Many years ago I worked with a man I admired a lot by the name of Claude Seal. During World War Two he flew in the U.S. Navy, and learned carrier operations flying off of a carrier in Lake Michigan. Claude remained in the Navy Reserve and retired as a Captain having served flying Douglas Dauntless SBD Dive Bombers during the Second World War. Claude was a wonderful human being, always helpful, never judgemental, and I admit that I miss him a lot. We worked together in the aviation insurance business for some 30 years, and throughout that time he taught me many important lessons about character and responsibility.
Those memories came flooding back today when I took note of the recovery of a Dauntless from Lake Michigan, number 2713 - a Dauntless SBD-2 - found with landing gear extended and little damage about 10 miles off the shore of Chicago in 300 feet of water. This is number 39 of an estimated 300 that lie at the bottom of Lake Michigan in the mud. Think of that - 300 of these aircraft on the bottom of Lake Michigan, accidents from aircraft carriers sailing the Great Lakes. It must have been incredible to see a large aircraft carrier out on Lake Michigan, steaming around and launching flights of aircraft with pilots training for war. Sometimes we forget about the majesty of aviation from days past, and the incredible journey so many young men took back then. What a blessing to have our Lake Michigan participate in the Great War. Today our wars are fought in mountains and deserts, and unmanned aerial vehicles drop bombs and deliver rockets flown by pilots sitting at consoles in the California desert. Somehow we have lost the magic of flying from the past. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: I miss you Claude.