Hello everyone! Yes, if it seems like it’s been two months since you’ve heard from me, you’re correct—that’s how long it has been. I have talked about why there was no January 2020 newsletter but I will go through that again now. #1. We ended 2019 with an Update Episode. So I thought that would serve as a kind of “newsletter” since I do a lot of updating with the email newsletters. 2. With my dad here, there wouldn’t have been enough time to put something together anyway. Trust me, I did enough work while he was here to the point that my dad seriously wonders if I have any social life at all.
So, there were a couple different reasons.
Speaking of my dad, he is now back in PA. I drove him back about 3 weeks ago. I thought he’d stay longer. But he is suffering from a bad right hip and I think he wanted to get it looked at as soon as possible by the doctor he usually sees. And he did that right after he got back. Luckily, he doesn’t need a hip replacement—he’s been diagnosed with bursitis. Which can be painful. But it’s heck of a lot better than having to get surgery since he’s 83 years old. So he’s on some medication and I think he’s feeling a lot better.
Me? 2020 has started off really well for me personally. My disc golf game seems to be back to where it was back in 2015. If you don’t know, I’ve been suffering with the yips (you can look that up) since then. But I played well at the end of 2019. And that last couple weeks I’ve finished very well—only losing by a stroke in my division down in N. Ft. Myers. And I really haven’t even been practicing. I’m hoping this means good things for the rest of 2020 because I plan on playing in quite a few tournaments. This is essentially my life: Unfound and disc golf!!!!!!
Otherwise, everything is excellent in my private life. I hope that everything is good for all of you as well. And I hope 2020 is a fantastic year.
Let’s get started where we always do:
Feb. 7: Mary Jane Vangilder (this will become the oldest disappearance Unfound has ever covered, surpassing Evelyn Hartley)
Others in the works: Ryles Chapman, Cole Thomas, Pamela Jones, Robert Helphrey, Chelsea Cobo and Caleb Powell.
I feel like I need to write about this because some of you do know I have a morbid fascination with all types of aircraft crashes. If I had been able to pass the engineering courses, I think I would’ve become a NTSB investigator—I really do mean that. Originally, though, I began to study plane crashes because flying terrified me—like really bad. But, I confronted my fear by learning about why planes fall out of the sky and that cured it . . . yes, that’s how it happened. And I would recommend anyone to follow the same path if he or she has flying fears.
As of this writing, the crash of the helicopter that Kobe and others were in just happened 4 days ago. So there is news breaking on a daily basis. However, I would still like to give my assessment of what happened.
I don’t think there is any doubt that this is what the NTSB calls CFIT—Controlled Flight Into Terrian. This is a very common type of crash in which pilots don’t know or forget where they are and fly into the mountain or hill or even structure right in front of them. In other words, the pilots believe they are flying correctly and safely but they aren’t. This is what is meant by “controlled”. One of the most well-known crashes of this type is Air New Zealand Flight 901 that flew into Mt. Erebus in Antarctica during a sightseeing tour.
This is in contrast to crashes where the jet or helicopter is out of the pilot’s control. Mechanical issues could be in this category. But make no doubt: Most aircraft crashes are caused by human error and not by the aircraft itself.
And human error, I am sure, will be the most substantial factor in the helicopter’s crash. Frankly, they shouldn’t have been up there, not in that fog and trying to fly so close to the ground. The pilot—and he is ultimately responsible—should’ve made the smart decision to say, “Hey, I can’t fly you to that basketball tournament. Too foggy and cloudy.”
I’ve been reading a lot from people who obviously don’t understand how to fly a helicopter. Granted, I’m not a pilot either but I’ve at least read quite a bit about what it takes to fly one safely. And the most common misconception about helicopters is that if the pilot is in trouble, she can just stop, hover, and figure out what to do next. So, logically, that’s what Kobe’s pilot should’ve done.
The problem? Hovering is almost impossible to do when a pilot cannot see anything outside the cockpit. Without being able to see the land below or the horizon or the sun or the moon or any other stationary object outside the aircraft, trying to keep the helicopter in one place is impossible.
Because the instruments on helicopters are not accurate enough to account for drift. It may feel like the helicopter is stopped—but it might not be. And with fog all around, there’s no way to tell the difference. Some military and Coast Guard helicopters have autopilots which can allow the aircraft to hover in one place and not move. But that device is not common on regular, every day helicopters like the one involved in the crash.
As an example, I’m sure most of us have been on a jet when it is descending or ascending in clouds. You look out the window and all you see is white. And if you couldn’t hear the engines howling, you’d think the jet was perfectly still because there are no signs of movement coming from outside the jet.
That’s what it was like in Kobe’s helicopter that morning.
In a jet poor visibility is rarely a problem because it flies thousands of feet off the ground and by the time it’s in clouds, an air traffic controller is guiding it in or out.
Kobe’s helicopter had no air traffic controller help. Why? Because it was flying so flow that radar couldn’t pick it up. So, the pilot was on his own trying to fly through those mountains.
But back to the hovering, Kobe’s pilot could’ve tried to come to a stop. But there is no guarantee he would’ve “stopped” as we define the word. The helicopter surely would’ve continued to move left and right, forward and backward, probably at a speed that would’ve still killed all of them had they run into something.
Moreover, had the pilot tried to slow down, hover, and try to land, who is to say he wouldn’t have landed on a house? A busy freeway? The water?
The alternative is to slow down and try to go straight up. The issue? The cloud layer might’ve been so thick that there would’ve been no way to find clear air above the clouds.
And the pilot had to do all this while keeping an eye on his artificial horizon to make sure he wasn’t overcome by spatial disorientation which is VERY common in cases where pilots cannot see outside references. If I am making this sound tough, it’s because it is tough. In fact, many people will say that flying a helicopter is infinitely more complicated than flying a plane.
Having looked at all the news stories, I am under the belief that the pilot thought he was already clear of the mountain they ran into. He thought he was high enough or that it was to their left or right or even behind them. When it wasn’t. This is very much like the Flight 901 crash where the pilots thought the mountain was far off to their left, when actually it was straight in front of them. However, there were some other mitigating factors that also caused that crash.
In the end, Kobe, his daughter, and everyone else shouldn’t have been up there. As soon as the pilot realized he wasn’t going to be able to follow the I-5 freeway due to the fog and low clouds, he should’ve turned around . . . period. This accident was absolutely avoidable. RIP to everyone on board and condolences to the families.
And one more note . . . the weather in that area was so bad for flying that not even police helicopters flew to the area when they found out about the crash. Too dangerous.
Since the December newsletter, probably the biggest change has been on the YouTube Channel. It is now officially the “Unfound Podcast Channel”. And it is being managed by my new assistant, Natasha. All you need to know about her is she knows A LOT more about YouTube and how everything works than I do and ever will.
Some of the progress she has made:
–I am now doing the Live show and the Think Tank WITHOUT Wirecast. So much easier.
–there is now a watermark of the Unfound logo in the bottom right hand corner of every video.
–she has put together some Playlists concerning different categories of disappearances. I know one of the upcoming ones will be grouping disappearances by the states in which they occurred.
–changing out the music in the old episodes from 2016 and 2017 to the new intro/outro music. However, that music is still on the podcast episodes on Podomatic, iTunes, and Spotify.
–keeping track of the stats for the channel and informing me as to how the videos are performing.
–adding promos for the books, the Live show, and other things to the videos.
Already the channel is light years ahead of where it was a month ago. Doing the actual podcast, there has just never been enough time for me to devote to YouTube, which can be a powerful tool to spread the word on these disappearances. Until Natasha came along, I was only able to do the minimum—produce the programs on there and upload a bunch of episodes once in a while.
I’m certainly happy to now have someone who can concentrate on YouTube exclusively who knows what she is doing. Now, the question is: Can I keep up?!?!?!?!
LINKS FOR BOOKS
Here are the links for all 6 for Season 1:
Volume 6 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1077115520
During the past week, I have sent emails to both Mechelle, Crystal Morrison’s sister, and Heather, Devin Bond’s mother. I, of course, offered my condolences from myself and my assistants. But I am also hoping to learn a little bit more about the entire investigation and what the police have said about the finding of the remains.
This is not because I am nebby. What I’m hoping to do is to use this additional information to help in analyzing other disappearances Unfound has covered. My belief is Crystal’s death was a result of the illness she had that day—possibly an asthma attack. But I don’t know that for sure. For the record, at the time we covered her case, I believed she either suffered an overdose or was murdered.
With Devin’s, I think at this point the public believes he committed suicide. But once again, I don’t know that for a fact. It may not be true at all. And I would certainly like to know more as to what brought about the search that found him in the first place. Because my belief was that area had already been scoured once before with no luck.
If I get this additional information, I will share it with you if I am permitted to do so.
Things are happening in this investigation. I told you months ago that remains were found on the Fort Hall Reservation where Austin disappeared. Yet, to my knowledge, they have still not yet been identified, although the popular opinion is that they are Austin. I have spoken to his mother and she has passed along information that I still can’t tell all of you. But what Susan has told me leads me to believe that we should know something more sooner than later.
OPINIONS ON CASES
It seems more and more I am getting emails from you the listeners about my opinions on cases—both ones Unfound has covered and ones it hasn’t. I think the reason this is happening is because more and more people are finding Unfound for the first time, and they’re probably startled to hear that the host—me–doesn’t voice his theories on what happened. As you all probably know, that is fairly rare in the true crime world.
So, given that, I’d like to explain again why I don’t voice my thoughts during the episode.
The main reason is I don’t want to influence any of you. I’ve been doing Unfound long enough to know that privately, when I express my opinions on cases, it’s kind of strange how suddenly the person I’m talking to changes his or hers to fit my own. I think this happens because the person thinks there is something I know that the public doesn’t. So . . . the person thinks I am in a better position to make an accurate guess than he or she is. And the person wants to be “right” too. So their position changes.
Well, you’ll just have to trust me: 99.5% of the information I know about a case is covered in the interviews I do. Yes, once in a while we leave out some names. Yes, once in a while we are afraid of getting sued so we don’t mention a business or some information that is PROBABLY factual but can’t be proven. Yes, of course, those things happen.
But really, on every episode, the information covered in every disappearance is just about all there is to know. And from that, all of you are more than capable of coming to your own educated and intelligent conclusions. More importantly, I don’t mind that you disagree with me. In fact, I LOVE having the back and forths I have, in the Think Tank for example. Through discussion and questioning and challenging, theories can be come even more solid. While other theories may fall apart. But it’s the free and open discussions about these cases from which new avenues of inquiry will come. I believe that 100%.
Now, the next part of this is I do write my opinions in a place that is fairly cheap to access: Patreon. For $2/month, for those of you who really want to know how my mind works regarding the theorizing on the disappearances Unfound covers, you can be a member and instantly you’ll have access to about 130 blogs I’ve written since Sept. 2017. The average length of each? 3000 words. That is A LOT of reading.
Furthermore, if you then want to talk to me about any of those cases, you’ll go in at least knowing what I’ve already written. And if there are things that are still unclear to you, we can hash them out.
Of course, a question I get is: Ed, why do you make people pay to hear your opinions on the cases? Good question. The reason is when I started Unfound I never intended to EVER voice my theories . . . ever. True story. Why? Because as I stated above, I’m not here to influence people’s ideas.
Well, what happened, and I’m guessing this was inevitable, was more and more listeners wanted to know my thoughts. They wanted to know how my mind works in trying to figure out what happened. And it got to the point where I think some of them thought I was being rude for NOT telling them.
So, I had to balance pleasing you the listeners, while not influencing you at the same time. Thus . . . a blog in which people have to pay a minimal fee to read. $2/month . . . that’s 6.7 cents/day. Meaning, listeners just can’t randomly access my opinions for free. Meaning, they can’t be easily influenced by me. And, on the other hand, since I would not write the blogs otherwise, I am at least getting paid a wee little bit to do them, and those people who really, really want to know are willing to pay for that. And I thank every one of them.
This all goes with my thinking that ANYBODY can have an opinion—forming opinions is easy. It’s actually finding new relevant information that is difficult. In fact, as you’ve maybe heard me say before: The big problem with media in the USA these days is the people who market their opinions get paid way more than the people who actually find the information that is used to form those opinions. Well, it doesn’t take a genius to know that the information itself is more important than the opinions. So, why do the people who are doing the less important part get paid more? Yeah . . . I have no idea either.
So, me being very modest and private with my opinions on disappearances is all part of my overall view of news and media. In addition, I love finding out new information for you the listeners—that is one of the real joys of my job. My opinions? Lesser so.
But that takes me to the other part of this section of the newsletter: opinions on cases Unfound HASN’T covered. On this topic you must remember that on most other disappearances I don’t have any more information than any of you. I really don’t. On top of that, because I am so caught up in Unfound work, I probably know LESS than you do about the particulars of any random disappearance.
And now that I think about it, the only disappearances outside of Unfound’s realm that I think I can intelligently offer an opinion on are ones that I knew about BEFORE I started Unfound. Some of those would be Jodi Huisentruit, Jennifer Kesse, Maura Murray, Brandon Lawson, Brian Shaffer, and a few others. Yes . . . some of the most well-known disappearances in the USA.
Because since I’ve started Unfound, my concentration is 100% on our own cases. Myself and my assistants give 100% to the guests that give their time to be on the program. So, I don’t read about other disappearances unless I am going to talk about one like I do on the Wednesday night Live Show. Even then, I only talk about ones where I think something can be learned.
What I’m saying is if you email me about a particular disappearance that Unfound hasn’t covered, and I respond, “Sorry, I really don’t know much about it,” don’t be surprised. This is not because I am trying to blow you off—I don’t blow any emails off. I’m simply telling you the truth. Because the alternative is me offering up some half-assed thought on something I don’t know a lot about—and there’s too much of that going on in media today as well. I’m happy to just say, “I just don’t know.”
One more thing . . . if you do email me about some disappearances, please understand if I don’t get back to you immediately. We are all a bit busy here at Unfound. I will eventually return your email, although it may take a few days.
Are you a Patreon yet? If not, please consider it.
You can also support the program on Paypal. Unfound’s account is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have quite a few of them now. But if you’d like to know who they are and what their primary responsibilities are, here you go:
Emily—finding future guests.
Cheree—moderator for live shows, special projects, and main advisor.
Karie—moderator for Discussion Group on Facebook and researcher.
Heather—moderator for Discussion Group on Facebook and researcher.
Natasha—YouTube and website manager.
I could never ask for a better team.
BEHIND THE SCENES
One of the projects we’ve been working on is slowly coming together. We got the information requested in our FOIA for a series of murders that were committed in Texas. Why? We are investigating if these murders could be connected to a disappearance we covered in that state. We are trying to figure out if it is possible that the murderer could’ve known our missing person. However, we’re also looking into one other possibility regarding these murders and that disappearance that I can’t write about right at this point. Assistant Eric has worked on long and hard on this and I must commend him on his diligence and patience.
Cheree is also working on some FOIA’s for another of Unfound’s cases. FOIA’s are one of those things that if you don’t get them just right, government agencies will find a reason to reject them. Well, that’s what happened first time around. So we are going to do better this time. In this situation, we are not so much looking for data on a particular disappearance or murder. Instead, we requesting records of a more general nature. All I can say right now.
And . . . we have some other things going on too.
That’s all I have for you for this month. Thanks for reading!!!