Les and Kathy Peterson have started a fund with GiveForward.com to help the Fitzpatrick family.
On April 10, 2015, our friend, Bill Fitzpatrick, was discovered still seated in the wreckage of the Cessna 172 one-seat plane that had disappeared nearly 10 months ago.
As many of you know, Bill was the resident pilot for the anti-poaching effort in the largest wildlife preserve in Africa, Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo.
Bill and his plane went missing after departing Kano, Nigeria, enroute to Douala, Cameroon on June 22, 2014. It is suspected that Bill’s craft might have had difficulty with the thick cloud cover of the Bakossi mountains. This was not a singular flight for Bill, it was a part of a lifelong commitment and love of the Parks, the Peace Corp and the continued conservation efforts all over Africa and the United States.
Paula, Bill’s wife has been informed by the US State Department that it will be a long and costly process to retrieve Bill’s remains and to finally bring bring him home. Bill leaves behind Paula and their three amazing children, Mary, Matthew and Cody.
Our paths luckily crossed while working and living in Death Valley National Park in 1998. Bill worked as a National Park Service Ranger and Paula as the local elementary school teacher. I was blessed with taking care of little Mary, age 1 at the time, while our Son, Jairus, age 8 was fortunate to have Paula as his teacher. Although our jobs took us to different National Parks, we have remained dear friends over the years.
Paula is going to need help now as she navigates the challenges of raising three, growing children and providing final closure for herself and her family by bringing Bill home. After speaking with Paula, she, with great humility has accepted our offer to communicate the need for assistance. She feels fortunate to have three healthy children and an immeasurable amount of love and support from friends and family!
She deeply thanks everyone for their continued prayers, efforts and support during this trying time. Donating any amount would help.
It would mean the world to us if each and every one of you could, “Like” and share this story.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Les and Kathy Peterson
Letter from Paula July 2014
My husband, Bill Fitzpatrick, is an Anti-Poaching Pilot for one of the largest National Wildlife preserves in Africa, Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo. He and his plane went missing after departing Kano, Nigeria, enroute to Douala, Cameroon on June 22, 2014. Officially, the last anyone heard from Bill was the ATC (Air Traffic Control) handoff from Nigerian airspace to Cameroon airspace. We have no hard evidence/proof that he took off from Kano, Nigeria. We can not obtain any fuel records, radar logs, ATC transcripts and other evidence in helping us establish a trail of his activity, or what happened to Bill and his Cessna 172 plane.
Aerial searches coordinated by African Parks, Billâ€™s employer, in cooperation with Cameroon military search, (Nigeria refused to join the search), have found no trace of Bill nor his plane. We continue to urge and press for help – the US State Dept, Conservation Groups, Cameroon and Nigeria government, to assist in our efforts to find Bill.
Multiple NGOs (non government organizations) in both countries have been notified and a reward has been announced on local radio and TV stations for information on locating Bill and/or the plane.
The Odzala-Kokoua National Park Manager and individuals within the US State Department keep me updated on search efforts and results. They have been supportive and absolutely wonderful.
There are too many questions with no answers. Despite our concerns and frustrations, our family is very grateful for all of your Actions, Suggestions, Phone calls, Emails, Kind thoughts and Prayers.
I am asking for you to continue all of those positive thoughts. I am also asking that you help to keep the search active and increase the awareness of the US pilot missing in Nigeria by viewing our links which include a White House petition and sample letters to be sent to your congressmen.
Please express your concern that a US citizen is missing and must be found. As you know, the US government has recently funded and are actively involved in searching for the 200 school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. Demand that our Government find a US citizen and Pilot gone missing in Nigeria! Don’t forget to mention that Bill is a retired (30 years) Federal government (NPS) employee!!
Please think what you can do to help get Bill home.
Searching for Answers,
~ Paula Fitzpatrick