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Sonar Search for the Coleman B-24 Crew (Uncle's Plane)

Sonar Search Crew 2008
Mark Noah, Patrick Ranfranz, Cherie Ranfranz and Yapese guides after returning from searching for the Coleman crew with sonar in October 2008.
We were pleased to be joined by Mark Noah from the non-profit History Flight organization for part of the trip. Mark provided invaluable help during the trip. Mark's organization purchased a side scanning sonar unit in the summer for the purpose of helping us locate my uncle's plane on Yap. I can't thank Mark enough for taking the time and interest to dedicate resources to my search trip and spend a significant amount of time trying to help me find my uncle's plane. A number of people have contacted me over the years with thoughts about helping but Mark was the first to take an active step forward and bring the equipment we needed to Yap. Due to some issues with the airlines Mark ended up leaving some of his equipment including a magtometer (underwater metal detector) in his car at the Miami airport. We spent countless hours running the sonar up and down the SE coast trying to find the plane. This resulted in a number of cases of sea sickness and some interesting conversation as we baked in the tropical sun running the sonar off the island. In the end we put a lot of time into the sonar search with Mark throughout the trip but did not locate the Coleman crew. However, we did identify a number of targets that we'll need a sonar expert to interrupt. One of these targets could be the plane!

We teamed up with a marine biologist by the name of Brian Green and the Manta Ray Hotel dive shop manger, Jan Sledjens, to checkout some of the deeper sonar targets we could dive. Brian and Jan made deep dives to a few of the sites (200-250 feet) with us while I stopped at "about" 130 feet. I think I went a few feet beyond what I wanted to hit. Brian has the ability to use a re-breather but he was waiting for some replacement parts during our trip. Brian and Jan agreed to continue to dive my uncle's crash site location after we departed. Brian will spend some significant time diving the site at deep depths with his re-breather. Brian is very likely going to be the one who discovers my uncle's plane with his re-breather or the one-man submarines he might be bringing to Yap in the near future for his marine biology work.

In the end I truly believe that Brian and/or Jan will find my uncle's plane and the Coleman crew. I can't thank everyone (Mark, Brian, Jan, etc.) for all their help. I was so pleased to see how dedicated they were to help us during the trip and moving forward. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with this group and appreciate all the help. Please see the following pictures taken over a number of days showing our sonar search and deep diving attempts.

Please feel free to submit comments about the airstrip to Pat at: pat@missingaircrew.com

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.


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Diving Pictures:


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Yap Island Sonar Search


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