Sunken Motorcycle Fished Out of a Lake After 56 Years

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

A Minnesota man has been reunited with his 1938 NSU 251 OSL, nearly 56 years after the German motorcycle sank to the bottom of a lake.

In 1956, Wyman Ailie bought the motorcycle for his then-15-year-old son Dean from a farmer who brought the bike back with him from Germany during World War II. That December, Dean Ailie went for a ride with his friends and on his way home, decided to take a shortcut across the frozen surface of Big Swan Lake in Dassel, Minn.

He had taken that route safely on the way out, but the way home was a different story. The ice cracked underneath him, and rider and motorcycle fell into the water. According to reports, air trapped in Ailie’s leather jacket buoyed him up to the surface where he was rescued by a pair of nearby fishermen. The NSU however was lost to the lake.

Until last month that is. On Nov. 29, 2012, nearly 56 years after Ailie’s episode, the NSU 251-OSL has surfaced, once again thanks to fishermen. This time, it was commercial fisher Ken Seemann, who had been seining for carp when his nets caught something heavy: an old German motorcycle.

Ailie’s crash through the ice in 1956 was fairly big news for the area at the time, and it didn’t take long for people to help Seemann connect the motorcycle to Ailie, now 71, who still lives nearby. Ailie was soon reunited with his beloved motorcycle.

Considering how long it sat at the bottom of the lake, the motorcycle in a surprisingly good condition. It was coated in rust, the seat had long dissolved and the fuel tank has some holes, but the cylinder was dry and the tires still contained some air.

Ailie initially wanted to keep the recovered motorcycle but Seemann and his business partner Jeff Riedermann to an associate, Ron Miller, a motorcycle collector. Ailie handed the motorcycle to Miller who plans to clean it up and display it.

[Source: Mankato Free Press, Herald-Journal]

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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