UPDATE 9-29-12 Click here to see the most recent information, photos, and videos of our aircraft wreckage investigations.
Wreck Site 1: Two 6-cylinder Lycoming engines
Wreck Site 2: Appears to be a larger, perhaps military type aircraft
Perhaps the first aircraft is a Navajo and the second some sort of military plane.
Very odd structures at the second location…
How many tires did you guys come across at the 2nd site?
Sara, we came across at least three tires.
Looking at the pictures, my frist guess would be a piper aztec. model PA-23-235 or PA-23-250 (Navy UO-1) aircraft. noteably, these models had 2 lycoming O-540 parallel valve engines that were carbureted. distinguished by the type of valve covers and lack of fuel injection components. Also they were equiped with hartzell 2blade HC-( ) model propellers that had a longer than average blade to crankshaft spaceing which helped compensate for a tail heavy design, normally associated with this model of general aviation aircraft
Mark, thanks for your insight. The blades seemed to swivel implying not a “fixed pitch” prop if that means anything as far as aircraft possibilities. Also we were assuming it was a three blade propeller but after looking closer at the pictures I now see how it might be a two blade.
I’m guessing the cloth/rubber items are what’s left of the fuel bladders. Hard to get a sense of scale for the cylinders, but they seem odd for an aircraft, cargo maybe?
Kistel, I’ll have to side with Mark. Lycoming O-540′s. Non-fuel injected. They do have the 3-bladed Scimatar propeller blades. This crash site can’t be all that old as the aluminum fins on the cylinder heads haven’t corroded that bad. It’s a 3-blade prop for sure looking at the excellent photo’s, also the power to the engine was either pulled back or off due too the blades are bent backwards. Power on the engines, the blades will bend forward when striking an object.
My Dad vanished in February 1996 in a twin engine aerostar. I know that it is probably a long shot but in any discovery effort if this is a aerostar twin engine plane please contact me at the email address I entered. I am still searching for him, hopefully alive but if that is not the case knowing what may have happened would be the next step in finding if not him himself then maybe some closure. Thanks in advance! Sincerely, A daughter that has never given up.
Thanks for providing the continued insight. Everything you guys mentioned is being noted in our efforts. Please keep the suggestions coming as we will not be satisfied until we can come to a conclusion of what is exactly resting on the seafloor out there.
On site 2, I’d go for tire/wheel removal. It will be easier to cross reference tire/wheel numbers against Navy/Army Air Corp data bases. This should provide at least aircraft type.
Dan, good idea regarding the tires. Thanks for your insight.
Has anyone cross referenced serial numbers on the engines themselves. That will determine what aircraft and potentially the owner.
Be prepared with the proper preservation materials before you begin your salvage operation. There’s a decent guided to preserving different kinds of materials here: http://www.shipwreckexpo.com/shipwreckdivingartifactpreservation.htm
I agree, start with the tires. My next step would be to try to determine the direction of the crashes based on the position of the debris. It’s possible you can come up with a general heading that could help with identification. Another plus to knowing the heading would be knowing where to look for further wreckage. There’s a good chance that the fuselage will be somewhere ahead of the engines considering the way they would drop to the bottom while the fuselage’s remaining aerodynamics allow it to sink at more of a forward angle.
I know exactly nothing about this kind of thing but the first that came to my mind when I looked at the pictures was – did they find all the debris from the Challenger?
I agree with 0-540 / IO-540 guess.
Rather than drag then entire engine to the surface, can you simply get a photo of the engine dataplate?
A good, clean photo of the dataplate will make it real easy to trace the airplane.
Nice work – great photography
The last poster was correct, the dataplate would tell you all you need to know. It is unlikely it will be readable, but if you can recover the plate, you can lightly sand it, and the engraving should show up. The dataplates are affixed to the engine with (usually) steel rivets, they corrode, even on an engine not in the ocean. As a result, the plate should be easy to remove, simply file off the heads of the rivets–unless the corrosion has already removed the plates.
The props are without a doubt 2 blade constant-speed, and there is a significant spacing between the prop hub and the engine output flange–a distinguishing characteristic. Also, its an older engine, the valve covers still say AVCO LYCOMING, I am not sure when this stopped, but it certainly stopped by ’87 when textron took over.
I find it interesting that the #1 cylinder has one of the pushrod tubes (intake I believe) completely missing…
If you suspect that the engines may be off an Aerostar, contact Aerostar Aircraft http://www.aerostaraircraft.com/contact.html. They may be able to identify the engine mount and other features from the pictures and will definitely be able to provide you additional information and insights.
I agree with the previous two posters that the engine data plate or a clear picture of it will positively identify the engine, the particular aircraft and what is known about the events leading up to its disappearance.
I also agree that the propeller is a 2 blade constant speed. It is also obvious from the way the propellers are bent that the engine was producing power when it impacted water.
Thanks for the continued suggestions. We were hoping to find the engine data plates as some of you have suggested. Unfortunately we have not been able to locate them. The oil pans, where we would presume the data plates would be mounted to, are missing. We have been told the metal in the oil pans is subject to much faster corrosion and assume the pans have just disintegrated over time. We are still hoping we may find the data plates in the sand around the engines.
Certainly not Aerostar engines. Discarded smuggler’s aircraft?
The second site looks to be a jet. Cecil Field was a training base for F-8 and A-7 aircraft, it may be one of those.
I posted a thread about this on airliners.net. Lots of smart people on that site, hopefully some will be able to help.
Good Day to the Folks at Tisiri.org, Photos 2-2, 2-12 and 2-13 appear to be the bulk of a jet engine with some of the fuselage still wrapped around it. I seem to recall that the Gulf is used by the US Navy to train pilots using live air-to-air missiles and converted jet aircraft operating as unmanned remotely controlled air vehicles. If I am not mistaken these planes have ranged from F-86, F-100, F-4 phantoms, F-102, F-106 and A-4′s which were frequently blown out of the air resulting in wreckage. You might want to consider that when you look closer at wreck #2. The rubber textile material does look like the fuel bladder liner from a military aircraft. If you can recover the aircraft tire and rim you can probably make an ID for this wreck. Shame you folks can’t get at the propeller from wreck site #1. If you get the serial numbers off it you can make a trace on it. Judging from how they are bent back the props were definitely turning when it hit the water hard.
Looks like wreck #2 could be an RF-8 crusader possibly associated with Cecil Field. Website provided above does list some losses associated with carrier exercises. Worth considering especially given the presence of what looks like a single jet engine amid the wreckage. Good luck with your search
My uncle, Maj. L.H. Wessinger Jr. went down in a FANG F-106 Delta Dart in that area back in Feb. 1977 while flying out of J-ville. Then never found him or the wreckage.
Keep it in mind during your investigation.
Site #1 – Lycoming engines should have the serial number stamped near the lifting loop and crankcase bolt which is visible in photo “Engine 1, 3/16.” Please reference the image at the bottom of this page: http://www.sacskyranch.com/lycoming.htm
The engine’s aluminum dataplate would typically be riveted to the right side of the oil sump. You can see the location in this image: http://www.vincesrocket.com/2004-01-12/Lycoming%20disassembly%208.jpg (the front of the engine in the referenced photo is pointing down on the engine stand), and in this image, on the engine on the right: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chimothy27/1290852680/in/photostream/lightbox/
Engine # 2 appears in the photos to be much more corroded that engine #1. It is possible they may not have been on the same plane. I suspect that the prop from engine #1 will be your best bet for serial numbers.
OMG everyone! This is so interesting. I don’t know a thing that will help, but I am definitely sharing this with my family and friends and donating to your cause. Keep up the great work!
The engines, props and airframe all have serial numbers that are on file with the FAA, so if you can find even one of them they should have a record of the last plane it was on. That will help identify the aircraft from which it came. I can only hope the numbers have been preserved and not destroyed by their time in the ocean.
I’ve been an airframe and powerplant mechanic for nearly 30 years and have worked on dozens of Aerostar engines.
1. The Aerostar had fuel injected engines. The ones in the pictures are NOT fuel injected
2. The Aerostar had 3-bladed props. Enough of the prop hub is visible in the pictures to determine that they are 2-bladed props.
3. Last, but most obvious, the Aerostar engines had a canted-valve head design. The pictures clearly show engines with a parallel-valve head.
I am a jet engine design manager at GE Aviation with over 30 yrs design experience. The “cylinder” at Site #2 resembles the high pressure rotor spool of a jet engine. The view is axial into the disk cavities. If it is not feasible to directly measure the parts, I would recommend taking photos directly facing down the axis of the cylinder with a scale included in the picture. The diameter of the disks (if that is what they are) can be compared to know engine designs. PS I am also a Rescue and Nitrox certified diver with over 250 dives, and an underwater photographer with all my own gear. Need a hand? Is the site diveable with normal gear?
Thanks for the continued insights. Tomorrow we plan to raise the engines out of their buried state. Hopefully in the process we will locate a serial number and collect more detailed imagery.
Hi…my grandfather George Hollod crashed off the coast of Jacksonville in 1954 while flying a Banshee jet for the Navy. Based on the fact that there is rubber still at site #2 I am assuming this is a more recent military crash. Just in case I wanted to put out his info since to our knowledge his crash site was never found. Thank you!
Hi is there any update as to the engines being raised?
Many of us would like an update to this interesting story. Is there anything you can disclose at this time?
See the latest update at http://www.tisiri.org/home/aircraft-wreckage-crash-site-tisiri-investigation/
The military crash site is most likely a military training/operational jet. The engine core is a turbine stripped of blades and much of the structure is (particularly the fuselage frame design in one of the photos and the stiffened shear web designs) is typical of fast jet design. they are generally “beffier” than transport or civilian plane design due to the combination of higher loads having to be dealt with in small dimensional envelopes. The one piece is likely a frame section that forms the engine intake. The inner arc definding the endgine intake skin contour and the outer curve defining the external aircraft skin. Wheel size is consistent with this as well. Love the mystery….
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