MORE than 60 years after it crashed into Lake Corangamite, a plan has emerged to retrieve a World War II RAAF aeroplane and restore it for public display.
Corangamite Shire Council has received a planning application from Rodney Knight, of Ocean Grove, to remove the remains of CAC Wirraway A20 714 that is submerged in 1.3 metres of mud in Lake Corangamite.
Mr Knight wants to restore the aircraft and make it available for public viewing at his Ocean Grove home.
He was not available yesterday to comment on his plan.
Apart from getting the remains of the training plane out of the mud and water, Mr Knight faces many other hurdles.
The site where the aircraft is located is within a heritage overlay and an environmental significance overlay, meaning its removal will have to meet numerous criteria.
The council will receive any objections to the planning application until December 6.
A Heritage Victoria spokeswoman said the wreck was listed on the Victorian Heritage Inventory that covered historic archaeological sites and Heritage Victoria would have to approve its removal.
The Wirraway was discovered in 2005 when it was exposed by receding water levels during last decade’s drought.
Much of the plane has deteriorated in the salt lake and its exposure for a number of years during the drought is likely to have hastened its deterioration.
Colac agricultural pilot Gordon Wilson discovered the relic but his hopes to remove and preserve the plane were thwarted by bureaucratic requirements.
“It just got too difficult with different departments,” Mr Wilson said.
“Heritage were not keen on it. They wanted it to remain there.”
Mr Wilson said he had known for decades there was a crashed Wirraway in Lake Corangamite but had not known where until he spotted the plane’s wing tip on a flight over the lake in 2005.
Former Heritage Victoria executive director Ray Tonkin said in 2008 the wreck was too fragile to move without causing significant and permanent damage.
Royal Australian Air Force pilot Vance Drummond was completing a training flight from the Point Cook air base near Geelong in October 1950 when he crashed the Wirraway into Lake Corangamite, then full of water.
He survived with minor injuries and went on to become a decorated fighter pilot, serving in the Korean and Vietnam wars and leading the RAAF Black Diamonds aerobatic team.
The Australian-made Wirraway aircraft had a high attrition rate, with many destroyed when they were drafted from training aircraft to a combat role against superior enemy aircraft in the defence of Malaya and Papua New Guinea during World War II.
Only eight Wirraways are still in existence as restored or partly restored historic aircraft.