P-MAN VII Update
Thursday, 24 February
Today we headed down to Peleliu by boat for a few days. We dropped one passenger off at one of the big live-aboard dive boats, then dropped a couple of day-trippers at Peleliu's north dock, then continued back out to a small island that we've come to call "Snake Island" where Joe had earlier seen an engine in fairly shallow water just east of the island.
The tide was very low so we were able to wade out to the engine. It appears to be a Japanese radial engine, with prop still attached.
Back at Peleliu, we checked into our hotel rooms and had some lunch at Tangie Hesus' auntie's place. Nice rooms, great lunch. We met with Bradford, who will be our driver for the next couple of days, and headed out to a huge junk pile that Bradford knew about in the jungle near the airfield. There were multiple landing-gear legs, piles of wing and fuselage chunks, and a couple of upside-down Japanese tanks. It's clearly a spot where someone long ago simply bulldozed a bunch of junk and pushed it off into the jungle.
Bradford then took us to the quarry at the base of Pope's Ridge, where we headed up to the Baxter TBM engine (this will probably be the starting point for the JPAC team that arrives in mid-March), then swept the entire top of the ridge to the northeast, then descended to the East Road and swept back almost to the quarry at the base of the cliff. No new parts.
We went back over the ridge to Horseshoe Valley, checked on the Baxter vertical stabilizer. Still there, still got Baxter's bureau number prominently displayed on the side. We then went over the ridge toward the northwest and examined the Avenger wing that's hanging up near the top of the cliff in a deep, narrow, dark valley. The sides of the valley are pretty sheer, and the floor of the valley is filled with tall pinnacles and deep crevaces from which it would be impossible to climb out if you fell in. There are human bones down in some of the holes - evidently Japanese.
We climbed back over into Horseshoe Valley and walked out. Bradford met us at the quarry. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by a HUGE aircraft "boneyard" south of the airfield that contains lots of interesting stuff, including almost-complete Corsairs and big chunks of Hellcats. Also some remnants of one or more big Japanese twin-engine aircraft. But nothing that sheds any light on our mission.
Back at our rooms, we had a shower and a great dinner. After dinner, we sat around in the hotel kitchen and watched the first episode of Survivor, which finally aired here in Palau a week after appearing in the States. Some of us fell asleep. Some of us felt a bit ripped off for the time we spent watching instead of sleeping.
All of us slept well.