In 1970, after Professor Tucker from Birmingham university using high frequency sound waves reported seeing large underwater moving objects, the Academy of Applied Science arrived with latest high definition side scan sonar. Findings were many, including the now famous ‘flipper’.

In 1976 Martin Klein using a Klein Side Scan Sonar for a scientific survey of Loch Ness, noticed what looked like a twin-engine aircraft on the sonar traces. After consulting locals in Drumnadrochit they speculated that the aircraft was possibly a PBY-Catalina. In 1978 Klein returned with colleagues Garry Kozak and Tom Cummings and they made an improved image.

LockNess Wellington silouette

To publicise these events, together with photographs taken by Robert Rines (Academy of Applied Science) in 1975, a public lecture was organised with World Wildlife Fund (Peter Scott) ‘In search of Nessie’ in 1977. Robin Holmes and Robin Dunbar from Herriot Watt university attended due to their interest in techniques for locating objects on sea bed. Distributed at the lecture were copies of Marty Klein’s ‘Sonar Serendipity’ paper. What caught their attention was a possible siting of Catalina Aircraft lying in 34 meters of water near Urquart castle.

Heriot Watt University had just established a new department, the Underwater Technology Group, within the department of Engineering. Here they carried out research into methods of of visually surveying the sea bed. For this purpose they developed the ROV (Remotely operated vehicle) with 4 versions called  Angus 1 2 3 and 4. They also invested in an underwater camera unit called PK1.

This was a perfect project for them and was led by Robin Holmes.  In 1978 thanks to Scottish Marine Biological Association research vessel, Seol Mara, and George Reid (who had assisted Marty Klein with his survey), Robin Holmes and his team found the so called Catalina, not at 30 by 70 meters down. As Robin Holmes describes:

By a thousand to one chance we landed right on top of the aircraft… the port wing became visible. The construction was in the form of a lattice of metal formers… We had found the Wellington Bomber.’

A BBC archive film – Bob Wellings reports on a monster in Loch Ness; a submerged Wellington bomber which crashed in 1940, and the plans to raise it. This clip is from Sixty Minutes.

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