Skip to content

The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and the Aircraft they Rescued

16 May 2019

The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and the Aircraft they Rescued, Taras C. Lyssenko, 2019, ISBN, 978-1-63499-143-8, 160 pp.

The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan by Taras C. Lyssenko

Taras Lyssenko is the “T” in A and T Recovery and his book is filled to the brim with the historical finds you’d expect and many you would not—all wonderful treasures released from their watery tomb. Taras tells the story in graceful, flowing yet direct prose of how the benefit corporation (a private entity which provided for the public good but without governmental agency red tape though they navigate those waters, as well) of how this band of people have been filling a void left achingly open by the U.S. Navy not preserving examples of its World War II aircraft. A and T recovers for the National Naval Aviation Museum, as well as other museums and entities, so that the preservers and conservators can work their magic to bring these treasures to public view.

But why?

The why is inspiring. They feel their mission is to honor our veterans as well as those who have fallen in their military service by releasing these aircraft from the submerged, dark and forgotten bottoms of water bodies—with Lake Michigan being their primary source. Lake Michigan because the U.S. Navy lost so many aircraft to training accidents of aircraft carrier pilots during World War II.

As it turns out, I’ve been chasing after Taras’s work for years seeing the recovered fighters and attack aircraft in several museums and a couple of airports. Wildcats, Hellcats, Dauntlesses and a rare Vindicator—all lost until A and T Recovery’s initiative and skill came to play.

Great Navy Birds is also the investigation into the human dimension of history as much as the aircraft themselves as Taras takes care to write of the pilots who flew the specific aircraft, including some who died cold and lonely deaths in them. Some of the stories are extraordinary such as the recovery of a Dauntless which flew in the Battle of Midway. Or, the solving of a mysterious disappearance of a man piloting a private aircraft over a lake in Alabama. A and T Recovery was able to solve that mystery by way of renav and plain smart thinking just as they have found the dozens of aircraft recovered with the work, thankfully, continuing.

Twenty-two chapters each have their own story of an aircraft which has been salvaged from being lost and forgotten. Taras tell their stories in a full-on style (it’s the only mode he has) that underscores his passion for this work. He seems to have only two throttle settings, as well, high speed cruise and emergency boost (or afterburner if you prefer a modern metaphor) so each chapter is to the point. This is not bedtime reading, there is too much excitement and drama for that, and readers will likely not require a warm cup of cocoa while enjoying Great Navy Birds. That is not Taras’s style and is refreshing. The tale of the Helldiver’s rescue was especially pleasing.

He also describes the dimension of working with complex bureaucracies which have often obfuscated the work for their own ends it seems. It’s a lesson for many of us and underscores the honey badger (honey badgers make wolverines look pacifistic by comparison) focus of Taras and the firm.

In speaking with Taras he tantalizing describes how Avengers have been located not too mention a few Devastators, of which none are displayed in the world. So the work continues and in unexpected ways, as Davy Jones’s locker has many secrets. A World War I German Navy submarine has been located, a rare find on this side of the Atlantic Ocean and would be one of only two on exhibit in the world should an investor come forward. This was the most advanced weapon system of its day, far surpassing Allied submarine designs, and should  be recovered! It would provide quite a legacy for such a person. Shipwrecks and even an 8000 year old relic forest have also been mapped and discovered with the book revealing one exciting story after another.

So…the work continues and Taras knows another book is in the ways because of this. The world has much to thank for his work as the WW II Navy aircraft displayed across the country have largely been brought to us by way of their work. For Taras as well as A and T Recovery we can only say, Charlie Mike.

The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan: The True Story of the Privateers of Lake Michigan and they Aircraft the Rescued will be published in a few months so pre-order, you will not be disappointed.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: