Highlights From the Forum
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||On Re-Reading the Gallagher File||Denise|
|2||Betty's Notebook||Hue Miller|
|3||No Mention of Gardner?||Gus Murray|
|4||Phoenix Island Travel||Kenton Spading|
|6||The New Britain Theory||Ric Gillespie|
|7||Canton Engine||Don Jordan|
|8||Canton Pilot Search||Tom King, Bruce Yoho, Don Jordan, John Webber|
|9||Canton Engine||Kenton Spading, Chris Kennedy, Don Jordan|
|10||The Canton Engine||John Webber|
|11||Time Zones||Marty Moleski|
|12||Report From the Expedition, I||Ric Gillespie/Pat Thrasher|
Have been re-reading Tom King's excellent account of Gerald Gallagher's life and times in your Forum Files and noticed something I find a little odd: what was Gallagher doing with a flying helmet and goggles? Is there any indication that he flew? Or that he had a special interest in aviation?
I don't want to suggest the guy would do anything dishonest, but what if these items were found on Nikumaroro? Say, if they were found during his absence from the island --- say on the wreck of Norwich City --- and they'd only just been handed over to him? And if nothing was done about sending them on to Suva because Gallagher illness and death was in the forefront of all minds; his most of all?
Has anyone thought to view these particular artifacts? I realise you're still looking for Gallagher descendants in order to find his effects, but when they are found maybe priority could be given to checking these items to see if they connect with FN or AE?
Just a thought!
LTM (who can't understand why a non-pilot has such artifacts ... or why anyone would own 40 tennis shirts --- with or without collars!)
Gerald Gallagher was a licensed pilot. His effects also included his license and his logbook. Gerry Gallagher told me that he found records indicating that Irish learned to fly while he was at Cambridge.
It is also worth noting that there is no indication, and little reason to suspect, that Earhart had a helmet and/or goggles with her on the 1937 flight. Such "accoutrements" are of no use in a Lockheed 10.
I would feel better about the analysis if the table headers read "radiated power" or "power in antenna." Methinks the analysis still ignores antenna matching at harmonic frequencies, to the transmitter, causing potentially drastic additional reduction in available power. For example, suppose AE's antenna was roughly 1/4 wave resonant at 6210. This is a low impedance. However, the 4th harmonic, the 24+ MHz frequency, sees the antenna as a very high impedance. The contrast is between a few tens of ohms and perhaps thousands of ohms in the second case. It remains to be calculated, or demonstrated, how much actual power can be radiated, reckoning with these additional complexities. I also would like to ask how the upper limit of 27 MHz or so was arrived at. Is there any published MUF information for these dates and times?
Only reason I ask is regarding low distance contacts with AM transmitter of, outstanding examples I am aware of, were on these upper frequencies, roughly in the area of the present CB band up to low 30s of MHz.
Also, I wonder if anyone has actually modelled the AE craft and the antennas on it, and actually measured the antenna electrical characteristics from that?
Is there not someone right now actually building quite a large scale model of the 10E ?
One thing that puzzles me is this. Why, if Noonan was such a good navigator, is there no reference in the post loss messages to Gardner? Since we can assume he had no difficulty knowing his LOP he would have known for definite, that the island they had found must be Gardner. There was no other island within a couple of hundred miles of that LOP at that latitude that it could have been (assuming he had even some idea of latitude). It would have been much easier and would definitely have guided rescuers to the right place, to give the name of the island. It seems impossible to believe that his charts did not show it, even as just a dot. The post loss messages also have been suggested to give distances from other islands which presupposes he knew where he was. If he had the sextant as opposed to just the box, it would have been easy to get an exact position but it seems there were no Lat/Long figures given either. During the whole length of the "Betty" transmissions there is no mention of Gardner and yet one would have thought it would have been continuously repeated if it was known. Even if Noonan was non compos mentis, injured or dead, one would imagine that AE would have been able to work it out.
On a different topic, I was interested to note that one message gives an indication of having landed to the southwest. Is there any suitable reef on this coast to land an aircraft?
I was also somewhat puzzled that the Aukeraime site was given such credence early on as a possible bones site when all the descriptions of the bones discovery mentions the southeast corner and southeast shore. Whilst the Aukeraime site is to the Southeast of the island and is southeast of the villages etc, by no stretch of the imagination is it a southeast shore. It is a southwest shore. The seven site on the other hand fulfils all the requirements with the exception of the "under two miles." This I think is of very little significance as Gallagher had probably only an approximate idea of the length of the island and was probably working on a percentage of its length. With no real landmarks at the seven site to guide him from memory, this percentage factor could easily have been some way out. It would also be natural (even if only subconsciously) to minimise the distance from a water source in telling the story to heighten the dramatic effect.
The tank etc could have been not only the camp of the search party, but alternatively that of the work party which originally made the bones discovery. In neither case would they necessarily have been at the bones site, even in the case of the search party because they may not have remembered exactly where the discovery had been made. For this reason I think it is well worth covering the adjacent area as widely as possible in the forthcoming search.
I suppose we could debate all day whether Noonan, as portrayed in Betty's Notebook, was competent to figure out that they were at Gardner Island. Whether AE could have figured it out on her own also seems like an imponderable. The only question we can really ask is, "Is it so unreasonable to think that Earhart would not have known the name of the island that we must therefore discount the notebook as authentic?" I don't think so.
Your characterization of the Seven Site as being on the southeast shore and Aukeraime as being on the southwest shore is yet another example of how little agreement there is about what to call different parts of the island. I have never seen a place where the there is so much confusion about what to call what.
I agree that our search of the Seven Site should include the surrounding area. That's in the plan.
I correspond occasionally with some Kiribati folks who live in England. The following is an email that I received. It provides some historical context for the Phoenix Islands.
I was interested to read details of the thermometer found. The "hook" you describe (how about a photo?) sounds like the locating tail used on thermometers of indifferent accuracy which used a separate scale. A hole was drilled in the scale and the tail located the glass in the correct relationship to the scale. Such thermometers were used in banjo type aneroid barometers. It would be useful to determine if the fluid was mercury by trace analysis.
Although it could even have originated from something as unlikely as a jam thermometer, the chances are that it was a thermometer to measure ambient temperature and so sealed in a box and unlikely to be a medical or photographic thermometer. Did the Electra carry a thermometer for e.g. any instrument calibration purposes or to measure cabin temperature?
It was suggested that the aluminium panel (2-2-V-1?) could not be analysed on an isotopic basis because aluminium has only one naturally occurring isotope. However both magnesium and copper which also appear in this alloy have several isotopes whose relative abundances may alter with source. The problem arises however that a WWII aircraft could have been repaired with old stock aluminium.
I would have thought that recovery of the Canton engine was a high priority. Its discovery and identification would at least confirm the Electra landed somewhere in the Phoenix islands. It would also generate additional interest and funds for further work. Whilst its recovery from below a pile of scrap without machinery might be slow and difficult in a tropical environment, with a suitably geared winch and ground anchor, very heavy scrap metal, old diesel engines etc can be moved with minimal manpower. With a generator and electric winch, it would be almost a rest-cure!
Further research has shown the thermometer to be almost certainy a "sling psychrometer" for measuring dew point and most likely associated with the 1939 USS Bushnell survey.
The problem with excavating the Canton dump is not manpower, it's the cost of getting machinery out there. When it seemed that the engine might be sitting on the surface it was worth the $50,000 it cost to go check out that possibility. Transporting any kind of excavation equipment to Canton much bigger than a shovel would cost at least three times that. Add to that the fact that the engine, at this point, exists only as an anecdote (no photos or third party corroboration) and it just isn't cost effective to chase it.
The following is an excerpt of an article that appeared in yesterday's USA Today describing the frustrated attempts of an Australian by the name of David Billings to attract funding for his efforts to solve the Earhart mystery by re-discovering wreckage found in the jungles of new Britian during WWII.
The theory, of course, has one fundamental problem. One of the few things we know with some certainty is that the airplane left Lae with, at most, a little over 24 hours worth of fuel and at 20 hours and 13 minutes into the flight was somewhere within roughly a hundred miles of Howland. With, at best, about 4 hours of fuel remaining the airplane was easily 18 hours from New Britain.
What is most interesting to me about the article is the way the story seems to have evolved over the years. Don Angwin contacted me in 1992 and the story was rather different. There was no map --- only a map case with some notations scribbled on it. There was no wrecked airplane --- just a single engine which, based upon some numbers jotted down and sent to headquarters, was said to be a Pratt & Whitney "Wasp". Several prewar types used in the region were equipped with the ubiquitous Wasp. The discovery of the notations under "war-era tape" on the edge of a map apparently happened after I told Angwin that Earhart's plane was c/n 1055 and her engines were S3H1 Wasps.
A small correction to Ric's statement!
I found and interviewed a helicopter pilot who definitely remembered seeing the old radial engine propped up in/around the old maintenance shack on Kanton. The interviewed was conducted so as to not to lead the "witness." He did not know the item I was looking for, but described it in general terms without prompting.
At the time of the interview, he was not aware of TIGHAR or the Earhart search. If he is trustworthy, and I have no reason to doubt him, then he did see an old aircraft radial engine on Kanton just as Bruce described it.
I did record the interview, and I think I sent a copy of the transcript to you (Ric). Its been a long time and I don't remember all the details at the moment, but there is no doubt of Bruce's story, or that there was an old radial engine at the maintenance shack on Kanton.
Other research indicated the most likely location where the engine was found.
I must be losing it. I have no recollection this. Who was this guy? What other research indicated the most likely location where the engine was found?
Don Jordan writes:
>I found and interviewed a helicopter pilot who definitely remembered seeing
Whew! News to me, too! Since I have nothing but respect for Bruce, I'd be delighted to see his account confirmed, whether we ever find the engine or not.
From Bruce Yoho
Boy!! Don I sure would like to hear the answers to Ric's questions.
From Don Jordan
I provided a full transcript of the interview to you and other interested parties at the time. I think Kenton Spading was one. I don't think it would be appropriate to mention the guy's name on the forum. If you need a refresher, I'd be happy to provide it by personal email.
I made an audio recording of the interview and have it around here somewhere, but the short of it from memory is as follows:
The pilots I found remembered Bruce Yoho and the engine. He had not talked to Bruce since leaving the island in the early seventies. He was a chief pilot and still had his log book from that time period. The log book indicated he had flown well over 300 hours delivering cargo and personnel to the various islands in the Phoenix Group. He said he flew almost daily and remembered the General Inspection Bruce spoke of.
The vast majority of the flights were to Enderbury, Sydney and Phoenix Islands. There were no entries in his log book that indicated he ever went to Gardner Island, and he was not aware of any other pilots going that far south.
After he told me about the engine, it became clear that he was not the pilot who airlifted it back to Kanton. He had no memory of doing such a thing, and his log book made no mention of such an event.
With his knowledge of the helicopters used and the region involved, he felt it would have been too risky to try and lift something all the way back to Kanton from Gardner. There was no helicopter fuel on Gardner and he was fairly certain the chopper would run out of fuel before making it back. Especially if it had to fly slower with a sling load. Because of that, he was certain the engine was found of one of the above mentioned island, and not on Gardner.
As far as I'm concerned, Bruce's engine story is true as he tells it. I found a second pilot, but have not been able to interview him because he now lives in Mexico.
The major drawback I have with the engine being from the Electra, is that the islands mentioned were flown over and searched by pilots from the Colorado around July 9, 1937. They did not report any aircraft wreckage on any of the beaches. Because of that, I feel the engine was deposited on the reef sometime after July 9th. Maybe days, weeks or even years later. It could even have been wartime wreckage. But I feel the evidence is fairly conclusive about a radial engine being found on one of those three islands.
I've always felt that the story needed more research. I've always wanted to know just how well the islands were searched by the Colorado aircrews. That engine did not fall out of the sky by itself. Most likely there is aircraft wreckage not far away. However, it is possible the engine was dumped on the reef by a boat and used for mooring lines.
That's about all I can remember at the moment. Maybe Kenton remembers more. I think there were four or five of us working on the Kanton Engine project at the time, and he was one.
Your description sounds very much like Kenton Spading's Oct. 9, 1999 report on his interview with Tom Lawrence who was the chief pilot for Global (the helicopter contractor at Canton). Lawrence told Kenton that he had "absolutely no recollection of Bruce's engine."
That's the last thing I have on the attempt to find corroboration.
From John Webber
For what it is worth I can confirm that Bruce did indeed find an old radial engine while on Kanton. I was stationed there at the time as a Sgt in the Air Force. I don't know where it came from other than it was flown in from an outer island by a Global helicopter. I saw it near the flight line not far from what we called the terminal building and weather station. I don't know what happened to it but remember hearing that it was moved to a dump area at the end of the runway before a British official was due to arrive.
John Webber #2343
Excellent. Have you mentioned this to us before, John?
Ric mentioned that a mechanic remembered an old engine sitting outside of a shed. Don J. followed up by saying he spoke to a guy who also saw the engine.
Although interesting....this is not (as Ric suggested) the independent information that we need. What makes Bruce Y's engine story interesting, and worth pursuing, is that he says he slung an engine back from an outer island. We need someone who remembers the actual engine recovery operation. Someone who remembers seeing an engine sitting on Canton is not in itself unusual. There were probably lots of old engines on Canton from the war years. Perhaps the engine was found on Canton and brought to the shed? It is not worth 100's of thousands of dollars to look for an engine that (in this case) 3 witnesses say they saw sitting by a shed on Canton. It would be worth pursuing an engine that independent witnesses testify was slung to Canton by a helicopter.
I have interviewed a number of people who served on Canton during the Bruce years. So far..no luck. Don....have you had any luck contacting the helo pilot who lives in Mexico?
Strictly speaking, a helicopter pilot who says he remembers slinging an engine from somewhere to Canton would still be just an anecdotal account --- and one that only came forward after a great deal of talk about what we hope someone will remember. What we need is a logbook, a photo, a personal jurnal or diary, a letter home --- some kind of contemporaneous hard evidence that the event occurred.
From Chris Kennedy
Playing devil's advocate, something I find really disturbing about this entire Canton Engine matter is that it appears that it is accurate, yet no one associated with the recovery of the engine can remember ANYTHING about the island from which it was recovered (Niku or otherwise). Apparently, a group of adult servicemen in a low flying helicopter saw an engine on a reef and nothing else---no lagoon, no shipwreck, no general shape of an island that would tend to indicate it was Niku or any other island. Nothing. I think all of us can reflect back upon childhood memories of places and can remember some general details of our surroundings, even if the realities are very different from the recollections. There is at least a memory. Yet, here, with this engine, people were adults at the time the engine was recovered, yet they appear to have seen it and absolutely nothing else, in the most extreme form of total isolation from its surrounding environment. Having been to Niku, I can say that certain things do stand out---the shipwreck, the lagoon, in particular. Flying low over the island in a helicopter should just make all these stand out the more, especially if this engine was located anywhere near the shipwreck, which would've have been more complete at the time the engine was found. Therefore, since no one remembers anything about the island, I can only surmise that the engine was not found on Niku. Any other thoughts? Perhaps, Ric, this engine is somehow related to that propeller that was found on another island awhile back. I do not remember the island on which it was located (Enderbury??), but it was obvious the prop could not have been from the Electra.
You're operating at the disadvantage of not being familiar with the facts of the case. There is only one person, so far, who remembers the recovery of an engine. He does remember a lagoon and he does remember that the engine was on the reef off the west end of an island. He also remembers that there were two helicopters on the mission -- something they did only when going to the outer islands. He does not remember the shipwreck but in 1971 it did not look much more like a ship than it does today (we have photos taken in 1975). Disqualifying an anecdote because a person does not remember something that we decide he should remember is dangerous. When I interviewed the commanding officer of the Loran station he swore that there was no shipwreck at Gardner and that the island sand was black.
Whatever engine Bruce Yoho is remembering it's probably not from WWII crash at Sydney Island. That C-47 only had two engines and they were both sitting on land in 1971 – as photographed by one of Bruce's friends.
From Don Jordan
Ric. . . I can't believe you don't remember this! In fact, we were upset with you for calling the pilot on the phone and inviting him to join TIGHAR! I wanted to keep the source as clean and uncluttered as possible.
The pilot was not Tom Lawrence! Again, I would prefer to not put the name on the forum, but I'll provide all information to you by private email, if you want, so you can confirm it to the forum.
This all happened about three or four years ago, and was all over the forum as I recall. Maybe the forum archives from about three years ago would turn up the discussion. Kenton and a guy named Forest (don't remember his full name) from Las Vegas, and I were all working on the project. It was decided that it was too expensive to dig up the engine for first hand confirmation, so the whole project was dropped. It was felt that the hard cold steel (aluminum) of the engine was the only thing that could prove Bruce's story. So we stopped talking to people who remember seeing it, and tried to come up with ways to salvage it.
Soon everybody lost interest and some even got disgusted with the way the project was going, so they dropped out. I haven't talked with Forest for several years now, but my last communication with Kenton Spading on the subject was on September 27, 2000.
I even found a mechanic who was on Kanton with Bruce, but I don't remember whether he was aware of the engine or not. I'm doing this from memory and don't quite remember what he had to say. I think he was looking for some photos of the maintenance area or something in the hopes the engine just might appear in the background.
I can't remember the mechanic's name right now, and I don't remember the name of the second pilot I found in Mexico. Maybe Bruce can refresh my memory.
You're talking about Forest Blair, the former CO at Canton. From Kenton Spading's posting above it's clear that he is not aware that you located the pilot in Mexico. Anybody else remember this?
No, I hadn't mentioned anything about the Canton engine on the forum before. I assumed Bruce's story had been verified. I don't know where the engine came from. It's possible that it was found on the other end of Canton where the old Pan Am hotel was located. There was no activity in the area and there would have been no other means to move it off the reef than by helicopter. I spent a couple of weeks on Enderbury and had flown around the island. Don't recall seeing anything there on the reef and I have aerial photos which don't show anything. I don't believe any helicopters ever flew to Gardner. I was told that Hull was as far south as they could fly. I'm sure there are others out there that can add to what I know. If you are meeting Nai'a in Apia and have time, I would question the natives. There were several Samoans on Canton from Apia and Pago Pago during this time. I would almost bet that you can easily find someone there that was on Canton during this time and also at the time when SAMTEC buried everything and left. I intend to make a trip to Apia next year in hopes of finding old friends. I'll definitely find out what I can.
Randy Jacobson wrote:
> No, Niku's date is the same as ours...they are not across the dateline
What you say was true in 1993. It is not true now.
There was a change made in the dateline in 1995.
From the U.S. Naval Observatory:
Here's an outstanding site which shows why many maps and atlases draw a simpler line, ignoring the Kiribati gerrymander; the site also gives a very reasonable social and economic explanation of the change (not just to sell tix to Millenium Island):
Here is another excellent map of the Kiribati twist. It also gives a view of how Kiribati stands with respect to New Guinea and Hawaii:
If Niku were on the same side of the dateline as we are, Rik's most recent report (free from typos and chock full of tantalizing details) would have a different time stamp:
2001 TIME STAMP:
1993 TIME STAMP:
Using the 2001 location of the date line, we count Ric as 17 hours ahead of EDT; with the 1993 date line, we would have said Ric is 7 hours behind EDT. In either case, it's 6 AM out there, but the whole difference of how far ahead he is (or how far behind) EDT is determined by where countries have placed the date line.
This is why the expedition is so educational. While following the adventures of the TIGHAR crew, we get a chance to study geography, astronomy, and history! "Where in the world is Nikumaroro?" ;o)
The first day at Nikumaroro went very well. This team is so efficient and just plain competent, things simply fall into place. The planned chores were all done by noon: the Gallagher Highway (WH20) was cleared, a waypoint set on the lagoon shore for a boat landing, the bones experiment begun. Some time was also spent clearing and cleaning the area around Gallagher's tomb in preparation for the plaque ceremony later in the expedition.
The weather was overcast, a great blessing, because it cuts at least ten degrees off the heat. Today's forecast was for mostly to partly cloudy, and again, any cloud at all is a Good Thing.
During the three hours after lunch, and before high tide when the boats could be moved into the lagoon, an orientation was held for the new people in the old village. Ric, Van, John and Jim walked around from the landing to the narrowest part of Taziman Passage (WH14), marked by a tree known as "shark tree" – it's a coco which has grown out almost parallel to the ground over the passage, and fish and sharks congregate there in the shade. It was obvious that yet another violent storm has pounded the island since 1999; there is no sand left on the beach at all, just black beach rock and dead scaevola.
The boats were moved into the lagoon at about three o'clock, and a boat base was established on the lagoon shore. The first boat load went back to Nai'a at 4:30, and all were aboard by 5:30.
One major change: the captain of Nai'a, Fritz Faulkner, has found a place to anchor the ship. It is off the northwest tip (WB3), on a ledge about 60 feet down, and we are very pleased about it, because it will mean a tremendous savings in fuel. Ordinarily, the ship must maintain power all day, steaming up and down off the passage, and then steam out to sea at night, heaving to but maintaining power to the engine in case of problems while drifting on the current... then power up fully and steaming back to the island in the pre-dawn hours. Since we pay for every drop of fuel, the gang is happy to make the longer lighter trip around to the anchorage.
The study on decomposition and bone appearance was begun yesterday by the placement of a shoulder of lamb approximately 130 meters south of the landing, just back into the tree line (WH22). The area was flagged and tagged with a statement explaining the experiment, since we are planning to leave it in place when the expedition departs. Information is being collected at least twice a day, more often when possible. Kar has already collected two different species of flies, and the young coconut crabs are swarming and delighted.
The reason for this experiment is to collect hard data on the rates of organic decomposition in this particular environment, and to find out whether, and how much and widely, coconut crabs will scatter bones, replacing speculation with facts. The exact placement was done in accordance with the description by Gallagher of where the human remains were found – "under a Ren tree..." and "... about 100 feet above ordinary high water springs..." (see Gallagher's Clues for full text and details). The "ren" tree is Tournefortia argentia, and it grows primarily along the shore line; it thrives on bright light and is very salt tolerant. We have no way of knowing if Gallagher was refering to the ocean or to the lagoon shore, but the ocean shore is far more convenient to the team in terms of collecting data, so that's where the lamb was placed.
Tomorrow's activities will see the teams beginning to divide into their separate paths. The dive team will do an orientation dive on the Norwich City area to familiarize themselves with the sorts of stuff associated directly with the ship. Everyone else will pitch in to locate the graves. Grave #3 should be easy enough, as it is on the beach; but #4 is way back in the bush and will require some searching to relocate and nail down with a waypoint. Once the search phase is over, most will remain to begin clearing, while Ric, Tom, John, and Jim will take a boat down to the Seven Site to locate and waypoint it, and to decide on a place for the overnight camp.
In preparation for work at the Seven Site, Kar held a series of demonstrations last night in her cabin (because it could be darkened) with the UV light and goggles, showing everyone how teeth and bones fluoresce under the UV light in comparison to coral, rocks, shells, and other ground debris from the island.
Spirits are high, health is good, and the work proceeds apace; so far, couldn't be better.
by Ric Gillespie
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