Forum artHighlights From the Forum

August 13 through 19, 2000

Subject: Re: Antennas Again
Date: 8/14/00
From: Hue Miller

It appears from the RDF photo in the Longs’ book that the RDF has its mounting plate moved to the top plane, as compared to the Navy unit with mounting plate on bottom. Thus AE’s RDF would be mounted to the plane’s ceiling, probably quite near the hand rotated loop extension.

I am wondering about the relative length and practicality of inside wire runs to get from:

a) the belly antenna to the RDF
b) the "To Receiver" post on the transmitter, to the RDF

Also, I ask, is Long’s statement that the AE RDF had 5 bands, based on the white panel marks seen in the photo, or does he have better sources?

Also, for RG, if you have seen the RDF in a Bendix ad, does it resemble more closely the Longs’ photo model, or the one in the sketch in the NRL RDF manual? This question is only because i am wondering if AE’s set was more a commercial product than a Navy model, or if it tended more toward an early production model.

I am still puzzled by the failure of the RDF test on the test flight at Lae. Could AE and FN been so oblivious to technical detail that, as Long alleges, they were innocently unaware that the RDF "could not tune to that high a frequency" ? On the test flight, was AE really that perfunctory that she gave up after hastily concluding the "Lae signal was too strong", would she really not have flown a few miles out? If she really had flown 5 or 10 miles out, there’s no way the Lae airdrome radio could have been "too strong" to get a minimum. Something else going on, but what was it ???????

Also, I note for proponents of the Single Receiver Theory, if you hold to that, you may also need to explain where the RDF received its power. With an accompanying Bendix RA-1, you just use the RA-1 accessory socket. No RA-1, your technician had to dig into the WE receiver and mount some kind of connector on the front panel, either that or some sloppy mouse engineering with wires running out of some hole in the WE, going to the RDF. ( The RDF besides needing low voltage from ship’s battery required a higher voltage in the range 100-150 jolts - but the draw was low enough that there is no way a separate supply dynamotor for just this purpose could be justified.)

Hue Miller

From Ric

Let me start by saying again that there is nothing in the photo in Long’s book that establishes:

1. That the aircraft is NR16020
2. That the photo was taken in Miami

The box on the eyebrow panel in the photo is not the box shown in the photos taken at the time the Bendix loop coupler was installed. Neither does the box in Long’s photo resemble any component (I’ve ever seen) associated with the RA-1.

There seems to be no question that the coupler WAS installed at Burbank on or about March 6, 1937 so the problems you catalog were apparently dealt with at that time.

As I’ve said before, I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever that there was a second receiver aboard the airplane at the time of the second World Flight attempt.

Subject: Re: Another deep sea search
Date: 8/14/00
From: Janice Brown

Don and Ric, I visited the web site you mentioned (at

Interestingly this program, presented by Rod Blocksome, an alumni of KSU, was given on March 2, 2000, and it further stated, "In April, a $3,000,000 expedition will proceed to the area in question to carry out an undersea search, using sonar to pinpoint likely targets for future exploration (regarding Amelia Earhart). This will be a very systematic and detailed sweep of the area." The Rockwell Collins company in Iowa is indicated as a partner in the venture. Mention was also made of another venture in May.

I was surprised to read this, as I had recently researched all newspaper and journal articles on Amelia Earhart and had not found a single article mentioning such an expedition. I further searched through both the Rockwell, and Rockwell Collins web sites (each has its own search capabilities) for "Earhart." A single entry mentions her name, a press release about Rockwell’s president giving a speech to a women’s club, and he mentions Amelia Earhart by name, in conjunction with other women of accomplishment, but says nothing about research regarding her flight. My personal opinion (based on a lack of any further information on it) is that this exploratory expedition above either never happened, or it did and they didn’t locate anything.

Ric, you mentioned that this "definitely needs looking into."

At, the Central States VHF Society Directors and Officers lists:

Rod Blocksome, K0DAS (2000-01 Director)
690 Eastview Drive
Robins, IA 52328
If someone would like to send him an e-mail, he might just respond.

Rod Blocksome probably works for Rockwell, as on the KSU Amateur Radio Club alumni list, his e-mail is given as:

In 1995 his telephone number is listed as 319/393-8022.

Again the web page stated that "In May or June (2000), Rod Blocksome will be aboard a follow-up expedition which will be equipped with undersea cameras to actually look at the objects located by sonar a few weeks earlier. The group of people involved are those who successfully located the Mercury capsule of Gus Grissom, Liberty Bell 7, fairly recently." [Note&FYI: Houston-based Oceaneering International, specifically Curt Newport, one of its employees, was responsible for the location of the Mercury capsule. Additional info on the company at ]

On a completely different topic, and as an FYI: I happened to see this article, "From June 24 through July 15, 2000, New England Aquarium Conservation Director, Dr. Greg Stone, will lead an expedition to the Phoenix Islands as part of the Primal Ocean Project". More information can be found at

Janice Brown

From Ric

Thanks Janice. The "Primal Ocean Project" expedition to the Phoenix Group used "our" ship Nai’a, out of Fiji. We shared information with them and asked them to take a look at the ledge off the west end. Haven’t heard back yet.

I’ve sent Mr. Blocksome the following email:

Dear Mr. Blocksome,

I read with considerable interest the brief article on the KSU Amateur Radio Club website about the Amelia Earhart search expeditions you planned to conduct this past spring.

Having led a few myself, I’m naturally interested to learn how you made out.

Ric Gillespie
Executive Director

Subject: 7500kc signals/ Timmer Expedition?
Date: 8/14/00
From: Tom MM

Sorry to combine two questions here.

1) 7500 kc

I’ve been only half tuned in to the radio thread, and I’ll admit from the outset that I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of radio. One thing that I’ve wondered about is why the signal strength of the 7500 kc transmissions from the Itasca was not exploited by AE to help resolve the 157/337 ambiguity. On 3105 kc the received signal strength at the Itasca went from 3 to 5 in roughly 1.5 hours between 1744 and 1912 GMT. After about 1930 GMT, the Itasca transmitted on 7500 kc off and on until at least 2133 GMT. If AE headed south on 157 at about 2013 GMT, there was approximately 1.25 hours of flight in which to note a decreasing signal quality and resolve the ambiguity. With 4 hrs of fuel, there should have been ample time to return to Howland.

Although AE reported switching at least temporarily to 6210 kc at 2013, it is hard to believe that she would have not have monitored 7500 kc closely, since it appears to have been the only frequency that she actually heard the Itasca on. A Morse "A" or other transmissions would have been comforting compared to static, and there may have been the hope that some information would be transmitted slowly and be decipherable. Is there any reason why 7500 kc would not decrease perceptibly in strength and quality with increasing range (say over about 1.25 hours or 160 NM) from their closest point of approach to the Itasca? 2) Timmer results?

I was out of the country when Timmer was supposed to head back out to the Pacific in May or June, and missed anything that might have come of it. Looking at the Williamson web site, I can imagine that many of their clients expect a high level of information security. Still, I thought I’d ask if they have released any specific info regarding the bounds of their search area and what they may have found?

Tom MM

From Ric

Last things first. Haven’t heard a word about any second Timmer expedition. It would at least be nice to know if they went out.

Interesting thought about monitoring 7500. Like you, I wonder how much the signal strength would decrease with distance.

Subject: Re: 3105 KC & WE Transmitter / Receiver
Date: 8/14/00
From: Janet Whitney

Because of the high level of solar activity in 1937, the 50 watt signal from Earhart’s plane on 3105 KC would have been absorbed by the D layer of the ionosphere during the daytme, making 3105 a line-of-sight frequency. The 3105 KC propagation changed from nighttime to daytime as Earhart and Noonan approached Howland Island. However if the Electra was at an altitude of 5,000 feet when it was 100 miles out, it would also be in radio line-of-sight of the Itasca. The radio line-of-sight distance between the Electra and the Itasca would have depended on what altitude (or altitudes) the Electra flew when Earhart was transmitting and receiving.

The WE Model 20 receiver had one LF antenna terminal and one HF antenna terminal. However, the transmit / receive relay was in the WE Model 13 transmitter.

Jane Whitney

From Ric

>...the 50 watt signal from Earhart’s plane on 3105 KC would have been
>absorbed by the D layer....

Tricks of the Trade No. 432

Anytime someone writing about a historical event says "would have" it means they are guessing.

Janet, explain to me please how the presence of a transmit/receive relay in the WE 13 proves that it was used.

Subject: Re: Another deep water search
Date: 8/14/00
From: Ric Gillespie

I received the following reply from Mr. Blocksome:

Thank you for your enquiry. Our search expedition has not yet launched. We are helping Nauticos in their effort. I would refer you to them for any questions on search plans, etc.

I have read some of the material on the TIGHAR efforts with much interest. You and your organization are to be commended for all the work accomplished. Hopefully with enough people searching, someday, someone will find the proverbial "smoking gun" evidence.

Best Regards,
Rod Blocksome

The Nauticos website makes no mention of an Earhart search (never has). Last time I spoke with anyone at Nauticos (back in June) they were still waiting for NOVA to deliver on its promise to help raise the funding for the expedition(s).


Subject: Data Quality to Mr. Gillespie
Date: 8/15/00
From: Janet Whitney

If TIGHAR wants to put acccurate reports about "state-of-the-art" American aviation in 1937 on-line, perhaps TIGHAR should determine what the state-of-the-art actually WAS in American aviation in 1937.

It appears that there are enough contemporaneous accounts still available and a sufficient number of retired people who designed, built, and serviced Lockheed Model 10s, Western Electic radios, Bendix DF loops, etc. in 1937 who are still alive to determine exactly HOW Earhart’s radios, antennas, DF equipment, etc., functioned or failed to function.

Janet Whitney

From Ric

You and your associates at Data Quality seem to have difficulty understanding how to acquire data of good quality. We could fill Madison Square Garden with people who maintained Lockheed 10s and installed radios in airplanes in the 1930s, and we could seat them on stacks of manufacturer’s manuals and schematic diagrams, but that would not establish how Earhart’s radios, antennas, DF equipment, etc., functioned or failed to function.

IF we had schematics, photos, and work orders specifically describing the radio set-up aboard NR16020 at Lae immediately prior to departure on July 2, 1937 we’d be in a much better position to speculate about what went wrong. Unfortunately, those data do not seem to be available, so we have to guess and argue and refine our guessing and, at best, hope that we end up somewhere near the truth.

I apologize to the forum for this little excursion.


Subject: Wreckage Recovery
Date: 8/15/00
From: Steve Gardetto

I have a question about the upcoming expedition to Niku and potential wreckage underwater (setting aside possible terrestrial artifacts at the 7 site or elsewhere on Niku). If you use the same ship (boat?) as in the recent expeditions, what are the salvage/recovery capabilities of the vessel? Does it have a crane capable of raising one of the engines or the wing spar? Even if it does have a crane, can the vessel get close enough to the likely sites to make recovery realistic?

I’m envisaging a scenario where an underwater search of the ledge off the reef or the area by the Norwich City turns up what appears to be the engines or the spar. Previous comments in recent postings regarding the Norwich City wreckage and coral growth suggest that any likely-to-survive Lockheed wreckage would not be heavily coral-encrusted. Previous postings about how the plane would come to be in the water in these locations indicate that the damage to the plane would be severe (destruction by surf action, etc.). Am I correct in believing that TIGHAR’s operating scenario is that the only wreckage still likely to survive there are the 2 engines and spar?

Assuming that any large chunks of metal found there are not either Norwich City wreckage or the missing Coast Guard bulldozer, and are in fact Lockheed wreckage, the choices seem to be:

1. recovery of a complete component (engine or spar)
2. partial dismantlement of an engine
3. no wreckage recovery, only photographic documentation.

In the previous major TIGHAR expeditions to Niku, several of which I believe had underwater searches, what has been the thinking on how difficult options #1 or #2 would be to accomplish?

LTM (who’s always a wreck on Monday)
Steve Gardetto

From Ric

Excellent question Steve. It has always been TIGHAR’s policy that no responsible recovery effort can be planned or provided for before the discovery has been made and the particulars of the situation have been studied. The last thing we want to do is haul a smoking gun to the surface only to watch it dissolve before our eyes like the Wicked Witch of the West. We anticipate no major wreckage recovery during Niku IIII even if we’re so fortunate as to find major wreckage. While the engines, gear legs and the "main beam" are the most robust components and might be the most likely to survive, I’d like to think that there could also be a lot of sheet metal on the floor of the lagoon. If presented with the opportunity, we probably would recover a small, easily conserved diagnostic artifact (how about a loop antenna?).


Subject: Re: Data Quality to Mr. Gillespie
Date: 8/15/00
From: Alan Caldwell

> I apologize to the forum for this little excursion.

No apology needed Ric. Trying to get through to Janet is clearly tilting at windmills. To those of us who have lived with this so long there is clear understanding about the difficulty of obtaining answers and refining them. To a relative new "investigator" the difficulties may not be so obvious.

Janet presents a considerable challenge, however. Others, new to the mystery may inadvertantly post some foolish comments but soon learn. Janet doesn’t show signs anyone is getting through to her. She seems oblivious to our comments and indeed seems to simply dismiss them if she reads them at all.

I think that’s sad as she appears to be somewhat intelligent and could possibly be an asset if her mind was capable of opening up. You’ll notice there is never an exchange between Janet and the forum. We post. She posts but there is never a clue that she has read anything we write. Weird.


From Ric

There’s a clinical term for it. It’s called the "Itasca Syndrome."

Subject: Re: Wreckage Recovery
Date: 8/15/00
From: Doug Brutlag

In regard to Steve Gardetto’s question about wreckage recovery, I understand the rationale of not bringing parts to the surface until you have a means of preserving them from oxidation until you can get the artifacts in a controlled environment. That brings 2 points to my mind:

* You would have to return with a recovery ship with not only the cranes/hoists to lift heavy objects from possible deep water, but also the storage facilities able to preserve the objects from the elements---in this case oxygen which would immediately start the corrosion process, from ruination of the find. What kind of vessel would this take and could it anchor close enough given some of the shallow shoals around the island to effect recovery? Is there a research group (like Broadway Bob’s) who would consider bringing such a vessel to used for this purpose for the recovery, that would do it without bankrupting TIGHAR as well as stealing the show?

* Salvage Rights: Given the fact that TIGHAR is the only organization that has even bothered to go to Niku more than once to resolve the AE mystery, it would be only fitting in my mind that they be given the legal salvage rights to any artifacts/evidence that would be discovered. It would be a crime Ric if you discovered something on the next expedition and had to leave it for a future recovery, and then a group of unscrupulous pirates find out and beat you on the return and take the credit and whatever rewards that go with it. Any attorneys out there who could shed some light on this?

Doug Brutlag #2335

From Ric

I don’t think it’s worth a lot of speculation about recovery until we have something to recover. We’re not talking about large heavy objects (like a complete airplane) even in a best-case scenario and I woudn’t anticipate a need for a specialized recovery vessel. I also have to think that a smoking gun find would free up adequate funding for a recovery operation.

Salvage rights? TIGHAR has no desire to "own" anything we find. It is our opinion that whatever is at Niku belongs to the Republic of Kiribati. We would be pleased to advise and assist the government in matters pertaining to historical sites and artifacts, and of course we’d like to see identified human remains returned to the families and bona fide Electra wreckage properly conserved and appropriately exhibited, but management and/or disposition of anything found at or near Niku is ultimately not for us to decide.

"Pirates" stealing artifacts? Yes, that’s a concern and it’s something we’ve often thought about. As long as Earhart and Noonan’s arrival at Nikumaroro is just a theory there seems to be little danger that anyone but TIGHAR will be nuts enough to search there, but the discovery of a smoking gun could change all that. How do you provide site security at a place that is that remote? We’ve never been able to come up with a good answer except to keep the find quiet until a recovery operation is underway, and that is easier said than done.


Subject: Re: Data Quality to Mr. Gillespie
Date: 8/16/00
From: Rom Robison

>>From Ric
>There’s a clinical term for it. It’s called the "Itasca Syndrome."

I think you’re looking at it too clinically, Ric. In my opinion, Ms. Whitney is simply suffering from a recto-cranial inversion.


Subject: Re: Site security
Date: 8/16/00
From: Andrew McKenna

>How do you provide site security at a place that is that
>remote? We’ve never been able to come up with a good answer except to keep
>the find quiet until a recovery operation is underway, and that is easier
>said than done.

How about we station Margot Still and a posse of GRITS there with a shotgun or a couple of Thompsons to ward off any pirates that pass by. There is no question in my mind that she would get the job done. :)

LTM (who likes good natured fun)
Andrew McKenna

I like it.


Subject: Re: Data Quality to Mr. Gillespie
Date: 8/17/00
From: Jon Watson

No apology necessary. Maybe we are approaching Ms. Whitney, et al, from the wrong perspective. I would suggest that Ms. Whitney is the quintessential academic - ie: long on theory, but not a lick of practical, real world experience. Just the sort of person who should be in charge of this inquiry! Somebody that doesn’t find the need to get bogged down with all these pesky little facts. We might not get to the bottom of the problem with her at the helm, but by golly we’ll all FEEL GOOD about it. (Sorry, now who’s getting afield). There, now let me get my tongue out of my cheek....

Changing the subject - I took a close look at the pitot pix from the website again - boosted it (#1) up to 1200 pixels/inch, and blew it way up. Maybe it’s just me, but immediately in front of the silhouette of the right engine nacelle there’s a light colored shape that might - just might be the right side pitot tube. It appears to be in the correct orientation to the apparent (left) pitot (eyeballed only, based upon the offset and relationship of the landing gear struts), and isn’t readily visible due to being in immediate proximity to the dark mass of the nacelle. Let me know what you think.

jon 2266

Subject: Whitney and Company
Date: 8/17/00
From: Roger Kelley

Janet Whitney wrote: "If TIGHAR wants to put accurate reports about "state-of-the-art" American aviation in 1937 on-line, perhaps TIGHAR should determine what the state-of-the-art actually WAS in American aviation in 1937."

Well Janet, I demand that you produce, and publish on this forum, ASAP, your documentation and sources which indicate that TIGHAR’s reports on-line are not accurate. Otherwise, you agree that TIGHAR’s information is infallible and irrefutable. Right?

What you, Janet Whitney, and Data Quality really want is some one else to do your research for you.

Whitney and company will then claim that they produced the resulting data.

Or, Janet and company are nothing more than "agents provocateur " and should be denied access to this forum.

And to think that some where there might be some poor individual who may be paying Data Quality big bucks for information developed!

LTM (who would like to have Janet Whitney volunteer her phone number in order that we might continue this conversation off forum)
Roger Kelley #2112CE

Subject: Re: site security
Date: 8/17/00
From: Randy Jacobson

Put Janet Whitney out there. Anyone running into her would quickly decide anyplace else would be better...

Subject: Re: Site secuirty
Date: 8/18/00
From: Bob Brandenburg

There appears to be a widespread assumption that Janet Whitney is an actual person. Perhaps we should consider an alternative hypothesis.

About 20 years ago, there was a major government-funded R&D program in the then-new field of artificial intelligence (AI). The thrust of the program was to develop computer programs that could perform some of the functions that we associate with human intelligence. Some of the early attempts focused on software that would respond to human keyboard inputs in ways that gave the appearance of holding a conversation. The basic technique was to parse a user’s question or comment and access a stored library of responses to select an answering comment or question to be sent back to the user.

In some cases, the response libraries were sufficiently rich in syntactical variations and nuances that the computer’s outputs "felt" like human responses. Some of the responses would ask for additional information from the user, in ever-increasing detail, or by changing the subject to another topic area, based on prior inputs from the user. But such programs never provided any original information on their own, for obvious reasons.

I propose for the forum’s consideration, the hypothesis that Janet Whitney is an AI program which has been "trained" (read given the necessary algorithms) to log on to the TIGHAR web site, read the various files there, and to post forum demands for additional information, without providing original new information to the forum.

This hypothesis is clearly testable. All that is needed to reject the hypothesis is for Janet Whitney to provide proof of being human - - in which case we will be witness to a different phenomenon, characterization of which I leave as an exercise for the reader.

LTM, who disdains uppity machines.
Bob Brandenburg, #2286


Re: Longs’ book

Date: 8/18/00
From: Hue Miller
" Earhart was cranking her transmitter to change from 3105 to 6210....her fuel supply ran out....." ( Long book, page 210.) much cranking does a ’channel’ switch require?? In other words, how long does it take for the switch to move from one channel detent to another? (Yes Officer, i was speeding. I lost track of my speed while i was cranking my CB from channel 17 to 19" )

"After sunrise, when communication is no longer possible over the highly efficient gray line....." ( page 244)

Hmmm.....never seen greyline enhancement applied to short distance before. I have only seen this applied to 2 very distant, like thousands of miles apart, when each is in the greyline area ( i.e. typically sunrise in USA, sunset in a far overseas radio station’s location.) If both stations are in the same zone, both experiencing sunrise or sunset, conditions, i do believe, cannot be called highly efficient, more efficient than purely nite time propagation. I believe rather than ’efficient’, the word would be ’turbulent’, or ’unsettled’.

"....after sunrise.....the high level of solar radiation in 1937 would effectively prevent sky wave propagation on 3105 kc/s...." (page 244)

The lights don’t go out in solar peak years. In other words, it’s not an all or none, black or white situation, and it’s bad data generation to suggest it is. For example, can Long really believe daytime NVIS (high angle, short range skywave reflection) simply does not work in high solar activity years? Has this been observed in any year of solar maximum since? ( Ocurring in 11 year cycles ). Nonsense.

( Aside to DQ: Are you-all so impressed with Long’s statement as gospel, that you really want to adopt it verbatim as one of the facts your research has developed? )

Hue Miller

Subject: Re: DQ and Janet Whitney
Date: 8/19/00
From: Bill Conover

Not to beat a dead horse, but I think it is possible that Ms. Whitney, being a student assistant (according to the DQ web site), might just be a vehicle used to relay messages from her boss. It almost sounds like that from her postings over the last month.

I wonder if James Hurysz, the publisher, who is reviewing Long’s book, might actually be the one receiving the forum postings. He then, in turn, simply hands questions and statements to Ms. Whitney to have her type and email to the forum. In fact, since he is the one conducting the book review, it would be very convenient to have someone else post to gather data and then take it and use it as his own. He never posts nor asks questions, so how could he be accused of not doing the research on his own? Kind of a convenient way to have others do your work for you. Just a thought.

Bill Conover

Subject: The Coffee Grinder
Date: 8/19/00
From: Mike Everette

In answer to Hue Miller’s query regarding changing channels on the WE 13C transmitter:

The transmitter was indeed switched by means of a crank. The control unit in the cockpit was linked to the actual radio unit through a tach shaft, sort of like an automobile speedometer cable.

The channel switch in the rig had several sections. The circuits changed included the crystal selector; the plate circuit of the oscillator; the buffer/multiplier grid and plate; the final amplifier grid and plate; and the antenna... at least 7 sections on that switch (I don’t have the schematic in front of me at the moment to be completely sure of the number, but AT LEAST seven).

Like most equipment of the era, the 13C was way-overbuilt. That switch was a real monster, with big ceramic structures and silver-plated brass contact assemblies. It took a lot of OOOMPH to turn one of those babies.

Since the radio was in the aft fuselage, the shaft was more than 20 feet long. Lots of torque needed to turn the switch, and a lot of mechanical backlash in such a setup. This switch probably had to move at least 45 degrees per position.

The control head’s selector was a crank. To provide the necessary torque and "feel," the crank was geared-down to the shaft. I have not actually had my hands on one of these units but my best approximation of the effort to turn it is at least 1-1/2 turns to 2 turns per channel position. (kerCHUNK -- kerCHUNK....) It undoubtedly had a rather positive "feel" to the detents at each position too. This is based upon actual experience with a number of military aircraft radios of similar vintage, some of which were made by Western Electric.

Hope this answers some of your questions.

LTM (whose detents are always positive) and 73
Mike E.

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