The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner – 1999

The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner


     On the afternoon of May 6, 1999, Gerhard Finkenbeiner, 69, took off in a single-engine Piper Arrow, (Reg. N8235Z), from Wiggins Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts, and neither he or his airplane have been seen since.  

     His intended destination was unknown for he didn’t file a flight plan. 

     The weather was relatively clear with 7 to 10 miles good visibility.

     Once he was reported “missing”, authorities began an intensive search. 

     The Massachusetts Wing of the Civil Air Patrol obtained radar data from the Federal Aviation Administration.  This data was included in the National Transportation Safety Board, (NTSB), report narrative, which reads in part: “Air traffic control radar began tracking a target squawking 1200 in the Norwood area, about the same time the missing airplane was suspected of departing.  The target tracked southbound to a point 5 miles south of Taunton Airport, then turned eastward at 1506:02.  At that time, the altitude of the target was 1,100 feet.  At 1506:14, at 41 degrees, 49 minutes, 83 seconds, north latitude, and 70 degrees, 49 minutes, 22 seconds west longitude, radar contact was lost.  At 1518:14, a target was observed at 41 degrees, 50 minutes, 32 seconds, north latitude, 70 degrees, 46 minutes, west longitude, at an altitude of 500 feet.  There were no further contacts.”

     Assuming that the radar contact was Mr. Finkenbeiner’s aircraft, the search was initially centered in the area of Carver, Massachusetts.  However, it was also speculated that Mr. Finkenbeiner may have attempted to fly to Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where he owned another home.   Another area of interest to searchers centered around the Danielson, Connecticut, area where witnesses reported seeing a plane circling that may have been in trouble.   Despite repeated searches, nothing was found.  

     Mr. Finkenbeiner was a well known manufacturer of glass armonica’s; an instrument introduced in the 1700s by Ben Franklin.  The business is still in operation today. See  

     What happened to Mr. Finkenbeiner and his aircraft is open to speculation, and to this day there are those still hoping to bring the matter to a close. 

    One website dedicated to solving the mystery can be found at The Search For Gerhard Finkenbeiner – Rick’s Home Page, 



     National Transportation Safety Board report, #NYC99FAMS3

     Boston Globe, “Glass Armonica Maker vanishes”, May 9, 1999, Pg. B01

     Lewiston Sun Journal, “Authorities Perplexed By Missing Pilot”, May 10, 1999

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Conn. Police To resume Search For Missing Plane”, November 14, 1999

     Providence Journal, “Missing Plane Remains A Mystery”, November 22, 1999









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