Highlights From the Forum
September 24 through 30, 2000
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
|1||Fred Hooven||Hue Miller|
|2||Re: Separate Receivers||Hue Miller|
|3||Re: Radio/DF Receivers||Cam Warren|
|4||Expectations of Rescue||Don Neumann|
|5||Vidal Collection||Ron Bright|
|6||Second Receiver Debate||Cam Warren|
|7||How to Cut Scaevola||Dave Porter|
|8||Re: How to Cut Scaevola||Gerry Gallagher|
|9||Earhart Search||Rick Seapin|
|10||Gerald Gallagher||Gerry Gallagher|
|11||Something New||Ric Gillespie|
|12||Re: Something New||Various|
|13||March of Time||Marty Moleski|
|14||Re: Something New||Various|
|15||Propagation on low HF||Mike Everette|
|16||Itasca Log||Birch Matthews|
|17||Post-Loss Message Issue||Phil Tanner|
> c) Fredrick Hooven,
in his 1982 paper "Amelia Earhart’s Last
By "older model", what does he mean here, back to the WE loop + coupler, or on to the Bendix RDF thing, which couldn’t be described as less capable?
Was Hooven’s company pretty short lived? I mean, I’ve looked at a whole lotta manuals and articles, and the TIGHAR posts are the first place I encountered this name. Reminds me somehow of an odd little note in an ONI manual on Japanese aircraft equipment, where it sez the DF was "copied directly from a Lockheed model", when i’ve never seen or known that Lockheed had anything to do with manufacturing such equipment.
There never was a WE loop and coupler on Earhart’s Electra.
Fred Hooven was an inventor a considerable stature. Who’s Who In America 1984-1985 Vol. 1 lists Frederick J. Hooven’s career as follows:
born Dayton, OH
Mr. 5, 1905
Hooven died in 1985.
He held 37 U.S. patents, 6 of them for radio direction finders and radio compasses. He developed his first radio compass as an individual in 1934 while he was employed at Radio Products (which manufactured vacuum tube testing equipment). Bendix bought Radio Products in 1935, apparently primarily to bring Hooven and his invention aboard. The patent for the Hooven Radio Direction Finder (licensed to Bendix) was granted to Hooven in 1936. Five protoypes were produced. According to Hooven, in a 1966 letter to Fred Goerner, "Vincent Bendix had retained Harry Bruno as his personal public relations counsel and he distributed these prototypes where he thought they were most likely to get his name into the papers."
One was used by Dick Merrill and Harry Richman on their September 1936 transatlantic flight in the Vultee "Lady Peace." Another was installed on an Army Air Corps Martin B-10 for military tests. Another went to American Airlines for testing on one of their first DC-3s. Earhart got the fourth one which was installed aboard R16020 in October 1936. (I’m not sure where the fifth one went.)
Hooven was never sure just who was responsible for Earhart switching her DF equipment just before the World Flight. There were several divisions within Bendix Aircraft Radio and there was apparently a lot of internecine competition. In the 1966 letter to Goerner, Hooven accused Laurance A. Hyland, v.p. of Bendix’s Radio Research Company of Washington, D.C. of being the culprit, but later he talked to Hyland and Hyland denied any role in the change.
My suspicion is that there was yet another Bendix division in New York or New Jersey and that Amelia got the grand tour while she was in the area to announce the World Flight in February, 1937. She was shown the new RA-1 receiver (hence the photo showing her and Manning admiring one) and the new MN-5 loop and adaptor/coupler.
Hooven is adamant in his 1966 letter to Goerner that the DF Earhart opted for instead of his Radio Compass was the "old, simple null-type" with no sense antenna.
It’s important to remember in all this that no switch to Bendix equipment was involved in this decision. Hooven’s unit was a Bendix product and was already state-of-the-art. What Earhart did was swap one Bendix DF for another. Why? She already the most advanced, simple to use DF available. The only apparent motivation is just what Hooven alleges -- weight. Replacing Hooven’s rig with an RA-1 would save little or no weight and actually increase complexity. The only thing that makes sense (to me) is that by going to the Bendix MN-5 loop and adaptor she could eliminate an entire receiver and save a significant amount of weight.
Ric writes, answering Cam Warren:
> > d) are the statements
of Moore, Capt. Al Grey, and the radioman
Ric, this is really a weak spot in your argument. It reminds me of the "It depends how you define ’is’ " defense. Certainly while she was DFing it became her DF receiver, but on the ground, what tech is ever going to refer to it as her "DF receiver" ? To appropriate another expression, "Gimme a break".
Here’s your break. Quoted below, in its entirety, is the statement of Mr. A.R. Collins, Aircraft Inspector and Officer-in-Charge of the aerodrome at Darwin as quoted in an enclosure to a letter to the American Consul in Sydney dated August 3, 1937:
I have to acknowledge your memorandum reference the enquiry from the American Consulate, Sydney, in regard to the wireless communication of Miss Earhart, while at Darwin during the recent round-the-world flight which it is deeply regretted ended in disaster.Now, in light of those comments, please explain to me how there can be two separate receivers aboard that airplane.
A rebuttal to your critique:
As far as Bendix equipment is concerned, I have good reason to believe it WAS NOT supplied by the Navy, but came out the factory back door. If you can accept that, it explains Earhart’s apparent reticence to discuss the presence of the classified RDF-1 and in a like vein, the RA-1. And Vince B., a shrewd operator if there ever was one, likely wanted to keep the details of the supplied equipment quiet pending the successful completion of the flight. (In short, he was gambling on a good result.) The post-war letter from Bendix Radio president Larry Hyland in which he denied that any Bendix equipment was aboard the Electra sort of underscores that intent.
You keep attempting to discredit my repeated references to Remmlein, the Bendix rep, and to Vernon Moore, the Bendix Project Engineer (designer of the RA-1), and yet a little research by you would confirm their positions (and credentials). "Moore’s and Grey’s opinions are not evidence" is an unworthy statement for you to make, as you have lauded some mighty flimsy "evidence" to support your Nikumaroro scenario. Surely you know Capt. Grey had worked with Noonan, and was certainly in a position to render expert opinion on radio/DF operations. As for Earhart press releases, reread my opening paragraph above.
I’m well aware of Hooven’s statements, and hold that gentleman in especially high regard, but the fact he said his Radio Compass was removed from the Electra to save weight is irrelevant to what was later installed, since (promised) wizard performance of the HF/DF and RA-1 would have been a strong enticement to add a few pounds.
And I’ve often quoted Earhart’s Last Flight to support the presence of a Bendix DF, and to establish that the Western Electric receiver was NOT removed. Aside from the possibility of a cloak of secrecy regarding much of the Bendix gear, it’s possible AE mentally included the RA-1 with the DF in her "inventory".
The Remmlein, Manning, Earhart and RA-1 photo is in the Goerner collection, and I can’t see how the clothing worn by the participants proves anything. I am currently attempting to verify the picture’s provenance (checking the wire services, et al), but the caption material I’ve previously quoted (which indicates she was taking delivery of the equipment) seems plausible, and dovetails with other evidence.
The Sias picture WAS taken in Miami, and he WAS an employee of Pan Am. Elgen Long tracked down the Sias photos, and has shown them all to me. I’m convinced of their legitimacy. You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but I’d suggest you pay some attention to the remarks of "Mike, the Radio Historian".
I’ll let your rebuttal stand on its own merits.
>On the other hand....
Since Lt. Lambrecht claimed not to have seen any sign of an intact Electra on Gardner Island, one week following the time it was presumed down & since the consensus of Forum postings seemed to confirm it was not likely that AE/FN would have been able to remove & use the plane’s radio if it was removed from it’s power source or if such power source was submerged in water... did the KGMB broadcasts during that one week time frame convey any specific information that the USS Colorado would be searching for AE/FN in the Phoenix Islands chain?
If not, would it not seem unlikely that AE/FN would have had any hope that any potential rescuers would be looking for them in the Phoenix chain, since there is no record that they ever communicated their intention of seeking an alternate landfall there in any of the messages that were received by Itasca?
Even the messages supposedly ’received’ after they were presumed down, failed to provide any mention of the Phoenix group, & even the reference to ...’running on the LOP’..., received by Itasca, failed to clearly state in which direction they would continue to follow the LOP at the time such message was broadcast.
We can of course make the presumption that somehow they were aware that the US Navy/Coast Guard was mounting an all-out search for them, including in such search the Phoenix chain, which then raises yet another question... if they did know such a search was imminent, why were they caught unawares by the Lambrecht flyby, unless of course they were already dead or so badly incapacitated by injury or thirst, they were physically unable to do anything other than try to stay in the shade, out of the equitorial sun & heat. (Naturally such suppositions again gets into the realm of the...’woulda, coulda, shouda’ version of what really happened & as we know, that always seems to lead us into even greater suppositions & speculations, generating far more heat than illumination!)
I don’t know anything about what the content of the news stories broadcast on KGMB but if they were anything like the newspaper accounts all over the U.S. they were full of details about the search. If AE and FN cold receive and understand commercial broadcasts it seems like they "shoulda" had lots of information.
The absence of any information about lat/long or island names in any of the alleged post-loss messages suggests that IF the messages were genuine AE and FN might not have known where they were. Like you say - speculation.
In previous postings we have discussed that several authors, (Loomis, Lovell, and Rich, among them) have cited or referenced Eugene Vidal’s statement or belief that if Amelia couldn’t find Howland, she would reverse course and head back to familiar territory, the Gilbert Islands (some 500 miles west). Notwithstanding the fuel and range controversy, I have attempted to substantiate that reference. Only Doris Rich provided a specific reference, the Vidal Collection 6013, Box 19,page 97, at the American Heritage Center, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie,Wy.
After a month of emailing with Mr. Carl Hallberg, Assistant Archivist,Reference, at the Center, and his enthusiastic response and efforts, he wrote the following summarizing his research:
In box 19 of the Eugene Vidal Papers (6013) I have read the correspondence from 1936 to February 26,1937 (the next letter is dated 1940;there is no correspondence from Mar 37 to Jan 39) but found no reference to Amelia Earhart’s contingency plan[the return to the Gilberts].He went on to add that Rich’s citation of box 19 was "more confusing than illuminating" as the letters in Box 19 are not numbered. The contents of box 19 are letters and one file folder of US Army aviation adm. charts. Hallberg said he then counted in the first file 97 pages and then 97 letters. None dealt with Amelia. There was a letter, he said, from Amelia dated June 16,1936 [probably well before contingency plans were prepared] but it has been listed as missing for several years.
So we have a curious count: 97 pages and 97 letters. The number "97" corresponds to Rich’s cite but does not reflect any document dealing with the "I shall return to the Gilberts" by Amelia to Vidal. Interesting.
In further efforts to clarify this mystery, Dustymiss corresponded recently with Doris Rich and Rich wrote back and "swears" up and down that her reference to Vidal’s plan B is correct; box 19, page 97. She also wrote that she "destroyed" all her research after she finished the book (1989). Rich concluded that if the paper isn’t there it’s because someone has taken it, or it has been lost or misfiled; and she says checked every footnote before going to print.
In my opinion, most researchers would not destroy notes and documents of their book. She says there is a page 97, well there is a page 97 but no reference to the Gilberts.
I have asked Dustymiss to ask Rich, apparently a friend of Dustymiss, what type of document page 97 was, a letter, a memo, a newsclipping, etc. Did Rich herself go to Laramie and sight the reference or was it from correspondence or an assistant researcher for Rich. Does she recall who assisted her at the American Heritage Center.
My conclusion so far. What with other authors indicating research at the American Heritage Center and indicating such a plan was extant, I believe that somewhere in the files that Gilbert Island course may well be there but lacking more specific cite, it will be impossible to verify without a personal check at Laramie.
Hallberg says the Vidal Collection consists of 40 boxes (some 20 cubic feet) of records. He will provide me with a lengthy list to the collection. But as of now, the Doris Rich reference could not be confirmed.
Lovell and Loomis did not provide specific cites, only the "Vidal Collection."
I followed up with Hallberg asking him if there were any records maintained by the Center regarding access. He said that a file is maintained on every individual who requests boxes to research or information about collections and each box that they reference is noted. Unfortunately that file is maintained for seven years then destroyed. Since these books are over seven years old, no dice here.
Absent additional information from Rich from Dustymiss, the Case of the Missing Reference is closed. Any volunteers for a project at Laramie?
That’s a lot of hard work for little reward Ron, but you’ve certainly defined the problem. At the very least it now seems that Rich’s citation is in error. I agree that the only way to determine whether or not the document exists would be a massive piece-by-piece search in Laramie. Personally, I don’t think it’s that important.
I will quibble with your characterization of a decision to reverse course for the Gilberts as heading "back to familiar territory." If she was on course she passed over one island of the Gilberts -- Tabituea -- in the wee hours of the morning of July 2nd. Even if the weather was cloudless it would be questionable whether or not she could see anything of it.
You quote Collins’ letter to "prove" there was only one receiver aboard the Electra. Apparently you see what you want to see. But, using the same letter, I see a line that says ". . . . the faulty fuse which affected ONLY the D/F receiver." (emphasis mine).
Yes, the same letter refers to "no radio communication" prior to AE’s arrival in Darwin. So? If AE knew her DF receiver was inoperative, she had good reason to NOT call the Darwin DF station. There’s no existing record she called ANY destination station prior to her arrival.
Then, "During the journey from Darwin to Lae, . . . . communications was (sic) established . . . . for a distance of 200 miles from this station, radio telephone being used by Miss Earhart." (RADIO TELEPHONE for communications, NOT Morse for DFing.) So what?
Further, the letter constantly refers to the "D/F receiver" and "the D/F generator", NOT "communications receiver" nor "Western Electric receiver".
If you can’t even consider the possibility that there can be "two separate receivers aboard the airplane" then maybe you’re in the wrong line of work. (Please, no cheering from the gallery!)
I realize that you’ve cherished this hypothesis for a long time, but Collins’ letter really does seem to disprove the existence of a second receiver. Earhart gets to Darwin and they ask her why there had been no communication from her prior to arrival. She didn’t say, "I didn’t try." She said, "My D/F receiver isn’t working." Upon which the technician checks her "D/F receiver" and finds that indeed it is not working. Nobody asks, " Why didn’t you use your other receiver?" or "Why were you trying to use your D/F receiver for communications?" They fix the fuse in the "D/F receiver" and now she has communications. Duh. There is simply no other reasonable way to read it. There is only one receiver and she is using it for both D/F and communications. They’re probably referring to it as the D/F receiver because they’re a D/F station.
> I see a line that says ". . . . the faulty fuse which affected ONLY the D/F receiver."
He also says, "No inspection of Miss Earhart’s transmission gear was carried out, this apparently being in order,..."
>There’s no existing record she called ANY destination station prior to her arrival.
Not so. Chater letter, page one ---
This clearly indicates that Earhart did attempt to call Lae prior to arrival. What seems odd is Vacuum Oil’s reference to the "D BAR F LOOP" when giving Earhart’s receiving and transmitting frequency. Maybe they’re just informing Lae that she has a DF loop.
I ’spect that if you could recruit a few Gurkha troops for the expedition, their kukri knives would make short work of the scaevola.
Seriously, there are generally available (if you get the right sort of catalogs) machete/bush knife sized kukri type (forward swept cutting edge) knives of very high quality that might be just the ticket for equipping the expedition. The manufacturers in question, two that I’m familiar with, might be amenable to underwriting some of the expedition if you gave them advertising rights for "the official bush knife of the Earhart search expedition" complete with before and after pictures of "conquered" scaevola.
Is there any scaevola-comparable vegetation near TIGHAR HQ that such items could be suitability tested on?
LTM, who loves me
in spite of my collection of sharp objects.
Thank God, no. I’ve found that the selection of edged weapons is a highly individualistic thing and it’s best to encourage each team member to find something that works for him/her. John Clauss swings the most chewed-up looking knife you can imagine but he goes through scaevola like he was on a walk in the park. Veryl Fenlason prefers a Fijiian cane knife. I have a Chinese-made bush knife that I bought for about two dollars in Port Moresby in 1986 and I wouldn’t part with it for the world.
Careful, careful careful ... re: Gurkha knives. Gurkhas are required by their beliefs that if their knife is drawn it MUST draw blood before it is sheathed. True story ... during Korean War Gurkha regiments served alongside US regiments and the "yanks" were fascinated with the knives and always asking to see them. The Gurkhas, being friendly to their commrades in arms obliged and drew the knives for them to see ... over and over again. An order was subsequently given to the US troops not to request the Gurkhas to show their knives as so many Gurghka troops were suffering from cuts on their forearms. They would draw blood by a small cut on their forearm thus fulfilling the requirement of their belief to "draw blood" before sheathing the weapon. Can you imagine the consequences of a disgruntled Gurkha having to draw blood on Niku ... not an inviting thought!
Note to self: Self, no disgruntled Gurkhas on team.
I just received, from Ebay, a New York Times newspaper. It is dated, July 6, 1937. Interesting verbiage follows: Itasca sees flares 281 miles north of Howland...later determined to be meteors. AP states messages sent to Earhart from Honolulu had resulted in supposed replies. Putnam believes they are in the Phoenix islands, southeast of Howland. Operators at the Wailupe Naval Station heard, "281 north Howland...call KHAQQ...beyond north...don’t hold with us much longer...above water...shut off." Putnam believes plane landed on a reef and fuel to run the starboard engine was running low. Pan Am radio men estimate Earhart might be in the vicinity of Gardner and McKean islands. Three long dashes were heard (meaning they were on land rather than water) by Paul Mantz, who was in Los Angeles. Admiral Byrd surmised that they must have come down on a reef or island because she was apparently was using her engines to operate the radio.
It appears from this article that the authorities had a pretty good idea where the plane went down, Gardner Island. Why wasn’t a more detailed search done of Gardner or McKean if it was thought she landed on a reef and was able to run her starboard engine for three days?
Spooky, isn’t it? Why wasn’t a better search made?
So USS Colorado is tasked with conducting the search of the Phoenix Group. Early on the decision is made to make it an aerial search using the ship’s three catapult-launched floatplanes. On the way down to the Phoenix they decide to check out Winslow Reef but after repeated attempts they can’t find it. The Colorado’s captain is on his last cruise before getting a promotion and shore job in Hawaii. He is now very suspicious of the available charts and is not about to risk putting his battlewagon aground on some reef so he stands well off the islands and lets the planes do all the searching. The pilots have almost no information about the islands they are searching. McKean and Gardner are the first islands searched. No plane is seen and signs of recent habitation are not seen as meaningful. There is considerable pressure to move on and search the other islands, not only because Earhart and Noonan have now been missing for a full week, but because the 196 ROTC cadets and 4 college VIPs aboard for their annual (hijacked) training cruise are already long overdue back on the West Coast. Besides, the aircraft carrier Lexington and three destroyers were enroute to take over the search.
To share a few items with you relating to Gerald from his colleagues, friends and superiors at the time of his death in 1941 I quote the following:
Eric Bevington (fellow Officer) in his book wrote about Gerald " ... one of the most Christ-like men I have ever known." (page 91) and "To be near Gerald was to be nearer to Deity." (page 93).
Harry Maude in a letter to Sir Harry Luke: Regarding Gerlad’s death (14 October, 1941) " ... he was by far the best man we had!"
Sir Harry Luke Responding to Maude (18th October 1941) "The loss of poor Gallagher is a real tragedy and a heavy blow to the W.P."
Sir Harry Like again to Gerald’s Mother Edith (20 October 1941) "I myself feel his loss most deeply, not only officially but personally ..."
Thus, I think it is fair to say that Gerald was held in the highest of regards by all who knew him!
We have just received what appears to be a real-time transcription of what were believed at the time to be post-loss radio transmissions from Amelia Earhart. A 15 year old girl -- whom we’ll call "Betty" for now -- was living in St. Petersburg, Florida in the summer of 1937. One afternoon in July -- the exact date is not known -- at about 3 p.m. Betty was sitting on the floor in front of her family’s radio console. She liked to listen to music and kept a notebook in which she jotted the words to her favorite songs, made notes of current movies and drew pencil sketches of glamorous people. She also liked to listen to the short wave.
Her father had erected a long wire antenna -- perhaps 60 feet in length -- across the back yard from the house to a utility pole on the streetcorner. Betty could routinely pick up stations all over the world.
This particular afternoon she was cruising across the dial in search of anything interesting when she came upon a woman’s voice, speaking in English and obviously quite upset. Betty listened for a while and was startled to hear the woman say, "This is Amelia Earhart. This is Amelia Earhart."
Betty was always "crazy about airplanes" and was well aware of Earhart’s World Flight. Today, at 78, she can’t recall whether or not, on this particular day, she already knew that Earhart was missing but it was clear to her that Amelia was in trouble so Betty opened her notebook and started to make notes about what she was hearing. The words came too fast for her to get everything and often she would only write a word or two of what had been said. The signal faded in and out and was sometimes distorted, but Betty tried her best to get down at least some of what was being said.
Betty heard not only only Amelia’s calls for help but also her comments to a man who was with her. Betty had the impression that the man had sustained a head injury and was delirious. She gathered that they had crashed on land but that there was also great concern about rising water. The man would alternately struggle with Amelia and try to get the microphone away from her or panic and try to get out of the airplane.
The transmissions continued to come in, off and on, for about three hours until 6:15 p.m. At 5:15 her father came home from work and Betty excitedly told him to come listen. After a few minutes her father ran next door to see if his neighbor could also hear it on his radio, but perhaps because his neighbor did not have a long antenna, nothing was heard on the neighbor’s set. Later that evening Betty’s father reported the event to the local Coast Guard station but he was told that the government had ships in the area and everything was under control.
Betty kept her notebook and, over the years, occasionally tried to get someone to pay attention to her claims of having heard Amelia Earhart. A letter to Fred Goerner brought only a "not interested" response. She had given up thinking that anyone would ever believe her but a friend who had seen TIGHAR’s website sent me a very tentative message on her behalf. I was immediately struck by the prospect of an alleged contemporaneous document containing a real-time transcription of what had been heard. The only other example of something like that in the entire Earhart saga is Bellarts’ original Itasca radio log.
I interviewed Betty by telephone and she agreed to send the notebook to TIGHAR. We have it here now. Betty’s memory seems very sharp and she is helping us all she can but she is not seeking publicity and her health is not good so we have decided to keep the particulars of her identity confidential for the moment. Also, the content of her notes is so dramatic and, as Betty put it "pitiful" that we want to do some basic verification before we make it public.
What makes the notes of the alleged Earhart transmissions especially interesting is that they occur in a context -- the other notations in the notebook about current movies and songs -- that should support the purported chronology.
I’m making the forum aware of this new development now in the hope that we can get some basic verification research out of the way before we start to consider the credibility of the content. Assuming that the notebook itself checks out as genuine, we’re looking at three possibilities:
I’ll put up a posting shortly with a list of films and songs in the order that they appear in the notebook.
What a find!!!!! (If it’s not a hoax). The main reason that I don’t believe it to be a hoax is the mention of the man with the head injury and the rising water. They fit with what WE know (or suspect) about the reef landing, but would not be too likely for anyone (especially a 15 year old) to dream up.
Well, a Noonan head injury has never been part of our hypothesis but it is true that only one person’s remains were found by Gallagher and that person was more likely Earhart than Noonan (which might argue for Noonan dying before Earhart).
Remarkable, if true, but how come nobody else in the world heard this long broadcast? If you have a transcript of the infamous March of Time program (I’ve never been able to find a copy) it might be interesting to compare with Betty’s notes.
Well, maybe others did hear it or heard parts of it. We’ll have to take a hard second look at the other alleged post-loss messages. I would LOVE to get my hands on a transcript of the March Of Time program. Barring that, I’d like to hear from anybody who heard it or heard ANY March Of Time broadcast. What was the show’s format? How long was each episode? Etc., etc.
Whuff -- takes one’s breath away. First Gerry, now Betty.
We’ll wait with bated breath for all the news!
From Rick Seapin
Interesting story. I know the Forum has numerous radio experts so can someone please tell me how these post flight messages were picked-up in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Florida, and not by stations closer to the scene.
We don’t know that any of the alleged post-loss messages were genuine and the question you raise is the most perplexing one.
From Mike Muenich
WOW! While checking the collateral material for verification of authenticity, you might have your radio guru, who recently completed the post-loss signal analysis, to verify ability of equipment, time of message antenna capability etc.
> ... I would LOVE
Two March of Time tapes are advertised at Old Radio Catalog by email@example.com
I tried telephoning him. Phone rang, no answer.
One 60 minute tape is said to contain two programs:
020. The March
of Time; 7 8 37; "Features Story on Disappearance of Amelia Earhart."
I’ll try sending him some e-mail. I presume that these are the programs that interest you.
YeeHa! You presume correctly.
From Marty Moleski
The e-mail address and phone number I gave you in the first message are apparently not working.
I spoke with Ron’s wife, Sue, and she gave me a new number to call after 9 PM EDT: (818) 832-6358.
I’ll call him tonight and try to order a copy of the two programs.
I had a long and fascinating conversation with Ron Staley this evening. He was a founding father of the UCLA Radio Archives and worked to preserve Jack Benny’s programs.
His copy of the March of Time shows was not adequate for reproduction, so he has removed it from his catalogue. He has a friend who has discs from which he may be able to make a fresh copy, but he can’t guarantee when he might be able to do so.
Tune in Tomorrow by Mary Jane Higley tells how the March of Time was produced. Orson Welles got his start on the show, sometimes imitating babies. The newsreel version of March of Time was based on authentic footage and voices, but the radio program was a docu- drama with musical cues to indicate who was speaking.
Ron seems to have had a lifelong interest in aviation--he showed quite a command of details of famous events in aviation history, including the flight of Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli in the White Bird. Ron knew Fred Goerner and is still in touch with his widow; he also knew "Wrong-Way" Corrigan. Goerner’s taped radio interviews have been sold by Mrs. Goerner to a collector. Ron’s wife, Sue, just did a piece on Northwest Orient’s loss of a troop plane in Alaska during World War II. Parts of the plane have been found and the area has been set aside as a permanent memorial to the servicemen.
When he was producing a magazine about classic radio, Ron did an excerpt from the March of Time on the Earhart search. The dramatization of the search on the show caused many people to think that they were hearing the actual broadcasts from KHAQQ and the search vessels. He may be able to send me a copy of those excerpts, which should help to test whether Betty was just listening to the March of Time broadcast or whether she heard something quite different from the dramatization.
Yes, the excerpts would be a good start and we’ll very much want to eventually get whatever can be got of the full original broadcasts. Great work, Marty!
It appears you are moving to authenticate as much as possible before publishing. You might want to consider a document examiner who authenticates old manuscripts or documents. He can compare handwritting, (any other contemporaneous documents by author?--old letters, diaries, schoolwork, etc.--also current sample(s) of handwritting--there is I am told--a certain amount of natural progression in changes over the years), type of paper, apparent ageing of paper etc.
Exactly. What we’re trying to avoid is a firestorm of speculation abore are actually two levels of authentication that must be considered:
For the first, we’ll need some expert help. For the second, in terms of expertise (in all humility) we (this forum) are as good as it gets.
I seem to recall that the Japanese were asked to help in the search for Amelia, and they had ships in the area during the time of her disappearance. Was there any mention then or later on about post flight messages from the Japanese?
As far as we know, there were no Japanese ships in the area at the time of Earhart’s disappearance. Japanese help was requested and granted but it was weeks before anything was done. No post-loss messages were reported by the Japanese.
I sincerely hope the notes taken of purported AE radio transmissions are genuine. However, before everyone gets too excited I would like to relay a similar story. One I have briefly mentioned to Ric.
I was contacted by a person who was 15 at the time of the flight. This person spent time at Oakland airport with both AE and FN (or so the story goes). They also had access to the family short wave and avidly listened for AE transmissions during the flight. They reported hearing all the radio calls from the Lae flight. Up to and including the final ones when the plane had been ditched and the Japanese were coming to pick them up. This included reports of conversations between AE and FN. The person I talked to was articulate and knew a lot of specific detail about the flight. They were also extremely sincere in their belief of what they had seen and heard. This person also had pictures, notes, and charts. However, for a number of reasons, I judge the story as bogus.
My caution is that hearing a story that fits the TIGHAR current hypothesis is exciting, but also means extra care needs to be taken in evaluating it or putting faith in it. It may turn out similar to the engine story, possible, but who knows for sure. Or, it may never be possible to truly judge its validity until the mystery is ultimately solved -- if then.
LTM (who cautions
to be careful what stories you pick up) & blue skies,
It was most likely a radio dramatization (obviously, we hope not). The on-mic struggle with a delirious Noonan sounds a bit too sensationalistic to me, and typical of what a creative script writer would have resorted to in an "it’s happening now" radio drama format.
Also, any oral history that accompanies the notebook must be taken as anecdote and especially prone to inaccuracy and innocent embellishment after so many decades. Before getting too excited, taking a look at network radio schedules for July and even later months in 1937 would be a really good idea.
With some research, it may be possible to date the notebook entries within a week or two by examining the song title entries immediately preceding and following (if applicable) the Earhart notes. I can probably help with documentation of that. If Betty noted the names and content of radio programs too, we might be able to narrow things down to within a day or two.
If it was a radio program, its portrayal of Noonan could have even contributed something to the early Noonan-bashing we’re all familiar with.
All that said, the references to rising water and a Noonan injury are certainly very interesting. I hope this is evidence of an actual Earhart post loss radio transmission, but I doubt it.
William Webster-Garman 2243
Does "Betty" have Goerner’s " not interested " response letter in her possession?
The approach to Goerner was actually made by a friend on her behalf. He is also the one who originally contacted me. He is presently searching through his old papers to see if he has copies of any of the correspondence.
> Well, a Noonan head injury has never been part of our hypothesis ...
The possibility of one of the aviators receiving a head injury when landing on the reef was mentioned in posting(s) to the forum last year, although it never did become a part of the hypothesis. There was also separate unrelated discussion and rejection of a disoriented Earhart with a head injury in the Honolulu prang.
Th’ WOMBAT (Ross Devitt)
I know you have launched into an investigation but a few suggestions if these are not on the front burner. Do we have a forum member in St. Petersburg? If so....
Hard to believe, but an amateur radio operator in Rock Springs, Wyoming, heard Amelia on 5 July, he says, on a commercial radio on 16900 kc (?). If you can hear it in Wyoming, why not Florida.
The BBC offered an interpretation of the "281" signal as a 2 degrees, 8 minutes position, which would have put her about 200 miles from Howland.
We’ll definitely want to check the St. Pete papers and Coast Guard station. Betty has some Earhart clippings she has kept over the years and is sending them to me. It will be interesting to see what information she had.
I know that this isn’t part of your ’hypothesis’, but an elderly lady on Saipan remembers the woman flyer, and the man flyer with a bandaged, injured head, and limping being brought to Saipan for imprisonment by the Japanese......Witness to the Execution by TC Brennan.
trying hard not to be disruptive.....Judy in Corpus Christi.
Don’t worry. You’re not. What makes Betty’s story worth considering is not the fact that elements of it appear to fit the TIGHAR hypothesis but that there appears to be a contemporaneous written document to back it up. This is a first. We would be just as interested if it described Earhart’s capture by the Japanese.
This is interesting stuff indeed ! If true it seems to indicate that TIGHAR’s theory was right from the beginning. And so was Putnam’s who was the first to suggest in 1937 the search for AE and FN should be extended to the Phoenix group of islands to the South. However, allow me to be the devil’s advocate for a while for the good of TIGHAR. Wasn’t it Orson Welles who made half the US believe Martians had landed and broadcast a fantastic live report from the scene ? Any radio man will still tell you this was "great radio" by any standard. But it was as fake as anything could be fake. I’ve known others copying Orson Welles since and making up things on radio (one got fired for it in Belgium about 10 years ago). There may possibly have been another Orson at another radio station "making good radio" on the Earhart theme in 1937.
I hope I’m wrong. But having been a journalist for the last 40 years, I’ve seen people fall too often in all kinds of traps (including myself) and I’d like to warn TIGHAR for this one.
Again, Ric, I hope I’m wrong. But it sounds too good to be true. It reminds me of all those war veterans who saw AE in Japan and elsewhere...
LTM from Herman DeWulf (who hates to be the devil’s advocate)
We’re all Devil’s Advocates, Herman. We’re not holding this up as genuine. We’re looking at it as a possibility to see what we can learn about it.
I don’t want to try to pull a Janet Whitney on you b-u-t...what are the odds of 1937 "middle class table radio tube set" pulling in reception from AE in Florida????
I don’t know. On the surface it looks highly unlikely but neither can we say it was impossible. That’s why we’re researching it.
From Dave Porter
First, a living relative of "Irish" and now "Betty." It’s been quite a September eh?
I presume that someone is poring over the volumes of alleged post-loss messages to see if any exist that could be a match to Betty’s transcripts?
BTW, nice TRACKS newsletter. I’ve got a funny feeling about what the two main topics for the next issue will be. Then again, there’s still a few days of September left; who knows what else you’re gonna turn up.
This matter of radio propagation is a bit off the subject, but some things need to be clarified. I think the following real-world examples may be useful in doing this.
I believe Janet is overstating the poor quality of signal propagation on the low HF band (3000-4000 KHz). During the day it is not good, but the band is hardly useless.
My very considerable experience on the 75-meter ham band tells me that the most I can really expect during high-daylight, especially in summer months, is about 150/200 (maybe) miles ground wave only. I can work Morehead City NC from Raleigh NC, using 100 watts output (more or less) SSB into a realtively low grade antenna -- about 60 feet long, asymmetrical (15 feet straight up, 25 feet horizontal to a tree branch, 20 feet at right angle to the horizontal part and sloping down to a point 4 ft off the ground). True, the signals are not strong, but communication is not too bad.
At night using this same antenna and power level, I have worked Cyprus, Israel and Egypt on about 3790 KHz, SSB.
The Coastal Carolina Emergency Net meets nightly on 3907 KHz at 7 pm local time. In winter, this is of course darkness. In summer it’s daylight. We have members all over NC/SC and up and down the coast from New Jersey to Florida. Most run anywhere from 100 to 200 watts output, SSB mode, into simple half-wave dipole or inverted Vee antennas. We have no trouble hearing everyone unless there is interference (QRM) on the same freq or an adjacent one; or unless there is atmospheric noise (QRN) from thunderboomers, or solar noise (the T-storms are a real problem in summer/fall). This includes mobile stations running 100 watts or so into short antennas on vehicles, a real disadvantage... but we hear ’em all the time.
The signals are much greater as the sun goes down, and the solar noise dies away, of course.
My point is that signals on 75 are very usable.
I am very sure that the level of atmospheric noise, world-wide, is higher than it was in the 1930s. Some of the greatest QRN-makers around are :
The following experience of mine is somewhat off topic but is shared in the hope that it may prove illustrative of something or other...
About 5 years or so ago I worked an aeronautical mobile station, a ham operator aboard a USAF a/c en route from Warner Robins GA to somewhere in Jersey. This was on about 3880 KHz, during the middle of an afternoon. The a/c station was running an AM transmitter (wonder why he was not on SSB? Dunno) with an estimated 100 watts output. I first contacted him when he was over Greenville, SC. As the a/c got closer, the signals got stronger and stronger. When he passed within 50 miles of me, he was really pounding in. As the distance between us increased, the signals of course got gradually weaker, but it took a long time... I stayed in contact until the a/c was over Chesapeake Bay. By then the signals were getting weaker, and I was hearing phase distortion/fading which indicated a multipath reception -- ground wave, plus a reflected signal coming down from the ionosphere (aka "Skip").
LTM (who skips around
a lot) and
Do you have any weather data (surface temperature and barometer, winds, temperature and pressure aloft) from the Itasca log on the morning Amelia Earhart was due to arrive at Howland?
The ship’s deck log recorded hourly observations of:
Wind direction , Wind force, Barometer, Air temp. (dry bulb) , Air temp. (wet bulb) , Water temp. at surface, Cloud cover, Type of clouds, Moving from... , Amount of cloud, Visibility, Sea condition, Swells from....
At 8 a. m. (the time of Earhart’s apparent closest approach), the recorded conditions are as follows:
There was no significant change in conditions throughout the morning.
My gut feeling on reading about "Betty’s" notebook is that it will eventually prove to be Option 2, a hoax perpetrated by somone else and innocently believed. A couple of thoughts:
1. If she happens to have kept Goerner’s "not interested" reply, this would be of great help in confirming that it isn’t an elaborate hoax recently constructed. I stress I don’t think it is.
2. Does the scenario she has Earhart describing coincide with other apparent post-loss messages heard and proven or admitted to be hoaxes?
As far as I know, there is only one post-loss message that the Coast Guard investigated and felt sure was a hoax. A day or so after the 281 message was described in the press, an Oakland man reported hearing what was rather obviously an elaboration on that same message. The Coast Guard investigated him and found that he had a questionable reputation. Other hoaxes we know about include a guy who later tried to extort money from Putnam using a scarf that had once belonged to Amelia as proof that he knew where she was. More recently, a letter in a bottle was alleged to be a message from Noonan, but it was a very transparent and crude hoax.
The scenario Betty describes is a rather chilling fit to two other undocumented anecdotal reports of post-loss messages heard on short wave sets and reported directly to TIGHAR in recent years by the (now) old ladies who heard them. I’ll post a comparison soon.