Reporting Mike Krauser
CHICAGO (WBBM) – Later Monday morning, a local marine salvage company will raise a rare World War II plane from Lake Michigan.
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Over the years A and T Recovery has salvaged 31 World War II era planes from the lake.
“During World War II, the Navy did all their air craft carrier pilot qualifications up at Lake Michigan,” explained Retired Navy Captain Ed Ellis of the National Aviation Museum Foundation, which is part of the effort.
“Lake Michigan is cold, fresh and deep and it’s an ideal storage locker.”
This particular aircraft was built in the 1930s. It’s called a Bird Cage Corsair.
“It went into the water and to my knowledge there is not a single surviving example of this aircraft anywhere in the world,” said Ellis.
A and T Recovery’s Taras Lyssenko and Al Olsen studied maps of crashes and located about 100 planes, something the Navy couldn’t do itself.
“These aircraft were older aircraft, a lot of them, as this Corsair was. They had mechanical problems, they had fuel problems, they had pilot error, they had a little bit of everything that led to them going into the water,” Ellis said.
The first President Bush put one there.
“He put an Avenger in the drink during his training. It hasn’t been recovered. But he did put one in the drink,” Ellis said.