2009 BentProp Progress Report # 32

P-MAN XI Update #32 - You can breathe again - Flip's home
15 March 2009

No more groundhog day. Flip is finally home. P-MAN XI is finished. But stay tuned for more POW reports from Mark Swank...

The first part of this final report from Flip reprises the last part of my Update #30, which came to us in an e-mail message. He's chosen to repeat it here and to include some additional information for inclusion in his blog.

- Reid

From Flip

13 March

And then there was still one.

I definitely feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. I went to the airport as I said I would and was able to meet with the ops agent who does the weight and balance for the airplane. I asked Taj how he felt about the Yap to Guam leg. He said it looked really good.

Every airplane and runway combination has a maximum weight it can take off with. If you are overweight, you have to take off some payload so as not to violate the weight limit. Sometimes the crew is able to burn fuel to get back within limits and sometimes us standby people are taken off at the gate. You cannot predict what the solution will be. And since I cannot afford to get stuck in Yap, this is good news.

I processed out of the country, again. Everyone seems to know my name or at least my face. I had brought frozen Oreo cookies as my gesture of goodwill so I was feeling pretty good.

Then the gate agent said there was a chance of being bumped in Yap. Not feeling so chipper anymore. When I boarded, I went to the cockpit to chat with the Captain. I told him my dilemma and he made some calls. The ops agent called Yap, found out their payload numbers and proudly told the Captain we would be 281 pounds overweight. The problem in Yap is that they only have air service three times a week: tonight, Sunday and Wednesday. The Sunday flight is already oversold so going standby is not an option. Buying a ticket might not work either as at some point every company stops selling tickets on full flights. If I cannot get out tonight, it's likely I would not get out until next Wednesday.

Well, since I know I have a boarding priority level lower then dead fish, I did not feel too confident. I could be a very easy solution to a load problem. Although getting stuck in Yap for a few days would be fun, I could see manta rays, stone money and take in all that this island has to offer, if I cannot buy a seat out of Yap, I would not be where I want to be: with Rebecca at home.

So better part of valor, I walked off the flight. I immediately went to the ticket counter and bought a ticket. I got a better deal at the airport than I was quoted in the city ticket office. They also listed me for the flight from Guam to Tokyo. I'm not really worried about the legs after I get to Guam. NWA flies out of Guam late in the afternoon so if I cannot get on Continental, I'll fly us [Flip flies for Northwest]. If I can get on Continental, I get home the same day and that is my preference.

And went back to the hotel. Again.

They were glad to see me but I think they were laughing way too much. I got my room back, hooked up the DSL, chatted with Rebecca and went to bed. Again, at about 0300 in the morning. But I did sleep until 8 a.m.!

14 March

I had arranged some fun things to do during the day and Rebecca reminded me that I should really package up Joe, Esther and Doyle's present to me and mail it back. I had meant to do that each day I got bumped but for some reason my brain is not working quite as well as it should.

At 0900 I went for a sightseeing ride in Matt's helicopter. Then to the post office. Then a nap. Then kayaking. Then another nap. Returned the van to Muj. Out for sunset. Dinner. Another nap. And at midnight I was taken to the airport.

The ticket agent last night already checked me in, gave me a seat, listed me for the Tokyo flight and overall took great care of me. As I went through the airport, every agent told me that I would have made it the night before. Drat. And they also liked my great positive attitude.

I am now processed out of the country. Sitting in the departure lounge. Waiting for the flight to arrive from Manila. That will be our airplane out to Guam. If for some reason I am still in Palau tomorrow, the gods are trying to tell me something. I just hope I can figure it out before too much time elapses.

So stand by. Something good is coming.

15 March

And then there were none!

I am home. Everything went smoothly after leaving Palau. I had an hour in Guam, 5 in Narita and a pleasant ride back to Detroit. I thought I had gotten sunburned while kayaking the other day as I was tingling in my extremities and my neck was a little stiff. Turns out I had a fever, sweated and trembled all the way back to Detroit and I hoped they did not have the temperature scanners in operation anymore.

I think my sleep disruption the last few days weakened my system and I picked up a bug. Hopefully it's not dengue fever!

Rebecca managed my return beautifully. I was ordered to stay away from the Reply/ Reply All buttons in my email program, stay away from the Quicken checkbook and I was not given any sharp implements to use at dinner. I took a short nap prior to dinner, had two cups of really strong coffee after dinner and then when I was ready for bed no amount of coffee would keep me awake.

For the first time in a month, I slept a normal night's sleep. One more night like that and I may actually be close to the right time zone.

I sent off my report of the last few days' effort to Pat for his official records. And we've already started planning for next year's mission, P-MAN XII. And yes, there may be a P-MAN XI.V this summer.

And now you're up to date. Let me add some photos for your pleasure and then I will be done for another year.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our work in Palau. And that really is why I am writing. To let you know about U.S. Servicemen lost, and then found. And the work that goes into that endeavor.

Left, Malakal Harbor from Matt's rooftop heliport. Right, the float on the helicopter's skid
that you're not supposed to step on, and that you hope never to see inflated.

L-R: Paradise. Paradise. Paradise

L-R: Paradise. Paradise.

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