P-MAN VI Update #23
Monday, February 9, 2004

Late this morning we went back to the area in Airai, just south of the airport, where Esther's auntie told us she saw parts of a plane by a stream when she was a teen-ager. She used to spread clothes out to dry on the wing, which lay against a hillside right by the stream. Today we were trying to scout access to the site, which can apparently be reached either by going up the stream from a bridge near the main road, or down the stream from a quarry. The bridge access hadn't looked too promising a week or so ago, but the quarry access that we explored today looks better. We pressed into the jungle far enough to get sweaty and dirty, and to confirm that this is the way we'll go after Flip arrives from Thailand. Then we headed back to the hotel to change and shower, because we had a mid-afternoon appointment for a photo-op with the President. That went smoothly except for the shower part: again today, for about the third time since we've been here, there was no running water at the hotel all day. We looked reasonably crisp for the photos, but there was no question that we'd skipped the shower.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the BentProp team has not gone overboard and purchased matching socks.

But since some members of the team recently spent a lot of time in Thailand, where the creation of personalized clothing is inexpensive and relatively high-quality, Val Thal arranged for some matching shirts to be sent here, with the BentProp logo on them. We've found that we're starting to be recognized in town, and people are beginning to strike up conversations with us about possible targets of some of our searches. Having fair numbers of people aware of what we're doing and beginning to volunteer relevant information is a Good Thing, in our estimation. The shirts may make that easier.

And the shirts look pretty good even to me - someone almost completely devoid of fashion sense. There's a polo-shirt version that seems to match about the maximum level of getting-dressed-up that happens on-island, and a long-sleeved bright yellow T-shirt that's good for arm protection in the jungle. We wore the long-sleeved jobs the afternoon that we took the President diving. When he stepped aboard Joe's boat, he immediately expressed admiration for the yellow shirts. We were subsequently told that he likes to wear yellow.

Well, now, although some people are hard to shop for, it didn't take a two-by-four up'side the head to figure that one of those shirts might be a nice gift for the President. We dropped one off this morning when we stopped by his office to deliver the draft B-24 press release that they had requested some help with. We got a call later inviting us to drop by for a couple of minutes mid-afternoon, for a quick photo-op with the President, during which we presented the shirt to him and declared him an honorary member of the BentProp team. This was all arranged by Billy Kuartei, the President's Chief of Staff.

Please understand that I for one would normally run the other way if I saw a publicity caper brewing, but we all agree that maximizing our visibility here is good for the mission, and the President is such a neat person that this definitely felt like The Right Thing To Do. Is this picture cool, or what?

Tonight, Flip Colmer returned from Thailand on the 8:50 flight from Guam, and Jennifer Powers headed home to California on the 2:30 a.m. flight to Guam. So the team from now to the end of the P-MAN VI expedition will be Pat and me, Flip Colmer, Dan O'Brien, Peter Galli, and, of course, master guide Joe Maldangesang.

Onward and Upward! Strength through Joy!

- Reid