Search Continues over Lake Erie for Lost Business Jet

After nearly a week, no confirmed wreckage of the aircraft has been located.

Cessna CJ4
Recovery teams are searching for debris from a Citation CJ4 that went missing over Lake Erie last week.Textron Aviation

Recovery teams are continuing the hunt for debris from a Cessna Citation CJ4 that went missing last Thursday night over Lake Erie, shortly after takeoff from Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL).

Only a single piece of luggage that washed ashore on Sunday afternoon has been positively linked to the lost aircraft. The Coast Guard, using an HC-130 and an MH-64 Dolphin helicopter that were joined by a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130, called off the search on Saturday night in the face of 25- to 35-foot waves and strong winds. The city of Cleveland now assumes responsibility for the recovery effort.

The light business jet, carrying three adults and three children, was headed for The Ohio State University Airport (OSU) in Columbus when it disappeared just 2 miles from the airport in water estimated to be 50 feet deep. The CJ4, operated by Superior Beverage Group, was under the command of the company’s CEO John Fleming, reportedly an experienced pilot.

BKL weather at the time of the accident reported westerly winds gusting to 32 knots with visibility of 8 miles in light snow and a broken cloud base at 1,300 feet on the dark night.

The Aviation Safety Network reported, "Flight tracking website Flight Aware registered three data points after takeoff. The last shows the aircraft in a high-speed descent from 3,100 feet at a descent rate of 3,750 fpm."