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October 1 through 7, 2000
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35 Norwich City Gerry Gallagher
36 Betty’s Notes Frank Westlake
37 Norwich City/New York City Michael Holt
38 Transmitters and Harmonics Mike Everette
39 Betty’s Notes Patrick Gaston
40 W4OK Mike Everette
41 Broadly Applicable Tides? John Pratt
42 Look at the Numbers John Clauss
43 Break in Transmission? Phil Tanner

Message: 35
Subject: Norwich City
Date: 10/7/00
From: Gerald Gallagher

Something I have been thinking about for some time....Let’s assume ... AE and FN crash land on the reef near the Norwich City and the plane is precariously lying on coral, and the tide is rising giving all indications that staying with the plane may not be a safe option, FN is injured and condition deteriorating, getting him out of the heat/sun and into an area protected from the elements would be of immediate importance. AE sees this wrecked hull of the Norwich City, what better place, initially, would there be to take cover, try to protect her injured navigator from the elements and a place where she could gather her thoughts and keep the wreckage of her Electra in sight, in the event that anything can be salvaged from it after the tides rise then fall again. Taking further into account... here is a woman on an island she knows nothing about with an injured colleague facing her first night on this island. Would she not elect to use any available covered space such as would undoubtedly be available on the Norwich City?

Question: In your trips to Niku has any exploration been done on the Norwich City for possible remains (most likely FN), possible salvaged bits and pieces from the plane that she could have brought onto the Norwich City, messages that could have been written on the walls (bulkheads) of the ship, signs of life after the wreckage of the Norwich City? ... etc. etc.

Being a maritime legal practitioner, I have had extensive working knowledge of ships, wrecks, and investigation of wrecks... one thing that rings true on almost any survival situation is that the survivors cling to, or stay extremely close to those things that are familiar to them. In the above scenario ... AE and FN may have lost the Electra very soon after crash landing. It is probably quite reasonable to assume that the Norwich City offered them a more familiar option than exploring around an unknown island with a badly injured FN.

Further, she would want to (by survival instincts) stay as close to the downed plane for as long as she held hope that someone was out looking for her and/or she had transmitted coordinates that indicated where the plane came down!

The Norwich City has been playing on my mind since I first read through the information regarding Gardner Island. It is not only a landmark but a possible shelter (albeit for a limited time). Chances are if FN died of his injuries, his remains may be on the NC. AE most likely would have traveled farther and farther afield in search of food and with growing confidence that dangers didn’t exist away from her initial comfort zone (near the downed wreckage of the Electra and the NC). Which would explain the "bones" believed to be AE’s found so far from the crash site and the NC.

Another interesting point that was brought up in the interview with Emily Sikulu and other native Gilbertese that they were forbidden to go into the area of the ship and on a couple of occasions gave the area of bones being found around the NC. Could it be that, in addition to the bones of those who died from the NC ... that the Elders may have found Noonan’s remains as well? Thus "TABOO".

Again, it may be the "salt water investigator" in me, but the Norwich City is a HUGE question mark to me simply because of the aforementioned AND the possibility and even probability that it could have been used in the early days of the castaway period for shelter ... and maybe even the place that FN succumbed to his injuries.

It all comes down to ... how extensive a search has been made on the NC. Taking into account that ships are a maze of nooks and crannies that do not easily surrender their treasures ... in this instance the treasure is evidence of AE and FN.

Something to think about at least!


From Ric

Your speculation about Earhart and Noonan’s possible use of the Norwich City makes sense. Bear in mind, however, that the ship was a burned out hulk that would provide shelter but little else. The crabs and rats (and who knows what other imagined threats) on the island may have prompted them to spend nights aboard the shipwreck and Noonan may conceivably have died there.

Today the Norwich City is just a scattering of rusted debris that has been swept by storms for many decades. It’s worth a close look at the scatter to see if, by an chance, some large steel aircraft component (a landing gear leg?) may have become so thoroughly jammed in the debris to still be there, but even that is a very long shot.

Message: 36
Subject: Betty’s Notes
Date: 10/7/00
From: Frank Westlake

More speculation. OK, it’s not dark.

Betty’s notes also seem to indicate that they may have only been at their present location for a very short while.

2 6 "I need air" This is not something that is likely to have just become a need and not have been one for the past few days, unless something has recently changed. It seems to indicate that they have only been cooped up in the cabin for a short while.
3 5 "Waters knee deep -- let me out" Could be explained by things we’ve already discussed, but could also be explained by them having only recently arrived at their current location.
4 13 "Watch that battery" From discussion in this forum I take it that they would’ve needed the engine running to get more than a few minutes of transmission out of the battery. We have more than a few minutes in Betty’s notes. There are other explanations for why they may be running their engine several days after July second, but it could also be that it is running because they had just been airborne.
3 6 "Where are you going" OK it isn’t dark, and it doesn’t seem reasonable that they would attempt to relocate in the dark. Circumstances could have made it necessary but I think it likely that they know there’s land nearby. If they had been in this location for several days, in the aircraft, they have had ample opportunity to discuss what to do about the land. If their current location is new then "Where are you going" is more appropriate. But it could also have been rhetorical and intended to mean "don’t go anywhere."

We have a possible burst of communication several days after their disappearance. Three hours of intermittent transmission indicates that they haven’t used much, if any, of their fuel for communication on any of the preceding days. Why the sudden burst? The water is rising is one answer. But why so much fuel remaining? Why not several hours of communication each day? Maybe they wanted to conserve the fuel, either for cooking or for a flight to another island.

I am stretching it a bit but I think I’m still in the realm of possibility.

Another thing to consider. Betty does not seem to recall hearing engine noise, which does not mean it wasn’t there, it only means that she does not recall it. If there was no engine noise, maybe they would run the engine to charge the battery then shut it down so that they could hear the radio. This could account for some of the long gaps in reception. "’Watch the battery,’ when it gets too low we’ll recharge it." Or, a lack of engine noise could be because they were in a sound studio ("they" not being AE&FN in this case). I suppose we may never know.

Frank Westlake

Message: 37
Subject: Norwich City/New York City
Date: 10/7/00
From: Michael Holt

> Knee deep water on the reef would not directly threaten the airplane.

No, but if your navigator was injured, the water was rising and you didn’t know where you were, that might be a detail that gets overlooked.

I tried "Norwich City" on my girl friend. I had her face away from me, so I couldn’t see her lips, and she repeated the name about a dozen times, with increasing rapidity. After the fifth time, it had morphed itself into something that sounded very much like "New York City." (Why did she do this? I have no idea, except that I fixed lunch for her today.)

LTM (who speaks clearly except when the water’s rising)
Michael Holt

Message: 38
Subject: Transmitters and Towers and Harmonics
Date: 10/7/00
From: Mike Everette

>Transmitters towers today are filtered to remove harmonics, but still are
>capable of re-radiating signals, even on FM, and even when not

You don’t quite understand the concept. Transmitters (not the towers) often have harmonic filters incorporated into the design... or, a filter (which consists of a number of tuned circuits designed to "pass" one frequency or band of frequencies and REJECT others) may be inserted into the transmission-line cable between the trans and antenna.

Towers may indeed REFLECT signals, and in some types of antenna systems multiple elements of an antenna -- sometimes consisting of tower structures -- are designed to do just that, to focus signals into a particular direction...

But what we are discussing here is rather weak signals arriving from an unpredictable "path" or direction to begin with. A tower alone won’t -- repeat WON’T -- serve as an "active repeater" to relay a signal. On the other hand, if a specially designed "repeater station" received the signal on one freq, amplified it and retransmitted it on another, this consists of a relay... BUT BUT BUT: THIS WAS NOT DONE ON HF, NOT IN 1937!!! You can absolutely disregard that concept... it’d be the longest of shots, too (even longer than suggesting that harmonics of AE’s signal made it to St. Pete) to suggest that some person/persons unknown, hoaxers etc. whatever -- were receiving AE’s signals in real time and retransmitting them on another freq. NO WAY. Too far fetched. What would be the point? Why not give an ID of the relaying station (if there was one, which I say unequivocally there was NOT0 and a plea to go to her aid? Uh-uh.

>I know I’m the new guy, but everyone please think about this scenario.
>AE is transmitting from Niku on one of the harmonic frequencies. Skipping
>(I asked about how that happens tonight Rick :) ) or ducting occurs because
>of the atmospheric conditions in the area. The signal reaches another
>transmitter site that that is either down or set to operate at or near one of
>those harmonic freqs. Re-radiation of the signal occurs because in 1937 the
>filters used today to remove such stray signals are not in place. AE’s calls
>are now re-radiated from another site with the transmit power from that

No... misunderstanding again. Signals do not "piggyback" one onto another. And a tower by itself doesn’t passively reflect them along the way. The filter you speak of is a device to keep the harmonics of the transmitter associated with that tower, from ever getting to the antenna/tower in the first place.

> I’ve just learned that the radial wires of current transmit sites are
>adjusted by current at different times of the day to modify the way the
>signal pattern is shaped in order to send the signal to the wanted broadcast
>area so that the "clear channel" transmitters are not interfered (spell) with.

Another misunderstanding... what is actually done, is to divide the transmitter’s power between/among multiple towers, in a particular "phase" relationship (accomplished thru tuned circuitry, and a very difficult concept to tell in few words) so as to make the multiple towers compile their radiation into a particular direction. It is not a tuning of the radial wires (grounding system) or the guy wires but the tower itself.

But you are quite correct about WHY it’s done!

>Now say that the site AE’s signal hits acts like a Near Vertical
>Incidence (NVI) antenna and pushes that signal with the site’s own transmit
>power to bounce off the stratosphere.

See above... can’t happen.

>(sidenote: Janet, the books I have left from the Navy don’t delineate the
>atmospheric levels, I vaguely remember the D layer)
>Mike E, do you have any records that show transmitter sites that would have
>been operating near AE’s freq or one of the harmonics?

No, I can’t help with this ... but it is absolutely correct to say this signal, if it did make it around the world, did so of its OWN VOLITION. No relays etc... And again, the notion of some tower or antenna out in BFE being able to "reflect" or reradiate that signal, is an impossibility.

Hey... no problem with "bending my ear." Hope this helps. If you are still unclear e-mail me direct and I will try again.

LTM (whose phases are legendary) and
Mike E.

Message: 39
Subject: Betty’s Notes
Date: 10/7/00
From: Patrick Gaston

Well, I begin to see why Goerner wasn’t interested. Allowing for the fact that this must have been a very rough, garbled transmission, and further assuming that 15-year-old Betty supplied words where she couldn’t quite understand them ("Hello Bud"?) still ...

  1. Unless the numbers are determined to mean something, there’s absolutely nothing self-authenticating in the message; i.e., no facts the general public would not have known. The only exception might be "Get the suitcase from my closet" -- was AE telling George where to find her Will? How could you ever prove it?
  2. Wouldn’t knee-high water in the cockpit preclude any further radio transmissions? Wouldn’t the engines, batteries and WE transmitter all have been under water at that point?
  3. The words transcribed by Betty as "New York" and "Marie" evidently were intended as some kind of distress call. Betty must have heard them pretty clearly as she wrote them down several times. Does this correlate phonetically with any sort of known distress call from the ’30s?
  4. Finally, it’s just difficult to believe a cool customer like AE would spend three hours transmitting panicky gibberish, including a blow-by-blow of her struggles with Fred. Totally out of character, unless maybe the microphone was stuck open.

I’m sure the Celestial Choir is analyzing the numbers even as I type, and I’ll await their judgment. But for now I vote in favor of a hoax. Sounds like a couple of kids playing around with dad’s ham rig while he’s away at work -- summer vacation time, remember.

LTM (who was hoping for something like, "Fred, put our supplies in the sextant box and head for that wrecked freighter")
Pat Gaston

Message: 40
Subject: W4OK
Date: 10/7/00
From: Mike Everette

If "W4OK" is a call sign, it may be the amateur radio call W4 Oscar Kilo... if it is w4 ZERO K, I dunno what it is. Not an amateur call.

In 1937, US ham call signs consisted of W, followed by numbers 1 thru 9 depending upon location (areas of the country) and two or three letters. A "two letter" call like W4OK more than likely would have been at least ten years old by then... maybe considerably older.

I have not yet checked anything but more than likely the ham call W4OK would have been active and current in 1937.

If someone wants to beat me to it, check and see if the call is still assigned to anyone; but more than likely, it has been reissued to another user during the past few years. The FCC implemented a program of "vanity" call sign issuance in the 1990s, which allows one to pick a call sign from the inactive list if that particular call has been inactive for a number of years and is eligible.

Not many original "two letter" call sign holders are still alive; most are now Silent Keys.

Mike E.

From Ric

Harry Manning was supposedly a ham.

Message: 41
Subject: Broadly Applicable Tides?
Date: 10/7/00
From: John Pratt

Christian D writes:

>The University of Hawaii already has a PV powered tide gauge on nearby
>Kanton, with near real time satellite data transmission. If I remember
>correctly, tidal data for Kanton is generally applicable for the Phoenix
>Also: for what I know, the nearest (in time and location) tidal data
>available is from Kanton, for 1949-50, and then from 1986 -on.

In the spirit of providing all the possible information, NOS can (did) calculate the tides for early July 1937 at Canton Island. Here is their tide table for July 1-10, 1937 excerpted from their e-mail of 9/27/2000:

I. NOS does not have tidal data for Gardner Island. Therefore calculations cannot be generated for the specific location.

For the immediate:

We cannot provide information specific to "Gardner Island", but we do have information for "Canton Island" in the Phoenix Island chain. Attached you will find tide predictions for Canton Island during July 1937.

NOAA, National Ocean Service
Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services
Silver Spring, Maryland

Canton Island, Phoenix Islands
Tide Predictions (High and Low Waters), July, 1937
Reference station is: Apia, Samoa Islands
High Water Time Difference = -0.01 High Water Height Difference =-0.40
Low Water Time Difference = +.40 Low Water Height Difference = +0.50
NOAA, National Ocean Service
Standard Time
1 Th
0019 H
0615 L
1245 H
1834 L
2 F
0122 H
0724 L
1351 H
1937 L
3 Sa
0224 H
0827 L
1455 H
2036 L
4 Su
0323 H
0926 L
1555 H
2133 L
5 M
0419 H
1020 L
1651 H
2227 L
6 Tu
0513 H
1112 L
1744 H
2319 L
7 W
0604 H
1202 L
1835 H
8 Th
0010 L
0653 H
1251 L
1925 H
9 F
0101 L
0742 H
1340 L
2014 H
10 Sa
0152 L
0831 H
1429 L
2104 H
11 Su
0245 L
0920 H
1519 L
2155 H
12 M
0342 L
1011 H
1612 L
2249 H
13 Tu
0443 L
1106 H
1707 L
2346 H
14 W
0548 L
1205 H
1805 L
15 Th
0045 H
0653 L
1307 H
1902 L

The format is explained below, excerpt from the NOS FAQ:

Standard Format - This format is available in hardcopy and an electronic, ASCII file which provides time and height of tide information for a single location in a page readable format. The following example for EASTPORT, ME, April, 1997 shows the predictions in AM/PM Time and has been adjusted for Daylight Savings Time.

Eastport, Maine T.M. 75 W
Tide Predictions (High and Low Waters)
April, 1997
NOAA, National Ocean Service
Standard Time
1 Tu
428am H
1101am L
504pm H
1128pm L
2 W
532am H
1204pm L
608pm H
3 Th
1233am L
636am H
107pm L
711pm H
4 F
136am L
739am H
207pm L
810pm H
5 Sa
235am L
838am H
304pm L
906pm H
Daylight Saving Time begins at 0200
6 Su
431am L
1033am H
457pm L
1058pm H
7 M
524am L
1125am H
548pm L
1148pm H
8 Tu
614am L
1215pm H
637pm L
9 W
1236am H
704am L
104pm H
725pm L


At Canton, the time for Betty’s radio receptions (about 1000 local July 5) seems to fall at low tide.

Note that Kanton (Canton) is east of Gardner/Nikumaroro, and therefore on the same side of the dateline.

How good are they? For Canton Island, pretty good.

NOS said:

We can generate predictions for past dates. These would not represent what actually happened, but what would have been predicted for the given time period.

Therefore presumably meeting their standards for publication. Maybe (speculation) they are using long-time data from the University of Hawaii monitor?

NOS also said:

With a set of constituents, regardless of when the data is obtained, we can generate predictions for virtually any date. Tidal constituents don’t change all that much over time. Most of the changes would be due to environmental changes such as shoaling or erosion, and artificial changes such as jetties, dredging, etc.

How good are they for Gardner Island? The FAQ seems most explicit.

NOS seems to agree:

> Canton Island is roughly 200 NM away.
> Do you have a correction formula to convert from Canton to Gardner?
> Do you have any way to estimate the accuracy of such a conversion?
> Can 3. above be applied to increase accuracy?

(implied task: relate Canton to Gardner from limited observations)

No, we cannot convert from Canton to Gardner. That would require data at Gardner. If we had that information we could calculate it directly.

I am sensitive to the difference between a publishable prediction and "generally applicable" use. So if you want to assume that Canton Island tides broadly relate to Gardner tides, here is the table. But it is provided on a "buyer beware" basis.

I understand something of how difficult the environment is, but I still like the LTM fantasy/idea. Would University of Hawaii be interested in placing their monitor on Nikumaroro?

LTM and buyer beware
John Pratt (2373)

From Ric

Feel free to ask them. The tidal data for Canton are interesting.

Message: 42

Look at the numbers

Date: 10/7/00
From: John Clauss

Look at these numbers:

The area that we think bounds the plane is approximately

174 33′ 00″ W and 174 32′ 45″ W


4 39′ 15″ S and 4 39′ 45″ S

The location could be outside this box, but this is our best estimate.

Betty’s numbers:

58 228

South 391065 Z or E

fig 8 - 3.30 500 Z


Z 38 Z 13 8983638

3Q rd 36






Most all these sets are likely incomplete. The one that jumps out at me is S 391065.

4 39′ 10″ S is on the Northern most tip of the reef flat. What would be the correct (or incorrect) terminology for broadcasting these numbers? Navigators help me out.

John Clauss

Message: 43

Re: Betty’s Notebook: Authentic?

Date: 10/7/00
From: Phil Tanner

> Thus, in my opinion, three hours of transmission without reference to
> Howland, Electra’s condition, distance traveled past Howland, frequency
> suggestion, estimated position, or meaningful assistance to the guard ship
> Itasca is too much to believe. She heard what she heard but not from
> Amelia.

My work involves garnering and editing news from radio broadcasts and other sources, and one of the first things we teach any trainee is that if the signal is lost you can’t say there has been a break in transmission, only in reception. Only the transmitting party can state what was transmitted. The best that could be stated definitely here is that over three hours no reference to any particular subject was heard --- even if Betty had taken shorthand from perfect reception of the whole thing --- and the difference is crucial. And it never ceases to amaze me when transcribing text from a poorly received piece just how few words you need not to be able to hear correctly before it becomes difficult or impossible to get a handle on the whole thing, and how easy it is to be sure you’ve heard something correctly and find out subsequently you were slightly off-beam.

Phil 2276

From Ric

Attend, gentle Forum, and hearken to the voice of Wisdom. Thank you Phil.

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