Diving With Legends


My Day With NUMA - Part Three

The Captains Voice Is All

(Ralph Runs a Tight Ship!!!!!)

I asked Ralph and the guys just what they would expect to find if we did come across the wreck of Flight 2501. The day after she went down, search parties found some debris floating on the lake, but it was in very small pieces. This suggested some kind of mid air explosion. I got the feeling, reading from the reports that the plane disintegrated pretty well. However, that probably isn't the case. It turns out that even if there was a mid air explosion of say the wing fuel tanks, the tail and cockpit sections would likely remain pretty well intact. Also the engines would still show up as fairly big indications, both on the magnetometer and the sonar.

Side Scan Screen

(Typical Data screen)

And so the day progressed. We sailed back and forward. The sun was shinning and the Lake Gods were kind to us with a flat, calm "Sea State". It really was a perfect day. Every once in a while the sonar would show a feature on the bottom, but they were small natural outcrops or rocks. There was never anything that came close to being plane wreckage. I had hoped that maybe the luck of the Irish would have kicked in and today would be the day. Unfortunately, only Dirk Pitt has that kind of luck. The day ended with the grid pattern complete but no Flight 2501.

Collecting The Two Fish

(Pulling in the Gear)

Ralph and the guys went back and continued the survey for another week. In the end they never found any of the wreckage. This was to be their last survey. After five years and hundreds of square miles of search patterns without even a nibble at the wreckage, the time had come to call it a day. One of lake Michigan's mysteries will continue to remain a mystery.

NUMA Patch

As we shook hands and said our goodbyes Ralph handed me something. A broad smile creased my lips and I thanked him. It was just so cool and I'd like to tell you what it was but I can't for one simple reason. It is very rare and Dirk Pitt would want one. Ralph says he can't have one because Dirk gets all the good stuff; the women, the cool jobs and the cars. He's not getting one of these. Let's call it another of Lake Michigan's mysteries!

NUMA Survey

And so my day with NUMA ended. I got in the car and headed south with a permanent smile fixed to my face. For many people it would be classed as just a day out in a boat, no big deal, but for me it is a memory and experience I'll always treasure. Me and Dirk Pitt, hell, we go way back……

If you would like to read more about Flight 2501 go to the Michigan Shipwrecks Research Associates gives. For information on NUMA, head over to National Underwater Maritime Association.