On Monday, November 5th, 2018, Pilots for Hope a newly formed non-profit volunteer search and rescue organization based in West Chicago, IL, donated their aircrews and aircraft to search for the missing swimmer in Lake Michigan. Lena Lemesh, a 52-year-old woman from Elgin, went missing while participating in a cold water swimming event on Sunday, November 4th.
When Pilots for Hope learned of the tragedy, they immediately contacted the City of Highland Park to offer their free aerial search and rescue services in the search for the missing swimmer. Then, in collaboration with the Fire Department’s Incident Commander, they planned an exhaustive aerial search pattern and launched an aircraft out of DuPage Airport, staffed with an all-volunteer aircrew, to perform the thorough search of the Highland Park to Lake Forest shoreline.
The aircrew flew for nearly 2-hours – even repeating the search patterns for better coverage – and, while Pilots for Hope did not find any signs of Lamesh on this flight, they plan to fly another aerial search of the area in the next few days (weather permitting). Even though this mission is now being called a recovery effort, Pilots for Hope seeks to at least bring closure for the grieving family. Our (Pilots for Hope) hearts and prayers go out to Lamesh’s family during this difficult time.
Pilots for Hope was founded just this year in light of the rash of missing boaters and swimmers in Lake Michigan. All volunteers with Pilots for Hope are trained and experienced aerial-based search and rescue aircrew members and the flights are donated by these volunteers.
Pilots for Hope is a group of trained and experienced volunteer members whose mission it is to contribute to search and rescue operations with flights over land and water around greater Chicagoland in the hopes of saving lives or bringing closure to loved ones. All search operations are funded by the generous donations of their volunteers and online donations from the general public. For more information, visit www.pilotsforhope.org