Specialist Unmanned Surface Vehicles / Vessels / Unmanned Boats for Hydrographic Marine Surveys

ROV Team Discovers Submerged Crashed Plane

By Mike Ball / 27 Jun 2021

Seafloor Systems sonar imaging

Seafloor Systems has confirmed that a team of hydrographers has discovered a submerged plane on the bed of Folsom Lake, a large man-made reservoir used by the company to test hydrographic survey equipment aboard unmanned surface vessels (USVs).

While conducting routine tests, live feed sonar images appeared to show wings, a fuselage, and tail section of a small aircraft approximately 160 feet below the surface. Drought conditions in the California foothills have translated to lower-than-average water levels, making it easier for the sonar system to paint a clear image of the downed plane. The discovery prompted the team to take a closer look, and they returned to the site with a submersible ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) fitted with a camera.

Though suspended silt caused some visibility difficulties, the lights on the ROV clearly illuminated a propeller and tail. Working with Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, the team determined that the aircraft was from a previously reported 1986 case where a plane went down with no fatalities.

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact