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Tue, May 24, 2005

Donation Spurs Search For Ditched Plane

Envirocare Steps Up With $3 Million To Raise Cessna 177B

It was some eight years ago a Scenic Airlines Cessna 177B made a tricky water landing on Utah's Lake Powell. The operator and the three German tourists were able to get out safely and were picked up by a passing boat, but the aircraft sank to the bottom, as deep as 180 feet below.

Now, thanks to a $3 million donation from a company called Envirocare, and help from an advocacy group called Friends of Lake Powell, the wreckage of the aircraft will be the object of an intensive underwater search.

The search will be conducted by Jim Cross, who leads International Search and Recovery. The company, based in Salt Lake City, UT, specializes in finding hard-to-locate sunken objects. Not only will Cross try to bring up the Cardinal, but will also try to bring up a couple of refrigerators and about 40 boats.

"Our hope is that he can go find it [the Cardinal, file photo of type below], and then go down and rig it," Steve Ward, chairman of Friends of Lake Powell, told the Arizona Daily Sun. "He'll have to bring it up very slowly and carefully because of the National Transportation Safety Board demands for it to be brought up upright so they can do their investigation. It's a long process."

Cross hopes to succeed where divers have failed in locating the wreck of the Cardinal. Rather than depending on the ol' Mark I eyeballs, he'll use a side-scanning sonar to pinpoint the wreckage. Only after he's sure of what he's found will he dive on it.

FMI: www.lakepowell.org

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