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October 10, 2013

Divers locate lost plane in Otsego Lake

Divers have located the remains of a plane that crashed in Otsego Lake decades ago, as part of an ongoing effort to document cultural artifacts long hidden under its surface.

The team located the remains of an Ercoupe single-engine plane that crashed in Otsego Lake in 1948, killing the two World War II veterans, Harold Caulkins and Edward Francis, on board.

Their bodies, along with some of the wreckage, were recovered after the crash, and in 1964 the rest of the plane was located. However, while it was being towed to shore, the plane sunk again, becoming a part of local diver folklore.

“All the divers have a story related to this,” said archeologist Joseph Zarzynski, who was part of the team that found the plane.

He also said that, based on the sonar readings, he expected them to find the plane, before they dove on it on Sept. 22.

Word of the plane’s rediscovery was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

“Some people get exponentially more excited about plane wrecks,” said Lord, head of the Biological Field Station Volunteer Divers Team, when asked why the find had generated so much interest.

The effort through which the plane was found is part of the work of the BFS Volunteer Divers Team.

Operating out of the State Univesity College at Oneonta’s Biological Field Station, located on the shores of Otsego Lake, the BFS Volunteer Divers Team has been active for over a decade.

“For years, off and on, there was no dive capability at the biological field station,” said Lord, who helped found the team.

Some of the projects the dive team has been involved in include monitoring the lake’s zebra mussel population, identifying a plant and a byrozoan not previously known to be in the lake, and sampling subsurface flows. The team also places navigation buoys in Otsego Lake.

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