Forum artHighlights From the Forum

July, 2001

Due to time limitations brought on by preparations for Niku IIII, the Forum was very limited during July and August.

(click on the number to go directly to that message)
1 Niku Photos and Reuters Roger Kelley
2 Searches of Niku Denise
3 Re: A Few Wild Ideas Stuart Allsop
4 Re: Groundloops Marty
5 Re: Groundloops Stuart Allsop
6 Re: Groundloops Stuart Allsop
7 Coaxial Cables Mike Everette
8 More on Coaxial Cables Mike Everette
9 Re: Wreck of HMS Hood Jim Harvey
10 The Methodology Dick Pingrey
11 Some People Don't Get It Jim Harvey
12 Who's Out There? Tom MM
13 Artifact 2-3-V-2 Mike Holt
14 Poachers Mike Ruiz
15 Re: Artifact 2-3-V-2 David Kelly

Message: 1
Subject: Niku Photos and Reuters
Date: 7/14/01   [no Forum 7/1 through 7/13]
From: Roger Kelley

Today Reuters News Service, along with several newspapers and TV networks, reported on TIGHAR and the Ikonos 2 satellite photos of Niku and what is believed to be " anomaly that's in the place where an anecdotal account said there's airplane wreckage...'' The anomaly being wreckage of Amelia's Electra wedged in the coral reef.

The portion of the article which perked my interest was a quote by Rolling Reineck. The article stated, "In the eyes of reality, there's nothing there. Other people have scoured the island and none of us has ever ever felt that she was there,'' said retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck, a member of the Amelia Earhart Society who believes she was capture by the Japanese in the Marshalls."

First, the article does not state when and to whom Reineck made the quoted statement. Does any one know when and to whom Reineck made this statement?

Second, is Reineck's statement true? If so, who scoured Niku for evidence of Amelia and Fred, what were their findings? Were the results of those who scoured Niku published? If published, when and in what format were the findings published?

Did freedom of the press take another giant leap into the realm of fantasy? Or, more likely, is Reineck simply making statements trying to regain the center of attention?

LTM, (who checks every pixel)
Roger Kelley

From Ric

I can only (charitably) assume that Rollin was misquoted. He knows darn well that, with the exception of the U.S. Navy aerial search in 1937, nobody but TIGHAR has searched that island for signs of Earhart and we've certainly never looked in the place where we see the anomaly.

Message: 2
Subject: Searches of Niku
Date: 7/16/01
From: Denise

Ric says:

>I can only (charitably) assume that Rollin was misquoted. He
>knows darn well that, with the exception of the U.S. Navy aerial search in
>1937, nobody but TIGHAR has searched that island for signs of Earhart ...

Ric, according to Emily Sukuli -- a recollection recorded in Tom King's recent book -- this may not be true. Emily places another search there on the island; one shortly after WWII. She says it was done by mysterious Americans who never told the locals what they were doing, but who spent a lot of time at that particular reef-edge looking for something in the water.

It doesn't take a vast stretch of the imagination to decide Emily deserves -- at the very least - eye-witness credit for seeing something that, in retrospect, looks darn-well like an Earhart search to me.

And, come on now, give Gerry Gallagher his due. He spent all his spare time looking for Earhart on that island. So, really, if you want to be fair, you should be saying "As far as we know, according to public records, nobody but TIGHAR – oh, and Gerald Gallagher – has searched that island for signs of Earhart."

LTM (who loves a secret search better than anyone)

From Ric

Emily Sikuli never said any such thing to either Tom King or to me. You must be thinking of Tapania Taeke's comment to me and Kenton Spading that some men in a "government ship" came to the island and photographed the airplane parts she said were scattered in the bushes along the Nutiran shore. She didn't say when it supposedly happened or that she saw them herself. Pure anecdote.

There is absolutely no evidence I am aware of that indicates that Gallagher "spent all his spare time looking for Earhart on that island." He apparently conducted the thourough search of the specific area where the castway's bones were found but that is very different from "scouring the island."

I stand by my previous statement.


Message: 3
Subject: A Few Wild Ideas
Date: 7/19/01
From: Stuart Allsop

I wanted to comment on Angus Murray's idea that the aircraft may have ground looped. Although this is a possibility, ground loops don't occur so much from the weight and balance of the aircraft, as they do from the aerodynamics. For non-aviators, a "ground loop" is a situation in which an aircraft on the ground turns too quickly (kind of like grossly oversteering a car into a skid), which causes the "outside" wing (the one on the outside of the turn) to rise and lift the undercarriage on that side of the aircraft off the ground, thus causing the "inside" wing tip to touch the ground. The inside wing will occasionally dig in, and cause the aircraft to spin around, and in extreme cases to cartwheel, especially if the ground is particularly soft. A fairly common effect during a ground loop is for the undercarriage of the aircraft to be damaged, and occasionaly it is ripped right off the airframe. But cartwheels are very rare, for the basic reason that the speeds involved in a ground loop are generally very low, not enough to allow the aircraft to actually flip over.

However, the root causes behind a ground loop are nearly always aerodynamic. Taildraggers (like the Electra) are much more prone to this than are modern tricycle gear aircraft. The basic reason is the difficulty in keeping any aircraft moving in a straight line when it is balanced on only two wheels while the speed is too low for the rudder to be fully effective. (The weight and location of the engines with respect to the location of the wheels is not all that relevant: even modern airliners can ground loop, under the right conditions.) At high speeds, the rudder can easily generate enough aerodynamic forces to keep the plane straight, but at low speeds there just isn't enough lift being produced by the rudder (or rather "rudders" in the case of the Electra) to make directional control on the ground easy. Which is why you'll often see taildragger pilots flapping the rudder back and forth madly on takeoff, in an effort to keep the aircraft pointed straight down the runway, but before there is enough airspeed to make the rudder fully effective.

Hence, ground loops usually only occur at low speeds, and are more common on takeoff than on landing.

Therefore, it seems unlikely that AE would have groundlooped her plane for the normal aerodynamic reasons.

However, there is another possibility: Since she would probably have been attempting to land on the hard wet sand close to the water's edge, rather than further up the beach (where the sand would probably be dangerously soft), it is possible that one wheel (or even a wing tip) could have struck water, and that would have pulled the aircraft sharply towards the sea, perhaps flipping it in the process. Technically, it wouldn't be a ground loop, but the result could be far more catastrohpic, as it could take place at much higher speeds than a ground lopp could.

For what it's worth.

Stuart Allsop

From Ric

I agree with your description of the typical groundloop. Your speculation about where Earhart may have landed the aircraft, while reasonable, is not supported by the available evidence which seems to suggest a landing on the hard, flat -- and in places relatively smooth -- coral of the reef flat that surrounds the island.

Had the aircraft groundlooped upon landing to the extent that it flipped over, as Angus suggested, it is hard to imagine how radio distress calls could have been sent. The transmitting antenna was on the top of the fuselage.

Message: 4
Subject: Groundloops
Date: 7/20/01
From: Marty

Excuse me Mr. Allsop, but the cause of a groundloop on a taildragger is because the center of gravity is behind the main gear. When the airplane starts to veer off, the CG tends to make everything want to run straight, thereby making the off-course excursion more severe. This results in the OUTBOARD wing tip digging in, usually caused by the outboard main gear collapsing inward. Been there, done that.

From Ric


Message: 5
Subject: Re: Groundloops
Date: 7/20/01
From: Stuart Allsop

I think we are just confusing terminology here. What you are describing is not really "groundloop recovery" at all, but rather the correct procedure for a crosswind takeoff! (Which will, of course, help keep you away from a ground loop).

Yes, in a cross wind takeoff you certainly do want to keep your upwind wing down, just as you describe, but that has nothing to do with the "inside" and "outside" wing of a ground loop. Until you actually start a ground loop, the terms "inside wing" and "outside wing" are undefined, and are not related to the upwind wing and the downwind wing (or "windward" and "leeward" wings, if you prefer).

Perhaps it was my fault for not explaining it more clearly, but by "outside wing" I mean the wing that is towards the outside of the turn *once you are already in a ground loop*, and not the wing that is upwind in a crosswind situation. The terms as I used them only have meaning once the aircraft starts turning. As long as you are doing as you correctly state (keeping the plane straight on takeoff), then there is no such thing as an "inside" or an "outside" wing. However, if you don't do a good job of keeping the plane straight, then you do stand a chance of groundlooping, and the terms I used now make sense.

In your example, imagine that you put in too much rudder and too little left aileron, and as a result your left wing comes up and you start turning to the right. As you know, if you don't correct this situation PDQ, then you will soon be starting a ground loop. Now the left wing becomes the "outside wing" (as you are turning to the right). Since the left wing now has a higher airspeed than the right wing, the left wing tends to rise even more, which just worsens the situation, and tightens the turn, which speeds up the inside wing even more, which tightens the turn, which speeds up the wing.... etc. Once the outside wing rises enough, the inside wingtip touches the ground, and that large increase in drag in the inside of the turn is all that is needed to make your day go really sour: You groundloop to the right, with your left wing being the "outside" wing.

On the other hand, if in your example you had applied too little rudder and too much aileron, and not corrected in time, then the ground loop would be to the left, and your right wing would be the outside wing.

In any event, my original point was that even if AE had groundlooped on landing (of which I remain unconvinced), either on the reef or on the beach, then it is not very probable that such a groundloop would have caused the plane to cartwheel or flip over, since ground loops usually only occur at low speeds, when there is not enough inertia to do so. Damage is usually limited to the inside wingtip, and to the undercarriage, as well as occasionally to props and engines on multi-engine aircraft, if contact is made with the ground. Once again, this is usually only on the inside wing.

Did I do better job of explaining this time around? I think the confusion is only due my use of the term "inside" and "outside" wing as related to ground loops, while you were using it to refer to the upwind (or windward) wing, and the downwind (or leeward) wing.

Stuart Allsop

From Ric

It's worth mentioning that when AE wrecked the airplane in Hawaii in a really vicious takeoff groundloop, it neither cartwheeled nor flipped.

Message: 6
Subject: Re: Groundloops
Date: 7/21/01
From: Stuart Allsop

Thanks for the correction, Marty. Yep, it looks like I screwed up there! Of course, you are correct: the OUTSIDE wing can also dig in in a ground loop, especially in a taildragger with (as you point out) the CG behind the main gear. I've seen it happen both ways, but so far(!) it's never happened to me. But thank you for keeping me honest! I stand corrected.

But I do think this discussion is a little pointless: we all seem to agree that a groundloop is unlikely in the case of AE's Electra, for many reasons, not least of which is the probability that the aircraft was still upright and sitting on its landing gear after it came to a stop, with at least one engine and radio still operational, in order to transmit those "anomalous" signals. It therefore seems to me that a groundloop, cartwheel, flip, or any other maneuver involving substantial damage to the aircraft is just not very likely. It seems probable that the aircraft would have been fairly much in tact, and with the cabin and at least one engine clear of the water.

But I have to admit that I'm still a little skeptical of the conclusion that they landed on the reef: If it would have been covered with a few feet of water at the next high tide, within no more than a few hours after the landing, then surely the only window for those transmissions would be in the time until the water either covered the aircraft, or moved it off the reef. Once off the reef, it would sink fairly quickly: a study of succesful ditchings shows that aircraft in the water rarely stay afloat for more than a few hours, max, and usually sink within an hour or less. (Yes, some have stayed afloat for days, but they are the exception rather than the rule.)

So, it seems that the window for making transmissions from the aircraft would be no more than one full day, best case.

Which leads to my question: over what period of time were these transmissions recorded? Did they all happen within that period of time, or were some of them recorded days later? Is there a link to transcripts of these transmissions? I looked on the TIGHAR site, but I didn't see them. Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place?


From Ric

Normal tidal levels on the reef at Niku are only 3 to 4 feet at high tide – not enough to disturb a parked Lockheed 10 unless there was significant surf. If the sea was calm for the first few days I can see no reason why the airplane should have remained intact and alble to transmit during periods of low tide when an engine could be run to keep the battery charged. Our nearly-complete but not yet posted analysis of the post-loss signals shows that they were heard exclusively during the hours of darkness in the Central Pacific, except for Betty's which were in the late morning hours.

Message: 7
Subject: Coaxial Cables
Date: 7/21/01
From: Mike Everette

John Rayfield wrote:

>Did anyone ever come up with any more information regarding the two coaxial
>cables found in 1996 during TIGHAR's NIKU III expedition?

The cables indeed look to be of a type that could be of the vintage we are interested in; however, such cables were also used in WW2-era equipment, such as might have been found at the LORAN station on Niku.

The connectors are of a type which first appeared circa 1936. They are of American design and manufacture. These connectors, Howard P. Jones 101 series, a common pre-war form of coaxial fitting, were indeed used in period avionics equipment; in fact, Bendix was quite fond of them. We know that NR16020 carried some variety of "Bendix direction finder" but the exact type is far from established.

I made some inquiries a while back to Australian sources (radio museums) to try and determine whether the "Yank" connectors might be found in British or Australian gear, but had no success.

The cable itself is a type of shielded wire; the manufacturer may have been Belden, but this is not established for certain. One common use for this variety of cable, as described in period catalogs and specs, was "auto-radio antenna lead-in." Don't be quick to jump to conclusions, however. It could have just as easily been used for audio wire or for instrumentation; or, (and probably likely) have been some kind of test cable or patch cord used in most any kind of electronic equipment.

The apparent length of one of the cables suggests to me that it probably was some sort of test cable or patch cord.

For example, one WW2-era application for the connectors in question was the Ferris Microvolter series of radio-frequency signal generators, which may well have been found among the test gear used in the LORAN station. The Jones 101 series connector predates the Amphenol-designed "UHF" series of coaxial fittings and was used as the output connector on this pre-war design signal generator. Two-way FM land-mobile radios made by the Link Radio Corporation, designed prior to the War, also used the Jones 101 as a coaxial antenna connector. (Any LORAN veterans recall if any of the vehicles on Niku had two-way radios, and what general type?) These Jones connectors continued to be used by a number of manufacturers of radio equipment throughout the 1940s. They were also found in audio equipment.

I have contacted a couple of wire manufacturers who turned out such cable in the 1930s; but the response I got was slow and incomplete. Perhaps now that interest is piqued in the AE story, another contact would light a fire under them. I will pursue this....

LTM (who is well connected)
and 73
Mike E.

From Ric

Thanks Mike

Message: 8
Subject: More on Coaxial Cables
Date: 7/23/01
From: Mike Everette

For what it may be worth, here is more to add to the body of knowledge regarding the "coaxial cables:"

I have personally examined one of these artifacts. The connectors are intact on both ends. Their nickel or nickel-silver plating is in pretty good shape, discolored to be sure, but not corroded. They showed few signs of pitting, such as might have been caused by sand.

The tin-lead solder used to attach them to the cable itself was likewise in reasonable shape, with some, but not excessive sign of corrosion or erosion such as might result from long-term salt water immersion.

The connectors exhibited no sign of marine growth. Indeed, the connectors were in good enough shape, that I could easily have desoldered, cleaned up and reused them.

(I digress for a moment: A number of years ago, I found a vacuum tube sticking out of the sand on a beach here in NC, washed in with the tide... it was a US Navy type 5Y3WGT, and I have no idea where it may have come from; perhaps thrown off a passing ship. The tube had been in the water a while; the glass envelope was intact, the ruggedized bakelite base was very slightly eroded and the solder in the base pins was a little corroded. I could not resist wire-brushing the pins and testing it. Weak, but functional....)

The connectors were intact and not severely bent or deformed. I actually checked this by mating one of them to a female connector such as they were designed to be used with. The outer ferrule easily screwed onto the other connector without protest from out-of-round or damaged threads. The ferrule was missing from the other, as I recall; the cable, as found, was broken in two pieces. In this event it would have been easy for the ferrule to be lost.

These connectors did not appear to have been sheared off of anything. No residue of a mating connector was found attached to them, if I examined them in the same condition as found, and I believe I did. They had to have been removed from whatever they were attached to, by disconnecting them in the normal manner. This type of screw-on fitting does not normally unscrew itself.

To anticipate a question: This type connector is not designed to be "safety wired" in the manner of many modern avionics devices.

All this isn't to say the connectors and cables are not from NR16020; but if they were, someone just about had to have removed them from the wreck.

To anticipate another question: The evidence regarding AE's radio equipment includes an anecdotal reference to a technician "repairing" the rig by reattaching a disconnected antenna lead to the Western Electric receiver mounted under the copilot's seat, following her ferry of NR16020 to the West Coast prior to the first attempt. This anecdote is not evidence with regard to these connectors, because the WE-20 receiver did not use this type connector for antenna input. Rather, a spring-loaded push-type binding post was used. Bendix equipment, however, did make use of these connectors.

LTM (who feels a little wrecked, herself, after Saturday night)
and 73
Mike E.

Message: 9
Subject: Wreck of HMS Hood Located
Date: 7/25/01
From: Jim Harvey

Ric wrote:

> I'm not bitter about anything Kerry. The public response to our efforts has,
> by and large, been extremely gratifying. I have no complaints. I just get a
> kick out of all these projects to go look at old wrecks in known locations
> for apparently no reason other than to generate media material.

Kerry's right. It sounded bitter. Or maybe just mean, but certainly unwarranted. I'm sure that you could phrase your opinion in such a way that did not label the efforts of other explorers as media stunts. By doing so, you are presuming to know what is in the hearts of those who did the work. While famous wrecks such as the Titanic, Bismarck and HMS Hood were not 'lost' in the same sense that NR16020 is (i.e. the general location is known), the passion of those involved in locating the exact final resting place of those wrecks is not necessarily less than your passion for locating a certain missing Lockheed product.

Congratulations: Your task is more difficult than theirs. Is that why it's so easy for you to belittle the hard work that has made those teams proud?

I believe that your years of research and painstaking documentation have made a very strong case, and I sincerely hope that you find a big radial engine with an identifiable serial number stuck in a 'finger' of the reef on Niku (or a similar AIA). When you do, a 'real' mystery will have been solved by sound methodology and an almost religious personal commitment to a project others may think an eccentric waste of time and money. On that day, I hope you hear "Congratulations" rather than "Big deal. Didn't a satellite find that?". And when you stand up to take the credit (and rightfully so), try not to do it at someone else's expense.

Short version: If you don't have something nice to say . . .

Jim "Mule" Harvey

From Ric

Let's get something straight. I am not an explorer and neither are those who relocate shipwrecks. "Explorer," like "hero," is a word that has been cheapened by misuse. Explorers are people who go places nobody (from their culture) has gone before and today there are very few such places left on the planet. True exploration is no longer the realm of the daring and resourceful individual but the domain of the government program.

As I have said many times, finding out what really happened to Amelia Earhart is not, in itself, important – any more than finding the Titanic or the Bismarck or the Hood is important. What is important is the process by which we try to find the truth. I have no passion for finding Amelia but I am totally intrigued and captivated by the fact that by working together and using our brains we can develop and demonstrate ways of seeking out truth that can benefit everyone who cares to participate in the process. Maybe we'll find the Grail at the end of the quest and maybe we won't – but the real value is in the journey. No, I'm not in the least bitter about searches to relocate shipwrecks or attempts to recreate famous voyages or flights. I wish them all success. I just want to make it clear that we're doing something different.


Message: 10
Subject: The Methodology
Date: 7/26/01
From: Dick Pingrey

Your reply to Jim "Mule" Harvey expresses just how I and, and I suspect, most TIGHAR members feel about what we are doing. It is the journey and the methology of solving (or at least attempting to solve) the AE and FN mystery that has brought us together, caused us to share our collective skills and knowledge and taught us all so very much. Those are the important things in all of this. In some ways it will be a let down if the airplane is found and identified. We will have succeeded but we will need a new challenge to keep our interest and keep us together.

Dick Pingrey 908C

From Ric

Thanks Dick ......but let's not mourn the loss of the Earhart mystery yet. Put not thy faith in pixels. We still have a very tough road ahead of us.

Message: 11
Subject: Re: The Methodology
Date: 7/28/01
From: Jim Harvey

Some people do get it: The method by which you arrive at the truth is just as important as the truth, if not more so. Whether you find what you're looking for or not, you're fulfilled by the camaraderie and spirit of distributed research. Besides learning a great deal about the project, you've learned a lot from and about each other and about the endless tangents explored in the pursuit of the main goal. The fact that much of the work has been done by volunteers and in the spirit of enlightenment rather than profit or other less honorable motive is laudable and contributes to the way you feel about the project. Perhaps most importantly, the process you're learning and employing is applicable to any search for truth, not just this one.

I didn't knock the project; I've followed it off and on since the National Geographic article and I've been very impressed and intrigued with the flow of ideas, the sense of community, and the seemingly endless off-topic threads (like this one). I took issue with Ric's dismissal of other research, specifically with what I perceived as sarcasm and ridicule (not bitterness). Does Ric really feel the people who did the work on those other projects were there just to "generate media material"? If he does, what objective criteria led him to that belief? If he doesn't, why would he say that? My point (and my opinion) is you know there is something special about your work that is more than a search for a lost Electra. Why insinuate the hard work of other people is essentially a media stunt to emphasize that yours is different? Unfortunately, I'm afraid my point was lost in the definition of explorer.


From Ric

Let me elaborate on my reference to projects designed primarily to generate media material. I hear almost weekly from individuals who want to go out and find or relocate some "lost" airplane. I'm sure there are just as many people who want to find lost ships, lost continents or King Solomon's Mines but they're less likely to call me.

Searches (explorations, if you will) cost money – lots of money. Always have. It used to be that monarchs were the sponsors – Henry the Navigator/De Gama; Ferdinand & Isabela/Columbus; Elizabeth/Drake; etc. The motivation was, of course, ecomomic. The possible discovery of precious metals, exotic products, and new trade routes was a powerful incentive. Today, true exploration (of the sea floor and outer space) is still sponsored by governments and the motives, although perhaps more long-term, are essentially unchanged.

Starting in the mid 19th century, however, a new kind of search/exploration began to emerge that was fueled not by the hope of discovering new economic resources but by the money to be made from telling, and selling, the story to the public. One of the first such media-motivated expeditions was Henry M. Stanley's 1869 engagement by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. of the New York Herald to find the Scottish missionary Dr. David Livingston (who didn't know he was lost). The tremendous popularity of the newspaper's accounts of Stanley's adventures in darkest Africa ushered in a new era in which the point of the expedition was as much the tale to be told of the journey as it was the results achieved. In 1888 the National Geographic Society was founded to sponsor expeditions which would generate copy for the simultaneously launched magazine. The polar expeditions of Peary and Byrd were organized and sponsored this way, as were the later undersea adventures of Jacques Cousteau. Perhaps the archetype of the media-driven celebrity "explorer" was our own dear Amelia. The recent parade of famous sunken ships that have been relocated, TV-specialed, and coffeetable-booked are clearly efforts to surf the Titanic wave.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that Stanley, Peary, Byrd, Earhart, Cousteau, Ballard, and the rest were not driven by a personal passion to accomplish their chosen missions. I'm merely pointing out where the money came from -- and still comes from.

Are we any different? Well, yes, as a matter of fact we are. While our work gets lots of media attention, media money (in the form of rights fees to cover expeditions) has been an ancillary rather than a primary source of TIGHAR's funding. Of the 2 million dollars raised and spent on The Earhart Project since 1988, less than 25 percent ($460,000) has come from media sources. The other 75 percent plus has come from charitable donations by the members of TIGHAR. It's harder to do it this way – a lot harder – but it also means that we are not "owned" by the media. We may have contractual obligations under specific rights sales agreements, but we are not beholden to anyone but the members of TIGHAR for the conduct of our work.


Message: 12
Subject: Who's Out There?
Date: 7/30/01
From: Tom MM

Interesting note on the TIGHAR website. I have visions of cold war like intrigue in the Central Pacific. Ever considered a disinformation campaign? Anyway, now I'm curious about a few things. I will fully understand if you want to limit discussion, but inquiring minds want to know!

Was this just a short side trip by someone who might even have been well meaning or was it part of some other Earhart flight recovery effort?

Was the timing of the release of the "anomalous pixel" imagery part of an effort to maintain at least a moral claim to any wreckage which might lie in that area in the event that something was found by this salvage group?

Does anyone else have a similar arrangement to yours with the government of Kiribati? Does Kiribati have any capability to stop unauthorized removal of artifacts?


From Mike Everette

So much for it being difficult for anyone else to get to Niku ahead of us....

Oh well.

Mike E.

From Ric

We have much more information now. Here's what happened; A salvage tug operating out of Australia was hired to haul a stranded "longliner" fishing boat (with several tons of fish aboard) off the reef at McKean Island where it had gone aground. The captain, a chap by the name of Jurgen Ruh, had happened to see our website research bulletin about the satellite imagery and took my "nobody can get there ahead of us" comment as a challenge. He was not able to recover the longliner but on his way home he stopped by Niku and took a look for the anomaly. Three divers spent 30 minutes in the water checking the reef edge north of the shipwreck and didn't find anything. Up on top of the reef and some unspecified distance north of the wreck and about 60 meters shoreward from the edge they found and recovered the piece of steel shown in the sketch on our website. Jurgen has since sent me photos. It is clearly not airplane wreckage nor does it have anything to do with the anomaly in the satellite photo.

Jurgen and I have been corresponding daily by email. He's a nice guy and he meant no harm. He has no plans to do anything more at Niku but if we are so fortunate as to find something too big for our ship to recover we might end up hiring him and his tug to help out.

All in all, a very interesting little episode.


Message: 13
Subject: Artifact 2-3-V-2
Date: 7/30/01
From: Mike Holt

I keep looking at info on various parts found on Niku and keep thinking that one of these days you will be able to make a mutually exclusive connection. In reference to the Plexiglas artifact, which seems to match the curvature of Lockheed part No. 40552 could you answer the following:

From Ric: I'll answer Mike's questions as we go.

1. Did Lockheed use this part in any other aircraft?

Not sure but I doubt it. The curvature is dictated by the curve of the fuselage and later derivatives of the Model 10 ( Model 12, 14, 18, etc.) had different fuselages.

2. When did Lockheed last use part No. 40552 in any production aircraft?

I would think on the last Model 10 whihc was delivered in 1941.

3. When did Lockheed, or its supplier, last produce part No. 40552 for replacement parts?


4. Is Lockheed aware of any other aircraft manufacturer using an identical window glazing?

I would be shocked if anyone at Lockheed/Martin today had any idea.

5. Is there any other "knockoff" of the part produced in the secondary market, or was it a strictly Lockheed part?


6. Any cross-reference to other aircraft manufacturers for parts that will "exchange" with 40552?

Not that I'm aware of.

7. Did any of the other aircraft on the "known" to have been in the vicinity list use a similar window part?

To know that for sure would take a truly daunting amount of research.

8. Could the list of "known" aircraft, if any, be paired down to a select few by excluding similar windows on the remaining (excluded) aircraft. By way of explanation, I assume that the curvature referred to is a compound or complex curve. Any aircraft with only "flat" windows, portholes, windscreens, or windshields could thus be excluded.

We have such a small piece that you'd have to look at all the noses and turrets of all the types and try to see if there is any little section that matches the curvature. A tremendous undertaking.

9. I have read on the forum that the Plexiglas material has been analyzed and found to be consistent with the 1930's. I have also read that no great changes have occurred in the nature of Plexiglas, sufficient to exclude it, by common testing methods, from more recent material. I have read however, that certain types of neutron or electron analysis can "match" a known to an unknown product. Is there any possibility of an existing, original, part no. 40552 that can be traced back to 1930's production for this type of comparative analysis?

In order to do that you'd need a sample to match it to. The material and thickness of Part No. 40552 changed over the production life of the Model 10. Our artifact happens to match with specs that were current when the cabin windows of c/n 1055 were changed in early 1937. To get a match you'd have to find an Electra cabin window that you were sure was original to that time – and I don't know how you'd do that.


Message: 14
Subject: Poachers
Date: 7/31/01
From: Mike Ruiz

Ric wrote:

>What you do if you were me?

Continue to plan the expedition based on your expertise.

Time and resources permitting......your plan is something like this?......

1. Search the reef anomaly & tatiman passage.

The remote sensing imagery is a tremendous asset. Something, hopefully, should be left there. As you propose, stuck in a crevice.

2. Continue to focus on the land most likely to be hiding that tiny bit of forensic evidence (nutiran, ritiati, noriti).

The strongest TIGHAR aircraft evidence to date has been found in these areas (ritiati...i believe).

3. Finally, look for bones or campsites on the eastern end.

While we hope you find and pull an engine or other large chunk of evidence out of the water, I suspect this case will solidify on more land based shreds of aircraft evidence, such as the plexiglass, 2-2-v-1, the dado, etc.

At any rate, I am sold that you & the great TIGHAR members solved this mystery long ago.

Fantastic research over many and TIGHAR made your mark in history.

Mike #2088

From Ric

That is pretty much our plan except that the abandoned village areas (Ritiati, Noriti) are not priority sites for this trip. The airplane parts in the village are scraps left over from the local use of parts brought there from someplace else. We need to find that someplace else.

Jurgen Ruh's unproductive examination of some portion of the reef edge would seem to reduce the chances that aircraft wreckage is to be found there, but we still have to conduct our own search. I tend to agree with Mike. I suspect that evidence will continue to emerge in bits and pieces rather than in big hidden temple, Indiana Jones style discoveries. As Tom King has long said, public acceptance of Nikumaroro as the final destination of the Earhart flight may come gradually over time rather than in some media holocaust resulting from a dramatic find. In any event, we can't control what's there or what we find. We can look as hard as we can.


Message: 15
Subject: Re: Artifact 2-3-V-2
Date: 7/31/01
From: David Kelly

We could test the Perspex on the possible types of aircraft if you could make some plaster duplicates. From there we could find out what museums house the various aircraft and send the copies to willing TIGHAR members located close the those museums.

David J Kelly

From Ric

I'm certainly not opposed to the idea of using the awesome resources of the TIGHAR membership to conduct this kind of research (we've done it many times before) but I want to be sure that something meaningful could be accomplished.

The artifact has four properties:

  1. Composition (polymethyl methacrylate)
  2. Color (clear)
  3. Thickness (1/8 inch)
  4. Curvature
It of course has a fifth property -- dimension -- but it's so small (about 2.5 x 5 inches) that it could be from virtually any plexiglas part of any airplane.

With a plaster or plastic template someone could walk up to an airplane in a museum and, assuming they had the permission and means to crawl all over the machine, be able to compare color and curvature. Composition would be an assumption but a pretty safe one. Plexi is plexi. But thickness is very hard to measure if you don't have access to an edge, which you usually do not. To get thickness you usually need to dig out the manufacturer's engineering drawings.

Okay, so let's say we jump through all those hoops and we find that:

A. Lots of airplanes have plexiglas pieces that match 2-3-V-2.


B. Only a few aircraft have plexiglas pieces that match 2-3-V-2.


C. We can't find any aircraft except the Lockheed Model 10 that has a plexiglas piece that matches 2-3-V-2.

What would we have proved? Nothing that I can think of. It's the old negative hypothesis problem. We can't prove that 2-3-V-2 came from NR16020 by proving that it didn't come from other airplanes. For that matter, we'll probably never be able to prove where it came from although the discovery of conclusive Electra wreckage elsewhere on the island would increase the probability that it came from that wreck.

That's why I'm hesitant to spend the time and effort (read money) to organize and equip a big plexi matching project.


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