Local News

Family petitions for answers to plane's mystery disappearance

Posted May 18, 2012 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2012 9:14 a.m. EDT

— Lt. Mike Tisik was the co-pilot of a transport plane, returning from Anchorage, Alaska, to Montana on a frigid night in January 1950 when the plane and 44 people on board simply disappeared. Sixty years later, Tisik's grandnephew, Paul Vilga, has launched a campaign for answers.

The U.S. Air Force searched for the C-54 Skymaster in Canada's Yukon territory where it is believed to have crashed but never found a trace.

"The initial search was called Operation Mike. Operation Mike was one of the largest searches in North American history," said Vilga, who lives in Rolesville. 

Now he needs 25,000 virtual signatures to force the Obama administration to consider his request to re-open the search for his grandmother's beloved brother.

"There's nine million people that live in North Carolina. It feels like it would be easy to get the 25,000 signatures that we need," he said.

Stella Vilga will turn 80 years old on July 1, and Paul Vilga wants to deliver a renewed search as a birthday present. "My grandmother means everything to me. She's always been there for our family," he said.