I’ve had a desire to dive the TBM Avenger on my Project List for quite a while but only recently had a chance to document it. After our first couple failed attempts, Justin Judd and I went back at it this past Thursday onboard the Marissa. We were not going to be denied!
It is obviously a deep wreck and relatively small and yet, somehow, Lora on the Marissa always seems to hit it spot on. Quite unreal when you think about landing a shot line on a wreck that is probably 8-10′ tall and 40′ long (when intact) that is 255 feet deep. After a long descent that seemed to take forever, Justin and I were on the TBM.
The airplane itself is such a cool design. This one had been modified for two people, but the standard plane had three people on-board and so it is a relatively large plane (but small in terms of “bombers”). You really get a sense of the size when you see the height of the plane even without landing gears and down in the sand.
It took about 5-6 minutes to get down to the wreck, we spent about 15 minutes on the wreck itself and then had about 70 minutes of decompression to do. Conditions were getting worse on the surface so I’m glad we didn’t spend much longer on the wreck as an extra 5 minutes at that depth can cost 20+ minutes of extra decompression.
Other than Ben Lair who had made it to the wreck on our dive the previous week, I believe we are the only divers to have been on it in probably close to 10 years.
The wreck has beautiful white plumed anemones (Metridium farcimen) on the top of the cockpit. They reminded me of a spiky punk-rock style mohawk haircut. 🙂
Unfortunately, the tail section is no longer intact. Either age or some other external even has caused it to collapse which is a real shame. I really wish I could have seen the wreck when it was more intact. I’ve included a photo below from Mel Clark of Tyler Stalter at the tail about 10 years ago.
The inside of the cockpit is a very cool area. There is still a lot of intact gauges, cables, wires, etc. I’ve included a few of my photos below along with some screen captures from the videos Ben Lair took.
The engine is not on the plane but you can clearly see the engine oil tank.
I’m planning to build a photogrammetry model based on the video that Ben Lair shot. I might also do one more dive on the wreck as there are some sections I’d like to see again and possibly get some better pictures. Here is an early version: