Courtesy: TISIRI. This appears to be part of the engine.
Courtesy: TISIRI. This appears to be a tire at the second plane site.
Courtesy: TISIRI. Kistel says this appears to be part of the fuselage.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Joe Kistel, a diver on the First Coast, has stumbled onto a mystery.
Kistel is the executive director of TISIRI, and his crews dive and map artificial reefs.
A couple weeks ago, about 20 miles off the coast of St. Augustine, they found some metal objects in a sandy area of the ocean floor. Click here to see TISIRI's photos.
One metal object led to another. The last one confirmed what they were thinking.
"We knew exactly what it was. We could see a bent propeller and an engine," Kistel recalled.
Low on oxygen in their tanks, he and his crew snapped some pictures and went back to the boat.
Since then, Kistel and his team have researched the name of the engine and the planes which have them.
He prepared another dive for this past weekend, aiming to find a serial number.
"It will probably let us identify that plane," Kistel explained.
This weekend brought them another underwater surprise.
While they did not find a serial number, they found something else in the wreckage.
"It hit me real quick! We just found another engine! So we just went from a single engine to a multi-engine aircraft," Kistel laughed.
That means, they are dealing with a different kind of plane
"That kind of opens up a whole different can of worms," he smiled.
Since Kistel's first discovery a couple weeks ago, a fisherman suggested he look at another site off the coast of St. Augustine. The fisherman said he thought there was a plane there too. So, while out in the water this weekend, Kistel and his team went to that other site as well.
Sure enough, they found a second plane.
"We have a whole other aircraft site," Kistel chuckled, "four miles away from the first site."
They saw a fuselage, wings, and a tire at the second site. Kistel said is was a bigger debris field than the first.
Some historians from Flagler County have written TISIRI, wondering if the aircraft could be wreckage from a World War II scout plane.
Kistel explained that those planes "would scout German U-boats. There were a bunch of them. But supposedly three or four went down."
Kistel has checked with the FAA and NTSB. He said there's no conclusive word about what the first plane was or who it belonged to. He has not had time to provide the agencies with information on the second site.
Kistel's group doesn't typically dive plane wrecks, saying "it has nothing to do with what we normally do."
However, now he's aiming to identify not one, but two planes.
"It could be some significant aircraft or at the very least it could provide closure for some family," he noted.
So now he's working to unravel the mystery he unexpectedly swam into.
First Coast News