The revered French journalist Gérard Leclerc and possibly two passengers are presumed dead after a small aircraft he was piloting crashed in France.
According to extensive reports published in the French media, Leclerc was operating a Robin DR 400 small aircraft on August 15, 2023, traveling from Loudun Aerodrome, in west France, to La Baule.
The aircraft took off at 11:07 am local time but dropped off the radar when transitioning between airspaces.
According to Europe 1, who Leclerc worked with, the pilot of the plane had announced to the Nantes airport control tower that he was entering Saint-Nazaire airspace, but no further communication was made.
“On board were a pilot and one or two passengers, this information remains to be confirmed,” an overnight statement by the Saint-Nazaire public prosecutor’s office said.
Flight data captured the aircraft’s flight path until 11:42 am and where it was last located near Lavau-sur-Loire.
On August 16, 2023, a search for the aircraft and the victims resumed after it was paused overnight.
According to France Bleu Loire Océan, debris, a wheel and part of the registration, were found in canals.
“This research is made particularly difficult because the plane was submerged several meters in an area subject to very strong currents, and in which visibility for divers is almost zero,” the Saint-Nazaire prosecution said.
The daughter of the former minister and president of the Senate, René Monory, and her friend are believed to have been passengers on board the aircraft.
“Fatal accident to the #avion @RobinAircraft #DR400 registered F-GMXY which occurred today at #LavauSurLoire / An investigator @BEA_Aero and a first information investigator on site today, joined by two investigators @BEA_Aero tomorrow. Opening of a security investigation,” the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Gérard Leclerc was half-brother of singer Julien Clerc and was extremely well known in the political world.
The former President of France, François Hollande, paid tribute to Leclerc following the tragedy.
“Gérard Leclerc was a great political journalist. Cultivated, rigorous, elegant. He loved debate and controversy while respecting the truth of the facts. I think of our interviews, I still hear his analyses and I measure the talent that the press has just lost. Thoughts for his family and loved ones,” Hollande wrote in a statement.