2014 BentProp Progress Report # 23

P-MAN XVI Update # 23 - How many minutes in an hour?

03 April 2014

Well, I was pretty tired last night and realized after I hit send that I didn't include any underwater photos. So here are just a few to get caught up with 03 April.

Flip's back-roll Splash-in!

Not an airplane part.

Back up from the dive.

Pat being captured by Bill, the underwater cameraman for 60 Minutes.

Okay, I know that's not much. I'll try to do better.

04 April

So back to April 4th. We had Anderson Cooper with us to do a 60 Minutes story today. He went diving on the B-24 that we found a few years ago - it was the subject of Wil Hylton's book "Vanished.". Our host for the dive was Casey Doyle. Casey's grandfather, Jimmie Doyle, was the nose gunner on this B-24 and he was recovered by JPAC a few years ago. Eight of the eleven crewmembers were recovered and brought home. The three remaining crewmembers had parachuted out, were captured by the Japanese and were executed. Jo Schumacher's uncle was one of those crewmen and she was on the boat as well. We are on the hunt for these airmen and Jo will be heading up to Police Hill with us tomorrow.

Cruising past the islands enroute to the B24

Pat is always happy to be on the water

Koror-Babelthuap (KB) Bridge. Also known as The Friendship Bridge.

Joe says "We're going...there!"

We're being followed.

Anderson Cooper and Derek, pre-dive.

David (the producer of the piece), sound and camera guys (Sorry guys,
it's late, I can't remember your names and everyone is asleep already.)
and Bill the underwater cameraman.

Casey briefing us on the dive and the history.
Then Pat added some more historical background.

Anderson suited up and ready.....to go.

The crash site is split into two debris fields on opposite sides of a large coral head. The nose section and a wing are towards the south and the tail and aft fuselage on the north side. The directions to get from the nose to the tail are swim counter clockwise with the coral head on your left. Don't drift too far away from the coral head. Swim past a giant black fan coral (Gone, but a white one has taken its place.) and then a log, and then when you get to the point where you think I've pulled the wool over your eyes, the tail will emerge from the murk.

Derek at that point of "are you pulling the wool over my eyes?"

The Tail.

Lion Fish where we've seen it, almost every year.

Waiting to get back into the boat as Pat is being interviewed. So I went back underwater.

A happy diver. It's not everyone who gets to see a formerly lost B-24
and at the same time meet some of the family members of that crew.

Once I put my camera away, someone broke out the Oreos and Anderson joined in our post dive ritual of Vitamin O recovery. Then the 60 Minutes boat took off and explored Palau.

We went back to port for lunch and to drop off Casey and Derek. Each wanted an admin afternoon. Casey got a haircut and is back to looking like a Marine instead of a rock star and Derek went grocery shopping for us.

Dan O'brien, with his BentStar hat on presented a copy of the B-24 print to Shallum and Mandy Etpison, owners of Neco Marine.

Mandy and Shallum Etpison

The print of Mark Pestana's painting. To see a better view, go to www.bentstarproject.org

Jo Schumacher looking at the print of her uncle's airplane, with Dan.

After lunch we went back out for more wall searches. It has come to my attention that I may have not adequately explained what I mean by wall. Most of the islands in Palau are coral upheavals. Essentially reefs that are now exposed. In the water there tends to be a very swift drop off around all of these islands, and the underwater reef structures. The vertical sections are what I'm referring to. The notch is what I call the meeting of a wall and the flat ocean bottom. And it is this area that the AUVs cannot scan and we calls those voids when discussing electronic searches.

We did not come up with anything. I don't think we saw anything man-made (Or as Bill Belcher, Mr. Politically Correct is asking us to say, person made.) on either dive. And not many fish. On the first dive I saw one sea cucumber and one fish.

Out to dinner at the same restaurant as Scripps/UDel so we knew we did not have to be on time for our eight o'clock review of potential targets.

The review revealed a lot of seemingly good targets. Tomorrow we'll punch those out and hopefully find a piece of an airplane. Down south where another Hellcat went in.

For those watching the weather for us, here's an update. For over 20 years that Pat has been coming here, there has never been a major storm to hit Palau. In fact, it's not even typhoon season yet. But we know the reason why the storm is coming. There's a skydiving event going on here. For years, those of us who used to skydive had always heard "but it never


here this time of year." when going to specialty skydiving events. Like coming to Palau to skydive at the airport and onto Peleliu. So I blame the jumpers for coming to Palau and bringing the bad weather.

Joe calls this a banana leaf storm. Only the very large banana leafs will be blown off the trees. Everything else will be fine. Now if it were a betel nut tree storm, that would be a different story.

The typhoon track as of 1800Z on 5 April.

The storm is supposed to hit Sunday night somewhere south of Peleliu. Of course that can change. But we've stocked up on water and spam and our supply of Oreos is sufficient so we can SCUBA the first day after the storm.

- Flip

All photos © Flip Colmer2014

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