WWII plane in Otay Lake reservoir could rise again - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

WWII plane in Otay Lake reservoir could rise again

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Salvagers have won permission to recover a World War II Navy dive bomber that has rested on the bottom of a San Diego reservoir for more than six decades.

City and state permits have been obtained for a $125,000 operation to bring up the SB2C-4 Helldiver from the Lower Otay Reservoir, said Nelson Manville, a city assistant lakes manager.

The work could begin within a few weeks with the goal of eventually displaying the plane in the National Naval Aviation Museum in Florida.

"We're just waiting for the recovery team and museum to give us a date," Manville told the San Diego Union-Tribune for a story published Thursday. "This is drinking water, so a lot is going into this because we're going to have to shut the lake down from the system."

Divers with Chicago-based salvage firm A&T Recovery examined the plane last year and will have to dredge silt from around the aircraft to see whether it can be recovered.

The Helldiver had taken off from an aircraft carrier and was on a training run when its engine failed and the pilot ditched on May 28, 1945. The pilot and gunner swam to shore, and the Navy decided to leave the bomber at the bottom of the lake.

It was forgotten until March of 2009, when a bass fisherman using an electronic fish finder spotted its outline in 85 feet of water.

The museum doesn't have a Helldiver in its collection.

"We definitely want the SB2C and feel this is our best opportunity to get one," said Capt. Bob Rasmussen, museum director.

Navy pilot E.D. Frazar of Texas and Army gunner Joseph Metz of Ohio have died. But relatives said they supported salvage efforts.

"As a retired Marine, I have a deep understanding of the significance of these things to veterans and patriots of all generations," said Richard Ansel Frazar of Texas, son of the pilot. "Wouldn't it be amazing to watch it being pulled up, or to actually have it restored to flying condition, and I could sit in my father's pilot seat and take the plane up?"

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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