Lost during a training exercise, FM-2 Wildcat BuNo 57039 broke the surface of Lake Michigan where it had lain beneath the waves for nearly 70 years, tattered but substantially complete.
The General Motors-built FM-2 suffered engine failure while taking off from the carrier training ship, USS Sable. While the plane sat sinking in the icy waters it was run over by the Sable, breaking the fuselage just behind the canopy. The pilot, Ensign William Forbes, managed to escape both the fighter and the oncoming ship before the airplane sank.
The Wildcat is now owned by The National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida, and is likely to go to the workshops there for restoration before being loaned out to a suitable museum. The Glenview Naval Air Station Museum in Glenview, Illinois, has indicated a desire to secure the Wildcat for display, this plane having been based at Glenview at the time of the accident.
The USS Sable, a converted 1924 sidewheel excursion steamer that was converted to a aircraft carrier mock-up for training purposes and her sister ship, the USS Wolverine trained 17,820 pilots in 116,000 carrier landings. It is estimated that 135-300 aircraft were lost during training; so far 35 have been salvaged and the search for more is underway.