SEARCHING: When Songbirds Ceased to Sing

by Jean A. Quaal

SEARCHING: WHEN SONGBIRDS CEASED TO SING shares the whys, hows and whats that elvolved when experiencing a traumatic year-long search for a missing aircraft and occupants. It was October 28th, 1974 when brothers-in-law and the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 414K they were piloting, disappeared. The aircraft, serving as an air hearse was on a return flight from Gallup, NM. On board were a father and his two teenage daughters involved in a fatal car/train accident being transported to their hometown of Sturgis, SD, for burial. When they failed to arrive as scheduled, Rapid City Flight Service issued a Missing Aircraft Alert to all surrounding airports. With no sightings or landings reported, the alert broadened to include all airports in a six-state area, and an extensive air search was actively underway.

Intertwined throughout the story are shared memories from a secure past. Backtracking in time served as an invaluable coping tool when faced with daily uncertainty, helplessness, apprehension and fear of the unknown. The story was written in honor of Roger Hlavka and Dewey Rathke. Special acknowledgement is given to Oliver Lane, Odessa, TX., Sheriff Judd Cooney, psychic Peter Hurkos and to each of the hundreds of friends and strangers who helped in any way with the search, deepest appreciation!

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