Forum artHighlights From the Forum

December 5 through December 11, 1999

Subject: l'Oiseau Blanc and other ramblings
Date: 12/5/99
From: David

Ric wrote:

> Let's find Amelia first. To push the project in Newfoundland further will
> be very expensive.

...and this coming from a guy who has led expeditions to one of the most remote and inaccessible islands on earth exactly how many times now?

I would have thought that with one Yankee buck buying almost $1.50 Canadian right now, it would be a bargain to travel in Canada, and certainly a lot closer than Niku! In the ten years that this project has been on your back burner, what new technology has has cropped up that might help you find the engine? I suppose ground penetrating radar is no good because of the water in the muskeg, but what about ultrasound, or even taking water samples in a grid pattern and then having them analyzed for trace amounts of metallic elements? What about the low-flying-heli- copter-mounted sensors that the USAF was using a few years ago to try and find (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) the missing bombs from that A-10 that the guy used to commit suicide? I thought I'd heard that it was a Canadian invention (the chopper had Canadian registration letters); and heck, that company may even have an office in Newfoundland already!

Here's another thought: The Canadian government's Heritage department was able to provide some money ($30,000 Canadian as I recall) to help dig up a Halifax bomber in Belgium a couple of years back, and the results were several proper military burials (the German night fighter pilot responsible was even there all the way from south America!) and many recovered parts to assist in the restoration of another Halifax back in Canada. The entire process was widely publicized here in Canada, especially in aviation circles, and really raised the profile of aviation archeology. My point is that if you've got good evidence to pinpoint where you think the engine will be found, you could very well be able to get some money out of the French government. Perhaps if you lay all your cards on the table for the French Ambassador, you could play to the French sense of pride! Think what a huge find it would be! Mon dieu!

Herman was right on the money (Francs or dollars?) about the hoops to jump through for flying the pond. One of my friends living in Ottawa was goofy enough to fly his 172 to London, England and back one summer with his brother. Their planning began many months ahead of time, and they needed all sorts of special equipment on board, especially survival gear (cold-water immersion suits, buoyant ELTs, etc.). Maybe the FAA lets you Yanks gas-n-go, but up here, Transport Canada is a less wild-west minded outfit, and demands that you have a full and current IFR rating, plus you have to get your aircraft inspected and certified by a government official at a certain airport in New Brunswick, before you can even depart. On and on it goes with international paperwork, but I won't bore you with the rest of it all. Basically, although my friend and his bro had the trip of a lifetime, their conclusion was that if you want to cross the Atlantic at far less cost, more easily, faster, and with a much higher margin of safety, take an airliner!

By the way, if AE and FN were alive today, AE would be a motivational speaker making the corporate feel-good team-spirit-building weekend-retreat circuit, and FN would be developing GPS software for his own navigational consulting company. They'd probably have met up at some point while she was giving a stress-relief seminar to Fred's overworked outfit. Since both of these characters mesh into the corporate world so well, they'd probably be living at Tokyo addresses now, having been "captured by the Japanese" years earlier. Fred's love of sake (rice wine) would undoubtably be the subject of great speculation around the office.

One last thought, seriously. In concurrence with what others have already postulated, I would be wildly astounded if the gliding rate of descent in the 10E would be any less than 1,000 FPM. Last July, I had an oil-related engine failure in a Cessna 182. It bled out all 11 quarts in the first seven minutes of flight due to an incorrectly installed oil filter - and it was not installed by me! The first sign of trouble was an oil pressure reading of 0, so I shut the engine down and started trimming for best glide speed. Yes, I got the full Mayday out, and was even courteous enough to let the four skydivers on board bail out! Although I was at 4,000 feet AGL when things started to go bad, I was rolling to a stop in a farmer's field less that three minutes later! Fortunately, there wasn't a scratch on the aircraft, myself, or anything else. The plane had been retro-fitted with a three-bladed prop, and a larger 300 hp engine (versus the original 230 hp), so although its rate of climb was spectacular when everything was working, its gliding ability was certainly degraded compared to the handbook's distance graph. As far as the Electra goes, even with flaps and gear retracted, I'd say that with two windmilling props and those big draggy radials hanging in the slipstream, it would almost come down like an anvil chained to a piano!

LTM, (Who tries to get the French government to pay for her sake in Tokyo)
David :-)

From Ric

Permit me to present a short course in research funding. The ability to fund any given project is directly proportional to the public knowledge of the question and desire for the answer to be found. Amelia is one of those names like Winston or Adolf where you don't even need to say the surname. To most people, Nungesser and Coli sounds like a law firm in Montreal.

I'm hoping that eventual success on the Earhart Project will create an appetite for an encore that will let us really go after a truly historic lost airplane - l'Oiseau Blanc. If the Canadian government could be induced to help out that would be wonderful but first they would have to be persuaded that Newfoundland is in Canada, and then we'd have convince the Newfies that they're part of Canada. As for funding from the French government, I can only conclude that you have never had the privilege of dealing with the French government.


Subject: Ditching
Date: 12/5/99
From: Don Neumann

Ditching an aircraft in water might be likened to paddling a canoe through white water, you try to maintain the same rate of paddling to keep in front & on top of the wavewash created by the rushing water so you don't _drop_ (bow first) between the uneven crests & to maintain enough control to avoid being turned sideways.

If you don't keep-up the same paddling rate you have little control of your craft & will quickly flounder & risk capsizing in the rough water.

Since AE mentioned..."gas running low..." on at least one occasion during her broadcasts, as recorded by Itasca, it doesn't seem likely she would be caught by surprise when the fuel tanks coughed-up the last drop of gasoline.

Don Neumann

From Ric

In my experience, once you get down to the last dregs it's very hard to predict just when she's going to quit. Gas gauges are not particularly accurate when the needle is bouncing on zero.

As a kid, I had a co-pilot job flying a semipro ice hockey team around the northeastern U.S. and Canada in a DC-3. We used to routinely burn the auxiliary tanks dry before switching to the mains, but if you let the engines cough once you immediately had 23 panicked hockey players in the cockpit with you. This tended to make the aircraft noseheavy and difficult to trim and so was to be avoided.

The procedure was to watch the aux tank fuel gauges until they started to bounce on zero then you switched your attention to the low fuel pressure warning light. At the first flicker you switched to the main tank and hit the boost pump. The engine in question never missed a beat.

Once, many years later, I was ferrying a Piper Arrow (light single engine retractable) and was stupidly trying to minimize refueling stops. I was bucking a headwind and, consequently, was flying at only about a thousand feet above the ground. I had burned one tank down as far as I dared and thought I was on the last quarter of the second tank when everything suddenly got very quiet. I tapped on the fuel gauge and the needle, which had hung up at the one quarter mark, abruptly clunked to zero like it had been shot. I immediately switched back to the "empty" other tank and hit the boost pump. The engine reawoke to my immense but only temporary relief. I knew that it would die again any minute and I decided that the next level thing I saw was going to get landed on (because you never, ever make a dead-stick, off-airport landing if you can avoid it). As it turned out, I spotted a windsock on a barn and put her down on a farmer's distressingly small private airstrip where he kept a J-3 Cub. He begrudgingly sold me enough gas to get to the next real airport.

I can recall a few other occasions where my own rank stupidity left me chugging along staring at fuel gauges that read "You're screwed" but each time the airplane made it to the next airport (although one time it did quit on the taxiway).

The point of all this "there I was" nonsense is that you have to be even stupider than me to find yourself faced with a dead-stick landing.


Subject: Re: The survivor's camp
Date 12/5/99
From: Tom King

You're right, Baureke is the only plausible place to get a boat through from the lagoon to the seaside (other than Tatiman, of course). As for Tofiga and Emily, though, they were pretty specific about having come off around the Ritiati/Noriti border opposite Kanawa Point. I'll make it a point to check with Tofiga the next time we correspond. Of course, they weren't travelling under the extreme weather conditions that plagued the Norwich City survivors, and they may have been using a canoe.


From Ric

Yes. It may be that the over-the-reef ferrying was done in a boat provided by the VITI in which case a canoe might have dropped them off on the lagoon side near Kanawa Point and there may have been a trail cut over to the ocean side.

However, I can tell you from experience that you DON'T want to try to land a canoe in that pretty little cove just east of Kanawa Point. It's too shallow to get right up to the shoreline and when you step out of the boat to walk it to shore - GLOOP - you go right out of sight in quicksand unless you manage to grab the gunwale of the boat on your way down. Ask me how I know.


Subject: Re: Ditching
Date: 12/5/99
From: L. Malvone

I have a question, has anybody thought that the plane may have come apart in the air and crashed either from a structure fault or maybe fuel explosion?

From Ric

Okay, let's consider those two hypotheses.

1. Inflight structural failure.

Airplanes come apart in the air due to extreme forces that exceed their design limitations, or from a design or manufacturing flaw. Exreme forces can be caused by weather or by violent manuevers (sometimes spelled "manouevres"). There were no extreme weather conditions reported in the region and I know of no indication that the airplane engaged in violent ... thingys. The Lockheed Model 10 was, if anything, overbuilt and extremely strong. I've never heard of one coming apart in flight and NR16020 had already flown 2/3 of the way around the world safely. Seems like we can eliminate inflight structural failure as a likely explanation.

2. Fuel explosion

If it happened it would sure bring things to an abrupt stop but, in the absence of any evidence to suggest that such a thing happened, it seems like a dead end as an investigative thread.


Subject: Re: l'Oiseau Blanc and other ramblings
Date: 12/5/99
From: Herman De Wulf

David wrote:

>The Canadian government's Heritage department was able to provide some
>money ($30,000 Canadian as I recall) to help dig up a Halifax bomber in
>Belgium a couple of years back, and the results were several proper military
>burials (the German night fighter pilot responsible was even there all the
>way from south America!) and many recovered parts to assist in the
>restoration of another Halifax back in Canada.

Good point. By the way, I saw the Halifax or what was left of it, after its recovery. There was hardly anything that could be used to help restore another Halifax but the twisted metal did have exhibition value. I remember one of the huge wheels was still intact and inflated...

I mentioned that Halifax some time ago in the forum because the way it was recovered showed similarities with what TIGHAR is trying to achieve with the Electra. In this case a group of dedicated aviation enthusiasts with an interest in "aviation archeology" knew more or less where the airplane crashed. Some older inhabitants of the village recalled that it crashed in a bog one night in 1943. The Germans had tried to recover it but had given up as it sank deeper in the bog, although they did succeed in extracting some of the aircrew for burial. Then the airplane disappeared in the bog.

It was in a densely populated area, unlike Gardner Island. Nobody cared to look for it for the next 50 years. But learning it was there, the enthusiasts convinced the Canadian government to help them recover the bomber and the Canadian government indeed paid for the rent of a crane to raise the wreck, in order to give the missing crewmembers a proper burial. They were indeed buried as David described.

The enthusiasts were the same bunch of motivated people members of the TIGHAR expeditions are. They believed they would succeed and they did. With some help from the Canadian government, which was mainly interested in giving the missing crew members a decent burial. In addition they got their Halifax back for exhibit in a war museum.

Couldn't the US government be convinced that TIGHAR can find the Electra and found willing to provide some support for the recovery from Gardner Island? Let me cite two examples of government aid that both happened here. Some years ago the Brussels Air Museum learned they could have a Canadian CF-100 for free for the museum, provided they took charge of transportation from Canada to Brussels. As the Belgian air force had operated the type in the Fifties, the Ministry of Defense simply ordered a navy ship to Canada to go and fetch the airplane. Officially the vessel was sent on a "goodwill tour" to Canada... The aircraft is now on permanent exhibit in Brussels.

Some ten years ago the same museum learned it could have a Westland Lysander airplane, of the type used by the RAF for covert operation in WW2. As Belgian agents were flown into occupied Europe in such airplane, again the ministry of Defense was found willing to help. It ordered the air force to send a C-130 to Canada to collect it. In fact it was a wreck. It has been lovingly restored to FLYING CONDITION by a number of dedicated volunteers. I saw it flying over my home only last week.

Perhaps in Europe we are more attached to relics of the past. But I remember having seen beautifully restored historic airplanes in the US also. Couldn't the US government then be convinced AE is part of American heritage and that therefore it would be worthwhile using some of the formidable resources at its disposal to go to Niku and comb the place?

LTM from Herman (who loves old airplanes, even if they're bent a bit)

From Ric

We have, from time to time, received help from the U.S. government in the form of donated expertise and laboratory work by the FBI, the NTSB, and even the CIA (but don't tell anybody). On other occasions we have been unsuccessful in getting help from other government agencies.

Aviation historic preservation in the U.S. is, as it is in Europe, the exception rather than the rule. Rare indeed are the museums who understand that you can't preserve something by throwing most of it away and building something new that looks like the old thing. In this country the National Museum of Naval Aviation is doing some good preservation work and in England the RAF Museum at Hendon and the Imperail War Museum have some good examples of preserved aircraft. On the continent, the Netherlands Military Aviation Museum at Soesterberg has been a leader in the field. In Australia the Australian War Memorial Museum has pioneered some important preservation techniques and in Canada the National Museum in Ottawa has a couple of interesting projects going.


Subject: Re: Navigation
Date: 12/6/99
From: Randy Jacobson

There's another possibility for the Nukumanu Island report, based upon historical precedence. During AE's crossing of the Pacific towards Hawaii, she gave several position reports, none of which contained a time associated with the position. Reconstructing the maps used (to be reported in the 8th Edition), I was able to determine that none of the position reports were celestial: all were dead reckon positions. All were determined prior to the actual time of the report. and represent projected positions at such and such a time (which didn't correspond to the scheduled radio broadcast). Examining FN's chart of the Atlantic crossing and of maps across the US, he simply took the nominal flight speed and course and plotted estimated positions in the future for cross-referencing should a landmark be sighted. Obviously, this doesn't always work across water, but the plots are there for the Atlantic. Since the Nukumanu Island position report is so close to the great circle/rhumb line of the projected course, I feel that this position report is a projected dead reckon position, and given to AE to give her some semblance of where the plane was. I don't believe her modus operandi was to provide information sufficiently detailed nor accurate enough for flight reconstruction.

OK, I'm ready to take the hits.

From Ric

I agree with Randy. Earhart doesn't seem to have ever gotten the idea about what a postion report is supposed to be. It's almost like she thought of them as press releases.

Subject: Re: Forum statistics
Date: 12/6/99
From: Dave Porter

Thanks for giving us the raw numbers, un-"spun" and letting us interpret for ourselves what they might mean (and a pox on percentage posting pollsters who don't want us thinking for ourselves). You've confirmed once again that I made the right decision when I sent that check to the folks on Fawkes.

I think if Fred and Amelia were around today, they'd still be mourning the loss of Kelly Johnson (and Ed Heineman) and they might wonder why 30 years after going to the moon, our space program consists of: A. losing hardware in the vicinity of Mars, and B. doing laps around the planet in an outer-space pickup truck that was designed in the 1970's.

On the History Channel over the weekend, I watched WW II footage of a B-29 ditching just offshore of Iwo Jima or Saipan, I forget which, and my first thought was "where do they keep the wheelbarrows that those guys tote their b**ls around in when they're out for a walk?"

LTM, who'd rather have me digging ditches than ditching airplanes

Dave Porter, 2288

Subject: Re: l'Oiseau Blanc and other ramblings
Date: 12/6/99
From: Herman De Wulf

Ric summed up a list of very interesting aviation museums. For the benefit of forum members who are interested in the Lockheed 10, I'd like to add an information which is hot from the needle.

Anyone who'd like to see a rare Lockheed 10A Electra will be able to do so soon in the new section of the London Science Museum at Kensington now being prepared. The historic airliner will be part of a new permanent exhibition entitled "The making of the Modern World" and the display will extend exhibition areas by a third and illustrate "History of Industrialisation and Technology" from 1750 to the present.

It will also include the Apollo 10 space capsule and the Stephenson Rocket (which is not a space rocket but happens to be the world's very first steam locomotive). The exhibit opens in June 2000, so make a note in your agenda, gentlemen. This is a must on your next trip to Europe...

I also like to add to Ric's mentioning the the RAF Museum at Hendon (London) that I believe the latter is rather of a temple where aviation is worshipped than just of museum. I consider it one of the best in the world.

As for the Imperial War Museum at Duxford (near Cambridge, England), it is home to practically anything that flew in WW2, both in European skies and over the Pacific. It also houses the Museum of the us 8th Air Force. Most of it is in flying condition. Each summer they do WW2 over live with all these historic airworthy airplanes, including Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messersmitts 109, Blenheims, P-40 Kittykawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs, B-17, B-25, Lancasters, Grumman F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, Grumman TBF Avenger, Chance-vought F4U Corsairs, PBY Catalina, the lot... They have recently acquired a Mitsubishi Zero. Anyone interested let me know. I can let you know the dates of the shows, so you can plan your next trip to Europe accordingly (yes, you can fly in with your own airplane if you want to and save time. Mind you, you'll have to file a flight plan...).

To Ric's list I'd like to add two more : the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, which is arguably the most comprehensive on development of flight, and the USAF museum at Marshfield AFB, California. The latter is part of a USAF airbase and seems to have one example of anything that flew in USAF livery since 1945 until this day, including SR-71. But that, I'm sure, most US forum members may be aware of. I just wanted to add them for good measure.

LTM from Herman (who loves old planes)

From Ric

This is pretty off-topic but it was my impression that the Imperial War Museum does not attempt to rebuild its artifacts to airworthy condition. The airplanes that fly at the big WWII airshow at Duxford belong to private collectors like Stephen Grey of The Fighter Collection. Be assured that no World War Two aircraft fly in modern airshows. Surviving examples of World War Two types are often used as the foundation for rebuilt replicas of themselves. It's a multi-million dollar entertainment industry and it's great fun, but it's not historic preservation.

Subject: Aviation progress
Date: 12/6/99
>From: William Webster-Garman

Dave Porter wrote:

> after going to the moon, our space program consists of: A.
> losing hardware in the vicinity of Mars, and B. doing laps around
> the planet in an outer-space pickup truck that was designed in the 1970's.

Interestingly, while most of the avionics and control elements of the shuttles have been totally redesigned, modernized and upgraded repeatedly throughout the 80s and 90s, the basic airframe of today's space shuttle was actually designed in the late 60s, when NASA knew that one way or another congress would force them into some sort of effort at more economical space flight after the Apollo program.

There is a parallel with the Boeing 747, which first flew regularly in 1969. The same basic airframe design is in use, which in the case of this aircraft has been enormously safe and successful, but a 747 pilot from 1970 wouldn't at all recognize the cockpit of a 1999 model 747: Inside, 30 years later, it's a very different aircraft.

That the same airframe is still being manufactured for new planes probably indicates enormous skill on the part of aviation designers at Boeing in the 1960s.

I wonder what Earhart would have felt if she had lived long enough to fly non-stop from LA to Tokyo in a 747?

william 2243 (who feels more secure out over the Pacific or Atlantic ocean in a 747 operated and maintained by a reputable airline than on a local freeway, and has recently become fond of the 777)

Subject: Preservation
Date: 12/6/99
From: Herman De Wulf

Contrary to what you believe they do have authentic WW2 airplanes in flying condition at Duxford. They have been overhauled or restored of course. The Spitfires are mostly former RAF gate guardians restored to flying conditon. They crashed an authentic Me-109G last year. It had been captured in the Lybian desert in 1943. It was flown by an RAF Vice Air Marshall. At this moment they are restoring an Avro York transport to flying condition. Many aircraft in the show are indeed privately owned indeed. On the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire (1936) they managed to put 20 into the air. P-51s too are authentic, as are PBY's, TBM, F4F, F6F and F4U. Some of these are ex-French. Many are indeed owned by private collectors, like the nearby Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden. In addition the RAF still has -believe it or not- at least one Spitfire, one Hurricane and one Lancaster in its inventory.


From Ric

Herman, you completely missed my point. Historic preservation is the saving and safeguarding of relics from the past - that is, the physical material that was there then and is here now. If archaeologists found the remains of a chariot in a pharoah's tomb nobody would say, "Well, the harness has got to go but we can build a new one and we'll have to replace most of the wood, but with some work we should be able to make this baby as good as new." If somebody did that no one would say,"Wow, look at that. An authentic Egyptian chariot in horse-worthy condition."

Airplanes, like automobiles, are still too new to be valued by the public as historic properties. Most of what passes for aviation and automotive preservation is, in fact, the creation of reproductions using some original material for the sake of nostalgia, education and entertainment. I hasten to say that there's nothing wrong with that. A World War Two airshow can be genuinely educational, tremendously moving, and tons of fun. However, the cost of failing to recognize the difference between the real thing and a play actor is to risk destroying artifacts of great rarity in the name of "preservation."

A classic example is the P-38 Lightning removed at great risk and expense from the Greenland icecap several years ago. Other than being a bit squished, the aircraft was almost perfectly preserved - paint, leather, everything - but because the intent of the salvors was to end up with a flyable airplane, very little of what came out of the ice has been saved in the process of rebuilding the machine. It's a question of economics. A flyable P-38 is worth a million dollars or more. The only all-original WWII P-38 in captivity wasn't worth anything.

Many years ago, TIGHAR adopted as its motto a quote adapted from the Stonehenge Manuscripts of 1660 by John Aubrey:

Let us bend our best efforts to the preservation of antiquities, that they might escape the teeth of time and the hands of mistaken zeal.


Subject: Dead Stick Landings
Date: 12/6/99
From: Don Neumann

Ric wrote:

>The point of all this "there I was" nonsense is that you have to be
>even stupider than me to find yourself faced with a dead-stick landing.

Remind me not to allow my grandchildren to fly with you!

I must agree that given any choice in the matter, AE would have (speculation) elected to ditch the Electra with full power, however, I must say that if she were pushing to reach an island landfall (Gardner) in the Phoenix chain & if the fuel gauge(s) didn't accurately record when the engines were actually breathing fumes, it remains a possibility that she could (speculation again) have hit the water (dead stick) just short of her objective, leaving her & Fred with a swim to the beach, assumng the Electra didn't splashdown nose first. In any event, she'd have been too far out of radio range to SOS the Itasca (steaming NNW of Howland) anyway. Of course, that scenario nixes any post landing radio transmissions.

My own personal, undocumented, purely emotional opinion is that if she got within sighting distance of Gardner ( or, to accommodate all the other theories) any other landfall, she would somehow have coaxed the last drop of fuel out of those tanks, in order to make a wheels down landing on any available reef flat!

One more thing, after viewing the Electra model schematic drawings, I would be inclined to think that lateral view from the cockpit of anything to port or starboard would have been nigh impossible, with two big P & W engines hanging forward of the wing, limiting visibility to the horizon, straight ahead. Best lateral visibility would have been from the two midship windows adjacent to Fred's navigational table.

Don Neumann

Subject: Re: Preservation
Date: 12/7/99
From: Herman De Wulf

I guess I won't be able to convince you. Of course you're right in your criticism of the "aircraft preservation industry", as you know it to exist in the US. Some museums and some companies indeed rebuild historic aircraft using one original and canibalizing other airplanes to make one new one. The same happens over here. But...

But the Messerschmitt Me-109G that the RAF Vice Air Mashall crashed last year (pilot overshooting the runway at Duxford in an emergency landing because of trouble with the ORIGINAL engine) was not privately owned. It was British government property and a genuine German Me-109G that had been captured by the British in Tunis in 1943. It had been brought to Britain for flight trials at Boscombe Down and had been stored at the end of the war until the Imperial War Museum decided to bring it out again, because it was in good condition after all, and fly it after an engine overhaul (this being the original Daimler Benz 601 and not the British Rolls Royce Merlin you'll find in some Spanish license-built examples). It flew in its original 1943 Luftwaffe desert scheme colours. I saw it. I made pictures of it.

There are guys out there in England who fly authentic Consolidated PBY Catalina's. Of course the engines have been overhauled. But those are not rebuilt airplanes. The Spitfire, the Hurricane and the Avro Lancaster bomber I mentioned are owned by the RAF. They are not part of an "industry". They're just well maintained at great expense, by the RAF and fly, not for commercial reasons but to remind the British nation they won WW2. Compare them to the US Navy keeping the USS Constitution as a piece of American Heritage in Boston harbor, if you like.

I know a guy in Belgium (one Karel Bos, who lives in Brasschaat) who owns a 1945 built Vickers Supermarine Spitfire XIV with an original Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Of course it has been overhauled since TBO of those engines was only 250 hours... But the airplane as such has not been "rebuilt", it has simply been maintained in flying condition. You can see and touch it in its hangar at Antwerp airport. Karel Bos (now 70) flies it purely for fun, mostly on sunny Sunday afternoons. I reckon he's the oldest Spitfire pilot in the world. He's not a professionl pilot. He has a PPL.

I feel it will be difficult to convince you, probably because you have so many examples around you in the US where historic airplanes that are really replicas. But over here we have some authentic Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses flying around. Those too are privately owned. They have never been rebuilt. They have been extensively repaired, their engines have been overhauled according to requirements. These aircraft are genuine. They have not been "restored" by canibalisation of others, nor have they been rebuilt like some of the Lindbergh Ryan NYP replicas or the Vicker Vimy that flew to Australia.


From Ric

Herman, let's just drop the subject. It's completely off topic and it's pretty apparent that you just don't get what I'm talking about.

Subject: Re: Preservation/Restoration
Date: 12/7/99
From: Tom Cook

I know that we've been over this before, but what do you do if the artifact has been modified before you get it, do you attempt to return it to the condition of historic significance, or do you preserve it just as you received it? Example: The Hughes HK1 (aka the Spruce Goose). It had to be disassembled to be moved from Long Beach CA to McMinnville OR. While it was at Long Beach it was painted with a thick white "fireproofing" paint so it did not look like it did when new, or when it made its one and only flight. I have been told that the engines had been changed from 3000 hp R4360's to a later model that developed 3500 hp, because Howard Hughes considered it underpowered, he also had an airconditioning system installed to keep the pilot cool and there is a spiral staircase that was installed after the flight to replace the extension ladder that can be seen in pictures taken at the time of the flight. The linen fabric that covered the control surfaces which had been painted has been replaced with new polyester fabric (and a good job it is) and I have been told that they are sanding the white paint off the hull and wings. BTW they have made progress on the new permanent museum, they have graded the site and poured a lot of concrete in the past year. The plan is to reassemble the Hk1 and exhibit in the new museum along with the rest of their collection which includes a Me109g, a Spitfire, a C47, a B 17, a Ford Trimotor, a BD5, a Dehaviland Vampire, Howard Hughes' personal Hughes helicopter (serial#2) and many more. Their website is SpruceGoose.

With regard to tension in the cockpit, I wonder how accurately AE could tell how close to fuel exhaustion she was with all those one of a kind fuel tanks, I would think that if she had never run them dry, she might not know EXACTLY how far the needle would go before the engines cut out. Could she read the levels in the various tanks without actually switching tanks? I have a friend who crash landed a F6F Hellcat near Portland OR a few years ago because he couldn't get his fuel switch-over valve to work. Both he and the A/C survived, but with considerable damage. Dead stick landings are HELL!!

My brother had a engine failure in a Tripacer over a city in CA several years ago, when he called "MAYDAY" he was directed to a small nearby airport where he was able to land safely.

A while back we discussed post loss radio signals and how much AE would have had to run the engine to keep the batteries up enough to operate the radio and ensure enough power for a restart the next time. The manual for the HK1 says not to run the engines below 1400 rpm for more than 15 minutes unless an APU is hooked up to keep the batteries charged, I know, a 10E and the HK1 are different airplanes, but they both used P&W Wasp engines (different sizes, ok, a LOT different). They were built about 10 years apart.

LTM who knows a 10E from the HK1
TC 2127

Before I reply to your preservation question I want to emphasize that this stuff is not just my purist opinion. Standards, procedures, and definitions for historic preservation have been hammered out over the past hundred years or more by scholars, curators and conservators in museums around the world. The problem is that most air museums and aviation enthusiasts are not familiar with this immense field of study or, if they are, somehow feel that airplanes are exempt from the rules that apply to everything else. In an attempt to make this information more accessible to the aviation community we have published The TIGHAR Guide to Aviation Historic Preservation Terminology which is now used by many air museums in the U.S. and Europe. We should probably put it up on the TIGHAR website in the Preservation section.

Okay. Here's a short course.

"Original" means the same physical material ("fabric" in the parlance of the discipline) that is passed down from a particular time in history. It does not mean new stuff that is just like the old stuff or old stuff from some other object. Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" in the Smithsonian is not original to his transatlantic flight. It is largely original to 1928 when it arrived at the museum following Slim's grand tour of the U.S. and Central America. Saying an aircraft is "original" is meaningless unless you provide a reference date. The older an airplane is, the less likely it is to be all "original" to its manufacture date or its period of historical significance.

"Restoration" means returning the existing "fabric" of an object to a known earlier state through the minimal introduction of new material. This is what your'e talking about with the HK-1. Sand off a later layer of paint, replace some headliner, clean it up, etc. You can't make it "original" to the famous test flight unless you find the old engines (not engines just like the old engines but the actual engines that were on the airplane) and tear out the air conditioner and staircase and find that old extension ladder. Probably ain't gonna happen. The HK-1 will, at best, be a "restored" version of the airplane as it was whenever they stopped messing with it. The "Spirit of St. Louis" has been restored through the replacement of the clear overhead panel that had yellowed and split over time.

You can return something to a known earlier appearance through repair and the introduction of substantial new material (new skins, new wiring, overhauled engines, new paint, etc.) but now you have a "reconstruction." If you decide to make it look like something it never was (paint an airplane in the colors of a famous ace, for example) then you have a "conversion." In both cases, the object has lost its "historical integrity."

If you decide to return the object to service rather than preserve it you have a "rehabilitation."

Like I said originally, there is very little aviation historic preservation going on anywhere. It's getting better, but very slowly.


Subject: Restoration/Preservation
Date: 12/7/99
From: Dennis McGee

A short version of Ric's recent preservation/restoration speech aired here would be a statement I heard several years ago from a carpenter who came from a long line of woodworkers: "This is my grandfather's hatchet; dad replaced the handle and I replaced the blade."

LTM, who is in dire need of both restoration and preservation
Dennis McGee #0149CE

Subject: Navigation
Date: 12/7/99
From: Ross DeVitt

And it's the "dangerous local rain squalls about 300 miles east of Lae..." that interest me. As I live in what is loosely referred to as the tropics (around 20deg South) and as I previously lived in the proper tropics (closer to 10deg South - and not far from where all this happened), I know what happens to the weather up here.

Perhaps I shouldn't be defending poor old Fred so much, but really, on a long distance flight like this it is the navigator's flight - not the pilot's. All the pilot has to do is point it where the navigator says!

I can take off here in beautiful clear weather for a flight that's around 1.5 hours in the Baron at say 160 - 180 knots (Yep, I know it will go faster, but so does the fuel...) Not much different in speed from the Electra. 200 miles out, and I arrive at an airport I can't see, let alone land at. It is not at all unusual to be around 10 miles away in the local training area, and have to return to the airport because of weather closing in and a ceiling of 700ft and closing, when it was CAVOK half an hour before.

When sailing, we have "Whitsunday Whiteouts". We can be smack in the middle of one of the busiest waterways in the world, and land withing 6 miles in all directions, and not able to see anything. This can happen in minutes.

My point is not that there was a major storm, rather that no-one in their right mind flies through rain squalls up here... Especially around New Guinea - the clouds reach incredible heights, and they tend to have rocks in them... Not that there were any problems with that on AE's path, but the squalls would be very hard on even a strong looking aircraft like the Electra.

Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to get some idea across of what they were facing...

Ross (Who thought he promised not to post any more on this ... (sorry)

Subject: Difference between preservation and maintenance
Date: 12/8/99
From: William Webster-Garman, Ross DeVitt, Ric Gillespie, Tom King

One of the differences between "preservation", as Ric describes, and "maintenance", as Herman has been describing, is very simple: By definition, one doesn't preserve an historic aircraft by flying it and exposing it to risk, as in Herman's example of "the Messerschmitt Me-109G that the RAF Vice Air Mashall crashed last year (pilot overshooting the runway at Duxford in an emergency landing because of trouble with the ORIGINAL engine)". That Me-109G wasn't being preserved, it was being maintained for flight (original equipment not withstanding), and since flight was the priority, the aircraft was ultimately degraded, not preserved. By definition, one doesn't fly aircraft that are under preservation.

For example, in the very unlikely event that the Earhart Electra was somehow found pristine and intact, and somebody managed to "overhaul" the engines etc and get it into the air, this act would be the antithesis of preservation (i.e. protection) and would cause great discomfort to many aircraft historians and others among us who appreciate the educational and cultural benefits of true artifact preservation.

LTM (who was well maintained if not well preserved)
william 2243

From Ross

In the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Australia about 10 - 15 years ago (Brissy is a hell of a long way south) I saw the aircraft belonging to one of our Australian pioneer aviators. It was a steel & timber frame, fabric covering, and had crashed in the desert back in the thirties. I can't remember without checking - I think it was the Kookaburra which went missing in the Kimberley (like a larger version of Death Valley - much larger). It was found not all that long before I saw it.

Point is it had been "preserved" as it was found. Crumpled, sand abraded, tattered bits of fabric. It hardly looked like an aircraft. The museum has taken photos of the site from all possible angles, treated the metal, wood and fabric with preservatives and displayed it as a diorama in as near to the original setting as possible. I think they may have left the pilot's remains out of the display.....

I have seen examples of "restored" aircraft from a similar wreck.

I suspect that this is close to what you would mean, Ric by "preservation" rather than "restoration"...

Am I close (for a change)?


From Ric

Yes, the RAF Museum at Hendon has similar displays of a Hurricane and a Halifax but a thing doesn't have to look decrepit to be preserved. Sometines we get lucky and, due to some extraordinary circumstance, something survives for a long time in excellent condition. The point is, it is what it is. There is no way to turn back the clock.

From Tom King

The Offishul U.S. Gummint definitions of things like "preservation," "restoration," and "rehabilitation" -- discussed with reference to historic buildings but generally applicable to airplanes too (and generally consistent with Ric's usage, though damn, Ric, do you have to be so snooty about it?) can be found at

LTM (offishully)
Tom King

From Ric

Well, maybe what comes across to you as "snooty" is merely the frustration I have felt for years watching well-meaning and dedicated enthusiasts delude themselves. I have not yet found a gentle way to point out that "fully restored" as used by the aviation community means "fully stripped of its historical integrity."

This is a VERY difficult and emotional issue and there is tremendous potential for misunderstanding and shoot-the-messenger feelings. As I have said many times, I have nothing against fixing up old airplanes and I love flying old types, but I do think that it's important not to kid ourselves about what constitutes preservation.

Subject: Preservation
Date: 12/9/99
From: Natko Katicic, Herman De Wulf, Clyde Miller, Alan Caldwell, Dick Pingrey, Ric Gillespie

Ric writes:

>Herman, let's just drop the subject. It's completely off topic and it's
>pretty apparent that you just don't get what I'm talking about.

Off Topic? Do _I_ have to remind you what the acronym TIGHAR stands for? The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. NOT The International Group for finding AE or educating the public. As I understand it, what Herman is talking about is your PRIMARY objective above all other projects. No Sir! To my mind this discussion is not off topic - not even on this forum.

Regarding your dispute, I believe Hermann understands quite well that you mean "freezing" an airtifact [sic ;-)] in its "as is" condition for future reference. Probably the word *Original* is the culprit for it is not an unambiguous notion. Herman is just talking of a different aspect of the notion *original* which in my opinion is quite as valid in the discussion about historic preservation in general.

Last but not least, such a curt (to put it mildly. 'Rude' would probably be more adequate) reply to the impeccable posting of a regular, distinguished and until now apparently appreciated contributor intimidates and puts-off other forum participants as well - and Mother too.

LTM (who has spoken - Haugh)

From Ric

Settle down Natko. Perhaps a little frustration but no rudeness was intended in my reply to Herman, and as you'll see from the posting below, none was apparently taken.

Aviation historic preservation is certainly on-topic for TIGHAR in general and that's why we have a Preservation section on our website. For this forum, I'd like to limit the discussion to issues directly affecting the conservation and eventual curation and exhibition of artifacts found or hoped to be found in the course of the Earhart Project.

Most words have many meanings ("freezing" for example) and the first step in communication is agreement about the meaning of the words we use. In the aviation world terms like "preservation", "restoration" and "original" have taken on quite different meanings than they carry in the traditional museum world. It's like the old joke - If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.

From Herman

Just in case anyone is interested in what happened to that Me-109G since, it is under repair (or should I say it's being restored ?), to be brought to static display standard. This had originally been planned. But having been stored for half a century in flying condition, it had been decided by the Imperial War Museum to bring it to airworthy standard before exhibiting it in the museum and let it fly at the Duxford airshow for ONE SEASON, just to prove it still flew. However, the rare airplane proved such a success and its engine in such fine condition that it was decided to let it fly ONE MORE but FINAL SEASON before putting it on static display for good.

The RAF Vice Air Marshall who flew it on its LAST FLIGHT thought he had an engine problem when he saw smoke coming out of the exhaust and decided to get down as quickly as possible. As he was in downwind, he turned sharply, pushing the nose down in final. As we all know that causes an airplane to pick up speed and since an Me-109G was designed for speed, it needed all of the endless runway to throw off speed and settle. At the end of the runway it literally fell out of the sky, bounced over the fence and across the adjoining freeway, to land in a field across the road. Its conventional landing gear being incompatible with a potato field, the plane nosed over, landing on its back. Luckily there was no fire.

From here on the preservation-mindedness of the British showed. The pilot refused to be saved from his precarious position by lifting the plane with a crane as this would... damage the plane. He insisted it be handled with great care. When it was eventually righted, the Vice Air Mashall climbed out, dusting off his flying suit.

The Me-109G that survived a world war but was almost destroyed when flown in peacetime, is now under repair (or should I say under restoration, Ric ?). It is being brought to static display standard but will not fly again.

From Ric

In historic preservation terms "Black 6" (the Me-109G under discussion) is a "rehabilitation" and therefore not a historic property. That doesn't mean it's a piece of junk. It's an extremely rare aircraft, to be sure, and certainly worthy of attention and exhibition. "Repair" in the aviation maintenance sense of the word, is probably the correct way to describe what is being done to Black 6. The decison whether or not to fly the airplane once it's fixed is purely one of risk management.

From Clyde Miller

Stepping away from the issue of ownership etc. I would vote to preserve and display whatever large portions of the Electra survived in a near habitat diorama. Backdrop of the island, even a campsite reconstruction. Live crabs etc. Maps, pictures, artifacts, perhaps even the surf lapping onto the beach where the parts were discovered. Best of all TIGHAR expedition member cardboard cutouts peering from the jungle.

Clyde Miller
(who believes once a plane crash always a plane crash

From Ric

RAF Hendon has just such an exhibit of what's left of a Hurricane found on a beach. Very evocative interpretation. The National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida has an exhibit of an SBD and and F4F (as I recall) in as-found but stabilized condition. They're in a room intended to simulate an underwater environment.

An exhibit of Electra wreckage would depend a lot on how much we find and where we find it. Having a full-size replica near by seems like a good interpretive feature also.

From Alan

Ric wrote:

> I have not yet found a gentle way to point out that "fully
> restored" as used by the aviation community means "fully stripped of its
> historical integrity."
> This is a VERY difficult and emotional issue and there is tremendous
> potential for misunderstanding and shoot-the-messenger feelings.

I well understand your point. For most of my adult life I have been intrigued by the Sopwith Camel. Periodically I would find a small plastic kit and build one. I have no idea where they went. I now have a flying model kit with about a 6' wingspan - still unbuilt unfortunately. I read everything I could about the plane. I talked to a WWI aircraft historian - self styled. He told me the flight characteristics (not all that safe) the numbering and markings. Then I found an old book describing Sopwith building the plane and turning the first one over to the RAF for a test flight at Aerodrome #1 in England. It was test flown on a day in 1917 by 2/t Alan K. Caldwell. (No, it wasn't me. I'm old but not that old).

A few years ago I found there was one at Wright-Patterson Air Museum. I was really excited when I got there only to read the sign that it was totally remade from pictures, etc. It was never a real Camel. That plane now meant nothing to me. If I had come across a wreck in a field in France THAT would have been a real Camel.

Alan L. Caldwell, not to be confused with.............

From Ric

But at least the sign told the truth about the exhibit. Many museums don't happen to mention that the airplane on display is not what it appears to be. As a general rule, the more information provided about "this particular airplane," the better the museum.

The value of "living history" displays using rebuilds and replicas is illustrated by the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Old Rhinebeck, NY. On any summer weekend you can watch a Sopwith Camel chase a Fokker DVII around the sky (plus performances by about a dozen other WWI vintage types). Of course, you're not watching "real" WWI airplanes but you're getting a visual, auditory, and olfactory approximation of what they were like. The buzz of rotary engines and the smell of burnt castor oil alone are worth the price of admission.

From Dick Pingrey

I can agree with your definitions but not fully with the purpose or perhaps it is the reasoning you state with those definitions. Museums serve the public in many ways and it is not just to preserve static history. They must entertain the public as well as educate them and preserve artifacts for them to study. Some times it is desirable to present an airplane as it looked and functioned the way it was at the time it was operational. That is also educational and it preserves an additional technology. The technology of how things work.

When we destroy one of the few remaining ME-109s we have lost a major part of history but if we carefully repair a Piper Cub to original specifications and put it on display it does more to educate than the same airplane with fabric in shreds and parts falling off. After all these are hundreds of Piper Cubs still around. If that same Cub flies so people can see the technology of the 1930s in operation they learn more about our aviation history than if they only saw it as a static display.

There is a balance in all this and it goes beyond just saving or preserving things as they are found.

Dick Pingrey 908C

From Ric

You're getting into some interesting issues that go beyond the question of what does and does not constitute preservation. The first job of a museum is to preserve and exhibit relics of the past. Education is a secondary mission, but an important one. The Cub reconstruction you describe sounds like a valuable interpretive tool. Entertainment is also a necessary aspect of museum science because you have to get people to come see what you have.

You're absolutely right about the need to seek a proper balance. In any museum there is always tension among preservation concerns, interpretation (education), and marketing. Volumes have been written on the subject. In some cases, most notably the Enola Gay fiasco at NASM, the conflict is played out on a national scale (and I'm already sorry I mentioned it).


Subject: Re: difference between preservation and maintenance
Date: 12/9/99
From: Andrew McKenna

Think of it as saving the artifact as found in the wild, like the Tyrannosaur skull that is encased and crushed inside a large chunk of sandstone, and reconstructing the skull from the fragments, filling in the missing pieces with plastic, and putting braces on the teeth to make them look like they are "supposed to".

One maintains its historical "in situ" significance, the other is still of historical interest, but is no longer "original" (although a whole lot more interesting to look at).

A McKenna 1045C

From Ric

The re-assembled skull would be a "restoration" because it would "return the object to a known previous state through the minimal introduction of new material" (like maybe some plastic and some glue). This, of course, presumes that most of the skull is there and that the way an intact skull looks is "known." Such a restoration is, as you say, still historic (well, actually, prehistoric).

But if you take a few skull fragments and reconstruct a whole skeleton and then cover it with styrofoam flesh and plastic hide you have a potentially educational exhibit, but it's not a dinosaur.

Subject: RE: Preservation, etc.
Date: 12/10/99
From: Tom King

Ric says --

>In historic preservation terms "Black 6" (the Me-109G under discussion)
>is a "rehabilitation" and therefore not a historic property.

Uhhh, Ric, there are innumerable perfectly good historic buildings that have been rehabilitated and are still included in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places; I'd certainly call them historic properties (as does the National Historic Preservation Act).

When an airplane, or a boat, or a house, or anything else gets so changed that it stops being historic is an unresolved and probably irresoluble question, and any time we have to make decisions about how to treat a historic property we have to face real-world, practical questions about what's feasible, cost-effective, in the public interest, etc. Sometimes we do things that destroy the property's historic integrity because on balance, it's the best thing to do. Other times the balance gets struck someplace else. There just aren't any absolutes in the historic preservation business, however much some people would like it to be otherwise.

LTM (who likes old stuff fine, but says change is inevitable)
Tom King

From Ric

You and I have both struggled with the National Park Service's efforts to publish guidelines for nominating historic aviation properties to the National Register and it's like trying to drive a nail with a screwdriver.

My comments were based on The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects published by the National Park Service (the same folks who run the National Register of Historic Places). It's the closest thing we have to guidelines that would be applicable to aviation preservation projects and it says (on page 12):

Regardless of their quality or use, and notwithstanding the degree to which they might serve the purposes of historic preservation, reconstructions, reproductions and conversions do not meet the criteria of the definition of a historic vessel.

Some boats that have been made usable ("rehabilitated") retain enough of their original fabric to be considered historic, but returning an old airplane to airworthy condition necessarily entails the introduction of so much new material that it becomes a reconstruction and, therefore, no longer a "historic aircraft."

You seem to be arguing for a fuzzy, politically correct, if-it-feels-right-do-it approach to historic preservation. I'd like to think that intelligent standards can be set and have been set (for vessels anyway), but you can't set standards of any kind without upsetting somebody. That's how we end up with high school graduates who can't find England on a map and museums that show us a shiny new 1918 airplane and tell us that it's "all original."


Subject: Re: Preservation
Date: 12/10/99
From: Dennis McGee

I think both Tom King and Ric are correct (what did you expect from a guy who works in Washington D.C.?).

If one plans to use the artifact, then it probably will not remain "original" because it needs to meet certain standards for safe use.

If one plans to only display the artifact, then it probably will not be viewed too often because the public doesn't like looking at shabby, ratty, dirty "historic" artifacts.

When I was a docent at the National Air and Space Museum's storage, restoration and presentation facility in Silver Hill (whew, what a mouthful) in the 1980s we had on display an unrestored "original" Spad XIII that still had unrepaired battle damage from World War I. The plane allegedly was still in its original fabric covering with the original markings, which included linen patches (with an Iron Cross on them to signify enemy battle damage) covering approximately 20-25 bullet holes.

However, when the NASM curators removed the plane's fabric covering they sometimes found patches where there were no bullet holes underneath. (Oops!) Also some of the holes that were covered by patches apparently were "inconsistent" with the ammunition used by either side during the conflict (anybody ever hear of a .30-caliber or 7.9 mm pencil?).

They did find one hole in the structure of the horizontal stabilizer that apparently was the real McCoy.

The last I saw the airplane it was in NASM's downtown WWI Gallery looking very "restored."

The point is, if NASM displayed the airplane "as is" a great cry would rise from the masses to "do something," yet in meeting the demands of the public they have destroyed or degraded (depending upon your view point) the value of the artifact.

It just goes to prove, you can't please 'em all.

LTM, who has no battle damage
Dennis O. McGee #0149CE

From Ric

It all comes down to education. Nobody complains that the ancient Greek pottery in the British Museum is chipped. In fact, if it wasn't people would say "Now wait a minute....". The common sense that it's okay and even manadatory that something old should look old somehow doesn't apply to air museums. The same person that would doubt the authenticity of a piece of pristine pottery will stand in front of "Smith IV" (the like-new Spad mentioned by Dennis) and say "Gee, an authentic WWI fighter." Go figure. It should also be said that preservation is not accomplished by neglect (which is how Smith IV got to the point where it was ready just collapse in a heap on the floor). If you expect fragile material to last a long time you have to take very good care of it. It's called "conservation" and it's a huge part of museum science.


Subject: Map Comment; Noonan
Date: 12/10/99
From: William Webster-Garman

Ric wrote:

>>That's how we end up with high school graduates who can't find England
>>on a map

And, I might add, often don't even know how to read one.

I enjoyed reading the new hypothesis page at The TIGHAR Hypothesis. When you have a moment, could you briefly elaborate why you believe Noonan might have died near the wreck site, and how his remains might have come to be buried on the western side of the island?

william 2243

From Ric

It goes like this. Assuming that he was there in the first place, he had to have died somewhere, and only one person's remains (most likely female) were found at the campsite even though there seems to have been part of a man's shoe there. Most likely explanation? Spare shoes salvaged from her dead partner. She could wear his but he couldn't wear hers.

Other objects found at or near the campsite (Benedictine bottle and "corks with brass chains") seem to link the campsite person and, by definition the man's shoe, to the Norwich City survivors' camp which is near the putative landing site.

Several independent anecdotal accounts describe bones found near the Norwich City wreck by the island's first settlers. After seeing the environment on that shoreline first hand, TIGHAR's forensic anthropologist Dr. Karen Burns feels strongly that unburied bones would not survive there for long at all. So whose bones were found? Possibly one or more of the three shipwreck casualties who were buried by their shipmates in 1929 and whose graves may have been uncovered by subsequent storms, or Noonan who may have been buried by his shipmate in the same area and similarly uncovered.

Gallagher makes no mention of the bones found near the shipwreck so we must presume that he was unaware of them. We do have pretty good indications that what the settlers did with bones they came across is bury them, and there does seem to be at least one, and possibly a second, grave on that part of the island.


Subject: Re: Preservation, etc.
Date: 12/11/9
From: Hugh Graham

---In other words, if I replace my car's fender, I am no longer driving an original, but a reproduction? Someone better tell the Mercedes museum.

What about the prototype DeHavilland Mosquito which sits in Salisbury Hall in London, where it was built in 1940 as a wooden, unarmed bomber. It is the only prototype DH98 ever built, and flew with various engines and experimental loads and crashed heavily at least once, which unintentionally demonstrated it could be repaired in the field.

By the way, the DH98 type had the lowest casualty rate of any combat plane in WW2 (highest number of sorties per loss) and the lowest fatalities per ton of delivered bombs. It was the fastest bomber of WW2, and successfully performed missions impossible by any other aircraft, such as flying in at 15 feet to pinpoint bomb the walls of the Amiens prison to release hundreds of resistance workers due to be executed.

The yellow prototype serial W4050 that sits in Salisbury Hall in the "Mosquito Museum" set the DH98 level flight speed record of 437 mph at 29,000 feet using Merlin 77 engines and also set the DH98 altitude record of 40,000 feet with Merlin 61 engines.

Now, to an Archaeologist's way of thinking, W4050 may not be preserved, but to my way of thinking it is probably the most interesting and fascinating single aircraft of WW2 extant, and is no reproduction.

LTM(who likes the black DH98 airliner used to ferry spies),
HAG 2201

From Ric

It depends a lot on when the new fender was put on the Mercedes. The maintenance and modification issue that you raise is often a source of great confusion. Let me see if I can explain it.

Any man-made tool (and airplanes, cars and boats are tools) undergoes maintenance and modification in the course of its service life. Most tools eventually reach a time when their usefulness in performing their intended purpose (in the case of an airplane --- carrying people around the sky) is exhausted and they get junked. However, in rare cases, the technology of the tool or some task the tool performed or someone's enthusiasm for that type of tool, give the tool a new purpose --- that of a repository of information, or as a reminder of the task it performed or as a tribute to the people who used it and others tools of its type. That change in purpose from a machine used to carry people (and perhaps bombs) around the sky, to a device whose primary value is as a relic of the past, can occur at any time in an airplane's career. It might be a prototype retired after its first flight (the Hughes HK-1 "Spruce Goose") or after a long record-setting career (the DH98 you mention) or it might be a tattered wreck that is the last surving example of its type. No matter. Whatever the airplane is like at the moment the decision is made that the airpane is "historic," that is the "original" that the preservationist is starting with.

So, you see, the DH98 is not a reproduction or reconstruction, it is an "original" of what it was when its purpose changed --- unless, of course, somebody has decided to try to make it look like they think it once looked at some time in its storied past. Once the decision has been made to "save" a particular airplane, further decisions must be made about just what it is we're trying to save. If what we want is to keep the thing that was there at a particular moment in history either for sentimental or informational reasons, or both, then it's a no-brainer that we carefully safeguard whatever is there. If what we want is to recreate the look, and in some cases the feel and sound and smell of the past, then we throw away the stuff that is no longer attractive or safe or does not represent the time period we're trying to recreate and we replace it with new stuff or salvaged old stuff from other aircraft to create the illusion we're after. Both are legitimate ends and it's always a judgement call as to what is the best way to deal with a particular old airplane (or car or boat or gun or you-name-it). The important is to recognize that we're making a choice and not think that we're doing one thing when we're dong something quite different.


Subject: Re: Recovery, Repair, & Restoration
Date: 12/11/99
From: Robert Klaus

Continuing the car thread on the question of originality. Are you familiar with the #2 Ferrari?

The second Ferrari was built as a coupe, a prototype for their first road cars. After not quite a year it was taken back to the factory to be rebodied as an open wheel racer to join the number 1 and 3 cars on the European circuit. While racing it suffered a serious "unintentional off track contact" (what the rest of us would call a crash). During rebuild the frame was replaced with a stronger stiffer item. Subsequently the engine and tranny were replaced with later components, newer wheels and brakes were installed, etc. Finally the old #2 car was retired to the company museum.

Meanwhile back at the ranch. The original coupe body, after sitting in the works yard for some years, was sold as scrap, and eventually wound up with a collector. He subsequently found the bent frame and the original motor. If memory serves he acquired a correct, but not original, transmission and differential etc. He repaired the damaged bits, bolted it all back together and now has a complete car.

The question is, what car is it?

Neither the coupe or racer have all original parts, but the coupe has far more original parts. On the other hand, the factories #2 car has had that identity continuously (and legally) for its entire existence.

No easy answers.

Robert Klaus

From Ric

Egad! The issue of "continuous identity" is an interesting one. The American warship Constellation is a case in point. She has been repaired so many times that there is now almost nothing left of the original ship but she has always been the Constellation. But if someone found the old timbers and cobbled together a ship, what would it be?

I don't think it would be the Constellation any more than the re-assembled Ferrari coupe is the No. 2 Ferrari. Bizarre as it sounds, I think it's a replica of the original using original parts. The underlying principle in all of this is that it is impossible to turn back the clock.

Subject: Preservation, etc.
Date: 12/11/99
From: Hugh Graham

Hugh Graham wrote:

>By the way, the DH98 type had the lowest casualty rate of any combat
>plane in WW2 (highest number of sorties per loss) and the lowest fatalities
>per ton of delivered bombs. It was the fastest bomber of WW2, and
>successfully performed missions impossible by any other aircraft, such
>as flying in at 15 feet to pinpoint bomb the walls of the Amiens prison to
>release hundreds of resistance workers due to be executed.

After the war there was criticism among RAF pilots on the wartime mass production of expensive heavy four engined bombers while the Mosquito, which was cheaper to build, carried the same bombload as a B-17, had a crew of only two, delivered its payload more accurately, flew faster than anything else and had a lower casualty rate. "It would have been better," it was said, "if Britain had mass-produced the cheap Mosquitoes instead of the expensive high-tech Halifaxes and Lancasters that had needed crews of seven and had higher casualty rates.

One reason why the Mosquito had a low casualty rate was it was made of wood which made it all but invisible on German radars. Another reason was it speed which enabled it to outpace fighters.

When de Havilland had first offered his DH98 design to the RAF they laughed their heads off and told him "nobody wants wooden airplanes anymore." They changed their minds, however, when his "wooden wonder" outflew anything else in the inventory, did not call for strategic materials such as aluminium and could be mass-produced by by cabinetmakers all over Britain, the pieces eventually being assembled in any factory or shed available.

The lessons learned through the Mosquito left their impression, for when the RAF re-equipped with its present fleet of Tornadoes, the old Mosquito was referred to, saying they wanted "a versatile aircraft that could be used as an interception fighter, a bomber or a reconnaissance plane LIKE THE OLD MOSQUITO".

As for preservation/restoration or whatever, British Aerospace (successor to the de Havilland company) rebuilt a DH98 Mosquito to airworthy standard and at its own expense some time ago. The airplane was an eye-catcher at airshows for several seasons, including Duxford's. Last year (or was it the year before ?) it was stalled making a stall turn and crashed, killing both the company pilot and his observer. The accident caused criticism among the veteran aircraft crowd in Britain. It was said such rare planes were far too valuable to be flown.


From Ric

The primary value of a rebuilt airplane is as a demonstrator to show people what the type looked like. Isaac Newton had it right - what goes up must come down - and any airplane in service can be lost to an accident. But it is also true that any exhibit in a museum can be lost to fire or other disaster. It's all a question of risk versus return. The demonstrator can do its demonstrating much better if it flies but it does so at higher risk of loss. In any event, it's not a historic preservation question. The decision to sacrifice the historic integrity of the aircraft for the sake of its value as a demonstrator was made long ago.

Subject: Re: Fire Extinguisher
Date: 12/11/99
From: Tom King

For Vern --

I haven't had a reply from Pyrene to the picture of the extinguisher. However, the specs they sent me support your observation that Pyrene's handle is different from the one on ours. On both the 1 qt. and 1.5 qt. models, the specs show a simple, sort of banana-shaped handle, while ours is a hollow oval with nipples on either end.

As for the business end, I don't think I see quite what you see (and it's sitting in my lap as I write this). The outside diameter does indeed continue for maybe 3 mm beyond the almost-flat end, and it's on this rim or lip that the thing stands when it's on end. The end itself is very slightly domed, and the actual squirter, rather than being central, is way off at the edge. There aren't any slots.

I suspect we'll find out the origin of the extinguisher if we ever find equipment records for the Loran station.

Tom King

From Ric

If I was a betting man I'd wager that it's of British manufacture and was PISS property. The simple, practical banana handle on the Pyrene unit speaks of Yankee minimalism while the more elaborate handle on 2-4-V-100 speaks of aesthetic concern for the proper way this sort of thing should look. How's that for objective artifact assessment?

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