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- The POW Experience
- Nazi Concentration Camp Liberators
- Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer with Bing West
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- Winston Churchill is The Last Lion
- 150 Years After the Emancipation Proclamation with James McPherson
- The Battle of Cantigny
- The Reserves and the National Guard in the 21st Century
- In Our Voices, Veterans from WWII, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan
- See All
Lake Michigan's Lost World War II Aircraft
Sponsored by the A & T Recovery, The Naval Aviation Foundation and Glenview Hanger One Foundation.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy converted two existing lake steamers into aircraft carriers. The Navy acquired two vessels from the Cleveland and Buffalo Transit Company and converted them into the USS Wolverine and USS Sable. Retaining their original propulsion system, they became the only coal-driven side paddle-wheel aircraft carriers in U.S. Navy history.
Operating on the relatively calm waters of Lake Michigan, the ships offered inexperienced pilots a landing deck that didn't pitch and roll too severely. The ships were safe from Japanese or German submarines and did not require escort ships badly needed elsewhere. 120,000 successful landings took place, qualifying 17,800 pilots for aircraft carrier operations, including former President George H.W. Bush. There were 128 aircraft lost and over 200 accidents during training.
Their history is important to the U.S. Navy, the states surrounding southern Lake Michigan and to our nation. The cold temperature of the freshwater at depths over 300 feet has preserved these aircraft as the best assemblage of U.S. Navy sunken, historic aircraft. These wrecks provide a wealth of knowledge about naval aviation history and our local heritage. Property of the U.S. Navy, several of the wrecks have been recovered, restored, and placed on display at locations such as Midway Airport and numerous museums.
Learn more about the carrier qualifications during World War II and the ongoing efforts to recover and preserve the lost aircraft. You can watch the edited Citizen Soldier program here.
- Bob Rasmussen, Director of the National Naval Aviation Museum
- Taras Lyssenko, A&T Recovery, LLC
- CAPT Ed Ellis, Secretary of Naval Aviation Museum Foundation
- Bill Marquardt, President of Glenview Hangar One Foundation