Piper Aerostar is new attraction
At 15:45 last Friday, a brand new twin-motor Piper PA-60 Aerostar plane plunged into the crystal clear waters of Lake Hemmoor in Hamburg, Germany. This was the third plane that Holger Schmoldt, owner of dive center Kreidesee (www.kreideseetaucher.de) for over 25 years, sank in the lake, after a light-metal plane and a Piper 28 plane in December 2008.
Why was the Piper Aerostar deliberately sunk at the E0 entry at Lake Hemmoor? This was because the aforementioned yellow Piper 28, once owned by Alan Shepard (first astronaut from the US and fifth man on the moon), had been "crashing". After being sunk in 2008 to serve as a dive destination, the plane had slid down the underwater slope twice. As a result, it was moved to another place at 53 metres depth at the bottom of the lake, where it serves as a destination for both technical divers and the "Eurosub“ submarine (www.eurosub.org).
With the Piper 28 at its new location, there was now space at the E0 for the Piper Aerostar to take its place – with the help of a 90-tonne crane that plunged the new plane into the cold waters of Lake Hemmoor.
Using a car, Schmoldt himself hauled the aircraft to the shore. Ever since the authorities gave permission for the aircraft to be sunk in the lake, the staff of the dive centre have been cleaning, servicing and preparing it for the sinking.
In the morning, attachment ropes were installed at the structures 22 meter deep, remnants of the former opencast mine. "After the many sinkings of various objects like the truck and the MS Hemmoor, it is always exciting for me to see if we can get the object exactly where we want it," said Schmoldt during the preparations. This time, there was also a special camera crew present, consisting of underwater cameraman Jens-Uwe Lamm (www.uw-film.de) and freelance cameraman Thomas Reinke (www.clipsalat.de). Thomas works mainly for various TV stations and has already worked on many documentaries about Hemmoor. Jens has recently attracted the attention of the public through his photographic series about the concrete vibrator (a remnant of the former opencast mine) at the lake, in addition to his many videos about the lake.
After almost two hours, the divers with Schmoldt had moved the aircraft to the intended location. The first attempt to pull the pipers with lifting bags over a circulating rope failed. After the floats were adjusted, the aircraft was then manoeuvred into a floating position the following day. At a depth of approximately 11 meters, the plane was finally secured and the surface buoy fixed.
Now, visitors at the lake can dive to a new underwater destination, which is easy to reach from the shore using an attached guideline. "Now, we will remove another object from the lake. After all, we don‘t want to fill the lake up with scrap," said Schmoldt. It is hoped that the bright white Piper Aerostar will be liked by all, so that divers can enjoy having the new aircraft in the lake for a very long time.