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Interview & Search with Tilus Alphonso, October 2005, Yap Island

After our interview with Alex Tretnoff our guide from the Manta Ray Hotel, Theo, located Tilus Alphonso from the ESA Bay View Hotel. Tilus said he had stumbled upon the l">Hellcat #1 crash site that Alex described while pigeon hunting about 15 years ago. He did not think much about the crash site when he first found the plane. With our guide Theo and Tilus we used machetes to cut through the jungle to locate the crash site. We located the Hellcat on a hill in an upside down position. The Hellcat had its landing gear fully locked down with 30-40 degrees of flaps in place on both wings. The tail was broken off about 4 feet behind the back of the cockpit and the cockpit had been completely smashed in when the plane landed on its canopy. I was able to locate pieces of the glass canopy under the plane. The top of the plane was still dark blue and the underside looked to be white, however, it has been exposed to the sun through the trees for over 61 years. Someone scratched their name on the plane with a date of 1951 and the guns had been removed from the plane. Alex Tretnoff advised that he had helped remove the dead Hellcat #1 pilot and he was buried on the hill behind the plane.

In addition, Tilus went with us to visit the Hellcat #1 crash site a second time to take additional pictures and video. He also took time to visit what we know now to be the F4U Corsair Crash Site (at the time we thought the engine might have been from a B-24).

Pictures from our interview with Tilus Alphonso on Yap:

Click on the thumbnail images below to view the full-sized image.

Left to right (standing) Richard (from the Manta Ray Hotel), Tilus Alphonso, Louis Ruamoon, Cherie Ranfranz, and Patrick Ranfranz (lower)

Tilus Alphonso (with Theo from the Manta Ray hotel) leading the way to the Hellcat #1 crash site through the jungle.

Tilus Alphonso leading the way to the Hellcat #1 crash site through the jungle.

Tilus Alphonso at the Hellcat #1 crash site.

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