Plane recovered from Lake Palestine after being submerged three years

LAKE PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) -A two-seater plane that crashed into Lake Palestine three years ago is finally back at the surface. After an underwater investigation firm spent months locating the exact location, they hired a dive team and spent a day extracting it.

"We performed several SONAR sweeps at various coordinates we thought were supposed to be the location of the plane," Summit Investigation and Imaging owner Brian West said. "We found things that looked like airplanes... they would be tree stumps with pieces of plywood on the side."

He says the initial investigation and paperwork are what took longest. After combing through crash reports and data from DPS, the FAA and NTSB, he was on the water with SONAR equipment. Then when he pinpointed the wreck, it was time to move.

"Two of our divers went down and they made a sweep with a 50 foot rope," International ALERT Academy instructor Michael Harman said. "They found the plane right away and tied off to it."

A team of divers from the academy partnered with West in the physical recovery. The dive team inspected the wreckage and attached a lift bag to the plane's prop. From there, it started to rise.

"It pulled the plane nose up, and then we had the plane hanging vertically in the water," Harman said. "We attached two smaller lift bags to the tail and brought the tail up."

They towed the plane in slowly, and once it was on dry land they let it drain in stages as they took it from the water.

West says the fuselage was sold for scrap, and other parts are being inspected for reuse elsewhere.

"The river authority wanted the airplane off the bottom of the lake," West said.

And now, it is.

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