Forum artHighlights From the Forum

May 13 through 19, 2001

Contents:
(click on the number to go directly to that message)
1
Prolonged Isolation Larry Glazer
2
Vanessa at Nationals Dave Chase
3
Here's an Interesting Radio-Craft Article Vanessa Chase
4
Panicking Earhart? Don Neumann
5
Re: Here's an Interesting Radio-Craft Article Mike Everette
6
Staying With the Aircraft Don Neumann
7
Memory Side Issue Bob Perry
8
Satellite Imagery Simon Ellwood
9
The Old Trail Andrew McKenna

Message: 1
Subject: Prolonged Isolation
Date: 5/14/01
From: Larry Glazer

In The Mutiny of The Bounty (1831, reprinted as an Oxford University Press Paperback in 1989) by Sir John Barrow, there is a narrative of the November, 1820 wreck of the whaler Essex "near the Equator about 118 W. long."

The story was "related to Mr. Bennet, a gentleman deputed by the Missionary Society of London together with the Rv. Daniel Tyerman... by Captain George Pollard, the unfortunate sufferer, whom these gentlemen met with at Raiatea, then a passenger on an American vessel, having a second time lost his ship near the Sandwich Islands. The narrative is extracted from 'The Journal of Voyages and Travel', just published, of the two gentlemen above-mentioned..."

The Essex collided with a huge whale and all souls were safely put off in three boats, with supplies and navigational equipment, before she sank. They decided to make for South America, which they estimated to be 2,000 miles distant. After three weeks their provisions were running out and the men were exhausted by severe weather, when they came in sight of "a low, uninhabited island". Here they stopped, hoping to resupply food and water, "but were bitterly disappointed. There were some barren bushes and many rocks... The only provision we could procure were a few birds and their eggs... [we could find no fresh water] till, at the extreme verge of ebb tide, a small spring was discovered in the sand; but even that was too scanty to afford us sufficient to quench our thirst before it was covered by the waves..."

"There being no prospect but that of starvation here, we determined to put to sea again. Three of our comrades, however, chose to remain, and we pledged ourselves to send a vessel to bring them off, if we ourselves should ever escape to a Christian port."

The men in the boats ultimately had to resort to cannibalism to survive, but those who did survive were found at sea by a passing vessel.

The three men left on the island survived as well! They were alone on the island from Dec. 26 to April 26, when the Surrey, sent to fetch them under the command of a Captain Raines, arrived. They had lived on birds and berries, and rainwater collected in holes in the rocks. While searching for shelter, they came upon a cave containing eight human skeletons lying side by side, assumed to be shipwrecked mariners from a past wreck.

LTM,
Lawrence M. Glazer


Message: 2
Subject: Vanessa at Nationals
Date: 5/14/01
From: Dave Chase

I'd like to thank the folks who wished Vanessa well at National History Day in June.

By the way Ric, Vanessa has bumped in to some interesting research you may not be aware of -- she'll be putting out an email here very shortly. She's been reading this thread pretty religiously and said other day that she felt like she should be able to contribute something with all the reading she's done. Then, Eureka!, as if on cue she's re-reading a Radio-Craft magazine that someone gave her because it had a blurb about Amelia and suddenly lightening struck. That's it for now -- promised her I wouldn't tell the rest of the story!

Thanks again!
Dave Chase


Message: 3
Subject: Here's an interesting Radio-Craft article
Date: 5/14/01
From: Vanessa Chase

Hi! My name is Vanessa Chase and I'm doing some research for National History Day on Amelia Earhart. One of my sources is a May 1935 issue of Radio-Craft magazine that I actually got on Ebay. On page 647 there's an article about Amelia's use of radio on her flight from Hawaii to Oakland. Ric -- my dad said to type in the whole article and let you decide if it's OK to include. At the end of it I'll summarize why I think it's interesting.

Radio Aided Amelia Earhart on Pacific Flight

Some of the most dramatic stories of radio are the unpublished ones. When Amelia Earhart Putnam took off from Honolulu last month, for the far away landing field at Oakland, Calif., she carried with her a tiny, but efficient 50-watt transmitter and a receiver. During her grueling 17-hour flight she was heard repeatedly calling "Hello -- K F I -- hello -- K F I, Okay! -- and then she would shut her transmitter down with this brief reassurance.

She was transmitting on a frequency of 3,105 kc., which is a difficult channel for daylight transmission. However, several short-wave listeners stuck to their receivers, and their careful manipulation of the dials stood them in good stead -- they kept receiving her feeble calls long after the commercial reception points had lost her signal.

Probably the best reception during this period was had by Mr. Walter B. McMenamy of Los Angeles, who, utilizing the regular aerial of KECA in Los Angeles, never missed a single transmission from Miss Earhart's plane. In fact, Mr. McMenamy was the only one so far as can be ascertained who actually knew of Miss Earhart's location when she was being reported lost; off her course; and the subject of other erroneous reports.

It was at this time that station KFI broke into the Metropolitan Opera program with the welcome message that "Amelia is safe and coming along Okay!" Mr. McMenamy and another listener, Mr. Frank D. Andrews, kept KFI informed throughout the long vigil of Miss Earhart's messages, and during the night, KFI would come back to Miss Earhart's messages through their own 50 kw. transmitter. It is needless to say that those who were fortunate enough to be listening that night were treated to one of the greatest radio dramas of all times.

I'm sorry to bother you if you already know about this. It was very exciting for me!

To me, this story adds alot of credibility to the news reports of Mr. McMenamy hearing Amelia sending distress calls on July 4, 1937. It shows that either Mr. McMenamy's radio/antenna system was unusually good or that he had unusual skills at using a shortwave radio. Maybe both? In my mind this is good news for the TIGHAR theory that Amelia landed somewhere, somehow.

Vanessa


From Ric

Thanks Vanessa! I was aware the McMenamy had heard Earhart during the 1935 Honolulu/Oakland flight but I had never seen any details. It does sound like McMenamy had a pretty efficient set-up and his experience with Earhart seems to end credibility to his claim of recognizing her voice in 1937. Good research.

When you get a chance, it would be nice if you could run a photocopy of that article and mail it to us for our files.


Message: 4
Subject: Panicking Earhart?
Date: 5/14/01
From: Don Neumann

While we're on the subject of subjective opinions...generally speaking, one usually becomes 'panic stricken' & 'frantic' in response to the happening of a sudden, unexpected, unforeseeable event/events of substantial proportions.

The termination of the AE/FN flight, whether by landing wheels down on Gardner/Nikumaroro Island or ditching at sea were not sudden, unexpected or unforeseeable events. (Unless one subscribes to the...'suddenly, ran out of gas & dove straight into ocean'...hypothesis.)

AE/FN had several hours (depending upon which 'remaining' fuel supply scenario you accept as true) to contemplate the consequences of their failure to locate Howland Island or establish two-way radio communication with Itasca & while I'm certain they were more than a little frustrated & irritated by those failures & were hurriedly racking their collective brains for some workable, alternative solutions to their problems, I'm of the opinion they were not wasting precious time working themselves into an emotional, hysterical state, as suggested by the several subjective opinions of those who claim to have detected such signs in the sound of AE's radio voice, both before & after the flight was declared terminated.

Strain & frustration, yes...but not hysteria!

AE was well aware that the undertaking of this last, longest, over-water (mostly at night) leg of the flight would be the most challenging & dangerous. Recognizing the rigors of such a long-range, overwater fIight, had prompted her to return to Bandoeng for replacement &/or adjustment of malfunctioning instruments, rather than go with her 'gut' reaction to fly on ahead to Australia, rather than lose time by turning back to Bandoeng.

It has also been alleged that she even might be said to have anticipated the possibility of failing landfall at Howland, when in a casual conversation, she supposedly told Mr. Vidal, that she'd simply try to... 'fly back to a beach in the Gilberts'...

We have some prior examples of how AE usually reacted to dangerous flying situations, most notable would have to be the ground-loop fiasco on take-off on the first world-flight attempt from Honolulu, when it was claimed that she had sufficient presence of mind to 'cut' the switches while her disabled aircraft was scraping down the runway, in a hail of sparks (with fully loaded fuel tanks) & even was able to think of an alibi (tire blow-out) for her own failure to properly handle the twin throttles, when the plane started to drift to the right during take-off. (Later alleged by Paul Mantz as the real cause of the accident.) This incident supposedly scared the daylights out of Harry Manning & was one of the factors causing him to drop out of the flight.

AE was indeed no stranger to being required to handle flying emergencies, what with all the documented crack-ups she'd lived through, for example, there was also the autogyro crack-up, where she simply walked away after totalling the aircraft & smashing into parked vehicles, in much the same way she simply walked away from the Honolulu, crash, seemingly unpreturbed & on to the next business at hand.

Frankly, from all that I've read, (including most of her own writings) I'd be inclined to believe that AE was simply too much of a 'fatalist' to get 'panic stricken' or 'frantic' over the possibility of losing her life in an airplane, at least not as long as she still had her hands on the wheel & throttles & possessed any semblance of control over the manner & location of ditching or landing her aircraft.

Don Neumann


From Ric

Interesting observations. Earhart's behavior after mishaps was, as you say, fairly consistent --- although whether attributable to steely nerves or embarrassed arrogance might be debatable. She reminds me of a cat that has fallen out of a window sill and gets up with an air of " I meant to do that." It was fairly typical of her to make a mess of something and just walk away as if it never happened, leaving it to others to clean up.

She does seem to have been able to keep her head during flights that weren't going well, and that is a basic survival trait for any pilot. There seems to be some evidence, however, that she disliked abrupt manuevers. There is an incident related in Dwiggins' biography of Paul Mantz (Hollywood Pilot) in which Mantz describes the arrival over Honolulu at the end of the March 1937 flight from Oakland. Earhart was tired so Mantz took the controls to make the approach and landing. "I wrapped it around in a steep bank to check the windsock. AE yelled 'Don't! Don't!' She was very tired and kind of exuberant. She calmed down when I made a normal approach pattern and we landed."

Thoughout her flying career I've never seen reference to her doing any sort of aerobatic manuever or even "buzzing" an airfield. When she first learned to fly she took far more instruction than normal before she agreed to solo, insisting that she learn more advanced manuevers than are usually required b efore she took the plane up by herself. In a newsreel piece where she is 'testing' a new parachute training device (the tower that later ended up at Coney Island) there is a terrified scream when the 'chute is first released. It's impossible to know whether the scream was genuine or dubbed in later.

My suspicion is that Earhart did very well in dangerous and demanding situations that were "cerebral" rather than "physical", but I think that violence terrified her. If Betty's notebook describes the situation we think it does --- an airplane perched precariously on a coral reef increasingly battered by waves and rising water --- Earhart might well have been on the edge of panic.

LTM
Ric


Message: 5
Subject: Re: Here's an interesting Radio-Craft article
Date: 5/15/01
From: Mike Everette

Vanessa's posting is indeed interesting.

I can shed some light on the circumstances from a technical, anecdotal standpoint.

I worked at a broadcast station back in high school and while in college working on my history degree. The station signed off for maintenance on Sundays from 12:30 am till 5:00 am; and many times, after doing whatever had to be done -- changing tubes in the transmitter, cleaning dust off insulators to prevent arc-overs, etc etc etc -- I would couple a receiver into the antenna-tuning cabinet and use the station's towers to see what could be heard, either D-Xing the standard broadcast band, listening to the amateur 160-meter band or 80-meter band. (1.8-2 MHz, 3.5-4 MHz respectively).

The results? Phenomenal. The reason? Broadcast station antenna arrays are big, of course, plus they have an extensive copper-wire ground screen beneath them, buried just under the surface. This of course makes for a wonderfully efficient receiving antenna. I was able to pick up ham signals from Europe and the Middle East that I could never have dreamed of hearing at home; plus standard broadcast signals from as far as California.

If Mr. McMenamy was using the antenna of a commercial broadcast station to receive AE, there is practically no doubt he'd have heard her. If a gnat sneezed on 3105 KHz, he'd have heard it, on a nighttime path... think also, this is an overwater path for the most part.

Wonder if he did the same thing, when he claimed to have heard her in 1937?

Good going, Vanessa!

LTM (who never misses a thing)
and 73
Mike E.


Message: 6
Subject: Staying with the aircraft
Date: 5/15/01
From: Don Neumann

Ric wrote:

>If Betty's notebook describes the situation we think it does --- an
>airplane perched precariously on a coral reef increasingly battered by
>waves and rising water --- Earhart might well have been on the edge of
>panic.

Possibly... that is if we can prove the voice Betty heard was in fact AE & if we can prove that AE did in fact land the Electra on the reef flat at Gardner/Nikumaroro.

Though... I somehow doubt (opinion) that AE/FN would have stayed with the aircraft that long, unless of course, they happened to ditch in the water on the reef flat at high tide.

While I agree that AE was no steel nerved, super heroine, I simply think (opinion) that she was too inflexible & stubborn to give in to her emotions, whatever the circumstances, although if someone had intercepted some...'expletives deleted'... on any of her frequencies, I'd be more inclined to accept such intercepts as valid !

Dennis McGee wrote:

>So, what's that have to do with Amelia Earhart? Not much. It's
>just that it's one more connection to our aviation past has been
>severed, and it got me to thinking of aviation's other great names that
>have been, are, or soon will be lost.

...And the irony is, that AE will, no doubt, probably be remembered long after all the others have become very faded memories or names on pages of ancient history books, all because she couldn't locate that xxxx island !

Don Neumann


From Ric

I don't follow your reasoning. You doubt that AE would have stayed with the airplane that long --- but how long is that long? We don't know what day Betty's intercepts were heard. If the voice she heard was Earhart's then AE was obviouisly still able to use the radio. Do you feel that she would abandon the aircraft while she was still able to send distress calls?

Seems to me that an aircraft that was still capable of being used as a radio station but was threatening by increasingly dangerous tidal conditions would present a terrible quandary. How long do you stick with it, clinging to your only possible link to the outside world, as the water rises and waves slam it around? You're way out there on the edge of the reef with 600 yards of water and slippery coral separating you from the beach and there's "fins to the left, fins to the right, and you're the only bait in town." Throw in a blazing sun and a whacked-out navigator and you have a somewhat upsetting situation.

To my mind, the combination of barely controlled panic, desperation, and anger (including the string of expletives you're looking for) described in Betty's notebook is entirely believable as the way Amelia Earhart might behave under such circumstances.


Message: 7
Subject: Memory Side Issue
Date: 5/16/01
From: Bob Perry

You're right, for sure, on garbled memory. Our memories of factual information, detail, etc. are normally not to be trusted in the absence of corroborating information and "hard" evidence. This is especially true if one is being pushed to remember in a serious setting later. Suggestion is proven to be a powerful influence in gleaning (false) answers from persons questioned about past events.

This is not to say that one's recollections/impressons are always wrong. A strong emotional component in the event recalled greatly improves one's memory of it.

For those interested in Amelia Earhart's life and her as a person, which is tangential, I know, to TIGHAR's mission, there have been many quotes over the years by persons who met or knew her. Those can be sifted through and conclusions reached. (You probably have better knowledge of this than anyone else). Those quotes make fascinating reading, and there could be much truth in what one recalled.

I personally have vivid recollections of LBJ dating from childhood (he was a next-door neighbor). Those recollections were substantiated in later years. My wife and I met Nixon in a receiving line at an airport one time. Our memories/impressions of his personality in that brief encounter were more than supported by later events.

The point? Shirley Temple's recollections of AE from that brief experience are not necessarily wrong. They are just interesting input to be added to the tons of information that one reads in gaining an overall impression of the public person of AE.

LTM,
Bob Perry # 2021


From Ric

Absolutely. Memories can be incredibly accurate or just as incredibly screwed-up. As you say, without hard evidence there is just no way to tell.


Message: 8
Subject: Satellite Imagery
Date: 5/17/01
From: Simon Ellwood

Wot --- no raw image ??!!

I was really looking forward to taking a good hard look at the raw image with decent software rather than a magnifying glass on a computer printout.

Maybe we jumped the gun a little in assuming the image would be available to TIGHAR members in general --- but you certainly weren't very forthcoming before hand with this restrictive circulation info.

LTM (who always checks what she's contibuting towards)
Simon #2120


From Ric

I really don't know how I could have been clearer. The following is an excerpt from my posting to the forum of April 25, 2001:

Ordering custom satellite photos is a bit different from hiring a photographer to take pictures. The customer does not own the images outright but rather purchases the rights to use the images in specific ways via a licensing agreement. We originally thought that the project would cost $6,000 but, as it turned out, our intended use of the imagery -- analysis for research purposes and reproduction for the TIGHAR membership -- carried a far higher price tag. Further complicating the issue was the fact that we do not have the expertise internally to analyze the data. Making the high resolution data available to another entity to do the analysis would further increase the cost.

A creative solution to the problem was made possible with the cooperation of Space Imaging and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It seems that NOAA is conducting a study of the world's coral reefs to assess their health and the environmental factors threatening them. The reef at Nikumaroro is one of the few pristine examples left but, because it's not U.S. territory, NOAA is not able to spend money to take pictures of it. The deal we worked out is that TIGHAR will pay for the acquisition of the imagery. We'll share it with NOAA who will both analyze it for our research purposes and use it in their own coral reef study, and we'll be able to make pretty pictures of Niku available to our members with proper credit to Space Imaging --- and the cost of all this to TIGHAR is $3,000, half of what we originally anticipated.

I don't understand how someone could read that and think that we were going to be able to release the raw imagery to the public. What we CAN do is share the raw data with TIGHAR members, or contractors (such as Photek), for analysis with the express contractual understanding that the results of the analysis are proprietary to TIGHAR and that the imagery and analysis will not be used for any other purpose. Naturally, we're not much inclined to enter into such a contract unless the member or contractor has specific expertise that we need.

I feel bad about this because the essence of our investigation has always been the free (or reasonably priced) sharing of information with those who want to help, and TIGHAR's real power is in the goodwill and good brains of its members. However, in this particular case my hands are tied by the conditions of our licensing agreement with Space Imaging.

There is also another consideration, and this is one that I have admittedly NOT been forthcoming about for reasons that I think you'll understand. A few weeks ago I was contacted by an individual who wanted to hire me as a consultant to an expedition he said he is mounting to Nikumaroro this summer. He said he had put together a team that included a highly competent deep-water search company (I recognized the name), and had made arrangements to charter a large ship (I recognized the name). He claimed to have funding from a television network (he wouldn't say which one) and to have ten-year old satellite imagery of the island which showed an offshore "target" that he believed was the airplane. He also had plans to excavate Gallagher's grave, believing that it might contain relics pertinent to the Earhart disappearance. His ambition was strictly financial and he hoped to make a lot of money exhibiting what he planned to find.

This guy has nothing to do with Elgen Long, Nauticos, Timmer or any of the other known players in the Earhart game. He just came out of the blue and he's our worst nightmare. Since then I've been able to determine that his alleged ten-year old satellite imagery probably doesn't exist, his underwater search expert has never met him in person, and he has not concluded a deal on the large ship charter. I haven't heard anything further for some time now and I don't know if the guy has abandoned his plan or has just gone back underground. In any event, I don't want to do anything that might help him --- including revealing his identity. I only mention it now by way of explaining to you, our friends, why we have to be very careful until we can get out to the island ourselves.

LTM,
Ric


Message: 9
Subject: The Old Trail
Date: 5/19/01
From: Andrew McKenna

This is from the research bulletin called "signs of recent habitation":

It is worth noting that we are not the first to notice "trails" on this part of the island. When the U.S. Navy prepared a map of Gardner Island from the aerial photo mosaic taken on April 30, 1939 and the results of the surface survey made by USS Bushnell in November 1939, the map maker noted the presence of an "old trail" between the lagoon and the ocean at a location about one kilometer northwest of the "7." The feature can be seen in the 1939 aerial mosaic and in the 1938 photo.
Can you see anything on the sat photo that might correspond with the old trails noted by the Bushnell survey? The scrap of map in the bulletin is too small for me to locate or even guestimate where it lies in relation to the 7 site.

Andrew McKenna 1045


From Ric

I'll take a look but, so far, we've seen no sign of the "old trail" in any photography after 1939, which makes it that much more suspicious. If it was a natural feature that created the illusion of a trail, it shouldn't change over the years. Other natural features, such as the seven, might grow or shrink with the rainfall and vegetation but they remain discernable. A true trail should fade away after just a few years. As I recall, John Clauss poked around in that area on one of our expeditions and noted a natural swale or cut from lagoon to ocean, but that's not the same as a trail visible from the air.

It's not clear whether the identification of the feature as an "old trail" was made purely from the aerial photo taken by the Duck from USS Pelican on April 30, 1939 or whether there was on-the-ground confirmation from the survey that was done the following November by USS Bushnell. It's particularly interesting that it's specifically labled "old", as distinct from being something created by the colonists who arrived in December of 1938.

Let's remember that we have real good evidence that there was some poor devil marooned on that island in the years prior to its settlement. It requires no great leap of faith to ascribe these apparent "signs of recent habitation" to the inhabitant -- whoever he or she was. The "old trail" site is about a kilometer up the beach (toward the northwest end of the atoll) from the Seven Site. Most of the intervening real estate is open Buka forest and it's not hard to imagine that the "old trail" and the "Seven Site" mark the NW/SE boundaries of the "domain" of the castaway. We'll want to spend some time in that area in September.

LTM,
Ric


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