The Flight That Never Came Back

Nicole Henley
Aug 6 · 3 min read

Minutes after take-off, Nancy Elizabeth Branch and three other occupants, disappear without a trace.

The Charley Project (Permission to use).

*Availability of information differs between the sources used. The following includes details from what accessible references were found, including some from only one. Regarding all references used, only Nancy’s name, and photo has been publically released.


On December 6, 1992, 29-year-old Nancy Branch boarded a single-engine Piper Archer plane, at Santa Barbara Airport in California. Joining her were three other people. One source states that the other occupants included her fiancée, 31-year-old Kevin, and a newly-married couple named as 29-year-old Alan, and 31-year-old Amy Stewart¹. Other sources only identify Nancy by name, only referring to the other occupants of the flight as her friends. It’s not known who was piloting the plane. Before taking off from the airport to its destination at Palo Alto, California, the pilot contacted the Riverside, California FAA flight service station to get briefed on the weather. Despite the station informing them that the weather was already “treacherous” and only going to worsen throughout the day, the pilot decided to go through with the flight. The plane was cleared for take-off and departed just past noon.

Just eight minutes into the flight later, however, all communication from the plane stopped². Neither the aircraft nor its occupants have been seen since.

A subsequent search and rescue operation turned up no signs or evidence of either the aircraft or the people onboard.

One tip led investigators near the Big Basin area of California, though nothing ultimately came from it.

Assuming the planed had crashed, it’s believed that the weather could be the cause of the mystery. While the exact cause cannot be determined, the pilot’s request to be briefed on the weather beforehand seems to support this. However, in the brief period of communication with the plane during its abruptly short flight, the pilot never gave any indication that there was anything wrong.

The Occupants

According to the same, initial source¹, Nancy had graduated from Stanford University with a psychology degree in 1984. She later met her future fiancée, Kevin, while the two worked at Advanced Micro Devices in Sunnyvale, California. Regarding the other couple mentioned, Amy held a bachelor’s degree from Stanford in English, and also had a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California at Los Angeles. At the time of their disappearance, the Stewarts had only been married for six weeks; they had planned to have their honeymoon in South Africa a month before they went missing.

To date, the location of the plane remains unknown, and the disappearance of Nancy and the three other occupants unsolved.


  1. The Charley Project¹
  2. The Doe Network²

Of Misdeeds and Mysteries

True Crime and Unbelievably Real Stories; we aim to shine a light on the forgotten and unknown.

Nicole Henley

Written by

Freelance writer of stories on true crime, unsolved mysteries, marvels of history, and more.

Of Misdeeds and Mysteries

True Crime and Unbelievably Real Stories; we aim to shine a light on the forgotten and unknown.

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