Forum artHighlights From the Forum

September 17 through 25, 2000
(page 2 of 2)

(click on the number to go directly to that message)
18 Re: Expedition Plans Dave Porter
19 Re: Bones Tom King
20 Re: Manning Patrick Gaston
21 Re: Earhart-Putnam Finances Cam Warren
22 Re: Earhart/Putnam Finances Mike Everette

Message: 18

Re: Expedition plans

Date: 9/22/00
From: Dave Porter

Obviously, those of you who are familiar with Niku are in the best position to decide on the allocation of man-hours. That said, I have a couple of questions, which will undoubtedly illustrate my ignorance of working conditions a tropical, salt water environment.

1. If you’re allocating resources for the lagoon search, does it make sense (you’ve already decided to haul SCUBA gear to Niku) to do the reef edge search as well? Or, would doing both, which would place divers in the water for 8 of the 10 available work days, put too much of a strain on both personnel and equipment?

2. Is an 8 hour workday all that is practical in that environment? Would increased fatigue, dehydration, injuries, etc. brought on by say, 10 hour days be not worth the increase in available man-hours? Or, are your days really in the 10 hour range already when you count the time involved getting to and from the Nai’a? How many daylight hours will you have per day on Niku at the planned time of the expedition?

Dave Porter, 2288 (who has never been to the tropics, but has, as a non-acclimatized yankee, put in some pretty long days in southern Georgia (USA) in summertime)

From Ric

Good questions. Yes, we plan to search both the reef edge and the lagoon floor. Should be no problem to have the divers in the water for 8 days.

That close to the equator you get roughly 12 hours of daylight every day. Sun comes up at 6 and goes down at 6 -- give or take. We’re generally ashore for 10 of those hours but you lose at least an hour on either end just getting to and from the work site. If you’re whacking scaevola you can’t put in anything like a real 8 hour work day (and live to tell the tale.) Frequent breaks and close attention to water intake are essential. The biggest hazard we face is the temptation to push yourself too hard. The consequences are incapacitation from heat stroke or, worse, injury from fatique and carelessness. Grave excavation is another fun activity. Tangles of roots and big hunks of coral make for miserable digging.

Our greatest concern is that someone will get hurt or sick enough to have to be evacuated, in which case we have to use the ship as an ambulance and that aborts the entire expedition.


Message: 19

Re: Bones

Date: 9/22/00
From: Tom King

> We always start from the assumption that anything could have happened and
> then we start collecting facts that constrain what reasonably may have
> happened. If we don’t narrow things down that way we never get anywhere.
> Based upon the facts we’ve collected it does not seem reasonable that
> Gallagher took the bones back to Niku.

I agree, but one thing this exchange has reminded me of is the fact that Isaac/Verrier is a very puzzling figure in the whole bones saga, and it would be worthwhile to find out more about him. He was on Tarawa when he had the bones in hand, and when he must have expressed something, somehow, that led Gallagher to think he wanted the box. However, Steenson was the actual Senior Medical Officer on Tarawa, so it seems likely that Isaac was there only in an acting capacity. We know he wound up in Fiji, under his new name, and became a fairly important figure in local journalism and politics. We don’t know (at least I don’t) whether his time in Fiji overlapped with Gallagher’s, or whether he had the opportunity to have anything further to do with the bones or box (or, of course, whether he wanted to). Another thread it would be useful to tie up.


From Ric

No mystery. We have the information. Isaac was not in Fiji at any time when the bones and artifacts were being examined and, in fact, did not return to Fiji until almost a year after the bones became a dead issue (ouch).

Steenson’s service record (WPHC files) indicates that he assumed the post of Senior Medical Officer for the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony on July 1, 1940 but was absent on extended leave from October 2, 1940 until May 22, 1941 at which time he is shown as "Absent on duty in Suva" until July 2, 1941 when he leaves for the G.E.& I.C. aboard the Nimanoa. (His note to the Bone File is dated July 1, 1941.) He resumed duty as Senior Medical Officer upon arrival in Funafuti on July 8th.

Isaac’s service record (WPHC files) indicates that he served in Fiji from 1938 to 1940 but became a Medical Officer assigned to the G.E.& I.C. on September 1, 1940. He assumed those duties in Funafuti on September 20, 1940. On October 22, 1940 he was made Acting Senior Medical Officer (because Steenson was on leave) and served in that capacity until July 7, 1941 when Steenson returned. He then resumed his post as a Medical Officer for the G.E.& I.C. and didn’t leave the colony until March 25, 1942 (five days after his name was offically changed to Verrier) when he went on vacation in Fiji. On June 1, 1942 he was "Seconded to Fiji" and thus left the WPHC. Whatever he did next is not, therefore, recorded in the file.


Message: 20

Re: Manning

Date: 9/23/00
From: Patrick Gaston

Ric wrote:

>[Earhart] 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.

Can’t disagree with your last sentence, but what’s your source for the claim that Earhart dumped Manning because he couldn’t navigate? The Longs do tell of GP’s frustration with Manning when, on an Electra shakedown cruise, he had them over southern Kansas instead of their correct position over northern Oklahoma. GP reportedly complained that Manning couldn’t even tell what state they were in. However, Long maintains that Manning was only off by ten miles or so (southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma being quite close), which was within the acceptable margin of error for that particular flight. If this is the source of the "Harry couldn’t navigate" legend, then AE may have lost the services of the one guy she really needed because George threw an unjustified hissy fit.

I bring this up because there also is anecdotal evidence that Manning’s bailout was voluntary -- he simply got cold feet after the Luke Field crash. The business about "scheduling conflicts" was a lot more diplomatic than saying, "I wouldn’t fly with that woman again for all the tea in China." Based upon her careful preparations for the First Attempt, it’s evident that Earhart realized the importance of reliable communications and DF ability on the trans-Pacific legs. She was also pretty confident of her own navigational abilities (viz. the original plan to unload Fred at Howland). So it’s somewhat remarkable that, for the Second Attempt, she would choose a crack navigator with no CW/DF skills over a crack radioman with some navigation skills -- unless she had no choice. This leads me to place some credence in the theory that Harry dumped AE, not the other way around.

Sure would be interesting to read Harry’s take on the World Flight. Would he have said, "It’s all my fault," or "I told you so"? Do we know of any memoirs? Do we even know where to look?

LTM (who lives in NORTHERN Kansas),
Pat Gaston

From Ric

Note that I never said that Manning was dumped because he couldn’t navigate. I said that Noonan was brought aboard because Manning couldn’t do aerial celestial navigation. Manning was a sailor and his experience with celestial navigation was all from a slow moving ship at sea level. Celestial from a fast moving airplane at altitude is a specialized skill. The July 17, 1937 issue of TIME magazine carried an article about Earhart’s disappearance that was fairly critical of Amelia and the whole World Flight stunt. Here’s an excerpt:

Several facts made it clear that much more than simple bad luck was involved [in Earhart’s disappearance]. Before the hop-off, when capable Navigator Noonan inspected what he supposed was an ultra-modern "flying laboratory," he was dismayed to find that there was nothing with which to take celestial bearings except an ordinary ship’s sextant. He remedied that by borrowing a modern bubble octant designed specifically for airplane navigation.

That a Pioneer Bubble Octant was borrowed from the U.S. Navy immediately after Noonan came on the scene is well documented. The instrument was technically on loan to Manning because he held a commission in the Naval Reserve.

There seems to be little doubt that Manning quit the day of the Luke Field crash. The note signing the octant over to Fred is dated March 20, 1937. Several authors have quoted Manning as later saying that he left because Amelia scared him and he was fed up with Putnam. I see no reason to doubt that.

Message: 21

Re: Fact-finding trip to Lae

Date: 9/13/00
From: Cam Warren

Ric says -

>My point is that Bendix did put his products aboard the
>airplane on at least two occasions but there is still zero
>evidence for, and considerable evidence against, one of those
>products being an RA-1 receiver.

To the best of my knowledge, and I’ve been investigating this subject for quite some time, there is NO evidence proving the absence of an RA-1 receiver, or was that just a hyperbolic statement? You’ve already admitted you can’t prove a negative.

To the contrary we have the evidence of a couple of photos, a) Earhart, Manning and Bendix engineer Cyril Remmlein examining an RA-1 in Mew York, with a caption indicating Earhart was to take delivery of such equipment; b) the Ralph Sias picture of the Electra cockpit, showing a Bendix receiver remote control, taken at Miami. Now c) a note scribbled by AE when en route across the Asian sub-continent, listing five frequency bands that Bendix Project Engineer indicated as corresponding to the RA-1 (and certainly NOT the WE set). This comes from the Purdue collection, via Elgen Long. Further d) are the statements of Moore, Capt. Al Grey, and the radioman at Darwin who replaced a fuse in Earhart’s "DF receiver" (NOT the "communications receiver"). Admittedly, this is not lawyer-proof evidence, but it walks like a duck.

Cam Warren

From Ric

If you have a hypothesis it’s up to you to test it and determine whether or not it is true. It is not up to someone else to test it or prove it or disprove it. If, however, you claim to have tested your hypothesis and found it to be true, and you expect your conclusion to be accepted, you must present your evidence for review and successfully defend challenges to its credibilty.

Your hypothesis is that there was a Bendix RA-1 receiver aboard Earhart’s Electra at the time of her disappearance. If I understand you correctly, you have tested this hypothesis and believe it to be true, although you admit that the evidence is, at this time, inconclusive. (I am in much the same position with respect to the Nikumaroro hypothesis.)

The evidence you offer to support your opinion is:

>a) Earhart, Manning and Bendix engineer Cyril Remmlein
>examining an RA-1 in New York, with a caption indicating Earhart
>was to take delivery of such equipment.

You have sent me a copy of this photo and it does show Earhart and Manning with another man and a radio that matches other photos I’ve seen of a Bendix RA-1. There is nothing in the photo to indicate where it was taken. You have not disclosed where the photo was published and I’ve seen no caption indicating anything. Manning is dressed in a dark suit and tie. Earhart is dressed light colored slacks, plaid shirt, scarf, and leather jacket. The other man, whom you say is Cyril Remmlein (I’m not saying he isn’t, just that you have not shown that he is) is dressed in a dark suit and tie. He does seem to be the same man who appears with Earhart in the photos taken at Burbank in early March with the Bendix loop and adaptor. On that occasion, Earhart is wearing a dark, solid-colored shirt. My point is that you have not provided proof that the photo shows what you say it shows.

>b) the Ralph Sias picture of the Electra cockpit, showing a Bendix receiver
>remote control, taken at Miami.

Again, there is nothing in the photo which establishes where or when it was taken, or even for sure that the aircraft is Earhart’s. The box that you say is a Bendix receiver remote control does not look at all like the photo of the remote for the RA-1 receiver shown in a March 1937 article in Aero Digest. My point is that you have not provided proof that the photo shows what you say it shows.

>c) a note scribbled by AE when en route across the Asian sub-continent,
>listing five frequency bands that Bendix Project Engineer indicated as
>corresponding to the RA-1 (and certainly NOT the WE set).

I haven’t seen the note so I can’t comment on it.

>d) are the statements of Moore, Capt. Al Grey, and the radioman
>at Darwin who replaced a fuse in Earhart’s "DF receiver" (NOT
>the "communications receiver").

Moore’s and Grey’s opinions are not evidence and if Earhart was using the WE receiver for DFing then it was her "DF receiver."

Evidence against her having a Bendix RA-1 or any second receiver aboard the airplane includes:

  • Earhart’s press releases during the world flight which were extensive and descriptive and in which she seems to have missed no opportunity to plug her sponsors with frequent references to her Wasp motors, and her Sperry Gyro Pilot, etc. Nowhere is there any mention of a Bendix receiver.
  • An interview she gave in Karachi during the World Flight, and included in Last Flight in which she describes her instruments and radio gear in detail and says that the "Bendix direction finder" is on the instrument panel and the Western Electric transmitter is in the cabin and the Western Electric receiver is under the copilot’s seat.
  • Fredrick Hooven, in his 1982 paper "Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight" stated that Earhart removed his Radio Compass, which used a separate receiver, and replaced it with an "older, lighter-weight model of much less capability." He said that the weight savings amounted to 30 pounds.


Message: 22

Re: Earhart/Putnam Finances

Date: 9/23/00
From: Mike Everette

Two things stand out, Ric, in Cam’s hypothesis, and your response, regarding the photo of the Bendix receiver remote control and the matter of whether AE had a second receiver (and as you know, I am of the school that feels she did... at least for now):

First matter: If this is a pre-production version of the RA-1, it is entirely possible that the control head in the cockpit photo is indeed mechanically different fron something that came out later. The "box" may have been redesigned or repackaged, and therefore had a different appearance from the one in the aircraft pictured (AE’s or no, we still must resolve this...). I am basing this observation on the example of what I have seen in photos of early models of the Army Air Corps BC-224/BC-348 receivers (and I am well familiar with the set, I own a 348) which were standard in large a/c such as B-17s. The first ones used had a rather different appearance from the later models (and had different freq band coverage as well). But they were all BC-224s or BC-348s, just a different mod letter (BC-348J, BC-348R etc). (And lest we forget, the B-17s up thru the D series were a much different a/c, appearance-wise, from the Big-Assed Birds that saw combat with the 8thAF. But they were all B-17s, right?)

Second matter: Don’t be so sure that the statements about the Bendix being on the instrument panel mean it was ALL there. AE may have been referring to either the INDICATOR ALONE (the needle) or the control head. The RA-1 was a big receiver and would have been remotely mounted/controlled.

I offer this observation from my own experience... Police officers (the folks I work with) often refer to the control head alone, which is what they see as it is mounted up front in their cars, as "the radio." Often they don’t have a clue that there’s more to it than this. (I refer to trunk-mounted radios, in the case of my current experience the Motorola Syntor X9000 series, rather than front-mount rigs with everything up front with the driver, such as most hams would be using...).

Think on this...

LTM (who usually takes what she sees at face value) and
Mike E.

From Ric

Was the RA-1 remote in Earhart’s Electra an earlier version than the one in the magazine article? Always possible, but if Cam is correct, the installation was done at the same time the loop and adaptor were installed -- first week of March, 1937. The article showing the different remote appeard in the March 1937 issue of Aero Digest and most magazines have a two to three month lead time. In other words, the "standard" RA-1 remote was certainly in production well before the alleged installation in NR16020.

As to whether Earhart only referred to the receiver by its remote, that certainly wasn’t the case with the two Western Electric units. Both had remotes in the cockpit but AE described the transmitter and receiver as being in the cabin and under the seat.

Return to Page One, Messages 1 -- 17.
Back to Highlights Archive list.

About TIGHAR Join TIGHAR TIGHAR Projects TIGHAR Publications Contract Services
The TIGHAR Store Blog TIGHAR Forum Contact TIGHAR TIGHAR Home

Copyright 2018 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at:  •   Phone: 610.467.1937   •   JOIN NOW