Beyond Identification: Aviation Archaeology in the U.S. Navy

Author(s): Heather Brown

Year: 2014


The United States Navy maintains title to all its aircraft, irrespective of date or place of loss. While the primary aim of any investigation into a newly-discovered wreck site is the identification of the individual aircraft and, if applicable, recovery of lost servicemen and women, recent technological advances in underwater data collection allow for a broader range of study. While marine conditions can destroy identifying features, and historical records do not always provide definitive answers, the wreck still has value as part of a greater archaeological data set that encompasses crash analysis, site formation processes, resource distribution, technological development, and experiential case studies. Two recent discoveries of World War II-era Navy aircraft off the coast of Florida will be used to illustrate the challenges of documenting, identifying, and managing aircraft wreck sites, as well as the opportunities such sites provide for further research. Both wrecks shed light on non-combat losses resulting from America’s war effort and how this effort changed the landscape, sometimes quite literally, of the southern Atlantic coastal region.

Cite this Record

Beyond Identification: Aviation Archaeology in the U.S. Navy. Heather Brown. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437145)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-60,03