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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 February, 2004, 11:49 GMT
Mystery plane found on sea bed
Faslane sign
The minesweepers were based at Faslane
An investigation has been opened after three Royal Navy minesweepers found a mystery aircraft on the sea bed off the west coast near Oban.

The aircraft is believed to be a Cessna and it is thought it may be a plane which disappeared 28 years ago.

The pilot was found dead on land, but his aircraft was never found.

Underwater divers attempted to take video footage of the plane on Friday, but had to return to the surface because of poor underwater visibility.

The tale of the dead pilot is featured in a book titled Scottish Unsolved Mysteries, which describes how airman Peter Gibb was found but his aircraft never was.

Examine wreck

A spokesman for Clyde Coastguard said: "At first, the Royal Navy thought it could be another plane which vanished in the early 1980s.

"But the pictures seem to indicate it is a Cessna. Air authorities think it is one that fell into the sea 28 years ago."

An investigation into the mystery has now been reopened in an attempt to find out if the crashed plane is the one which disappeared.

Further investigations are being hampered by the weather, we have a major Arctic depression there at the moment
Neil Smith
Royal Navy
In 1986 a diver searching for scallops reported finding the plane, which he said had lost both wings.

But the latest sighting - apparently at the same spot - is of a plane with one of its wings still attached.

Divers are expected to make further attempts to examine the wreck at a later date.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy in Scotland said the plane was found on Thursday evening by three of its vessels from HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane.

The ships from 3rd Mine Countermeasure Squadron, which was active in the port of Umm Qasr during the recent Gulf conflict, were on an operation to update coastal mapping.

The 300-tonne vessels, HMS Pembroke, HMS Penzance and HMS Inverness, were around a mile off the coast of Oban when they made the find.

Sunken plane

The 52-metre HMS Pembroke discovered the plane in 28 to 31 metres of water during the month-long training operation.

Neil Smith, director of communications for the Royal Navy in the north of Britain, said exploration of the sunken plane was being held back by the weather.

He added: "Further investigations are being hampered by the weather, we have a major Arctic depression there at the moment.

"Also we're not sure whether our divers, who are trained to go down to 30 metres, will be safe as parts of the plane are submerged at 31 metres.

"We think it could be a Cessna but we haven't confirmed that yet and we are in talks with the Air Accident Investigation Branch."

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