plane, ending 50-year mystery
about lake monster spurred Ottawa man to begin search
Geoff Nixon, The
Published: Sunday, November 18,
When Guy Morin spotted the five letters
painted on the tail of a sea plane lying on the bottom of Lac
Simon last month, he knew he'd found what he'd spent more than
a decade looking for.
The five letters, CF-HPK, were the call
sign of a plane that went missing nearly 50 years ago.
"It was like a rising," says Mr.
Morin, 39, an electrical engineer who grew up in Gatineau and
has lived in Ottawa for the past 12 years. "We knew we
were on the spot."
Three hunters -- Tony Chivazza, Louis
Hamel, Philippe Ouimet -- and their pilot, Gaëtan Deshaies,
were aboard the Republic RC-3 SeaBee when it was last seen on
Nov. 21, 1957.
Now, it's been found, sitting over 60
metres below the surface of the Papineau-area lake, covered
with decades' worth of silt and sand. It's hoped the plane
will hold the answers to its disappearance almost 50 years
The men had been on their way home from Lac
du Diable, where they had been hunting. All told, seven men
had taken part in the excursion. Next up, a trip to Schryer
Lake to celebrate their success. One problem: the plane could
only carry four passengers at one time.
Mr. Morin's second-cousin, Roger Guénette,
was among four men who'd already made the trip back to Schryer
"He suffered from survivor's
guilt," Mr. Morin says of his cousin. "He lived 24
years after the event and he was 32 years old when the event
According to records, the weather was less
than ideal for a flight. There were high winds and heavy waves
on local lakes, and snow squalls that, at times, made it
impossible to see. It was so bad, Mr. Guénette's flight even
landed on Lac Simon to wait it out.
When the flight carrying the remaining
three hunters and the pilot failed to arrive, an urgent search
was launched. Transport Canada used 16 planes in the effort,
but all they found were two hats and the body of a dog that
had been on the plane.
Mr. Morin was a young boy when he first
learned about the missing plane.
His family had a cottage near Lac Simon,
and one summer his uncle told him the nearby lake contained a
monster that once swallowed up a plane and four men.
His parents confirmed part of his uncle's
account -- yes, the lake had been the rumored site where the
men had disappeared. They also told him about the family's
connection to the mystery.
As he got older, Mr. Morin took up scuba
diving, becoming increasingly skilled at water searches. It
crossed his mind several times, he says, that he might one day
find the missing plane.
Mr. Morin eventually made friends in the
diving community, whom he enlisted to help him look for the
missing plane that had so captured his attention.
Chris Koberstein of Hudson, Que., and Dan
Scoville of Rochester, New York, helped him refine his search,
using better technology and more sophisticated techniques in
his more than 10-year quest to find the sunken wreck. They
used a combination of individual dives, a deep-sea robot
equipped with a camera and, eventually, sonar to plumb the
lake's vast depths.
On Oct. 2, they got their big break -- a
chunk of the plane's main strut. Then, they found the plane
"We hit the wing and then we could see
the entire plane," says Mr. Morin. "We started
illuminating the plane, sweeping back and forth, and then we
realized the thing is intact -- in one piece."
And they found the remains of three men. A
pair of boots was all they could find of the fourth man.
The plane is largely intact, with the
controls and gauges still in the cockpit. A rifle is tucked
beside the pilot's seat.
Mr. Morin and his friends will not say
exactly where the wreck is, for fear that someone else will
come along and disturb the site before it can be dealt with by
On Wednesday, a short segment about their
search is scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel's popular
Daily Planet show -- exactly 50 years to the day that the
plane went down.
Geoff Nixon, The
article at www.canada.com