Pilot and history of the Helldiver crash uncovered
- On 31/03/2010
- In Airplane Stories
By Harry Donenfeld - Hawaii Nature Examiner
In January of 2010, a team of divers lead by local Maui dive shop B&B Scuba dove on the wreck of an aircraft that had previously only been known by some of Maui's local fisherman. It turned out that the aircraft they dove on was a Curtis SB2C-1C Helldiver. The last of the WWII dive bombers.
The plane sat on the bottom of the ocean, on a flat sandy bottom, for 66 years.
She lay there collecting only corals and becoming a hostess to a myriad of life. From the giant Yellow Margin Eel that lives in the cockpit to the Ulua that roam under her wings, she has become a haven for life under the sea.
Truly, a thing of beauty.
Now it is time to bring her to light and share her history and short life with the world. A second team of divers led by Chris Quarre' of North Shore Explorers did a forensic analysis of the aircraft uncovering the tail numbers and thereby identifying her conclusively. Between the two teams a history for this lost wreck has started to unfold. One I am proud to announce here.
The pilot of the plane was Lt. William E. Dill and the plane went down of the 31st of August, 1944. Thanks to the cooperation of Sean Dyer from the fist dive team, we have the actual accident report that was submitted to the Navy back in 1944 !
The plane made a water landing after suffering catastrophic failure of the tail rudder.
The plane could no longer be controlled and Lt. William E. Dill decided that the only course of action was to land the plane in the water with no tail rudder for assistance. Truly an amazing feat of flying !