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Mon, Sep 19, 2005

Crews Working To Raise B-25 From South Carolina Lake

Project Delayed By Silt As Spectators Look On

Salvage crews attempting to rescue a WWII B-25 Mitchell bomber from the depths of Lake Murray outside Columbia, SC need to wait a few days longer to raise the 62-year-old wreckage. Silt accumulated in the plane's nose has to be removed first, or else the weight of it might break apart the plane's fragile aluminum structure.

The news has done nothing to quell enthusiasm for the project among the crew, nor has it lessened the number of spectators looking on as the crew works to raise the remains of the twin-engine bomber from the bottom of the 350-foot-deep lake.

"I've always heard my grandma say planes fell in the water, so I finally get a chance to see something that really happened a long time ago," said witness Tonya Brown to WIS-TV.

During WWII, bomber crews from the Army Air Corp Base in Columbia -- now the Columbia Metropolitan Airport -- used islands on Murray Lake with bulls-eyes painted on them to practice bombing runs.

There are dozens of planes at the bottom of the lake, although the plane crews are now trying to rescue -- that went down in the lake during a 1943 training mission-- is the only one believed to be largely intact, according to the Lake Murray homepage.

While the crew and those watching them work are of course eager to raise the bomber, they all believe the end result is more than worth the wait. "It's kinda like watching a baby being born," said crew member John Adams Hodge. "It pops out and there it is in pretty good shape."

"It happens when it happens," Hodge said. "There is no need to rush, to put our own impatience over the fact we want a beautiful aircraft sitting on the beach in one piece that can be conserved and restored."



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