P-MAN VI Update #16
Saturday, January 31, 2004

Boat day. All day. We brought Bert from Neco Marine to do some underwater video at the new B-24 site, and the two other guys came along, too - so one of them could map the site. We made three pretty long dives to about 70 feet, and continued to survey the site.

This was my first look at the tail and aft fuselage section on the east side of the coral head, which Joe found late yesterday. Awesome! The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator and right vertical fin and rudder are intact. They're connected to each other, and are resting on the bottom on their trailing edges. The fuselage section is lying on its side, and it's pretty complete from the tail to about the aft bomb bay - except that probably having hit the water on its side, it's compressed so that in places it's only a couple of feet thick. The waist gunner's hatch and a small window forward of it are clearly visible. In this photo of the last flyable B-24 (which I got to tour a few months ago when it stopped in Pittsburgh), the highlighted portion is what's lying on the east side of the coral head.

In the photo below, you're looking along the right horizontal stabilizer at the right vertical stabilizer, whose trailing edge is partially buried in the sandy bottom.

For something so horrible to contemplate in its creation, the site today is the peaceful home of an incredible variety of fish. Schools of tiny fish greet you at every opening. They mill around in the safety of the aluminum shell, and ease into the dark recesses when you shine a dive light into the interior. A fair-sized lion fish guards the upper (open) end of the fuselage.

Weather permitting, tomorrow we plan to do another overflight of several areas with Matt in Belau Air's Islander aircraft. We'll be paying particular attention to the new B-24 site and to parts of Peleliu.

Onward and upward! Strength through joy!

[For those of you who've been asking, this simply means "Do stuff that makes you happy. It'll probably make you stronger, too." It was a favorite saying of Jack Folley, the most influential mentor of my career. Jack died a few months ago, but the motto lives on, and I think Jack would have been a true BentPropper at heart, given different circumstances. I miss you, Jack. But we're doin' good here!]

- Reid