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The Salvage

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The morning dive completes the rigging for the lift and Mark starts to inflate the lift bags.  In eleven minutes the plane again raises to the surface, this time the torn end of the fuselage raises high out of the water.

All the lift bags are inflated until the excess pressures is vented and rises to the surface in a surge of bubbles.  The aircraft is clear of the river bottom, but is nosed downward.  At this point though we now have control of the aircraft and can actually waggle the wings by venting and inflating the outboard nacelle lift bags.

Once again the team goes through the grueling task of removing the lift bags from the nacelles, getting them ashore to be flattened and prepared for placement.  The lift bags are repositioned and secured around the nacelles to ensure that they will remain forward of the center of gravity of the aircraft.

It turns into another long day.  Zak and John are fighting currents that are running at three knots as the river flow is forced between the wings and river bottom.  All but one lift bag is repositioned before the crew calls it a day from shear exhaustion.

Before we head back up to camp a black bear is sighted swimming away from the little island that we are camped on.  Apparently all the raucous snoring coming from the tents after dark has proved to be too much for the bear to tolerate.

As the aircraft is almost floating free of the bottom, Mark starts to set the team into anchor watches to maintain observation of the B-17 during the night.  Don advises Mark that it won’t be necessary as he and Gary Shaw Sr. will keep the night watch so that the dive team can get the sleep they need to finish the job.

Pat has prepared us another fine meal that we heartily consume before heading to our bunks.  We have control of the B-17 now and tomorrow we should finally wrestle is clear of the water. 

Don and Gary settle in with a fire down at the shore to keep an eye on the plane.