The search for Flight Officer Barry Allen Newman
and his lost P51D Mustang Aircraft
In the fall of 2022, team leader Paul Darnbrough invited me to be the lead diver on an expedition with the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association Dive Recovery Team. As the Heritage Ambassador with Save Ontario Shipwrecks it was my honour to assist in the search for Flight Officer Barry Allen Newman and his lost P51D Mustang Aircraft in the waters off of Picton, Ontario.
The mission of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association is to acquire, preserve, restore, maintain, display and demonstrate the Harvard and other training aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).
Over 65 years ago, a little-known Canadian serviceman gave his life in the service of his country when his plane crashed in Lake Ontario during training exercises. This incident has been lost in the march of time to most, but it will not be forgotten by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) Dive Recovery Team (DRT). We wish to honour his sacrifice by locating his aircraft and returning his remains to his family and his aircraft to a Canadian museum.
Operating under a Marine Archaeology License from the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Jim Garrington from Shark Marine spent several days surveying the lake bed with an autonomous underwater vehicle. Dozens of potential targets were idenified. An expedition was then mounted with the Dive Recovery Team to investagate the most promising targets.
It was critical that the site not be disturbed or damaged, so no anchoring was allowed, and artifacts were left in situ. With no anchoring, we were required to shot line dive the site which was in very deep, cold and dark waters. In order to locate the small targets in the dark, another advanced piece of high tech equipment from Shark Marine was used.
The Navigator is a one person sonar and navigation reconnaissance unit used by naval special forces around the world. After completing training on it functions, it was time to explore the depths.
The expedition was a joint effort between the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association Dive Recovery Team and the Picton Chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks. Charter services were provided complementary by Helen Cooper of Abucs Scuba. The team would do a free decent 30 meters to the bottom in near zero visibility and then utilize the Navigator to hone in on the targets. The following video shows the first piece of the lost P51 aircraft that I located and documented on the expedition.