P-MAN VI Update #32
Friday, February 20, 2004

Third time's a charm, right?

So far this year, we'd made two visits to the area of the old "German lighthouse" directly south of Malakal, to follow leads about an aircraft "with bones in it." We'd vowed after the second trip not to go back until we had some recent, confirmed, solid, take-you-there-and-show-you, no-problem information. Well, earlier in the week, Roddy and his brother Kenneth had gotten together and drawn a sure-fiire map that Kenneth believed we could follow - enough to convince Pat and Joe that we should take another crack at it. Roddy and Kenneth say they both saw the aircraft last September or so, when they were near the lighthouse hunting birds.

Roddy came along with us to the lighthouse this morning, as he had on our first unsuccessful visit.

No need to bore you with the details. We scoured parts of the hillside, many of which we'd covered in great detail on our first two visits, and came up empty-handed. Again. Ah, well - at least we got totally soaked during a major rainstorm. And it felt pretty good. But we're not going back until we have some better information. Really. We mean it.

We stopped by Malakal on the way back and checked to see if Bena Sakuma of the Palau Conservation Society had time to show us his site down in the rock islands, but he had some afternoon meetings and wasn't available. He's a neat guy, and has offered to show the spot to Joe later if we can't get together during the current trip. Then we'll visit the spot next year.

We proceeded out to the western reef to see if anything caught our eye, but hadn't brought our maps or aerial photos along (because we thought we'd be spending more of the day at the lighthouse), so couldn't really pinpoint an area to examine closely. It didn't help that the wind and low-tide conditions made it difficult to navigate very close to the outer edge of the reef, where we thought we'd seen something on one of the 1946 aerial photos. Maybe next year.

Tonight, we all went out to a send-off dinner for Flip, who's departing in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. Sunday night, Pat and I leave. I think Dan and Pete head back on Tuesday.

Tomorrow morning, an acquaintance of Joe's is going to show us the location of a Hellcat that we've been looking for for several years. That's what we're telling ourselves, anyway. Then we'll be making the last dive of the trip (for Pat and me, anyway). It's hard to believe that we've been here almost 6 weeks!

Onward and Upward! Strength through Joy!

- Reid