Fishing Buddies Find L-19 Missing Since 1958
Minnesota's Green Lake has finally given up one of her most
closely-held secrets -- one that's 46-years old. Monday, a trio of
anglers frustrated because nothing was biting, stuck an underwater
camera in the lake near Willmar (MN). What they saw astounded
It was a Cessna L-19 Birddog, one that had been missing since
October 15, 1958.
On that day, the pilot, Minnesota National Guard Captain Richard
Carey reported dense fog. He told controllers he "hit something"
and had only about three minutes of fuel left before his Birddog
literally disappeared, swallowed up by the lake. His body was
recovered two weeks later.
It's become the stuff of legends in Willmar. Several times,
locals have gone out on the water in search of the L-19. The West
Central Tribune reports one man even crafted his own mini-sub from
a 1,000 gallon propane tank in hopes of finding the downed
aircraft. But it wasn't until Monday that Corey Fladeboe and his
fishing buddies spotted the wreckage.
"We didn’t believe what we were seeing," Fladeboe told the
Tribune. "We ran the camera down the whole fuselage. It was very
muddy. We couldn’t make out any numbers or other
So Fladeboe marked the spot where he found the wreckage and
headed for shore to share the news.
A short time later, Mike Terhune took his underwater camera to
the site for a closer look. Terhune told the Willmar newspaper the
aircraft was about 40-feet down, covered with a light layer of
silt, but remarkably intact. The rudder was lying beneath the
aircraft's left wing. The aircraft was upright, its propeller bent
the windscreen glass knocked out. But given the relatively pristine
condition of the wreckage, Terhune speculated Capt. Carey did one
helluva job ditching his Birddog.
Fladeboe and others who've searched for Carey's aircraft since
the 1960s want to dive to the wreckage for a closer look and more
photos. But they may have to wait. The FAA wants to investigate
first, declaring the scene off limits to civilians. Still, some
locals want to eventually raise the wrecked aircraft.
"If the family is in favor then I think that would be a really
neat thing -- to put it on display," said Spicer (MN) resident
Linda Mickleson in an interview with the West Central Tribune.