52 years later, Skyraider plane wreck is a delight to dive... its in Subic Bay

Jun V Lao, Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography
The Skyraider Plane Wreck has been lying at the tip of the Subic airport runway since 1964. Here are a few fresh pics of the pristine plane wreck


Mark, the manager of Mangos Dive Center in Olongapo has been a buddy since 2013 and has always called me if there was something cool to shoot in his side of town. To date, he and his principals have found five new wrecks inside Subic bay. Armed with fish finders and a passion for exploration and discovery, Mangos Dive center is poised to provide divers new sites to do their technical dive training while opening doors for Manila divers to experience authentic wreck diving. This week, we focussed on the Skyraider Plane wreck... one of the most preserved wrecks you can find in the Philippines, you can even find the gauges and the engine in it.

Four 40mm guns, two on each wing which are very much intact. Delightfully see a plethora of marine life around Skyraider
Skyraider is now home to several schools of fish and a plethora of marine wildlife. Anthias, silversides and juvenile jacks patrol the area. Visibility during this time of year was not optimal. Photographers wont have a problem taking close focus wide angle shots but taking a full image of the wreck can be quite challenging as the waters of Subic remain turbid every time a giant ship docks at port or leaves the bay.

Jun V Lao, Scuba Diving, Underwater Phtoography, Wreck Diving
Visibility was at 1M when taking this shot, very high iso needed to  compensate for the depth and turbid waters
Jun V Lao, Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography
The Plane during its glory days...see a more detailed history at Mangos Dive Centers post

It took us four dives in total to catch the wreck with wings and all, The Bay had giant ships coming in and out of the bay daily. As shared though, getting shots of the cockpit which is surprisingly preserved, its engine and the marine life living on the plane wont pose a problem to shutterbugs.

Jun V L:ao, Underwater Photography, Scuba Diving
The gauges of the plane are still in place, thank God...

Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography, Scuba Diving
Engine Bay, its surprisingly still there...

A Brief history about the wreck...Skyraider was a Douglas A-1 bomber which was mainly used for the Korean War in 1950. This three seater sadly sputtered on the runway on April 27, 1964 and now can be found at its resting place just 36 meters / 118 feet at the tip of Subic Bay's airport runway. Its a more friendly plane wreck dive versus the F4 phantom which sits at 180 feet and is only accessible via certified technical divers

Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography, Scuba Diving
Martk explores the cockpit of Skyraider where as if it was untouched since 1964
Tips on shooting in turbid waters/ shooting in bad visibility:

1. CFWA- for the widest vistas, maximum four feet away, shut off strobes/flash, use manual white balance

2. High ISO- suggest to start at iso1600 and move further up, however higher iso means more noise, so images produced will be grainy, yet its a toss up in trying to get the wreck in full over having a very high quality image at the usual angles and perspectives previous divers use to take this wreck.

3. Start shutter at 1/80 (its a none moving subject), F5.6 and just adjust this up and down depending on the light available (not much at 1 meter vis and 36m depth.

4. Explore using Manual White Balance to add color... Raw will have the data, but doing a pre white balance at depth will hold more desirable tones during post.

5. Do not use any internal noise reduction settings, it will only soften the photo (wasted too many good shots because I used this), just reduce the noise of your image during post.


Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography, Scuba Diving
If I had a Sony A7 and a fisheye, this would have been a less noisy killer shot, may even capture the tail despite the close to impossible shooting conditions

Tips on shooting wrecks in Subic:

Mid Feb to end May will be the best times to go on a wide angle safari in Subic Bay, however, same early morning dives apply even during great visibility conditions/season...Make sure to head out to the wreck you want to shoot prior ships from around the world decide to dock or leave the bay, usually before 9am. shoot your wrecks before this...go for macro at the Baretto area in Olongapo after...here is my previous post on Macro Opportunities in Subic Bay published on Asian Diver.

in Summary...

If you want to see this remarkable plane wreck, do get in touch with Mangos Dive Center , they will take you here safely, just a short 15 minute ride via banka or 7 minutes by speedboat. Dives cost just P1,400 per dive, a steal considering you get to see one of the most pristine wrecks in the Philippines. 
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This comment has been removed by the author. - Hapus
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thanks Mark for the tour and for being a super model, cheers

Balas