Sand Point, a peninsula in north Seattle that juts into Lake Washington, served for almost 50 years as an air base, aviation training center, and aircraft repair depot for the U.S. Navy. Growing eventually to more than 400 acres, the Sand Point Naval Air Station hosted at its peak during World War II more than 5,600 Naval personnel, more than 2,400 civilian workers, and hundreds of aircraft. Units trained at Sand Point participated in some of the critical battles in the Pacific war.
Lieutenant (jg) Carter Perry and his instructor, L. S. Nitka, were flying Vultee SNV-2 Valiant Bureau Number 52067 when they ran into trouble over Lake Washington on February 29, 1944. Reports indicate that the pilot came in high on an emergency landing due to incipient engine failure and overshot the runway. The pilot attempted to go around again and the engine cut out entirely, forcing the pilot to land the plane on the water approximately one mile north of Sand Point. The pilot and his instructor escaped from the plane unharmed. The airplane and engine sank immediately and were not recovered.
The state of the wreck:Today the aircraft lies upside down on the bottom of Lake Washington due north of Sand Point on the eastern side of the lake. The SNV lies on a clay shelf in water 125-130 feet deep. The engine, wings and fixed landing gear are intact. The propeller is intact, but badly bent, indicating that it was probably spinning as the plane hit the water. The section of the fuselage containing the cockpit is badly damaged. The fuselage aft of the cockpit is intact. The tail section is intact, although twisted at an angle. The skin covering the fuselage and wings is generally extremely fragile. Some of the control surfaces appear to have had a fabric covering, which is gone.
The markings on the skin of the aircraft are still visible, including stars on the wings and “US Navy” along the fuselage. There is a small wooden “data box” below what used to be the cockpit of the airplane.
The Valiant in Lake Washington was discovered by Historic Aircraft Preservation, Inc. (Robert Mester) and reported to the Washington Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in 1990 as a submerged cultural resource. This office determined that, because this type of aircraft was well represented in existing collections and not associated with specific historic events, it was not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The aircraft remains the property of the United States Navy.
NAS Seattle, 1955
Valiant in flight.