Because California has been hit with a calamitous drought, the water level in Folsom Lake near Sacramento has dropped precipitously, triggering the discovery of a fully-intact plane at the bottom of the lake, a plane that may have gone mysteriously missing in 1965 after a New Year’s Day crash.
Tyler Atkinson, one of the workers testing underwater sonar technology in Folsom Lake, told KOVR-TV, “I saw something that was not normal.”
John Timplin, the president of Seafloor Systems, the underwater surveying company, stated, “He sees something on the bottom that looks man-made, and that’s when we say, ‘There’s definitely something down there,’ and maybe it’s the plane.”
“The sonar gave us about 100 feet of range. You could see the plane as clear as day. We could see the fuselage here. We could see the right wing. We could see the tail,” said Timplin, referencing the imaging. “Here, you can see the cowl housing of the engine and the props.”
Jeff Riley, another employee who was with Atkinson, added, “These lights on the ROV (remote-operated underwater vessel) allow me to say, ‘Okay, there is no way that’s a rock.’”
The plane’s tail and propeller looked like those of the Piper Comanche 250 that crashed in 1965.
Atkinson told KRON-4, “I think it’s amazing that after all this time there’s been a lot of research and a lot of effort put into finding this for the family and also to retrieve what no one knew was down there.”
The wreckage of a 1965 plane crash of a Piper Comanche 250 in Folsom Lake may have just been identified by researchers, using underwater sonar surveying equipment and low lake levels at the dam, outside of Sacramento. https://t.co/hddX54qsVA pic.twitter.com/zbLgegDiQG
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) June 14, 2021
“The New Year’s Day crash following a mid-air collision with another plane 56 years ago killed all four people on board,” CBS News reported. “The body of the pilot was recovered, but the bodies of the three passengers were never found, despite searches as recently as 2014.”
Katherine Radican, whose late husband, Frank Wilcox, spent most of his life searching for the wreckage of the plane in which his 15-year-old brother was killed (Wilcox was three years old at the time of the crash), said, “He didn’t really know his brother, but him and his mom would go out to the lake periodically when the water was low and look around to see if they could see anything.”
Radican added that Wilcox had promised his mother he would keep looking for his brother’s remains so he could give him a proper burial.
“The plane carrying Wilcox’s brother on his first flight collided in midair with a small Beechcraft Debonair sightseeing plane at an altitude of about 2,500 feet, the Roseville Press Tribune reported at the time. Despite being damaged, the Beechcraft managed to make a successful emergency landing at a local airport, but the Piper Comanche plummeted into the lake and disappeared, the newspaper reported,” ABC News noted, adding, “Folsom Lake, which has the capacity to hold 975,000 acre-feet of water, is down to about 361,000 acre-feet of water, or about 37% of capacity, according to California Department of Water Resources data released in May.”
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said no investigation has been launched.
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