WarbirdsNews recently learned of the discovery in April of the wreck of a long-lost AD-4 Douglas Skyraider in the Florida Everglades. The aircraft was located by the aviation-archeology minded volunteers at Aeroquest.org, and we have reproduced some of their photographs here for your interest. The group had actually been out on a quest to locate the remains of a TBM-3 Avenger which belonged to Lt. Charles Taylor, the commander of Flight 19, the infamous “Lost Patrol” of Bermuda Triangle lore. Instead they came across the substantial remains of a US Marine Corps Skyraider. The data plate they found confirmed that the AD-4 was Bureau Number 128988 from VMA-324 which crashed on May 19th, 1955 taking the life of its pilot, 1st Lt. Norman Dolsen. He was only 27 and had been married just two weeks before the accident. The crash report stated that Dolsen’s aircraft was part of a flight of four Skyraiders. They were practicing high-G maneuvers together when they surmise Dolsen blacked out at around 1,000′. His aircraft, out of control, dove into the swamp. The Marine Corps recovered Dolsen’s body at the time of the accident, but left the wreckage where it fell. It lay there forgotten until air-boaters spotted it a couple of months ago. The remaining pieces are quite substantial with the wings, tail section and landing gear present in recognizable form. There are no intentions of recovering the wreck, but it will sit there in silent memorial to a young life lost far too soon.
Interestingly, members of Aeroquest were recently involved in solving a mystery involving another crashed aircraft in the Everglades. They were able to confirm that the wreck of a TBM Avenger located in Broward County back in 1989 was one lost in March, 1947. Naval Reserve Officer Ensign Ralph Wachob had been flying a navigational exercise from Miami to Tampa when he ran into bad weather, lost his orientation and flew the aircraft into the marshland. The Aeroquest team initially had thought the wreck could have been the Flight 19 bird mentioned earlier, but they were able to confirm otherwise.
Many thanks to Aeroquest.org for the story and Sue Cocking and Brett Holcombe for the photographs. Please visit their website HERE, as there is lots of interesting stuff to be found there.
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