It isn’t exactly breaking news that the western United States—California in particular—is in the middle of a severe drought. The government has put mandatory water restrictions on its citizens, there are several drought-shaming apps, and dirty cars are now the norm in affected areas. One of the most immediate ways to see the physical effects of the region’s extreme thirst is to take a look at receding reservoir water levels like those of Nevada’s Lake Mead, which is at its lowest level since the man-made lake was created in the ’30s. Lake Mead’s water level is so low that scuba divers are now able to dive around and explore a submerged WWII B-29 fighter plane that crashed sixty-seven years ago.
Due to Lake Mead’s terrifyingly low levels as of late, the wreckage of the 1948 crash is now at approximately 130 feet below the surface, a much safer level for divers than its original location 260 feet below.
Joel Silverstein of Scuba Training and Technology (the sole company allowed to dive around the plane) explained the excitement of finally being able to look at the preserved aircraft to NPR recently:
That plane has never seen air since 1948. Everything in there—every control that’s inside of it—is in its original position.
The B-29 bomber was originally advertised as “the biggest, fastest, mightiest heavy bomber in the world,” but this particular plane was being tested for reconnaissance purposes after Japan’s surrender, “gathering data for this secret missile navigation system known as the Sun Tracker.”
Thankfully, everyone on that failed mission survived, and now history buffs have a small silver lining for the drought. Take one where you can get one, right?