Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

WWII Aircraft Recovered from Lake Michigan


A World War II “Wildcat” fighter plane that has been sitting at the bottom of Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline for more than 65 years has been recovered and brought to the surface.

The National Naval Aviation Museum, along with the Naval History and Heritage Command, initiated the project. The Museum Foundation is sponsoring the location, recovery, restoration and eventual display of the plane. A&T Recovery crews worked to hoist the Wildcat from the depths of Lake Michigan on December 7, 2012 at Larsen Marine in Waukegan, Illinois through a generous donation from Charles Greenhill of Mettawa, Illinois.

“This effort will lead to another important World War II aircraft being presented to the American public that shows the significant history of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ whose courage and dedication to our country preserved America’s and the world’s freedom,” says Capt. Ed Ellis, JAGC, USN (Ret.) and vice president of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.

The Wildcat initially went down on December 28, 1944, amid forecasts calling for fair and cold weather conditions. It crashed into 200 feet of water during aircraft carrier qualification training that was routinely conducted on Lake Michigan in the early- to mid-1940s. The accident was determined to be caused by engine failure.

For more information, call 850-452-3604 or visit

Photos by Mark Kish

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