Crashed plane removed from Lake Mendocino

A Redwood Valley man enlisted the help of a Napa diver, who accidentally rammed into the plane with his forehead.|

A group of North Bay residents found and removed a plane from Lake Mendocino after it crashed into the water last month, the Ukiah Daily Journal recently reported.

The ultralight aircraft lost power not long after taking off from the Ukiah Municipal Airport on April 29 and landed in the lake.

Redwood Valley resident Kenny Purcell told the newspaper that the plane’s owner contacted him to remove the aircraft from the water because he had experience pulling off-road vehicles out of binds.

But he hadn’t ever removed a plane from a lake before, he said, so he enlisted the help of diver Mike Myers of Napa.

Myers ended up finding the plane by accident. While diving to search for the aircraft, he hit it with his forehead.

“The diver found it by banging into it with his head,” Purcell told the newspaper. “There was zero visibility underwater, so the diver couldn’t see the bright red color of the plane even when he was standing on it.”

The plane was at the bottom of the lake, and Purcell estimates it was under at least 60 feet of water.

Despite the gash on his forehead, Myers was able to keep diving with his wife, Niki. He attached inner tubes similar to truck tires to the plane so that it could be moved to the surface by inflating or deflating the tubes as needed, Purcell said.

Once the plane reached the top of the lake, two men in a motorboat helped bring it to the water’s edge, where another group of mostly volunteers helped push the plane to a boat ramp.

The owner of the plane, Harvey Flinn, 71, of Potter Valley, told Purcell that the plane needed to be removed by May 3 or he’d face a fine. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office both told the newspaper they had no knowledge of either.

Purcell said he would bill less than $10,000 to retrieve the plane, but he hadn’t yet determined all of the charges.

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