Forum artHighlights From the Forum

November 19 through 25, 2000

(click on the number to go directly to that message)
1 Re: Gardner Island Store Kenton Spading
2 Gyrocompass, Autopilot Tom MM
3 Dalton Mark VII Computer Doug Brutlage
4 Pacific Island Shoes Denise
5 Zenith Radio Receivers Vern Klein
6 Betty’s Radio Ric Gillespie
7 Re: Betty’s Radio Hue Miller
8 Re: Gardner Island Store Kenton Spading
9 Monsees Intercept Patrick Gaston
10 Re: Gardner Island Store Alan Caldwell
11 Purdue Collection Roger Kelley
12 Re: Betty’s Radio Chris Kennedy
13 Re: Gyrocompass, Autopilot Bill Moffett
14 Betty’s Radio Vern Klein
15 Re: Gardner Island Store Tom King

Message: 1
Subject: Re: Gardner Island Store
Date: 11/20/00
From: Kenton Spading

The response to my request for help in investigating the Gardner Island Store inventory is unfortunate and all too narrowly focused.

If I shared this approach to things, the Earhart Project would not be holding the Hoodless report today and subsequently the huge pile of data retrieved from Hanslope. Dogged research down what might seem like unlikey avenues is where the nuggets of gold lie. If the treasure was down an obvious, well marked road, someone else would have already found it.

I am particularly dismayed at the use of anecdotes and speculation as reasons for not pursuing avenues of research. You could conclude, that my inquiry has no merit based on anecdotal information to include:

  1. apparent anecdotal knowledge of the world-wide distributon of Cat’s Paw products
  2. an anecdote that states one pound was worth $5 US in 1940, even if that turns out to be true....I remain disappointed in the use of anecdotal information to poison the Forum against a line of inquiry instead encouraging the pursuit.
I am confused as to what the CPI index for the U.S. dollar has to do with the value of the English pound and, in the end, the exchange rates in the Pacific region from which supplies were purchased from vendors. The effects of inflation on the pound in the UK for the period 1750 to 1998 are well documented. Why look at U.S. numbers in 1983?

I do not believe that we should conveniently forget that the Gardner Island store sold shoes in 1940 as the store may have also sold shoes for many years after that. Perhaps the vendor’s sales records to the WPHC still exist. Perhaps those records show that oxfords were supplied to the store in say....1950. If you think the store was going to stock shoes that fit or were useful to the natives.....then you do understand government quartermasters.

The belief that, the history of the Gardner Island store has no bearing on our research is, at least to me, very hard to comprehend. are not the only issue. Note that we are we are trying to identify a whole bunch of artifacts (see Help Wanted on the Web) but at the same time ignoring a major supply chain to the island?

I am bewildered that the forum was encouraged to ignore my request for help. In the future, I will find more covert ways of asking our international memebership for assistance.

Kenton Spading

From Ric

Kenton, I’m sorry you’re so upset. I certainly don’t think that trying to find out more about exactly what kinds of shoes and other items were stocked in the Co-Op Store is a bad idea but I do think there are some logical impediments to shoes from the store being the source of the shoe parts we found. I was merely reviewing those points.

I agree with your statement that “Dogged research down what might seem like unlikely avenues is where the nuggets of gold lie” but I’m sure that you would, in turn, agree that blindly following every possible avenue will produce gold only by blind luck. The trick is to pick the avenues that really are likely to produce gold even if those avenues may seem unlikely to the uninformed. Your example of the documents in England is a good one. You didn’t start chasing the WPHC files because you wondered if, by chance, they contain something interesting. We already had Gallagher’s correspondence from the archive in Tarawa so we knew that there really had been bones found and that there had been official communication with the WPHC. Your search for the WPHC files that would reveal the rest of the correspondence was supremely logical, brilliantly executed, and fruitful beyond our wildest expectations.

The question of whether the shoes we found came from the Co-Op store is, in my opinion, a far different matter. Although certainly worthy of consideration, the logical points I brought up, and apparently did not clearly explain, make it a genuinely unlikely avenue to follow. Let me see if I can do a better job explaining why:

  • The shoe we found has been identified as a woman’s blucher oxford style shoe with a rubber sole, brass shoelace eyelets, and a replacement heel of American manufacture. The size is 8 or 9 and the width is about a B. On the face of it, based upon everything we know about the people who lived on Gardner and the colonial government that ministered to their needs, this seems to be a highly unlikely shoe to be stocked by the island’s store.
  • The anecdotal references to the value of the British pound and the CPI were merely intended to illustrate in very general terms that the shoes stocked by the Co-Op store in 1940 were cheap shoes. It shouldn’t be too difficult to establish what a shoe of the type that we found on the island sold for in England or Australia in 1940.
  • The shoe we found had a Cat’s Paw replacement heel that was manufactured in the U.S. in the mid-1930s (according to a matching of the heel with an archived mold still owned by the manufacturer). We do not know how widely distributed Cat’s Paw replacement heels may have been in the 1930s and ’40s but for a shoe from the Gardner Co-Op Store to have had one would require that a) the heels were available (no replacement heels are inventoried), and b) there was someone on the island competent to do shoe repair. The alternative, of course, is that someone could have journeyed to some place where such heels and such repair were available.
So it would appear that for the shoes, or a shoe, listed in the 1940 Co-Op Store inventory to be the one we found in 1991 it would have to the case that the store stocked shoes that were unlikely to fit their clientele, were very attractively priced, and were purchased and worn by someone who later went someplace where the shoes were re-heeled before the owner returned to Gardner and eventually lost one of the shoes there.

I agree with your point that other shoes may have been sold at other times by the Co-Op Store but we have no information about that and without a logical reason to think that the store may have carried shoes of that description it hardly seems like an avenue worth following. The shoe we found is an interesting clue but it’s never going to be a smoking gun. If we found that the Co-Op Store for some reason carried dozens of pairs of women’s blucher oxfords and the women of the village were frequent visitors to the shoe repair shop (if there was one) at the American base at Canton during the war, it wouldn’t change the fact that the shoe also happens to be like the ones Earhart was wearing.

This investigation, like most investigations, has an almost infinite number of paths that could be followed. I can’t agree with your statement that: ”If the treasure was down an obvious, well marked road, someone else would have already found it.”

From what I’ve seen, the road to the Earhart “treasure” has always been obvious and extraordinarily well marked. It has just been very poorly followed. What makes it hard now is that the trail is so cold and cluttered with junk.

As for your intention to ”find more covert ways of asking our international membership for assistance” that’s fine, but I’d remind you that the virtue of the forum is that ideas – yours, mine, and everyone’s – are subjected to review and criticism. If you’d rather not take that heat, that’s up to you.


Message: 2
Subject: Gyrocompass, Autopilot, and More
Date: 11/20/00
From: Tom MM

A few questions for the pilots and air navigators on the forum.

Was the Electra outfitted with a gyrocompass as well as a standard magnetic compass?

If so, how and how often was the gyrocompass corrected on a long flight such as this one? Were celestial techniques used as was done on ships?

How good was the Electra autopilot? Could it maintain a preset heading and altitude? Was it safe to leave the cockpit for brief periods with the plane under its control?

In Mary Lovell’s book, FN’s letter to Weems contains a reference to using a Dalton Mark VII Navigation Computer. My web searches have not turned up much of value. Can anyone fill in some details? A mechanical device or a slide rule of some sort? I take it that FN did not have one aboard the Electra?

Tom MM

From Ric

>Was the Electra outfitted with a gyrocompass as well as a standard
>magnetic compass?

Yes. It was part of the Sperry Gyropilot (autopilot).

>If so, how and how often was the gyrocompass corrected on a long flight
>such as this one?

As far as I know we have no direct information about that. “As needed” is the best presumption I can come up with.

>Were celestial techniques used as was done on ships?

Not sure what you mean here. Celestial techniques are slightly different when done from an airplane because you’re up high and moving fast.

>How good was the Electra autopilot? Could it maintain a preset
>heading and altitude?


>Was it safe to leave the cockpit for brief periods with the plane under
>its control?

That’s a tough one. There’s no reference to Earhart ever doing that but there should also be no need. Fred seems to have ridden up front most of the time anyway and if AE needed to go back and use the ”can” (for example) it seems like it would make sense to have Fred at least sit there and monitor the autopilot.

I’m not familiar with a Dalton Mark VII Navigation Computer. Anybody?


Message: 3
Subject: Dalton Mark VII Computer
Date: 11/20/00
From: Doug Brutlag

Dalton Mark VII Computer:

Originally developed by Ensign Phillip Dalton (Navy). I could publish the 9 pages of info on it in front of me but I won’t. Bottom line: It’s the original E6B-slide rule on one side & winds on the other.

There are other models of computers bearing Mr. Dalton’s name including a double-drift, Type C plotting board, E1A w/double drift.

Doug Brutlag #2335

From Ric

Thanks Doug.

Message: 4
Subject: Pacific Island Shoes
Date: 11/21/00
From: Denise

Regarding the type of shoes sold in the Pacific during the 40s, I don’t know ... but I do know that the shoes sold in the 50s, 60s and 70s through small island stores, came mainly from mainland China, except for the moulded plastic ones which came from India. There was also a thriving trade for the black leather “policeman’s sandals” made in Fiji, because, as you point out, Pacific Islanders have feet which are usually too broad for normal shoes.

The higher priced range of items, seldom bought by the islanders, sold through the Burns Philp (SS) chain, came from New Zealand and, less frequently, from Australia. There was, now and again, the odd pair from Argentina or Brazil, but those were imported specifically by Meanger’s Shoes in Suva and were not shipped anywhere else in the Pacific.

To this day, I know of no shop in Fiji, Tonga or Western Samoa which has ever stocked American shoes and I assume it was the same elsewhere in the Pacific. American shoes were just too expensive ... and, as you say, far too narrow for Islander feet.

LTM (who herself wears a Size 9 narrow)

Message: 5
Subject: Zenith Radio Receivers
Date: 11/21/00
From: Vern Klein

>That radio is a Zenith and we
>know that that particular model only came out in 1941 but we should be
>looking for an earlier Zenith that looked a whole lot like it.

Zenith produced some pretty fancy radios in the mid-1930’s. For example, I was just looking at a Model 1000Z “Stratosphere.” This is a 25 tube superheterodyne! This may not be Betty’s radio but it may be similar. The schematic diagram is dated 11-14-1934. There are several features that are rather uniquely Zenith. Betty might remember some of them and perhaps confirm that the radio was, in fact, a Zenith of one kind or another. The Rider Perpetual Trouble Shooter’s Manual does not provide pictures but there is a sketch of the dial with some features that Betty might remember. Some of these Zenith receivers had a “tuning eye” that the old timers will remember. It’s a unique sort of thing that Betty would probably remember if her radio had one.

I can provide a drawing of what the dial of that receiver, and other models of about that time, looked like. As I say, there are a number of uniquely Zenith features that might ring some bells with Betty. I’m searching for pictures of some of those sets but have nothing right now.

The “Stratosphere” model had not one, but two, RF amplifiers and two IF amplifiers. The IF frequency was 485 kc. I’ll guess it had microvolt sensitivity, easily. It covered the AM broadcast band and four SW bands. It gave continuous (overlapping) coverage from 535 kc to 63,000 kc. Yes, it had what they called a UHF band from 19.5 MHz to 63.6 MHz.

This thing could have heard Amelia Earhart’s alleged transmissions if anything could! Assuming, of course, a reasonably good antenna – like some 60 feet of wire strung across the backyard to a utility pole. And that’s an almost omni-directional antenna, especially for high-angle incoming radiation – “skip” having been bent through the ionosphere.

This receiver has a lot of “bell & whistle” stuff that accounts for some of those tubes and an awesome audio amplifier accounting for a total of 12 tubes. There are three rectifier tubes in the power supply. That leaves 10 tubes for the real business of receiving a signal. Three more tubes are associated with amplified AVC, QAVC (Quiet the receiver until you find a moderately strong signal) and a “shadowgraph” tuning indicator – I THINK this is the little rudimentary cathode-ray tube that served as sort of a signal-strength meter (S-meter). Now we’re down to about seven tubes.... 2-RF amps., Mixer, Local Oscillator, 2-IF amps., detector – comes out about right.

LTM (Who remembers a big old Zenith that was pretty impressive even in 1946)

From Ric

You must be, like, psychic. Yesterday we were able to confirm that the Zenith 1000Z “Stratosphere” is indeed the model that Betty’s family had.

Message: 6
Subject: Betty’s radio
Date: 11/21/00
From: Ric Gillespie

Based upon further research and checking with Betty, we feel that we now have her radio pinned down to one of the high-end Zenith models. These included:

Model # #tubes price Riders reference
6-29 & 10-35

Betty has specifically identified a photo of the Model 1000Z “Stratosphere” as being like the one her family had at the time she heard Amelia. This model can be seen at

We’re presently checking to see if any of the 16 tube radios also came with cabinets that had the specific decorations and features Betty remembers. In any event, it now appears that Betty was listening to a very, very good radio.




Subject: Re: Betty’s Radio
Date: 11/22/00
From: Hue Miller

Ric wrote:

> now appears that Betty was listening to a very, very good radio.

A caution from a contrarian: let’s withhold conclusions til we see the all-revealing schematic. Audio power tubes, dual rectifiers, quality wood cabinets add NOTHING to the long-distance ability of a radio, although they do boost the price, the perceived quality, and the quality and strength of the tonal output. It can be, that a radio sold for x dollars is no better, for our needs, than one that sold for much less. We are talking consumer electronics. Tube count or dollar count are not that revealing.

Hue Miller

Message: 8
Subject: Gardner Island Store and Australia
Date: 11/22/00
From: Kenton Spading

Thank you for your response to the issues swirling around my effort to learn more about the Gardner Island Coop Store.

We are miles apart on the issue of why it is a good idea to find out more about the Gardner Store just like we are an equidistant apart on why we should know more about the lost Norwich City sailors. I can think of a number of reasons why these lines of research could be fruitful some of which have nothing to do with shoes or bones. That research is not likely to prove what happened to Earhart but it could alert us to possible red herrings within the body of evidence which in itself moves us forward (e.g. good job on the bookcase). I prefer to not have loose ends hanging around while you are comfortable with them as long as you can logically explain them away. That is not meant to be a criticism, it is simply two minds working differently.

Ric wrote:

>As for your intention to “find more covert ways of asking our international
>membership for assistance” that’s fine, but I’d remind you that the virtue of
>the forum is that ideas – yours, mine, and everyone’s – are subjected to
>review and criticism. If you’d rather not take that heat, that’s up to you.

I welcome review and/or criticism if it is backed up by facts or at least an opinion and the suggestion to find the facts. Instead of guessing at what the shoes are worth you should have been asking the forum for help in establishing their real worth. Instead of guessing whether or not Cat’s Paw products were available in the Pacific, you should have asked for help. Why blindly assume that all native women have wide feet?

It is one thing to have a Forum member put a negative spin on an idea. It is an entirely different matter for that negative spin to come from the moderator.

Related to that is the fact that the voices on the Forum are not equal. Your voice and opinions carry a lot of weight. When you come back with a negative spin on an idea posted on the Forum, folks are less likely to respond especially given the Forums history for attacking people and their ideas.

You, above everyone else, has to be careful not to diss an idea too early before it has a chance to germinate or before someone who is looking for a way to help sees his/her chance and jumps in. Or is every single TIGHAR member in the Pacific region already up to his/her ears in research endeavors and as the research gatekeeper you do not want to overload them with an idea that you personally do not perceive to be fruitful? Should we keep the whole Forum team idling until a VERY obvious line of research comes along? Would it not be nice to know more about the Coop store? Who knows where that research could lead?

In my opinion, you need to become more aware of how your presence and comments on the Forum affect the likelihood that certain folks will choose to participate.

In the end it is your Forum and you have the right to foster an atmosphere that suits your taste and TIGHAR’s needs. I personally don’t think that that atmosphere maximizes Forum member participation but perhaps it is not meant to. In the end that gets to the root of my frustration as the Forum does not lend itself well as a research tool for folks outside of TIGHAR headquarters who have ideas for research that differ from yours.

Here is an interesting concept...... Do Forum members have the option to post something to the Forum with the request that you not comment on it initially until the idea can germinate a little bit or until someone can offer to help? I say this knowing full well that this is a closed Forum.


From Ric

That’s a very tactful a way of saying, “Why don’t you keep your big fat mouth shut for a change.” Believe me, I’m not offended. I understand your frustration but I’m not sure that I can do much about it. The way TIGHAR is organized, The Earhart Project is not run by committee. It really is my baby – and while I need and want all the help I can get, and I try very hard to give credit where credit is due (and there is lots and lots of credit due to many, many people), it’s still my butt, my reputation, my career, and my livelihood on the line to a far greater degree than anyone else’s. I have the dubious distinction of being the only person in the world who makes a living looking for Amelia Earhart. I certainly didn’t plan it that way (What do you want to do when you grow up Ricky?), but that’s how it has turned out. So be it.

I don’t run the project the way you, or others, would run the project – I’m blessed and cursed by my own intellect, education, and experience – but I try to keep an open mind and learn from the vast array of bright and talented people (like yourself) who choose to participate. Literally every day I have to make decisions about whether to encourage or discourage specific avenues of research. If I didn’t and simply urged everyone to chase down everything we’d soon be buried in irrelevant data (I’ve seen it happen). There has to be focus and that means accepting some loose ends in the interest of moving forward. This is analogous to consciously leaving a few enemy outposts in our rear while we move forward toward the objective. There is always the danger that one of them could turn out to be more dangerous than we think it is but the alternative is getting hopelessly bogged down in mopping-up operations before we dare to advance.

I am very much aware of the influence of my comments on the forum and my objective (as long as we’re using a military analogy) is always to keep the column moving toward the objective. That means identifying and encouraging good people, maintaining morale, finding logistical support (funding), constantly assessing and re-assessing what we know and what we think we know, and figuring out what road to take next.

To answer your question “Do Forum members have the option to post something to the Forum with the request that you not comment on it initially until the idea can germinate a little bit or until someone can offer to help?”

I’m afraid the answer has to be no. If I offer that option what do I do when a conspiracy buff wants to launch a discussion of the relative merits of the recollections of Bilimon Amaron versus the testimony of Tom Devine? If I forego my job as moderator the forum will quickly lose its focus, volume will go through the roof, and we’ll be worse off than we were before we went (by popular demand) to the “leaner, meaner” forum.

I will, however, offer this alternative. I’ll post, without comment, an invitation from any forum member for other interested forum members to contact him or her directly for an off-forum discussion on any even vaguely Earhart-related topic. We’ve done just that on several lines of investigation. Sometimes I’m cc’ed. Sometimes not. It seems to be a good system.


Message: 9
Subject: Re: Monsees intercept
Date: 11/22/00
From: Patrick Gaston

If Art Monsees heard an AE distress call on July 8, 1937, then query whether the transmission could have originated from Niku given TIGHAR’s hypothesis that the Electra had been reduced to unrecognizable smithereens by the time of Lambrecht’s overflight on July 9. Factor in the time difference between San Francisco and Niku, and we are now down to – what? A matter of hours for the complete destruction/disappearance of an intact airplane? Any analysis of alleged post-loss radio signals must take into account the fact that Lambrecht and his wingmen saw nothing resembling aircraft wreckage on July 9. That’s six pairs of eyes, folks.

As for “signs of recent habitation,” we now know that huts left behind by the Arundel party were still standing in 1929 and, presumably, were sketched by a Colorado crewman in 1937. Was Lambrecht capable of discerning the age of these structures from the air? We will probably never know the answer, although I seem to recall an extended discussion on this Forum a year or two ago regarding the difficulty of picking out detail from altitudes as low as 500 or 1,000 feet.

The point is, I think it’s too early to categorically reject the Arundel huts (or any of the other artifacts noted by Kenton Spading) as Lambrecht’s “signs of recent habitation”. (I do hope the “Colorado Press” for July 10 surfaces, as it certainly appears the Press was taking the search seriously regardless of Lambrecht’s chatty, after-the-fact wrapup.) And I think we need to keep in mind that the beach in the area of AE’s presumed touchdown was clean as a whistle on July 9 – unless the “Lambrecht photo” is not what we have always assumed it to be.

Patrick Gaston

From Ric

Well, we don’t know what day Art Monsees heard what he heard. We do know that the story appeared in the paper on the 9th, so the 8th is probably not a bad guess. Nine P.M. in San Franciso would be (here we go again..) 5:30 P.M. at Gardner. Lambrecht and the boys came up over the island around 8:00 A. M. the next morning so that’s fourteen and a half hours at the outside for the seas to rise, the tide to come in, the surf to come up, and the airplane to be sufficiently reduced so that it’s obscured by the white water along the edge of the reef at high tide. For that to happen the airplane does not have to be completely destroyed. Far from it. All that is required is that the gear collapse and the airplane be sitting on its belly, in which case no part of the aircraft is more than 6 and half feet from ground level. High tide at Gardner is 4 to 4 and a half feet. Add a couple of feet of white water near the reef edge when swells are running and the surf is up – and the airplane effectively disappears.

I’m puzzled by your statement that “...we now know that huts left behind by the Arundel party were still standing in 1929 and, presumably, were sketched by a Colorado crewman in 1937.” What we know about the huts left behind by the Arundel party is that they were NOT standing in 1929. Quoting Norwich City survivor J. Thomas, whose written description of Gardner Island is the only reference we have to the huts:

Near the palms we found two disused galvanized roof huts and a large water tank, all of which were in a state (of) collapse.
It seems rather unlikely that the huts had erected themselves eight years later when the Colorado crewman made his sketch.

I’m further puzzled by your observation that the beach in the Lambrecht photo is “clean as a whistle.” The beach in that photo is two miles from where I suspect Lambrecht saw marks in the sand that he described as “signs of recent habitation.”


Message: 10
Subject: Re: Gardner Island Store
Date: 11/23/00
From: Alan Caldwell

Ric writes:

> The way TIGHAR is organized, The Earhart Project is not run by
> committee. It really is my baby...

Ric, this reminds of my copilot questioning me as to why he had to do things “my” way. I told him we did things because regulations say so, because the tech order says so, because I think it is best and finally because I’m the aircraft commander.

I have a lot of respect for a benevolent dictator.


Message: 11
Subject: Purdue Collection
Date: 11/23/00
From: Roger Kelley

During past forum discussions numerous topics have been explored. Three of those were:

  1. Off loading parachutes at Darwin or Lae to save weight.
  2. Removal of the Electra’s right side control column in order to increase cockpit space for Noonan to work while up front.
  3. Identifying the fire extinguisher / thermos found on Niku during past expeditions.
I was surfing through the Purdue collection last night and discovered a photo with caption which drew my attention, Purdue image # XI.B.7.a which is a photo taken in Darwin, N.T. The photo depicts Amelia, Fred and a man in a white suit standing next to the cabin door of NR16020. On the ground near them is a pile of equipment apparently removed from the aircraft. Three items which are interesting are a tail wheel tire, control column yoke or steering wheel and a large light colored bottle. These three items are resting upon and around at least one parachute and other unidentified items. Were these items being loaded or off-loaded? I think they were being off-loaded.

First the tail wheel. Why would Amelia be lugging around a spare tail wheel when gross weight of the aircraft is critical? Was this the original tail wheel of NR16020? Another photo in the collection, image # XI.A.4.d, depicts Amelia and a mechanic repairing a tail wheel, possibly on NR16020. If image # XI.A.4d is in fact NR26020 during repair of it’s tail wheel, when and how did damage occur? Might prior damage to the tail wheel have contributed to damage of the antenna system during the take off roll at Lae? Did the tail wheel assembly fail a second time during the Lae take off roll?

A close examination of the aft portion and tail wheel assembly of NR16020 during Amelia’s departure from Lae may provide new information. If the tail wheel assembly was damaged or failed during take off, what effect would the damaged tail wheel assembly have on Amelia’s landing on Niku’s reef?

Second, the control column yoke or steering wheel. If the yoke depicted was in fact removed from the right side of the cockpit of NR16020, why was it removed? Is it reasonable to assume that Amelia would carry a spare yoke, or is it reasonable to assume that one of the two yokes failed sometime during the flight and was replaced? Most likely the right control column yoke was removed to improve Fred’s working environment up front. The removed yoke was discarded as the photo might depict.

Lastly, does the light colored bottle or cylinder depicted exhibit any resemblance to the “fire extinguisher” previously discussed on this forum? I won’t even venture a guess due to the fact that I have no photos immediately available of TIGHAR artifact # 2-4-V-100. I’m sure a quick comparison would provide the answer.

For those who wish to examine the photos mentioned and comment, they can be found at: photographs.

Roger Kelley

From Ric

I don’t know whether the Darwin photo shows items to be loaded aboard the Electra or items that were off-loaded, but I suspect the former. Here’s why.

  1. As noted in earlier postings, contrary to what was published in Last Flight, the parachutes were picked up, not dropped off, in Darwin.
  2. The bottle in the Darwin photo bears no resemblance to a fire extinguisher. It appears to be a nitrogen bottle for servicing the aircraft’s landing gear struts.
  3. The photo you reference (# XI.A.4.d) does not show Amelia and a mechanic repairing the tailwheel. It was almost certainly taken in Miami (the only place where Amelia seems to have worn that polka-dot shirt) and it shows the tailwheel lashed to a wheeled stand. This is entirely consistent with “swinging” the aircraft’s compass – a logical operation to be performed prior to setting out on the World Flight.

Aside from the control wheel, everything in that stack can be explained as items that were collected in Darwin in preparation for the flight from Lae to Howland. The fact that parachutes were sent ahead for collection at Darwin suggests that abandonment of the aircraft in flight was seen as preferable to ditching (a decision I would agree with). The landing at Howland would be made on a very rudimentary coral airstrip that had never before been used. A bottle of nitrogen for the struts and a spare tailwheel seem like logical precautions to insure that she’d be able to depart from Howland after what might be a pretty punishing landing.

The position of the stack in front of the door also strongly suggests (to me) that this was stuff to be put aboard. Think about it. When you unload a vehicle you don’t usually make a pile right in front of the door. It’s when you’re getting ready to load a vehicle that you assemble the pile of stuff.

The control wheel is a puzzlement. I can see the logic in removing the co-pilot side yoke to make more room for Noonan, but I can’t explain its presence on this pile. It’s a component of the airplane and not heavy enough to be worth leaving behind. You don’t need a spare (the things do not tend to break). Strange.


Message: 12
Subject: Re: Betty’s radio
Date: 11/24/00
From: Chris Kennedy

Rick Seapin wrote:

> Are you sure about those radio price (375.00 – 795.00) tags? That seems
> extremely high for 1937. My parents lived in Los Angeles at the time and
> there was no way they could afford a radio of such a value.

I have problems with this, too. My thoughts and suggestions are as follows:

1. I have read many times that during 1937 and 1938, the nation fell back into severe depression following a brief improvement in the mid-30s. People who actually lived through this have confirmed it. This “second depression”, was in some ways more deep than the first. Surely a time to avoid expensive purchases if possible. It really was WWII which pulled us out, ironically.

2. Even without a second depression, upwards of $800 was a TON of cash in the late ’30s, and future prospects were pretty bleak. This is a short way of saying that only very well off people were likely to pay a lot of money (especially up to $800) for a radio unless it was somehow used to generate money for the family. Here, I get the impression that Betty and her family used it for entertainment, and were not in a position where they would spend this amount for a radio. Still, maybe the family splurged on this, so perhaps we might ask Betty whether, in her judgment, her family would’ve paid this amount of money in the late ’30s for this radio. This may change her opinion about the Zenith.

All this brings up a larger point. That is, I have been amazed at all the disagreement among the radio experts on the Forum, and think some of this work needs to be brought under stricter control and channeled. Consider this:

First, I see no real consensus over what equipment was/was not aboard the Electra to begin with. Obviously, some analyses are much better than others, but it’s difficult to reach a conclusion about the capabilities of equipment when you’re not sure of the equipment you are evaluating. My guess is that the capabilities of the Electra to send/receive must also be evaluated considering the equipment as a unit, and not individual pieces–-similar to the argument that the best stereo receivers will sound no better than the speakers they are attached to.

Second, it is my impression from the volumes of postings that, even when people can agree on the make and model of a piece of ’30s radio equipment, opinions diverge wildly as to the capabilities of that equipment. This applies to both the Electra and the Zenith, and further complicates the analysis. We are already seeing debates about the capabilities of the Zenith’s tubes.

Let me suggest this:

a. While this radio debate needs to keep going with respect to the Electra and has real value in explaining why all the plans to use radio contact and direction finders failed with respect to the Itasca, I think it may be a bit of a waste of time with respect to the Zenith/Betty. We’re not even sure whether this was her radio, and we’re unlikely to agree on whether this radio or any other could have heard Earhart’s transmissions. Of course, all this assumes the transmission/reception system aboard the Electra was functional and capable of being heard to begin with, which we several months ago were stating definitively was not the case given the loss of the antenna at Lae. I won’t even touch the further issue of atmospherics, the sun spot cycle, phases of the moon, etc.

b. Therefore, why don’t we wrap-up using further time and resources to evaluate the identity and capabilities of Betty’s radio, whatever it was, with what we have found out to date, and concentrate on further evaluations of the information in the notebook AND other matters which have absolutely nothing to do with Betty’s notebook. After all, if the information in the notebook is “occult” and thereby confirmed as definitely coming from the Electra, the capabilities of Betty’s radio are confirmed and the issue is moot.

Chris Kennedy

From Ric

This is the old and perpetual “Which-avenues-are-worth-following?” question.

First, let me clear up a slight misconception. We never thought that the loss of the antenna on takeoff at Lae degraded or removed the airplane’s ability to transmit. Quite clearly, the airplane was transmitting just fine right up until the time AE changed frequencies at 20:13 Z. Likewise, it is also apparent that the airplane still had the ability to receive because Earhart said she heard the Itasca’s “A”s on 7500 Kcs at 19:30 Z. Because the belly antenna was gone, and because she was trying to DF, it seems pretty certain that she was hearing the “A”s over the loop.

Secondly, while there has been a great deal of debate about what radios were and were not aboard the airplane, and even though there is still not universal consensus about that issue, those discussions have nonetheless been very valuable in constraining the possibilities and permitting us to make informed guesses about what the airplane’s radio system was and was not capable of doing.

That information has been, and continues to be, very useful in the re-examination of all of the alleged post-loss radio signals that was prompted by Betty’s notebook. By learning as much as we can about not only what was heard but how it was possible for it to be heard, we’re able to unravel the mystery of the post-loss signals. A better understanding of how Betty’s signals were heard should allow us to intelligently evaluate the other alleged post-loss signals and derive more information about what was going on aboard the airplane during those crucial days following the disappearance.


Message: 13
Subject: Gyrocompass, autopilot and more
Date: 11/24/00
From: Bill Moffet

My PIF (USAAF Pilot’s Information Manual of 1943 corrected to May 1, 1945) adds a few items that might indicate where compasses and auto pilots stood in WWII and it’s probably safe to ASSUME gyro compasses and autopilots were less advanced in ’37.

1. The magnetic compass ... consists of an airtight case filled with a special fluid in which a compass card assembly is pivoted. It is subject to many errors; mainly deviation and the errors produced by turning, accelerating or decelerating the airplane. A compass correction card mounted on the instrument panel shows the amount of deviation. [This is followed by an explanation of “northerly turning error” and the effects on the compass of changes in speed–and how to correct for (or ignore) them.] The magnetic compass is difficult to use in turbulence. The compass should be swung frequently in order to keep the compass correction card up to date ... Keep metal objects and electrical equipment (such as headphones) away from the compass.
It’s my 55-year old recollection that swinging the compass was done on the ground with the use of a large circle painted on the tarmac with the points of the compass indicated. The procedure was conducted by the ground crew, perhaps overseen by a navigator or other specialist. It could also have been done in the air with the navigator “calling the shots.” I took a new B-17 to Europe and a new F-7B to Biak, checking both out quite carefully before leaving the US, and don’t recall swinging the magnetic compass.
2. The Gyro Flux Gate compass is a remote indicating earth inductor compass consisting of gyro-stabilized flux gate transmitter, an amplifier, a master indicatorand from 1 to 6 remote indicating repeaters.

It is not subject to the error of the magnetic compass except when the gyro flux gate is caged. A true heading is always indicated by the master and repeater indicators, because of compensation for variation and deviation. Its upset limits are 65° of climb, glide and bank.

The text goes on to explain how to cage and uncage the gyro, then, “If you exceed the upset limits ... cage and uncage the instrument” – then in bold print: “Leave the gyro uncaged at all times except those indicated above.”

It’s again my recollection that if the plane was so equipped we flew by the flux gate, simply checking it against the magnetic compass occasionally to see they were in general agreement. Pilots were responsible for operation of the flux gate unless there was a navigator aboard.

3. Use the directional gyro with the magnetic compass. It is not a direction-seeking instrument and because of precession must be checked every 15 to 20 minutes against the magnetic compass and reset.

The instrument is reliable in turbulence, in contrast to the magnetic compass. If the instrument drifts off cardinal headings more than 3° in 15 minutes report it... Leave the instrument uncaged at all times except in maneuvers which exceed its upset limits

– which were 55° bank, climb and glide.

In multi-engine planes (which I usually piloted) we used the directional gyro because of its stability–it didn’t fluctuate in rough air–but checked it against the magnetic compass at short intervals.

4. Two types of automatic pilots are in general use: suction driven or electrically operated. Operating instructions for each vary widely...In operating either type remember to trim the airplane for hands-off flight before engaging... Some slight adjustments of the auto pilot to correct for small changes of load balance are permissible. However any change of large load balance (such as transfer of fuel, dropping bomb loads or dropping auxiliary tanks) necessitates your disengaging the pilot and trimming the airplane for hands-off flight before you attempt to use the instrument again.

In bold print: Don’t depend solely on the gyro-horizon indicator of the A-3 or A-3A automatic pilot as an attitude reference when flying on instruments.

I think it safe to say that Amelia’s autopilot was controlled by its gyro and not slaved to the magnetic compass. As I recall Sperry was a pioneer in the use of gyroscopes– which were subject to precession and had to be checked against the magnetic compass quite often. Development and integration of autopilots utilizing stable compasses, e.g., the flux gate and later ones, were not yet used in the ’30s. If literature exists on Amelia’s autopilot, it might we useful to check it out, but it seems to me that both she and Fred knew its foibles by the time they reached Lae and consequently kept a close eye on the instrument panel to be sure the autopilot wasn’t in command of the flight.

Bill Moffet #2156

Message: 14
Subject: Re: Betty’s Radio
Date: 11/24/00
From: Vern Klein

Ric wrote:

>Based upon further research and checking with Betty, we feel that we now have
>her radio pinned down to one of the high-end Zenith models. These included:

Model # #tubes price Riders reference
6-29 & 10-35

>We’re presently checking to see if any of the 16 tube radios also came with
>cabinets that had the specific decorations and features Betty remembers. In any
>event, it now appears that Betty was listening to a very, very good radio.

It would be nice if we could confirm that Betty’s radio was, in fact, Model 1000z. I wonder how similar the cabinets were? Does Betty remember the doors being on her radio?

It seems all the large Zenith radios of that period had the “Shadowgraph” tuning indicator. The “Shadowgraph” appears to be below the dial on the 1000z. I have the impression that some of the other pictures in the Rider Manuals showed it above the dial. I’ll have to check that again. I could be very wrong. has a book on the history of Zenith Radio that includes an illustrated catalog of every model produced between 1919 and 1935. That might be helpful if anyone was interested enough in such a book, in general, to shell out $29.95, softback. This will take you directly to the Zenith Radio book – and some Zenith history: Radio Book.

The 16-a-61 and 16-a-63 have 1-RF amp. and 2-IF amps. (456 kc). That also makes for a pretty decent receiver. They have 4-bands that don’t go as high as the 1000z but do cover all the possible harmonic frequencies of AE’s transmitter, up to 18,630 kc. Oddly, they include a low-frequency band as band-c, (150 kc to 370 kc) Band-d is back to the high-frequency region again – 7.000 to 22,500 kc.

Message: 15
Subject: Re: Gardner Island Store
Date: 11/25/00
From: Tom King

I can’t let the following go without a comment:

Ric said:

> The way TIGHAR is organized, The Earhart Project is not run by
> committee. It really is my baby...

And Alan said:

>Ric, this reminds of my copilot questioning me as to why he had to do
>things “my” way. I told him we did things because regulations say so, because
>the tech order says so, because I think it is best and finally because I’m
>the aircraft commander.
>I have a lot of respect for a benevolent dictator.

And I say that I think we have a couple of models of project leadership at war here. One is the military, and perhaps aviation, model in which you’ve got to have taut discipline with one person unquestionably in charge; the other is the team research model in which a group of colleagues collaborate in figuring out what to do and how to do it. Neither model, I submit, is entirely and exclusively the right one, but I tend to think that the benevolent dictator model is best applied when one is in situations resembling war or the operation of aircraft, not when one is engaged in ongoing, multi-party research.

Tom King

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