August 16, 2005 - Prospects for restoring a Cessna L-19 “Bird Dog” to display condition, perhaps even airworthiness, are promising, says the founder of a Minnesota EAA Chapter charged with the project. Divers recovered the single-engine military plane August 13 after it laid submerged under 40 feet of water for nearly 47 years in Green Lake near Spicer, Minnesota. It crashed into the lake in October 1958 killing Minnesota National Guard Pilot, Captain Richard P. Carey.
“It looks pretty good,” said Chapter 1172’s Gene Underland. “It is restorable, one way or another, to either static or even flying condition.” Underland said the airplane was disassembled Sunday, and work has already begun on the engine. The paint on the aircraft is also in fairly good condition, he said, however, some corrosion around the fasteners will need some attention.
Photo courtesy of the West Central Tribune/Ron Adams
More than 50 boats filled with spectators, including Carey’s children and local EAA chapter members, circled the recovery site Saturday for a glimpse at local history. Using a winch mounted to a pontoon boat, divers from the Kandiyohi County dive team, along with the Emergency Support Services Association, carefully raised the 1,200-pound aircraft shortly before 9 a.m. The submerged plane was situated nose-down in about two to three feet of silt.
The entire plane, along with Carey’s flight log, parachutes, and headset, were recovered. Before raising the plane, divers used a video camera to record images of its cockpit dials, switches and other details in hopes of shedding light on the crash.
Chapter 1172 aims to make the airplane the centerpiece to a memorial describing Carey’s last journey and the airplane.