The Day the Helldiver Went Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    As early preparations get underway in the raising of a World War II era plane, new details are emerging about the day it crashed.

    The information is coming from the family of one of the two men who were on board the plane when it went down on May 28, 1945.

    Debbie Boerio is the daughter of passenger Joseph Metz. At the time, Metz was an army soldier based in San Diego. On the day of the crash, his Navy pilot friend E.D. Frazar asked him to join him on a training flight in the Helldiver SB2C-4.

    The Day the Helldiver Went Down

    [DGO] The Day the Helldiver Went Down
    New details are emerging about the day it crashed into Lower Otay Reservoir.

    According to regulations, pilots weren't allowed to fly the Helldiver unless they had someone with them.

    "He (Metz) said it was common practice for guys that didn't have enough air time, they'd come and see if anyone would volunteer," said Boerio.

    Deep Yields Sunken Helldiver's Secrets

    [DGO] Deep Yields Sunken Helldiver's Secrets
    A salvage team takes a closer look at a World War II plane found 85 feet below the surface by an angler using a fish finder.

    But during the flight, something went wrong as they flew toward Lower Otay Reservoir. Metz later explained to his son Jim what happened.

    "When they were coming in over the lake, they were on a target run and the engine blew up, so they had to ditch because they weren't high enough to bail out," Jim Metz said.

    Frazar had no choice but to land in the reservoir, which he did skillfully without seriously injuring him or Metz.

    The two men got out of the plane and walked along the wing before diving into the water and swimming safely to shore.

    The plane sank 85 feet to the reservoir bottom.  For more than 60 years it remained there until a pair of fishermen discovered it last year.

    Sadly, Joseph Metz would never see the plane again.  He died in 2008. But his son and daughter are planning to see it for him, when the plane is raised and restored.

    "That would be spectacular to see it in originally shape, restored, that'd be great," said Boerio.

    On Thursday, divers began setting up a system of anchors near the wreckage.  Sometime in August the plane will be raised by a recovery company based in Chicago called A&T Recovery.

    It will ultimately end up at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Florida.

    The museum currently does not have a Helldiver.