Monday, July 19, 2010

Crews Prep WWII Helldiver Recovery Site

Last month we reported that salvage teams have received necessary permission to raise a World War II Navy dive bomber from a San Diego lake.

Those crews are now preparing the recovery site for that effort.

City of San Diego ranger-divers on Tuesday will begin preparing the recovery site to lift a vintage World War II fighter plane that has been at the bottom of Lower Otay Lake since it crashed there in 1945.

Capt. Bob Rasmussen, director of the Florida-based National Naval Aviation Museum, said he should have an exact date for the recovery operation by the end of the week.

“We’re going to give it a shot, and we’re looking at the middle of August right now,” Rasmussen said.

That news set off a chain reaction in San Diego, where the city, which owns the reservoir and water, will prepare a triangular boom that will be used to collect any fuel, oil or other toxins that may leak from the plane when it’s being recovered. A&T Recovery, based in Chicago, will conduct the complex operation of cleaning debris from inside and around the plane. Divers and engineers will then work off a plan drawn up by Taras Lyssenko and his engineers from A&T Recovery.

“The first thing we have to do is pull all the mud back and from inside the plane and around it,” Lyssenko said. “We have to see what the structure and integrity of the plane is like before we attempt to lift it. We have to see if there is any fuel or toxins there.”

Lyssenko said the salvage could be done in stages. For instance, if the engine is off the plane or not secure, it may come up separately. If it can be secured, then divers will do that and raise it with the plane.

“We won’t know anything until we pull the mud back,” he said. “We need to make sure everything on the plane is attached and secure. It’s not a simple thing.”

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