Today we swam back into history. First, we dived on a American P-39 “Airacobra” fighter plane lying in the sand at 90 feet. The exact circumstances of its sinking during World War II are still a mystery. It was just one of the many casualties of the fierce fighting here in the Solomons.
We followed that with the Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless dive bomber in Rendova Harbor. Seeing this was an especially moving experience, as the Dive Munda team had told us how the plane came to be resting beneath the sea, covered in soft corals and swarming with reef fish. After being shot down by the Japanese in July 1943, the American pilot had to ditch, and upon hitting the water he was knocked unconscious. Luckily, the gunner, seated behind him, was able to pull the pilot free and rescue him. 50 years later, the pilot—now in his 70s– returned to the Solomon Islands, learned to scuba dive with Dive Munda, and then descended to look upon his almost-grave. Imagine what he must have felt, the flashbacks to the past he must have experienced.