Firefighters Uncover Mysterious Plane Submerged in NC Lake

Sonar imaging revealed a small plane near the bottom of Lake Norman.

ByAlexis Shaw
September 23, 2013, 7:36 AM

Sept. 23, 2013— -- Firefighters on a training exercise in a North Carolina lake uncovered what appeared to be a small plane submerged nearly 100 feet below the water's surface.

Side-sonar imaging revealed the plane sunk in the deepest part of Lake Norman, near Cornelius, N.C., on Sept. 5, Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Robert Brisley told

"Years ago, it took a hit or miss to find things or people [in the water]," Brisley said. "This equipment allows us to identify points and images before we put divers deep into the water."

Members of the Charlotte Fire Department dive team went into the man-made lake to get a closer look, Brisley said. Diving down, they found a small, single-engine aircraft that sunk approximately 90 feet below the water's surface.

While the crew couldn't get the doors of the plane open, its search revealed there were no victims in the crash, Brisley said.

Charlotte Fire Department personnel then handed over information about the plane, including its tail number, to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA is searching through aircraft ownership records to determine the aircraft's last owner, it said in a statement. It is not clear what type of plane it is or how it ended up in the lake.

Barbara Anderson, of Cornelius, believes the sunken aircraft might be hers, and contacted the FAA once news of the plane broke.

Anderson told ABC's Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV that her plane had dropped down to the bottom of Lake Norman after flight instructors were using it for training more than 30 years ago.

"We got a phone call that said your plane has sunk," she said. "They landed, forgot to put the gear up to lock it up and she sunk."

While the pilots were unharmed, the plane was never recovered from the lake, she said. She spent thousands of dollars in the hopes of finding it, but to no avail.

"Every time I'd go out flying, I'd look," Anderson said. "One day, I saw it. The sun glanced right down on it. And I called back and said I found it, but by the time they got down there with the boats and things, it had shifted."

It's not known exactly how long the plane had been in the lake, WSOC-TV reported.

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