2011 BentProp Progress Report # 01

P-MAN XIII Update #01 - Getting Ready

27 January 2011

It's that time of the year again when we all start thinking about Palau. But this year, instead of heading out in March, the first expedition starts leaving this Saturday (29 January). This year, there are two parts to The BentProp Project's mission to Palau.

Part a

In years past, we've considered doing a mid-year P-MAN trip to do Side-Scan Sonar (SSS) work. Then we could analyze the data throughout the rest of the year and be more productive when we returned to Palau (part of what we call the “Smart Man Theory”).

We decided this was finally the year to make it happen. So with very little notice to the team, we cobbled together a small group of folks to go out to Palau and just do SSS work for two weeks. This early mission is dubbed P-MAN XIIIa. The main mission was to be called P-MAN XIII. But with the 'a' on the first mission, maybe the main mission should be XIIIb. What do you think?

In any case, just doing SSS work is not the highlight of anyone's life. It consists of long periods on the water, driving the boat in straight-line grids at 2-3 knots (that's not very fast), looking at a computer display, trying to see if anything of interest pops up on the screen, while trying not to run into coral heads and sink the boat. For the most part, there’s not much diving involved with this: our objective is to gather data. However, this first group is tasked with actually reviewing the data while in Palau, to determine if there are any targets we should investigate during the main mission. Of course if we see a sign that says Amelia Earhart is down there, we will dive on that.

The early mission participants are:

  • Dan O'Brien (Team Leader)
  • Rick Smith (Water Ops)
  • Paul Schwimmer (line tender)
  • Flip Colmer (assistant line tender).

Notice that BentProp Project Leader Pat Scannon is not going on the early mission. So in essence, we will have no adult supervision. As Dan's wife Cynthia likes to say, "no one in this group has the 'What-If' gene" - or words to that effect. In any case, we promise to be smart, not take chances, and lose weight while there. Did I mention we'll be back at our usual hotel, which is across the parking lot from a brewery?

Rick is in France for business and will go directly to Palau from there and arrive on 30 January. Dan and Flip will arrive on the 31st and Paul on 1 February. We all leave on different dates. Flip will be the first to leave on the 7th, and the last person leaves on the 19th.

Part b

The main mission is scheduled for 15 March until 15 April. The participants for this will be:

  • Pat Scannon (Team Leader)
  • Derek Abbey (Field Mission Coordinator, or as he likes to be called "Field Marshal")
  • Flip Colmer (Coordinator from afar)
  • Bill Belcher (JPAC, but on vacation)
  • Warren Bruce (returnee, land nav, safety, and other things)
  • Molly Osborne (Nav, GPS goddess)
  • Paul Schwimmer (again)
  • Casey Doyle (First time to Palau, Grandson of Jimmie Doyle, who was nose gunner on B-24 #42-73453, which was shot down in Palau on 1 September 1944)

And of course Joe Maldangesang will participate in both missions as our boat captain and master guide. We could not accomplish anything in Palau without Joe.

Jolie Liston will be joining us again as her schedule permits. She's Palau's resident archeologist/anthropologist for antiquities. Although we look for modern stuff, we do occasionally find a rock that makes for a great place to sit. Then she tells us it's some ancient important piece of Palauan culture. Go figure.

- Flip Colmer

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