Forum artHighlights From the Forum

March 11 through 17, 2001

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Offset or No Offset? Oscar Boswell
Re: Offset or No Offset? Chris Kennedy, Oscar Boswell
Re: Offset or No Offset? Tom Van Hare
Re: Offset or No Offset? Ron Reuther
Smoking Shoe Greg R.
Re: Offset or No Offset? Jim Tierney
Cat's Paw Heels Rollin Reineck
Re: Cat's Paw Heels Larry Turner
Cat's Paw Rubber Bob Perry
News About Amelia Search Roger Kelley
Re: News About Amelia Search Don Jordan
Re: News About Amelia Search Tom MM, Herman De Wulf, etc.
Shoe Mystery Solved
Patrick Gaston
Re: Cat's Paw Rubber Larry Turner

Message: 1
Subject: Offset or No Offset?
Date: 3/13/01
From: Oscar Boswell

Ric wrote:

> … If the 19:12 message came after
> interception of the advanced LOP and a run down it (or up it) for the length
> of the planned offset, it changes the speculation about the accuracy of the
> 200 and 100 miles out estimates.

Well, remember that you believe the estimates were by different people. The 200 mile estimate was from the plane -- perhaps based on DR and the growing light in the sky to the East (morning twilight begins before sunrise). The classic execution of the offset (if I understand properly) calls for a course change 60 miles before reaching the LOP - one alters course 20 degrees for a 20 mile offset, etc. The distance to the LOP is thus increased by only about 3 miles (20 squared = 400 ; 60 squared = 3600; 400 +3600 = 4000 and the square root of 4000 = 63 +) by a 20 degree change (20 mile offset). Adding the 3 mile increase, plus 20 miles flown on the LOP increases distance flown to cover the 200 miles to 223 --- well within the capability of the plane during the period from 1744 to 1912, and no big deal when dealing with a rough estimate. If both estimates came from the plane, there's a conflict between 200 miles at 1744 and 100 miles at 1811, but the same conflict exists whether or not the offset was flown.

From Ric

Sounds like the offset or no offset question is a non-issue. There's no evidence that there was one but no significant consequence if there was.

Message: 2
Subject: Re: Offset or No Offset?
Date: 3/13/01
From: Chris Kennedy, Oscar Boswell

Is the issue of whether or not there was an offset really a non-issue? From earlier postings I thought the purpose of an offset, here, would have been to offset your intersect path to the LOP enough to the north to be fairly certain that you would hit the LOP at a point north of Howland and then could head south knowing Howland was south. Without a latitude fix it seems directly relevant and actually a pretty smart thing to do (especially if you're also having radio problems approaching the LOP), and is there any evidence that FN didn't do it here, even though he didn't apparently do it with the Clippers? Even if you missed Howland you could then continue along the LOP to Gardner, so doing an offset wouldn't seem to prevent the flight from getting to Gardner.


From Oscar Boswell

The only "issue" involved with the offset is trying to understand what probably took place that morning. For my part, I can't imagine FN not making an offset under the circumstances. But did he? We don't know. Does it make any difference whether he did or not? We don't know that either. But like many other seemingly unimportant issues, it may have some importance later in the discussion. It is, after all, a matter that relates directly to navigational technique and to the probable position of the plane at 1912 - both of which have a great deal to do with the ultimate outcome of the flight (whatever that was).

From Ric

I guess I'm just dense, but this seems like much ado about nothing. If we start with the assumption that -- barring the discovery of a journal buried on Gardner -- there is no way to know for sure whether or not an offset was used. We can have one camp argue for no offset, therefore the flight probably yadda-yadda-yadda; and another camp argue for a 30 miles offset to the north, therefore the flight probably yadda-yadda-yadda; and another camp argue for a 30 mile offset to the south, therefore the flight probably yadda-yadda-yadda; ad infinitum, ad absurdum, ad nausea.

There are clearly numerous ways the flight could have ended up at Gardner, ranging from meticulously executed emergency procedures to blind dumb luck. The question is, did it? The answer to that is not going to be found in speculation about offsets or reconstructions of hypothetical scenarios (diverting as those exercises might be).

I suggest that our energies and bandwidth might be better spent on subjects that address the testing of the Gardner hypothesis.

Message: 3
Subject: Re: Offset or No Offset?
Date: 3/13/01
From: Tom Van Hare

On the subject of offset, I do recall posting a year or so ago that in the book, China Clippers, they refer to Noonan's navigation technique. They say that he used offset. Furthermore, my interview with that Pan Am captain -- previously reported -- was that his recollection was that Noonan actually invented the offset technique and, as a result, "always used it".

Regardless, I think I agree with Ric. The discussion is rather a dead end.

If Noonan used offset, my view is that the logical choice would have been to select north if the islands to the south (Phoenix Group) were the emergency alternate selected. Alternativevly, if the winds were considered, the logical choice could have been to the south, so that the plane could have run downwind in its search -- or maybe the other way around -- but who knows?

Ultimately, the options are still the same. They didn't make it to Howland Island. Therefore, they either ended up in the water or they made some island landfall and were not found by the following search effort.

Like so many other readers here in this forum, I just have a hard time believing that with four hours of fuel on board they couldn't somehow have circled or run up and down the line long enough to find some island out there. After all, after an hour or two of circling, looking for the island, they would certainly have known that their computed position was less and less likely to be accurate. So, at some point, when there is still a couple of hours of fuel, you would think they would stop searching for an isolated island and just head to the nearest group of islands. But then, maybe they didn't. In the end, it is just all conjecture.

To me, the real mystery is why no communication was heard after 5he "running north and south" report. At that point, she had four hours of fuel left, yet the radio, from that point onward is strangely silent. And she was calling in on prescribed times. Radio failure? Damaged antenna? We may never know.

Thomas Van Hare

Message: 4
Subject: Re: Offset or No Offset?
Date: 3/13/01
From: Ron Reuther

In Wings Across the Pacific by Terry Gwynn-Jones, 1991, he says referring to the first PAA flight of the China Clipper to Guam in 1935 on which:

The next day's flight to Wake Island was not such a simple navigational exercise. Much of the flight was conducted over a dense cover of low cloud. Even though the island base was equipped with a radio direction finder to provide the aircraft with bearings, the equipment was still notoriously unreliable and no crew worth its salt would dare rely on radio alone to find its way.

Although taking octant (aerial sextant) sights of the sun enabled the navigator to easily determine the latitude, there was little to assist in determining the longitude, which indicated how far they had traveled along their course. Thus, on this leg in particular, Noonan navigated in earnest, putting into practice the techniques he had set up after conferring with Harold Gatty, Wiley Post's navigator on his first world flight. ... One of the navigation methods Gatty introduced to Pan am was Francis Chichester's 'theory of deliberate error'... It was a standby procedure for locating Wake, as a former Clipper pilot Horace Brock recalled in his book Flying the Oceans:

If we had serious doubts about our position, we would get a sun line when the sun was low in the sky in the late afternoon, as we were nearing Wake, and then advance the line to have it run through Wake on the chart. Then we would make a definite turn to the north or south and dead reckon up to the line, so to be reasonably sure we were either north or south of Wake. Then we would turn to fly down the line till we made landfall. It was sometimes nerve-wracking. Radio bearings would have made it all so easy --- had good ones been obtainable. Often they were not.

Ron Reuther
From Ric

Very interesting. I wonder when Flying The Oceans was written.

Message: 5
Subject: Smoking Shoe
Date: 3/13/01
From: Greg R.

No joke. A link between AE, FN, or GP and the RN on the shoe would be very convincing. The meaning of RN wouldn't be needed if a known pair of AE, FN, or GP shoes had the same mark under the heel. I include GP because AE may have used the same shoemaker as her husband. The odds of a coincidence are 26x26 or 676 to one.

From Ric

Before everyone gets too wound up about this RN thing:

This week I'll be finishing up Part 2 of the "Shoe Fetish" research bulletin which will be the main article in this month's TIGHAR Tracks (to be mailed to TIGHAR members next week) and will also be mounted on the website after the members have received their newsletters.

To cut to the chase -- new research by Photek into the dimensions of the heel and sole of Earhart's shoe, as shown in the photo of her standing on the wing, has revealed that the photo is really quite deceiving and, after correcting for various factors, the shoe is actually quite a bit smaller than we had thought. The sole is 205.6 mm (roughy a size 6 1/2) and the heel is 55.1 mm in length. The sole we found on the island, when reassembled as best we could, measured approximately 277 mm. The Cat's Paw heel measures 81 mm in length.

We're indebted to our ardent critic, Rollin Reineck, who first noticed that the heel in the photo seemed to be too short to be the heel found on the island. His criticism, expressed here on the forum back in December, prompted us to hire Photek to carry out a true forensic imaging analysis of the photo. It was expensive (which is one reason we had never done it before) and a lot more complex than we, or Rollin for that matter, ever suspected, but the results cast a new light on the Aukeraime shoe. It's too big to be the shoe in the photo.

What does that mean? We're not sure yet. Anytime there's a big new piece of information it takes time to rethink previous assumptions and understand all the ramifications. Once the new bulletin is up we'll all have a chance to review the available information and kick around what new conclusions might be warranted.


Message: 6
Subject: Re: Offset or No Offset?
Date: 3/14/01
From: Jim Tierney

Regarding Brock's book – the full title is Flying the Oceans: A Pilot's Story of Pan AM, 1935-1955. My copy is a third edition --- 1978 copyright published by Jason Aronson, Inc. in 1983. I show references to the original publishing by Stinehour Press, Lunenburg ,VT in 1978. I would guess 1978 is the date.

LTM who resides in this dank musty library with me.
Jim Tierney

From Ric

Okay, thanks. So none of the accounts of Noonan using an offset to find Wake are contemporaneous. That doesn't make them untrue, of course, but it does make them anecdotal.

Message: 7
Subject: Cat's Paw Heels
Date: 3/14/01
From: Rollin Reineck

It should be remembered the the Cat's Paw heels were unisex. I am old enough to remember buying them at the 10 cents store for about 35 cents a pair. You could also buy shoe soles. Most of my friends just put cardboard inside the shoe to cover up the hole. It was during the depression that they were popular.

From Ric

Well, actually, they're still available and popular. Check with your local shoe repair shop. They even still have "traction plugs."

Yes, replacement heels of this style are unisex. We never said otherwise. It was the press that talked about a "woman's shoe heel." BiltRite's opinion that the shoe found on the island was a woman's was based upon two things:

  • the "fineness and tightness" of the stitching holes visilble on the sole
  • the small size of the brass eyelet

Message: 8
Subject: Re: Cat's Paws
Date: 3/15/01
From: Larry Turner

It has been my experience working on a ranch for fifty some years that old rubber left out in the environment will swell quite substantially. The difference in the picture of AE heal and the artifact does not (in my opinion) preclude it from being the one and same. There is no way to determine what amount of size change would take place on the heal left on the island for 60 some years. As one example I have a set of 50 year old tires which are still mounted on an old car chassis made into a feed wagon that are swollen and distorted from age. Pictures available if needed. (out behind the barn in the junk pile)

LTM (who's old, wrinkled and distorted with age)
Larry Turner

From Ric

Interesting. What's the climate like where you are?

Message: 9
Subject: Cat's Paw Rubber
Date: 3/15/01
From: Bob Perry

Not to take away from Larry's observations of his old car tires, but "swelling" is not a likely event with rubber exposed to the elements. Exposure to organic solvents (gasoline/oil, etc) is a different matter. Unvulcanized rubber dissolves in the latter solvents; vulcanized rubber in tires, shoe parts, radiator hoses, etc, swells in those solvents (not water). Possibly his car tires were exposed to oil, etc. Volatile solvents would evaporate over time, and swelling would disappear.

Tires, of course, degrade over time when exposed to ozone (oxygen, sunlight UV), and severe cracking occurs. A car sitting for 50-60 years undoubtedly has severely distorted (flat, cracked) tires.

Rubber used in heels, even natural rubber, the only thing available before WW II and very susceptible to attack by ozone, was highly vulcanized, which reduces sites for such attack. The likelihood of much swelling in Cats Paw heels left in sand, salt water, air and sunlight, only, over a long time is small. The more likely event is reduction in dimensions from abrasion if subjected to wave action of the ocean on a beach,for example. Otherwise, it should remain largely intact, possibly with minor surface embrittlement.

LTM, (those quadrillion tires near here aren't too "swell")

Message: 10
Subject: News About Amelia Search
Date: 3/16/01
From: Roger Kelley

Thursday, 15 March 2001 18:01 (ET)
Deep-sea firm out to find Amelia Earhart

HANOVER, Md., March 15 (UPI) -- The underwater explorers who helped reveal the secrets of the Titanic now believe they know where to find Amelia Earhart, the famed female aviator who disappeared in 1937.

"We hope to mount an expedition later this year," said David Jourdan, president and founder of Nauticos, a deep-sea exploration firm in Hanover, Md. "We're pretty sure we can raise it to the surface. We're in arrangements to sign an agreement with the Smithsonian for their participation."

Amelia Earhart vanished without a trace along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, on July 2, 1937, during the longest over-water leg of her record-setting attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world.

"It's one of the biggest mysteries of our century," said Tom Dettweiler, the company's director of operations. "There's been a lot of speculation as to what happened to her."

Nauticos worked with Elgen Long, an expert on Earhart, to pinpoint a secret area they are convinced is the aviator's final resting place. They think her all-metal airplane remains preserved on the bottom of the ocean, about 5,200 meters (17,000 feet) down.

"We believe she landed on the water in a semi-controlled manner because she ran out of fuel," Dettweiler said. "A good pilot can put an airplane relatively intact on the surface of the water. Then it probably sank relatively quickly."

The deep ocean's unique conditions may have kept Earhart's twin-engine plane very well-preserved. The deep ocean is cold and low in oxygen, conditions which prevent decay. Airplanes also tend not to use dissimilar metals, whose different chemical compositions could promote corrosion.

While the plane may have survived, the researchers do not believe her crew did, given the projected landing area's open-sea location.

"In her attempt to go around the world, to explore new territory, Amelia Earhart really set an example, even though she tragically did not survive in the end," Jourdan said. "And we really want to live up to that example that she set and finish her work."

Nauticos has been working with Long for about four years, using a computer modeling system developed for U.S. Navy nuclear submarines.

"You can put in any sort of data, whether from actual navigation instruments or just anecdotal information -- sighting of lights, wind and currents from historical data," Dettweiler said.

Earhart's custom-built Lockheed Electra L10E disappeared in the Pacific somewhere in the 4,113-kilometer (2,556-mile) stretch between Lae, New Guinea, and the tiny atoll of Howland Island. Long's data helped Nauticos determine a preliminary search area of 5,180 square kilometers (2,000 square miles). The company then consulted with several scientists to narrow the area down. Radio experts in California helped determine how far from land the plane must have been, given Earhart's last radio messages. Jourdan said Nauticos also consulted a visual acuity specialist at MIT in Boston, given that Earhart said she could not see the landing site.

Jourdan said the search team narrowed the plane's possible location to a roughly 1,300-square-kilometer (500-square-mile) area.

Gordon Bowman-Jones, who has studied the Amelia Earhart mystery for the past 35 years, said the company has reached new findings through computer analysis that no one has ever come up with before.

"For instance, the plane's fuel capacity was rated at 1,000 gallons at an ambient temperature of 60 degrees, but the fuel was loaded the aircraft at Lae at an ambient temperature of 85 degrees, where it would have expanded due to the heat," Bowman-Jones said. "When the plane climbed to an altitude of 8,000 feet, at which temperatures were at somewhere around 35 to 40 degrees, the volume of fuel would have decreased due to the cold.

"Given the calculations, she could not have made it to Howland Island," he concluded. "She would have fallen short anywhere from 40 to 80 miles."

Nauticos has been in talks for roughly a year now with the U.S. Navy, the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic and various universities to sponsor a search and recovery mission. Nauticos has a long history of underwater expeditions, having served as operations manager for the Discovery Channel's 1998 special on the Titanic.

"We'll need one ship, but it'll have to be a relatively large ship, capable of sustaining itself for at least 45 days out there, along with a fairly large crew and a lot of heavy equipment," Dettweiler said. "The difficulty is that this location is very far away from any major ports."

Nauticos will use the ship to search the sea with a sonar array, moving back and forth in regularly-spaced paths. By analyzing and interpreting echoes received by the array, the scientists can tell if they have found a manmade object, such as an airplane.

"The search itself should cost about $3 million, but we're looking at a much bigger picture here," Dettweiler said. "We want to be able to take care of it, ultimately possibly recover it and put it on exhibit, so you're talking about a lot more money once you add those aspects to it."

Jourdan said a traveling exhibit for the recovered airplane is planned if and when the craft is found.

(Reported by UPI Science Writer Charles Choi in Washington.)
Copyright 2010 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

From Ric


They don't have a ship, and they don't have the money. This is fund-raising hype. (Been there, done that.)

Message: 11
Subject: Re: News About Amelia Search
Date: 3/16/01
From: Bob Brandenburg

I'm think this must be an elaborate joke, but I can't resist asking anyway.

Have these people undertaken anything approximating a competent engineering analysis of what they plan to do?

For example, have they considered what they want to drag around looking for the aircraft at a depth of 17,000 feet, and how much the support cable, power cable, and communications/control cable, not to mention the towed body, will weigh - - - and what towing/lifting capacitiy they will require?

Have they worked out how they will actually lift the aircraft fom the bottom? Put slings under it? How? Using big grappling hooks? Or ....? Have they worked out a teleoperator rig that will do the job?

Have they worked out how they will keep the aircraft intact while lifting it, and where they will put it on the ship when (if) they get it to the surface?

Are they going to drag the Glomar Challenger out of mothballs for this?

As for the estimated $3 million dollar cost, that's per day, right?

Many more questions come to mind, but these will suffice.

I happen to be passing familiar with deep ocean operations, including finding things, lifting things, and mooring things in that environment. It ain't trivial, and it's not an exercise for the unwashed.

Bob #2286

From Ric

If you read the article carefully you'll note that there is no mention of attempting recovery on the trip they HOPE to mount later this year.

Message: 12
Subject: Re: News About Amelia Search
Date: 3/17/01
From: Herman De Wulf, Bob Brandenburg

I'm no expert at raising Electras from the ocean floor. Does anyone have experience lifting aircraft from ocean floors? As far I am aware of the Germans do. Anyone who wants to see what the Electra might look like after 64 years in ocean water should take an interest in the salvaging of the only known WW II vintage Focke Wulf FW-200 four engine long range Luftwaffe patrol bomber from a Norwegian fjord in 1999. By raising it was all but destroyed. The aircraft had been ditched and as a result it had been damaged structurally which complicating its being raised safely. So would be AE's Electra.

The Germans were interested in recovering the FW-200 Condor because a civilian version (which came before the maritime patrol bomber version) was used as an airliner by Lufthansa, making a non stop flight from Berlin to New York in 1938.

The salvaging people were no amateurs. They were from a specialised company. When the hull was raised the tail and the cockpit sections broke off. What was eventually recovered is now under restoration at the Lufthansa maintenance plant in Hamburg for static display later in a Berlin museum.

Raising AE's Electra would be like raising the FW-200, only from a greater depth. The Electra is a much smaller aircraft than a FW-200 but in a best case scenario would it probably be just as damaged. It would take just as much care to raise it IF it is there. It would take specialized people and cost even more money than the Germans could spend. It would probably cost more than anyone can afford who has to raise the money. To remain on the safe side let's say that raising AE's Electra from the ocean floor (if it is there) would cost more than anyone can estimate.

Last but not least, as long as nobody KNOWS where to look, nobody will find the aircraft. A number of WW II airplanes have been discovered in different locations in Europe because elderly people still living in the area remembered where they had crashed half a century ago. There were no witnesses to AE's supposed ditching in 1937. When the Titanic was found (here we go again !) at least they KNEW where to look because in 1912 somebody gave its location. And eventually it took a submarine to go and take a look.

If anyone wants to see what AE's Electra MIGHT look like IF it is raised, go to the Focke Wulf's website at :

From Bob Brandenburg

Ric wrote:

> If you read the article carefully you'll note that there is no mention of
> attempting recovery on the trip they HOPE to mount later this year.

My remarks pertain to the overall scheme. The story says, inter alia:

"We want to be able to take care of it, ultimately possibly recover it and put it on exhibit, so you're talking about a lot more money once you add those aspects to it."


From Ric

A rather odd statement when you think about it. They want to "take care of it" and "ultimately possibly recover it"? If they find it, how do they propose to "take care of it" until they "ultimately possibly recover it"? This could be interpreted to mean that they'll keep the location secret --- which would make sense.

Message: 13
Subject: Shoe Mystery Solved
Date: 3/17/01
From: Patrick Gaston

It's absolutely amazing what you can find in the local library if you do a little digging. I have no idea why this article appeared in the Olathe, KS Headlight-Gazette -- maybe it was a slow news day -- but take a look for yourself:

GARDNER ISLAND, Phoenix Group, 8/21/35 -- Officials of Catspaw Corp., an American conglomerate catering to the footwear aftermarket, announced today that its Gardner heel-manufacturing plant would close at year's end.

"We had planned to take advantage of Gardner's centralized location to export Catspaw heels to the entire Pacific rim," explained Seamus "Bud" Gallagher, plant superintendent. "Unfortunately we forgot to take into account that Gardner is 1200 miles from the nearest shipping lane. We had millions of heels stockpiled, with no way to get them to market." Compounding the problem, he said, was the fact that few Pacific islanders actually wear shoes. "I guess you could say that our marketing research left a little to be desired."

In addition, Gallagher said, Catspaw was unable to lure skilled workers to the island "due to the fact that it's basically nothing but bird shit and scaevola. Not to mention the robber crabs, which seem to have killed a couple of our foremen." The remains have not been found, Gallagher added. "People are too afraid to go looking for them."

The two missing employees, Herbert Nooning and Clarice "Clodhopper" Airpart, were last seen headed for a picnic on the island's picturesque Kanawa Point when they apparently became surrounded by a herd of the flesh-eating crustaceans. "They even packed their lunch in an old wooden box to keep it away from the crabs, but nothing stops those buggers when they're on a feeding frenzy," Gallagher mourned. "Still, I'm sure our people put up a good fight. Especially Clarice. She must have given the little bastards hell with those huge feet of hers."

The plant closing spells termination for 35 Gilbertese workers and Gallagher, whose family joined him on the island in 1932. "My son, Gerald, has grown quite fond of the place and wants to come back, but he's always been a little odd. As far as the missus and I are concerned it's the armpit of the Pacific," the elder Gallagher said. "The only way you could get me back here would be if the plane crashed on the way to Honolulu."

The plant's stockpile of 6.5 million replacement heels has been sold to Australia's Trojan Corp., which plans to convert the unwanted inventory into a new line of vulcanized condoms.

"Can you imagine the problems we've had storing six and a half million shoe heels on a one-by-three island? I mean they're everywhere," Gallagher said. I know that Trojan Corp. will do their best, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the damn things were still lying around 50 or 60 years from now."

After closing, the factory will be dismantled and shipped to Australia along with its inventory of replacement heels. Nature will do the rest, Gallagher predicted. "In a couple of years there won't be any signs of recent habitation left -- except maybe for a heel or two, and those cabanas we built out on the beach."

From Ric

You need a hobby.



Subject: Re: Cat's Paw rubber
Date: 3/17/01
From: Larry Turner

The climate where I live:

Central California over 100 in the summer and in the 30's in winter.

To Bob Perry

Is it possible the shoes were exposed to gas and oil in a crash landing on the reef?

Larry Turner

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