AD-4 Skyraider (BuNo:128988) Wreck Discovered In Florida

AD-4 Skyraider (BuNo-128988)

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.

The wing of Skyraider Bu.128988 discovered in the wreckage in the Florida Everglades. (photo by Sue Cocking)
The wing of Skyraider Bu.128988 discovered in the wreckage in the Florida Everglades. (photo by Sue Cocking)

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.

The upturned wing from Skyraider Bu.128988 found amongst the wreckage in the Florida Everglades. (photo by Sue Cocking)
The upturned wing from Skyraider Bu.128988 found amongst the wreckage in the Florida Everglades. (photo by Sue Cocking)

 

AD-4 Skyraider main data plate which confirmed that the wreck was from Bu.No:128988. (Image credit Brett Holcombe)
AD-4 Skyraider main data plate which confirmed that the wreck was from Bu.No:128988. (Image credit Brett Holcombe)

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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2 Comments

  1. Hi, I am an Australian diver residing in the Philippines. I have been involved with an Australian based survey company, Sea Scan Survey, looking for unknown WWII shipwrecks in the country using side scan sonar. On a recent project in Subic Bay we located a Douglas A-1 Skyraider in 35 meters of water near the airport. The engine has been torn off on impact, which we haven’t found yet, but apart from that it’s in excellent condition. It appears to be an AD-4N variant, 3 seater, 4×20 mm cannons with flash cones, pitot tube on the tailfin & electronic racks behind the third seat. I’ve searched Skyraider losses etc.on the internet but so far haven’t found it. Could you please give me the location of the main data plate on the aircraft & any other information you may think useful. There isn’t much growth on the airframe so it shouldn’t be too hard to find if I know where to look. It needs to be recorded & protected against souvenir hunters. Regards Neil.

    • Fascinating… we’d love to hear more about your find, and pictures would be great too. As for data plates, well they are usually located in the cockpit. If the engine is nearby, it will have a data plate too on the reduction gear housing at the front. If the tail section is intact, the serial number would have been painted back here as well, and if there are any painted squadron details that are still visible that would be helpful as well.

      You might try checking with the Skyraider Association here… http://skyraider.org/skyassn/

      I have seen some references to an AD-5 Skyraider found in Subic Bay here.. http://www.johansdiveresort.com/a-skyraider-airplane-found/

      … is this the one you are referring to?

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