A group of frightened fish led diver Randy Jordan to the unexpected discovery of an extrememly rare World War II plane known as a Curtiss Helldiver SB2C, submerged in 200 feet of water four miles off the coast of Jupiter.FL..
According to Jordan, owner of Emerald Charters, a scuba diving charter, he “knew” that something was strange, when the fish turned right after spotting him. When frightened, he says, “fish normally swim directly with or directly against the current. Swimming sideways of the current usually means they’re going somewhere.” As a result, he decided to follow them.
“I only take out good divers,” he says, and on this day he went on a dive with “tec divers”- technical divers who possess the advanced training and experience necessary to be eligible to travel beyond the 130 foot depth limit for recreational divers.
“We never go out to that particular area,” says Jordan of the space where the aircraft was found. “We don’t mark anything there,” Jordan remarked. “We fully expected to be diving in sand.”
After, realizing the style of the sunken aircraft’s engine was something from the 1940’s, he definitely had the feeling he had discovered “a wreck of historical significance,” he told ABC News.
Jordan, who did not have any cameras on him when he first discovered the sunken aircraft, went back two days later to record video, which he then posted with The Warbird Information Exchange, an online forum for warplane buffs, where it was viewed by Kevin Knebel, who identified the craft as a Curtiss Helldiver SB2C.
A two-person plane, holding a pilot and a bombardier, the Curtiss Helldiver SB2C, was carrier-based dive bomber designed to replace the Douglas SBD Dauntless. It was used in combat for the first time on November 11, 1943.
“The plane carried bombs inside, making it fairly easy to identify. There are only two [planes] of this kind,” says Knebel. “The plane has a bomb bay with doors, and the doors would open and the bomb would come out from inside.”
Jordan’s find shows that that the plane is still intact, indicating that the crew probably knew they were going to ditch in the sea. It also means that the site probably contains the remains of the crew, so the divers are trying hard not to disturb them. In addition, he noted that the salvage of the plane is now being governed by the U.S. Navy. “But, if the Navy would allow me to, I would like to donate it to a museum and raise money to restore it.”
To learn more about vintage aircraft contact the Connecticut Air Space Center, 550 Main St., Stratford, CT 06615 203 380-1400.
To spend a delightful day with fish of all kinds without going diving, visit the Mystic Aquarium, 55 Coogan Ave.,Mystic, CT 06355 860 572-5955