Sea plane sinks into lake’s ice

Photo provided by Dan Lewis A small sea plane sank in Lake Superior Sunday when the pilot taxiing the plane struck a pressure crack and broke through the ice. No one was injured in the incident.

TORCH LAKE TOWNSHIP — An airplane broke through the ice on Lake Superior Sunday afternoon, and remains stuck after the pilot of the plane was preparing to taxi down the ice, according to Chief Dan Sarazin of the Bootjack Fire and Rescue Department.

Sarazin said that as the pilot of the 1946 Taylor aircraft, Dan Lewis of Dollar Bay, was taxiing to take off and return to the Houghton County Airport, the skis of the plane struck a pressure crack and broke through the ice. While the pilot was able to escape from the plane.

“The plane is in approximately six to eight feet of water, and just the tail is sticking out of the water,” Sarazin said. “That type of plane would fill with water quite rapidly, but he got out, because there is a top hatch on the plane, and (he) was able to walk to shore.”

The plane was approximately 100 yards from shore, near the pier of the White City Beach, Sarazin said.

Bootjack Fire and Rescue responded to a call from the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office at about 2:50 p.m., Sarazin said.

The Bootjack responders called for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Portage, which sent a crew, but when crews arrived, the plane had already broken through the ice, and the pilot was safely on shore.

Sarazin said the owner of the plane is also a diver, and he is currently coordinating the removal of the plane, which he needs to do within 48 hours, according to Department of Natural Resources regulations.

Forty-eight hours is the same time allotment for snowmobiles that break through the ice.

No injuries were reported in the incident, Sarazin said. The Bootjack Fire and Rescue was assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard Station Portage.