Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jake's Journey: Closer to Home

Meet our friend Jake. Some of you may have had the chance to see him on display at First State Bank in Key Largo where he has been on loan for the past two years. Jake has served as an outreach tool for the History of Diving Museum by helping to spread the word about our institution while making many new friends.

After his assignment in Key Largo was up, we were very happy to receive news that Hampton Inn and Suites in Islamorada was interested in 'adopting' Jake to become part of their family. When they assured us that Jake would have plenty of play dates with friends from around the world every day of the week, we knew it was a perfect fit! We are so happy to announce Jake's return to Upper Matecumbe Key. He is now on display just inside the lobby - ready to greet guests and again serve as an ambassador for the Museum.

'Jake', a full-dressed diver on loan from the History of Diving Museum, is now on temporary display at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Islamorada, Florida.

After about a month in his new home, we can report that Jake is very happy and feeling settled. We are so happy to have him closer to home!

The next time you are passing by, visit Jake and make sure he's behaving himself.

Manager of Collections and Administration

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Diver and His Helmet: A Happy Reunion

It was a routine business call that brought Jon Hazelbaker to Upstate New York last week, but the series of events that took place were anything but ordinary.

In 1986, commercial diver Jon Hazelbaker was working on a big diving project in Corinth, New York for the International Paper Company. After about three months, the job was almost complete. However, he was called back for a few more days to work on another part of the power plant. After packing up his gear - helmet and everything - Hazelbaker headed back into Albany and checked in to a hotel around 1 o'clock in the morning. The next day started early around 6am. and as he was checking out of the hotel, he discovered that his truck had been broken into. His helmet was gone.

This discovery was completely disheartening, not only because of its obvious monetary value, but because Hazelbaker had accumulated literally thousands of hours working time in it; it was a helmet that he had used and lovingly abused for 16 years.

Devastated, he took out ads in local newspapers and trade magazine with a photo of the helmet (pictured above) and offering a reward for its return. He even sent out letters and photos to local dive shops and other commercial dive firm competitors.

Flash forward 25 years to 2011 when Hazelbaker was assigned by ADCI to perform a safety audit for commercial diving firm Seaway Diving & Salvage - a routine practice in the industry. While scheduling his visit to Waterford, New York, Hazelbaker recited the story of his stolen helmet to the owner of Seaway, Tim Joslyn. After a few minutes, Joslyn said, "I think we have that picture still here." He quickly located the original photo from 1986 in a file and told Hazelbaker that he knew where that helmet was. The previous owner, Kevin Lengyel, had kept the photo around all those years. Overwhelmed with joy, he exclaimed over the phone, "Tim, that is my hat!"

After taking care of business at Seaway, Hazelbaker took Joslyn's advice and soon found himself en route to a dive shop in Clifton Park, New York - ready to get his hat back. Upon arrival, Hazelbaker was asked to identify the helmet in detail, and of course he was able to recall each and every fitting and dent in the helmet, many unique to this particular hat. After a little while, he was finally reunited with his old helmet, almost 25 years to the day when it was stolen.

Commercial diver Jon Hazelbaker reunited with his helmet in Upstate New York.

Hazelbaker gives credit to the owners of Seaway for this happy reunion; to Kevin, who kept the picture around so long, and to Tim who is responsible for putting all the pieces together.

If you have any happy stories like this one, we would love to hear about them!

Manager of Collections and Administration

Capt. Jon Hazelbaker is a commercial diving consultant and Board Member at the History of Diving Museum.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Remembering an Aquanaut: Dewey D. Smith

As we gear up for our next event, I can't help but to be reminded of a certain helmet in our permanent collection. Next week's program, "Space Exploration and the Aquarius Underwater Habitat" will be presented by a team of Aquanauts and talk about their latest mission with NASA.

NOAA Aquarius Reef Base, colloquially known as Aquarius, is an underwater laboratory located in 63 feet of water approximately 3 1/2 miles offshore of Key Largo in the Florida Keys and is often used by marine biologists studying the reefs. For the past 10 years, NASA has used the underwater habitat for its NEEMO missions to study the effects of extreme environments.

On May 5, 2009, NOAA, Aquarius, and the diving community lost a friend and true hero. Dewey D. Smith was a habitat technician for Aquarius who passed away at the age of 36 as a result of a diving accident. He had worked as a diver with Aquarius for two years and previously served in the US Navy as a Medical Corpsman for five years.

His passing truly left a huge void in the Aquarius family. In honor of Smith's life and legacy, the Aquarius Reef Base donated a Superlite 17 helmet to the Museum. The Superlite 17 is a modern helmet with a fiberglass shell and built-in demand regulator and is the helmet most frequently worn by the Aquanauts. Initially on special display in our Research Library, we are happy to announce that it is now on permanent display in our Commercial Diving exhibit (yellow helmet pictured below).

Every time the Aquanauts come to the Museum for a presentation, you can be sure to find each one paying a visit to the commercial diving exhibit where they remember their friend. We are proud to display this helmet and and honored to present it in memory of Dewey. He will surely be present in all of our thoughts on Wednesday.

Manager of Collections and Administration