- On 03/09/2010
- In Airplane Stories
By Steve Creedy - The Australian
After weathering typhoons, carbon-dioxide poisoning and sceptics, filmmaker Damien Lay is convinced he has found the Lady Southern Cross. Lay is planning to take family members to the site in November for the 75th anniversary of the disappearance of famed Australian aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith.
Kingsford-Smith disappeared over the Andaman Sea with co-pilot John Thompson "Tommy" Pethybridge in November 1935, while flying from India to Singapore on his way home from England. The only trace of the plane ever found was a Lockheed Altair starboard undercarriage leg recovered with a still-inflated tyre in May 1937.
It was found by Burmese fishermen near Aye Island, south of Rangoon.
Lay last year claimed to have found the plane after taking sonar images of three equilateral triangles he believed were part of the plane's wing in thick mud under 20m of water.
The filmmaker has returned to the site five times and has located an object he believes is the plane's engine block.
Lay's claims have their critics. Aviator Dick Smith last year described the chances of the find being the Lady Southern Cross as 1000 to one and Kingsford-Smith's biographer, Ian Mackersey, described the claims as complete nonsense.
The filmmaker has been wrong before. In 2005 he claimed to have located near Broken Bay a third Japanese midget submarine involved in an attack on Sydney Harbour.
That vessel, however, was later found 5km off Sydney's northern beaches. Aircraft manufacturer Lockheed-Martin said Lay could be on the right track, although there was not enough information to be sure. The problem for Lay is that the remote site is in thick mud in water with zero visibility.
He admitted this week he still did not have definitive proof that the remains were the Lady Southern Cross but he hoped to change that by November. "I'm still 100 per cent convinced that I'm right," he said.
"The challenges that we face in proving that are enormous, and that's what we're working through at the moment."