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The Salvage

Thursday, August 19, 2004

After a great breakfast and the daily planning session for the day’s activities – Gary Shaw is told that Bob needed to get a flight back to Lab City for some pressing administrative matters in Seattle. They are significant and his presence is absolutely needed. Don has Gary make arrangements for a plane to fly to the campsite and get Bob Back to Lab City and on to Seattle. The project keeps communications with the outside world via satellite phones. The phones are also used in case of any medical emergencies or equipment requirements.

Bob would not leave this project at this time without the utmost confidence in Mark Allen who would take over the entire operation in Bob absence. Bob is also confident in the team member’s ability to accomplish the upcoming tasks and whatever they will face. He has a short personal pep talk with all UAS members and the plane arrives at 10:40 AM. He hopes to return very soon.

The team waved and wished Bob well as they watched the plane taxi across the water and lift off heading for Labrador City. It was time to get back to the work at hand.

Inspection of the aircraft on the dive on the 17th revealed that the engine mounts had corroded to a point where they would not be reliable as a lifting point. John felt that it would be possible to excavate the riverbed from underneath the engine nacelles so that the lift bags could be placed under the engines and firewalls. The team had reviewed the options and possibilities and decided to try the excavation. John became the team hard rock miner and spent over 6 dives clearing the riverbed rocks from under the engines.

The first dive of the day was John and Zak with John back at excavation and Zak recovering parts from the river bottom. A few minutes into the dive a yellow lift bag came to the surface followed by Zak with the news that he had found the port wing tip.

Two hours the wingtip, normal weight 45 pounds, weighing in at over 300 pounds due to silt and sediment, was brought ashore.

Joey and Hamilton promptly went to work on cleaning the wing tip and soon had the piece clean and returned to its flying weight.

"Send down another tank and a sandwich."
- Zak Jones

After lunch Mark, Gordy and Roy went in, Mark and Gordy to start placement of chaffing gear around the nacelles and Roy to continue his inspection and observations as archeologist. The boat came back to shore with Mark onboard, who was fighting a bout of vertigo. Mark had been diving with an ear infection and the backroll out of the boat seemed to have triggered the vertigo. Gary Jr. had helped Mark back into the boat while Gary Sr., Hamilton and Joey helped him out of his gear and back up to the camp.

Out in the water, Gordy and Roy quickly got the first set of chaffing gear placed around number 1 engine nacelle.

The third dive of the day found John hard back at work continuing excavation under number 3 engine while Zak shot video and searched for the starboard wing tip.

During the day the Lifepak AED, loaned by Medtronics of Canada, arrived and Zak provided instruction to the team as to its use during the evening debrief. We doubt we will ever need to use it, but this far from civilization and emergency services it is good to have the safety equipment.

The 19th has been a long, emotional day. Bob is in route to Seattle, Mark is almost over the vertigo, the port wing tip has been recovered and preparations for the first lift are ahead of schedule. After the evening briefing, Hamilton has the entire team laughing with one of his many stories.