Forum artHighlights From the Forum

February 25 through March 3, 1999

Subject: Last Words
Date: 2/25/99
From: Tom Van Hare

Ric wrote:

> Not so off-topic. How were the Lady Be Good diaries preserved? How were they found?
> Granted -- the Libyan desert is a far cry from Niku but it might be useful to know.

OK, who is doing the psychic thing out there now?

We've just finished a feature story about the Lady Be Good tragedy, which should publish in a few days. We've got quite an extensive photo collection as well as extensive quotes from the diaries, pictures of the crew members, the complete history of the mission and how they were found, etc.

Give me a moment if I have time tomorrow and I'll forward the complete data to the group here, including how the plane and crew were found -- alternatively, you could wait a few days and see the full illustrated piece.

This basic information answers the most critical question posed by Ric.... The completely dry heat of the Libyan desert preserved a lot of material, some of it almost perfectly -- the radios still worked on the wrecked plane, the guns still fired, etc., all of this 16 years after the crash. What items were in shadow or wrapped, like one of the bodies twisted within a parachute, were still actually wet and mostly there, despite the dry environment. Bacteria cannot much live in this temperature regime, so the bodies didn't really decompose as much as they were baked off and "sanded down" to just bones by the sun and wind. Water from one of the canteens was found not to be stagnant, in fact perfectly drinkable and sterile. Paper doesn't degrade in 120 degree temperatures, so the diaries (there were two found) were well-preserved and gave sad testimony to the crew's final days. Temperatures also plummet at night down to the low 40s.

The results observed in this harsh environment were incredible. A few miles away, the search teams found a mummified bedouin and camel who died there years before.

And, by the way, one of the bodies is still lost somewhere in the dunes -- despite extensive search, it was never found.

One of the interesting outcomes of the Lady Be Good recovery was what we, the United States, learned much from the wreck about longterm preservation of aircraft through desert storage. Many of these lessons were applied at Davis-Monthan AFB.

Returning to AE and FN, none of the Libyan desert-like conditions are present on Nikumaroro, which is instead rather a hot, humid, tropical environment teeming with life. Whoever died there on the island, and somebody did, was probably devoured in a few days. What little remained quickly rotted under the assault of billions of bacteria. Even items of clothing and leather from the shoes, etc., may well have rotted away or been carried off by critters, winds, water, whatever. Any papers, logs, etc., would not have survived rain storms, winds, typhoons, etc., at least not repeatedly over 55 plus years. My view on this is that the only "diary" items that might have survived would have to have been carved into aluminum to survive to the present day. Nonetheless, if the final resting place is found and/or the bones are recovered, there will still be much to learn from the evidence, both with tradition archaology techniques and through forensic sciences. Their last words on the island, however, were carried off with the winds.

Thomas Van Hare

Subject: Post-Crash Radio Contact
Date: 2/25/99
From: Tom Van Hare

Ric wrote:

> The post-loss radio transmissions can not be considered to be conclusive evidence of anything because
> there is no way to tell for sure whether any of them was genuine. That said, some of the alleged messages
> fit remarkably well with the theory that the aircraft was landed and survived intact for a time at Nikumaroro.

Are the transcripts of those heard available anywhere with dates and times? Very interested in reading those, whether or not they are fakes.

Thomas Van Hare

From Ric

All told, there were something like 300 alleged post-loss transmissions. Some were certainly fakes. Others may have been misunderstood messages from searchers. But a number are really intriguing. This is a HUGE subject and one that received a great deal of attention in 1937. There were even carefully organized attempts to communicate with the lost aircraft via broadcasts by the KGMB, the most powerful commercial station in Hawaii. The results of those experiments were inconclusive but seemed to indicate that the airplane was on land.

The whole catalog of purported messages has never been pulled together in a single chronology. The best tool for such a project would be the complete list of official government radio messages associated with the Earhart flight and disappearance as assembled by Randy Jacobson and available on CD (along with a lot of other original source data) from TIGHAR for a measely hundred bucks.

LTM, Ric

Subject: RE: Technical Remote Viewing
Date: 2/25/99
From: Scott Zaden

> Even now, I can foresee that Ric would like us to get back on topic.....

That's where you'll find me. Domagogic idiosyncracies aside we have the ability to go to the plane. You once issued a challenge but it was a little too showman for me. I am a historical researcher using a military developed capability under strict protocols to resolve historical mysteries. My interest is the analysis of data and resolution of any discrepancies with subsequent findings of historical fact. Reverse engineering. I start with the answers and work backward. And you are correct - the plane is not in the Gilberts. With 10 targets completed I have learned to gently smile at ridicule, whereas other are deeply effected by it. RV has nothing to do with hotlines nor could those people work in that in environment. Also, it is not my place to ask anyone to believe in anything.

At this point I thought I would give people a little more of the report. Raw data is never allowed but I am aware I can risk it. Here you will see the viewer does not know what to make of the fuel tanks. Since I had no coordianates, we had to use a process referred to as entropy from Lae. If you are politically adverse to the anaylisis of findings from a data process - don't read it. All this information was recorded last year and pertains to the targeted area. From the report:

"There are what appear to be three planes on the ground. Two of them are larger than a third. Two of these planes are twin engine, and the third has three engines. The plane with three engines is generally a passenger carrying aircraft, which is rigged out to carry a minimum of twelve people and light cargo. The second larger plane is also rigged for some passengers or cargo. It has what appears to be some kind of folding webbed or woven seats along both sides half way down the aisle, and a large double door at the rear for loading great amounts of cargo.

The third plane is a twin engine, smaller, and has no room for cargo or people. It appears to have additional fuel tanks in its cargo area and so it either used for carrying fuel from port to port, or the transfer of some other chemical besides fuel in fuel like tanks. I get a sense that the smaller plane and the larger double-side door plane are probably tail draggers, and the triple engine plane is not. It seems to sit upright more squarely with the ground and has kind of a unique tail wheel of some kind."

It is after take off that things get interesting.

Scott Zaden

From Ric

Entropy this.

I offered you a challenge that would provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate that your "military developed capability" is something other than hot-line charlatanism repackaged in pseudo-scientific jargon. You turned it down not because it is "too showman" but because you know that you can't do it. What kind of gobbledy-gook is "reverse engineering" and "start[ing] with the answers and work[ing] backward" anyway? And what do you mean that you have "completed" 10 targets? Name ONE thing that you have found that can be verified by an independent source. It's good that you've learned to smile at ridicule because this stuff is laughable. (And there is no such word as "domagogic." I suspect you mean demagogic.)

Your stunt of trying to vaguely describe what might be a scene on the airfield at Lae is a transparent attempt to manufacture credibility and is exactly the stuff that psychic readers and advisors pull all the time. If being "politically adverse [do you mean averse?] to the anaylisis [sic] of findings from a data process" is the same as being unwilling to check your brain at the door, then yes, I'm politically averse to the exploitation of ignorance that you stand for.

We're working hard to develop an educational program for kids built around the scientific methodologies and critical thinking we've used in the Earhart Project. Your kind of magical thinking cloaked in technobabble is exactly the sort of nonsense we're trying to teach kids to watch out for.

If you won't accept my challenge, at least heed this warning. Wherever your imaginings lead you to envision the resting place of the Earhart airplane -- pick someplace other than Nikumaroro. The old psychic trick of shadowing a legitimate investigation and later claiming a "success" won't work this time. IF we're right, and IF we find the airplane on Niku, and IF you try to claim any role in TIGHAR's investigation -- I'll hang you out to dry, and that's a promise.

Love to mother,

Subject: Re: Post-crash radio contact
Date: 2/26/99
From: Tom Van Hare

Ric wrote:

> 1. The transmitter/receiver/dynamotor/battery/antenna system was integral to the airframe and could
> not be dismounted.

Here is the crux of the problem I am trying to address. I cannot figure out how they could have possibly used the radio, at least not for days on end, unless the plane was on the beach, parked, gear down. Like you said, you cannot get it out of the airplane. Put the plane down in the water at the edge of the reef and you cannot use it. Put it on the ground gear up and you might be able to use it once or twice (what is the strength of the battery anyway?). And since an aerial search of the island didn't spot an airplane on the beach -- I cannot imagine crash landing anywhere but the beach anyway: foliage and trees, beach, water, you choose -- and that means that there isn't much likelihood that it was there. I can tell you from personal experience that planes are easy to spot on beaches, they stand out.

> 2. Two people dismounting a 1,000 pound engine, transporting it, and mounting it on a jury rigged stand
> that was strong enough to support a running R1340 sounds like a sequel to Flight of the Phoenix and is
> about as believable.

I'm not trying to be in the movie business. I am just wondering how else to make it happen? Of course, the engine could run pointing skyward from the ground, so it isn't quite a test stand we're talking about. And this seems no more far fetched than somehow lifting the entire plane and dropping the gear leg so they could run an engine as you earlier mentioned.

So what is the scenario? How are they broadcasting on the radio if all of this is impossible? With 300+ messages, most, if not all are fakes -- of that, we can be sure. A handful are intriguing, particularly those that are triangulated on the Phoenix Islands. If nobody can come up with a plausible "how did they transmit" story, then it would seem to point to all of them being fakes.

No matter how I look at it, I cannot make the story close enough to reality to be convincing; and looking it over again, I agree -- it makes a good movie plot. We could perhaps get Harrison Ford to play Fred Noonan, make it a blockbuster and use a portion of the proceeds to fund an expedition to solve the mystery once and for all (actually, I may be on to something here -- this all sounds like a Spielberg movie.

Apologies to Mother,
Thomas Van Hare

From Ric

Okay, I see where're you're coming from. The problem is, you're thinking of the reef surrounding the island as the sort of jagged coral structure we all normally think of when somebody says "reef." It ain't like that. The fringing reef at Nikumaroro is a broad, flat expanse of coral that is level and smooth enough in places to ride a bicycle on. At low tide it's dry as a bone and the island looks like it's surrounded by a giant parking lot. At high tide there is about 4.5 feet of water standing on the reef-flat (as it's called).

Anytime at or near low tide it would be perfectly possible to land a Lockheed (nice big, fat tires) on the dry reef-flat and roll to a stop virtually undamaged. You could operate the radios and run an engine to recharge the battery to your heart's content. At high tide, the water would come up to about the cabin door (with the airplane in the three-point attitude) but would not flood any of the radio gear. You couldn't run an engine because the prop would hit the water, so you'd have to wait for the tide to recede before recharging the battery.

This would all work great so long as the sea was calm and the rise and fall of the tide involved just a calm rise and fall of the water level on the reef- flat. But if the sea kicks up at all or a swell develops (no need for a big storm), then you get a big surf rolling across the reef-flat at high tide and it's bye-bye birdie. The waves would play havoc with an airplane on the reef and could quickly reduce it to scattered wreckage that was invisible from the air if the search was conducted at high tide (as the photo taken during the July 9th search verifies).

Subject: Earhart Myths
Date: 2/26/99
From: Dennis McGee

Don Neumann wrote:

> Even those programs based upon the TIGHAR expeditions, tended to overhype the more dramatic elements
> of the investigation & downplay the more tedious, painstaking, time consuming efforts expended in pursuit of a
> legitimate, archeologically objective search for the real evidence which will ultimately determine the final outcome
> of the Earhart/Noonan "Final Flight"."

Hype is in the eye of reader -- or the pen of the author, depending upon your view. I'm sure most TIGHARs share Don's concern over the false stories surrounding AE/FN's flight. And a good lesson on how these things get started and spread around is this forum's recent discussion of the Lady Be Good.

Several forum members (myself included) volunteered their own version and recollections of the LBG episode. Some of the that material was factual, most of it (mine included) was at best incomplete, and at times flat out wrong.

The TIGHAR forum's treatment of the LBG story was certainly not malicious nor did it appear anyone was pushing their own agenda. It was simply a bunch of people with a common interest swapping recollections of an event that happened in 1943 and was "reported" in 1958-60.

Were some of our comments "hype." Yeah, I think so. Coffee still drinkable after 15 years! . . . modern-day mummies in the Libyan desert! . . . time capsule discovered! . . . diaries describe painful demise of aircrew . . .etc. etc. It's all there, and a bunch of us contributed to it. Fortunately there is a source people can go to and find out the story behind the "hype" -- all of which was true, by the way.

As a reformed journalist, I am particularly pained by inaccuracy and sloppy investigation. I ease my fears, though, by trying to determine the author's intent. Is he/she deliberately misleading or it an error of laziness? Perhaps I am too kind hearted, but sadly I believe most of the bad information on AE/FN came out of laziness, not malice.

Ric has lectured (and that is the proper and correct word, here!) anyone who will listen on avoiding the pitfalls of unsubstantiated "facts."

As for the news media concentrating on the more dramatic elements of the story -- who can blame them. I am not interested in a 12-hour documentary of Ric, Pat and other TIGHARs sifting sand, sweating, cursing, digging, changing socks, eating Oreos, killing mosquitoes etc. Archeology, like combat, is hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of sheer ecstasy (terror, in the case of combat). The essence of story telling is The Set-up, The Chase, The End.

TIGHAR's job is not to change everyone's mind. Its job is to collect and present the facts as they emerge from the mists of 60-plus years of history. And like the LBG story, once the full story of AE/FN's final flight is known TIGHAR can create a detailed and documented resource for those interested enough to take the time to look for it.

LTM, who is titillated by hype
Dennis McGee #0149

Subject: Post Crash Radio Signals
Date: 2/26/99
From: Dennis McGee, Phil Tanner, Al Caldwell

All of this talk of post-crash messages raises the obvious (to me, anyway) question: Has anyone demonstrated that it was possible. That is, are there batteries and radios surviving today that would be comparable to those on the 10E?

We (TIGHAR and its bottomless pit of money) could try to recreate the "post-crash radio messages" scenario. Ask our resident radio historian to hook up the things and a) try to transmit, b) confirm the battery life, c) test various antennae (or lack of) configurations, d) see if anyone receives the signal (ask for post card). (The location of the transmitter, season, time of day, weather etc. would certainly affect the signal propagation, but at least we would know that it was possible.)

Comments? (Be gentle, this is my first time and I'm real serious about this.)

LTM, who can't remember her first time Dennis McGee #0149

From Ric

That AE and FN could have sent messages from an intact airplane is sort of a no brainer. We know that the transmitter was working fine at least up until the last message received by Itasca at 0843 local on July 2nd. At that time AE said she was changing frequencies and that's the last Itasca heard. The question we have asked ourselves is - How likely is it that Earhart and Noonan were able to RECEIVE signals while on the ground/reef/whatever at Niku? This was actually the subject of an experiment carried out by team member Kenton Spading during the Niku III expedition. Maybe Kenton would like to summarize his findings for the forum?

Ric says:

>The fringing reef at Nikumaroro is a broad, flat expanse of coral... At low tide ... the island looks like
> it's surrounded by a giant parking lot... The waves would play havoc with an airplane on the reef and could
> quickly reduce it to scattered wreckage that was invisible from the air if the search was conducted at high
> tide (as the photo taken during the July 9th search verifies.)

As usual, apologies if this is old hat (fedora) but if it is known at what time the July 9th search plane overflew Nikumaroro and observed a high tide, does this make it possible to calculate the state of the tide seven days earlier at the time the plane was mostly likely to have arrived thereabouts, and thus how hospitable the island would have looked?

Haven't had my brain stretched so much for years. I'm just about to send off for TIGHAR membership so I'll take the liberty of signing off...

... love to mother! --Phil Tanner

From Ric

That has been, and still is, an issue of great debate. I am extremely leery of any declaration of the precise tidal state on that island at a given moment 62 years ago. If you're off just six hours you're 100 percent wrong. The photo taken on July 9 would seem to be a place to start, and yet even that is a bone of contention. Was the photo taken soon after the search flight's arrival at Gardner? - or as they departed Gardner some unkown number of minutes later? - or was it taken as the flight came back by Gardner on its return to the ship as mush as an hour later? See what I mean?

From Al Caldwell---- Ric, I see no reason they could not have landed safely if the tide was out. I guess my question is given the probable time of reaching the reef WAS the tide out.

My second question is why couldn't the radio be removed? It was put in so why could it not come out? I realize it needed battery power which in turn needed the engine generator to recharge. This maybe a moot question as I see no reason to remove it unless there was not going to be a way of saving the plane. Then they might want to remove it to use as long as the battery lasts.


From Ric

The "radio" consisted of

  1. a generator on the right engine
  2. a dynamotor under the pilot's seat
  3. a receiver under the co-pilot's seat
  4. possibly another receiver in the cabin
  5. a transmitter in the rear cabin
  6. a main battery in a well under the center section
  7. an auxiliary battery in the rear cabin
  8. a dorsal V antenna
  9. a ventral wire antenna
  10. 1a veritable rat's nest of cable and wiring connecting all of these components.

Get the picture?

Subject: Technical Remote Viewing
Date: 2/27/99
From: Vern Klein

I'd better try to sneak this in before Ric declares it totally off-topic, off-limits, and verboten. Just posting it for the amazement of all!

As mentioned earlier, when curiously searching for something written about the government involvement in Remote Viewing research, I found virtually nothing. There was one book, Psychic Warrior that was a factual account of one person's involvement. Quite a gifted remote viewer. The most amazing thing about the book is that libraries put it in the non-fiction section! There's a message here for all who would seek to learn from books that were written for profit.

Now, the part I think may be interesting... Searching various data bases, I found a set of video cassettes (five of them) of instruction in "Technical Remote Viewing," by PsiTech. To my definite surprise, these cassettes were in a library just across the state line from me! I was curious about how in the world any library would have such cassettes available to check out. It turned out that someone had donated the cassettes to them!

So, I have been through the whole course in Technical Remote Viewing, as taught by Ed Dames (Major, retired??) himself! Obviously, I can now find the airplane and anything else anyone can think of. And I can view anything at any time in the past or in the future. We can have the whole story just for the viewing!

Yes, I "viewed" all five of the cassettes. Perhaps one of the most interesting parts is at the end when Ed Dames goes through a complete Remote Viewing session. Wouldn't you know, it would be a well chosen "target?" His target was the Holy Grail!!

Wishing to leave no stone unturned in the effort to find the airplane... Can anyone suggest a good do-it-yourself book on reading chicken entrails?

From Ric

Our man Vern always comes through.

Subject: Tides at Nikumaroro
Date: 2/27/99
From: Rick Nigh

The Tides at Niku should be easy to work out with an accuracy of about Five minutes. Tides are not just a random event , subject to chaos theory. There is a direct correlation to the position and phase of the Moon. The Lunar phase affects the height of the tide. Higher at new and full, lower at first and fourth quarters. the position and phase of the Moon can be easily obtained from a Nautical or Air Almanac from 1937. Now comes the tricky part. The exact time of high or low tide will lag behind the Moons position. The amount is variable with any particular location, but consistent at that location. Local sailing directions may help. Observations taken at the Island itself will also help. Perhaps during Niku IIII.

Our Tide Tables were printed up a year in advance. I can't remember them being off by any noticeable amount. I would be happy to help, I have none of the necessary reference pubs at home. BTW. Has anyone checked to see if Howland or Niku was actually at there charted position? When we entered the harbor at Diego Garcia ( A well known coaling stop since the turn of the century.) There was a note on the chart to the effect that "the islands in the Chagos group may be as much as 2.5 miles from where we think they are."

LTM (Love to Moons)

Rick Nigh

From Ric

So tides are caused by the Moon? Son of a gun.

Although it may not seem that way from what you read here, we did not just recently fall off the turnip truck. This "tides at Niku" question has been fought out and debated with the help of NOAA and the Office of Naval Research.

Look -- the accurate prediction (or hindcasting) of tides depends upon having an accurate database of information about what tides at that particular location have done in the past. That's what we don't have for Niku. The closest place for which we have good tidal records is Canton Island which is 200 miles away.

Tidal prediction for places where there is no good tidal history available is notoriously difficult. Just read what happened at Tarawa in 1943. People who thought it was easy made smug predictions about the tidal depth on the reef at the planned assault time. When the Higgins Boats went in they ran hard aground way out at the reef edge and the Marines had to wade the several hundred yards to the beach, chestdeep in water and Japanese automatic weapons fire.

As far as the accurate position of Howland is concerned, it seems to be pretty well nailed down now but in 1937 there were half a dozen versions of where the place was supposed to be -- but all within about 5 nm of each other. Whether Earhart and Noonan had accurate coordinates for the island is a matter of some debate, but even if they didn't it was at most a contributing factor in the disappearance, not the "key to the mystery" that some have claimed it to be.

LTM, Ric

Subject: Shoe deterioration
Date: 2/27/99
From: Tom King

Having been away from the forum for awhile, and now trying to deal with the 193 messages that were waiting upon my return, I want to comment BRIEFLY on shoes and diaries and preservation.

Re. Diaries on Niku and in the Libyan Desert -- don't forget that it was in an environment similar to the latter that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and millenia-old papryrus fragments are pretty common even in surface contexts in the Egyptian desert. A dry environment is real good for paper preservation; a real wet environment isn't, unless it's ENTIRELY wet, i.e. anaerobic.

Re. shoes -- I hadn't thought of it before, but in 1978, doing World War II archeology in Chuuk (Truk), my crew and I found a pair of Japanese military boots associated with a rice bowl and drinking cup, next to a series of bomb holes on what had been an extensive Japanese AA facility. We speculated that the poor devil had been eating lunch when he was literally blown out of his boots, but I imagine it's more likely he was just cooling his feet when the bombs hit, and he ran. Anyhow, the boots were in pretty good shape -- cracked and stiff, but the uppers were certainly mostly there, after 34 years. The climate in Chuuk is comparable to Niku's. There are lots of dogs. There aren't nearly as many crabs. Another variable might be the condition of the shoe before its owner expired -- the quality of its materials and what sort of abuse it had been subjected to. Looks like we need more experimental data.

Tom King
Earhart Project Archeologist

Subject: Time and Tide
Date: 2/28/99
From: Vern Klein

Ric wrote:

> That has been, and still is, an issue of great debate. I am extremely leery of any declaration of the precise
> tidal state on that island at a given moment 62 years ago. If you're off just six hours you're 100 percent wrong.

Actually, it's 6 hours and about 12 minutes to be 100 percent wrong. I mention that because it makes some of the following times work better.

I have the Tide Tables for a few locations in the South Pacific for 1937. These are the tables published by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

The post significant data for our purpose is that for Apia, Samoa Islands. Apia is something less than 100 miles almost due south of Nikumaroro. In fact, it's very nearly on Fred's advanced LoP extended southward on beyond Niku.

On July 2, 1937, high-tide occurred at 1:57 PM local time at Apia. If the tide was up at that time at Apia, it's pretty certain it was up in the Phoenix Islands at essentially the same time. Low tide was at 8:15 AM, while they were still hunting for Howland Island, and again at 8:24 PM.

I think this suggests that Amelia probably put the Electra down on the beach rather than on the reef flat.

From Ric

Apia is "something less than 100 miles almost due south of Nikumaroro?" What map are you looking at? Try more like 560 nm. That much change in latitude can have a significant effect on tidal states at a given time. For example, high tide this evening at Atlantic City, NJ will be at 6:20 p.m. About 560 nm further south at Wilmington, NC high tide will be at 8:35 p.m. And those are at latitudes well above the equator.

Everybody wants to make this simple, and it ain't.

LTM, Ric

Subject: History Channel Crib Sheet
Date: 2/28/99
From: Ric Gillespie

Supposedly the History Channel will rebroadcast their 2 hour documentary "The Mysteries of Amelia Earhart " tomorrow (Monday March 1st) evening at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central time. For those who don't have something better to do, here's a brief crib sheet.

General Cautions

Remember -- this is television. It is not history. It is entertainment. The priority of the people who made it was to tell a good story that viewers would stay tuned to and not surf over to professional wrestling.

The images shown, in most cases, DO NOT depict the events being described in the narration. None of the many scenes which are used to depict the 1937 aerial search show even the correct type of aircraft. Scenes and stills from Earhart's life are hopelessly mixed up. For example, as the narrator describes Earhart's first cross-country flight in 1928 (which was made in a tiny Avro Avian) we're shown newsreel footage of her in her huge 450 hp Lockheed Vega in 1935.

Specific Errors

Errors of fact abound in this show, but a few are worthy of special comment.

  1. Earhart was not a personal friend of Franklin Roosevelt. She knew and liked Eleanor and had met the President. There is also no evidence that FDR was involved in any way with the decision of the U.S. Navy to assist in the search.
  2. The Electra did not have a cruising speed of over 200 mph. The 10E had a maximum speed of 215 mph but an airplane's maximum speed is almost never used. Earhart's normal cruising speed was 150 mph.
  3. Fred Noonan's alleged drinking problem is entirely without foundation and is one of the most unfortunate aspects of the mythology that has grown up around the Earhart disappearance.
  4. There was no hard landing by Mantz in Hawaii. I have no idea where that one came from. Credit the History Channel with a brand new Earhart Myth.
  5. No morse code radio was left behind in Miami. In fact, the show's description of all technical issues surrounding the flight is woefully dumbed- down and grossly inaccurate.
  6. The famous incident on the coast of Africa where AE supposedly ignores Fred's advice, turns the wrong way, and lands at the wrong airport didn't happen that way at all. It seems to have been invented posthumously by the editors of Last Flight. The original maps and notes from the flight suggest that they hit the African coast a little south of course, Dakar was obscured in very bad haze, it was getting late in the day, and they made a wise decision to divert to St. Louis.
  7. Noonan was not having trouble with any of his instruments in Lae. Heavy radio traffic was keeping him from getting an accurate time check for his chronometer.
  8. The show claims that the skys were clear over Howland and the closest clouds were 20 miles away. That is not true. The Itasca's deck log and weather observations on Howland describe a layer of scattered cloud around 2,000 feet.
  9. The show's representation of the politcal situation in the Pacific is just plain wrong.
  10. The parade of conspiracy theorists needs no comment.
  11. There is one particularly stupid allegation that, during repairs, Earhart's engines were replaced with the more powerful engines of the Lockheed Model 12. The 12 used the 450 hp P&W R985. Earhart's engines were 550 hp P&W R1340s.
  12. Crouch, "The people I find most impressive are not professional historians but pilots who have done a lot of flying over the Pacific." Says it all.
  13. Elgen Long somehow forgets to mention that the Chater Report was found because of TIGHAR.
  14. Crouch, "We have a list of serial numbers of everything on that airplane." He's talking through his hat. The engines and props had serial numbers and the airframe itself had a constructor's number. That's about it.
  15. The show ends with an implication that technology exists which could efficiently search the ocean floor for Earhart's airplane. It doesn't.

The show has some good shots Russ Matthews took on Niku in '89 but, for the most part, WWF wrestling is better.

Love to mother,

Subject: Quicksand?
Date: 3/1/99
From: Randy

Is there any signs of "quicksand" on the island? What I'm driving at is something that my wife brought up tonight. We were talking about batteries and the idea that you said that her plane was big enough that it wouldn't sink in the water. She, though brought up the point about the crash of the plane that landed in the muc and quicksand of the Everglades. Is this a possibility of happening. I know you said that the reef is flat and is dry as a bone. But, is it possible of happening. Also, I know alot of people are thinking this can happen. But, in all cases how fast can two people disassemble a plane; to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy or somebody.

Let's just say, that you landed a plane in adverse weather conditions, and on your entry say a couple thousand feet, you notice a Japanese patrol boat in the distance. As you approach land, can a person disassemble that plane; take what they need and let the rest float off into the ocean. It's possible that they got off the post-crash radio messages. But, in a war-time situation such as keep yourself from falling prey to the enemy...You either shot yourself...destroyed or disassembled your weapons...or ran. If you say that plane is as big as it is...Then I'll buy the guy the first six-pack that can go there whenever and tell me that plane isn't there! How deep is that reef anyway? Too, are we for sure that she was able to land the plane, and didn't try to take off again, and then ended in fate. O.K! I'll stop while I'm ahead. Anyway, there are alot of things adding up that haven't been looked at lately. Anyway, sooner or later a puzzle will be solved and completed!

From Ric

Well, if your intent was to stop while you were ahead, you missed by quite a bit.

There is no "quicksand" on or near Niku. The reef-flat surrounding the island is rock hard coral. The beach sand can be quite soft but in the same way the beach sand is usually soft.

All this talk of "the enemy" is a not-uncommon problem in addressing the Earhart disappearance. In 1937 Japan was not the enemy. There were no Japanese patrols. The closest Japanese were over a thousand miles away in the Marshall Islands where, contrary to legend, they had no secret fortifications, or airfields, or aircraft carriers, or anything that was in violation of the League of Nations mandate. (Later they did, but not in 1937.) Had Earhart and Noonan seen a "Japanese patrol" approaching they would have been delighted. Had any Japanese, civilian or military, come upon them no matter where -- Nikumaroro, the Marshalls, Truk, Saipan, or Tokyo -- they surely would have rendered assistance and notified U.S. authorities. There were numerous other incidents when they did just that.

The very fact that speculation about Japanese involvement in the Earhart disappearance is always characterized as her "capture" is a dead give away that it is based entirely upon erroneous assumptions about the historical context. If an American were to disappear today in Japanese territory we might wonder if he or she had been "detained", "arrested", "taken into custody", or even "abducted", but we would not say "captured." The entire myth about Japanese involvement in the Earhart disappearance is a relic of Wolrd War II.

And let's not even talk about disassembling a Lockheed 10.

Love to mother,

Subject: Technical Remote Viewing
Date: 3/1/99
From: Tom Van Hare

Vern Klein wrote:

> Can anyone suggest a good do-it-yourself book on reading chicken entrails?

As some of you may know, for some years years I flew search and rescue missions (not CAP). We flew about 22 hours a week. One of the other pilots was quite religious and always used to say that "God drove his airplane". He was quite committed in his belief too, so it should be fitting that he would be the one who would find this one particular group of Cuban refugees one Saturday morning.

That day, off the coast of Florida, a group of Cuban refugees was adrift in a tiny homebuilt raft. On board was a Santeria Priestess (this is sort of a Cuban variant of Voodoo mixed with Wickan lore and a touch of Catholic faith as well). After three days at sea, there were in pretty bad shape and probably would not have survived another day.

In their desperation and with their last chance of survival rapidly slipping away, they asked the Santeria Priestess to do some of her magic. She pulled some chicken's feet out of her little bag, and laid in with a black magic chant, waving them around over her head. At exactly that moment, this fine pilot friend of mine spotted them, dove down on them in his plane and... they were saved. A day later, I had the opportunity to meet with the Priestess and her cohorts -- as you can imagine, they were all true believers in Santeria. It was a miracle, they said, the way she had "summoned" the plane.

I think she probably still has those chicken feet somewhere, so if you want me to give her a call, we'll have the whole AE thing solved in no time I'm sure. For all I know, she may have written a good book about it by now -- it is, after all, the "American Way".

Just doing my best to help move the whole psychic viewing thing in the right direction (all of the above story, by the way, is true).

Thomas Van Hare

From Ric--- We'll try to think of some way to repay you.

Subject: AE Radio/Post-landing Contact
Date: 3/3/99
From: Don Neumann

Would not the fact that the Electra was transmitting from a stationary, ground-level position (assuming a successful, wheels-down, undamaged landing on the reef flat), have a significant bearing on the direction & range that could be expected from it's radio transmissions, as opposed to such transmissions broadcast while still aloft?

Since there appears to be no record of any transmissions being received, (following the last transmission recorded by the Itaska) during the time frame while the plane was presumed to be still airborne and making the assumption A.E. was still transmitting or at least attempting to transmit messages enroute to the Phoenix Island Chain, why would such transmissions suddenly occur after the plane is determined to have landed?

I guess my point is (not too well explained), since aircraft radio systems are designed to operate primarily from airborne aircraft, why would such transmissions suddenly occur after the plane is presumed to be down, from a more remote location than when the plane was airborne (unless, of course, the listeners were trying to transmit while A.E. was transmitting)?

Don Neumann

From Ric

You're thinking VHF such as is used in modern aircraft. Those signals travel line -of-sight so that the higher you are, the farther you reach. That's not true of HF frequencies such as Earhart was using. I'm sure that our resident radio gurus will hasten to elaborate, but the bottom line is that NR16020 should have been able to transmit from the ground nearly as well as from the air.

I do think that it's safe to assume that Earhart continued to transmit after the last message received by Itasca. Their failure to hear her seems most likely to have been caused by the skip characteristics of the frequency to which she changed (6210 kcs). They may also have "stepped on" her transmissions with their own attempts to contact her. The logs show that they were doing a lot of transmitting. How long Earhart would have continued to send transmissions in the face of no replies is an open question. At what point do you say, "What's the point? The thing is obviously broken."?

Subject: AE 281 Message
Date: 3/3/99
From: Tom Van Hare

Ric wrote:

> The "281 message" was not heard by Pan Am at Wake but by U.S. Navy Radio Wailupe in Hawaii. It is, perhaps,
> the most interesting of the post-loss signals and can, in fact, be construed as evidence that the plane was on Gardner.
> But it's not proof of anything.

What was the text of the "281 message". I would love to read it.

Thomas Van Hare

From Ric

Oh Lordy, have you just opened a can of worms. Okay, here we go.

Early on the morning of July 5th the following message was sent from the Commander of the Coast Guard's Hawaiian Section (COMHAWSEC) to the Itasca:


We've only spent about a gazillion hours working on this particular puzzle but I won't say anything about our observations until the forum has had an unbiased crack at it.

LTM, Ric

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