Update #5

Hello from Palau!

I was not prepared for the enormity of this fallen B-24. The rudders dwarf me. The fuselage sections are almost large enough to crawl through. The site is overwhelming, knowing that 60 years ago, a crew lost their lives in this metal leviathan. We have pictures of this airplane in its death throes. The photos are some of what we found at the National Archives. Now I’ve seen the real deal.

I’ve seen some single engine aircraft crash sites, and even B-24 wings in the water, and on shore. But this is different. And the entire team thinks so too.

I arrived in Palau late last night. Quick stop at the Internet Café to pick up the rest of the team and we headed back to the hotel. I gathered up my gear I had left behind, picked out the scuba stuff, and went to bed.

We had an early start today as we wanted to beat the tides and maybe get a clearer view of the site. Went by boat and Pat had Joe our guide and boat captain take me and Dan (also recently arrived from Thailand) on a tour of the coral head that this aircraft rests on.

On one side of the coral head is the forward fuselage, wing and 2 props. On the opposite side of the coral head is the tail and aft fuselage sections. These sections sit in 30-60 feet of water. You might remember that two years ago we visited a mystery propeller, sticking up out of the coral. These props look like they match. Maybe a mystery solved.

We had lunch and everyone realizes what a loss it is not having Val and Kate here. Everything we ate came from a package, unless Val had made it up and shipped it ahead of time. One baggie of jerky wasn’t going to last the next two weeks. We sighed, and ate another bag of Sun Chips.

The second dive for me and Dan was a more detailed look at the cockpit area. Every time you go back to a wreck site, you see more. Sometimes it’s a little like looking at clouds. One person sees one thing; someone else has a different take on it. We found pieces of the throttle quadrant; trim wheels, some instruments covered in coral, wire and cable bundles. Pat and Reid were on the tail section. They found some parachute line.

Our third dive was altogether and back to the tail section. The parachute line that was found lead to a, parachute. Maybe a fuselage seat was found. I am still amazed at the size and intactness of the vertical stabilizer and rudder.

Back on the surface, we decided to do one more day on this site, but not at what we’ve already seen. We’re going to fan out and see if we can find more of this aircraft. It took anti-aircraft fire at a pretty high altitude so finding more of the airplane is problematic. But, we need to check.

Out to the PPR to return the underwater camera we rented, and while we were there, enjoyed another beautiful Palauan sunset.

Quick change and out to dinner with Lenny, a local who is interested in what we do.

In tonight’s paper, Pat and his endeavors were featured on the front page. They also put in a plug for the lecture he is going to do on Thursday evening. Last year, this was well attended with only word of mouth advertising. Now it should be really well attended.

That brings you up to speed on my first working day here. The fun and games of the past 3 weeks are over. It’s work time. And serious work it is. Until the next time. I’m heading to bed.

Blue Skies, Flip