Group Applies for Permit to Dredge Mon Near Baldwin for B-25
16 July 2014
By Bobby Kerlik
Those convinced that a crashed B-25 bomber lies at the bottom of
the Monongahela River hope to dredge a portion of the river to
find it, this time near Baldwin Borough.
Bob Shema and others with the B-25 Recovery Group applied for a
dredging permit with the Army Corps of Engineers to search a
200-foot section of the river at mile marker 4.9. The Army Corps
posted a public notice about the application this week and will
accept comment through July 30.
“We feel that if we find it, all of Pittsburgh finds it,” Shema,
65, of Ross said of the plane that crashed in 1956. “We should be
able to use current technology to solve this mystery. We don't
feel there's any conspiracy that it was taken out in the middle of
The Air Force bomber ran out of gas on Jan. 31, 1956, and plunged
into icy water downstream of what is now the Homestead Grays
Its fate is the stuff of urban legend. Some people say the
government pulled the wreckage out within days of the crash
because the cargo contained nuclear material, nerve gas or mafia
Others such as Shema's group of eight men have reviewed Coast
Guard and other logs from the time and say the plane simply was
never found. They've spent 20 years cobbling together money,
donated equipment and volunteers for search efforts, all of which
This time, Shema hopes they've zeroed in on where to find pieces
of the plane.
“We think the aluminum has probably dissolved. We're looking for
engine blocks, propellers, landing gear and tires,” Shema said.
Andrew Masich, president and CEO of Heinz History Center, is among
those who think the plane remains submerged. The center was
involved with recovery efforts.
“We do believe the B-25 is still down there, mainly because of the
unlikelihood that the government got it out in the middle of the
night, and the paper trail was clear they did attempt to salvage
it,” Masich said. “But there wasn't much reason to (close the
river) to get it out.
“Those rivers were like major highways then, for a booming
industrial city. The bodies of the crew who died were (recovered);
the crew members who lived were rescued.”
Masich admits he can't explain why no one can find it.
“That is a mystery. There is nothing logical about losing a
15-foot plane in a 20-foot river,” he said.
The answer is logical to Robert Goerman, 62, of New Kensington:
The plane isn't there. Goerman researches bizarre phenomena and
has appeared on the History Channel program “History's Mysteries.”
Goerman said he and the late Robert Johns of Natrona Heights —
whose research was published in 2008 as “The Incident That Could
Have Killed Pittsburgh” — interviewed three members of the
bomber's crew and witnesses in 1976. He contends that the CIA
oversaw a secret operation to retrieve a plane that carried
dangerous cargo during the height of the Cold War.
“There was more weight on that aircraft than they accounted for,
and it ran out of gas,” Goerman said. “The plane was located ...
and then it wasn't there.”
Shema thinks the plane slipped into a 47-foot hole in the riverbed
that Dravo Corp. dug in the early 1950s to obtain fill material
for mooring cells that J&L Steel built downriver. That hole
today is only 32 feet deep, Shema contends, filled in by years of
silt. That's where his group will focus the latest salvage effort.
If the Army Corps approves, the group will scoop up silt with a
clamshell bucket. If plane material appears, divers will proceed
with a more careful excavation.
“There's no doubt in my mind that the plane never left the water.
To what degree it remained intact is unknown,” said Steve Byers,
45, of Delray Beach, Fla., a member of the recovery group. “It
would be a wonderful ending to a great story — a picture of the
group holding a piece of the plane.”
Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached
at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6448999-74/plane-group-bomber#ixzz37hykPAhy