Underwater Images Show Wreckage of Possible 1965 Plane Crash in Folsom Lake

Images taken from underwater sonar technology show a fully intact airplane deep in the water of Folsom Lake. Marissa Perlman reports. (6-11-21)

Video Transcript

- An accidental discovery, at the bottom of Folsom Lake, could crack a decades old case.

- As Marissa Perlman reports, two men testing out some sonar technology saw something below the surface that shocked them.

MARISSA PERLMAN: A deep water discovery. These images show a fully intact airplane, taken from underwater sonar equipment. And it may have just solved a 56-year-old mystery.

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MARISSA PERLMAN: Tyler Atkinson, and Jeff Riley with seafloor systems know Folsom Lake like it's their own backyard. But on this day as they surveyed the water, something unusual stood out.

- I saw something that was not normal. Those lights on the ROV allow me to actually identify and say, like, OK, well, there's no way that's a rock.

MARISSA PERLMAN: Low lake levels made it easier for the sonar technology to get a clearer image, and they saw the plane's tail and propeller. Matching the description of the Piper Comanche 250 that crashed in 1965.

- He sees something on the bottom like this that looks man-made. That's when we decide OK, there's definitely something down there, and maybe it's the plane.

MARISSA PERLMAN: It was New Year's day when that plane crashed near the Folsom Dam after a mid-air collision. The bodies of three people on board were never found. The body of the pilot was the only one discovered. The brother of one of the victims, Frank Wilcox, has never stopped looking for the plane or his brother's remains. But Frank son, tells us his father passed away two years ago, never learning of this discovery.

- It's right here, I mean, we know where it is.

MARISSA PERLMAN: In 2014 crews looked once again for the plane's wreckage, but came up empty. Now this technology has been updated, allowing for an easier search.

- I think it's definitely a rewarding prospect to offer some sort of closure.

- And Marissa Perlman is reporting there. She says that is up to the Sheriff's Office to figure out if that plane will be recovered and how.