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California Drought Exposes A Missing Plane Thought To Have Crashed In 1965

The small plane was involved in a midair collision but was never located. Turns out, the plane discovered recently was an entirely different one.

California Missing Plane
Photo courtesy of Seafloor Systems

With California suffering a severe drought, the levels of lakes in the state have receded to record lows. This includes Folsom Lake, a large reservoir near Sacramento, where technicians testing underwater sonar equipment came upon the unmistakable outline of a small plane on the lake’s bottom. The definition of the scan is very good, thanks to the unfortunate circumstance of the record low water levels in Folsom Lake caused by the drought. Unprecedented numbers of large wildfires in the western part of the country last year were also associated with these same dry conditions. But it wasn’t good enough, it turned out, to make a positive ID on the aircraft resting on the lake bed.

The plane that the sonar team discovered, or so thought Placer County Sheriffs, was initially thought to be a Comanche 250 that was involved in a midair collision in 1965. The crash, according to local news reports, resulted in the deaths of all four aboard the Comanche, though the plane and three of the victims were never found, until earlier this month, even though searches were conducted regularly, as recently, in fact, as seven years ago.

But just a few days ago, the story took an unexpected twist, when a second, more detailed scan revealed that the plane was not the missing Comanche but, rather, a different one that went down in 1986 with no fatalities.  

There are no plans at present to recover the plane.


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