Unreported Airplane Wreck -- Accident Or Crime?

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A hunter tramping through a Louisiana swamp last week in search of rabbits stumbled onto a wrecked airplane, half-buried in the muck. "The wings are broken off. The plane burned," Harold Schoeffler of Lafayette told The Advocate. "You can see the path of plane parts where it came through the trees." Schoeffler poked around a bit, recorded the GPS coordinates of the site and reported his find to the NTSB. He didn't find any sign of human remains, and estimated the wreck at about 30 years old. It was a white Cessna 180 with pontoon floats, he said, but he couldn't find any registration number or other identifying marks. The NTSB said no lost airplanes had been reported in the area, which led to speculation that the 180 may have been on an illicit mission, perhaps smuggling drugs. Hector Casanova of the NTSB told The Advocate there are no plans for investigators to visit the site, but they will research records of aircraft reported missing in the area. "Normally, when there is a loss of an aircraft, we know about it," he said. If it appears that drug smuggling was involved, the investigation will be turned over to law-enforcement authorities. "If someone was hauling drugs or marijuana and crashed, we don't investigate those," he said. "Those are not accidents; those are crimes."