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RCMP postpone dive on Saskatchewan plane wreck until winter when lake is frozen

Mounties say efforts to reach a decades-old plane wreck at the bottom of a Saskatchewan lake have been thwarted by strong winds and they’ll wait until winter before making another try.

RCMP say members of their underwater recovery team were on Peter Pond Lake earlier this week, where it’s believed the wreckage of a small float plane that crashed in 1959 rests in about 18 metres of water.

Police say they took additional sonar images and deployed a remote underwater vehicle, but the strong winds made it impossible for surface boats to maintain their positions.

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They say the work was also hindered by poor underwater visibility, and the fact that the site is about two hours away by boat from the closest staging point on shore.

Police say the dive team’s supervisors have decided to delay another attempt until winter, when the ice can be used as a diving platform and visibility is expected to improve.

The wreckage of the crash, which killed pilot Ray Gran and conservation officer Harold Thompson, was located in July by a private search effort launched by the pilot’s daughter and son-in-law.

“The safety of our divers and support members is our top priority. If conditions are deemed too dangerous, no dive attempt will take place,” an RCMP news release said Thursday.

The location of the wreckage had been a mystery until last month’s discovery. RCMP initially said they would not dive to the wreckage, but then said a team would attempt to get inside the fuselage and gather whatever may be left of the two occupants.

The Cessna 180, owned by Saskatchewan Government Airways, took off from Buffalo Narrows, Sask., on Aug. 20, 1959, on a short flight to investigate poaching and to deliver mail to La Loche, Sask.

RCMP said the dive team remains optimistic a dive will be able to confirm it is the missing plane from 1959.

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