San Diego is full of rich history, and a new treasure has just been discovered by two divers.
Fox 5 San Diego is reporting that while diving, approximately 60 feet deep off the coast of Mission Beach, near San Diego, diver Dennis Burns found a treat submerged with a bunch of trash and other refuse: a Korean War-era war plane.
“When he came up he was completely overwhelmed,” said Dr. Ruth Yu. “Even before he could get his mouthpiece off he was saying, ‘It’s a plane, it’s a plane! I found a plane.'”
“We came to learn it was an A-1 Skyraider, one of the most powerful propeller-driven planes ever,” Burns said.
The aircraft has been positively identified by its official identification plate from the Bureau of Aeronautics as the A-1 Skyraider, or AD-4L, that crash-landed in 1953.
The plane, underwater for more than 60 years, was found with two 20-millimeter cannons on each wing and multiple artifacts strewn about the wreckage site.
“It was just incredible that a wreck like that could lie so close to a populated area and not be found,” Yu said.
Burns and Yu also discovered another treasure: pilot Charles Kelly’s family.
“Just today I was talking to the daughter of the pilot whom, on the day of the crash, her mother was eight months pregnant with her and her father was out flying airplanes over the ocean and landing them in the ocean and they’re just beside themselves,” Burns said. “They’re wanting to come out and dive on the plane themselves.”
Burns also found out what happened to Kelly after the plane had crashed.
“They took him in an ambulance to the hospital and checked him and he went back to duty that afternoon as if nothing happened,” said Burns.
Kelly, who fought in both World War II and the Korean War, survived the crash. However, Kelly died in 1999. Burns and Yu, after some diligent research, found that Kelly had relatives in Alabama.
“His wife is still alive and his son and daughter sent a ton of pictures, including one where he is dressed in a towel after he was rescued,” Burns said.
California Diver is reporting that Burns and Yu are working with the San Diego Aerospace Museum on the best way to deal with the plane now. Both would like to preserve the find, but would also like to somehow exhibit it.
“We might do like a wet exhibit where we’ll be able to show the underwater video or something,” Yu said.