Forum artHighlights From the Forum

August 20 through 26, 2000

Subject: Re: The Coffee Grinder
Date: 8/21/00
From: Hue Miller

> From Mike E. the Radio Historian #2194:
> The transmitter was indeed switched by means of a crank

--Ah, so the transmit channel was not totally relay switched, with purely electrical linkage. I mistakenly had assumed only the receiver had a flex cable.

> 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.

Well, even with several turns of the coffee grinder required to move into the next channel detent, this is hardly a time consuming process, not at all like reeling out a trailing antenna, and I rather doubt this became a major distraction or or conflicting task as the fuel pump sputtered dry, as the Longs’ text would seem to say.

Interesting idea, that design. I wonder if that’s very unusual in aircraft transmitters, I mean flex cable control.

BTW, which WE-built military radio are you talking about?

Hue Miller

Subject: Electra’s Radios
Date: 8/21/00
From: Janet Whitney

According to Amelia Earhart’s account of her flight (Last Flight):

The WE receiver was located under the co-pilot’s seat. The WE transmitter was located in the cabin. There was a dynamotor located under the pilot’s seat.

She listened to AM (500-1500 KC) broadcasts between Miami and San Juan.

The interior of the Electra was heavily sprayed with insecticide at several airfields during the flight.

The Electra’s inside temperature was sometimes extremely hot, especially in Africa. The humidity was often high.

It would be interesting to see if any archived maintenance records and problem reports still exist for the WE Model 20 receiver and Model 13 transmitter from the 1930’s.

Janet Whitney

(I’m off to school tomorrow. Goodbye)

From Ric

Goodbye Janet. It has been an experience.

Subject: Why sit on the left?
Date: 8/22/00
From: Bill Zorn

Saw something on PBS or the Discovery channel that claimed that the terms, Port & Starboard goes back to the early Vikings. They put their STeering (or STAbalizing) BOARD on the "right"side of their boats. And obviously then, when you pull into PORT, you don’t want to damage this high tech device against the shore.

Question for the aviation archaeologists lurking the forum. At what point, or why did the standards arise that the pilot is in the "left hand seat?" And the numbering system for engines goes from port outside to starboard outer. Are there, or were there any notable exceptions?

Is there any correlation with the American Railroad "left hand rule"or "Right Hand rule" (which I am very fuzzy on, please don’t ask me to explain, until I do a little research), having to do with two track operations? Railroads were after all the preeminent transportation system at the time aviation was born.

With the bent pitot tubes and the antennae dangling in the dirt, it sounds as if the Electra was in a bit of trouble when it left, right?

LTM (who prefers to think of it as driver’s side and passenger side, but knows American automotive axioms can confound and confuse citizens of certain cultures, causing consternation and considerable counterproductive crosstalk in the communication channels )

From Ric

The question of how the pilot-in-the-left-seat convention got started is a good one. Even British pilots sit there, and apparently always have. Helicopter pilots, by contrast, usually sit on the starboard side so that they don’t have to climb over the collective when entering or exiting the aircraft.

Yes, the Electra was apparently in trouble from the moment it left Lae, but the nature of the trouble was such that it was known neither to the crew nor to those who watched the departure.

Need I point out that what we’re talking about here is a major new development in the way the Earhart disappearance is viewed and is as much a departure from the "traditional" explanations for the flight’s failure as the Nikumaroro theory is different from the crashed-and-sank or Japanese-capture explanations.


Subject: AE in custody
Date: 8/22/00
From: Ric Gillespie

Got a phone call yesterday from Mr. John O’Keefe of Dallas, Texas. He was looking for an address for Tom Devine (author of Eyewitness -- The Amelia Earhart Incident) because he had a story that he feels is proof that AE was captured by the Japanese. I couldn’t help him with an address but I was happy to listen to his story. It’s such a classic that I thought I should share it with the forum.

During WWII Mr. O’Keefe was an enlisted man serving aboard PT boats just northwest of New Ireland in the St. Matthias Group. When they first came into this area of operations the crews were told to be especially on the lookout for any sign Amelia Earhart. This was the only area where they received that admonition.

One day Mr. O’Keefe was ashore at Mussau Island and had occasion to visit the home of a man who had been the personal servant of a local Catholic priest. On a board hung from the centerpost of the house were several photographs. One of them showed the owner of the house, the priest, a white woman in a white shirt, white scarf, and dark trousers and beside her a Japanese officer with a samurai sword. Mr. O’Keefe looked at the photo, pointed to the woman, and said, "Amelia Earhart!" to which the man replied, "Yes!". O’Keefe was unable to get more information from the man because he spoke very little English but when he returned to the PT boat he told his captain, a Lt. jg, about the photo he had seen.

The captain passed the word up the chain of command and within a few days a "Black Cat" PBY arrived with an officer attired in dress blues (very inappropriate for the climate) who refused to identify himself other than to say that he was from Naval Intelligence. The officer asked for O’Keefe and wanted to be taken to see the man with the picture. O’Keefe, of course, complied and when the officer saw the photo he took it down and put it in an envelope. The owner was upset at this behavior and demanded that his photo be returned at which point the officer grabbed him by the throat and put his other hand on the butt of his .45 and informed the man in no uncertain terms that the photo was now U.S. government property.

The officer left aboard the PBY and they heard nothing more about the incident. Curious, the captain started bombarding headquarters with messages asking about the photo and what all the fuss had been about. At first HQ denied that the officer had even been there, then another PBY arrived with another officer who said he had a message that he had been instructed to personally read and deliver to Seaman O’Keefe and the captain. The message read simply, "Cease and desist." and was signed "Nimitz." O’Keefe never mentioned the incident again until recently when he visited the Nimitz Museum in Frederickburg, Texas and saw a letter in which Admiral Nimitiz himself said that "it was time for the American people to know that Amelia Earhart had died in the service of her country."

Great story....and it fits perfectly the traditional formula of WWII Earhart anecdotes.

1. An enlisted man finds an object that is clearly linked to Amelia Earhart.
2. He reports it to his superiors.
3. A mysterious officer takes the object, which is never seen again.
4. The finder is sworn to secrecy.

How much of this one is true is anybody’s guess. Mr. O’Keefe seemed absolutely sincere and I do not for one moment doubt that he was convinced that he was telling me the unvarnished truth. In fact, almost all of the story could be true but, like all such stories, it is impossible (and not even worth trying) to verify.


Subject: Re: AE in custody
Date: 8/23/00
From: Michael Holt

Ric wrote:

> Great story....and it fits perfectly the traditional formula of WWII Earhart
> anecdotes.
> 1. An enlisted man finds an object that is clearly linked to Amelia Earhart.
> 2. He reports it to his superiors.
> 3. A mysterious officer takes the object, which is never seen again.
> 4. The finder is sworn to secrecy.

Mr O’Keefe wasn’t alone on the trip to the old man’s house, was he? Did he take the boat there without anyone else? Who served with him, and how do they recall any of it? Who was the priest? (If the name of the island is correct without any doubt, I’ll see if I can figure out who to ask about the priest.)

> How much of this one is true is anybody’s guess. Mr. O’Keefe seemed
> absolutely sincere and I do not for one moment doubt that he was convinced
> that he was telling me the unvarnished truth. In fact, almost all of the
> story could be true but, like all such stories, it is impossible (and not
> even worth trying) to verify.

One thing that has always made me extremely interested in this sort of report is that they’re seldom verified. Even though there were others involved, there’s never any corroboration. Why is this?

I recall reading about a Marine who said he found a leather pouch of AE documents on an island the USMC had just taken back. The Marine wasn’t alone when he found the pouch, of course, but where are the others who must have been with him? Was the event that insignificant to them? Why don’t we ever hear a tale that adds this to the formula above: "My buddy found ... "?

(I wonder if there have been academic studies of such oddities in legends? Someone could make a career with this sort of thing.)

LTM (who had friends she remembers well)
Michael Holt

From Ric

The study of folklore is a well-established (and fascinating) academic field.

Subject: Take Off photo
Date: 8/23/00
From: Jim Dix

It appears that the take off photo or photos are growing in importance, judging by Ric’s comment about a "major new development", and William Webster-Garman’s excellent work in enhancing the images. Seems a couple days ago someone suggested that we have Photek do some enhancing on the photos and see what we can see. Ric, at the time, said that, that would cost money and the current fund raising emphasis was on Niku IIII. There’s only so much that can be done with our computer technology and at the moment the enhancements are only making me, at least, more curious. It may be time for a mini fund to be started to get Photek to do their thing on the take off photo. Now with that said I will plead poverty.

What we’ve seen so far makes me wonder how AE and FN couldn’t have been aware of what was going on under the aircraft, but using the two T-6’s taking off in formation image, it’s probably possible. She may not have wanted to land that flying gas tank even if she knew.

Jim Dix 2132

Subject: The Brines Letter
Date: 8/23/00
From: Ric Gillespie

There is a new Document of the Week up on the TIGHAR website at Brines Letter.

It’s a letter dated August 3, 1937 and, if authentic, is the first contemporaneous reference we’ve seen to Fred Noonan being a heavy drinker. It also provides some interesting insights into the attitude of at least one journalist toward the Earhart disppearance.

This letter arrived without explanation other than aPost-It note saying "This just came to hand" from a team member on the 1997 Niku III expedition who is now working in Norway. I’ve asked for further clarification on where it came from but have not yet received a reply (she travels quite a bit).

This could be a fairly important, and new (to me anyway), piece of evidence.


Subject: Re: The Brines Letter
Date: 8/24/00
From: Amanda Dunham, Jon Watson

Ok, a couple of things stuck out, to me at least, as possible anachronisms:

page 2) Brines implies that he HEARD the messages sent to the British ship, but uses verb tenses that imply it was after the fact. He doesn’t say he was on board when the ship received them. Would he have heard a RECORDING??? What recording media, other than 78’s, was available then? Would your typical British freighter have it available???

page 3) What month in 1937 was Gone With the Wind published? I have an impression, no more than that, that it was late in the year. I’ll start looking this up.

Was there a date at the top of the letter that I didn’t notice?

LTM, who still has a 78 of Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters
Amanda Dunham

From Ric

The date at the top of the letter is "8/3/37".

My guess is that Brines worked at the Honolulu Bureau of the Associated Press. I don’t think he was aboard any ship and I don’t think he heard any recording. He apparently heard some of the alleged post-loss signals over a radio somewhere. There were lots of people listening.

Good idea on checking out when GWTW was published. There’s almost TOO much information in this letter, but if it’s a hoax it’s a very good one.

From Jon Watson

Just a quick preliminary --

Russell Brines (now deceased) was at one time the far eastern bureau chief for the AP. He was in Tokyo, circa 1939 to 1941, when he went to Manila. He was there when the Japanese arrived and stayed there until (about) the next year working as editor of the internment camp’s newspaper. He left there (don’t know how) and went to (I think) Shanghai. After the war he was the first western journalist to return to Tokyo.

At some time before his death he was teaching at Univ of Florida, and there is now a scholarship at UF established by his widow -- don’t know if she is still alive.

Haven’t found anything that puts him in Hawaii in ’37 yet, but it seems highly possible. More about my thoughts on the letter itself later.

jon 2266

From Ric

Hmmm....maybe my hunch was right.

From Amanda Dunham

Ok, I was wrong about one thing: Gone With the Wind was published in 1936. In my defense I will merely point out that my grandparents’ edition was printed in late 1937. (You didn’t think I was going to buy a *new* copy, did you?!)


From Ric

Okay, so the struggling young reporter borrows rather than buys the popular new book. That works.

Subject: Earhart contingency plans
Date: 8/24/00
From: Ron Bright

Recently I posted Eugene Vidal’s statement that Amelia intended to fly back to the Gilberts if she missed Howland. Both Vincent Loomis and Mary Lovell use that statement in their books but none cited a source.

In Doris Rich’s book, Amelia she writes (p.273) that Eugene Vidal said that Amelia’s plan was to "hunt for Howland until she had four hours of fuel left, and then, if she had not located it, to turn back to the Gilbert Island and land on a beach". Rich cites Vidal’s claim from the Vidal Collection, box 19, p.97. In the Bibliography she cites the Vidal Collection 6013, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming.

Vidal’s alleged statement was made contemporaneously with the event. And I guess is was no secret that Amelia and Eugene were very, very close friends and confidantes prior to the flight; reportedly Eugene also was involved in some of the planning, etc, and would be privy to that kind of information.

But why in the world would Amelia confide in just Vidal; it would seem that any contingency plan would be made know to Williams, Putnam, and others, including, Noonan. Do any of the charts that she left at Lae show on a larger scale the surrounding Islands. I sort of recall she flew only with a strip map and even the Phoenix Island were not shown???

I personally have not checked with the U of Wyoming re the Vidal collection but maybe someone on the forum has already investigated Vidal’s statement. And even if she did make that plan known verbally to Vidal, exigent circumstances at the time may have caused her to turn south and make a run for the Phoenix as you theorize.

As I recall the Navy searched the Gilberts with no luck and later the Yankee of Gloucester also "searched" to some extent the Gilberts but no luck.

The Gilberts are about 450 miles east of Howland and within range of 4 hours of fuel (150mphX4=600).

My question is how thoroughly were the Gilberts searched by the Navy and are there any other reported indications that she may have reversed course back to the Gilberts. Native folklore, artifacts, radio messages, radio strength, etc??

Ronald Bright 2342

From Ric

Dead horse. The forum beat it to death in October 1999. Laurie McLaughlin (aka "Dustymiss") went to the University of Wyoming and checked out Doris Rich’s source reference. There is nothing in Box 19 that supports the allegation. Like so much of Rich’s book, this is rumor stated as fact.

We know of no charts left in Lae. The strip charts prepared by Clarence Williams for the first World Flight attempt (now on file at Purdue) do not show the Phoenix Group, but (obviously) these were not the charts Earhart used. We don’t know what charts Noonan had but it seems safe to presume that he had access to very good charts of the Pacific.

That the flight came down anywhere in the Gilberts seems highly unlikely, not just because the Navy search and the later Yankee visit turned up nothing, but because the islands suffered from overpopulation (hence the PISS) and it’s hard to imagine its arrival going unnoticed.

The one part of the Vidal story that does make sense is the intention to implement a "Plan B" when there were four hours of fuel remaining. That’s roughly the 20% reserve that was considered standard for long distance flights.


Subject: Re: The Brines letter
Date: 8/24/00
From: William Webster-Garman

The Brines letter documents the very early existence of rumours of a Noonan alcohol problem. However, the letter provides zero evidence that Noonan actually had a drinking problem or that it interfered with his work as a navigator.

The writer says "the chances are Amelia had him poured into the plane" (we’ve heard this exact language in the rumour before).

Yet, by pure coincidence, I’ve viewed the takeoff footage probably 40 times in the past day, and it is a chipper-looking Noonan who gets up on the wing first, and lends Earhart a quick hand as she follows him onto the wing to enter the aircraft. There is certainly no evidence in the film that she "had him poured into the plane".

The writer’s praise of Noonan’s navigational skills is interesting and does lend an air of credibility to his remarks.

However, the dismissive tone of the writer (who was evidently a stringer for a wire service, possibly AP or Reuter?) regarding the post-loss radio messages erodes that credibility.

We know Earhart wasn’t a great navigator. She was probably aware of that herself, which most of us realize is why she chose to work with Noonan.

The writer’s other remarks, about women in general, seem to me to be a little severe even for the time. I interpret this as evidence that Earhart’s gender may have predisposed him to believe, unfairly, that she was generally incompetent as a pilot, and more, fallen into the easy cliche of a powerless woman done in by the drunkenness of a man.

My own opinion is that she wasn’t incompetent as a pilot. She was a bright woman capable of independent thought and action but probably a mediocre aviator, average at best (history is replete with examples of this sort of thing).

However, it is well understood that Earhart and Noonan were competent enough in their roles to fly for many hours over open ocean at least to the vicinity of Howland, which was not an easy thing to do. We now have new evidence about damage to their antenna system which may explain why they had communication problems when they arrived within radio range of Howland and the Itasca, which probably contributed to their inability to get a precise fix on the island, a mere speck in the vast, cloud dappled Pacific.

My personal conclusion is that this letter is interesting as cultural history, but adds only to what we know about the rumours, not the facts, of the flight.

william 2243

Subject: Damaged pitots
Date: 8/24/00
From: Cam Warren

Photo analysis to date does seem to indicate damage to the pitot tubes, with a possible deleterious effect on subsequent air speed indication (but I’ll leave that to the instrument guys to decide).

One counter point; Elgen Long had a slow-motion print of the Sid Marshall take off film made, and said viewing that indicated the "puff of smoke" was actually two (one behind each propeller) that occurred when the Electra crossed a non-grassy patch on the runway. Which sounds reasonable, but I’m neutral on that.

In any event - wire loss or not - the belly antenna was the "sense" antenna for the (separate) Bendix DF system, and would NOT affect the WE communications receiver (which used the topside "Vee".

Now, to stave off cries of "prove it!" I (as a radio engineer) can only say that is the most logical arrangement. (Topside for transmit/receive, underside for the DF sense antenna, a necessary component of the Bendix gear).

There are, of course, contrary theories that have little or no technical foundation and you WILL be hearing loud brays from their supporters!

Cam Warren

From Ric

Elgen Long can see whatever he likes, but frame-by-frame analysis shows that there is one puff and it erupts very abruptly directly under the aft fuselage. The dust then swirls briefly in the propwash before dissipating.

Your conviction that the belly antenna was the sense antenna for a hypothetical Bendix receiver is as well-established as your own admission that you can’t prove it. The belly antenna was there long before there was any kind of DF receiver in the airplane. In fact, the belly antenna on the starboard side of the airplane is the ONLY antenna that remained unchanged throughout the aircraft’s entire service life. The lead-in for that antenna goes into the fuselage directly under where the WE 20B receiver was located (from day one). If that antenna was not used for voice reception before the airplane had any DF capability, what WAS it used for? If it WAS used for voice reception, why would they change it? (And there’s no visible evidence that they did.) We have an antenna that was almost certainly used for voice reception (at least at one time) that gets torn off an airplane that subsequently can’t seem to receive voice transmissions, and you see these two conditions as logically unrelated?


Subject: Survivor 2 on Niku IIII
Date: 8/24/00
From: Dennis McGee

OK, so the Evil Queen won the Survivor contest and CBS is already planning Survivor 2. How about having them do it on Niku?

Sure, the purists will complain about a bunch of neurotic, flabby, self-centered, angry, loutish, senile gold diggers with a combined IQ about six points higher than a carrot stomping all over Niku and messing up chances to find real evidence. But look at the up side of things, here.

These numbies will do ANYTHING to win fame or an immunity card, right. OK, then how about a "Find the Airplane Engine" challenge? We simply have them dive as deep as they can for as long as they can looking for the engine in the waters in and around the island. And if one of them dies, well, that just adds drama to the show, plus it lessens the pressure on the contestants to vote someone off the island that week.

Other challenges could be "Find Some Bones," or "Button, Button, Where Are the Buttons?" or even "Who Can Collect the Most Metal?"

There are numerous other possibilities here, and I’m sure the Forum will pass them on. Just think of the advantage of having a 12-15 people on the island for up to 6 weeks doing our research for us all for FREE. CBS pays the transportation costs for the participants and camera crews, the contestants are responsible for their own food and lodging. We could even get some HMO to donate medical services -- for a fee, of course. I also think it would be a nice gesture for TIGHAR to give each of them an Earhart Project T-shirt.

I’m quivering with excitement! What do think, Ric?

LTM, who loves a good challenge
Dennis O. McGee, #0149EC

From Ric

I think we need to find you something to research.

Subject: Re: The Brines letter
Date: 8/24/00
From: Jon Watson

I ferreted around on the internet for a while last night, but was unable to come up with anything more than my previous post on Brines. According to the Social Security Death Index, he apparently died in the mid-80’s. Don’t yet know his wife’s name, so I don’t know if she’s still alive, and of course don’t know if there were any children at this point. Univ of Florida may be able to help with that. Are there any Tighars in that area that could inquire? Otherwise I’ll shoot off an email.

About the letter - it’s peculiar in a couple of regards. First, the fact that it is in Upper-upper case and Lower-upper case is interesting - it appears to me that the letter was printed on a teletype machine or copy-typewriter of some kind. (The PDF and the actual copies are visibly different, which I have found is not unusual with PDF files). The fact that it is on two sides of the same sheet (the bottom of the first sheet says "over") imply a typewriter. But at the top, there is obviously a line (and possibly the date) added by someone who apparently forwarded the letter to "Dick". It appears to be added using the same type of machine. And Brines’ added line at the bottom is out of register with the rest of the letter, implying it was in fact added later. Also, his reference to holding the letter until the boat was leaving seems to further exclude the use of a teletype machine. The pencilled corrections and signature might or might not have been original to Brines, but under this theory, I’m guessing they are.

The tone of the letter suggests that Brines was in Honolulu during "Amelia’s bath", not on-site. More interesting is Brines’ reference to knowing Fred. He references some of what a newshound might know --- ie: navigation history --- but stops way short of telling Dick that he and Fred are drinking buddies. No, I think he’s basing what he’s relating on the BS that’s running through the hotel bars where the newshounds hang out. I suspect that he probably met Fred -- once and briefly --- after the crash on the first attempt, and that’s the extent of it. Remember, this is before WW2, and Brines (who was born in 1911) is still a pup --- and itching to get to China to cover the war between Japan and China. He apparently gets his wish --- at least partly --- because he was in Tokyo between ’39 and ’41 before he went to Manila.

The references he makes in the letter to the Advertiser and the Star Bulletin are both contemporary to his time --- the papers were both long established, even then (actually both were founded by the same guy --- the Advertiser first, the Star Bulletin later), and both began publication in the late 1800’s --- so there’s no fluke there. AP may be able to provide more info also.

jon 2266

From Ric

Good observations. If he had been in Hono since ’35 he could have met Fred in the context of the Pan Am Clipper flights. The whole letter has the dismissive, somewhat arrogant, "insider" tone that seems to be an occupational disease among professional journalists.

Subject: Re: Brines letter
Date: 8/24/00
From: Dennis McGee

Ric says:

>The whole letter has the dismissive, somewhat arrogant,
>"insider" tone that seems to be an occupational disease among
>professional journalists."

Arrrrgh! Hi, my name is Dennis McGee and I’m a recovering journalist . . . .

On a on-topic note, I’m curious about Brines’ reference to "that Navy flying boat was nearly forced down by -- of all things -- the formation of ice and snow on the wings which made it almost too heavy to manage." This is the first time I’ve seen any reference to the Navy using flying boats in the Earhart search. Do you have anything that would expand on Brines’ statement?

Is this even in relation to the Earhart search? Ice and snow in the south Pacific in July? At high altitudes, maybe, but the flying boats (and all transports, for that matter) of that era pretty much stayed below 15,000 feet.

LTM, who atones daily for past sins
Dennis O. McGee #0149EC

From Ric

(Nothing personal Dennis. Feel free to call me anytime you get the urge to write something.)

Ah, the oft neglected saga of "Patrol Plane 6-P-3." On the afternoon of July 2, 1937, Admiral Orin G. Murfin, Commandant of the 14th Naval District (Pearl Harbor) was faced with the problem of how to get search assistance to the Coast Guard at Howland Island as quickly as possible. He had already hijacked BB-45, the battleship USS Colorado, which just happened to be in Honolulu, but the ship had to retrieve its crew (now scattered all over town on liberty), retrieve its aircraft (now torn apart for inspection at Fleet Air Base), reposition from Pier #2 in Honolulu to Pearl for refueling, and steam for at least five days to get to Howland. Not exactly a 911 call.

There was, however, one possible way to get help to Howland very quickly. The previous January, twelve of the Navy’s brand new PBY-1 flying boats of VP-6F had arrived nonstop from San Diego, a 21 hour and 48 minute formation flight that set records and made headlines. Murfin decided to dispatch one of the new "big boats" to Howland search for Earhart. It was a tough call. There was fuel at Howland, originally intended for Earhart, but good weather information for the route was nonexistent and there was no protected water at Howland to land on (all PBYs were straight flying boats until the -5A amphibian was produced in 1939). The squadron leader, Lt. W.W. "Sid" Harvey, volunteered to command the aircraft himself and, at 7:21 P.M. that evening, Patrol Plane 6-P-3 took off with a crew of eight and headed south.

Twelve hours later, at 7:10 A.M. on July 3rd, Fleet Air Base received the following message from 6-P-3:


At 7:26 P.M. on July 3rd, the crew of 6-P-3 touched down on the same water they had left 24 hours and 5 minutes before after flying approximately 2, 570 nautical miles. Radio communication and navigation were reported to be flawless throughout the flight and the crew was highly praised.



Re: The Brines letter

Date: 8/24/00
From: Michael Holt

I love Windows. Here I sit with both programs running, and I can read and write at the same time. In the days of typewriters, that was a lot more difficult.

Speaking of typewriters, does anyone know anything about fonts? I do clearly recall this font being used on letters I used to handle; the letters were dated on the 40s. (I was the commissar of the engineering files for a power company, a long time ago. I handled letters typed as early as the 20s.) It’d really help to know when that font was first available. Regrettably, the nice old lady at the local IBM Selectric sales center is gone; she used to know all about this sort of thing.

My impression, looking at the jpgs of the letter, is that they are carbon copies. The smudges are what I recall from carbons. There was a lot of that in the aforementioned files; some of the letters had been handled a lot.

The reference to the airstrip being useless: was it acknowledged publicly that it was so? Or did the Navy (or someone) bill it as of military value?

The references to Baker and his yacht, the General’s trip and all the rest could probably be verified by a few minutes at the offices of a Honolulu newspaper. Unfortunately, right now I’m in Virginia (well, unfortunate for the purposes of the research).

Funny thing is that I seem to recall reading at some point about the wedding of Alexander MacDonald and Elizabeth Peet. I’ll ask the genealogists about that one.

Ric’s comment about the tone of it is exactly my feeling about it. The writer is arrogant and insensitive; I suppose that’s a part of the persona of the work at the time.

I agree with Jon’s feeling that the writer was using the mythology rather than the reality of FN. What the letters says about FN suggests, to me, that it’s all second-hand stuff. Apparently, from a reference to the recipient’s comparative youth, the writer is a few years older; he would, of course, do what he could to impress the younger man.

Overall, my feeling is that it’s probably authentic. If it is a hoax, it’s a well written one; all that extra data would be impressive.

(Actually, I don’t love Windows. It just does what I need to have done, right now.)

LTM (who hand writes the important letters)
Michael Holt

From Ric

The primary value of the airstrip at Howland was that an American civilian flight (i.e. AE) would use it thus enhancing U.S. claims of sovereignty over other Pacific islands that really did have some usefulness. As far as I can tell, nobody ever thought that the strip at Howland would be of any real use. Pan Am used only flying boats for long over-water flights.


Damaged pitots, etc.

Date: 8/24/00
From: Cam Warren

Ric says:

>Your conviction that the belly antenna was the sense antenna
>for a hypothetical Bendix receiver is as well-established as
>your own admission that you can’t prove it. The belly
>antenna was there long before there was any kind of DF
>receiver in the airplane. In fact, the belly antenna on the
>starboard side of the airplane is the ONLY antenna that
>remained unchanged throughout the aircraft’s entire service
>life. The lead-in for that antenna goes into the fuselage
>directly under where the WE 20B receiver was located (from
>day one). If that antenna was not used for voice reception
>before the airplane had any DF capability, what WAS it used
>for? If it WAS used for voice reception, why would they
>change it? (And there’s no visible evidence that they did.)
>We have an antenna that was almost certainly used for voice
>reception (at least at one time) that gets torn off an
>airplane that subsequently can’t seem to receive voice
>transmissions, and you see these two conditions as logically

I’m not sure you’re the one to be lecturing about obsessive convictions, and we’ve long discussed your acute selectivity of data (clues, hints, hypotheses, whatever you wish to call them). For the record (hah!) there are some points you’ve artfully slid over.

By your own admission, the antenna setup on the Electra, and the DF system, was changed more than once. When the topside "Vee" was installed, it’s safe to say that became the primary communications antenna. The belly system at one time may have been employed for a marker beacon, or other purposes. I think you’ll agree there were TWO parallel wires during the Honolulu trip, as shown in several photos. What were they for??

There was a Bendix DF system aboard on that abortive first leg, and it most certainly required a "sense" antenna (whether or not there was an RA-1 receiver as I - and others - believe).

Gurr claims he installed a goofy narrow V on the belly at rebuild time, to provide SOME 500 kc capability after the trailing wire was removed, and a Lockheed work order confirms that intent. (You claim, perhaps correctly judging from your photo evidence, that that work was never actually done, although a countermanding work order has never surfaced. It doesn’t really matter, since when she left Miami there was only a single starboard wire visible).

Pan Am technicians, judging from testimony and press reports, DID rework the antenna system at Miami. Putnam reported to Mantz that "one wire was canceling out another" which sounds like the Gurr lashup. I strongly suspect an upgraded Bendix loop and coupler was installed at that time, providing HF/DF capability. No matter, for the sake of this discussion, since whether HF or LF/DF, a sense antenna WAS required, as a look at the "coupler" schematic will confirm. As for the lead-in, since we’re talking a "receiving" antenna, the length and config- uration would not be critical, especially if the connection from coupler to antenna was a shielded wire.

Such being the case, where was it? A vertical whip would have been ideal, but none such appears in any picture. The topside Vee? No way. That leaves the belly antenna, like it or not.

I agree that might have been knocked off at Lae, but as I said, that would NOT affect 3105/6210 communications, which were handled by the WE receiver/transmitter and the topside antenna. (And yes, I’m well aware the WE receiver did have two antenna inputs, HF & LF. The former all that was necessary for her two comm frequencies). Earhart’s inability to receive the ITASCA was due to another reason, and I’ve frequently cited Balfour as the culprit. (No, he didn’t "recalibrate", he retuned from 6210 to 6540, and simultaneously upset 3105 capability, as I’ve previously explained.)

And, save your breath, an underside antenna WAS used for - short range - communications "at least at one time", but that time was very early in the game.

As for the statement "[by] your own admission that I can’t prove it" you can apply the "duck test" (if it walks like a duck . . . . ). If you expect yards of slack for your Niku "proof", you should be willing to demand something less than total airtight testimony in other areas.

Cam Warren

From Ric

After our incessant discussions about our need to find the "smoking gun" or "any-idiot-artifact" it baffles me that you would allege that we "expect yards of slack...".

This forum, and our entire investigation, operates on a rigorous (some might say merciless) system of peer review. You have made your case for a Bendix RA-1 and a Balfour screw-up several times and I have the impression that you’re still the only one who considers those points to be proven. That would seem to leave three possibilities:

  1. Everyone on the forum is a mindless sycophant who will agree with anything I say.
  2. You’re simply a lot smarter than any of us.
  3. You’re probably wrong.

Life is full of choices.




Date: 8/25/00
From: David Evans Katz

In re the "teletype style" of the Brines letter, I recall (in college -- early 1970’s) using an old (circa 1930) "typewriter" in my college financial aid office that typed only in "small caps". I was told that it was a hand-me-down from the Journalism Department that had gotten it from the Boston Herald.

Apparently, it was used by journalists for clarity (avoiding the use of serif typeface that could possibly lead to confusion in typesetting). An interesting feature of the machine (it was electric powered), was that the case spacing was variable, that is, an "M" would be wider than an "I" and, hence, take up more space on the line. This caused the characters of parallel lines not to line up exactly (except at the left margin).

I can’t swear the vintage of the machine or its background as I was told its age and provenance by someone in the office who only appeared to know what he was talking about.

David Evans Katz


Re: the Brines letter

Date: 8/25/00
From: William Webster-Garman, Jon Watson, Randy Jacobson

It sounds like Mr Brines did some "mellowing" after the war G.

I seem to recall hearing, back in my professional radio days when I asked questions about an ancient and still functioning AP teletype in the back room, that some of those old teletypewriters could be used not only to receive text, but to send it (or simply type onto a piece of paper).

When I saw the image of the letter, I thought of that possibility.

Journalists did jump around between radio and print in the late 30s. I cite the case of William Schirer, who worked for a couple of different newspapers and broadcasters until he settled down with CBS.

william 2243

From Jon Watson

On a hunch I tried a search on both MacDonald and Peet - with no success. Actually, due to the familiar tone, I suspect they may have been collegues of Brines and Dick - people they both knew. After all, what would Dick know about the social scene in Honolulu. Of course this is not the same as Brines lamenting his poor fortunes in affairs of the heart...obviously he didn’t marry until later...,p> I too thought the smudges looked like carbon paper traces - maybe Brines kept copies of his correspondence.

Also, just for interest, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, General Drum was commander of the Eastern Defense Command (that is, on the East coast of the continental US).

I was also interested in the language relating to the hanging. Brines says

" supposed to be hung [sic] Thursday, the 5th." August 5th 1937 was in fact a Thursday, but if the letter was composed on August 3rd, as reflected in the date, why didn’t he say "Thursday" or "this Thursday", or "day after tomorrow"? No, I think the letter was written during July, sent off on the boat, and that the date was added when the letter got off the boat and was picked up at the (maybe??) San Francisco, San Diego or LA offices of AP (on August 3) and forwarded along to Dick, who was apparently known to the local bureau office. If you look, the margins of the header are out of register with the letter, and the date is in register with the header.

(I disagree that Brines was a radio reporter. While there might be an outside chance that he moonlighted for another syndicate, I doubt it).

jon 2266

From Ric

I agree. I think that the date was probably added at the time the letter arrived in LA or San Francisco and was transcribed for teletype transmission.

From Randy Jacobson

I looked at my databases, and Brines was the AP correspondent in Honolulu.

He sent a telegram to Carey, the AP reporter aboard the Itasca, informing him that the CG wants all AE message traffic released (this was about the 4th of July). Carey responded that the Capt. was going to send the messages to CGHQ in DC, and have the AP guys there get the info from CGHQ.

There was a NBC correspondent who sorta didn’t look too good, but it wasn’t Brines. Hope this clarifies things, and is yet another reason why no one should rely entirely upon memories.

From Ric

Excellent. Now we know who Brines was and how he fit into the picture. It would be nice to know how he "knew Fred."


Finding/guarding things

Date: 8/25/00
From: Max Standridge

Ric wrote:

>The study of folklore is a well-established (and fascinating) academic field.

Also, the study of guarded hangars, with little men. There are a number of fellows who have reported guarding those. Always uncorroborated. Always uncorroborable. Dates of being in the area don’t match up, service records don’t match up. And, of course, "the area" itself would be--where?

If I told you I regularly helped Santa load his sleigh a few years back, would it help? You’d need me to have a CURRENT in with Santa to be of any use to you, right?--

LTM, who doesn’t find, keep or guard things strange to her,
Max Standridge


Finding/guarding things

Date: 8/25/00
From: Tom Van Hare

Max Standridge wrote:

> Also, the study of guarded hangars, with little men. There are a
> number of fellows who have reported guarding those. Always
> uncorroborated. Always uncorroborable. Dates of being in the
> area don’t match up, service records don’t match up. And,
> of course, "the area" itself would be--where?

I don’t recall if I once before mentioned this to the forum, but some years back, in the days when I was serving as a White House appointee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, I encountered one of the Area 51 Fanatics. The short version of this story goes like this:

The UFO believer railed at me about Area 51 and reported aliens (yeah, right).... So, I told him, "It isn’t true what they say about Area 51, there are no aliens there." Then, feeding his paranoia, I went on, "But don’t ask me about Area 50, or 49, or 48...." You should have seen how big his eyes got!

You know, I don’t even know why the number 51 was selected for that location.

LTA (love to aliens),
Thomas Van Hare

From Ric

As I recall it had something to do with federal land allocation divsions on old maps.


Re: The Brines letter

Date: 8/25/00
From: Frank Westlake

Ric writes:

> My guess is that this is a carbon of a transcription of the
> original letter that was sent out to "Richard" (who may have
> been on assignment somewhere) by a coworker via teletype.

Could be, but there are a couple things that make me think not.

1) On page two, the word Kahoolawe is spelled incompletely twice then written in by hand. I would assume that if it is a transcription that the transcriber would be immediately able to get the originator’s spelling and make the correction in type. The fact that the complete spelling is handwritten in is more consistent with the author not knowing how to spell the word, continuing to type the letter, and later checking the spelling and writing it in. Perhaps the meaning of the proofreader’s mark (x) will add something to this, it isn’t in my Harbrace so I don’t know.

2) As Jon Watson notes, the last line is out of register with the rest of the letter. This indicates a separate activity and possibly a different machine.

3) There is a hand-scribed signature at the end.

Three isn’t a couple so I guess I can’t count.

Frank Westlake

From Ric

I see your point. It may be that only the date and the header were added by the third party.


Re: AE in custody

Date: 8/26/00
From: Tom King

Ric wrote:

>I’ve often suspected that many of the alleged (but never produced) photos of
>Earhart and Noonan with Japanese soldiers were actually pictures of white
>missionaries taken into custody. Husband/wife and brother/sister teams were
>not uncommon.

I’ve been reading Sir Harry Luke’s From a South Seas Diary, and it’s striking how many references there are to female nurses, missionaries, teachers, etc. on various islands in the Gilberts, Solomons, Fiji, etc. The same was doubtless the case in the Japanese mandated islands; we know there were German missionaries, but I don’t think anybody’s looked into their demographics.

>The study of folklore is a well-established (and fascinating) academic field.

And the Earhart stories would be an interesting dissertation topic for some budding folklorist. I wonder if we could get someone interested.....



Between rounds

Date: 8/26/00
From: Patrick Gaston

While Warren and Gillespie are being attended to in their respective corners, allow me a couple observations:

Cam’s theory does, at least, provide a logical explanation as to the purpose of the belly antenna. Obviously its function differed from that of the "vee"; otherwise, why take it along? However, for the benefit of us non-radioheads I would ask Cam to explain what a "sense" antenna does and how it interfaces with the loop for DF purposes.

Re the Brines letter: The font is remarkable chiefly for the fact that it’s composed of large and small caps, i.e., there are really no "lower-case" letters. The capitals are identical to the body type, just a point or two bigger (72 points to the inch). It looks awfully similar to the typeface used on the old, hand-keyed teletype machines. In fact, I would swear it’s off a teletype except for the fact that the writer apparently used both sides of the page and added a couple of lines later. I suppose one could type a letter on a teletype machine (after disconnecting the phone line so your letter doesn’t go out on the AP wire), but re-inserting the paper to type on the other side, or add a line here and there, would be tricky business since these machines were fed from a continuous roll. Also, the top and bottom edges would be ragged where the page had been ripped off -- hence the old radio news term, "rip ’n’ read." The smudges look more to me like ink erasures on cheap paper, which is exactly the type of paper -- newsprint cut into typewriter-sized sheets -- that journalists were supplied with in the pre-computer era. The proofreading marks also are consistent with newspaper usage, especially the line above deletions.

Agree completely with WWG: The Lae takeoff film conclusively refutes the "Fred-was-drunk" rumor. If the alert, chipper fellow depicted on the film was coming off a King Hell bender, then I only wish I could hold my liquor as well!

Re the Gilberts: I don’t recall that Dustymiss ever finished her work in the Vidal archives. I remember a couple of posts to the effect that she hadn’t found anything yet, but was still looking. Did I miss the wrapup? It doesn’t seem likely that Doris Rich simply concocted such a reference out of thin air. Hmmm. Maybe the real Box 19 is somewhere in Area 51 ....

LTM (who isn’t ready to give up on the Gilberts just yet),
Pat Gaston


Lae takeoff film clip

Date: 8/26/00
From: Leslie G. Kinney

This is my first post. I have been extremely interested in the disappearance of AE since 1966 when I had a supervisor tell me that he investigated her disappearance in Saipan. From that time I have read every book published, gone through documentation at many archival locations, and had the good fortune to travel to many of the remote islands of the South Pacific on business -- always carrying with me constant thoughts of what ever happened to her. With that said, I certainly appreciate the efforts of TIGHAR in sharing and keeping the spirit of AE alive.

I analyzed the Lae takeoff film 100’s of time, using slow motion, triple enlargement, and stop action. I come up with some opinions which I have not seen posted. If they have been, I apologize. Here of some of my observations concerning the film:

1) It appears the film clip is actually a combination of two clips. I am sure everyone noticed the breaks in the different shots which could normally be attributed to the camera being turned off and on - at the least maybe the film had to be spliced - but - the close-up which starts three seconds after the title heading shows FN and AE climbing up on the wing to proceed toward the forward hatch. This shot is a close-up. It is then proceeded by a quick shot of FN walking toward the camera away from the plane. 13 seconds into the clip after the heading, we again see FN helping AE onto the wing and proceed toward the cockpit. HOWEVER, THIS IS SHOT FROM AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ANGLE, AND SEVERAL FEET FURTHER AWAY THEN THE SHOT THREE SECONDS INTO THE FILM. There is no plausible explanation to my knowledge how this could have occurred if the same camera was used.

2) The shot of AE and FN next to the rear hatch door which opens the film shows AE’s scarf flutter in the breeze for about 1/3 of a second indicating a breeze of maybe 6 knots.

3) Again In the opening clip following the title, for only approximately 2.5 seconds, AE and FN are standing in front of the cargo hatch door. It is very obvious from an enlargement of this clip, FN is wearing either a white shirt and light colored slacks with a tie on. By the way he appears to have a package of cigarettes in shirt pocket with the darker round emblem showing through - it looks like Lucky Strikes

4) Later in the clip, with FN climbing on the wing, and slightly later, walking toward the camera he is certainly wearing a entirely different darker shirt, and a different pair of slacks then what has been observed in the first clip at three seconds. While climbing the wing he has a tie on - but the shot of him walking toward the camera appears to show him not wearing a tie.

5) In the first shot of FN and AE climbing on the wing and toward the cockpit ( about 3.5 seconds after the title) AE is positively carrying a piece of paper or an envelope in her left hand as she approaches the cockpit. In the second shot of the two climbing the wing at 13 seconds after the title, AE is no longer carrying the piece of paper in her left hand.

6) The shadows of the pair, seen against the fuselage, climbing the wing toward the cockpit are at different angles then the shadows seen at them climbing into the cockpit at 13 seconds into the film.

7) The shadows of the natives surrounding the aircraft in the pan scene are at least half the length of their bodies which leads me to believe this shot was either taken very earlier in the morning or later in the day. It also appears the aircraft is parked at an entirely different angle based on the shadows then the shots showing the shadows of AE and FN as they climb the wing toward the fuselage. Please notice a white male facing the aircraft who also appears to be shooting movie film with a camera. ( I wonder where that film might be).

8) Since it is known AE made a test flight of approximately 30 minutes the preceding day, it is entirely possible, though not probable the flight of the aircraft shown in the film was taken the day before she actually departed for Howland. Although the aircraft appears heavy, it appeared the aircraft certainly was above the runway at the end of the clip holding steady about five feet without dipping - which possibly could lead one to say maybe this was the test flight and not the flight on July 1 per eyewitness accounts of her dipping below the runway.

If this has all been postulated before - I apologize, if not, I open it up to discussion.

Leslie G. Kinney

From Ric

Excellent observations and not previously discussed. The tape we have is a dub made from a 16 mm movie print that has since been lost. If we had the print we could possibly tell if the cuts were edits or just sequential clips. Either way, it’s certainly possible that the first boarding of the airplane was the July 1st test flight and the second boarding was the July 2nd departure. The test flight was made early in the morning and that could explain the long shadows in the opening shot. It’s also perfectly possible that all the film was taken on the morning of July 2nd. In preparing for a long flight there can be many enterings and exitings of the aircraft and the machine can be moved around for various purposes (for example, to top off the tanks). If there really is a change of clothing by Fred (beyond just the removal of his tie) that’s harder to explain.

If the takeoff seen in the film is actually the test flight with a much lighter fuel load (654 imperial gallons lighter, according to Chater) than was carried on July 2nd, it’s hard to see how they could have gotten off the ground at all for the Howland departure. Then there’s also the question of the antenna damage we can see in the film and still photo. No one mentions any such incident on the test flight. It seems safe to accept that the film shows the July 2nd takeoff.



Two receivers?

Date: 8/26/00
From: Mike Everette

Ric, please allow me to point out a potential flaw in your argument.

Merely because the antenna lead from the belly antenna entered the fuselage "directly beneath" where the WE-20B receiver was located, does not mean the antenna was CONNECTED to that receiver... does it?

I’ll have to go out on a limb here, and may get sawed off it... but until some further and concrete proof is discovered, my position on this matter of radio receivers is: SHE HAD TWO.

Yes, I am speculating here; but so were you... please follow this argument.

Just think on this... if the one-and-only communications receiver aboard went out, they would have NO communications. Also, if the comm receiver was occupied in DF duties on some frequency other than the one on which they were transmitting, or the one on which they were listening for replies, they would likewise have NO communications.

This equipment was too cumbersome to operate, to expect that the operators would be constantly cranking back and forth between frequencies. The "frequency resettability" of this radio was marginal at best... what I mean by this is, the dial accuracy (innacuracy?) and the backlash in the tuning mechanism (a tach shaft) made it very awkward to find the exact same spot on the dial every time you changed freqs and returned to the last one. Remember, this involved not only cranking the tuning knob, but switching bands. A very time consuming procedure.

I am not convinced beyond a shadow of doubt, of course, that this a/c had two receivers aboard... but to NOT have a backup, or NOT to have a separate d/f rig when you know how vital this is to success, is just plain foolhardy. I don’t care how much that "Bendix receiver" weighs, either.

I have not looked at the Bendix info at my disposal in some time (it is in a library) but I seem to recall that the "coupler box" was used with the Bendix RA-1 (etc) receiver because the RA-1 did not actually have a "loop antenna" input nor a differential amplifier, self contained. I think the later RA-2 addressed this issue with all circuitry internal, if I am not mistaken (and I may be, without referring to my sources which are elsewhere).

Of course the other side of some of this is, that the complications of using one radio receiver for two different purposes on widely divergent frequencies generated so many comm-FUBARs that they never heard anything from the Itasca anyway... and that is easy to believe, given the nature of the equipment.

Mike E.

From Ric

My respectful rebuttal:

Your entire argument for a second receiver seems to come down to the observation that it would be foolhardy not to have one. I think that you would agree that it was foolhardy for Earhart and Noonan to embark upon such a flight without being able to send and receive morse code competently. Her ducking of the government requirement to pass a test in radio navigation also seems foolhardy. You might also agree that it was foolhardy to deprive the aircraft of its ability transmit effectively on 500 kcs by eliminating the trailing wire, or to allow Joe Gurr to compromise the aircraft’s ability transmit on 3105 and 6210 by lengthening the dorsal vee. How foolhardy was it to depart on a flight that depended upon successful use of DF after an unsuccessful test of that equipment?

I think that if we’ve established anything about Earhart and the role of airborne radio on her World Flight it’s that her technical knowledge was minimal, her attitude was cavalier, and her record of successful use of her radios was abysmal.

I’ll have to dig out the actual quote, but before leaving Miami she was asked if she’d be using her radio to stay in touch with ground stations along the way. Her reply was something like, "No. I plan to use my receiver mostly for taking bearings."

Would she be foolhardy to take only one receiver? You betcha. Is there any evidence that she took only one receiver? Yes, lots. Is there any evidence that she took more than one receiver? Not that I’ve seen.


Subject: Re: The Brines letter
Date: 8/26/00
From: Mike Everette

For what it may be worth, re the upper-case typing...

Years ago, AP and UPI press copy (from the Teletype machine) used in broadcast stations and news rooms was in all-caps, because the machines only had upper-case. I am referring here to the Teletype Model 14, 15 and 19 machines. The Model 15RO -- receive only -- Page Printer was the universal device in radio stations until the early 70s, when the services switched to the Extel digital printers. The 14-15-19 were "5-bit" machines using 5 bits per character "byte." They were, basically, 1920 technology, too. (The 14 was the "tape" or "strip" printer using gummed tape which was stuck to telegram blanks etc.) 8-bit "bytes" came with the dawning of the digital computer age in the 50s.


So to observe all-caps typing in this letter may be a hallmark of authenticity.

LTM (who always capitalizes "Teletype" because it is a registered trademark)
and 73
Mike E.

Subject: Re: Antenna
Date: 8/26/00
From: Cam Warren

Seems like you’re getting tangled up in your own shoelaces. If you wish to cling to your theory, it’s all right with me, but don’t pass it off as gospel.Mo< Well, I’ll try to remain patient. We’ve scored one point at least; you agree there was a Bendix loop AND COUPLER aboard for Honolulu. And most likely it was an MN-5.

* The coupler requires external power; where did it come from?

Ric answers: Why couldn’t it come from the same power source that drove the reciver and transmitter? The coupler was specifically designed and marketed for use with "conventional receivers."

* The coupler requires a sense antenna to properly function.

Ric answers: Is there any reason that the belly antenna could not serve as both the receiving antenna and the sense antenna?

* We have photographic evidence showing Bendix rep Carl Remmlein showing an RA-1 prototype to Manning & Earhart.

Ric answers: So?

* Anecdotal evidence indicates Remmlein flew west with a production model RA-1 to be installed on the Electra. Remmlein accompanied AE to Oakland on a test flight to check the system.

Ric answers: Anecdotal evidence also indicates that cameras were installed in the Electra’s nose and the engines were replaced with more powerful ones. Earhart anecdotes are like Bible passages. You can find one to support any position you want to take.

* Elgen Long obtained a photo from Pan Am technician Ralph Sias - taken at Miami - which shows a Bendix receiver remote control mounted in the Electra cockpit. Long has other Sias photos taken at the same time, mostly of the plane exterior, etc. and has promised me copies. I believe him.

Ric answers: Believe what you like. I’ve yet seen no evidence - other than anecdote - that the Silas photo was taken in Miami or that the box in the photo is a Bendix product. It most definitely DOES NOT resemble the Bendix RA-1 remote pictured in the March 1937 issue of Aero Digest.

* Paul Rafford, Capt. Al Grey, Jim Donahue (based on information provided by Bendix design engineer Vernon Moore) agree there was an RA-1 (or pre-production model) installed in the Earhart Electra.

Ric answers: You’re in good company. Rafford believes the flight went by way of Nauru. Al Grey said that the WE 20B was replaced, not supplemented, by a Bendix RA-1, but provides no evidence at all to support that. Donohue argues that the entire World Flight was a massive intelligence mission and maintains that the picture of Gardner we know as the Lambrecht Photo was actually taken by Earhart.

* As previously explained, the RA-1 and the Bendix DF were a natural and logical match. With some insight into Vince Bendix, I doubt he’d agree to mixing his gear with Western Electric’s.

Ric answers: An odd opinion given that the Bendix loop and coupler were specifically marketed as being compatible with "any standard radio receiver."

* There’s no logical reason to use a short belly antenna for reception when a 40’ topside wire was available. (Ask your favorite radio guru!)

Ric answers: There was an even longer wire available - the trailing wire - at a time when it seems quite clear that the belly wire was being used for reception. Earhart did lots of things that seem illogical today, and may have been illogical even then.

So, no sworn affidavits, no detailed pictures, sorry to say, but most any reasonable person would see the logic of my position.


You state "the [WE] receiver was fine . . ." That’s the sort of statement you deride if anyone else said something similar. You DO NOT know it was "fine", Mr. Gillespie!

Ric answers: Would you be upset if I said her WE transmitter was working fine? Probably not -- but what if she had a second Bendix transmitter aboard? I say that her WE receiver was fine because we know that she recieved the A’s on 7500 just fine and, as far as we know, the only receiver she had was the one she said she had.

But yes, if -- which ever receiver she was using -- was connected to the loop and was tuned to 3105 (or 6210, or 500 kc) she would have heard a signal.

Ric answers: And if she tuned her receiver to 7500 and switched to the loop for the first time in the flight, she would have heard a signal for the first time. And if, upon failing to get a minimum, she switched back to the missing belly antenna, she would have again heard nothing.

End of explanation, politely rendered. Believe it or not.

Cam Warren


Re: Between rounds

Date: 8/26/00
From: Ron Bright

I agree with Patrick Gaston that Doris Rich would not deliberately mislead the reader with a cite that doesn’t exist re the Vidal remarks that AE intended to head for the Gilberts if she ran low on gas and couldn’t find Howland. Is Dustymiss still around and verify her search at the University of Wyoming, Vidal Collection. And that collection may also indicate secondary choices after the Gilberts, ie the Phoenix.

If DustyMiss can’t be reached I’ll volunteer to check the U of Wyoming

Ron Bright

From Ric

Dustymiss’s examination of Box 19 at U of W found Rich’s citation to be in error. If you’d like to go and look for yourself, that would be great. Since my credibility seems to be in question in representing her findings, I offer, below, Dusty’s complete and very detailed posting from October 18, 1999. As you’ll see, she does not claim to have examined the entire collection and hopes to look at more, but it’s clear that Rich provided an inaccurate citation and the alleged Vidal quote remains unsubstantiated.

I do not believe that Doris Rich had any intention to mislead in this instance any more than she meant to mislead when she said that Earhart departed Lae at 10:20 local time or that AE began her 1932 transatlantic flight from Nova Scotia. It’s just a sloppy book.


From Dustymiss

Greetings -

It was suggested that Amelia might have told Gene Vidal in a letter of a "Plan B" she would use in case she did not find Howland Island. And it was suggested by Jerry Hamilton in connection with the Noonan Project that I get in touch with the University of Wyoming because they have a collection of Gene Vidal’s papers and the letters and the "Plan B" letter might be located in Box 19. I got in touch with Dan in the Collections Department at the University of Wyoming and requested letters between Gene and Amelia and Gene and George Putnam. Dan and the University folks have been nothing but wonderful in their help with this and it is I who have been very slow in getting it together and getting it to the FORUM. However, as it turns out that none of the 15 pieces of correspondence I got mentioned any thing about a "plan b", There is one letter in box 19 that Dan from the University told me is missing from the collection - but he did not know the contents of the missing letter and as it turns out was written to Gene in June of 1936 which might be too soon for Amelia to be thinking about a "Plan B", since she did not receive the Electra until July of 1936.

In order of the date, I will give a short description of each correspondence.

  1. Undated - A handwritten letter from Amelia to Gene thanking him for a present and wanting to know if Gene was going to pay her a visit any time soon.
  2. Undated - A handwritten letter from Amelia to Gene saying how happy she was to speak to Gene but sorry he did not let her wish him a happy birthday.
  3. Undated - A handwritten letter from Amelia to Gene from the Biochemical Laboratories in Los Angeles telling Gene she was leaving L.A. on the 21st.
  4. Date 11/28/30 - Memo to Amelia from Gene regarding an information update regarding the Airline Transcontinental Air Transport.
  5. Date 02/01/31 - Memo to Amelia from Gene detailing duties of the personnel of Transcontinental Air Transport, stating Amelia’s duties as V.P. of Public Relations.
  6. Date 05/25/35 - Telegram - Western Union - to Gene from the Mexican Consul expressing happiness that Gene will be at a dinner for Amelia.
  7. 06/02/35 - Two N.Y. newspaper articles about Amelia being the first woman to jump from a parachute training device jump platform.
  8. Date - 05/08/36 - Letter from Amelia to Gene - Its contents have been cited in a few Earhart biographies - It is regarding Amelia recommending pilot Blanche Noyes as a possible employee for the Air Marking Program.
  9. Date - 06/01/36 - Letter from Gene to Amelia regarding the feasibility of having hangars for large airplanes and his asking her when her plane will be ready (presumably the Electra).
  10. Date - 07/28/36 - Day Letter from George Putnam to Gene stating that they have contacted Blanche Noyes about taking the job but have not heard anything yet.
  11. Date - 08/03/36 - Letter from George to Gene. George asks him if hard surface runways are being installed in the Navy Field at Honolulu. George asks Gene for the exact description of the new runways, total length of pavement, extra runways and the nature of the approaches and what the condition of the runways will be as of February. George says he hopes Gene will be able to get this information from the Navy Department.
  12. Date - 08/11/36 - Letter from George to Gene saying that he had a pleasant meeting with Bendix on 08/10/36 and a had a meeting with mutual friend Harvard lawyer, George Leisure.
  13. Date - 10/08/36 - Day Letter from George to Gene "Colonel Johnson asked me tell you that reply is being held up for Mulligan’s return. He is due back today. Admiral Cook visit satisfactory for 14th. He is leaving town after that."
  14. Date - 11/04/36 - Letter from George to Gene - Letter stating that Amelia and he will be in Newark next week to meet with Admiral Sellers.

I will be contacting the University of Wyoming again and get another batch of letters - this time I think I will ask for the correspondence from Gene to any of his relatives.

Cheerio - and LTM - (who would send her children to the University of Wyoming if she could and never leaves home without a Plan B)

Subject: Vidal Papers, U. of Wyoming
Date: 8/26/00
From: Jerry Hamilton

Re: previous University of Wyoming Vidal paper’s search.

There seems to be some confusion about the UofW papers. The Noonan Project Team (Dustymiss) investigated the so-called back up plan, or plan B at the UofW. There is no documentation relating to this contingency plan at the UofW. Because one document is missing from the files, there is the possibility it may be relevant. If so, it’s currently lost to history. Bottom line - been there, done that, no evidence.

blue skies, -jerry

From Ric

They don’t believe us Jerry. I guess they’ll just have to stick their fingers in the wounds for themselves.

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