FOUND: The Hercules that had gone missing on 23 May 1969
December 30, 2018 - by Emma Jane Kirby for BBC
It's taken 10 years, but professional diver Grahame Knott has finally found a US Air Force plane that crashed into the Channel in 1969. The wreck may help resolve a mystery: did the homesick mechanic who made off with the aircraft from his base in Suffolk lose control - or was he shot down?
"It cost me a fortune in beer," says Grahame Knott, "and I had to filter out a lot of chuff."
A crucial part of his decade of research was spent in pubs along the south coast of England, looking for men who operated trawlers and scallop dredgers.
These boats scrape nets along the seabed and occasionally turn up curious pieces of metal - which is what Knott was buying beer to hear about.
By listening carefully, he could guess whether the objects were likely to have come from aircraft, and if so how old they were, though it was not always easy to know exactly where they had become snagged in the net.
The culmination of this investigative work in snugs and public bars came in March this year, when Knott set out into the Channel to search for the 37-tonne, four-engine Hercules plane that USAF mechanic Paul Meyer had taken off in, singlehandedly and without permission, in 1969.
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