(Irmo) Sept. 21, 2005 - For the first time Wednesday, WIS was able to get a look into the cockpit of the B-25 bomber brought up from Lake Murray.
A history buff at heart, B-25 expedition leader Dr. Bob Siegler took time out to talk to some vets, "It's interesting to talk to the people who flew these planes, lived here during that time. They can tell you exactly what it was like. You don't have to read it in a book."
Dr. Siegler has become almost as big of an attraction as the bomber itself. When WIS first arrived, onlookers were yelling from the sidelines, asking him to smile and take off his glasses for pictures.
The attention is funny to him, considering his less than coiffed appearance, "We've been inside with fire hoses cleaning all of the mud, there's an incredible amount of mud in the plane."
He has figures to back it up, "This airplane weighed about 20,000 pounds empty and when the crane lifted it, it was like 40,000 pounds, so it's about 20, 000 pounds of mud in it."
Seigler says that he gets a feeling of what it was like to man the plane, "Yes, the first time I went in the cockpit, the thing that impressed me the most was how small it was. These men were packed in there tightly and my initial impression is these were very brave men."
Photojournalist Harrison Williams climbed a ladder to give WIS viewers the first inside look, shown to the right.
Siegler describes the plane, "In the cockpit you can see the control center and virtually a complete set of instruments on the dashboard."
He continues, "If you've been aft and look backwards you can see the radio compartment. A lot of wires, radios and tubes and all the kinds of things that made up the plane."
They've found quite a bit of old equipment including five radios and an old parachute.
The hundreds of people who come to see the plane-turned-time capsule say it's a once in a lifetime experience. They may not have been here when it went down, but they'll never forget the day they saw it after it was brought back up.
Reported by Kara Gormley