CUMBERLAND POINT, Ky. (AP) — A salvage company has pulled a water-logged airplane from the bottom of Lake Cumberland in south-central Kentucky.
Divers Den owner Dean Littrell and a crew removed the two-seater plane in September, a first for his company after 25 years of salvaging water wrecks.
Littrell told The Commonwealth-Journal that his crew brings up five to six boats a year from the bottom of the lake, but never something as large as an airplane.
The two-seater plane was equipped to land on water. The owner had landed on Lake Cumberland near Cumberland Point, but the plane had been overcome by a large wave. The single-engine went nose-first into the water, and took on too much water for them to pull the plane to safety with the help of a boater.
The pilot of the plane and a passenger were not injured.
“It’s a weird feeling to look at an airplane underwater when you know it shouldn’t be there,” Littrell said.
Littrell and several other certified scuba divers took to the water that weekend to find the aircraft.
“We had a general idea of where the plane was at,” said Littrell. “Once a diver found it, they signaled to the others. Then we assessed the damage and went from there.”
The plane was found under approximately 45 feet of water and upside down. The nose of the plane had sustained significant damage in the incident. Littrell said the team worked for around eight hours to flip the plane back around and get it out of the water.
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the pilot landed the plane with no issue before the aircraft “nosed over” into the water.
“A post-accident examination by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the airplane’s nose section,” states the report. “The pilot reported no pre-accident mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.”
The plane is registered to Monticello Aircraft Corporation in Wayne County.
The quest to pull the plane from the water is something Littrell won’t soon forget.
“I’ve been bringing up boats for 25 years now, but this is my first plane,” said Littrell.