Amateur treasure hunter finds mysterious parts buried in Osteen
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There is a mystery developing in Volusia County. When an Osteen man found hundreds of twisted shards of metal and broken gauges buried in the sandy soil, he was determined to find out where it all came from and what he had discovered.
Rodney Thomas is an amateur sleuth who bought a metal detector a year or so ago.
"I been to the beach a couple times, never really found nothin'."
Then one day, he was about to cut the grass up near a tree line, when he stumbled across a big chunk of old metal.
"Picked it up and tossed it off to the side," he said.
Then, he got his metal detector out and he began picking up debris everywhere he looked.
"I just started picking up pieces and they were green, aluminum," Thomas explained. "The more I got, the more you could tell it was airplane parts."
And when he found a serial plate with writing on it, he knew what he he had found.
"It said something, 'aero' something, so I looked it up on the computer," he said. "It was out of an airplane."
It turned out to be parts from a World War II era training plane.
"Crashed down over across the street, and came through, and just scattered debris."
He still needed a little bit of help unraveling this mystery though, so he went to the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum, where they have a little bit of expertise on the subject. The museum restores old military planes on-site.
When they saw what Thomas unearthed, they got to work. Before long, they had identified the parts as coming from an SBD-5 dive-bomber.
Most likely, the plane crashed in the Osteen woods during a training mission.
"Six people took off from the DeLand Naval Air Station during the war in SBD-5s and never came back," explained museum volunteer Scott Storz. "If they maxed out on a bombing run, they'd be going 170 miles an hour."
Storz has spent hours cataloging every piece, trying to solve the mystery.
"The airplane and the pilot, and try all we can to give the family some closure," he said.
Which is exactly why Thomas still breaks out the metal detector and hopes to honor the brave pilot who never made it home.
"I'd like to clear this area and give him a marker there," Thomas added.
The Navy will also be sending a team of investigators to search for human remains where those plane pieces were found.