Over 65 years ago, a little-known Canadian serviceman gave his life in the service of his country when his plane crashed in Lake Ontario during training exercises. This incident has been lost in the march of time to most, but it will not be forgotten by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) Dive Recovery Team (DRT). We wish to honour his sacrifice by locating his aircraft and returning his remains to his family and his aircraft to a Canadian museum. Our goal for this campaign is to raise sufficient funds to cover fuel costs, vessel charters and local expenses for the search and recovery which, depending on weather and official follow-on approvals, may extend into 2021. The projected costs to achieve our objectives are $12,000. Any excess funds will be used by CHAA to continue its mission to preserve our aviation history.
Our group has carried out intensive archival research and narrowed the location of this World War II era military aircraft to a small search area. Having obtained a Provincial archaeological license, we are planning to conduct a scientific search in August. An all-volunteer crew, using advanced side scan sonar donated by Orange Force Marine Ltd, will survey the site and hope to locate the wreckage of this aircraft. Once located, the team will use a video equipped remotely operated vehicle to map and document the site in preparation for the follow-on phase.
Once the wreckage has been documented, a second license application will be submitted to conduct the dive and recovery operations. During this phase we expect to find evidence of the pilot’s remains. All official protocols and best conservation practices will be followed, and CHAA will fully coordinate our program with the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Ontario Coroner’s Office. Any aircraft parts recovered will be properly documented, conserved, curated and donated to a Canadian aviation museum. Any pilot remains will be entrusted to the Coroner’s Office, and any personal effects will be returned to the Airman’s family.
CHAA’s Dive Recovery Team includes professional and experienced recreational divers, survey and electronics specialists, and aircraft historians, and all are dedicated to preserving Canada’s aviation heritage. Several team members have NAS-1 certification and experience in conservation and restoration. Their combined resumes include searches for a Vampire, various Harvards, the AVRO Arrow models, several Nomads, a Grumman ‘Duck’ and a Saber, as well as the recoveries of the historic 1927 Fokker Standard Universal ‘Ghost of Charron’, P-38 Lightning ‘Glacier Girl’, a B-17 Flying Fortress and a Harvard.
Please help us to locate this aircraft so that it can be displayed in one of our cultural centres, and most importantly, and the pilot who lost his life in service to Canada can be honoured. CHAA is a registered charity and a tax receipt will be provided for each donation over $20.
Please note; we are not releasing the specific details on the model of the aircraft, date of the crash, the victim’s name or the general location in order to protect the integrity of the search site and to avoid any public intervention that would compromise the search and our success.
The DRT is dedicating this search to former CHAA member, the late Flight Lieutenant Charley Fox, DFC, who on 17 July 1944 strafed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s staff car, seriously injuring him and ending his participation in the war.
We need the public’s help to bring closure for the family