The crew abandoned the twin-engine Beach Aircraft C-45 during a flight over central New York in 1952 when one of the aircraft’s engines failed and the crew of three along with two civilians were forced to bail out of the aircraft. Prior to their forced jump, the auto-pilot was engaged and the plane flew a number of miles before crashing 35 miles north of Syracuse.

Crew abandoned Air Force Plane

Six decades old air force plane discovery

The group that discovered the intact air force plane today is based out of the Rochester, NY area and were looking for a number of historic shipwrecks that Lake Ontario has claimed.

When the pilot of the flight ordered the other four on-board to parachute, they did so at 2,500 feet after a near immediate engine failure.

Somewhat ironically, one of the searchers was on the flight that forced all on board to parachute out of the struggling plane.

While the flight crashed, it wasn’t forgotten and over 60 years ago, two days of searching by both the Coast Guard and the Air Force turned up nothing.

Air Force Plane Still belongs to USAF

Kennard said he, Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens were using side-scan sonar to survey the lake bottom when they discovered the plane wreck on June 27. Sonar images show the plane’s nose and vertical stabilizers are missing, but otherwise the aircraft remains mostly intact.

The team was surprised when the sonar found the wreck farther from shore than what the witnesses indicated, Kennard said.

“All of sudden, ‘ho, what’s that?’ he said. “Then you see the sonar image of the plane, then you say ‘wow.'”

As an Air Force flight, the plane is not subject to salvage laws in international waters. The Air Force has yet to comment on the find nor comment on its plans for the aircraft.