It’s believed that approximately 200 aircraft from World War II have been lost in the Great Lakes…and about half of them lost in Lake Michigan. It was in lower Lake Michigan that seemed more suitable for the Navy to train their aviators for takeoffs and landings aboard carriers. The Great Lakes provided a safe place for pilots to get their training, as well as a perfect place that simulated what they might encounter while overseas, regarding weather and geographical conditions. When training was over, many pilots were sent to combat in Italy, the Mediterranean, and North Africa.

All this Great Lakes training began after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

According to Michigan Radio, the reason for the Great Lakes pilot training was: “We were dealing with, on the East Coast, the German U-boats, and the Japanese actually had really good submarines on the West Coast…..So if you were a young pilot having to learn to land on an aircraft carrier, well, it was hard enough doing that, let alone if the ship, the aircraft carrier, was dodging torpedoes from submarines.”

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Aside from the Navy, the Army lost a good number of planes in Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair. The majority of Great Lakes lost aircraft have not yet been recovered or found. Between 1942 and 1945, the Navy lost about 130 planes that all crashed – and sunk - into Lake Michigan. In the 1980s some 40 planes were recovered but the rescues are far from over.

The gallery below features photos of just one of the many Navy aircraft that have been found lying on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Sunken WWII Plane in Lake Michigan


Sunken Locomotive in Lake Superior, 1910

Old Cars Sunk at Bottom of Detroit River

Sunken Objects at the Soo Locks

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