September 3, 2020

Mission to Recover Long-Lost Pilot Launched


The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA), a not-for-profit based at Tillsonburg airport (CYTB), some 22 kilometres south of Woodstock, Ontario, is hopeful that its years-long effort to recover the remains of RCAF Flying Officer Barry Newman, who crashed into Lake Ontario in 1952 while piloting a North American P-51D Mustang, will meet with success.

The pilot lost control at an altitude of around 20,000 feet above sea level (asl), leading to an out-of-control spiral towards the lake below. A partial recovery was observed at about 2,000 feet asl, but control was not fully regained before the aircraft hit the lake surface.

Some remains of the aircraft were recovered, but not the pilot. A board of enquiry convened at the time blamed a failed oxygen system and the resulting hypoxia of Newman as the reason control of the aircraft was lost.

The CHAA hopes to bring closure to surviving relatives.

The CHAA’s recovery team, all volunteers, first formed in 2001 with the goal of recovering lost North American Harvard aircraft. The team re-activated to begin the lengthy research needed before any recovery attempt for Newman could be made. Three years later, with all the appropriate permits and authorizations in hand, the team recently began searching an area off Point Traverse, located on the eastern side of Lake Ontario. Side-scan sonar and a ‘Deep Trekker’ remotely operated underwater vehicle equipped with cameras are being employed.

The CHAA acquires, restores, maintains and operates Harvard aircraft. They currently operate eight Harvards with another one under restoration. They offer flight experiences to the public. Further information can be found here.

Photo courtesy CHAA