When Jeremy MacDonald got coffee with some Yellowknife seniors, he didn’t expect to be given a mission to find a missing plane.
The seniors get together for coffee near Yellowknife’s government dock, and MacDonald, the diver behind the Facebook page and YouTube series Shit I Found Diving, was invited to tell some stories from his dives.
In what amounts to a hobby business, MacDonald helps people find lost objects in the lakes around town.
One group member, however, told him Great Slave Lake holds more than just standard-issue dropped phones and sunken boats. The group shared details and photos that set MacDonald on a quest to find a lost Douglas DC-3 aircraft.
The plane, registration CF-ECN, was a variant of the DC-3 known as a C-47, initially modified for military use. On January 2, 1951, it was damaged beyond repair on take-off from the Ptarmigan fish plant near the entrance to the lake’s North Arm.
The engines were removed, MacDonald was told, and the plane was left on the ice. At some point, it is reported to have simply sunk.
“Somewhere out there,” said MacDonald, “is a DC-3 looking to be found.”
MacDonald embarked on an initial search last week to assess the water depth in the area.
At one point, he discovered from the surface what appeared to be the wing of a plane – only to conclude he was looking at an odd formation of the lake bottom.
“We saw a shape on the sonar, and my initial response was that it was a wing,” said MacDonald. “So we dove down, and it turned out to be absolutely nothing. There was a wing-shaped cookie-cutter cut of clay that was removed from the bottom.”
But that kind of rollercoaster ride is par for the course. MacDonald has spent years looking for other items, like boats, on the bottom of Yellowknife Bay.
A lot of time is spent collecting data and refining search areas, he said.
Meanwhile, back on land, MacDonald has spent time looking for information about the plane at the NWT Archives and online. He’s currently looking for safety records that might have been filed at the time.
“It’s a lot of digging and asking and talking to people,” he said.
The next steps will involve driving around the lake with a magnetometer, looking for changes in magnetic field that may suggest the presence of metal, then investigating those areas further with a metal detector.
“It’s a good fun adventure,” said MacDonald. “I’ve got a good crew of friends who like coming on these little adventures of mine. We get out there, we have some fun, we’re trying to find something interesting, and just having fun building a story.”
If you have any leads or tips about the plane, MacDonald asks that you get in touch with him.