Group Wants to Dredge City River for 1956 Bomber Wreck

Mon August 25, 2014 - Northeast Edition

HOMESTEAD, Pa. (AP) A group that’s spent nearly 20 years trying to find the remains of a World War II-era bomber that crashed into a Pittsburgh-area river is seeking permission to dredge the waterway for wreckage.

The B-25 Recovery Group first told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the group has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to dig beneath the Monongahela River near the Homestead Grays Bridge. The corps controls the flow of the river through a series of locks and dams.

Corps spokesman Dan Jones said the agency has received few comments about the permit request and, so far, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. The corps has 90 days from the end of the comment period to make a decision.

The plane, a bomber converted to a training aircraft, was flying from Nevada to Harrisburg when it ran out of fuel and ditched in the river Jan. 31, 1956. Two of its six crew members were killed.

Since there’s little evidence the wreckage was recovered, conspiracy theories have sprung up about whether it’s still in the river or been secretly carted away by the military, perhaps because it was carrying nuclear material, mob money, or some other unusual cargo.

The recovery group believes the plane sank then drifted into an underwater trench dug by a dredging firm before it was gradually covered by silt. Group member Bob Shema said Coast Guard records and other evidence simply suggest the plane was never found and eventually left behind because it would have been too complicated to drain the river to find it.

“We should be able to use current technology to solve this mystery,’” Shema said. “We don’t feel there’s any conspiracy that it was taken out in the middle of the night.”