National Park Service releases underwater video of 70-year-old plane wreck

- Every national park in the U.S. is unique, but at Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas, the public is getting a rare look at a piece of underwater history.

Seven decades after a B-29 Superfortress bomber plane crashed into the lake, the wreckage remains intact at the bottom. In honor of the 70th anniversary, the National Park Service released underwater video from the wreck site.

The plane crashed on July 21, 1948, while conducting atmospheric research to improve nuclear weapons. All five crew members survived.

“It’s in really good condition,” explained David Conlin, chief archaeologist with the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center. “Cold, fresh water preserves things very well, and it’s in good condition where it is. We don’t see any reason to bring it up.”

With Lake Mead being at record low levels, the depth of the plane varies with the level of the reservoir. It now sits at 105 feet below the surface, which is a 150-foot different from when it was first found.

Local resident Betty Gripentog remembers the day of the crash.

“I don’t remember it really created a lot of interest, but the story has been on for a long, long time about the crash and it being a secretive plane,” she said.

Divers need about an hour to reach the site. The preserved relic is under consideration for a National Historic Landmark Designation.

Park officials are now offering permits to experienced divers to go down and look at the wreckage. This year of study is meant to find better way to preserve the plane for the next 70 years. 

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