"Last Flight Home-Searching For And Finding MIAs"
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
The educational sessions started Friday at the Women in Aviation
Conference in San Diego. No matter what topic you're interested in,
there's a session to meet it --
"Human Factors in Today's Environment;" "How to Become an Air
Traffic Controller;" "Aircraft Dispatcher Opportunities."
The majority of topics are designed with assisting you in your
chosen aviation path or just help with everyday issues and how to
cope. But some panels are special and will leave you wondering what
you can do to help.
"Last Flight Home-Searching for and Finding MIAs" was one such
panel. Hosted by Valerie Thal-Slocum and Jennifer Powers (shown at
center), they tell of Dr. Pat Scannon who, in 1993, originally was
part of a search team seeking an armed trawler in Palau sunk by
then Ensign George H.W. Bush.
Dr. Scannon found out many planes and their crews went MIA over
Palau during WWII. A new mission was formed in Dr. Scannon's mind.
The BentProp Project was born. Opening his own wallet, with his
team doing the same, the Project is being personally
Time is not on the group's side. Overgrowth can cover a wreckage
and make it virtually invisible, until you are right on top of it.
Over 90% of the leads to downed aircraft come from the island's
elders. The elder's are passing away taking their knowledge with
them. BentProp is working to see that they receive that knowledge
before it's gone.
The group has over four dozen aircraft finds to their credit.
(Editor's Note: One of the Project's recent
successes is spotlighted elsewhere on ANN, read about it
here.) Many of the aircraft wreckage
sites contained MIA's. Each aircraft crash site is considered a
burial site and the team performs a flag ceremony. They have two
flags, Palauan and US. The US flag is returned to the states and
presented to a family member if they can be located.
BentProp doesn't bring the planes or MIA remains back home, they
notify Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). JPAC brings home
Human nature, such as it is, maintains a grip on hope until such
time as proof is shown and hope can at least turn into closure. MIA
means Missing in Action; no matter that 60 years have passed, the
hope remains with the relatives that their son, father, husband may
still be out there and able to return to them. BentProp helps bring
the families closure.
About 20 minutes of the documentary, "Last Flight Home," was
also shown to seminar attendees. The documentary is meant to bring
the groups quest for our missing loved ones to light. Much of the
proceeds from the sale of the documentary DVD go back into the
After the presentation, much of the audience was at the table
ready to purchase their copy of the DVD, and help keep BentProp