Sheriff's Department divers stationed at the Long Beach Airport were a crucial part of the team that uncovered the 53-year old wreckage of a military aircraft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Between 30 and 40 divers took several weeks to uncover the wreckage, which the Sheriff's Department today confirmed was involved in a crash in 1955. The wreckage was found on the ocean floor, 115 feet below the surface.
"We have a rescue and aero bureau stationed out of the Long Beach Airport," Lieutenant Jack Ewell said in a phone interview today. "The unit has been working on it for, heck, probably over a month since civilians reported wreckage."
Signs of wreckage were reported by aircraft hobbyists who were searching for remains of a possible P-51 accident that occurred decades ago, when they found evidence of this Lockheed T33-A about a mile and half off the coast of Santa Monica. The hobbyists - although Lt. Ewell says they are extremely professional in their work - alerted the Sheriff's Department, who sent several dozen divers to the site in five to ten minute intervals for several weeks, before confirming crash details today.
"It's pretty unique, being lost for 53 years," Lt. Ewell said.
Sheriff's Department divers prepare for a swim
The Lockheed engine being lifted from the ocean
The recovered engine
A Sheriff's Department diver at work
Wreckage of the Lockheed T33-A that crashed into the ocean in 1955