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Wreckage from June 7 plane crash recovered from Lake Superior

Divers Chris Kirchoff (left) and Tom LeSage wade out to reposition the sling on the wreckage of the small plane that crashed in Lake Superior on June 7. The wreck was lifted from 137 feet of water Monday and towed to McQuade Harbor, where a crane picked it from the water and put it on a trailer. DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE/Steve Kuchera

DULUTH — The homebuilt airplane that plunged and disappeared into Lake Superior more than two weeks ago emerged as hardly recognizable pieces of debris on Monday following work by divers and other rescue personnel.

Wreckage from the 137-foot-deep site, about a mile off Brighton Beach, was pulled to the surface around 2 p.m. and was expected to reach shore by 5 p.m., completing a job that began June 9 with the recovery of the only presumed victim of the crash.

“Unless you knew what you were looking at, you’d have a difficult time knowing it was an aircraft,” said Capt. Tom Crossmon of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad.

Divers found the plane in two large pieces — one included the landing gear, and the other held the engine and cockpit. The pieces were fastened together and raised to the surface in one trip by inflated buoys.

Rescuers first attempted to raise the wreckage on the same day they recovered the body of Georg Obersteg, the pilot of the four-passenger, single-engine Lancair IV airplane. Initial attempts were abandoned when choppy waters kept rescuers from getting an adequate hold of the aircraft, and plans last week fell through when one of the divers was unavailable due to a family emergency.

Crossmon said the weather on Monday made the mission, “Worth waiting for.”

“Things went extremely well,” he said. “The weather cooperated nicely — flat, calm seas. The fog wasn’t an issue at all. It couldn’t have been a better day for weather.”

Crossmon also credited the quick response by searchers — debris was located in the water several hours after the June 7 crash — for expediting the recovery.

About two dozen rescuers from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad and Superior/Douglas County Dive helped in Monday’s mission.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the cause of the crash.