The explorers were on a mission searching for historic shipwrecks when they discovered the nearly intact aircraft in 150-foot-deep waters in the southern part of Lake Ontario, about 35 miles north of Syracuse. The wreckage belongs to the Air Force, which has yet to make a comment on the discovery, according to the Associated Press.
According to one of the searchers who was looking for the plane immediately following its disappearance, the Beach Aircraft C-45 was on a routine flight when it crashed on September 11, 1952. The plane was carrying three crew members and two civilians on a flight form Bedford, Mass., to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y.
The left engine began to fail about 50 miles from the base and all five passengers ejected from the plane and landed safely with no injuries. Before ejecting, the pilot turned the autopilot on and set it to a destination away from civilians so that it didn’t cause any damage when it crashed. The plane continued to fly for over an hour before crashing.
According to eyewitnesses, the plane crashed about a mile off the coast of Oswego, a small town north of Syracuse. However, the search was called off after two days of searching by the Coast Guard and the Air Force.
The underwater explorers found the wreckage using sonar, and discovered the plane further off shore than was originally reported by witnesses. “All of sudden, ‘ho, what’s that?” said explorer Jim Kennard, “Then you see the sonar image of the plane, then you say ‘wow.'”
Chris Gillcrist, the executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, drew a grim parallel between the time it took to find the C-45 and the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. “It took 60 year to find the [Air Force wreck],” said Gillcrist. “And Lake Ontario is a relatively small area. Finding a plane in the expansive Indian Ocean poses a more difficult challenge.”