Adventures with One
of the Most Traveled
Men on Earth

Lew Toulmin


Finding Lost Airplanes


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Most Traveled Man
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.

Lew is in the process of organizing sessions at the 2019 Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in London on “Geographies of the Missing and the Lost.” The paper below gives a description of these sessions and the distinguised speakers who will be giving talk as part of these sessions, on the search for persons and aircraft missing on land and at sea.

2. Lew recently 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 immediately below describes 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.

BBC story on the Missing Aircraft Search Team(PDF)

MAST Activities and Successes v14(PDF)

RGS 2019 Session plan v10(PDF)

Briefing on Amelia Earhart for the Cosmos Club(PDF)

Briefing on Amelia Earhart search 2017(PDF)

Pensacola Noonan Sextant Box and National Archives(PDF)

Sextant Boxes & Earhart-Noonan(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: 3.94 MB)

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: 1.58 MB)

Explorers Club Members Help Find Missing Airplane

Statement on Finding N2700Q




Logo of the Amelia Earhart Expedition


The TIGHAR expedition team spent seven days on uninhabited Nikumaroro


An unusual shoe found on Nikumaroro which may match the shoe worn by Amelia Earhart on her last flight


Lew Toulmin & Deb Atwood


Front and reverse of WASP Congressional Gold Medal


WASP Gertrude Tompkins and her grand niece Laura Whittall-Scherfee

Steve Fossett, missing aviator
The Missing Aircraft Search Team

Lew on a lava flow looking for Steve Fossett

The Search for Steve Fossett Expedition team