The stated mission of the History of Diving Museum is to “tell the story of man’s quest to explore under the sea.” Members of the museum’s Board of Directors recently got an opportunity to bring that mission to life.
A group of professional and commercial divers from around the country gathers annually at Disney’s EPCOT theme park for an exhibition of vintage and antique diving gear. The intention of the program is to educate both guests and staff members about historic diving equipment while providing a spectacular display of living history. The program also as provides Disney Cast members with an opportunity to dive in vintage gear.
HDM board member Jon Hazelbaker – a lifelong commercial diver – has participated in this educational program for the last six years, diving in his Yokohama hard hat helmet. This year, Hazelbaker was joined by board president and museum founder Dr. Sally Bauer along with board member Patti Gross, of Islamorada’s Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 13-08, who acted as Safety Response person.
Both she and Dr. Bauer dove in historic gear: the traditional Navy Mark V “Deep Sea Diver” outfit. They also tended the lines – which extended up to 300 feet – and assisted other divers in the process of donning the cumbersome apparel. Some of the vintage outfits can add up to 200 lbs. of weight and require two “tenders” to aid in suiting up. Altogether, the group carried nearly 2 tons of equipment to and from the tank’s platform over the course of the exhibition.
Board Members Jon Hazelbaker, Patti Gross, and Dr. Sally Bauer (dressed in gear)
Epcot’s Caribbean Coral Reef aquarium in which the group dove holds 5.7 million gallons of saltwater and is home to over 6,000 sea creatures ranging from turtles and dolphins to eagle rays and sharks. Guests at the adjacent Coral Reef Restaurant were able to watch the divers from their tables while other spectators gathered at the 56 panoramic viewing ports for the demonstrations of historic diving gear.
We at the History of Diving Museum are excited to have participated in this educational event and look forward to initiating and engaging in similar demonstrations of vintage equipment, bringing history to life and continuing to tell the story of man’s quest to explore under the sea.