Air Force plane found deep below Lake Ontario from 1952 crash

Jul 14, 2014

A team of shipwreck explorers recently discovered an Air Force plane deep below the surface of Lake Ontario, more than 60 years after it crashed.

It was late at night on September 11, 1952 when an Air force C-45 was flying from Massachusetts to Grifiss Air Force base in Rome. But before it could reach Grifiss, it lost an engine. The pilot set the plane on autopilot and the five member crew parachuted out.

The C-45 traveled about 65 miles un-piloted. Oswego residents reported seeing the plane buzz the city before going down in Lake Ontario. But the aircraft was never found, despite aerial and Coast Guard search efforts.

That’s until Jim Kennard and his team came across it using sophisticated sonar to look for historic shipwrecks. He recalls:

An image of the C-45 that crash into Lake Ontario in 1952.
An image of the C-45 that crash into Lake Ontario in 1952.
Credit Jim Kennard

"It was only when we got much further out in the lake in deep water and we were almost done for the day, after the flies had been biting us and the sun had been beating down on us, and all of the sudden, ‘wow, look at that!’ And there it was.’"

Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens round out the shipwreck crew. They found plane much further out than witnesses pegged it the night of the crash.

The plane is almost entirely still intact, Kennard says.

"And it was very obvious what it was with the sonar," he said. "It just painted a very nice picture of the airplane." 

He says the plane is too deep to dive to, so it will remain where it is.

Here's a video of the wreck, made by the shipwreck team: