TIL that during WWII, the US Navy had two aircraft carriers operating in Lake Michigan, known as the Corn Belt Fleet. They were converted from 1920s paddle steamers and served as floating runways to train pilots away from danger. In total, 17,820 pilots were trained, including George H. W. Bush.

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The only freshwater, coal-fired, side paddle-wheel aircraft carriers in the US Navy


They trained not just pilots, but all the jobs associated with launching and recovering planes.


There are WWII fighter plane wrecks off the coast of Chicago, which seems crazy.


The navy still has two semi-operational nuclear submarines in the Cooper river outside of Charleston, SC that it uses to train its nuclear reactor operators


There is a tiny island (10 acres or so) in the Beaver Island archipelago in Northern Lake Michigan called Hat Island. The US Navy used it for bombing practice during the war. I wonder if any of the runs involved these ships.