If you’ve been interested in diving the B-29 bomber in Lake Meade, now’s the time. The National Park Service has selected Tech Diving Limited to conduct guided tours of the wreckage under a two-year contract, and the first dives will take place this Friday.
During the 2- year period, Tech Diving will be allowed to take no more than 200 divers down to the B-29, which rests at a depth of about 115 feet, thanks to near-record low conditions in the lake. When it was last open to divers seven years ago, it was at approximately 160 feet deep and only available to tech divers. Tech Diving led tours to the wreck the last time the Park Service allowed guided tours of the site in 2007 and 2008.
Tours are being offered for $300 for a half-day outing or $450 for a full day, which includes two dives. Some discounts are available now on Tech Diving’s website. Only experienced divers will able to dive on the wreck, and divers must be certified in Advanced Nitrox.
A Dive Day on the B-29 includes an educational orientation about the B-29, transport to the B-29 Overton Dive site, a guided tour of the B-29 dive site with up to 45 minutes on the bottom. (gas supply permitting) (CCR welcome), a surface interval and a 2nd dive on the B-29 if scheduled. Lunch, soft drinks and snacks are included.
The B-29 crashed in Lake Mead’s Overton Arm on July 21, 1948, during a mission to test a secret ballistic missile guidance system. All five crew members survived, but the bomber was lost until August 2001, when local divers discovered it sitting upright and mostly intact on the lake bottom.
After two years of allowing divers on the bomber, the permits were not renewed in 2009, partly because the “purveyors of underwater adventure” struggled to turn a profit on the dive trips. The outlook is looking better this year – the company is partly booked through October.
Dive trips will be launched out of Lake Mead’s Echo Bay, about 60 miles east of Las Vegas. There will be no more than one guide and one or two tourists making each trip to the bomber.
Conditions at the site are dark and cold but relatively clear, and water temperatures are in 50s with 30 to 50 feet of visibility. With the lake as low as it is, Silverstein said, “there is a fair amount of ambient light penetrating the water,” but those who make the dive will also need to carry multiple flashlights.
For more information on diving the B-29, visit Tech Diving’s website.