Highlights From the Forum
October 31 through November 6, 1999
William 2243 (is that the Boston 2243s?) raises several good points about the limits to a flight performance analysis. The three biggest areas of indeterminacy are actual, as opposed to calculated aircraft performance, winds, and weight.
The first of these can be reduced to a significant degree by performing the same calculations for the earlier legs of the mission, then comparing the results to what is known of the real flights. This should result in a differential between calculated and actual performance. On modern aircraft performance charts this included based on the lowest performance of the fleet, most aircraft performing better than the charts predict. When calculated for an individual aircraft this is sometimes called a 'finagle factor'. That's defined as the number you should have added, subtracted, multiplied or divided by the answer you got to get the answer you needed.
For weight, it should be possible to narrow down the possible range of values.
The same for winds.
Taken all together this will give an upper and lower limit of possible values. Any theory with a fuel exhaustion falling outside those limits is excluded. Any theory constrained by those limits is still as possible as it ever was.
I didn't mention one other factor, largely because I don't know how to evaluate it. That is, Crew Performance. How closely did the crew stick to the plan? Running off speed or altitude, or with the mixture rich or prop settings wrong for any time can have a dramatic affect on fuel consumption.
I've done 20 hour crew days, I can tell you that suggesting that mistakes might have been made is not an insult to Earhart or Noonan.
LTM (who always
goes to bed on time)
This is going to be fun.
>William 2243 (is that the Boston 2243s?) .....
No, the Los Angeles 2243s. Came west around 1880. They were orignally the 2278s but an immigration official at Ellis Island couldn't pronounce it so he changed the name to 2243.
I think there are still some folks here who don't really understand the geography of Nikumaroro.
Let me see if I do...
The highest point of land is what, 7 feet above sea level, is that correct? And any time a big ocean swell of 8 feet or more (from a nearby typhoon or undersea earthquake) comes along, the island is underwater, right? And when the odd typhoon comes close, pushing along a storm surge of 10-20 feet, the island gets scrubbed pretty clean, I would think.
Do I have a fair understanding of the situation, or am I all wet?
LTM (who hates it
when her Bluchers get wet)
Better grab a snorkel. Storm surges do a lot of damage to the western end of the island but we see no evidence that the place ever gets overwashed except for a few flats near the lagoon passages. Generally speaking, the surrounding reef does a great job of protecting the shoreline and the force of any wave that does make it ashore is quickly absorbed by the dense vegetation just beyond the beach (much to the detriment of the vegetation).
The dynamics of the water flow during "westerly" events is something we have just come to realize may have had a great deal to do with wreckage distribution. Stay tuned.
Ric's exactly right; we've never found anything resembling a dump. For that matter, I can't recall seeing anything resembling a dump, per se, in any Micronesian village, though stuff often sort of accumulates in gullies and other low spots.
The people of Karaka Village, by all accounts, prided themselves on keeping the place tidy, so they must have put trash somewhere. On the other hand, we now find a lot of stuff scattered about the house sites -- including, of course, lots of airplane parts.
I suspect that most non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, non-burnable trash got buried, probably in each individual mwenga or house site. But it's a good question to keep in mind when we interview village veterans.
LTM (who says: Keep
Can we turn this fuel consumption problem inside out by getting away from the predicted performance and go with some actual consumption / endurance figures of any of the long legs of her flight? Are there any records of how much fuel was consumed for any of these legs vs the distance, time, wind, and estimated weight?
My guess is there was a max weight AE was trying to stay under, or at least near. Why else would she send stuff home in favor of more gas. Assuming that, and I know assumptions can lead us astray, it might be construed that she was at or near her max weight for most of the flight.
Is there a leg that we know she was heavy, with known distance, time, and fuel consumption? What about the flight from Calif to Miami at the start of the second attempt. I believe she had a third person aboard, and, like most expeditions, the initial start probably had the maximum amount of equipment aboard. The Atlantic leg from Brazil to Africa might be a good one to examine if the fuel consumed info is available.
Just seems like the results from actual flight legs would be a good cross check with the KJ performance figures and other estimates, and would give us some indight to how well AE was actually managing her fuel.
LTM (who always
strives to manage her fuel consumption)
Yes, that would seem to be a good way to approach it. I'm not sure how much data are available but we can look.
Here's something else that occurs to me along these same lines. Back before the Chater Report pretty much put an end to the debate about how many gallons of gas Earhart at least thought she had aboard, somebody (and I can't remember who) did some elaborate calculations and arrived at a max weight for a 10E to get off the ground in under 3,000 feet given the supposed elevation, temperature, humidity, wind, at Lae that morning. Their conclusion, as I recall (Caution: human memory at work), was that the fuel load could not have been over 950 gallons. I have to wonder if their work was, in fact, legitimate but they had the airplane-minus-gas weight wrong. It the airplane was lightened enough between March and July, the Lae takeoff weight might be virtually the same as it was for Oakland takeoff.
Anybody remember who it was that was making the argument that it was physically impossible to get the airplane off the ground in that distance with more than X gallons aboard?
> From Andrew McKenna
I completely agree with Andrew that this would be the most applicable way to calculate fuel consumption for the aircraft in question, if such data can be found.
> My guess is there
was a max weight AE was trying to stay under, or at least
Just like bush pilots, AE probably knew what she could get away with safely in the weight department, even if it wasn't legal. I've heard of bush pilots flying the Twin Otter (max legal gross weight of 12,500 lbs.) who sometimes fly with as much as 18,000 lbs on take-off. It's disgustingly illegal, but they know it can be done safely under certain conditions. I don't think it would be unreasonable to think that AE would push the limits if it meant she could get away with carrying extra fuel.
> Assuming that,
and I know assumptions can lead us astray, it might be
I don't quite agree with the "most of the flight" part above, since the aircraft weight would of course change as she burned the fuel up. Just as an estimate: if she took off with nearly 1,000 gallons of fuel, and each gallon weighed 6 lbs (which would vary depending on temperature of the fuel when she left Lae), she - well okay, the Electra - would lose about 6,000 lbs (or three tons) by the time she and Fred landed on Gardner. :-) I can't recall what the max gross weight of the Electra is, but I'm guessing that 6,000 lbs would be a substantial percentage of that, and this would certainly have a great impact on fuel consumption and handling characteristics. Essentially, she'd be taking the aircraft from the highest weight that she felt she could get away with given the take-off conditions in Lae, to the lightest configuration it could possibly be in, meaning nearly down to its zero-fuel weight. (I say nearly, because we ought to allow for some fuel left in the tanks for those radio transmissions.)
Then again, like the tides on Niku, we'll probably never know these numbers for real, although we can argue over them endlessly.
LTM, (who always
takes off below her maximum legal gross weight)
Actually, the highest elevation on Niku is at least 7 METERS, not 7 feet, and it's probably a tad higher than that. So it's only the low-lying areas that get overwashed in a major storm event. The higher areas -- e.g. the core of the village area, Nutiran, Aukaraime -- show no signs of overwashing.
LTM (who's in favor
On 10 July 1937, according to a document found by Randy Jacobson in the National Archives, an Associated Press reporter aboard U.S.S. Colorado filed the following report:
Since the letters scooped in the sand at least indicate that someone had been on Sidney Island (Orona) around the time of Earhart's disappearance, it's of some interest to find out what they mean, but until now, no one we know of has been able to offer a reasonable translation. I recently asked Mr. Foua Tofinga, our Tuvaluan colleague in Fiji who helped us so much this summer, and here is what he says:
So, the words scooped in the sand suggest to a knowledgeable speaker of local languages that at least three people of both sexes were on Orona around the time of Earhart's disappearance. Obviously they were not Earhart and Noonan, but their presumed presence is interesting vis-a-vis alternative explanations of the "signs of recent habitation" noted on Nikumaroro, or even of the bones and sextant box.
We can't answer most of Mr. Tofinga's questions from the data available to us, but I wonder if anybody on the Forum (Randy?) can tell us the phase of the moon? I suspect that Mr. Tofinga wants to know in order to consider whether the visitors to Orona might have been hunting sea turtles when they came ashore. As for the tides, I presume we have the same problem with Orona tides that we do with tides on Nikumaroro, but if anyone has a thought, I'd be happy to have something to pass on to Mr. Tofinga.
LTM (who believes
in leaving no turtle unturned)
You've got your islands a bit mixed up. Hull is Orona (named for Harry Maude's wife Honor) and Sydney is Manra (named for I-don't-remember-what) and, of course, Gardner is Nikumaroro (named for the legendary home of Nei Manganibuka).
Around the time of Earhart's disappearance, Hull and Sydney were being worked by Tokelau laborers under contract to Burns Philp Company and under the supervision of their employed manager John William Jones who was in residence on Hull (and was interviewed by Lambrecht when he landed in the lagoon). Jones had recently pulled his workers off Sydney, leaving behind the huts that Lambrecht saw and, apparently, the letters in the sand. I like the explanation that they were not some cryptic message but just another example of the islanders' well-known fondness for carving their names in anything in sight.
I don't see how it tells us anything about events on Gardner. Randy has said that Jones visited Gardner on the way to Hull but I haven't the paper on that.
When studying Lambrecht's report, I have been unable to identify any direct reference to the altitude flown by the three aircraft and six crew members over Gardner Island either during their approach to the island, over the island during the scouting manoeuvre, or during the buzzing manoeuvres: Lambrecht reported flying at 50 feet on his one circling manoeuvre around McKean , before being forced to 400 feet by the profundity of birds, and mentioned that this was the case with the rest of the Phoenix islands , but I wonder if he he did in fact fly at this height at all times.
It is logical that they proceeded to Gardner at that safety level to preclude a similar encounter there. However, on spotting the signs of recent habitation, while his wingmen presumably circled the island and lagoon areas, Lambrecht would have considered descending to buzz the area containing markers (his 1972 explanation of his 1937 observation) and I interpret repeated 'zooming ' as just that. To buzz or zoom something requires low level flying to achieve the appropriate result intended, and maybe the birds were scared off sufficiently to enable a closer look. I disagree with the supposition or interpretation of his report that he only flew at 400 feet or above, and that the flight over this island was a single cursory flight as expressed on the the Forum and elsewhere . Lambrecht noted that the island constituted an ideal emergency landing area, and it is irrational to presuppose that during the scouting of this island, these three aircraft did not methodically check the island vegetation, the beaches, the shipwreck and the lagoon for any sign of a crashed aeroplane, and his accurate observations of the shipwreck and character of the island bear this out.
Randy Jacobson has emphasised the fact that the weather was mild for at least that one week period during the search, and therefore it is doubtful whether the interpretation of the wave actions shown on the one famous photograph can have accounted for the aircraft being systematically fragmented. On their subsequent approach to Carondelet reef Lambrecht reported seeing only occasional breakers there and does not mention heavy surf action at Gardner. There were too many large, angular pieces of aeroplane such as the undercarriage with large inflated(?) tyres, 'reinforced' fuselage sections containing the fuel tanks, the painted red wing sections and the engines which would have been visible in 4 feet of water in the surf or out of it, and it is just too much to expect that every piece of wreckage would have been demolished and hidden in the surf line - in the very unlikely event of complete disintegration to have occurred , then all the pieces are even more unlikely to have been deposited only along the surfline - they would have been scattered all over the reef flats and beaches, and would have been visible in and out of the cyclical surf action during the abatement period, many pieces (orange kites!), aluminium powdered paper bombs, paper and oil slicks clearly visible to the six pairs of eyes of the searching crew.
To consider what probable damage the major aircraft components could have realistically suffered by the tide action, I have compared the similar disappearance of the Kingsford Smith Lockheed Altair which disappeared into the Andaman sea in 1935: the right retractable undercarriage assembly complete with attached wheel and inflated tyre was subsequently found and identified 18 months after the accident; it had drifted 250 miles North of the last observed sighting of the aircraft and arrived completely unscathed on an island beach after a 'voyage' through thousands of islands in the Mergui Archipelago. It now resides in the Powerhouse museum in Sydney, for those of you interested and who may be visiting for the Olympics. (It has been only recently analysed by the Defence Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne which has established that the damage to this undercarriage assembly supports the theory that the aircraft crashed into the sea at an angle greater than 12 degrees.)
Any amount of fragmented remains would still be lying about on the reef flats even today, and be constantly washed up on the beaches; during their fishing and wading/swimming escapades, surely the villagers , always entranced with western artifacts, would have collected and used things such as shiny instruments to adorn their huts. (A ship's chronometer and the fire extinguishers were found in the huts ), so they should have had a hoard of the many interesting and enticing items that would have been salvagable, including women's shoes (did she only have one pair on the flight?) and especially, radio equipment, all of which Gallagher would have seen and enquired about during his stay.
The New Zealand surveys of 1938/1939, and the Bushnell survey would have undoubtedly identified and collected numerous components strewn about during their meticulous surveys of the island if they had existed. This type of survey involved walking every millimetre of shoreline, vegetation line and the lagoon shoreline as well as the taking of numerous hydrographic reef readings and lagoon readings. Surveying is an exact science, which requires the methodical and systematic recording of information, such as all relevant geographical or man-made features, and includes the necessary recording of such objects as the type of trees growing(their height, shape , spread and trunk circumference), the predominance of bird and animal life, the type and texture of the sand or soil , the recording of weather, tides, etc,etc. The description of the shipwreck would have been recorded in detail. It is not unreasonable to assume that some of these surveyors, if not all, were fully aware of the recent disappearance of A.E. in the area, and would have taken an interest in anything significant resembling aeroplane wreckage. It is the very nature of surveyors to be observant, and to record anything of significance.
I was hoping by now that we would have received postings from experienced naval flyers who would have flown search and rescue/surveillance missions or flown coastguard operations to render their view of what could have been observed from the air in this scenario with a surf running, but I have not even seen a posting on this from Tom Van Hare. From my experience flying coastal surveillance missions for the Australian Coastwatch unit on the Northern coastline of Australia, for 5 hours a day, flat on the deck at 50 feet, hugging the coastline, I experienced no difficulties in locating completely submerged shipwrecks, discolouration of the sea, submerged sharks and crocodiles and 44 gallon drums scattered on lonely pinpricks of islands, or in shallow reef areas and lagoons, as well as flotsam of all descriptions scatterd on beaches in bays. We were trained to search and identify illegal sea and air landings (immigrants from South-East Asia) and illegal activities (drug running), as well as noting any significant change in the sea or sea vegetaion,(oil and other toxic waste discharges at sea, which also affected the vegetation and shoreline) and of course, note suspicious activities or signs of habitation on these isolated sections of the rugged coastline. Any whisp of smoke seen even inland was considered worthy of a search-and-identify flypast. I don't see any reason why Lambrecht and his crews would not have been capable of identifying wreckage from 400 feet or from his zooming and buzzing manoeuvres.
I have located additional documents from the island hunting in the Phoenix Island Group which could explain the "markers" observed by Lambrecht and the reason for "signs of recent habitation".
Surveyors always leave markers behind after they have surveyed an area in order to identify their survey stations for subsequent resurveys, and it was my initial belief that that is what Lambrecht saw - the remains of the New Zealand Survey of 1935. However , according to the following quotation , it now seems more than equally likely to have been as a result of the activities of these island hunting expeditions, not only by the British and the U.S.A., but by the French and the Japanese. In considering the evidence, it is important not to forget that the scientific expeditions to these island for observing the eclipse (8 June) took place at the same time, the month of June 1937, shortly before the A.E. disappearance.
(What a pity that these blokes were not around to witness the A.E. flight a few weeks later)
My previous posting explained that on 13 June 1937 , two US cutters , one of them the Itasca, left Honolulu in a successful attempt to prevent the British from annexing Howland Island and Jarvis Island in response to the following information received:
"The State Department was jolted on 21 May when it received a despatch from the American Consul in Sydney, Albert M. Doyle. He reported that H.M.S. Leith had left Suva in February under secret orders to claim certain islands in the Phoenix Group which might be considered useful as bases in the establishment of a trans-Pacific service. This was a bombshell to the State Department for an American naval vessel was already at Canton Island and England had not been informed of the intended visit."
further, and more importantly , with regard to the subject of the 'markers'.
" H.M.S. Leith had visited the eight islands of the Phoenix Group and had put up a proclamation on each island which read: 'This island belongs to King Edward VIII '
This island activity supposedly had been caused by the Americans and the Japanese in the South Pacific. The Phoenix Group was described as having been in the 'unattached' category of Pacific territories, although their position flanking one of the main Pacific trade routes, invests them with some strategic importance"
Please note that the logs of the HMS Wellington, HMS Leith, HMS Dunedin and HMS Leander are being sent to me for authentication of the above events having occured on those particular dates.
Below is additional relevant information pertaining to the possibility of unrecorded visits to Gardner Island, and of the substantial amount of vessels and people wandering about these islands during 1937, (which has been a subject of constant speculation on the Forum).
The publicity over
the recolonization of the islands stimulated foreign interest in the islands.
The Japanese fisheries vessel, Hakuyo Maru, made frequent enquiries
regarding Palmyra Island, Kimgman Reef and the Equatorial Islands. In
August 1937, this ship appeard off Howland Island and then proceeded to
Baker Island, where it hove to for two hours , making no attempt to communicate
with the colonists there. In the early hours of September 1937, an unidentified
ship passed close to Baker Island and disappeared in the direction of
Howland Island. A few hours later, the French gunboat
ref: Francis X. Holbrook. "Aeronautical Reciprocity and the Anglo-American Island Race", 1936-1937. Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. Dec. 1971
Francis X. Holbrook. "The Canton Island Controversy: Compromise or American Victory?" Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society. June 1973.
Whew! Maybe we should all just sign on with Elgen and Marie. I'll respond when I get some time (dream on Gillespie) but I wanted to get it out there for everyone to see, consider and comment upon.
Numerous errors. But first, let me comment on Search and Rescue in 1937. The US Navy did not train for such activities, and Lambrecht and Co. were flying and SAR'ing by the seat of their pants. Today, we know that SAR is not 100% capable of detection with the Mark 1 Mod 1 eyeball--- in fact, it is worse directly below the plane than off to the side. With today's training, equipment, and knowledge, SAR is much much better than before WWII. The nominal flight elevation for Lambrecht and Co. while searching for Winslow Reef and the Reef and Sand Bank was 1000 feet, documented in several places. It is reasonable to assume that that was the flight altitude for passage between islands, and possibly the first fly-over reconnaissance flight of each island.
There was no New Zealand survey in 1935; rather, it was late '38 to early '39. The first United Kingdom visit was the Wellington in 1936 to the Phoenix Islands, followed by the eclipse party at Canton.
The Hakuyo Maru and Savorgnan De Brazza were sighted off of Baker and Howland prior to the AE flight, not after.
The phrase "would have" in historical writing means that the writer is merely guessing and should always be prefaced with a qualifying statement such as ""It seems to me..", "In my opinion..." or "Based upon my understanding and experience it is my guees that...".
>Lambrecht would have considered descending to buzz the area...
red wing sections and the engines which would have
have been scattered all over the reef flats and beaches, and
entranced with western artifacts, would have collected
>The New Zealand
surveys of 1938/1939, and the Bushnell survey
Categorical statements such as "This type of survey involved walking every millimetre of shoreline, vegetation line and the lagoon shoreline..." are especially precarious when based upon assumption rather than records of the actual event. In fact, the report of the 1938/39 New Zealand survey specifically state that "The survey work consisted of traversing an area of about 200 acres at the northwestern corner of the island and stadia profiles were taken at five chain intervals (NOTE: A "chain" is 100 feet.) from which a contour plan has been prepared." - Report of E. W. Lee, Engineer's Assistant, Pacific Islands Survey Expedition, Gardner Island, dated 28th March, 1939. Likewise, the reference to "(Lambrecht's) accurate observations of the shipwreck and character of the island" makes an assumption that is not borne out by the facts. Lambrecht provides only general descriptions of the shipwreck and the island, but the more specific estimates detailed in Lt. William Short's letter to his father (dated July 22, 1937) disclose that at least one of the pilots had a rather distorted impression of what he was seeing. He describes the lagoon as being "about 2 1/2 miles long" when in fact it is nearly 4 miles in length. The island, he says, is covered with "short bushy trees" which were, in fact, 60 to 90 feet tall. He saw "two small groves of coconut palms". There were five. At least for Lt. Short, his perceptions of scale indicate that an aircraft or aircraft wreckage on the ground might appear much smaller than he expected it to.
This posting is reminiscent of the dismissive opinions we used to hear all the time about how it was ridiculous to think that there might be any truth to the legends of bones being found on Gardner.
The Longs say:
"If the maximum range remains constant, it is a mathematical certainty that an 8.5 percent increase in groundspeed will result in an 8.5 percent increase in hourly fuel consumption."
Lets say we have an airplane with a fixed fuel capacity F. It takes off with a full load of fuel, and flies however has been determined to give it the most range. The aircraft goes some range r before running out of gas. This is the maximum range. The time it takes to do this is t.
(1) Average Groundspeed = r/t
Rearrange to get:
(2) t = r / (Average Groundspeed) (3) Average Fuel Flow = F/t
Insert (2) into (3) to get:
(4) Average Fuel Flow = F ( Average Groundspeed) / r
F is known to be constant. IF the maximum range r is a constant, then:
*Average Fuel Flow is linearly proportional to Average Groundspeed*
*An 8.5 percent increase in groundspeed will result in an 8.5 percent increase in hourly fuel consumption*
The statement by the Longs is perfectly true. What relevance does it have to Earhart's flight? None whatsoever, because, as many readers have pointed out (most recently william 2243), the maximum range is not a constant. It varies as a function of virtually anything -winds, power settings, temperature, phase of the moon, what have you.
If the Longs claim that this "mathematical certainty" is why Earhart ran out of gas, then that is where they are incorrect, and that is where they should be critiqued. (Hint: if max range is a constant, how can they claim that Earhart didn't have enough fuel to reach Niku, which under still-air conditions she did?) Unfortunately, those of us on the forum without the book in our hands don't have the context surrounding this quote, so we can't see how the Longs go astray. The "mathematical certainty" is not false, however, it is just irrelevant. It's as if some writer penned the statement:
"Earhart ran out of gas in the vicinity of Howland because FDR was president"
and twenty TIGHAR members came back with the reply:
"FDR was not president in 1937"
There is a certain irony that at the end of yesterday's digest, there is a thread on using the Earhart project to teach people about the scientific method. That's what I've got to say.
-Walt Holm #0980C
Maybe we could use Elgen's book to teach algebra.
Here's the context of the 8.5% statement:
He then explains that other factors enter into the equation (speed variations, turbulence, etc., etc.) all of which operate to shorten the time from the calculated maximum. "Earhart had flown the Electra within 1.7 percent of the predicted values to make the fuel last for 20 hours and 13 minutes." This is how Elgen gets her to run out of gas at the moment she finishes the last radio transmission heard by Itasca.
Following up Michael Real's posting about Lambrecht's overflight of Gardner Island. Search and rescue is obviously a much more scientifically based activity now than it was in 1937, but just how developed was it then as a specific school of flying - if at all? I'm not a pilot, but I bet there's a huge difference in the chances of you or signs of you being found if the person looking is a trained SAR pilot rather than a pilot who is available who has been sent to look for you, no matter how dedicated or experienced s/he might be. My layman's guess is that people wouldn't have had to think much about SAR techniques until World War Two gave it some impetus, and that there might be optimum altitudes, glare factors etc which are now built into SAR techniques which Lambrecht wouldn't have applied simply because the art of searching for traces of lost people from the air was in its infancy in 1937. Is this so?
LTM Phil 2276.
Some time ago (maybe a year ago) there was a big discussion on the forum about SAR. The bottom line is, even today, "stuff is hard to find." The purpose and training of the pilots on the Colorado was not SAR. They were artillery spotters, scouts and couriers.
Question: Can anyone confirm that Amelia's Electra still carried the fixed (relatively) short antenna on the lower fuselage at the time she took off from Lae? (I assume this was for higher frequency transmission and reception.)
Comment: There seems little doubt that the upper fuselage antenna was in place extending from a short mast near the cockpit to each of the vertical stabilizers. I estimate that the upper fuselage antenna formed a "vee" with about a 40 degree included angle, and that each leg of the antenna was approximately 26 feet in length. It also appears from photographs that there were two parallel antenna installations on the lower fuselage at one time.
If anyone can provide more definitive information on either or both, I would appreciate it very much.
That the belly antenna was intact when the airplane taxiied out for takeoff at Lae has been confirmed through forensic imaging of the film taken of that event. However, similar analysis of the takeoff itself seems to indicate very strongly that the antenna is no longer present. The heavy load and the turf surface resulted in very tight clearance between the aft antenna mast and the ground. Earhart is said to have gone out into the overun at the end of the field to take advantage of as much runway as possible and it is not difficult to envision the aft mast being broken off as the aircraft was swung around to align into position for takeoff. The film of the takeoff shows an anomalous "puff" erupting below the aircraft during the takeoff run. This could be the broken antenna mast dragged by the wire snagging on the ground and breaking loose. There is at least one anecdotal account of a length of wire being found on the runway at Lae after the flight departed.
The purpose of the belly antenna has been the subject of much debate here on the forum. I'll let those who have bloodied themselves in that battle handle that part of the question.
>>Maybe we could use Elgen's book to teach algebra.
The algebra is simple and clear. The problem with Mr Long's high school algebra is that he is applying it both inappropriately and with false assumptions: In aviation fuel consumption is not a function of groundspeed, there is no linear relationship between them.
The maximum range of the Electra is unknown because the headwinds encountered, the various altitudes and RPM settings at which it flew, the exact weight curve and exact fuel load (to mention only a few of the variables missing from his calculations) are not known with sufficient precision.
As has been pointed out here many times in the past, if one starts with a basic assumption and adds speculation as fact, it's not too hard to rationalize any reasonable conclusion. The tip-off that the book's unsophisticated proof is flawed is the extraordinary precision claimed by the Longs: It is impossible to extrapolate from all the dodgy data available that the Electra ran out of fuel precisely at the moment when AE had a mic in her hands and was about to make a vital transmission.
The Electra may well be sitting under 17,000 feet of water near Howland, but Long hasn't proved it any more than TIGHAR has proved that its remains are scattered around Niku.
Meanwhile, I have what may be a more interesting question: Whose remains did Gallagher find when he arrived on Gardner?
In response to my earlier posting, I would like to point out that I sincerely hope that my interpretation of the facts are wrong, and that the aircraft is found by Tighar somewhere in this location after all their efforts. Gardner island presents the perfect setting for solving the mystery of the disappearance, from which no doubt a wonderful book and spectacular film will result in the same manner as the recent Titanic resurrection. I also agree with many contributors and Tighar that the trail of evidence such as the skeletal remains, sextant box and shoe components lead to this island. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ric and Pat for allowing me to contribute in any way I can to solve the mystery, which I am endeavouring to do as objectively as I can. ( I read Ayn Rand books, and admire her philosophy of life, and try to emulate the standards and principles she espoused.) Further, I would like to point out that when I stumbled onto the TIGHAR site in July this year, I hardly knew anything about this project or about the A.E. disappearance other than the occasional brief newspaper report and what I had gleaned from other aviation books. Therefore I was completely oblivious to the Forum events or any other developments from other organisations or books about the subject, none of which I have yet read. But two things hit me immediately about this quest when reading what was available on the website, and that was that Lambrecht could have located the aircraft if it had crashed, and secondly, that the surveyors could also have found it during their surveys. Nevertheless, I won't be contributing any further to this project in any shape or form.
I would like to comment on the remarks that Randy and Ric made to my recent posting, who are both either guilty of errors, or of making misleading statements by taking sections out of context and dealing with them separately:
My previous posting was, and I quote:
ALL these events occurred AFTER the flight, Randy, as clearly stated.
As to the matter of the Itasca being responsible for dropping off the colonists, you must have the Itasca logs to verify to prove that Holbrook is incorrect - I do not have them, and therefore you must be correct.
Further, you make this comment:
I never said it was; the reason for the (Itasca?) dropping off colonists on Howland and Baker, was for the specific purpose of thwarting the British attempt to annexe the islands - they were not there to "interdict" the British scientific expeditions to observe the eclipse, which was on 8 JUNE, as clearly stated in my posting. The two cutters responsible for offloading the colonists left Honolulu on 13 June, (well before the A.E. flight) and successfully beat the British ships, HMS Dunedin (sailed Auckland 15 June 1937), HMS Wellington and HMS Leith (sailed 17 June). My source says it was the Itasca, but how important is this particular fact? The reason why it supposedly was the Itasca, was because it had obviously been selected for the A.E. flight, and therefore why not kill two birds with one stone? It had been there for the colonists, and hung around for preparations for the flight. What do your logs show please, Randy?
The dates given for the eclipse was June 8 1937, before the flight, as stated by me as follows from my posting:
New Zealand Surveys: In a previous posting, I pointed out that there was a first survey of the islands in 1935 (it was originally planned for 1936). My records show that the first survey was conducted from New Zealand and by HMS Achilles and this fact, including the 1935 date, is also available for perusal on the TIGHAR website and I have repeated it below. The second survey was conducted from Fiji in secrecy in 1938/1939 as per my Gatty postings.
Quotation from the Forum Article, “Paradise Lost" choronolgical listing of events which corroborate my evidence:
My records show that it was the HMS Achilles, NOT the HMS Wellington, as stated in the Forum. I am expecting an email today to corroborate these dates and ships from the Hydrographic office in the U.K., and will make that available as my last posting.
Until I receive all the logs from the Maritime Museum /Hydrographic service in England, I am obviously unable to authenticate what Mr Holbrook has written. His articles have comprehensive end notes, and even refers to HMS Achilles movements during the search for A.E. as follows:
page 133: CANTON ISLAND CONTROVERSY-Holbrook 1973
Note: He mentions 1936 which should be 1935
With regards to the actual surveys themselves, my posting lumped both surveys together, not separately, and my dissemination of the overall results from both surveys conclude that the maps and charts resulting from both surveys bear witness most definitely to the fact that detailed surveys of the whole island as per my posting had been carried out. I can however quite see that my posting could have been misinterpreted, if sections were taken out of context, that the results from EACH survey produced detailed maps and charts of the island, and I agree with Ric this was not the case with the earlier New Zealand Survey, but is most definitely the case with the subsequent Bushnell Survey. I think that your posting in this matter is misleading, Ric, and does not present all the facts from the Bushnell survey. I request that you please reveal the comprehensive results of the Bushnell survey.
Regarding the earlier N.Z. survey, this is a quote from your TIGHAR highlights email section, dated 199-15-27:
This can be considered to represent a fair account of their detailed recording of the island features where they surveyed. They obviously counted the trees, which they were probably meant to do, being a professional surveyor myself, and understanding what is normally required in surveying and understanding what a chain or a link is in surveying parlance.
I can clearly understand why I have been taken to task for using the words SHOULD and WOULD, and I should have used COULD - but would this substitution have made much difference to what I was attempting to convey?
My interpretation of Lambrecht's observations are qiute reasonable:
They were not detailed, but adequate and I did not convey or mean to convey that he had made a detailed, accurate report of the island - it was satisfactory in its description of the shipwreck, lagoon and the island's suitability for a forced landing, which this remark in itself definitely can be interpreted with some certainty, that he could have expected a landing here, and logically therefore, if someone had made such a statement, that they would accordingly be alerted to such a possibility of occurring. As flight commander, he could have alerted his wingmen to that fact, if they already were not aware of it, but which could have been patently obvious to them without being alerted to the fact. Lambrecht made sound observations of the wave actions at Carondelet reef from ten miles out already - this fact also gives the impression that he, at least, had his eyes peeled for anything looking like a ditched aeroplane.
You only quote Short's explanation of events - he could have been the only bad apple in the basket out of the six if you consider his observations as inadequate and unprofessional.
And thanks to Alan for his comments - no need to worry about any error-ridden postings from me filled with unsubstantiated facts and from poor sources any longer.
ALL THE BEST FOR YOUR QUEST.
I fear that we have hurt Michael's feelings and I'm sorry that he has chosen to withdraw from our discussions. His postings have often contained good, solid information that we did not have, but in his recent posting he came in swinging speculation as if it was fact (yes, it DOES make a difference how you state your opinions) and he got cut to ribbons. Happens to all of us (I can show you the scars). We're trying to solve a very tough puzzle and that means we have to be tough on ourselves and on each other. This is no place for the fragile ego.
To answer his questions
Our source for HMS Wellington being the ship that conducted the 1935 survey of Gardner is a 1940 "History of Gardner Island" prepared by Henry E "Harry" Maude, Lands Commissioner of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony. To whit: "Although a search of the records of the Admiralty would probably establish the fact that a number of visits have been paid to Gardner since 1892, the only ones which I have traced are the recent calls of H.M.S. 'Wellington' on the 18th August, 1935, and H.M.S. 'Leith' on the 15th February, 1937."
As for the 111 coconut trees in five groves, the mapping of the locations of the groves was done by the New Zealand Survey with the aid of aerial photography, but the counting of the trees was done by Harry Maude and Eric Bevington during their October 1937 visit.
In answer to Michael's request that I "reveal the comprehensive results of the Bushnell survey." I can only say that I dearly wish I could. As has been mentioned several times on the forum, the full report of the Bushnell survey is missing from the National Archives. All we have to go on is the ship's log. At his point nobody can say exactly what those guys did except to say that they did it in a hurry. The USS Bushnell arrived off Gardner in the early afternoon of Saturday, November 4, 1939. A satisfactory landing for boats was found "a few hundred yards south of the lagoon entrance" and recon party of 3 men was put ashore. Another boat put a party aboard "the stranded steamer. .....to hoist an electric beacon on the foremast which would serve as a navigational light." The next day they put their equipment and survey party ashore. These consisted of:
Everything was brought in boats and rafts up to the reef edge at the landing south of the lagoon entrance and carried across the reef with the assistance of the "18 male natives" who lived on the island. The ship then left and returned on November 12 (eight days later) collected the men and equipment, and departed. In other words, in terms of assets and time spent on the island, the Bushnell survey was not much different than a TIGHAR expedition.
Anybody who thinks that they could have done much more than map the island's outline has never been to Niku. Still, we'd really like to find the full report.
Let me jump in here with an observation (not from experience) about ditching a 10 E at sea. Look at a picture of a 10E from head on and tell me how anyone is going to be able to put it down, even on smooth water, without catching the cowls and putting it on its back. Fully a third of the engine and cowlings hang below the wing. In almost any scenario that I can imagine they would dig in as the plane touches down and cause it to flip over. A power off ditching could easily result in major structural damage to the airframe, especially if they were to catch the crest of a wave. Emergency landing a float plane or flying boat on the open ocean, with a swell running, is dicey to say the least.
LTM, (who hates
to swim out of her plane)
Although John has no direct experience ditching a 10E I happen to know that he is an experienced floatplane pilot.
I also know that one of Linda Finch's major concerns about the prospect of ditching her Electra is that the nose section of the airplane is of very light construction (mostly. 025 Alclad) and impact with the water would very likely result in the collapse of the nose and cockpit thus trapping the occupants if not killing them outright.
A ditching almost always involves an initial impact, a short skip, and then a second impact that brings the whole affair to an abrupt end. As John says, anything hanging down can flip the machine onto it's back. For example, ditichings of fixed landing gear aircraft almost always end with an upside-down airplane.
On the other hand, the only known ditiching of a 10E (off Cape Cod in 1967) was accomplished safely. The airplane did not flip over and floated for 8 minutes. Everybody got out. The ditching, however, was accomplished in shallow, calm water near the shore. Putting an airplane down in the open ocean is a whole different (sorry) kettle of fish.
First there is anecdote. Corroboration may or may not follow. And I think we've learned that because a thing seems unlikely that doesn't mean it didn't happen. With these thoughts in mind, I submit the following short-form version of a story.
I recently contacted (e-mail) one Jack Egan on the off-hand chance that he might be able to connect with the family of Fred Noonan's mother who was an Egan. We were not able to make any connection. None the less, he had a curious story related to Amelia's mishap at Luke Field on the 1st attempt.
Jack's father spent most of his adult life in what eventually became the U.S. Air Force. He was chief flight test engineering officer at the "Royal Hawaiian Air Depot" (as they called it) on Ford Island, Luke Field, Hawaii and knew Amelia Earhart from her flight from Hawaii to California. He was involved in repairing some minor damage that had occurred to the Vega getting it on and off the ship.
Jack's father was no longer at Luke Field in 1937 but some of the people he had worked with were still there when the Electra ground-looped in early 1937, specifically the fellow who had been his chief engineer was still there. Jack thinks his last name may have been House.
Always much interested in the Earhart mystery, Jack's father had watched one of the TV documentaries that showed the piece of aluminum that may be part of the patch applied to the underside of the Electra. He was very excited by this and exclained, "We put that patch on the airplane!" By "we" he meant his former associates who were still at Luke Field in 1937. He spoke of the odd thicknesses of aluminum they kept on hand and said the kind of hand-stamping of "ALCLAD" that appears on the piece was familiar to him.
Jack's father had run into his old chief engineer (House?) somewhere during WWII and he had told of putting the patch on the Electra and repairing a leaking fuel tank in 1937. This is indeed a strange story.
It's pretty evident that the repairs on the Electra were done by Lockheed in California -- The repair orders, etc. There was some major repair work to be done beyond patching up the skin on the underside of the plane.
Is it possible that the skin was repaired before the plane left Hawaii?
Regrettably, Jack Egan's father died in 1995. Jack points out that a lot the people at Luke Field in 1937 were young guys and some may still be around. Another major search for people to hope to sort out this story!
Well, as Vern says, "first there is anecdote" and this one is a doozy. The first thing I can think of to do is check the official USAAC report which meticulously describes the events in Hawaii from the time the aircraft arrived from Oakland until it was wrecked on takeoof from Luke Field. But Jack's story, if I understand it right, does not claim that the patch is a repair done before the crash but afterward. I don't think we have any information about any repairs done before the airplane was shipped back to California. It's sort of hard to think why they would do that.
But Vern is right. It's a very strange story.
Please do not consider my responses personal criticisms. You make some excellent points that are worth considering and debating. However, we must agree on the facts. First, you respond back regarding the visiting vessels as:
> Randy: please
check again my posting repeated below for comparison with
The dates are as follows, obtained from the transcribed diaries of the colonists and correspondence thereupon by Dept. of Interior supervisors:
Aug. 25, 1936: Jakuyo
Maru at Howland, and Aug. 26, 1936 at Baker.
The dates are correct, but the year is not. 1936 vs. 1937. Dates obtained from primary sources.
Regarding the thwarting of the British attempt to annex the islands, and the Itasca departure.
> As to the matter
of the Itasca being responsible for dropping off the
Even earlier, you stated:
> My previous posting
explained that on 13 June 1937, two US cutters, one
Well, either you or I seem to be confusing two sets of islands and two sets of events. Let me try and clarify. What Doyle was responding to was indeed the Canton Island Eclipse party, and the British attempt to claim the Phoenix Islands. The Americans sent the Pelican from Honolulu to also view the eclipse, and a good row (the First Battle of Canton) was had by all. The eclipse happened on June 8, 1937, as you correctly stated. At that time, the Itasca was still in San Pedro, and was detailed to Honolulu on an unknown mission the next day. The Islands of Jarvis, Howland, and Baker were continuously occupied (except for a short interregnum when the Dept. of Commerce handed over the reins of control to the Dept. of Interior) since March 20, 1935. An exchange of colonists and reprovisioning took place approximately every three months by USCG ships, including the Itasca, Duane, Taney, and Shoshone. There was no attempt to thwart British claim to Howland in June/July, 1937, as the US had already proclaimed its sovereignty and had continuously occupied the three islands for two years. These islands are not part of the Phoenix Group.
Regarding the New Zealand Surveys in 1935: I do not have good documentation for which ship did the survey readily at hand, and I will grant you that the Achilles may well have done that. However, the Achilles was a British warship, based out of New Zealand, and shouldn't be considered a Kiwi vessel. The Wellington did briefly visit the Phoenix Islands in 1936, laying a cairn and markers on each island. You state:
> Until I receive
all the logs from the Maritime Museum /Hydrographic
What the Achilles heard was similar to what the Itasca heard on 3105 kHz, but they also reported words that were essentially verbatim to what the Itasca keyed out in response. Originally, the Itasca heard two signals, eventually associated with call letters that were not internationally registered, and the Itasca asked them who they were, thinking originally one of them was Earhart. The Achilles heard one of the signals along with Itasca's request. No bearings whatsoever was taken during this time period. The rationale for searching the Phoenix Islands was entirely due to (1) if any radio signals were from AE, then they must be coming from land; (2) a variety of bearings taken at different times seemed to intersect in the Phoenix Islands, and (3) the Colorado was the best vessel to search the islands at that time, as it had three planes with limited range/endurance, and could accomplish the mission on short notice.
I applaud your willingness to understand the facts, context, and events surrounding the AE mystery, but to do it properly, one has to use the primary source material and not rely upon what others have written, including myself (I hate to admit it, but I do occasionally make mistakes). It takes time, perserverence, and effort to gather it all and then determine its meaning. I spent 5 years combing all the US archives, then databased it all into chronological order before I started to seriously determine what it all meant. Once that was done, the subject actually becomes quite clear and lucid. Without trying to promote the TIGHAR Research CD (which contains most of my databases), I suggest you get a copy and wade through it. While I have the highest respect for Holbrook, and his trans-Pacific aviation research, I do not use his writing as references, except when suggesting it to others for an overview. What is really needed by TIGHAR is to document all the data that's out there to read. That is what the 8th Edition is all about, and we hope to get it out early next year.
Good wishes and luck to you; please continue to join our forum.
(Psssst. Randy. It wasn't the Pelican that delivered the eclipse party to Canton. It was the Avocet.)
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