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B-17 Search 1998
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The Salvage



Saturday, August 28, 2004

Today David Keers, the UAS intern, must leave the team and return to Seattle where he will start his first year of college. David has been our videographer much of the time and has been a valuable hand assisting with other support work.  He is tasked with one last assignment, to shoot some video of the site from the air. The video images provide good perspective about our little island camp, the river, “Bomber Run” and the B-17.

As David’s plane takes off the final time to head for Labrador City, another floatplane carrying Louis Valcourt and his son lands. Louis has been a guide in the area for decades. One of his old fish camps is nearby and he recalls having observed the aircraft and the tail section during the early 50s. Don and Mark sit down and talk with Louis concerning the last place he recalls having observed the tail section. The site is well south of “Bomber Run” and Mark makes plans to search the area with side scan sonar.

Louis and his son leave after inspecting the plane and recovered parts and Mark gets the sonar ready to go search the area identified. The sonar crew includes Gary Shaw, Sr. as the boat operator and Roy Skanes providing assistance with handling the towfish and umbilical.

While the sonar search is being conducted the rest of the crew continues to prepare the aircraft and their gear for the river journey. The break in the weather forecasted appears to be developing and it is possible that the tow may begin in the early evening hours.

Out on the water where the sonar search is being conducted the northerly wind and waves are actually increasing. White caps are all about and it is very difficult to obtain good records of contacts on the bottom. As the waves increase to over 3 feet in height the condition become too much to continue the search and the sonar crew recovers the towfish and heads back to the camp. While there were some interesting targets the records were not clear enough to specifically identify any objects.  The intent is to return to the site for further searching after the aircraft has been safely secured in Lobstick.