of the Most Traveled
Men on Earth
There are about 200 missing aircraft in the continental United States which have disappeared over the years. Lew became involved in looking for some of these missing planes when he joined the search for fellow adventurer Steve Fossett, who disappeared while flying a light plane in 2007. Steve and Lew were both members of The Explorers Club.
The documents below describe some of these searches, undertaken by Lew and the Missing Aircraft Search Team (MAST) he co-founded, and also give a manual for how to undertake this type of worthwhile, altruistic adventure. MAST was recognized as an effective team by Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine – see the story below.
MAST is currently working on the case of Courtland “Court” Mumford, flying CubCrafters N222TB, in cooperation with the Portland Police Bureau. Court went missing in July 2007 and the wreckage of his plane is likely in western Oregon or off the Oregon coast. For more information, see the “Mumford missing person flyer” below.
MAST has developed the most accurate and comprehensive database on aircraft that have gone missing in the United States. MAST efforts in this regard were favorably described by the BBC in its story “The ‘A-Team’ That Hunts Missing Planes.” See the piece below.
MAST has undertaken numerous searches and activities since its founding, sometimes “inside the fence” in close cooperation with law enforcement and SAR, and sometimes “outside the fence” working privately for the families of the missing. See the list below for the various MAST activities.
In 2019 Lew organized two panel sessions at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in London on “Geographies of the Missing and the Lost.” The presentations below in the RGS section relate to aviation, including the search for Air France flight 447 in the South Atlantic; the successful recovery of the F-1 Apollo engines from the bottom of the North Atlantic; the search for Amelia Earhart; and the search for band leader Glenn Miller in the English Channel.
In 2021 Lew updated the sitrep on the search for Amelia Earhart, and described the 3.5 major theories of the case, and then some bizarre recent and old theories. He also wrote two songs about Amelia and the search; all downloadable below.
Amelia Earhart Search Update(PDF)
Amelia Earhart Search, Bizarre Theories(PDF)
Amelia Earhart A Sarky Song(PDF)
Amelia Earhart, A Sad Sweet Song(PDF)
Missing Aircraft Briefings at the 2019 Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference
Concannon RGS briefing on F-1 Apollo Engines(PDF)
Keller RGS briefing on Air France 447(PDF)
Gillespie RGS briefing on Glenn Miller(PDF)
Spading RGS briefing on Amelia Earhart(PDF)
Engelbert on the dog search for Amelia Earhart(PDF)
RGS 2019 Session plan v10(PDF)
In 2017 Lew participated in the National Geographic Society and TIGHAR search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan and their Lockheed Electra. They may have crash landed and survived for a short while on Nikumaroro Island in the Republic of Kiribati, in the South Pacific. The briefings and articles below describe the Nikumaroro expedition, what was found, the theory behind the search, and the other competing theories in the case – probably the most famous unsolved disappearance on Earth.
Briefing on Amelia Earhart search 2017(PDF)
Pensacola Noonan Sextant Box and National Archives(PDF)
Sextant Boxes & Earhart-Noonan(PDF)
Briefing on Amelia Earhart for the Archeological Society of Maryland(PDF)
Amelia Earhart article in The Montgomery Sentinel part 1(PDF)
Amelia Earhart article in The Montgomery Sentinel part 2(PDF)
BBC story on the Missing Aircraft Search Team(PDF)
MAST Activities and Successes v14(PDF)
Briefing on the Search for Steve Fossett:
One of the Biggest Searches in US Aviation History(PDF)
The Search for Steve Fossett
Briefing on Searching for the Last Missing Women Airforce
Service Pilot (WASP) of World War II: Gertrude Tompkins Silver(PDF)
Search for the Last Missing WASP of WW II:
Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine Story(PDF)
Search for the Last Missing WASP
Press stories about an air wreck in the Grand Canyon investigated by MAST(PDF)
Solving the mystery of the WW II air wreck on the north shore of Bali Hai -- part 1(PDF)
Solving the mystery of the WW II air wreck on the north shore of Bali Hai -- part 2(PDF)
Briefing on how to spot downed light aircraft(PDF)
Mumford missing person flyer 2015(PDF)
Manual on Finding Lost Light Aircraft(PDF)
Explorers Club Members Help Find Missing Airplane
Statement on Finding N2700Q