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During World War II, just off Chicago’s shoreline, the US Navy trained over 15,000 carrier pilots on two makeshift “flattops”; both former, coal-fired, side wheel passenger steamers.

Not every pilot landed on the pitching decks of the USS Wolverine and USS Sable, and many aircraft crashed to the lake bottom.

This is the story of the recovery of those rare warbirds and the ingenious training program that changed the course of the war in the Pacific.