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Expedition Unknown exclusive: What happened to Northwest Orient Flight 2501 over Lake Michigan?

Josh may give some families closure to a 70 year old aviation mystery
Josh may give some families closure to a 70-year-old aviation mystery. Pic credit: Discovery.

Monsters & Critics has the exclusive preview of a brand-new episode of Expedition Unknown airing tomorrow (Wednesday) night and it’s a really good one.

It combines the tales of the mysterious disappearance of a plane over a large body of water back when the Korean war broke out.  Sadly the news faded quickly as American news reporters were diverted from thoroughly covering the story to focus on the war at hand.

In the episode, host and explorer Josh Gates investigates the 70-year-old mystery of Northwest Orient flight 2501’s disappearance over the waters of Lake Michigan in 1950. In total 58 lives were lost in the journey from New York City to Seattle.

The clip reveals how Josh is given information on where to search the lake.

What happened to Northwest Orient Flight 2501?

Josh Gates investigates the most mysterious airline disaster in American history — searching for why Northwest Orient Flight 2501 vanished, taking the lives of all 58 people on board.

Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501 was a DC-4 prop-liner that flew daily transcontinental routes connecting the east coast of New York City to the far west coast of Seattle, Washington when it disappeared on the night of June 23, 1950.

According to Fear of Landing:

“Northwest Airlines Corp was a US airline, which was founded in 1926 primarily to carry US mail. They began carrying passengers within the first year and began offering international routes the year after. In 1931, the airline sponsored a pioneering test flight to Japan via Alaska to scout out the Great Circle route. After the second world war, Northwest established a hub at Tokyo and the first direct service between the United States and Japan using a Douglas DC-4 airliner. As a result, they began to advertise themselves as Northwest Orient Airlines.”

The website reenacted the course of events from official logs and noted that the weather had gone south fast and that the radio towers had lost communication with the aircraft.

The disappearance and subsequent searches bore few tangible results until body parts started washing up on the beach of Lake Michigan.

Fear of Landing wrote:

“There was no sign of fire on any of the debris recovered. The cushions and arm rests were shredded from the impact, which means that the aircraft must have struck the water at high speed. Body parts began to wash up on the shore. Some were described as “shredded”. Coast Guard officials initially believed that there must have been a terrible mid-air explosion to disintegrate the bodies so badly. Soon, South Beach, popular with tourists, was forced to close because of the large number of body parts that washed in. Years later, two unmarked grave sites were identified which are believed to hold the remains of the flight-crash victims which washed to shore.”

Expedition Unknown exclusive clip:

Watch as a 70-year-old mystery might be solved and a family member gets some emotional closure as Gates is on to what might be the final resting place of the doomed flight.

Expedition Unknown airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.

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