Dorchester, N.H. – December 24, 1996

Dorchester, New Hampshire – December 24, 1996

     On the morning of December 24, 1996, a Learjet 35-A  (N388LS) was in-route from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Lebanon Municipal Airport in New Hampshire with two men in their 30s aboard.  As the aircraft was making its approach to the airport the pilot aborted the landing and circled around for a second try.  Shortly afterward all contact was lost and the plane vanished.  There had been no distress call.

     What came next was the longest search for a missing aircraft in the state’s history, lasting nearly three years.  It was assumed the plane had crashed, and thousands of volunteers turned out to search, but nothing was found.  (The aircraft did not have an emergency locator transmitter aboard.)  Dedicated volunteers continued to scour the wilderness long after the search had officially been called off. 

     The Learjet’s wreckage was finally located near Smarts Mountain on November 13, 1999, roughly 20 miles from the airport.  The plane had disintegrated on impact spreading debris over a large area which was one reason it was so hard to locate.  


     Baltimore Sun, “Mystery Of Learjet Finally Reveals Itself”, December 12, 1999, By Ernest Imhoff.

Smart’s Mountain, N.H. – September 20, 1971

Smart’s Mountain, New Hampshire – September 20, 1971 

     This accident involved both military and civilian aircraft. 

     On Monday evening, September 20, 1971, a twin-engine Piper Apache took off from Portland, Maine, bound for Lebanon, New Hampshire.  The plane arrived near Lebanon shortly after 8:00 p.m., where thick fog shrouded the area.  As the aircraft was making its approach to Lebanon Airport, it crashed into the side of Smart’s Mountain.  The mountain is about 3,240 feet high, and the aircraft impacted about 1,500 feet from the summit.    

     There were three people aboard, Jeanne Bennett, 47, of Post Mills, Vermont, and Hans Klunder, 42, and Robert E. Stewart, 27.  Mrs. Benet was killed, and Klunder and Stewart were seriously injured.  The men managed to build a fire, the smoke of which attracted rescuers to their location. 

     It was reported that all three aboard the aircraft were pilots, and it was unclear as to who was flying the plane at the time of the crash.  

     A New Hampshire National Guard helicopter arrived at the scene and two guardsmen prepared to repel down a rope to assist the survivors.  The first guardsman landed safely, but the second, Specialist 6 Frederick Bartlett, 33, of Manchester, N.H., fell and was killed.    

     The survivors were brought down the mountain in a motorized vehicle and transferred to Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, N.H.


     Nashua Telegraph, “Rescuer Killed In Fall At Airplane Crash Site.” September 22, 1971.

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