Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On-Scene Photos: WWII Helldiver Raised from San Diego Reservoir

In early June we reported that salvage teams had obtained necessary permission to raise a World War II Navy dive bomber, and in mid-July that the crews were prepping the recovery site in a San Diego reservoir.

Last Friday the Helldiver showed herself on dry land for the first time 65 years, after being lifted 90 feet from the lake bottom.

The SB2C Helldiver aircraft was brought to the surface after days of work to free it from several feet of mud and debris on the dark floor of Lower Otay Reservoir, where it was spotted last year by two men using a fish finder.

Divers from A&T Recovery in Chicago said the tail of the plane was sticking out of the silt, but the engine was completely buried.

A crowd watched Friday as the mud-caked, single-engine plane, with both wings attached, broke through the surface of the water then officially touched shore at 3:50 p.m. PDT.

Its propellor was mangled, but splotches of blue showed through the corrosion and mud elsewhere on the aircraft.

The plane will now be dried out, disassembled and trucked to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., for restoration and display, said Taras Lyssenko, A&T general manager.

The Helldiver crashed when the engine failed during a training flight on May 28, 1945. Sgt. Joseph Metz and his pilot swam to shore and survived but have since died.

The plane was all but forgotten until Duane Johnson and a fishing buddy spotted the outline of a plane on the fish finder.

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Neutral Dive Gear has obtained these exclusive on-site photos of last week's recovery effort, courtesy of Donald Young.

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Anyone else just get the chills?

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