Cameroon finds remains of US pilot after a year

2015-04-15 19:04


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yaounde - Villagers in Cameroon stumbled across the remains of an American pilot nearly a year after his small anti-poaching plane disappeared over forested, mountainous terrain, authorities said. The pilot's family said the discovery brought some "closure" after not knowing what had happened for so long.

Hunters and farmers found the crash site of pilot Bill Fitzpatrick's Cessna 172 several days ago and documents there confirmed his identity, Quetong Hardison, a government official in the area, told The Associated Press by telephone on Tuesday. He said officials were working to extract the remains and the wreckage in the Tombel area of southwest Cameroon.

"The area is very difficult to access and that is probably why it took such a long time for the plane to be found," Hardison said.

The last contact between Fitzpatrick, aged 59, and aviation authorities was on the night of 22 June as he approached Douala on Cameroon's coast. He had taken off earlier in the day from Kano, Nigeria.

His final destination was to be Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Republic of Congo, which is managed by African Parks, a non-profit group based in Johannesburg.

The job of the former Peace Corps volunteer would have been to scan the central African park's clearings for elephant carcasses from his cockpit and alert rangers who could intercept poachers escaping with ivory tusks.

There was no mayday signal on the night of Fitzpatrick's disappearance, suggesting he crashed into a mountain without time to react, and that weather or a fuel shortage was not the cause. No signal was detected from the plane's emergency transmitter, which can be activated on impact or by the pilot.

Fitzpatrick's wife, Paula, and their three children live in Chelan, Washington. The family thanked those who helped in the search for the pilot, who had also worked for US national parks.

"Bill's plane was lost nearly 10 months ago, and this brings some degree of closure for our family," the family said in an email to the AP.

It said Fitzpatrick's last flight was not a "singular trip" but part of a "lifelong commitment" to conservation and philanthropy in Africa and the United States.

Read more on:    cameroon  |  us  |  air crashes  |  central africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.