Forum artHighlights From the Forum

January 28 through February 3, 2001

(click on the number to go directly to that message)
Re: Proving Negatives (Again) Alan Caldwell, Marty Moleski, Ric Gillespie
Bone Site Mike Muenich
Bones Search Mike Muenich
Button Conclusions Jerry Hamilton
Re: Bones Search Mike Muenich
Re: Colonists Removed from Howland? Dan Postellon
Re: Bones search Tom King
Amelia's Powerplants Woody
The Wreck Photo, Revisited Harry Poole
The Voyage of the Viti Ric Gillespie

Message: 1
Subject: Re: Proving Negatives (Again)
Date: 1/30/01
From: Alan Caldwell, Marty Moleski, Ric Gillespie

> Any hypothesis can be stated in negative terms. That doesn't make it a
> negative hypothesis. A hypothesis can only be proven by confirming the truth
> of a positive statement.

I hope all the would be word mechanics would take careful note of the statement above. It should end this thread. All the hair-splitting and play on words one can think up will not change the simple fact that, "A hypothesis can only be proven by confirming the truth of a positive statement." If just a little thought could be given to the so-called negative statements it should be obvious to anyone. Each of Marty's statements can be stated in a positive form. Marty knows that. Marty will also note that my second sentence is stated negatively but only for readability. It could just as well be stated in a positive form. I would, however, concede that most "absolutes" could better be stated as less so.


From Marty Moleski

Ric wrote:

> Any hypothesis can be stated in negative terms.

Presumably you have some interior test that you use to distinguish between Truly Unprovable Negatives and those that are Merely Positives Restated.

I don't think the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem can be based on any positive statement. His hypothesis was that there are no integer solutions of a problem in number theory. This is a negative now known (proven) to be true. It is not an inverted positive. Goedel's Theorem is a universal negative truth about mathematics: there is not and can never be a proof that the whole of any formal system is complete and consistent.

So, too, with the Uncertainty Principle. You cannot measure position and velocity of quantum particles simultaneously. The whole point of the Principle involves a negation, and cannot be properly stated without it.

Lastly, the seminal proof by Michelson and Morley that there is no aether as conceived by 19th-century physicists. They had no positive version of their finding. They did not know what accounted for the wave-nature of light. All that they could say was that their experiments proved that light was not moving through aether.

> That doesn't make it a
> negative hypothesis. A hypothesis can only be proven by confirming the
> truth of a positive statement.

Well, the hypothesis that "there was no antenna on the plane when this picture was taken" is not an Unprovable Negative. It is not an instance of the (false, unproven) maxim that "You cannot prove a negative hypothesis." Asserting this falsehood does not relieve TIGHAR from being open to evidence that would be just as convincing as the statement "We found pieces missing from the Lady of the Lake." Recognizing pieces are missing from airplanes (AE's on takeoff, the bomber in the woods) is not impossible. One photograph is not sufficient proof, but other evidence could emerge.

I am concerned about this issue because of TIGHAR's desire to make the search for AE and FN an opportunity to teach about science. It is not good for budding scientists to adopt a false generalization as a guideline for their research.

Of course, if you or anyone on the forum can show me where it is established that "You cannot prove a negative," I would be happy to revise my view of reality and logic. At the same time, I will have to inspect the argument to see whether it is self-refuting. If "You cannot prove a negative" is not a negative hypothesis, I don't know what is.

From Ric

Ouch! Lemme think about that.

I don't feel qualified to deal with Fermat, Goedel, Michelson and Morley (sounds like a law firm), but I do not think that "We found pieces missing from the Lady of the Lake" is a negative hypothesis. There is a difference between saying "There are no elephants in my office" (a true negative hypothesis) and saying, "There is a leg missing from this elephant." In the first case we can only establish the likelihood of the hypothesis being true by exercising our INABILITY to find an elephant in the office. "Dinosaurs are extinct" is a similar negative hypothesis. What we really mean is "As far as we can tell, dinosaurs are extinct."

But when I say, "There is a leg missing from this elephant" I'm starting from the observation that the normal condition for elephants is that they have four legs and I note that this one has only three. The established norm of four legged elephants and the presence of three legs, rather than four, on this one makes my statement "There is a leg missing from this elephant" a positive and provable hypothesis. Similarly, the entity known as a B-23 has certain component parts just as an elephant has four legs. If I say, "There are pieces missing from this B-23" that's a positive and provable hypothesis.

I agree that "there was no antenna on the plane when this picture was taken" is not an Unprovable Negative. It is not a negative hypothesis at all. Just as with the elephant and the B-23, NR16020 had definable component parts in set locations. Establishing whether or not one or more of the components is missing is a matter of credible observation, i.e. do we have sufficient evidence to establish that the component is not present?

As I think about it, the difference seems to be whether the hypothesis is general or specific. The elephant in the office is general. He could be anywhere. The missing leg is specific. If it ain't there, it ain't there. That's why I can't say with certainty that there was no Bendix receiver aboard the airplane. There is no one place where it has to be so I'll never know whether I've looked in all the possible places.

Is anyone not confused?


Message: 2
Subject: Bone Site
Date: 1/30/01
From: Mike Muenich

While reading some background material on another matter, I stumbled upon the report of the Solomon Islands Expedition in December of 1995. In reading the summary of Dirk Ballendorf's notes/report I noted the reference to Dr. Teinamati Mereki as follows: "Dr. Mereki indicated on a map the general area where the skeletons were said to have been found." Further on, the report states: "British Colonial Service officer Eric Bevington toured the island three months after Earhart disappeared. His diary (a contemporaneous written source) confirms that he saw 'signs of previous habitation' but doesn't say where. When queried in 1992 he indicated (anecdote) the same general area where Mereki says the bones were found. It was from that same part of the island that, in 1991, TIGHAR recovered the remains of shoes (physical evidence)." Finally, the report refers to a Bauro Tikana, who was "told by laborers there (at the time of his arrival in 1940) that bones had been found both near the shipwreck and on the 'other end' of the island."

This is of course was all written before the "bones" story was confirmed by the location of the various "bones" reports, entries etc., confirming Ballendorf's information received in the Solomons. Have you reviewed Mereki's map and Ballendorf's notes/report for the next "bones" search? Does his (Mereki's) site match TIGHAR's shoe discovery? The report indicates that some "say the skeletons were found lying side by side, others say they were not side by side." This could account for two different sets of shoes "found" at one site (side by side) or could account for the possibility of a grave by the Norwich City and a second set of bones at Mereki's site. "They were white people because they were wearing shoes. (Another interviewee, Rev. Aberaam Abera, says that they had not only shoes but remnants of clothing that islanders didn't wear.) One of the skeletons was judged to be that of a woman because it was smaller than the other." All of the latter is the type of anecdotal "confusion" which seems to result from the telling/re-telling of stories, but the report seems to confirm two skeletons, shoes, and two possible locations.

From Ric

The map provided by Dr. Ballendorf in his report indicated that Dr. Mereki had indicated an area on Aukeraime South considerably southeast of where the shoe parts were found. Unfortunately, although some videotape was made during the interview, no videotape or recording was made of the portion of the interview during which the bone story was discussed and all we have is Dr. Ballendorf's paraphrase account of what Dr. Mereki said.

Message: 3
Subject: Re: Bones Search
Date: 1/30/01
From: Mike Muenich

Following up on my previous post today--I gotta get a life--I find the following materials in various TIGHAR shelves. From the "7" site bulletin issued 6/21/00 "According to Gallagher, the kanawa tree on the lagoon shore was cut down around December of 1939. Then in roughly April of 1940, a skull was found and buried by a work party (Doing what? Cutting down more kanawa trees?). In September 1940 Gallagher arrived, heard about the skull, and by September 23 had conducted what he termed a "thorough search" and found bones and artifacts."

Gallagher telegram of 10/17/40 states "Bones were found on South East corner of island. . . ." Again in his telegram of 12/27/40 he restates the location as "the remains of the unidentified individual found on the South Eastern shore of Gardner Island." In this same telegram of 12/27/40 he states: "2. The fact that the skull has been buried in damp ground for nearly a year. . . ." This seems to re-enforce the kanawa cutting (December, 1939 and seems to indicate that the skull was found later in April of 1940) and then goes on to discuss an "intensive search" of the area where the bones are found. In response to the request for further searching he states, again in the 12/27/40 telegram: "it is possible that something may come to hand during the course of the next few months when the area in question will be again thoroughly examined during the course of planting operations. He then refers to relatives and "the coffin in which the remains are contained is made from a local wood known as 'kanawa' and the tree was, until a year ago, growing on the edge of the lagoon, not very far from the spot where the deceased was found."

Thus I theorize that the work parties were clearing an area for planting, found the skull, interrupted clearing/planting operations on instructions to find out more about the skeleton and after that was completed, planned to resume clearing/planting operations. If correct, the area would be that planted in early 1941. I seem to recall a map in one of the TIGHAR publications which shows the planting areas and their dates. How do any of the planting areas compare with any of the sites TIGHAR has scheduled for search? Do any of the planting sites correlate with Dr. Mereki's point on Ballendorf's map? Kanawa Point? the shoe site? I think we really need a bigger and better map showing more of the various locations, annotated with a photographic index. I know that there are any number of photos, maps showing various sites, artifact location, photo references etc, but you have to have them all at hand for comparison and that's hard to do.

From Ric

>How do any of the planting areas compare with any of the sites TIGHAR has
>scheduled for search? Do any of the planting sites correlate with Dr.
>Mereki's point on Ballendorf's map?

No, as far as we know the area indicated by Mereki (via Ballendorf) was never cleared or planted.

>Kanawa Point?

Kanawa Point seems to have been harvested of Kanawa trees but we see no evidence in the photos that it was ever cleared and planted.

>the shoe site?

Aerial photos clearly indicate that the shoe site was cleared for planting sometime after April 1939 and before June 1941.

There is also clear evidence of clearing at the Seven site by June of 1941. No planting seems to have been done there, or if it was it didn't take.


Message: 4
Subject: Button Conclusions
Date: 1/30/01
From: Jerry Hamilton

I was recently looking over some photos of AE from the flight and noticed the buttons on her blouse, especially the light colored one. Has the research into the button artifact concluded? What did we learn?

blue skies, -jerry

From Ric

In a nutshell, here's what we've been able to learn about the button:

  • it seems to be made of Bakelite™ (very typical for the pre-war years)
  • it's a bit big for a shirt button --- more like a trouser button
  • it does not match any military button we've been able to find
  • the workers on Gardner wore shorts which probably had buttons but the buttons stocked in the Co-Op store were made of bone, not Bakelite™.
  • Gallagher probably wore trousers with buttons.
  • Earhart sometimes wore trousers with buttons on the side.
  • there is a dark stain on the button which has not been identified. It could have been left by rotting flesh but it would take a pretty sophisticated police lab to find out. We may get to that but the fact is that the button itself is not distinctive enough to ever be diagnostic.
The best clue as to the origin of the button may be whether there are more buttons in the immediate vicinity. We'll check that out this summer. A trouser button lost by accident because it just came loose is going to be all by itself. More buttons may mean that an entire piece of clothing decayed away in that area. An abandoned piece of clothing could be indicative of a dead body. Remember, we already know that a castaway died on the island and we think it happened right in the area where the button was found.


Message: 5
Subject: Re: Bones Search
Date: 1/30/01
From: Mike Muenich

Why would the seven site have been cleared if it wasn't going to be planted? Gallagher doesn't seem to be the type that would waste native labor.

Theory--while clearing the site in December to April 1940 and maybe later, the skull is found and re-buried. Gallagher reports finding in September and receives instructions to do detailed search which occurs in the fall of 1940. Thinking additional searching will occur while they finish clearing and planting in spring of 1941--he so advises Vaskess, in response to second request, by telegram on December 27th, 1940. Gallagher doesn't realize the natives aren't happy.

There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence about ghosts, spirits, bodies, don't go near the "plane", the Norwich City, etc from the various native interviews. Here the natives have their worst nightmare--not only have they found a skull and buried it, possibly by their customs, but they were ordered back to the site, made a search, found many additional bones, Gallagher has shipped them, the bones, off--the spirits ain't happy etc. Natives to Gallagher--WE ARE NOT GOING BACK THERE! Gallagher, mildly embarrassed by small mutiny doesn't report this problem and shortly dies. No ones the wiser--after all he doesn't seem to report where he is clearing and planting, only that he is doing the work. After his death and given the secrecy of the matter, his successor might not even know about the bones, clearing, or proposed planting. The seven site remains unplanted.

From Ric

If the Seven site is where this all happened it does seem that it was Gallagher's original intention to plant that area (because he said so). As to why it never got planted, that's speculation and I have nothing to disprove your scenario.

Message: 6
Subject: Colonists Removed From Howland?
Date: 1/31/01
From: Dan Postellon

I think that the colonists were removed at the start of the war in the Pacific, after Pearl Harbor. I guess that you could consider that a Japanese protest! Both Howland and Baker are mostly flat, and treeless. I suspect that the memorial to AE (wasn't it a navigation beacon?) would be one of the few visible features on Howland.

LTM (who has many visible features)
Daniel Postellon TIGHAR#2263

From Ric

It was a little lighthouse thingy.

From Randy Jacobson

The colonization was originally undertaken in 1935, under the auspices of the Dept. of Commerce (Bureau of Air Commerce), William Miller in charge; army personnel were the colonists. For undetermined reasons, the Big Brass in DC pulled the plug on them in March, 1936 (I hope I have the month correct), and reinstated them in June/July of that year under the direction of Dept. of Interior, William Miller on loan to DoI, now with Kamehameha students. The documentation for the pullout is sparse, but it was quick and purposeful. I always suspected it was inter-departmental rivalries or the use of military personnel, and one finally settled by FDR (also speculation). No mention of Japanese complaints. I'm sure the British were horrified about these islands being colonized, as they also had tenuous claims to them.

From Woody

The islands were first colonized in 1935 between March 25 and April 1 by the Itasca. (Lost Star-- item 1). The National Geographic Eclipse expedition of 1937 dropped off Hawaiians on Enderbury and Canton in March 1938 (June 1938 NG, "Crusoes of Canton Island"). There is a caption under a photo of the colonists' camp stating that the camp is similar to the ones built recently on Howard, Baker and Jarvis. The comment about the colonists' first removal was in one of my books. When I find the reference I will post it. There are two other articles on Canton and Enderbury---Sept 1937 NG, "Nature's Most Dramatic Spectacle" and "Adventures on a Desert Isle."

From Ric

The Itasca is a boat. It can not colonize anything. The "colonies" on Howland, Baker and Jarvis were originally established by the Department of Commerce and later by the Department of the Interior (as described above by Randy). The Itasca, a Department of the Treasury vessel (Coast Guard) provided transportation.

I'm puzzled as to how the National Geo Eclipse expedition in June of 1937 could do anything in 1938?

If you're using Earhart conspiracy books as sources you're in for a rough ride on this Forum.


Message: 7
Subject: Re: Bones Search
Date: 1/31/01
From: Tom King

Gallagher's statement about the area being planted soon continues to bother me, though not enough to outweigh the evidence pointing to the Seven Site. Whether it ever got planted or not, and whatever the reason its planting might not have happened, why even PLAN to leapfrog over to the southeast end and plant there when lots of land remained uncleared on Nutiran and around the northern windward side? There are possibilities. There's mention somewhere in the PISS reports of holding some land for "bush reserve," and this might have been on eastern Nutiran. There was a lot of uncertainty at the time about whether Buka forest soil was good for coconuts, and Gallagher might have been trying out different areas experimentally to see what combinations of soil, exposure to the wind, etc. worked best. But it still seems an odd thing to do. One of the things that makes me wish we could find something -- like Gallagher's photographs -- that might help us be surer about where the bones were really found.


Message: 8
Subject: Amelia's Powerplants
Date: 1/31/01
From: Woody

There is quite a bit of confusion about Amelia's powerplants. Look in photo 4 of Brink's book . If they are standing in front of Amelia's plane then it's a 10A at that point in time (that's clearly a R-985). Look at photo 6 (after the crash).Those engines are R-1340s. The easiest way to discern the difference is that the 985 cam is in the front cover so the pushrod tubes bolt onto the front cover. You can see one of the front cover attaching bolts in between the first two pushrod tubes in the photo. The 1340 has the cam in the main case so the pushrod tubes attach to it behind the front cover. You can see the circular row of bolts that hold the front cover on quite clearly on a 1340. The round object in between the cover bolts and pushrod tubes is the spark plug wire loom.

Last summer I traveled to Denton, Midland and Tucson just to satisfy my curiosity about engine installations and the way they look. I took a look at Linda Finch's plane (1340s) , the CAF's C-45 and the Pima Air Museum's 10-A (985s). I also have a military repair manual from 1954 on 985s and all of the 1340 variants. Many illustrations and quite informative. Look at Pratt and Whitney's site on the net. They say that her plane was a 10-A! They also have all of their engine cards on file. Maybe they can shed some light on the discrepancy.

Art Kennedy's book High Times states that his company was overhauling her 985s (page 86).Yet in the crash photos in Hawaii those engines are1340s! My only other question is are she and Walter McMenamy really standing in front of her plane? In photo 5 of Brink's book they are in front of her plane again. The engines? 1340s!


From Ric

Your description of how an R-985 "Wasp Jr." differs in appearance from an R-1340 "Wasp" is essentially correct, but immaterial.

Rule Number One:

Don't believe ANYTHING in Brink's book.

Photo number 4 was taken in front of Earhart's Vega, not the Electra as Brink says. The Vega had an R-985. McMenamy spoke with Earhart briefly on the radio during her 1935 Hawaii/Oakland flight. He was not her "technical adviser" as Brink claims.

Every photo of Earhart's Electra from first to last shows it with R-1340s. Every bit of official paperwork on the airplane describes it with the same two R-1340 S3H1s - serial numbers 6149 and 6150. I don't care what mistakes are on the P&W website or in Art Kennedy's book. There is absolutely no mystery about what engines were on Earhart's Electra.

Message: 9
Subject: The Wreck Photo, Revisited
Date: 2/2/01
From: Harry Poole

In looking through previous issues of TIGHAR Tracks, it seems to me that the issue of the wreck photo was left hanging. Perhaps I missed something, but the question seemed to be: Was this photo from an Electra model E, was it Amelia's plane, and was it taken on Gardner/Nikumaroro. If I understand this, the analysis by Photek seemed to support that it was an Electra-E (based on the propeller measurements) but I haven't noticed a final conclusion to this photo. If I missed it, I'm sorry, but can you summarize how this photo now stands?

Harry #2300

From Ric

We still don't know for sure what kind of airplane it is or where or when the photo was taken, but we do know that a more or less intact airplane in the bushes is not consistent with the information (mostly anecdotal at this point) we have about a plane wreck at Gardner. My opinion is that if the wreck photo shows Earhart's airplane, we're looking on the wrong island. I don't think we're looking on the wrong island.

Message: 10
Subject: The Voyage of the Viti
Date: 2/3/01
From: Ric Gillespie

Tom King and I have been trying to sort out the November/December 1941 voyage of His Majesty's Fijian Ship Viti and have turned up a real mystery for the forum to chew on.

First, a little background. The High Commissioner of the Western Pacific High Commission during the entire bones-found-on-Gardner episode was Sir Harry Luke. Our primary source of information about his attitude and actions relating to that subject come from his correspondence and notes in the official WPHC file which Kenton Spading and I reviewed in England a few years ago. Another source of information about this time period, although it doesn't mention the bones, is Sir Harry's later book From a South Seas Diary 1938-1942".

In trying to track what may have become of the bones following Gallagher's death in September 1941, we've been particularly interested in Sir Harry's visit to the Phoenix Islands in November/December of that year. Gallagher had been the driving force behind the Phoenix Island Settlement Scheme since Maude's departure in 1939. With his death the entire project was suddenly without a leader and the High Commissioner's visit was in the nature of an inspection and evaluation to see what might be done next. Accompanying him aboard His Majesty's Fijian Ship Viti were his aide de camp Ian "Mungo" Thompson; Dr. Macpherson, who had been present at Gallagher's death; and an Ellice Islander clerk from the WPHC offices in Fiji by the name of Foua Tofiga who would serve as interpreter. Today Mr. Tofiga lives in Fiji and has been an invaluable source of help and information to TIGHAR in documenting the events of 1940/41. Tom King has also corresponded with Mungo Thompson, now living in Scotland.

From the "messing records" of HMFS Viti, which we copied in England, and from notes kept by Mr. Tofiga at the time, we have been able to reconstruct the voyage of the Viti as follows:

Midnight, November 19, 1941 Ship departs Suva, Fiji
Afternoon, November 25 Brief call at Gardner Island. Aram Tamia (Gallagher's former houseboy and assistant), Bauro Tikana (Gallagher's former clerk and interpreter), and Esera (?) came aboard briefly and met with Sir Harry.
11:00 a.m., November 26 Ship arrives at Canton Island. In his book, Sir Harry says that "the north-bound Clipper arrived from Suva just after we got in." He's referring to the Pan American Airways flying boat that serviced Canton but --- and this is where the mystery begins --- the information we have indicates that PAA did not service Suva at that time. A north-bound Clipper may have arrived on the 26th but it should have come from Auckland, New Zealand via Noumea --- not Fiji.
November 27 Normally, the passengers may have stayed overnight at the PAA hotel on the island and the Clipper would continue it's journey to Hawaii the next day, but Sir Harry says that on the 27th he "Spent the forenoon replying to telegrams received here and preparing letters for the Clipper mail leaving tomorrow." It seems odd that the plane would remain at Canton that long.
November 28 Viti remained at Canton.
November 29 Viti sails for Gardner at 4:30 p.m. The messing records indicate that "Johnny, the handyman at Canton" came aboard for transport to Gardner.
11:00 a.m., November 30 Viti arrives Gardner and the official party goes ashore. Mr. Tofiga's notes indicate that he saw Temou (the island carpenter) and his wife (Emily's parents); "Kuata" (is this Island Magistrate Teng Koata?); Esera (?); and Aram Tamia. Two nurses, "Maria" and "Sengalo" (Emily) joined the ship for transport to Suva for training. Also boarding at Gardner, according to the messing records, were the wireless operator Fasamata and his wife (Otiria O'Brian whom we interviewed in Fiji in 1999) for transport to Hull Island. Debarking at Gardner to take charge of the island hospital was Native Medical Practitioner Vaaiga who had come from Fiji. At 9:00 p.m. the ship left Gardner for Hull.
1:00 p.m. December 1 Viti arrives Hull Island where Fasamata and Otiria debark. The Acting Administrative Officer and Wireless Operator at Hull, a man named Cookson, comes aboard bound for Suva and "badly needed" leave. Apparently Fasamata will take over as wireless operator and, according to Sir Harry's book, so "that the Settlement may not be without a European officer, McGowan, the acting Second Officer aboard the Viti ... has sportingly volunteered to stay." (Stout fellow McGowan --- what?) At 4:00 p.m. the ship is underway again en route to Sydney Island.
9:00 p.m. December 2 Viti arrives at Sydney Island.
Midnight, December 3 The ship departs Sydney. According to the messing record, Johnny-the-handyman's wife and child come aboard for transport to join Johnny on Gardner. Sir Harry describes this incident in his book but erroneously has the woman and infant joining the husband on Canton.
December 4 In the morning the ship pays a brief call at uninhabited Phoenix Island. In the afternoon it stops at Enderbury where Sir Harry entertains the four U.S. Department of Interior colonists aboard Viti with much appreciated tea and cake. Their names are D. N. Hartnell, James Riley, Joe Kepoo, and James Bruhn. The ship sails for Canton that evening.
December 5 Viti arrives back at Canton in the morning where the Clipper, according to Sir Harry's book, "had come in." He and Mungo, he says, "are returning by the Clipper early tomorrow morning" and so are sleeping at the PAA hotel that night. "The Clipper is exceptionally full and several passengers have to sleep in the passages of the hotel."
December 6 Sir Harry's book says, "We took off at 6 a.m. and landed at Suva at 3 pm, after a comfortable journey, during most of which we flew at 11,000 feet. ...The only land we saw before approaching the Fiji Group was Futuna; and as we neared Suva I asked the Captain to circle over our leper island, Makongai, which I thought would interest the passengers and knew would delight the patients. ... The next day (Western Time) came the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor...". However, Sir Harry's account seems to be at odds with the history of PAA's service --- as we'll see shortly. According to Tofiga's notes, Viti departed Canton at the same hour Sir Harry says the Clipper took off for Suva and arrived at Hull around 4:30 p.m., remaining only an hour before continuing on to Gardner.
December 7 Viti calls at Gardner en route back to Fiji just long enough to drop off Johnny's family and 18 tins of condensed milk (at the direction of Dr. Macpherson). Tofiga's notes indicate they arrived at 8:00 a.m. and departed at 9:00 a.m. It is his recollection that he learned of the Pearl Harbor attack while at Gardner. If so, the word must have gotten out very quickly because, allowing for the one hour time difference, the last wave of Japanese planes had just left Pearl when the Viti left Gardner. Our best guess is that the ship's radio picked up a news flash from KGMB or one of the other commercial stations in Honolulu.
Afternoon, December 11 Viti arrives back in Suva, Fiji.

Now --- here's the mystery. The following are excerpts from an article "Pan American Airways and New Zealand 1937-1959" by Brian Lockstone appearing in the June 2000 issue of the Journal of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand:

[By January 1938] Pan American had already concluded that, until longer-range aircraft were available, the New Zealand service would be minimal, but the loss of Musik and his aircraft (the "Samoan Clipper" crash of January 10, 1938) forced postponement until 1940 when the enormous Boeing 314 entered service. ...

The U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board had awarded traffic rights to Pan American on 12 June 1940, and the route was amended to San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton Island-Noumea-Auckland. (Previously it had been San Francisco-Honolulu-Kingman Reef-Pago Pago-Auckland.) ...

The route also bypassed the British Colony of Fiji where entry had been denied as the UK Government had not wanted to grant traffic rights to Pan American while its own carrier, Imperial/British Overseas Airways Corporation, lacked the resources to fly the route. ...

The early hours of 7 December 1941 caught Boeing 314 NC18611 "Anzac Clipper" inbound to Honolulu, and it was diverted to Hilo. Further south, Captain Robert Ford was in command of NC18602 (named "Pacific Clipper" by the US press although contemporary photographs indicate that no name other than "Clipper" was painted on the aircraft) was inbound to Auckland from Noumea. On reaching Auckland he sought advice from the US Consul, and his company, and was directed to return to the US as best he could. He departed Auckland on December 15 ...

If the British had not relented in allowing PAA to service Fiji, and if the route in late 1941 was still San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton Island-Noumea-Auckland, how could Sir Harry take the Clipper to Suva?

The north-bound flight arriving on November 26th could be Captain Ford's airplane en route to Hawaii. He takes off from Canton on the 27th and flies to Honolulu. A few days later he comes back through, reaching Canton on December 5th, the same day Viti arrives back there, and Sir Harry could be on the plane when it heads south on the 6th, but was it going to Suva or Noumea --- or both? Suva is pretty much on the way from Canton to Noumea, so it would be easy to make a stop if a landing was allowed, but here's the problem. Sir Harry says they landed at Suva at 3:00 p.m. The distance from Suva to Noumea is about 700 nautical miles. Anyway you figure it, the landing at Noumea has to be in the dark. The article has the plane en route from Noumea to Auckland on the morning of the 7th so they can't very well have overnighted in Fiji.

So we have three questions:

  1. Had the British government extended landing rights in Fiji to PAA by December 1941?
  2. Had the Honolulu to Auckland route been amended to include Suva?
  3. Did PAA make night landings with the 314s?

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