World War II Training on Lake Michigan

Wingspan

Wingspan, photo by Phil Squattrito

in advance of Memorial Day, the New York Times reviewed Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan (trailer below) that tells the tale of how dozens of wrecked planes came to be on the bottom of that body of water. They write:

The film, by John Davies, recounts the training of pilots in how to land on aircraft carriers. Two passenger liners were stripped down and fitted with long decks (though not as long as the decks on actual aircraft carriers) and floated on Lake Michigan, where the training could take place without the threat posed by enemy submarines. Landing a plane on a floating airstrip was easier for some young men than others.

…Vintage footage shows crash after crash, though only a few fatalities resulted, in part because preflight training included how to escape if your plane were to go into the drink.

The film, showing on many public television outlets (including NJTV on Saturday and WLIW World on Sunday; check local listings), does more than just revisit an interesting tidbit of military history. It also chronicles present-day efforts to raise some of the planes from the lake bottom and restore them for display in museums and airports.

View Phil’s photo of this World War II fighter plane from the 2009 Gratiot County Airport open house background big and see more in his Transportation slideshow.

Here’s the trailer…

2 thoughts on “World War II Training on Lake Michigan

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