Thu, Oct 01, 2009
Searchers Find A T-33 In Santa Monica Bay While Looking For A
A search team looking for a P-51D flown by WASP pilot Gertrude
V. "Tommy" Tompkins Silver in Santa Monica Bay instead found the
wreckage of a T-33 Shooting Star jet that had gone down in the bay
54 years ago.
T-33 Shooting Star
CNN reports that the T-33 identified by divers on the floor of
the bay went down shortly after takeoff October 15th, 1955. The
aircraft was on a navigation training mission at the time of the
incident, and Air Force documents indicate there were two crewmen
on board. They had been presumed lost at sea.
The unpaid group of marine archaeologists, which calls its self
UB88.org, has been searching for military wrecks since finding a
WWI German U-Boat off the California coast in 2003. Some
odd-looking pixels on a computer image of the bay floor led them to
the missing aircraft.
Air Force documents identify the crew as Lt. Richard Martin
Theiler and Lt. Paul Dale Smith. They had 1,244 and 430 hours of
flying experience, respectively.
A manufacturers number from a machine gun ammunition feed
mechanism allowed them to trace the jet.
UB88.org was joined by Missing Aircraft Search Team in locating
the wreck. They kept quiet about the site until any remaining next
of kin could be notified, but for another reason as well. Ray
Arntz, owner and operator of a southern California dive company,
told CNN "We're trying to quietly do this stuff and move on so the
sites don't get ravaged."
Meanwhile, "Tommy" Tompkins Silver's P-51D is still out there,
waiting to be found. A concerted search effort is planned for
October 5th to the 1oth.
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