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Columbus-Bound Plane Carrying 6 Remains Missing

Mr. Z-Man
Tower at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport

A Columbus businessman, his wife and two sons, along with two neighbors were aboard a private aircraft last night that went missing shortly after takeoff from a small Cleveland airport along the Lake Erie shore.  46-year-old John T. Fleming, who was piloting the plane, is the CEO of the Superior Beverage Group in Columbus according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The newspaper learned the identities of the plane’s occupants from Fleming’s father.

A U.S. Coast Guard official says crews are in search-and-rescue mode, not recovery mode, as they look for a plane carrying the six people. 

Capt. Michael Mullen said Friday that authorities have "faint hints" but no strong pulse from an emergency locating transmitter, a beacon that could help find the plane.

The three children and three adults were aboard the Columbus-bound aircraft when it disappeared from radar about 2 miles over the lake late Thursday. Why it vanished remained unclear. Searchers have found no sign of debris.

Mullen says snow squalls, higher seas and darkness made nighttime searching difficult. He says it would have been the pilot's responsibility to determine whether it was safe to fly.