Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lost planes of the lakes

It's commonly known that the Great Lakes are a graveyard for ships. What's not as well known is that a fair number of airplanes and important aviation-related artifacts also lie below the water's surface.

Last week, The Buffalo News reported that a group from New York has begun searching for the Cobra I, a modified P-39 Airacobra fighter, which went down in Lake Ontario during a test flight in 1946. The pilot was killed, and it's believed that the plane, which was capable of hitting speeds of up to 400 mph, still lies in the cold depths of Lake Ontario.

Precisely how much of the plane survived the impact is unclear, as only a few pieces have been recovered over the years. The searchers are now looking for eyewitnesses who may be able to shed some light on exactly where the Cobra I went down.

Click here to read the full Buffalo News story of the search for the Cobra I.

A vital part of Canada's aviation history also lies at the bottom of Lake Ontario.

As part of the development of the Avro Arrow fighter jet in the 1950s, nine prototype models, attached to booster rockets, were launched over the lake.

These small models, which were used to test drag and stability, hit speeds of mach 1.7 before their booster rockets cut out and they dropped into the lake. A number of groups have gone looking for the models since then, and two were found in the late 1990s.

For the latest on the effort to recover models of the Avro Arrow, click here.

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