Like most of our readers, we at WarbirdsNews find the story of those WWII naval aviators who trained to fly from the make-shift aircraft carriers USS Sable and Wolverine on Lake Michigan absolutely fascinating. Almost equally intriguing are the more recent adventures in recovering some of the 100+ aircraft lost in the lake during those training exercises. A recent documentary called Heroes On Deck recounts both of these tales in dramatic fashion, and is well worth watching. The documentary delves deeply into the genesis of each carrier, the training operations as well as the wreck recoveries of the past few decades. It features fascinating interviews, historic film, as well as video of warbird recoveries as well!
For those attending EAA AirVenture 2016 this year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, you will get a chance to see this documentary in the Warbirds In Review area on Saturday, July 30th on the Jumbotron at 11:00am. For those who can’t make it to Oshkosh, the DVD is available for purchase at www.heroesondeck.com
Further details from the movie-maker’s press release…
HEROES ON DECK tells the little-known story of a bold and innovative local response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Following that catastrophic event, the U.S. Navy was desperate for aircraft carrier-qualified pilots. With enemy submarines patrolling both coasts, why not train pilots in the safety of Lake Michigan? Two Great Lakes passenger steamers were immediately converted into makeshift aircraft carriers, the USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Between 1942 and the end of the war, more than 15,000 aviators – including future President George H.W. Bush — were trained aboard these “freshwater flattops.”
Crashes and “water landings” often led to serious injuries and occasionally death. As a result, more than one hundred fighters and dive-bombers sank to the bottom of the lake. To date, more than 40 aircraft have been brought to the surface. HEROES ON DECK captures some of the key recoveries and restoration efforts, and celebrates the stories of the brave pilots who survived this ingenious training operation. Narrated by legendary CBS and A&E newsman BILL KURTIS, HEROES ON DECK, brings to life a vital chapter of American history.