Highlights From the Forum
September 17 through 25, 2000
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
|1||Re: AE’s Log||Gerry Gallagher|
|2||Re: AE’s Log||Wm. Webster-Garman|
|4||Re: Earhart’s Abilities||Don Neumann|
|5||IRP: Dr. Hoodless||Gerry Gallagher|
|6||Random Radio Ramblings||Hue Miller|
|7||Possible Souvenirs||Gerry Gallagher|
|8||Re: IRP Dr. Hoodless||Gerry Gallagher|
|10||Expedition Plans||Ric Gillespie|
|11||Earhart/Putnam Finances||Don Neumann|
|12||Re: Switcheroo||Don Neumann|
|13||Re: Expedition Plans||Chris Kennedy|
|14||Re: Expedition Plans||Wm. Webster-Garman|
|15||Re: Bones||Frank Westlake|
|16||Re: Bones||Gerry Gallagher|
|17||Choice of Crew||Roger Kelley|
Some "investigative role play" ... we use this in Maritime law quite often when investigating missing vessels, cargo, crew, et al. I am sure Tom King uses same in archeological theory. And yes, you probably used it in aircraft insurance underwriting for that matter.
I am on a deserted Island. I have an inverted eyepiece (let’s assume magnified) that I use to start my fires. There is plenty of wood on the Island but I need to start my fire and am not trained in survival techniques. What do I use to start my fire ... paper, coconut husk, twigs, cloth,etc. Not much paper on a deserted Island and using coconut husk or other "local" material would be "alien" to the person stranded . If some paper were available ... say unused pages of a log book or even used pages of the log book based on the desperation of extended time on the Island and the decision that fuel (paper) to light the fire was more important than the log book itself ... would it not be reasonable to assume that it may have been used to start the fires?
This begs the question then. Was the campfire area dug up (inside the ring of stones) on TIGHAR’s expeditions to Niku in the hopes of finding preserved (under charcoal and sand) remnants of paper, clothing or even better the outer cover material (hard book cover) of say ...a logbook or a leather case that may have at one point carried the sextant (in its box) and the log book ... used in starting of fire?
It is NOT improbable that remnants can still be there. Fire does not always burn completely through objects. Many clues in investigating arson for example turn up many remaining bits of paper, cardboard, clothing, etc. that have survived even the worst of intense heat. I, for one, have been involved in an investigation of a fire on board a cargo vessel where (within a coal bunker decimated by intense prolonged fire) we found remnants of rags and a book of matches that led to a a piracy and arson at sea verdict.
Granted, time, winds, and other factors limit the possibilities and it comes down to (in this scenario) the luck that some bits and pieces were preserved under charcoaled coconut husks and sand.
OK, this is pure speculation, but it is possible ... and the proof will be in the findings ... so:
Role play finished ... now over to Ric for the facts!
I think this is an interesting and potentially productive approach to this type of question. Allow me to clarify the situation.
The campfire we found was very near (less than a meter) from where the shoe parts were found but this site is not where we (now) think the bones were found. The shoes/ campfire were found at the "Aukaraime Site" on the southern shore of the lagoon. We think that Irish made his discoveries at the "7 site" on the north shore.
A partially-burned paper can label excavated from the campfire at the Aukaraime Site has a fragment from a European bar code which dates it, and the fire, to not earlier than the 1970s. We have not (yet) found the fire Irish alluded to. We’ll be looking for any sign of it when we search the "7 site" next year.
>didn’t Gerald respond...
"No sextant was
I’ve long thought it very possible that other artifacts, including items from the skeleton site and the wreck of the Electra itself if it was there, may have been retained as either souvenirs or useful items and never mentioned to Irish.
I agree. The Benedictine bottle, as a matter of fact, may be another example. Koata took it with him to Tarawa and Irish didn’t find out about it until after he was gone.
An incident that occurred recently in Tarawa may provide some insight into Gilbertese attitudes toward such situations. A construction crew widening a road knocked down an old palm tree and up with the roots came a skeleton. A couple of young men who had been watching the construction ran over, retrieved the bones, and notified the local authorities who came and collected the remains. The boys/men showed the authorities, but did not give them, a set of dog tags they had found with the remains that identified the body as that of a particular USMC soldier who had been declared MIA in the invasion of 1943. When American forensic scientists arrived from Hawaii to collect the remains they sought out the young men and confiscated the dog tags. Local sentiment was very strong that it was unfair for the boys to have been deprived of their trophy.
Whether this incident tells us anything about what may have happened 60 years ago is open to debate.
I’m not accusing you of Amelia bashing. I think everyone on the Forum would agree that she had her short comings. Amelia was not the pilot most people in the world think her to be. However, I would be very interested in knowing why you personally picked Amelia to study and spend such a majority of your time on her disappearance. Why not the poor devils who were lost somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945? Just a question.
Fair question. I’ll give you four answers.
1. The Earhart disappearance is a genuine mystery. The Flight 19 mystery, like the rest of the Bermuda Triangle nonsense, is purely an invention of the media.
2. TIGHAR’s mission is to promote responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. The Earhart Project is an excellent vehicle for employing, refining, and teaching the principles and practices of the scientific method of inquiry, critical thinking, logic, historical research, field techniques, etc., etc.
3. The Earhart disappearance may not be the most historically significant aviation mystery but it is certainly the most popular one. To accomplish our mission takes money and people have to care about something before they’ll contribute money. In short, we’re looking for Amelia because the public clearly wants the mystery of her disappearance to be solved and will contribute money toward a responsible, professional, reasonable effort to do so.
4. The true story of the Earhart disappearance has proven to be a far more fascinating tale than any of the speculations -- from the prosaic to the bizarre -- that have grown up around it. Noble purpose and pragmatism aside, this has turned out to be whole lot of fun.
The ongoing thread concerning AE’s piloting skills (or lack thereof) seems to communicate the impression that she was therefore unqualified to undertake the ’round-the-world’ flight & such effort should have been aborted, especially after her disastrous, ’ground loop’ takeoff, incident on the initial effort to launch such a flight.
While such opinions, from people far better qualified than I to make such judgment, seem justifiable enough, the _factual_ information developed during the second attempt, fails to support the contention that AE was an ’accident’ on it’s way to happen. On the contrary, all of the public reports (including anecdotal accounts by third persons) seem to confirm that each landing & takeoff undertaken by AE during the flight (including some undertaken on the subcontinent during monsoon conditions as well as the last takeoff from Lae, with a heavily fuel laden aircraft, from a relatively short, primitive airfield) were performed successfully & without incident.
Additionally, the TIGHAR hypothesis, seems to conclude that AE, short on (or out of) fuel also completed a successful, wheels down landing, on a remote, narrow, hazardous reef flat, to bring the flight to an abrupt & unfortunate ending on Gardner Island, after AE/FN had failed their landfall at Howland.
Considering the correspondence of Capt. Johnson of the Schooner Yankee, concerning the claims that residents of Tabituea ’heard’ an aircraft flying in the vicinity of their island, during the night, it would seem that the piloting/navigational skills of AE/FN had their aircraft pretty much ’on course’ for Howland as they passed through the Gilbert Islands. (Naturally, such information (received 2nd hand) must be classified as anecdotal, as is much of the ’evidence’ gathered during the long history of the AE/FN flight/disappearance investigation.)
Not withstanding the many criticisms of the AE/Putnam lifestyles & personalities, nor allowances that AE’s experience/ training (or lack thereof) &/or temperament should have disqualified her from ever attempting such a demanding & hazardous undertaking, the _fact_ remains that she did it & apart from the seemingly tragic way in which the flight ended, there appears to be no credible _evidence_, from information developed through TIGHAR & others, that AE’s alleged lack of actual, basic piloting skills in any way contributed to the unfortunate outcome of the flight.
Now if we want to discuss the question of exercising ’sound ’ judgment (quite apart from the question of exercising actual, basic technical/mechanical piloting skill) that is another & in my opinion quite a different story!
My own favorite criticism of the overall planning & preparation for this flight, was the decision to reverse course & fly East, allegedly to avoid severe South Atlantic storms on the last leg of the journey, even though the flight would have had two continents as a possible landfall... if course deviations were necessary to avoid such storms. (Which would certainly have proved no more hazardous than the severe monsoon weather the flight actually did encounter flying across the subcontinent).
It seems to me at least, placing the longest, overwater leg of the flight (mostly at night) at the very end of the journey, with their landfall objective only a tiny strip of sea-level sand, was the most serious blunder committed by AE & associates. Considering at that point of the flight, both aircraft & crew had to be considerably air weary, tired & feeling the pressures of the long confinement, engine noise & fuel fumes... making any kind of tedious/meticulous calculations, involving life threatening decisions that could determine success or failure at that stage of the flight... seems highly unrealistic & the result of a gross failure to consider the serious consequences that could (& did) result, by those responsible for signing-off on such plan (even if heavy reliance was placed upon radio communications & DF system... which could & did fail to provide the help AE/FN needed at the most critical stage of the flight). Naturally, AE’s sign-off on that plan had to be at the top of the list!
Interesting observations. While Earhart’s "stick and rudder" flying skills seem to have been up to the challenge of the World Flight I guess I see her demise to be the result of the same kind of arrogance, impetuousness and immaturity that had always dogged her career. She didn’t think the rules applied to her and ultimately she found out that they did.
Was the decision to reverse the direction of the World Flight the key screw up? Interesting theory. I’m sure the call was not made lightly because it meant a tremendous disruption in the carefully-laid plans. I’ve never been convinced that we know the "real" reason for the change. AE often used weather as a smokescreen for other problems. When, I wonder, was the decision made? When is the first public mention that they would go the other way ’round?
Investigative Role Play (IRP) re: Dr. D.W. Hoodless, Principal of the Central Medical School, Suva, Fiji.
The bones found on Niku were boxed in a "coffin", actually small box in order to transport to Dr. Hoodless as per the instructions of W.P.H.C. The box is made of "kanawa" wood from a tree found relatively near where the bones were found. This wood and the size of the coffin can be used as identifiers due to the unique wood and unusual size of the "coffin". The bones leave the protected custody of Gerald on 27 December 1940 when he turns them over to the Master R.C.S. Nimanoa and they begin their travels to Suva for delivery to the High Commission Office. There are two packages in the consignment. Gerald refers to the first ("the larger of these packages") as the coffin ("kanawa" wood box), A smaller package which Gerald indicates contains all the other pieces of evidence (shoe remnant, sextant box). The bottle (Benedictine with embossed lettering) for some reason was sent or otherwise taken to Tarawa by Koata (Native Magistrate, Gardner). It is apparent that Gerald knows nothing of this bottle never mind it being taken off Gardner. However, on 23 September, 1940 Gerald telegrams Tarawa to "obtain from Koata a certain bottle". Either Gerald has been advised of this bottle by someone on the Island or somehow has learned about the bottle. Either way the bottle is handed over by Koata as per telegram to Gerald on 30 September, 1940 from Tarawa. Various telegrams are sent back and forth asking more and more detail in regards to the find of bones etc. Secrecy is ordered on all who know of the "find".
Eventually, after delay due to Dr. Lindsay Isaac on Tarawa the bones reach Suva on 25 March 1941. On 31 March P.D. MacDonald sends the "coffin" with the bones to Dr. D.W. Hoodless. Sometime thereafter the bones are with Hoodless and he conducts an analysis of the bones. On April 12, 1941 Dr. Hoodless is instructed to "retain the remains until further notice". The sextant box is sent to Commander G.B. Nasmyth to analyze. The other "contents" of the the box (2nd ... "smaller" box sent by Gerald) is in the possession or at least "left on the office" of Henry Vaskess. The sextant box is retrieved by Sir Harry Luke from Nasmyth and Luke lets a Mr. Gatty see it, anyway sextant box is returned by Luke to Vaskess on 8 August, 1941 (presumably Vaskess returns it to the box with the "other contents" that are in his office).
If we take the above to be true then we know that on the 8th August, 1941 the BONES and COFFIN are in the custody of Dr. D.W. Hoodless. The contents of the second, "smaller" package containing the EMPTY SEXTANT BOX and the "OTHER CONTENTS" are with Henry Vaskess. The Benedictine bottle’s whereabouts is unknown. It could be in Tarawa or it may be with the "other contents" having been sent on with the bones from Tarawa. ( However, we do not know for sure).
The above now begs the question: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BONES, COFFIN AND CONTENTS OF THE SECOND PACKAGE?
At some point a decision must have been made to dispose of the bones and the other items. It is my suggestion that at some point the bones are consigned for a burial, either with the contents of the "smaller box", or without these items. It is my feeling that a "dignified burial" would have been suggested by one of the authorities involved ... this is in line with British mentality and their belief that everyone is entitled to a "dignified burial", Thus, it is my suggestion that the local cemetery in Suva be checked for graves that hold UNKNOWN, remains. It is possibility that a segment of the cemetery was sectioned off for British or Colonial use. The next question is what time period. I suggest some significant events at W.P.H.C. may have brought up the question of the bones. Dr. MacPherson (involved with the bones) dies on 10th July, 1943. Gerald’s personal effects are ordered to be returned on 7 August, 1945 .These (MacPherson death ,1943 and Gerald’s personal effects, 1945) are two good time frame indicators. "The Players" in the "bone- find scenario" disperse as time goes on.
Significant events can be looked at which could have "RAISED" the question of the bones again and again. It is my suggestion that the question of "dignified burial" would have been at least considered by someone ... Probably Dr. D.W. Hoodless.
If an "UNKNOWN REMAINS" grave is to be researched then the time frame is initially 1941-1950. Hoodless had the bones in 1941. MacPherson dies in Fiji in 1943. Gerald’s personal effects are not ordered sent home until 1945. A plaque to be put on the memorial on Gardner is debated up until 1949. For at least 8 years after Gerald’s death indicators pop up.
Another earlier (1941) indicator is Vaskess himself. He is to be replaced .... by Gerald .... as an URGENT move in September 1941. Gerald dies on Gardner and the move is not made. Ironically, if Gerald had lived and taken over Vaskess’ position, he would have inherited the responsibility for the bones or at least the other items in Vaskess’ office.
I am sure that Gerald was of the "dignified burial" frame of mind as he made a point in a telegram to add a personal note ... "should any relatives be traced it may prove of sentimental interest for them to know that the coffin in which the remains are contained is made from a local wood known as "kanawa" and the tree was, until a year ago, growing on the edge of the lagoon, not very far from the spot where the deceased was found"
Vaskess is known to be in Suva at least up to May 1942. At some point he will be prompted to dispose of the " bones related" contents of the second parcel sent from Gerald. These items are in his office, or otherwise in his custody ... in 1941. Another possible indicator ... Sir Harry Luke leaves Suva on 20th July 1942 ... did he clean up old matters yet unattended to?
All are date indicators that COULD have prompted someone to deal with the bones by the "dignified burial" theory. Barring all these ... at some point Dr. Hoodless has to make a decision on the bones. It is hard for me to believe that he does not subscribe to the "dignified burial" mentality and arranges for the appropriate internment of the bones.
Now, what if a grave and or graves is found. Chances are the original coffin (the "kanawa" wood box) would have been used to hold the bones while in Dr. Hoodless’ custody. It is further easy to assume it was used as the "coffin" if a burial was performed. It is also possible that the contents of the second "small package" (sextant box etc.) and even that the Benedictine bottle are buried with it ... of course that would be a best case scenario.
Let’s assume a burial was performed, we find a grave, and none of the other items found are buried with the bones. Chances are that the "kanawa" wood box was used and this in itself is a "unique" and convincing piece of evidence. We also know that the bones consist of 13 bones again a "unique" and convincing piece of evidence.
Based upon the aforementioned scenario of events and what we know to be fact then it is POSSIBLE that these bones lie in a grave in Suva Fiji in one of the following:
Footnote: Regarding "dignified burial" mentality. No more time, effort, and expense is put into identifying, burying and maintaining the graves of war dead around the world than that of the COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES & MEMORIAL COMMISSION which maintains WWI and WWII graves.
Investigative Role Play over ... Now over to the forum jury for a verdict!
First a couple of picky factual corrections:
Gerald writes his letter on December 27 but Nimanoa doesn’t show up until January 28. See Bones Timeline.
No. The job Gerald has been tagged for is Secretary to the Resident Commissioner of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony headquartered on Ocean Island, not Vaskess’ job as Secretary of the WPHC. Gerald was far too junior to be considered for such a grand position but the proposed transfer was, nonetheless, a high compliment. Gerald, of course, was panicked at the thought of leaving his beloved Phoenix settlements.
I think we should remember that Gerald’s reverence for the bones (special kanawa wood box and romantic proximity of the tree to the death site) was expressed at a time when he believed the remains might be Earhart’s. By the time both Isaac and Hoodless had dismissed them as male Gerald, in his note to the file of July 3, 1941, had apparently changed his mind and decided that they were the bones of "some unfortunate native castaway." Although not specifically stated, this seems to also be the general conclusion of his superiors and one senses a bit of an atmosphere of embarrassment that everyone got all excited about something that turned out to be nothing of any significance.
In that context, the attractive and unusual kanawa wood box in which the bones were transported might well have been seen as being of more interest and value than the bones themselves. In any event, the bones are last known to be in storage at the Central Medical School where, we must presume, other bones were in residence. When the time came to dispose of them, as it apparently did, it’s hard to know just how that may have been handled. Some possibilities:
From a practical perspective, I suspect that it could be very tricky to get permission to exhume burials in Fiji, even if listed as, say, "Unknown Remains - September 1941".
> Past postings
suggest that it was not uncommon to use a dedicated receiving
Right, the WE receiver also has a neon tube in the front end to discharge too-high voltages, either static or signals, coming from the antenna.
> Conclusion: The
belly antenna may well have been the receiving antenna. It
--That’s the way i see (guess) it, it was inherited from the trailing-antenna days of her plane, and still offered the advantage of avoiding longish inside antenna lead-in runs.
> > QUESTION: What
about the the two antenna terminals (HF and LF) on the
--I don’t think "coupler" is the best term for the Bendix RDF unit. "Coupler" better applies to the WE product, which performed this function between the WE untuned (no tuning, also limited "upper end" of frequency usability). The Bendix thing was more a tuning unit/ amplifier; "Adaptor" better suits its description, as it contained part of the tuning circuit, the rest being the loop itself; also it held the 2-tube (equivalent) pre-amp. Also, small point, Bendix sez the amplifier was to make up for losses between the adaptor and the receiver proper in the coaxial connecting cable.
> QUESTION: Is a
sense antenna necessary for operation of the Bendix RDF loop
--Makes *no* difference in the "B" (bearing, i.e. null, position of the RDF’s function switch. Only comes into play in the "D" (direction position). I think if you left off the antenna, and tried to "D", you’d get the same response as in the "B" position (if infact the bearing, null thing was working.)
> probably wouldn’t
make much difference inside a metal airplane. Now the
--??? the RDF unit has positions for R, B, D. In "R" it uses the wire antenna, amplifies it with modest amplification, and sends the signals along to the receiver. With the RDF installed, i don’t see any need for additional receive antenna switching....
I suggest the circuit was quite similar to the RDF-2, for which we do have the schematic. No reason to suppose the circuits were substantially different. The chief area of uncertainty, and the killer, is the actual tuning range of the unit installed for AE.
> Whatever she did,
she did hear the Itasca signal on 7500 kc. She reported
--Well, it’s not magic, nor brain surgery. If you can get a clean null, one turn around of the loop antenna will see it. As i see it, if she could not find a null in short order: shortwave propagation was unsettled, via skywave, especially in those hours, or the RDF was somehow hooked up wrong . And i’m momentarily stumped as to what the "wrong" configuration might be like.
--Under those conditions i don’t think she would have made one "rapid" sweep and given up. One "deliberate" turn around and you know if you’re gonna get a null, on LF. On HF, via skywave, depending on conditions and distance, you can get a mushy not real distinct null one minute, no null the next, no null at all ever, or maybe even, less likely, a real null. As i see it.
> QUESTION: Could
AE have expected to get a null on 7500 kc?
--And I’d say, "Sure it maybe would". Depends.
> One thing that
has long bothered me is the matter of the automatic gain
--I think you should rest your mind regarding the AVC. It doesn’t work like some computer controlled effect. I do not believe it being on, would totally mask the null. Your concern, IMO, considers the AVC feature too effective.
> I wonder if that
might be the genesis of AE’s idea that she couldn’t get a
--However, she apparently had successfully used the thing in the past, right? My opinion (only) is that at Lae, she would have had to stay right over the Lae station antenna for this effect to have spoiled the experiment. ( IF i could get organized, i would hook up my DU unit to my RA-1 and try to replicate the condition, leaving AVC on... project # 1001-B )
> Very nice summary
and I agree with most of it (which is why I think it’s very
--This puzzles me. how do you mount such an instrument on the instrument panel? Look at the photo (Longs’ book). This photo shows the mounting plate with its fasteners, atop the unit, for attaching to a superior surface. ( opposite of deployment of Navy models of the RDF )
There is an Al Bresnick photo, taken shortly after the Bendix loop appears on the airplane, that shows AE standing on the wing beside the open cockpit hatch. Bresnick was standing, possibly kneeling, just in front of the port engine and shooting up at a steep angle. A rectangular object can be seen that appears to be the size and shape of the Bendix adaptor installed on the eyebrow panel in about the same location as the much larger box that appears in Long’s photo.
>I’ve long thought
it very possible that other artifacts, including items
Or perhaps collected and sent on with the sextant box and shoe remnant. I would expect that when Gerald found out about the bottle being taken off the Island he most likely would have gathered together the others and inquired as to any other "souvenirs". Granted, he may not have had any luck in that ... but possible. He also does not refer to any other finds in future telegrams.
HOWEVER, in looking at the wording in regards to the last communications regarding the items that are received in Suva, Fiji a note to Vaskees refers to the sextent box and the other items received ... "The empty sextant box has been packed as a parcel and sent to Commander Nasmyth together with 14.2 (original letter). The contents of the box have been parcelled and placed in your office". ... The wording seems to me that there MAY be several items (contents) instead of a shoe remnant which would be a single remaining item.
Impossible to determine what, if anything MORE than what Gerald details in communications is in that "CONTENTS" parcel in Vaskees’ office on June 9, 1941.
I have addressed some of this in another Investigative Role Play (IRP) regarding Dr. Hoodless which has been sent to Ric and addresses some questions on the items found with the bones.
We do have a pretty good accounting of the items that were found and sent to Suva apparently in the sexant box . On June 9th the box was emptied and sent to Commander Nasmyth for his comments. The contents of the box were "parcelled" and, on July 1, given to Dr. Steenson, the Senior Medical Officer of the Gilberet & Ellice islands Colony (who happened to be in town) for inspection and comment. His note to the file said:
This would indicate that there were multiple shoe parts plus the previously unmentioned "corks on brass chains." His opinion that there are parts of a man’s AND a woman’s shoe is very interesting and if he’s right about the origin of the corks it could be an indication that the castaway had found the Norwich City cache which might logically have included small casks of drinking water. No mention of the Benedictine bottle. In fact, a careful review of the correspondence reveals that nobody in Suva seems to know about the bottle. All reference to it stops when Wernham confirms that he has collected it from Koata.
Thanks for the factual corrections. Very much appreciated.
I see now that Gerald notes in the Dec.27 telegram "eventual delivery to the High Commission".
I see also that Gerald’s notification of pending promotion is indeed to Ocean Island.
Knowing first hand the British mentality, I cannot subscribe to a mass grave or incineration disposal of the bones theory however,
This, " IN MY HUMBLE OPINION", is not in line with a procedural regime like the British, Colonial or Commonwealth services. There are bones in local cemeteries all over the world marked "Unknown" and given individual burial rights. It was, and is the policy of the British to bury their dead and other dead "where they fell". It would be interesting to see if MacPherson is buried in Fiji. I would expect he is.
The possibility of souvenirs is possible but surely only by someone who knew first hand about the AE connection and/or heard about it soon thereafter. I would hope that nobody would take bones as a morbid souvenir ???
Anyway, IRP’s bring out very interesting questions and suppositions. I still believe that the chances of those bones being buried in a "diginified burial" are much higher than the other alternatives. but then again, I may be wrong!
I agree with you wholeheartedly on 2 points posed:
1. Gerald was not happy at all with his pending promotion and he made a point of saying so to Dr. MacPherson. Gerald, I believe, was entirely dedicated to the natives and their well-being and was beginning to have questions about the High Commission’s commitment to the natives.
2. Exuming bones in Fiji or anywhere for that matter is extremely hard. However it can, has, and will in the future, be done through proper channels. Whether that will ever happen in this case depends entirely on finding a possible grave and evidence sourinding that find.
What remains to be seen however, goes back to the original suggestion made. Did these bones receive the "dignified burial" in a grave in Suva probable between 1941 and 1950? Or where they disposed of in some other way? With or without the "kanawa" wood coffin.
Much investigation still to be done !!!
All the best!
> This is truly a last minute switcheroo. Really makes you wonder....
Switching direction may not be as mysterious as you may think!
Think about it for a minute! You pick up your freshly rebuilt airplane, after it suffered a major accident with sudden engine stoppage, and the first leg of your planned flight is over some 2,400 miles of open water. And, the next leg is even further!
When I put the new engine in my boat, I stayed pretty close to home port for a while, and only went upstream for the first ten hours. After each trip out, I would removed the cover and inspect the engine.
Maybe she just didn’t trust the Electra yet and wanted some time on home soil to work the "bugs" out.
Good point Don. I think you’re on to something, but there’s more to it than that. It is a fact that Earhart kept the first legs of the second attempt (Oakland to Burbank to Tucson to New Orleans to Miami) secret so as to be able to have a good "shakedown cruise" before any public announcement that she was off on another World Flight. The alternative would be to make test flights around California before heading out over the Pacific, but that would have delayed her departure by a week or more. Was time a big factor? Apparently. Earhart was reportedly a royal pain in the butt around the Lockheed shop, pushing to get the repairs completed as quickly as possible.
Why the rush? This is speculation but I suspect it was all about getting the planned book World Flight out in time for the Christmas market (Oct., Nov., Dec.). GP and AE were always driven by marketing considerations. They were already running late because of the accident. The pressure was on, but they didn’t want to strike out over the Pacific with an untested airplane. Reversing the direction allowed them to get started immediately but gave them a good chance to work out any bugs over home territory, just as Don says. Of course, they couldn’t tell the public that they had reversed the course for such crass commercial reasons so they cooked up a story about the weather (an old Earhart/Putnam standby) and for 63 years everybody has bought it.
Finding the survivors’ cache could be directly relevant if AE & FN (if they were on Gardner) found it. In that case they may have left some evidence behind of their having been there. It seems to me that it would be worth exploring.
David Evans Katz
From Patrick Robinson
>We have not specifically
searched for the N.S.
If the camp is located couldn’t the smoking gun be found there?
Any type of DNA material, hair, blood (especially if FN was wounded upon landing) or even up to and including fingerprints ? How will the expedition preserve that kind of material ?
LTM (who always
Okay boys and girls, it’s time to play "Who Wants To Be The Expedition Leader?"
Here’s your problem for today. You have a team of 12 TIGHARs and 10 eight-hour work days to spend on the island (after you deduct 1 day for set up, 1 day for break down and 1 day for R&R), so you have a total of 960 manhours to expend. The total cost of the expedition is $300,000 so each manhour represents $312.50 that had to be raised from the faithful. Of course, you’ll almost certainly lose hours to weather, equipment breakdowns, and injuries which will further increase the investment in every hour of search work on the island, but we won’t worry about that right now.
Where are you going to spend your 960 manhours so as to stand the best chance of achieving your objective (i.e. the discovery of a "smoking gun")?
Here are ten options that come to mind:
1. Search the ledge off the west end of the reef for heavy airplane parts (engines, gear legs, main beam) that may have been pulled over the edge when surf broke up the airplane (if that’s what happened).
2. Search the lagoon floor between the mouth of the main passage and the Taraia Peninsula for airplane debris washed through the passage.
3. Search the "Seven Site" for bones and/or artifacts.
4. Excavate one and possibly two graves on Nutiran shoreline.
5. Search the Taraia Peninsula shoreline for aircraft debris.
6. Excavate the site of the carpenter’s shop (probably where Emily’s father Temou Samuela built the kanawa wood coffin and where TIGHAR found the radio cables in 1996).
7. Expand the previous (1991 and 1997) searches at the Aukeraime site where the shoe parts were found in 1991.
8. Search Kanawa Point.
9. Search for and, if found, excavate the Norwich City survivors’ camp/cache.
10. Search the Norwich City debris field for possible airplane parts.
Of course, that all totals 1328 manhours and you only have 960, so you can’t do everything. What would you do?
Dennis McGee makes an interesting observation about how the Putnams were able to fund this flight, both the initial, aborted attempt from Hawaii & the second effort from Florida?
Considering the time frame (the nation was still recovering from the stock market crash & the depths of a worldwide depression) during the pre-flight preparations & the actual flight itself, has it ever been established just what the financial condition of the Putnams was during this time period?
Can’t recall ever reading about any details concerning determinations of dollar costs of planning/preparation for the flight, before & after the Hawaii debacle, however common sense would seem to dictate, considering the depressed nature of the national economy at that stage, such costs must have been, comparatively speaking, enormous!
While some of the overseas labor performed on the craft enroute, was probably at ’bargain basement’ prices, yet the cost of purchasing & shipping parts/materials around the world, (even in that era) to provide for adequate service & maintenance at each stop along the way, not including cost of fuel & oil, would have been quite substantial.
When you add to this the cost of repairing/replacing parts damaged at the time of the Hawaii crash, including the overtime costs incurred by Lockheed to have the craft airworthy in two months time, it would seem that the Putnams mounted a staggering, overall debt to finance the flight, in terms of the overall economic conditions prevalent in 1936-37.
Seem to recall an AE quote that they were "mortgaging their future" to finance, what she had declared would be, her last attempt at record breaking flights.
I wonder whether anyone has ever tried to trace a paper trail of the indebtedness the Putnams incurred as a result of this failed flight? (Putnam did posthumously publish AE’s Last Flight but I doubt that the revenue obtained from such effort came anywhere close to meeting the repayment of the Putnam’s incurred debts.)
There have always been suggestions that the US government picked up part of the tab (not including the costs connected with the runway construction on Howland & the three ’standby’ vessels on station to provide radio/DF or assistance in case she had to ’ditch’ before she reached or after she left Howland), either because of the conspiracy theorist’s version, that AE/FN were on a ’spy’ mission, or the more practical consideration, that the Roosevelt Administration wanted to clearly establish US control over Howland & Baker Islands in the event of looming, subsequent hostilities arising in the Pacific & used the AE/FN flight to ’legitimize’ such efforts.
Mary Lovell addressed some of these questions in her book The Sound of Wings but does not provide real details. Interesting question.
Don Jordan’s suggestion that the reversal of direction for the world flight was due to the need to conduct a shakedown flight for the newly repaired Electra, sounds very reasonable & as mentioned by Ric, would also have saved time in initiating the world flight, as they’d have to fly East anyway if they reversed direction.
Perhaps another reason was that AE had no desire to re-visit (so soon) the site of her near disastrous & embarrassing take-off performance from Hawaii, thus soothing a somewhat bruised ego in the bargain.
Does seem though that they were more concerned with thinking of immediate, short term, gains by reversing the direction of the flight, as opposed to more careful consideration of the long range effects such a change would have upon aircraft & crew at the other end of the flight.
As Randy has now pointed out, it may be that there were also some legitimate weather concerns having to do with the monsoon season in central Africa. It could be that we have a complex array of considerations coming together to argue for a course reversal.
Actually, it’s my impression from the leads we have as to where the survivors’ camp/cache was, that we probably went through the area during the 1999 expedition. You may recall, Ric, that a group of us (including you) searched through a fairly large area inland from the deepest penetration of the scaevola hack lines (this was the area of the large trees which looks a lot like the area of the camp in the New Zealander’s pictures) with this in mind. During that traverse we were on the lookout for evidence of the camp, but found nothing. So, while this wasn’t a major search, I think we can be sure that anything which might be there is going to take lots of effort to locate. Frankly, all of Nutiran struck me as a pretty hostile spot, and if I were a castaway on Niku there would have to be a very good reason for me to stay any time in that area. This lessens further the possibility of Earhart relics being located there if, in fact, she discovered and used the spot. Indeed, as we walked back through the village to board the launch to the Nai’a, I can remember us all saying how downright bucolic it seemed to be away from Nutiran. Therefore, my vote would be that a search for the survivor’s camp is probably of the lowest priority.
I remember it well -- too well -- and I completely agree with your assessment.
Searching the lagoon floor (2), the seven site (3), and the Norwich City debris field (10), based on the current hypothesis, seem to leverage the most promise for results (total 400 man-hours).
More searches of the Aukeraime site (7), where the shoe parts were found in 1991, are indicated because where artifacts have been found in the past, more artifacts are likely to turn up in the future (total 128 man-hours).
Of less promise but still important:
Although deeper water searches off Pacific islands are notoriously difficult and a little dangerous, searching the ledge off the west end of the reef for heavy airplane parts (1) is an interesting idea given the current hypothesis: The beam or an engine could have slid into the area after being pounded by surf (total 64 man-hours).
Search the Taraia Peninsula shoreline (5), justified by Pulekai Songivalu’s recollection of having seen aircraft debris in the area (total 128 man-hours). While what he remembers may be garbled by time and the odd characteristics of human memory, he apparently does remember something about airplane wreckage and the Taraia shoreline.
Excavate one and possibly two graves on Nutiran shoreline (4), because this grave appears to be anomalous in the context of the island settlement (total 192 man-hours).
Finally, excavate the site of the carpenter’s shop (6), because it is a likely location for artifacts and it is known that the settlers scavenged for useful raw materials on the island (total 32 man-hours).
This results in a total man-hour budget of 944, spread among 12 expedition members. If accurately estimated, there’s an already too-thin cushion of 45 minutes per worker for lost or unexpectedly diverted time.
Summary of excluded tasks:
Expending limited resources on a search of Kanawa Point (8), at the expense of any of the above, seems too speculative and unsubstantiated by comparison.
Searching for the Norwich City survivors’ cache (9), which was likely scavenged, scattered and eroded into oblivion long ago, is more likely to reveal too many Norwich City related artifacts: The history of the Norwich City wreck aftermath is already substantiated. Any possible AE material found at the cache site would be hard to conclusively separate from the noise of that event, especially without positive proof that the Electra actually landed on Gardner. Finally, if AE and/or FN did visit the cache site, they were more likely to remove items than deposit them.
> It’s hard to know
from the file just what the conclusion of the higher-ups
Judging from the tone of Gallagher’s correspondence to Isaac and his comment in the file, I don’t think he placed much faith in Hoodless’s findings. Gallagher was obviously familiar with Earhart’s disappearance and may even have been familiar with the LOP considerations. He had held in his hands part of a shoe that was obviously not native to the area, had held a sextant box that was obviously not Polynesian, and had viewed bones that, with his medical training, appeared to be those of a female.
Gallagher, being new to the service, probably could not afford to make waves. Hoodless, a senior medical professional, was upset, and Gallagher needed to sooth the situation. When I first read Gallagher’s telegram to Isaac, the struck comments appeared to me to be an attempt to get the box and bones returned to him. With his status it probably wouldn’t have been proper to ask for the bones so that he could study them further on his own, so he was hoping his senior would volunteer them along with the box. Before he sent the telegram he may have had second thoughts about it and struck the applicable lines.
So my speculation is that Gallagher still believed that the bones may have been Earhart’s but he couldn’t tell his seniors that he thought they were wrong. And he either wanted to ensure the bones were given a fitting burial or he wanted to ensure that they were preserved for some future investigation. IF he did still believe that the bones may have been Earharts, and IF he was concerned about telling his seniors his beliefs, then one solution would have been to take the bones back to Gardner when he had the opportunity, bury them, and afterwards report that he had buried the "unfortunate native castaway" where he had been found.
His note to the file is also indicative of these thoughts. He identifies the castaway as a "native," because that’s what he’s expected to believe, who for some reason had precious possessions consisting of a sextant box and other "curious" articles that were important enough for this "native" to lug around. And he’s noting that the "native" was unable to locate water even with a "small grove of coconut trees" nearby. It appears that he may have been carefully wording his objections into the file.
It’s a lot of wild speculation but I think it’s probable enough to keep available for comparison with any new evidence.
If you’ll re-read the correspondence you’ll find that Gallagher did not base his gender-identification of the castaway upon the bones but upon the shoe sole. Obviously, Gallagher knew that Earhart had disappeared somewhere in the region but he would have had to have been really steeped in the mystery to have any inkling of the whole LOP/Gardner coincidence.
I agree that his notes to the file may be more political correctness than genuine opinion but to suggest that he, in effect, stole the bones to bury them on Gardner is really out there.
Interesting point about "political correctness" of the telegram and trying to read between the lines. I agree that Gerald was trying a take the "politically correct" approach in his telegram. However I believe he was trying to smooth over a situation wherein he had gotten off on the wrong foot (through no fault of his own) with Isaac who thought Gerald was trying to go over his head. The notes Gerald made and never sent sound to me like he was trying to smooth the situation with Isaac , as he would have to work with him directly in the future!
Thus, taking that into account, the deletion of the extra "politically correct" additions to the telegram sound like Gerald. The addition of those words were "out of charcter" and he realized it. The outcome was a rather sparsely worded return to Isaac. However, take the fact that in an earlier telegram Gerald actually mentions AE and he thinks the bones are hers. He must have had a very strong feeling that the chances of these being Earhart’s bones was good. If he was not a man of many words and not one to speak up and offer opinions without being asked, then this statement that "he thought these may be AE’s bones" says to me that he had a pretty good hunch to go out on the line like that!
Bevington also said that "he knew about Earhart but did not receive much in the way of information on her and stated if I didn’t know much about the news Gerald certainly wouldn’t as he was working on the Islands non stop to prepare them for the natives that I was out choosing to send for re-settlement". He said, " he was on Gardner a month after AE went missinig and never gave her a thought."
Thus, I believe even though they knew about her I don’t think they were privy to even basic information or news reports circulating about her, other than that she was missing!
Gerald, Bevington, and Wernham leave England for the Pacific on July 17, 1937 -- the day before the Earhart search is called off.
I agree with your assessment of Gerald’s situation. I think he was really excited when he sent the initial telegrams to Wernham (to get the bottle away from Koata) and to the Resident Commissioner (informing him of the discovery) on September 23rd. When the RC informed the brass in Fiji and Gerald started getting inquiries and instructions direct from the bleedin’ Secretary of the WPHC he must have felt very much in the spotlight. He carries out his search, and has the special box made, and writes his transmittal letter with the touching reference to the tree that stood nearby, and ships the bones and artifacts off to Fiji, only to have Isaac hijack them in Tarawa (without knowing anything about the Earhart suspicions) and tell him that they’re just the bones of some decrepit old Polynesian. Now there’s a big flap about getting Isaac (who has also quarantined the whole port of Tarawa) to turn loose of the bones. Now Gerald is probably wishing he had never heard of Amelia Flippin’ Earhart. Isaac already thinks he’s an idiot and the bones are going to arrive in Fiji and some doctor is going to confirm Isaac’s opinion and Gerald is going to look like a fool in front of Sir Harry for causing everyone so much trouble for nothing. By the time he gets to Fiji himself and reviews the file he’s doing damage control for his career regardless of his personal opinion about who the castaway may have been.
William Webster-Garman made a very astute observation. "A less celebrity-conscious pilot might have chosen to actually test her 2-way voice communication and bearing capability soon after she was airborne."
I’ve been pondering another decision A.E. made prior to her flight. I’m quite sure it’s controversial, however...
A.E.’s choice of F.N. was without doubt most appropriate considering his expertise as a navigator. However, was F.N. the most appropriate choice for the mission at hand? Answer: No. Did A.E.’s ego blind her to qualified aviators who were equal to F.N. in their ability to navigate? Answer: Yes.
I now ponder the following, "Did F.N.’s lack of aviation expertise contribute to a lack of overall crew proficiency?" Answer: Most likely. "If A.E. had appointed a qualified aviator with navigation expertise, would damage to their communication equipment have been discovered shortly after take off from Lae and provoke a decision to abort?" Answer: Yes. "Had the flight from Lae to Howland been aborted upon discovery of malfunctioning communication / navigation equipment, the equipment repaired and the flight resumed, would the possibility of A.E.’s success been greatly enhanced?" Answer: YES!
I agree that Amelia would not, under any circumstances, have taken along an aviator who was anything like her equal in fame, but I can’t fault her for that. After all, the only point of the World Flight was to perpetuate and enhance the fame of Amelia Earhart. To share the fame any more than absolutely necessary made no sense at all.
If she wanted to find a navigator with more aviation experience than Fred Noonan I can’t imagine where she would look. He was already a minor celebrity in his own right for his pioneering work on the China Clipper survey flights to the Orient. She had hired Fred in the first place because she discovered that her man-for-all-seasons Harry Manning (sea captain and navigator, radio expert, licensed pilot) couldn’t do celestial navigation from an airplane to save his life (to coin an expression). In retrospect, what she really needed was a dedicated radio operator but she couldn’t afford the weight.