The National Park Service announced November 25 the limited availability of commercial use authorizations within Lake Mead National Recreation Area for the following service: Scuba Dive Guiding (Overton B-29 Site). Put simply the National Parks Service will now allow divers to visit the Boeing B-29 Superfortress sunken to the bottom of Lake Mead on the border between Arizona and Nevada. As posted previously on WarbirdsNews, divers first rediscovered B-29A 45-21847 following a lengthy investigation in 2001.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, this B-29 was one of the last built and was delivered to the U.S. Army eleven days after the end of World War II. Stripped of armaments, it became a post-war reconnaissance plane used in an upper atmospheric research program based at Muroc Army Airfield in California.
Out of almost 4,000 B-29s built during World War II only a handful are remaining and only one is in airworthy condition. The Commemorative Air Force maintains and flies FIFI, the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress. The CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron is a group of more than 300 men and women dedicated to the continued operation of the B-29 FIFI, and Diamond Lil one of just two B-24 Liberators still flying. The squadron is responsible for the maintenance and flight of these two significant World War II heavy bombers. The B-29 and B-24 are feature aircraft in the squadron’s CAF AirPower History Tour. They tour the country with aircraft from other CAF units bringing “hands on history” to people across the United States. Please visit www.cafb29b24.org for more information about the squadron and their tour schedule.
Record low water levels have brought the sunken Superfortress within reach of recreational divers for the first time ever, and the aircraft will only get easier to reach as the reservoir continues to shrink. As early as this summer, divers could once again have the chance to explore the wreckage of a World War II-era bomber at the bottom of Lake Mead.
Permit applications for B-29 tour operators are available online at www.nps.gov/lake/parknews/b-29-permit.htm. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on Jan. 23.