Helldiver found off Florida coast

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by mikewint, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Diving at a depth of about 200 feet four miles off Jupiter Tuesday, the owner of Emerald Charters wasn't expecting to see much more than sand and seafood.


    But the deep waters were hiding something: the remains of a mostly intact aircraft upside down on the ocean floor.

    Jordan says experts shown video and photos of the craft identified it as a WWII-era Curtiss Helldiver SB2C.

    "It's a very rare airplane," said Jordan. "There may be only one flying now."

    Local WWII aircraft buff Kevin Knebel, who has seen video of the dive site, said it wasn't surprising that a WWII plane would be found off Florida - "planes are scattered up and down our coastline" - but it is unusual that one would be unidentified, and that it appears to be a Curtiss Helldiver.

    "I think this may be the first Helldiver ever found" off the Florida coastline, he said. Knebel speculates the Helldiver, a Navy aircraft, could have come from Key West on a training exercise. In addition, in 1942, the U.S Navy trained WWII pilots at Witham Field in Martin County.

    Since his discovery, Jordan and other divers have been down to the plane just once, though there are plans to take more divers to the site to help solve the mystery of how the craft came to be resting on the ocean floor.

    But the divers are moving cautiously. For one thing, Jordan points out, there could be live ammunition. A dive bomber, the Curtiss Helldiver bristled with weaponry: torpedoes, machine guns and bombs were all standard issue.

    And there is another reason for keeping a respectful distance. "It may be a grave," Jordan said. "Somebody was on that plane."

    For now, what's visible is the fuselage, wings and tail, with the bomb bay doors closed. The engine is detached and lying in front of the aircraft. The landing gear is retracted. The propeller blades are bent.

    If it is a Helldiver, it would be the second such underwater find in two years. In January 2010, the owner of a scuba shop found a SB2C Helldiver off Hawaii in about 50 feet of water. According to press reports, the U.S. Navy was preparing a plaque to mark the site.
     
  2. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Cool find Mike! I hope they can identify the plane and find out exactly what happened. I'd say if they identify it they will be able to get the history rather easily.
     
  3. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    I am a bit suspicious about the claims. 200ft is a VERY deep scuba dive few can make 180ft without heli-oxy mixtures so this was not a casual dive. They did post video but nothing on the tail
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    They might be trying to keep gold diggers off of it. You never know.
     
  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Time will tell...
     
  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    great find! Shouldn't be too hard to find a tail number or other identifying marks and get the plane's history, find out if the pilot escaped or went down with his ship (so to speak).
     
  7. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    All is well, unless the U.S. Navy says, "It's mine" and you can't touch it. It's happened before when a diver found a U..S. Navy plane, arrangements were made to raise it and the Navy stopped everything in it's tracks. It will probably take a court of law to sort it out before it's over.

    Charles
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Shades of Flight 19?

    Seems theres a lot of this stuff off Florida.

    Flight 19 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "Records also showed training accidents between 1942 and 1945 accounted for the loss of 95 aviation personnel from NAS Fort Lauderdale[8] In 1992, another expedition located scattered debris on the ocean floor, but nothing could be identified. In the last decade,[when?] searchers have been expanding their area to include farther east, into the Atlantic Ocean but the remains of Flight 19 have still never been confirmed found."
     
  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Cool find!
     
  10. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Dunno what the legalities are, but if the pilot's remains are in the cockpit, that classifies it as a tomb...would the family then be able to make the call to have the plane raised to transfer the pilot? And would the plane then revert back to Navy control? Just curious.
     
  11. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thought; I concur.
     
  12. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    200ft is a technical dive. but a lot of the operators down in that neck of the woods are qualified and dive that depth often. the deeper you can go the more you have a chance to see what no one else has had a chance to ruin. there should be a record of the missing hell diver...(and approximate co-ordinates if the pilot survived). would be interesting to find out more details....and if there are remains...maybe bring a boy back home.
     
  13. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Bobby, true but the tone of the article was that this was a casual dive off the Fla coast. They had no idea the plane was there. Back in the day, I made 185ft very briefly and the narcosis was kicking in
     
  14. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    185??!! pretty darn deep, brother...hats off to you. i am sure they are spreading a little disinformation to cloak its position from looters and treasure hounds. although 4 miles off the coast leaves a very large area to search...if someone was intersted in trying to find it. it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
     
  15. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Very very interesting indeed. I hope they can identify it. Deeper water, if I'm not mistaken, does contribute positively to the preservation of wreckages as there is less growth of sealife on the wreck and greater silt deposits.
     
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