskogee, Oklahoma City and Texas searched Saturday for a missing plane piloted by a Muskogee doctor.

Dr. Jack Nolen, 73, departed Paris, Texas, on Friday en route to Shawnee, Civil Air Patrol officials at Tinker Air Force Base said.

Nolen was piloting a kit-built plane he recently purchased, said Muskogee Regional Medical Center Senior Vice President/Financial Director Jim Blair.

Nolen, recently retired medical director of MRMC, also is medical director of Good Shepherd Health Clinic, a free clinic for the working poor in the Muskogee area.

Nolen served at MRMC for seven years before his Dec. 31 retirement. He still works at MRMC part-time, Blair said.

Civil Air Patrol Maj. Charles Newcomb of Oklahoma City said Nolen had not contacted friends or family since leaving the Paris airport about 9:30 a.m. Friday. The friend he planned to visit in Shawnee reported he never made it there, Newcomb said.

Muskogee Civil Air Patrol Squadron Capt. Don Foster of Fort Gibson said Nolen did not file a flight plan. Someone at the Muskogee airport saw him heading south, and he ended up visiting a friend in Paris, Foster said.

"A flight plan is not required when flying in good weather under visual rules, but it is prudent -- it is the wise thing to do, but not everybody does it," Foster said. "He didn't this time, and this time may have gone bad. But we don't know that."

The Civil Air Patrol doesn't know if there is a radio on the plane, Foster said.

Nolen left his car at the airport in Muskogee on Thursday, telling someone who helped him put the wings on the plane that he was going up for a test run, Foster said. A Civil Air Patrol search almost began Friday after his car was found still at the airport, Foster said. Then someone remembered a close friend in Paris and called and learned that he had gone there but left Paris on Friday, Foster said.

Capt. Jim Harig of Muskogee headed up a ground crew search for Nolen and his plane Saturday near Gerty in Hughes County. Air traffic control radar data showed the last-known position of the plane was near there, Newcomb said.

They were aided by members of the Hughes County Sheriff's Office.

Hughes County Deputy Jason Scroggins said the ground search ended about 2 p.m. Saturday. Newcomb said the air search, aided by a Civil Air Patrol plane out of Oklahoma City, ended about dusk but will resume today.

Two specially equipped airplanes also were searching the route from Paris to Shawnee and the area near the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant just east of Hughes County. Newcomb said the flight would have taken the airplane near Antlers, Atoka, McAlester, Holdenville and Wewoka.

After the searches were called off, a possible target was noted about dark two miles south of Gerty, Foster said. The ground search today will begin in that area, he said.

A Civil Air Patrol plane out of Muskogee and one from Tulsa will take up the search Sunday.

Nolen ordered the experimental plane and waited a year for it to be built. He was very excited about its recent delivery, Blair said.

"He has many, many hours in the air and was multi-rated to fly twin engines -- just a very experienced pilot," Blair said.

Because of big winds, Blair said Nolen may have had some problems and flown farther south.

"He could even turn up in the middle of Dallas or Louisiana," Blair said.

Friends and co-workers are hopeful Nolen will contact someone that he is OK, Blair said.

Foster said the plane is blue and white with a red prop, a single-engine, two-seat plane.

Nolen volunteers his time at Good Shepherd Health Clinic, operated by St. Paul United Methodist Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church, said Kevin Tully, pastor of St. Paul.

"He also helps recruit other doctors and sits on our board," Tully said Saturday evening. The pastor expressed surprise to learn Nolen was missing.

"Jack's a great guy -- always in our 8:30 a.m. service -- he has a regular place he sits. This is a great shock to me -- goodness."

Nolen had an OB/GYN practice in Alabama before retiring from private practice, Blair said. He moved to Muskogee when he took the job at MRMC and has no relatives in the area, Blair said.

You can reach reporter Donna Hales at 684-2923 or


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January 21, 2005  Missing local doctor's plight hits his family hard

By Donna Hales
Phoenix Staff Writer

Worries mount for Dr. Jack Nolen of Muskogee, who hasn't been seen or heard from since Jan. 14 after the kit-built plane he was piloting out of Paris Municipal Airport in Texas headed to visit a friend in Shawnee.

One of Nolen's four living sons, Tim Nolen, 43, a chemical engineer in Tennessee, said he was "not too good" Thursday.

"It's just in-between," he said. "We don't know what to think. People want to be positive, and that's good. But then we worry about the worst. "

Tim Nolen said his father's love of flying began when he had a partner in his medical practice who was a pilot. In the early 1970s, the partner and his son were killed in an airplane crash in Alabama, Tim Nolen said.

"My father loves to fly more than anything else, which is why he was not dissuaded by our (family's) incredulous reactions to his plan to obtain an ultralight and fly again," Tim Nolen said.

Earlier flying mishap ended well

Tim Nolen recalled one flight incident that turned out to be comical when his father, "the ever-bold pilot", came to visit his son's family in Kingsport, Tenn., in 1990.

His dad had rented a Cessna 152 in Louisburg, N.C., where he lived at the time, and flew into a strong headwind.

The flight took longer than expected and the plane ran out of fuel, "although he swore it was because the gas was bad," Tim Nolen said.

Somehow, his father managed to land the little plane in a small field in fading twilight, Tim Nolen memorialized on a family Web site.

It was an amazing landing considering he narrowly missed the power lines, touched down on a down-hill slope, ran through a barbed wire fence -- some of which wrapped around the propeller -- and stopped as the plane was traveling up the hill on the other side of the fence, the son said.

"Dad said that after he stopped safely, he reached to unbuckle his seat belt and then realized he had forgotten to fasten it. No harm done to the indefatigable Jack Nolen, though," Tim Nolen said. "It's an amazing memory. I'll never forget it. And neither will the guy who owned the land. It was the biggest thing that ever happened on his little piece of turf."

Fortunately, his father was unhurt and when he and his son returned later to the field where the plane landed, a television crew was waiting for them.

Jack Nolen told his story on camera, how he just thought there was trash in the gasoline and he could make it to the airport, although the engine was sputtering and he was losing altitude.

"Only a few miles from the runway, he realized that he wasn't going to make it," his son said.

Tim Nolen, with his 1-year-old son on his hip, helped his father check the fuel tank with a wooden ruler so his dad could prove there was fuel in the tank and that the gas was bad.

However, the fuel tank was dry as a bone, the son said, which proved it was pilot error.

Emotions yo-yo from hope to fear

But there is nothing comical about the flight his father left on last Friday. And Tim Nolen's nerves are getting frayed.

"You can't do anything until you know something," Tim Nolen said. "I've never had to deal with this kind of uncertainty."

He also said he's trying to focus on the positive and how much is being done to try to find his father by ground and air searchers.

"That is always encouraging. But I'd rather this (uncertainty) not go on any longer," he said.

The loving son talked of what an industrious and giving person his father has always been.

"You can tell that by the fact that he worked for nearly 60 years," the son said.

"He believed in what John Wesley said: 'Work all you can, save all you can and give all you can,' " Tim Nolen said of his father. "He never spent it on himself and always gave. He could have taken life easy the last two decades, but he never stopped giving.

"We're just not going to be able to replace him."

Matt Nolen, 44, an artist and adjunct professor at New York University who holds a degree in architecture, said his father's being missing would be difficult under any circumstances, but being so far away from Oklahoma makes it more difficult.

"We have a whole network in New York City praying -- let's just hope it works out OK," Matt Nolen said Thursday, with a catch in his voice.

Philip Nolen, 35, an actor associated with Walt Disney and living in Florida, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

Susan McColley, Nolen's ex-wife and the mother of his two youngest children, Paige, 14, and Jack Jr., 22, said the family is so grateful for the well-trained searchers who are working so hard to find the missing physician, pilot, father and grandfather.

McColley said she is committed to remaining positive he will be found.

Paige, a student at Fort Gibson, is holding up as well as can be expected, McColley said.

"We're still maintaining hope," McColley said.

Jack Nolen Jr., attending Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., on a president's leadership scholarship, is in his last two weeks of college, completing a double major in business and economics. He earlier attended Muskogee High School.

He talked of coming home during the search for his father but was persuaded his father would not want him to leave college just two weeks from finishing his classes, his mother said.

"Dad is one of a kind," Jack Nolen Jr. said Thursday in a phone interview, adding that "without question" he is a great father.

The search

Officials continue their search today for the Muskogee physician missing since Jan. 14, after finding no signs of him or his plane by Thursday night.

The Civil Air Patrol will resume its search for Dr. Jack Nolen and his small, one-engine plane today near McAlester and Gerty in Hughes County, said Maj. Charles Newcomb of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

The search was expanded into the Lake Eufaula area Thursday.

Nolen, who recently retired as medical director of Muskogee Regional Medical Center, has been missing since the kit-built plane he was piloting left Paris, Texas, about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 14.

The Phoenix forwarded a lead Thursday from Warner resident Art Wagoner who reported seeing and hearing a small, low-flying plane last Friday after hunting off U.S. 64 near Coffee Road, between Warner and Webbers Falls.

Wagoner said when he reached the top of a hill he was surprised he could no longer see the plane.

Newcomb said by sunset Thursday search planes had logged about 200 hours in the air.

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January 22. 2005  Former Gadsden physician missing

Authorities continue search for Nolen's plane.


By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer

The search for the plane of Dr. Jack Nolen, a former Gadsden physician, was to enter its second week today, an official with the Oklahoma Wing of the Civil Air Patrol said.

Nolen has been missing since Jan. 14 when his Kitfox 2, a single-engine, two-seater, failed to arrive in Shawnee, Okla., after it had left Paris, Texas, about 9:30 a.m. The flight should have taken about an hour and a half, and the search began last Saturday morning.

Nolen, an obstetrician and gynecologist, had practiced in Gadsden beginning in the early 1960s through the mid-1980s, family members said.

Nolen, who still has family living in Gadsden, recently retired as medical director of Muskogee Regional Medical Center. CAP spokesman Maj. Charles Newcomb said Nolen had flown on Jan. 13 to visit a friend in Paris and then was flying to Shawnee the following day but never arrived.

"Pray that's we'll find him," said Julie Nolen, Nolen's sister-in-law.

She said the family is talking to officials in Oklahoma to keep up with the search.

Nolen's brother, the late Dr. Thirwell Nolen, was a general surgeon, and another brother, John Frank, operated John's Pharmacy's in East Gadsden.

John Frank Nolen said his brother loved to fly and had only had this plane a short time.

"We're really anxious and have been worried about him and still are," he said.

Newcomb said the CAP search is focusing west of McAlester, Okla., because that is where Nolen's plane was last seen on radar.

The search is covering a 2,300-square-mile area from Paris to Shawnee.

Newcomb said Friday that about 25 people and four airplanes were participating in the search as well as a ground search team. He said that number likely would increase during the weekend because more volunteers will be available. He said probably as many as 200 people have participated in the search during the past week.

Newcomb said nothing substantial has been uncovered and the CAP has been following up leads that have been phoned in from across Oklahoma.

Nolen's plane is fabric-covered plane, and Newcomb said not having metal to reflect in the sun might be harder to locate.

"That is a fairly rugged area of Oklahoma down there in the southeast and there's quite a lot of tree cover and hills and ravines, so finding anything down there - if we had an airliner it would be difficult to locate in some of those places," Newcomb said. He said the weather has been good so far.

A decision to suspend the search would be made by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base, Newcomb said.


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January 22, 2005  Search for doctor zones in on Eufaula Lake area

By Donna Hales
Phoenix Staff Writer

The search for missing Muskogee pilot Dr. Jack Nolen now includes areas on the eastern side of Eufaula Lake, McAlester and Centrahoma after a week of searching for the physician.

Civil Air Patrol spokesman Maj. Charles Newcomb said the search could continue through the weekend.

"What we're hoping is the Air Force is going to let us continue into (today) and hope we can get half a dozen ground teams out," Newcomb said. "We'd like to find something positive ... We're still interested in hearing from anyone who talked to Nolen (after he left the Paris, Texas, airport headed for Shawnee)."

The Civil Air Patrol sent out e-mails for its trained volunteers to enter the search today.

Nolen, who recently retired as medical director of Muskogee Regional Medical Center, has been missing since the kit-built plane he was piloting left Paris about 9:30 a.m. Jan. 14.

The Civil Air Patrol got the notice Nolen was missing about 1 a.m. Jan. 15.

Newcomb said friends and concerned citizens can best help by praying for Nolen and his family.

Newcomb discouraged any searching by untrained volunteers.

"We try to discourage people from going out and searching on their own for fear of getting somebody hurt," Newcomb said.

You can reach reporter Donna Hales at 684-2923 or

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January 24, 2005  Search to find Muskogee doctor ends

By Donna Hales
Phoenix Staff Writer

The intensive, nine-day ground and air search for missing Muskogee pilot Dr. Jack Nolen ended Sunday night after the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base ordered it abandoned.

"We have followed up everything that we can possibly follow up," said Civil Air Patrol spokesman Maj. Charles Newcomb. "We will not reopen it unless something significant develops."

Nolen, who retired as medical director at Muskogee Regional Medical Center on Dec. 31 and still worked as a consultant at MRMC, has not been seen or heard from since flying out of the Paris, Texas, airport about 9:30 a.m. Jan. 14.

Nolen flew out of Texas to visit a friend in Shawnee, but he never arrived. The friend reported Nolen missing before dawn on Jan. 15.

Nolen, 73, has four sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.

"We're well aware that they've just expended tremendous effort," said Susan McColley, Nolen's ex-wife and mother of his two youngest children, Jack Jr., 22, and Paige, 14. "It's disappointing because we don't know anything."

McColley said the family is grateful for all the effort put out to find her ex-husband and for the many prayers said on his behalf.

She asks the public and friends to continue to pray that her husband will be found.

"That's all I know to do," she said.

Seven Civil Air Patrol planes joined in Sunday's search, as well as three ground teams, Newcomb said. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol had one plane in the air and a helicopter.

"The Civil Air Patrol's goal is to find a downed plane, and we are extremely saddened that we did not," said Col. Virginia Keller of the Civil Air Patrol based at Tinker Air Force Base. "We wish we could have brought closure to the family."

Civil Air Patrol Capt. Don Foster of Fort Gibson said it's been a bone-weary search for pilots as well as ground teams, and getting no results is frustrating.

"It's been nine days of daylight-to-dark searching ... This time was no joy -- no luck," Foster said.

"We did the best we could."

Keller said the search was hampered by not getting precise radar reports at the onset.

"Our hopes were lifted today (Sunday) when we got some new radar information that indicated the exact stopping point of the radar echoes on the plane," Keller said. "We sent aircraft and a ground team to the site (north of Calvin in Hughes County), but all we found was an old camp site and tons of trash."

If people would bury their trash, it would help, Keller said.

Foster, too, talked of trash heaps being a deterrent to finding a downed plane. "Hundreds of times" in the last nine days searchers spent valuable time checking out what turned out to be trash dumps.

"Trash heaps from the air can look very much like a downed airplane, and a downed airplane can look very much like a trash heap," Foster said. "An air crash rarely looks like an airplane."

You can reach reporter Donna Hales at 684-2923 or

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January 24, 2005  Search for missing aircraft called off

By Mary Madewell
Paris News

The search for a missing single-engine aircraft was suspended Sunday after a week of searching found no trace of the plane or the 73-year-old Muskogee physician who was flying it, according to the Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol.

The small aircraft piloted by Dr. Jack Nolen disappeared Jan. 14 after it left
Paris on a flight to Shawnee, Okla. The search was 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.

Tim Nolen of
Kingsport, Tenn., a son of the missing pilot, said he does not know why his father was in Paris, although he said it is possible he flew here to visit a friend.

“I believe he originally set out to fly to Shawnee,” the son said, adding that on Thursday, Jan. 13, when he left Muskogee there was a strong northerly wind that could have pushed him off track and led him to land in Paris.

“Credit card records show that he spent the night in a
Paris hotel before departing on Friday (Jan. 14) morning for Shawnee,” the son said.

“He told a person at the airport in Paris who helped him program his GPS navigation system that he was going to
Shawnee, and his apparent radar track shows him on that path from 9:30 a.m. Friday until contact was lost,” Nolen said.

“We have followed up everything that we can possibly follow up,” Civil Air Patrol Maj. Charles Newcomb said. “We will not reopen it unless something significant develops.”

Newcomb said aircraft and ground search teams combed 8,146 square miles in southeastern
Oklahoma during nine days but found no trace of the missing plane. The Texas Civil Air Patrol also searched an area along the Oklahoma state line.

Dozens of volunteers searched the rugged terrain and Oklahoma CAP aircraft logged 300 hours of flying time over the search area.

‘‘We’re not convinced that there has been a crash. We just flat don’t know,’’ Newcomb said.

Newcomb said the aircraft Nolen was flying refueled in
Paris, giving it a range spanning more than 650,000 square miles. Family members have said they doubt Nolen would have flown somewhere else without notifying them.

Nolen was the only person on the two-seat aircraft.

‘‘We are saddened that we don’t have something more definite to report to the Nolen family,’’ said CAP Col. Virginia Keller,
Oklahoma wing commander. ‘‘But we did the best we could with the information that was available to us.’’

Nolen retired as medical director at
Muskogee Regional Medical Center last month but still worked there part-time. He also is the medical director for the Good Shepherd Health Clinic in Muskogee, which provides medical services to the poor.

Officials at the Cox Field said Nolen had been having trouble with his on-board global positioning system and that they helped him program the system before he took off.

The small aircraft was equipped with a ballistic recovery parachute which when deployed allows a disabled aircraft to descend slowly to the ground, Newcomb said. No evidence of a deployed parachute has been found, he said.

The parachute’s manufacturer, Ballistic Recovery Systems, plans to keep records of the color and size of parachutes it installs in aircraft to assist future recovery missions, he said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Monday, January 24, 2005  Search Called Off for Missing Pilot

The nine-day search for a missing Muskogee pilot and his plane has been called off.

Some may find it hard to believe that authorities could not locate the missing plane. But as KTEN’s Rich Klindworth reports, it’s not as easy as you may think.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the search for Doctor Jack Nolen and his plane is a mystery.

The 73-year-old Muskogee doctor was flying a “Kit Fox” plane, which is a step above an ultra light.

The last time Dr. Nolen’s plane was picked up on radar was in Gerty, Hughes County. Nolen was flying from Paris, Texas to Shawnee,
, but in Gerty he was 15 miles off course to the west and he basically could be anywhere on or even off this map.

Nolen dropped under the radar but was still probably airborne around three thousand feet off the ground and had three to four hours of fuel left.

According to weather data, Nolen most likely flew into some cloud cover. Investigators believe he may have become disoriented and his
plane went down.

“We really don’t know what he did. Whether he got into weather or had engine trouble. That part is frustrating,” Trooper Jerry Green.

Search pilots look for what they call garbage resembling plane parts on the ground, with wreckage no bigger than what could fit into a pick-up
truck’s bed.

A flight where officials could have tracked Nolen when he went below radar, was available to him, but it’s not mandatory.

Rich Klindworth, KTEN News.

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