Today In History – May 28, 1945 – Curtiss Helldiver dives into reservoir, recovered 65 years later

May 28, 1945 – SB2C-4 Helldiver Bureau Number 19866 “took off piloted by E. D. Frazar with passenger U. S. Army TSgt Joseph M. Metz aboard instead of the pilot’s regular gunner. Flying maneuvers at 1,500′, when this Helldiver pulled out of a practice dive-bombing run the engine quit and failed to restart. Without power, this Helldiver ditched into the Lower Otay Reservoir to the southeast of San Diego and east of Chula Vista.” (1) Navy pilot E. D. Frazar, of Richmond, Texas, and U.S. Army gunner Joseph Metz, of Youngstown, Ohio, survive, swim ashore, and hitchhike back to Ream Field. (2)

The “Helldiver remained in situ roughly 200 yards from the shore at a depth of roughly 85′ to 90′ of water.” In “February 2009, discovered by Duane Johnson and Curtis Howard using their fish finder. They reported the find to the US Navy.

During August 17-20, 2010 salvaged by A&T Recovery with park ranger divers. On August 18 the canopies were salvaged. On August 19, 2010, the Helldiver was raised and on August 19, 2010, towed ashore. The salvage operation was witnessed by Frazar’s son.

This recovery was funded by Naval Aviation Museum Foundation with money bequeathed to the museum by Marlon Overholt, a World War II pilot and former volunteer at the National Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA).”(1)

Sources (1) Pacific Wrecks, (2) Wikipedia

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