Jamie Blackburn provided the Midlands his creative vision of a piece of its 1940’s history, a vision it could not have seen on its own – a B-25 resting on the bottom of Lake Murray. This year, the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, that vision is being validated once more through interest and purchases of Blackburn’s prints depicting a rare Mitchell
bomber that lost an engine and ditched into Lake Murray April 4, 1943. That aircraft was part of the same B-25 fleet in which 16 crews winged their way to Tokyo April 18, 1942, on a secret mission we now refer to as the Doolittle Raid.
How the plane would have looked, settled at 150 feet in lake-bottom silt, came to Blackburn in a dream. The year-2000
print, still among his most popular works of art, was created from his imagination and “a very murky underwater photograph Dr. Bob Seigler gave me access to,” the artist recalled of his early 21st century Lake Murray Underwater Series.
Because the aircraft ditched into water that, at that era and technological times, was too deep for military recovery, it remained lost for 62 years. Blackburn’s print became the visual impetus of a rescue effort. After a dozen years of research, bureaucratic and technological negotiations, the B-25 Rescue Team brought the warbird to the surface in September 2005.
“When it came up, it was a great validation to see that my details had been correct. The numbers on the tail were just as I had painted them.”
As no museum or historic entity in the Carolinas opted to receive the huge artifact, Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, AL, became its dry haven and place of restoration. To help convey the B-25’s story, leaders at SMF sought the rights to Blackburn’s art to use as backdrop in the exhibit area in which the fuselage of the aircraft remains on view.
In the subsequent years, Blackburn has gained a solid foothold in the Midlands’ art scene. “The success that came from that underwater series allowed me to evolve. I now work in representational and abstract landscapes.”