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P-MAN XVII Progress Report # 8 - Blake leaves; Warren arrives; more Avenger pieces!

30 March 2015

Today was a great day. And a bad day. Bad day in that Blake had to leave us and go back home. Great day in that Warren Bruce has returned to the field with BentProp after a four year absence. Sometimes the Marine Corps thinks he should defend the country instead of coming out here.

And the really great news is we found some more of that Avenger we've been looking for. The bread crumb trail has lead us into the main harbor of Palau and we finally found a chunk of it. Not enough to make an airplane, but a good sized portion of the aft fuselage, around the bomb bay area.

We started the day snorkeling and diving around a small boat anchorage area. We completed our tasks without finding anything. So we finished the day a bit early.

I went over to the Scripps/UDEL staging area at Coral Reef and Mark and Eric were about to head out for a dive and invited me to tag along. Since BentProp still had a boat, we rustled up a driver and headed out.

Five of us went to dive along Derek Island at the interface zone of the coral wall and the sand bottom. Depth was about 65-70 feet. I teamed up with Mark and Hunter (his last day of diving as he was leaving the next night) from UDEL and we started at the western tip of the island. Mark was using his Navigator, a portable handheld sonar. Shannon and Travis from Scripps went to the far eastern tip of Derek Island with Shannon using another Navigator. The plan was to meet in the middle of the search zone.

And that is where we found the piece.


Warren, back in Palau.


Joe.


The anchorage area where we were searching.


Derek said, "Hey, take a picture of this shirt!"


Derek and Val getting ready to splash in.


Blake couldn't dive on his last day, but no reason he couldn't snorkel.


Pat and Flip.


Mark and the Navigator, AKA "The Alien Finder."


The newest piece of the Avenger.
We've been finding pieces of this Avenger for YEARS.


Another view.


One more.


This year's BentProp field team.


Everyone looking at the new photos of the Avenger piece.

In addition, Dan stayed behind today to review video of the harbor bottom that the AUVs took on their missions. He had a lot of video to review. But he did get lucky in that he saw a quick flash of a wheel with some debris around it. Our hope is it is an Avenger wheel. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

31 March

We went back to the new Avenger piece to try and expand the debris field. Some of us investigated this piece. Others scubaed along the bottom out away from the piece, others snorkeled the shallows and others dove the slope of the island down to about 60 feet. We found a few little pieces, but not the fuselage, motor or propeller.

We did dive on that wheel and it is not an aviation wheel at all. There's lots of ship debris in the water and this may be some of it. Or not. But it is not what we are looking for.


The wheel Dan saw, and dived on.


Some other junk near the wheel.

This is a short update. We do have some interesting looking targets for tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll find some more of the airplane.

P.S. The typhoon is passing far north of us. Some folks say we're going to get rain and 35 knots of wind. Others say it's just going to be a beautiful day. Some sort of rain storm just started as I was finishing this up. We're well prepared for a storm: water, cash, movies and popcorn.

- Flip Colmer

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