Historical Highlights

The Disappearance of Majority Leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Representative Nicholas Begich of Alaska

October 16, 1972
The Disappearance of Majority Leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Representative Nicholas Begich of Alaska Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Representative Hale Boggs served 14 non-consecutive terms in the House of Representatives.
On this date, a small charter plane carrying Majority Leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana, Alaska Representative Nicholas Begich, and a Begich aide disappeared between Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska, during a campaign trip. Boggs, hoping to win the loyalty of Begich (a freshman who had opposed him a year earlier in a bruising leadership contest), agreed to barnstorm the state on a 48-hour trip. After a Sunday evening speaking engagement on October 15, in Anchorage, they left the next morning for the state capital. The twin-engine Cessna never arrived, vanishing in abysmal weather conditions. At noon on October 17, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts, in his role as Democratic Whip, made the announcement in the well of the House: “It is our hope and prayer, of course, that the men will be found safe,” he told anxious Members. The disappearance set in motion the largest search and rescue operation to that point in American history, involving 40 military aircraft, 50 civilian planes, a search grid of 325,000 square miles, and more than 3,600 hours of search time. After 39 days, the search was called off, with no sign of wreckage or survivors.

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