Forum artHighlights From the Forum

March 19 through 25, 2000


Subject: Information sources
Date: 3/20/00
From: Charles Wood

Thanks for the terrific synopsis on AE's last flight.

I was more than mildly surprised at your response to Don's item on the Lockheed 10A belly antenna in yesterday's digest.

The question was " ... the belly antenna on AE's Electra. Since this rigging seems standard for the 12As, would Lockheed be able to provide any input as to what purpose such an antenna would serve?"

Your response: "Good thought. Somebody may know but it's probably not Lockheed."

It's been my experience that air-frame manufacturers know in intimate detail the purpose of every doodad hung in or on their precious airplanes. Everything adds weight (reduces range for a given fuel load) or if mounted externally to an aircraft, like an antenna, adds drag which slows the aircraft and/or reduces range. Before an air-frame manufacturer tolerates these negative factors, someone has to justify the purpose of the doodad, including belly antennas. Lockheed had to be swimming with people (notice the past tense) who knew the purpose of the belly antenna.

Finding that person, or pertinent records, may pose a separate problem, depending on the heat of the fire in Lockheed's belly to continue trying to solve the Earhart Mystery. Their interest level **should** be high because one can hardly say Earhart without also saying Lockheed.

Linda Finch. Did she publish a book or formal document on her 1997 around-the-world trip, "World Flight," that mimicked AE's flight plan? If so, I'd like enough info to track down a copy.

Thank you again.

Charles Wood


From Ric

While it is certainly true that a manufacturer has intimate knowledge of an airplane while it is in development and production, once the company moves on to other designs their interest is limited to product support. Once the design is old enough to be essentially out of the active service population the company's interest in maintaining records is purely historical --- and that's the lowest of low priorities. Few aerospace companies maintain any sort of organized archive. For years United Technologies (Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton-Standard, Sikorsky, Norden, etc.) were unique in actually employing an archivist to maintain a company library. The justification was not, alas, a passion for history but a desire to be able to prosecute and defend lawsuits. A few years ago the archivist was let go and the library was given to the Public Relations department and, effectively, ceased to exist as a usable resource. Lockheed never did have anything similar.

Lockheed's fire in the belly about solving the Earhart mystery has been cold ash for a long time. From time to time there have been individuals in the company who had an interest in Earhart and the company has certainly not withheld any information it has, but there is no official company interest in solving the Earhart mystery and no financial support for any search or research has been forthcoming for anyone (and not for lack of requests).

The best resources for historical research about aircraft types are museums that have professionaly maintained libraries. The San Diego Aerospace Museum, for example, has an excellent collection of material from Consolidated Aircraft. (Just try asking General Dynamics for the information about the PBY.)

Those are the realities.

I'm not aware of any book written about Finch's flight.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Deception
Date: 3/20/00
From: Phil Tanner

Obviously the Brits were in overall charge, but what was the local administrative structure in the absence of a colonial officer? Koata was in charge on their behalf, but was there some kind of local hierarchy which would lend itself to him and a few senior men putting their heads together and keeping a secret? And culturally, the men keeping it from the women and kids? Obviously the fewer people who might have been in on the fact of plane wreckage being found on the reef, the more plausible it is that the secret was kept. And I'm getting way out of my depth on anthropology, but does the importance of land and its associated spirits in local culture extend to the idea that the land itself is responsible for what happened before people arrived? In other words, if say five men knew about the plane, would they have seen it as six of them in the know, them and their island, and they were keeping a secret on the island's behalf? I stress that I know nothing about Gilbertese traditions and I don't see this as quaint, but a perfectly valid view of the world as seen through the eyes of the Gardnerites 60 years ago.

LTM, Phil 2276


From Ric

I'm not aware of any anthropomorphization of the island in Gilbertese culture but it's fairly clear that the administrative structure of the island government during the period in question was fairly simple. The Native Magistrate was the boss --- pure and simple. The residents fell into two categories: Gilbertese colonists who, like most pioneers, were from the bottom of the socio/economic ladder: and contract skilled labor, such as Emily's father. As the island population grew it seems to have taken on more of the trappings of traditional Gilbertese society with a council of elders, etc. but in these early days things seem to have been pretty basic.


Subject: Electra interior tear-out
Date 3/20/00
From: Cam Warren

A recent comment from the Forum:

>From Ric
>
>Unfortunately, any photo taken at Luke Field is, by definition, prior to the
>work at Burbank where the interior had to be torn out to effect the repairs.

A not unreasonable supposition, and one which you've frequently suggested in the past, but do you have any documentary confirmation of such? I've a fairly complete set of Lockheed work orders, but there's no mention of interior modifications. Joe Gurr did state in one or more interviews that the radio equipment was removed, and intrusted to him for safekeeping.

Cam Warren


From Ric

If you'll look at the repair orders you'll see that they call for the replacement of most of the belly skins (not surprisingly). There's no way to do that without removing the floor and anything attached to it (fuel tanks, transmitter, navigator's table, etc.). Whether it all went back in just as it came out is anybody's guess but we can see from the exterior of the plane that changes were made to the radio set-up (the dorsal mast moved, the lead-in to the transmitter relocated, the port side belly antenna deleted and the trailing wire eliminated) with no paperwork surviving to document it. We can only conclude that, in the absence of paperwork or photos, we don't know what the cabin interior looked like during the second world flight attempt.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: The Bevington Photo 1937/ Wreckage or the Pacific Ness Monster?
Date: 3/20/00
From: Ron Bright

It is nice to get back to some documentary evidence that can be subjected to rigorous scrutiny as well as setting forth some reasonable inferences based on the interpretation of the evidence and the circumstances surrounding, in this case, the Bevington photo.

Central to the TIGHAR hypothesis is the Electra's crash on the reef just north of the Norwich City. Thus Emily Sukili's ancedotal story moved us back once again to the Maude and Bevington 13-16 Oct 37 exploration of Niku. Is the object she reports seeing some 100 meters north of the Norwich City circa 1940 consistant with the objects seen in Bevington's black and white photograph and, if so, are the objects aircraft wreckage?

Bevington's photo taken Oct 37, see current TIGHAR Tracks, is a pretty good shot of the Norwich City as Maude's schooner sailed southwards toward the wreck with the western shore of Niku to the side. I would estimate that photo was taken from less than a half mile from the wreck and the objects described by Emily are some 100 meters northwest of the bow.

TIGHAR has circled two "objects", which appear to be just above the ocean surface.The objects in this photo are too far away and too indistinct to make any kind of specific identification or comparison to known artifacts. (Fitting the "general description" of Emily's "steel piece" or "strut" to me is a bit of a stretch,but no matter).

The point here is that Bevington, Maude and some 19 other "associates" who were aboard the schooner as it sailed slowly past these "objects" to tie up to the Norwich City probably came within a hundred or so yards of the objects. These guys, and of course Bevington who snapped the photo, were more than likely all on deck looking towards Niku and the wreck. The sea was calm. They had binoculars and cameras. They were inquisitive souls, I would submit. And in all likelihood (although never reported until much later) were aware of the July 37 disappearance of Amelia and the suspicion she may have landed somewhere in the Phoenix Islands. Maybe even the $2000 reward.

The date of the Photo is on or about 13 Oct 1937, just three and one half months after Amelia allegedly crashed on that reef at that very spot.

If Emily some 3-4 years later could immediately identify an aircraft structural component of some kind at that spot from a distance of 200 yards as she walked down the beach, it stands to reason that Bevington, Maude and crew would have seen something to attract their attention. None was reported. Bevington also walked around the Island in Oct 37 and didn't see anything except the signs of a recent "bivouac" area.Nothing attracted his attention to that reef area. (I know it was high tide.)

My personal opinion based on this photo, the sailing directions,proximity to the reef, the tie up at the Norwich City, Maude and Bevington's negative reports, means that the Electra (if it made it to Niku) wasn't there but for a day or so; that there wasn't any significant, large Electra debris (contrary to Emily) to be seen; and that the Electra went off into the deep end of the ocean by the reef.

You point out that in establishing a possible photographic confirmation that the wreckage seen in Bevington's photo was an aircraft it would be based on a"contemporaneous,primary source document". Photos are second best evidence. I submit that Bevington's observation, assuming 20/20 eyesight, along with his pals, from the schooner's deck as they looked directly at those objects( certainly visible in the photo) was better than the photo he took. Whatever the objects he saw were not considered important,least of all an aircraft part found on a remote Pacific Island.

Did Bevington give you those photos when you interviewed him in England in 1991; and did Bevington comment specifically on the objects depicted therein? Did he furnish camera date,lens (telescopic),etc, perhaps noted on the back of the photo.

LTM,
Ron Bright (# 2342)


From Ric

Well, if the circumstances were the way you describe them I'd say you have a point - but they weren't and I don't.

You've made the assumption that the Bevington photo was taken from aboard RCS Nimanoa (which was, by the way, not a schooner) and you even think you know which way the ship was headed. Clearly Bevington was in a boat of some kind when he took the photo but it may have been a whaleboat or a canoe. You've invented a whole scene with a large group of inquisitive souls equipped with binoculars and cameras staring intently at the reef when all we really know is that Bevington took a photo.

You estimate that the objects in the photo are 100 meters northwest of the bow of the Norwich City but our most recent work indicates that the objects are actually much farther than that from the shipwreck. The jury is not yet in on this, but we should have some definitive results from Photek pretty soon.

You quite erroneously allege that Emily saw something that she could immediately identify as an airplane component when, in fact, she specifically said that the only reason she knew it was airplane wreckage was because her father told her it was.

The photo was one of many that we photographically copied when we visited Bevington. It was just a snapshot in his scrapbook captioned "Gardner Is. and the wreck". The small objects we're so interested in now were not even noticed by him or by us until after I returned from last summer's field work. We made no inquiry about what kind of camera or lens he used.

LTM,
Ric


Subject:

Ontario

Date: 3/21/00
From: Edgard Engelman

I read on the forum a post dated July 1998 that 'USS Ontario was on station at her halfway point specifically to give her a checkpoint'. Is this correct? How was AE suppose to contact the ship (radio, visual)? Was a contact made or not?

As I am new on the forum, I still try to figure out wat is known exactly and what isn't.

Anyway, thank you for your attention.


From Ric

Ontario was to provide weather information via radio and send out signals for Earhart to home on. On June 20th Ontario advised that her transmitter had 500 watts of power and a frequency range of 195 to 600 KCS for either CW or MCW but had "no high frequency equipment on board." In other words, Ontario had no way of even attempting to hear Earhart on 3105 and 6210 and could only transmit in code. Given Earhart and Noonan's inability to read code there was never any chance that they would get any information from Ontario. The most they could hope for was a position check.

On June 26th, Earhart sent a message to Richard Black, the Dept. of Interior representative aboard Itasca, saying:

"Suggest Ontario stand by on 400 KCS to transmit letter N five minutes on request with station call letters repeated twice end every minute."

In other words, Ontario was not to transmit anything until asked to do so by Earhart, but Earhart had no way of making any request of Ontario. So Ontario just sat there and, of course, didn't hear a thing and so did nothing.

Earhart may have seen the ship when Nauru radio heard her say "Ship in sight ahead" as she transited the area that night.

Pretty sad.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Deception
Date: 3/21/00
From: Tom King

A couple of things in response to Phil --

"Was there some kind of local hierarchy which would lend itself to him and a few senior men putting their heads together and keeping a secret?"

In a fully developed colonial village the Magistrate would be assisted by a "Chief Kaubure" (I'm still trying to find out just what the Kaubure did), a police chief, and other government people, and there would be a council consisting of the heads of landed families. Niku wasn't fully developed in 1940-41, however; most of the land hadn't been assigned to families, and the group was still in transition from work party to colonists. Both I Kiribati and Tuvaluans were on the island, and several islands in Kiribati were represented. Bottom line: yes, there could be groups of senior men who might keep a secret, but we're not in a good position to figure out who may have comprised such groups.

"And culturally, the men keeping it from the women and kids?"

There were pretty strict sanctions against men having anything to do with unrelated women; probably a pretty effective barrier to communication. Though again, because Niku society was atypical, and I Kiribati culture changing, it's hard to say.

"Does the importance of land and its associated spirits in local culture extend to the idea that the land itself is responsible for what happened before people arrived?"

Probably not the land itself, but very likely spirits on or in the land, just as in innumerable other cultures (just ask my [don't I wish!] cousin Stephen).

"In other words, if say five men knew about the plane, would they have seen it as six of them in the know, them and their island, and they were keeping a secret on the island's behalf?"

That's probably a pretty fair way to put it, though the "sixth man" might be conceived of as an "anti" (spirit) such as Nei Manganibuka, or the spirit of whoever was in the plane.

LTManganibuka
Tom King


Subject: Re: Native Recollection Controversy/ A voice of reason and science
Date: 3/21/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Ric wrote:

> There are actually some interesting parallels between the bone story that we
> now know is true and the airplane wreck story that is not yet proven to be
> true. In both cases:
> - There is a body of folklore recounted by former residents.
> - There is an anecdotal account told by an American serviceman.
> - Artifacts have been found which tend to support the folklore.

It is the interweaving of the content and sources of these stories that has led me to the opinion that there is compelling evidence (not proof) that the early Gilbertese settlers on Gardner found bits of plane wreckage before Gallagher arrived.

In my humble opinion, it is quite reasonable to ponder, if the colonists knew about plane wreckage, why Gallagher wasn't told when he began expressing his own opinions about the artifacts he handled and their possible relationship to AE.

It is apparent that some forum readers do not understand the need to ask these questions and engage in reasoned speculation (in full understanding that reasoned speculation can be wrong). By overlooking plausible scenarios, lines of evidence and opportunities for interviews and research can be missed or even lost forever. As any field researcher knows, scholarly investigation does depend upon taking chances (with project resources, usually time and money) and dealing with the unpredictable nature of evidence.

Here are the questions:

1) Was there aircraft debris on the island when the Gilbertese arrived? We don't know, but, briefly put, there were the bones of a man and a woman, a sextant box, and shoe parts that are apparently a very strong match with the type of shape Earhart was known to wear immediately before she disappeared. These items were first discovered by the Gilbertese.

2) If there was a deposit of aircraft debris when they arrived, was it from the Electra? We don't know. But we do know that there is no documented record of any other aircraft going missing in the region during that era. This, and the established reality of the artifacts mention above, does increase the likelihood (but does not prove) that there was airplane wreckage on the island, and that it was from the Electra.

3) Could the colonists have associated any aircraft debris they found with Earhart, before Gallagher arrived? Yes, there were several opportunities for the news of Earhart's flight to filter onto Gardner/Nikumaroro before Gallagher arrived. We don't know what they knew or surmised, but we do know that within a few years, at least some people on the island were talking about a possible connection with Earhart.

Finally of course, we have several anecdotes that suggest airplane debris was found on the island at an early date during the settlement's history, and at least one of these indicates that this knowledge predated Gallagher's awareness of the bones and other artifacts.

So the question inevitably comes to mind, if there is a real possibility that early local knowledge of airplane wreckage did exist on Nikumaroro, why wasn't Gallagher told when he began talking about Earhart?

And why has it been reported that when Gallagher did talk about it, the Gilbertese on Gardner were reluctant to talk to him?

I believe it likely that the colonists found an unknown quantity of aircraft debris on the island before Gallagher arrived on the scene. This is my hypothesis, based strictly on the evidence we have.

Venturing into pure speculation now, it is my opinion that a reasonable possibility exists that a territorial dispute between the UK and the US might have precipitated a natural reluctance or even inclination towards blind bias among the administrators of PISS in Fiji (far be it from me to attribute blind bias to a colonial administrator) to pursue Gallagher's finds on Gardner, arising from a natural distaste for the idea of the American military descending upon the island. The evidence also indicates that it is realistically possible that the settlers might have engaged in passive silence about the airplane debris, for fear of losing the island through no fault of their own, either because of international politics or scandal.

Whether or not it happened on Gardner in 1940, this sort of silence goes on all the time in the world, often coupled with benign indifference. Ignorance is bliss, in the price range of, "We have heard about a lady flyer, but we don't actually KNOW that this handy piece of wire that we're using as a fishing line has anything to do with that. Meanwhile, we have fish to catch, mouths to feed, scaevola to clear, futures to build. Best not stir anything up or confuse anybody about what's really important. By the way, keep the kids away from there-- the kids shouldn't be poking around in there anyway, and it probably does have something to do with those bones... now little one, don't go there, there are ghosts there...". To label it as conspiracy, and to label discussion of it as "conspiracy theory", in the modern connotation of the word, is simply inaccurate.

I do recognize that there may be a legitimate concern among some TIGHAR members that discussing this aspect of the anecdotal evidence in public could provide others with the opportunity to grossly distort the process and label the entire project as the ravings of a group of conspiracy enthusiasts.

In that case, I would refer to TIGHAR's continued adherence to intellectual rigor and empirical standards of proof.

In any case, it's looking more and more like the mystery of Earhart's disappearance may have been exacerbated by the convergence of several ironic circumstances: The extreme isolation of Gardner, the dominance of the wreckage of the Norwich City near the present hypothesized landing site, cultural perceptions along with the economic and motivational characteristics of a handful of colonists who arrived there 2 years later, the inaccuracy of forensic anthropology in 1940, diplomatic conditions relating to the central Pacific, and the unexpected death from natural causes, on that same island, of a young colonial officer named Gerald Gallagher.

LTM (who would have loved the view of Gardner from a distance)
william 2243


From Ric

While I generally agree that your hypothesis is worthy of further investigation, I have to quibble with part of your description of the known facts.

We don't know that there were the bones of a man and a woman. We know there were the bones of at least one person who was probably female. There may have also been other bones but we don't know that for sure.

The sextant box, and shoe parts were not first discovered by the Gilbertese. As far as we know, only the skull and bottle were found before Gallagher arrived.

The shoe that appears to be a very strong match with Earhart's were found by us in 1991. It certainly isn't the shoe found by Gallagher, but it may be its mate.

LTM,
Ric


From William Webster-Garman

Correction to my post:

In the 5th paragraph, a sentence reads, "...We don't know, but, briefly put, there were the bones of a man and a woman, a sextant box..."

It should read, "...We don't know, but, briefly put, there were the bones of a woman, a sextant box..."

sorry...

william 2243


From Ric

Scratch one quibble.


Subject: Re: The Bevington Photo 1937/ Wreckage or Pacific Ness Monster
Date: 3/21/00
From: Tom King

Let me add a bit to Ric's comment on Ron's argument that: "If Emily some 3-4 years later could immediately identify an aircraft structural component of some kind at that spot from a distance of 200 yards as she walked down the beach" then Bevington and Maude must have been able to recognize it.

Emily "identified" the thing, whatever it was, only because her father showed it to her, and her father knew about it because he or others had found it while fishing. Traditional fishing in Kiribati involves trolling from canoes along the reef edge, or netting or spearing on foot along the reef edge. In other words, whoever first "identified" the thing on the reef was probably right on top of it when he did so.

LTM
Tom King


Subject: Sardine's Ghost
Date: 3/21/00
From: Renaud

As far I could remember, the native leader (Koata) prevented people from getting too close from the wreck&bones. I think that the strength of such a taboo could have been really effective. Remember that only a few artifacts were found on Niku between 1989 and 1996... This make me deduce that the wreck might not have been "plundered" that much. Furthermore, while Gallagher was on charge on the island, there is ( or seems to be ) no indication of the presence of any wreck. The Gilbertese didn't told him about this matter : that is part of the taboo. So, Gallagher wasn't aware of it while he reported the bones discover.

It could be fraud, falsehood, oversight, or simply a very efficient taboo : how to known ? I am not expert in gilbertese customs. But I strongly believe in the strength of taboos...I believed that these people had never planned to use "ghosts stories" to avoid a dreaded reproof, and that for a very simple reason : White people (english) are not afraid by ghosts, they don't care about it. Civilization and enlightment are brought by occidentals and they are themselves convinced of it at that time. The white man is rational and pragmatic ( especially english man !) . So, he can't be stopped by ghosts and taboos... Taboos are only made for people who believed in it.

Ghosts might have been there. They might have remain until the present day. They are deeply incrusted in the coral reefs of Niku, scaterred, melded with the white sand, vanished in the light breeze. This breeze came in our mind... They are haunting us... They are the memories of two spirits that are only waiting for being discovered after 60 years...eager to be dicovered and, at last, to rest in peace.

Gilbertese might have feel them...

( My english is somewhat not accurate. I am afraid not to be clear enough...)

LTM ( who had sometimes difficulties to express feelings in other language...)


Subject: Re: Native Recollection Controversy/ A voice of reason and science
Date: 3/21/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Ric wrote,

> The sextant box, and shoe parts were not first discovered by the Gilbertese.
> As far as we know, only the skull and bottle were found before Gallagher
> arrived.
>
> The shoe that appears to be a very strong match with Earhart's were found by
> us in 1991. It certainly isn't the shoe found by Gallagher, but it may be
> its mate.

Remaining quibbles accepted and appreciated :-).

I should have written that part more carefully. Thanks.

william 2243


Subject: Re: Native Recollection Controversy/ A voice of reason and science
Date: 3/21/00
From: Tom King

My quibble with spending a lot of time on the notion of an I Kiribati conspiracy is not that I think things shouldn't be discussed, but that I think it's an unnecessarily complex hypothesis, which is virtually immune to investigation. Regarding William's reconstruction of events, he's jumping to a conclusion when he asks:

So the question inevitably comes to mind, if there is a real possibility that early local knowledge of airplane wreckage did exist on Nikumaroro, why wasn't Gallagher told when he began talking about Earhart?

There's a real possibility that such knowledge existed, but there's an equally (at least) good possibility that it didn't, even if the wreckage was there. All one has to assume is that the wreckage hadn't been found by the time Gallagher departed. That's a whole lot more efficient than a conspiracy as an explanation for why Gallagher wasn't told.

LTM
Tom King


From Ric

The problem here, as I see it, is that without hard evidence that the wreckage was there, let alone when the islanders knew it was there, we find ourselves wandering in a wilderness of anecdote - choosing whose versions we want to believe and then ascribing motives and constructing scenarios to support them. William argues that engaging in this admittedly speculative exercise may point us to sources of hard evidence. Tom argues that this kind of question is, by its nature, immune to investigation.

The willingness --- some would call it a temptation --- to consider the possibility that there was an intentional withholding of information on Gardner Island stems from the oldest and most basic criticism of TIGHAR's hypothesis. How could the things that we say happened have happened and nobody (meaning the western world) ever know about it?

We've already had the rather astonishing experience of discovering hard evidence of what can only be termed a successful British governmental conspiracy to withhold information about the possible discovery of the remains of Amelia Earhart from the American authorities. There was nothing evil or malicious about it, but there is documented proof that several WPHC officials suggested that the Americans be notified and that Sir Harry Luke very specifically squashed the idea with the rationale:

"Thinnest rumours which may in the end prove unfounded are liable to be spread." Instead, the investigation of the matter was kept within the narrow confines of the WPHC (there is not even any indication that London was ever notified) and ultimately dismissed without ever coming up with an answer beyond some general speculation about an "unfortunate native castaway."

Is it so outrageous to think that Koata, in his own context, did almost exactly what Sir Harry did? I don't think so, but without the equivalent of the 600 pages of hard evidence we collected in England it has to remain hotly debated speculation.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Same Shoes?
Date: 3/22/00
From: Frank Westlake

Ric wrote:

> The shoe that appears to be a very strong match with Earhart's were found by
> us in 1991. It certainly isn't the shoe found by Gallagher, but it may be
> its mate.

You've stated this twice now, that the shoe you found in 1991 "certainly isn't the shoe found by Gallagher," but I don't see how you can state that with certainty. Do you have evidence that the shoe was in fact received by someone off of Gardner? I know you have a copy of a request for it to be sent, and evidence that other things were received, but I haven't seen any indication that the shoe parts were received. I'm not suggesting that the shoes were not sent, only that you can not say with certainty that you do not have the same shoe parts that Gallagher found.

If part of the Floyd Kilts story is in some way true, could not Gallagher have been returning to Gardner with some of the articles when he got sick and later died? I have spent about an hour trying to rule this out as a possibility but I can only perform keyword searches on text files and I know you have all this information in your head. If the shoes were sent, could not Gallagher have returned them to Gardner? And that after Gallagher died the "superstitious" natives discarded a "gunnysack" of articles? Floyd Kilts states "The natives are superstitious as the devil and the next night after the young fellow died they threw the gunnysack full of bones overboard scared of the spirits."

Frank Westlake


From Ric

There is no doubt that the shoe parts were sent to Fiji. Dr. Steenson examines them in Fiji on July 1, 1941 and logs his comments in the file. Gallagher is also in Fiji at that time and makes his note to the file, dismissing the discovery as an "unfortunate native castaway" on July 3rd. He departs on July 20 to eventually return to Gardner (and die). Investigations into the identity of the castaway continue after his departure. Sir Harry shows the sextant box to Harold Gatty in August.

Although the shoe parts are not specifically mentioned again after Steenson's examination, I think that we can state with great confidence that nothing was returned to Gardner by Galllagher or anybody else. Once the bones and artifacts were in the custody of the WPHC in Suva the location and investigation of each object was meticulously tracked in the notes to the official file. Gallagher, as a low ranking administrator, had no say whatsoever in their disposition. When last heard from, the sextant box and the "parcel" that contained the other artifacts were in the custody of Secretary Vaskess and the the bones were stroed at thr Central Medical School. The lack of further entries in the file would seem to indicate that whatever happened to the artifacts and bones next came much later at a time when the people involved may no longer have even known where they came from.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Deception
Date: 3/22/00
From: Randy Jacobson

So, it seems reasonable that Sir Harry Luke didn't ask any questions about the bones or AE, as the case was essentially closed. And if no Gardnerites (is that the proper expression?) volunteered any information about the bones/sextant box, etc. during that visit (quite likely), then that essentially solves why no inquiries or additional information was forthcoming. Hence, no "conspiracy" to keep information from the British authorities. Almost QED.


From Ric

I think it's fair to say that by the time Sir Harry visited the island in December of 1941, he considered the mystery of bones, etc. to be a dead issue (pun intended). The real question about why nobody mentioned the airplane parts on the reef arises back when the discovery of the bones and Gallagher's speculation that they might be Earhart's was seen as a real possibility. We can define that period as from September 23, 1940 when Gallagher first notifies the outside world, through at least February 11, 1941 when Isaac wires Gallagher with his opinion that the bones are Polynesian.

Tom King's hypothesis is that the aircraft parts were not noticed until after Gallagher left the island in June 1941 and so there was no opportunity to tell him about them and thus no conspiracy of silence. That only works if we assume that Emily's account was influenced when Tom unintentionally "led the witness" by providing Koata's name at a crucial point in the July 15, 1999 interview. Let's look at that point in the interview as recorded in Tom's notes:

==================

TK: Did you see the plane fall?

ES: No. It was already there when I came. I came in 1938-1939, when I was 11 years old. (Note --- as best we can determine Emily actually arrived on Gardner in January 1940 and she was probably 16.) I left in December 1941. (Note --- that's correct.) The steel of the plane was there sometime before we got there. Fishermen found the bones. They were frightened and they brought the story of them to the Onotoa man.

TK: Was that Koata?

ES: (she smiles broadly in recognition) Yes.

TK: What did Koata do?

ES: He sent people to bring the bones. People were frightened. Only people working for the government received the bones. My father had to look at the bones. Mr. Gallagher asked my father to make the box.

===================

Several things must be true if Tom really did unintentionally trick Emily into confusing the later Native Magistrate "Iokina" with Koata.

  • Like Koata, Iokina must have come from Onotoa. We know that Koata had been the Native Magistrate on Onotoa before coming to run the show at Gardner. We don't know where Iokina was from.
  • Tom's impression of Emily recognizing the name "Koata" as the "Onotoa man" must have been in error.
  • Emily must be confusing the discovery of the bones found by Gallagher and her father's building of the box (which we know happened in 1940) with other events that must have happened in the summer or fall of 1941.

During my interview with Emily on July 27, 1999 we had the following exchange:

RG: When you first came to Nikumaroro were there any Europeans living there?

ES: No.

RG: Who was in charge of things? Who was the boss?

ES: In those days the leader of the Gilbertese was Teng Koata.

RG: What kind of man was Teng Koata?

ES: Tall man, and big. (Note: photos confirm that Koata was a tall burly man.)

RG: A happy man? A strict man? A jolly man?

ES: He doesn't speak often. What he wants done must be done.

RG: Oh. A strong leader.

ES: Yes

RG: Were the people afraid of him?

ES: They obeyed him because, as people worked, he worked with them.

==========================

At least at the time I talked to her, Emily seems to have had no confusion about who Koata was.

Bottom line: While I think that both Tom and I made some mistakes during our interviews, it's hard for me to accept that Emily was talking about Iokina when she spoke of the Onotoa man.


Subject: Re: Curiosity
Date: 3/22/00
From: Ron Dawson

Regarding the discussion of colonial adminstrators, you might recall that the USS Swan transported the following on her voyage departing Canton 24Nov42.

  1. David Curtis Innes Wernham, Acting Administrative Officer, Phoenix Islands District
  2. Robert Milne Major, Cadet Officer
  3. Aram Tamia, Houseboy
  4. Esen Banaba, Policeman
  5. Rami Auatahu, Carpenter
  6. Tito Moeno, Radio Operator

Destination on all of them is listed as: Various Islands, Phoenix Group. The Swan then called on Sidney I. and Hull I., then arrived off of Gardner, Mon., 30 Nov. at 1030. At 0900 on Tues.,1 Dec., Native policeman E. Banabu went ashore, transportation completed. It was not until 1500 Wed. 2 December, that Wernham,Major, and three natives left the ship, transportation completed. No reason is given in the deck logs for the delay. Surf conditions? Deck logs seem to indicate the group stayed on Gardner when Swan departed.

Related question---would it have been routine for Gallagher to have a houseboy?

Smooth Sailing,
Ron Dawson, 2126


From Ric

Thanks Ron. I had missed (or forgotten) that.

So Wernham and his assistant Major made a visit to Gardner of unknown duration in December of 1942. Interesting, but not really suprising. The colony had to be administered, even if there was a war on.

I'm not sure how routine it was for a British officer to have a "houseboy" but I do know that Aram Tamia was Gallagher's devoted houseboy for the time he was on Gardner. Aram wrote a moving letter to Edith Gallagher (his mother) and planned to stay on the island "with his master" for a year after Gerald's death. I'm not sure what he was doing aboard the Swan.


Subject: Re: Ontario
Date: 3/22/00
From: Edgard Engelman

The more I read the fine prints, the more I am really amazed to discover how little AE (and maybe FN) knew about radio transmission !!

To remain on that topic, as I understand, during her last flight, AE was able to:

1. transmit on 6210 during the night (we know because Lae received her messages)

2. transmit on 3105 (Itasca heard her voice very well (S5))

3. receive Morse on 7105 (Itasca transmitting letter A at her request)

4. she could not receive on 3105 (never heard Itasca)

So my 2 questions:

1. During the night, on 6210, was she only transmitting, or was 2-way radio communication established with Lae?

2. I am aware that you don't know for sure what radio-equipment she had during her flight (as I understand all suppositions are made from the equipment she had during the first failed attempt around the world), but supposing it remained identical (at least for radio communication, DF is another story). I realize there are a number of radio specialists on this forum (old air force, army, Pan Am ?), and I also suppose that this basic question has probably been asked years before I do, but is it possible, knowing the above listed successes and failures to tell what should be working and what could have possibly failed inside the equipment (for ex. OK guys, for that to happen I can tell you that parts number 1,2, 15 and 43 are broken and parts number 3, 4, 5 are working, so it is obvious that this will end up with parts number 22, 23, ... completely fried in no time) and that this will end with a complete failure to transmit on 6210 ?

Best regards,
Edgar


From Ric

She was heard to transmit on 6210 during the day (by Lae) and during the night (by Nauru). She was heard to transmit on 3105 by Itasca during the hours of darkness early in the morning and during daylight. She was not heard on 6210 by Itasca after she said she was switching to that frequency.

She said she received the "A"s sent by Itasca on 7500 but that is the only transmission she seems to have heard.

At no time during her flight was two way communication established with any station. Lae heard her transmissions and made transmissions to her, but there is no evidence that she heard them.

In other words, her transmitter seems to have been working fine at least up to the time she told Itasca that she was switching to 6210. Her reception of the "A"s sent on 7500 indicates that her receiver was working. The only difference between that occasion and her other attempts to receive transmissions might be that she was using the loop antenna. If so, it may indicate that the problem was in the antenna she used for receiving HF voice messages. We're not sure what antenna that was, but if it was the belly antenna the reason she didn't hear anything is because the antenna was lost on takeoff at Lae. Others allege that there was a separate DF receiver aboard and the reason she heard the "A"s is because she was using that receiver.


Subject: Re: Same Shoes?
Date: 3/22/00
From: Frank Westlake

>From Ric:
> Once the bones and artifacts were in the custody of the WPHC in Suva
> the location and investigation of each object was meticulously
> tracked in the notes to the official file.

You have records of them dated after July 20, 1941?

>From Ric:
>Sir Harry shows the sextant box to Harold Gatty in August [1941].
>
> Although the shoe parts are not specifically mentioned again after
> Steenson's examination [July 1, 1941], I think that we can state with
> great confidence that nothing was returned to Gardner by Galllagher
> or anybody else.

Except that the bones, shoe parts, sextant box, and whatever else are all apparently missing right now and we have no record of their existence anywhere (except for the sextant box) since Dr. Steenson's examination July 1, 1941. So the only thing we know Gallagher could not have taken with him on July 20th is the sextant box. Correct? We have folklore that some superstitious natives, apparently distressed over the death or sickness of their beloved Administrator, discarded a gunny sack of bad spirits that may have been the cause of his death or sickness. They could have thrown the "gunnysack full of bones overboard" when offloading Gallagher and his belongings from the HMFS Viti. It is very likely that the only record of such an event would be folklore.

Frank Westlake


From Ric

The last entry in the WPHC file on the bones, etc. is dated August 19, 1941. Anything that happened to that material up to that time should be noted in the file. The British administration in Fiji, and WPHC Secretary Henry Harrison Vaskess in particular, was nothing if not meticulous in the keeping of records. I think we're very safe in saying that what you describe did not happen.


Subject: Movie
Date: 3/23/00
From: Russ Matthews

Well, IF anyone cares, I have no solid information on the stauts of the film adaptation of I Was Amelia Earhart -- and neither, I suspect, does the LA Times.

Cate Blanchett and Julianne Moore are both Academy Award nominated actresses and are each considered very "hot" right now. The idea that they are "possible leads" for this, or any other film, almost goes without saying -- and means almost nothing.

Anyone with a strong female role is going to throw those names out there. Even I can say that they are "possible leads" in MY next picture -- along with Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Dame Judi Dench. Of course, I have just as much chance of getting Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, and Marilyn Monroe (hey, it's "possible").

Until somebody signs on the dotted line, it doesn't mean a thing. Most likely it was a slow news day and somebody at Fine Line wanted to try and keep up awareness, create the image of activity on a stalled project.

As far as I can tell, IWAE is pretty far off the industry radar screens at the moment -- a place known as "development hell." Who knows? Maybe something will happen that shakes it all loose again...

LTM,
Russ

P.S. My vote goes to Joan Allen (The Crucible, The Ice Storm, Pleasantville) as Amelia.


From Ric

Maybe we should lay low for a while. Jane credited my 1992 Life magazine article with inspiring her book. God forbid we should provide her with further inspiration.


Subject: Movie: Like, so 90s, you know?
Date: 3/23/00
From: Dennis McGee

Note from Webmaster: There is no question that this thread is off-topic. However, it is too funny not to incorporate it into the Highlights. Those who are sticklers for scholarship and staying on topic should skip this thread.

RIC: If you can't post it, please pass it to Russ anyway. Thanks!! Dennis

Russ Mathews said: "Cate Blanchett and Julianne Moore are both Academy Award nominated actresses and are each considered very "hot" right now."

Russ . . . Russ . . . Russ . . .! You are so 90s, you know? Cate and Julie are passe, babes. Didn't you get the memo?

Cate's little blow up at Der Lunnas last month certainly didn't do anything for HER career. And Julie, well, I hate to be the one to tell you but . . .-- God forgive me, here! -- she has THAT serious skin problem. Her agent is in a RAGE! She called in the DERMO DOC from Berne two weeks ago and even HE can't help. It's Ta-Ta For Now for Julie until she gets that under control.

And Gwyneth? OK, she did great drag in Shakespeare but can she handle a serious role? I think not.

Jodi and Meryl? Overexposed and burned out. Jodi LOOKED great in Anna but there was no CHARACTER. Get it? Meryl . . . love her . . . sweet as a kitten, and what a job as a violin teacher! But she's got no EDGE. I don't see ADVENTURE in her.

And Dame Judi (The Judge) Dench? GIVE ME A BREAK!

Russ, I need you with me on this . . .follow me here, OK? The AE character had to have DEPTH, and MYSTERY, and BOLDNESS. A retro Star Trekkie-ish-ness. You getting the picture now? Jodi, Cate, Meryl, good most of the time, but they don't send me looking for a cold shower like the AE character should. I want to hear my heart pounding along with that Pratt and Whitney; I want to fell my blood surge like 130 octane through a Bendix-IPSO-45E fuel pump. That's the woman we need!

My first pick was really Oprah, but I think she's a tad too short. You with me on this, babes?

Talk to me, talk to me. We can wrap this up next week . . .

LTM, who avoids casting couches
Dennis O. McGee #0149


From Ric

Not post this?? Are you kidding?? Dennis, you frighten me.


Subject: Electra's Range: Contradictory Analyses
Date: 3/23/00
From: Ron Bright

According to the most recent TIGHAR Tracks you are revisiting several hypotheses prior to the next Niku expedition to "validate" or "modify" some or all of the working hypotheses.The hypotheses that seem most critical are (1) that Amelia had about 3-4 hours of fuel remaining after 20 hours and 13 minurtes (her last message) and elected to fly southeast on a 157 heading to make landfall; and (2) she successfully landed at Nikumararo (about 425 miles south of Howland).

Although a hotly debated issue on this forum, one of TIGHAR's research projects you have identified in this regard is a "re-evaluation of the Electra's endurance because of "new information" making it possible to better evaluate the Electra's range. That Amelia could make it to Niku must ultilmately depend upon the aircraft's range, position at 2013 (GCT), course, and other navigation possibilities.

In support of hypothesis (1) TIGHAR depends (it appears) mostly on Lockheed Engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson's calculations for the Electra's maximum range of "roughly" 24 hours (unless TIGHAR published independent calculations). In TIGHAR Tracks you cite Johnson's telegrams to Earhart on 11 an 13 Mar 37, and Chater's report,probably the 1100 gal fill up,supporting the hypothesis. Fair enough but...

Curiously Elgen Long cites and depends on the same Johnson data and telegrams re fuel consumption,etc for the Electra. The difference in the interpretations is quite interesting. Long says (p.233 and 251) that based on Johnson's fuel consumtion figures (with nice charts and graphs) Amelia crashed into the ocean a few moments after her last transmission at 20 hrs and 13 mins. (An amazing deduction). Nevertheless, TIGHAR, using the same data, says Amelia could last about 24 hours, which would get her to the Niku area.

TIGHAR and other forum experts, who analysed these calculations (Frawley, Mathews et al) can probably answer that discrepancy. I guess that in spite of the same raw data and assumptions supplied by Johnson, TIGHAR and Long applied much different variables to Johnson's data that could affect the Electra's range, plus or minus, such as headwinds, altitude, course, air speed, fuel adjustments, and other numerous variables.

Here we get back to the confusing and often contradictory results of two experts looking at the same data. Here two respected researchers are some 3 1/2 hours apart on the Electra's endurance relying on the same data.

Sounds like TIGHAR's idea of assembling an independent "blue ribbon panel" to do a double blind analysis of Johnson's data and any other relevant data should be a high priority. Go TIGHAR!

LTM,
Ron Bright (who has discounted the inflight refueling theory)


From Ric

The "blue ribbon panel" is indeed a high priority but I'm not sure just how one would construct a double blind test in this case.

The essence of science is replicability of results. If you accept 1,100 U.S. gallons as the fuel load and apply Johnson's numbers you get 24 hours and 10 minutes of endurance whether your name is Elgen Long, Ric Gillespie, or Ron Bright.

Despite Long's claim, he does NOT use Kelly Johnson's figures to arrive at his conclusion that the airplane ran out of fuel at 20:13 into the flight. His nice charts and graphs are DERIVED from Johnson's numbers based upon a plethora of assumptions Long has made about what Earhart meant when she said this and how she reacted when she encountered that. Despite all the numbers, Long's conclusions are not based upon the scientific method of inquiry, i.e gather data, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, draw a conclusion. Long's method is the aeronautical equivalent of Creationism: start with the conclusion (he openly admits this in the book), gather data, and manipulate or disregard it so as to arrive back at the preordained conclusion.

What a "blue ribbon panel" will do is determine what changes to Johnson's numbers may be warranted to arrive at a probable range for the aircraft under the known conditions.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Like, so 90s, you know?
Date: 3/23/00
From: Jim Tierney

Thank you Dennis McGee for my laugh of the week..... The man shows LALALAND talent and insight.... Good writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AE should be portrayed by Sigourney Weaver----Handsome-classic woman

Jim Tierney


Subject: Gallagher's Clues
Date: 3/23/00
From: Jim Kellen

It seems that Gallagher's use of the term southeast corner and southeast shore adds considerable territory to the area to be searched for the bone discovery site. Since the entire eastern half of the island is in the southeast does this mean that half the perimeter of the island is southeast shore? If you lived on the island would you not refer to the north southeast shore as the northeast shore and the south southeast shore as the southeast shore just for convenience.

LTM
Jim Kellen 2331


From Ric

You're right. Gallagher was exquisitely non-specific and the island's uniquely unhelpful orientation makes it very difficult to figure out what anyone might mean by "southeast corner" or "southeast shore." That's why I went through the drill described in "Gallagher's Clues" trying to quantify how each of our three candidate sites fits everything Gallagher said about the site. Of course, none of those site may be correct, but unfortunately we can't search the whole friggin' end of the island.


Subject: Re: Like, so 90s, you know?
Date: 3/24/00
From: Tom Robison

Only one woman matches the character requirements that Dennis McGee has in mind, and she is the one I've championed all along as the ideal Amelia...

Susan Sarandon.

Jim Tierney suggests Sigourney Weaver. Indeed, she would be my second choice, but Sigourney wouldn't look right in an Amelia wig, while Susan's hair is already nearly the right color and style.

Tom #2179


Subject: Kanawa Wood
Date: 3/24/00
From: Ross Devitt

I have been researching "Kanawa" for some months now, and had a couple of contenders. Even Exotica doesn't list Kanawa.

There is a "kanoa" but not a lot of info. If the Cordia subcordata or Kou is kanawa, there are a couple of mistaken ideas in the TIGHAR info.

>Kanawa (Cordia subcordata) is a rare and valuable hardwood that once grew on
>Nikumaroro but is apparently now extinct

Cordia subcordata is NOT a hardwood. Far from it, it was valued for its ease of carving, and its beautiful grain, especially near the "heartwood" which can have shades of purple through it.

It was commonly used for containers etc, and for carving. Some of the info below might be helpful for others who wondered about this tree. I have links to pictures of the tree if TIGHARs haven't seen it in flower. There may be some still growing on the island.

"Because of the beauty of its grain and the ease with which it can be cut and carved, true kou is one of the best timber trees in Hawai'i. Cordia subcordata is the botanical name of this plant. Kou is widespread throughout Polynesia and the entire Pacific region, tropical Asia and East Africa, and was probably introduced by seed to Hawai'i in the canoes of the earliest settlers as a useful plant they wished to cultivate.

"This plant grows easily and quickly from seed, preferring sunny warm coastal lowlands on the islands' leeward areas.

"It was cultivated near settlements, and is only occasionally found in the wild forests. Because of its thick wide crown of leaves, kou was a favorite shade tree near home sites. Beneath its cool shelter, the women beat the kapa cloth or would string lei, as they shared the day together.

"The straight and erect trunk of kou is pale grey, with grooved and flaky or stringy bark. Within the trunk can be found a heartwood with beautiful colored markings that are reddish dark brown, sometimes with a hint of purple. The sapwood is straw color, with a tint of pink. In the medium soft and durable wood are grain markings, some straight and some of which are wavy with dark and light lines and bands of yellow. The texture is medium fine, and the density is considered medium. The wood is long-lasting, and has little shrinkage. Therefore, large and stable vessels can be made. These were usually carved by the same men who made the wa'a, canoes. These men knew how to season and how to gracefully shape the woods they used for the best and most practical purposes, and how to finish them so that a fine patina was achieved and their beauty would endure. Because of the good workability of kou, it is fashioned into 'umeke la'au, containers of wood, crafted with great skill, as well as being aesthetically pleasing. 'Umeke kou, food bowls, and specifically poi bowls called 'umeke 'ai, platters called pa kou, and serving dishes of kou were all preferred, because there is no unpleasant taste in the sap that would flavor food. Also made from kou wood were canoes, paddles, back scratchers, calabashes and boxes, fish hook containers and other carved objects, such as images of deities.

"Kou occurs in ancient legends of Polynesia, one of which suggests that kou was one of the first trees created."

Ross Devitt


From Ric

You're correct. Kanawa (Cordia subcordata) is the same as the Hawaiian "Kou" (rhymes with throw). "Hard wood" is a relative term and is meant to distinguish it from trees like palm and pandanus. The 1939 map of Niku created from the New Zealand survey has a notation at Kanawa Point, "Kanawa trees --- valuable hard wood."

Our original impression that kanawa had been harvested to extinction on Niku is probably incorrect. It's just a matter of knowing what to look for.


Subject: Re: Electra's Range: Contradictory Analyses
Date: 3/24/00
From: Ross Devitt

Earhart would have to have a 20kt headwind for almost 20 hrs to run out of fuel if she stuck to the planned fuel settings.

I'm sticking my foot in my mouth again, but in many years of experience in tropical areas, the wind usually dies out at night. Not "always" but usually. Even if there were localised storms, the likelihood of constant 20kt headwinds for the whole distance would seem slim.

I don't believe she arrived with 4 hrs fuel on board. Nor do I believe she arrived with dry tanks.

I also suspect she was the castaway, but for the life of me can't imagine why if they made a safe landing, there was no survival gear found. A couple of thermos flasks we know were aboard would have been close to the top of the list for taking ashore.

So would their suitcases of clothes (only a couple as we've seen in pictures).

So many questions...

RossD


From Ric

Two quick observations:

  • We don't know the circumstances of the arrival and abandonment of the airplane.
  • We don't know what was found on the island, only what Gallagher found and reported.

Subject: The Search for Amelia Earhart
Date: 3/24/00
From: David Evans Katz

Although I have been aware of (and interested in) TIGHAR's work for many years, it is only recently that I decided to enter the Forum. I have read with great interest all of the postings and articles on TIGHAR1s very professional web-site. I am impressed by the thoroughness of the presentation, the depth of its members' research and the openness with which the Forum members discuss the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance.

If you will permit me, I would like to introduce myself to the Forum and present my (limited and amateur) credentials. I first became interested in the Earhart mystery in 1966 when, as a fourteen-year-old, I watched Fred Goerner on The Today Show discussing his book, The Search for Amelia Earhart. I was so fascinated with what Mr. Goerner had to say that I was late for school; at the next opportunity, I went to the library and borrowed it. I imagine that many Forum members had a similar experience with Mr. Goerner's book when it was first published. To me at the time, it was a compellingly written and convincing account of a supposedly unsolvable historical mystery.

It made me want to believe (as I expect it was intended to), but it also made me want to find out more. Over the past thirty-four years, I endeavored to read every available book and magazine article on Amelia Earhart --- biographical, investigative and speculative. Sadly, much of the available material falls into the latter category, but the never-ending stream of increasingly outlandish speculation (Klaas, Carrington, Devine, Brink) did serve to help me realize that Mr. Goerner's hypothesis, too, was supported only by hearsay, rumor and wishful thinking. Many of these books relied on oft-repeated misinformation, including faulty map references, blatant time and distance miscalculations (why such authors don't refer to a map --- or presume that the reader will not --- is beyond me), anachronisms and outrageous pronouncements. Perhaps the most outrageous is Mr. Brink's assertion that airplanes simply don't disappear without a trace --- of course they do; remember Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli?

Over the years, I have arrived at some considered opinions about the various speculations and hypotheses. For what they are worth, here they are:

1. Was Amelia Earhart a spy for the United States? This is, perhaps, the most unsupportable of all the speculations. That the United States War Department was interested in Japanese activity in the Pacific Mandates is assuredly supportable. It is highly likely that Naval Intelligence worked closely with Pan American Airways during its charting of its Pacific routes for the Clipper service. After all, the Navy later used the information gathered by Pan Am to fortify Wake, Midway and Guam. Perhaps even Fred Noonan, as principal navigator for Pan Am's efforts in this regard, was somehow involved with such information gathering prior to Earhart's World Flight. But it is highly questionable that the Navy Department (or any other branch of the United States Government) would rely on an amateur (even a highly accomplished amateur such as Miss Earhart) for such an endeavor. Moreover, a simple glance at a map of the Pacific Ocean and a cursory measurement of the distances involved would demonstrate to even the most die-hard of conspiracy theorists that such a detour by Earhart and Noonan would have been a suicide mission. The Electra simply didn't have the range to reach any Japanese held territory from Lae and still make it to Howland or any other non-Japanese controlled landfall. (One of the speculations I have read is that Noonan deliberately misled Earhart and misdirected the flight north in order to spy on the Japanese, and that the Dakar incident was his dress rehearsal for the "real thing" in the Pacific. I hope that I do not sound too condescending if I dismiss such speculation as preposterous fantasy.)

2. Did the Electra veer off-course to the northwest after passing Nauru and end up near the northern Gilberts or the southern Marshalls? Clearly, it is possible for Noonan's navigation or Earhart's execution of the flight plan to have been in error to the north --- after all, it happened on the Trans-Atlantic leg of the flight to Dakar-- - but one would have to discount the strength of Earhart's last radio signals received on the Itasca for this to have been the case.

3. Did Earhart land on Gardner Island (Nikumororu) or ditch very near it? This, of course, is TIGHAR's hypothesis. I believe this to be one of only two probable outcomes of the World Flight. I base my consideration of this hypothesis not so much on the reports of bones or airplane debris reportedly discovered by Gallagher and Gilbertese settlers on Gardner (after all, TIGHAR doesn't have the bones, and the artifacts that have been recovered have not been conclusively tied to either Earhart or Noonan), but on what I believe an experienced pilot and navigator would have done in extremis.

The actual position of Howland is six miles west of where Noonan and Earhart believed it to be (according to their inaccurate chart). They arrived at or near where they thought Howland should be ("We should be on you but cannot see you"). They were on a Line of Position parallel with where they thought Howland should be, almost out of gas, and they had to make a life-or-death decision. If they believed that they were south of Howland, they would head north; if they believed that they were north of Howland, they would head south. But they didn't know if they were north or south of Howland. Again, a look at a map dictates the logical choice: whether they were north or south of Howland, they should have made the decision to turn south. This is because if they were, indeed, south of Howland and they turned north, they would have believed that they would find the island, but if they were north of Howland and turned north, they would have known that they would have found nothing but open sea. On the other hand, whether they were north or south of Howland they would believe that they would probably find land on their Line of Position if they turned south. If they were north of Howland, it is reasonable for them to have believed that they would spot Howland or Baker on a turn to the south along their LOP. If they were already south of Howland (or even south of Baker at that point), they would have known that they still had a chance to spot McKean or Gardner. With respect to the direction that they headed after their last reported transmission, QED.

One must question, however, if they actually made it as far as McKean or Gardner. Both TIGHAR and Elgen & Marie Long utilize the same data to reach very different conclusions. Mr. & Mrs. Long present a very well thought-out analysis of the fuel consumption based upon fuel-load and head winds, but TIGHAR believes that its analysis results in a range of more than two hours longer.

4. Did Earhart run out of fuel and ditch in the ocean near Howland? This seems to me to be the most likely scenario. Notwithstanding my belief that they made the logical decision and turned south heading toward McKean and Gardner, I believe that it is likely that they ditched in the ocean shortly after their last transmission. I have two reasons for my belief:

First, Earhart's penultimate transmission stated that she was running low on gas and believed that she had only a half-hour remaining. She was certainly in a better position to know her own fuel consumption than either the Longs or TIGHAR more than sixty years after the fact, regardless of their respective fuel consumption analyses. That she was still aloft an hour later at the time of her last transmission is testimony to how far she was able to stretch her fuel. At 21:03 GCT, she must have been running on fumes.

Second, if Earhart did, in fact, have two hours of fuel remaining at 21:03 GCT and she was within a hundred miles of Howland (as the signal strength received by the Itasca would appear to indicate), then even presuming she was on the outermost point on the hundred-mile radius in the direction of Gardner on the LOP, it is unlikely that she would have had enough fuel to reach Gardner. Gardner is about 450 miles southeast of Howland. Even if she were only 350 miles away, she would have had to be flying at 175 miles per hour to make it to Gardner.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan ended up in the ocean somewhere within a hundred-mile radius of Howland. Perhaps they made it farther toward Gardner. Perhaps, too, they were able to ditch safely and scramble out into their life raft (presuming that they didn't remove it at Lae with all of the other gear they left behind). If they were only twenty or so miles from Gardner, they might have made it there. That is certainly more likely than any theories that the Japanese captured them! Nonetheless, I hope that TIGHAR will someday be able to find the Gallagher relics or some other artifacts on Nikumororu and authenticate them. Such a find would finally solve one of the most fascinating of all historical mysteries.

LTM,
David Evans Katz


From Ric

Thank you. You've clearly put a lot of thought into the matter. You're very familar with the conflicting opinions expressed in the many articles and books and have formed your opinion based upon the information presented in them and what you consider to be reasonable and what you consider to be unreasonable or even ridiculous. That is, after all, the way most people form opinions about most things.

There are, however, a couple of problems with that method.

First, by relying upon secondary sources you're one giant step removed from your best chance at having accurate facts upon which to base an opinion.

Second, by relying upon what you believe an experienced pilot and navigator would have done in extremis, rather than upon the hard evidence of events that did happen, you limit yourself to your own ability to put yourself into the context of a world that none of us can know much of anything about.

Allow me to be specific:

The first reason you cite for your belief that the aircraft ran out of gas shortly after the final transmission heard by Itasca (which came, by the way, at 20:13 GCT, not 21:03) is "Earhart's penultimate transmission stated that she was running low on gas and believed that she had only a half-hour remaining."

You're referring to the 19:12 GCT transmission which is recorded in Chief Radioman Leo Bellart's original radio log as:

KHAQQ CLNG ITASCA WE MUST BE ON YOU BUT CANNOT SEE U BUT GAS IS RUNNING LOW
BEEN UNABLE TO REACH YOU BY RADIO WE ARE FLYING AT 1000 FEET

The reference to only a half hour of gas remaining comes from the log kept by Radioman Thomas O'Hare who was supposed to be handling and recording only administrative traffic, thus freeing Bellarts to concentrate on Earhart. Apparently O'Hare couldn't resist including in his log the overheard dramatic events surrounding the Earhart flight, and just as apparently, he didn't do such a great job. For example, at 18:15 GCT when Bellart's log records Earhart as saying:

PSE TAKE BEARING ON US AND REPORT IN HALF HOUR
I WILL MAKE MOISE [sic] IN MIC - ABT 100 MILES OUT

O'Hare's log says only:

HRD EARHART PLANE ON 3105

O'Hare's entry at 07:40 local (19:10 GCT) says:

EARHART ON NW SEZ RUNNING OUT OF GAS ONLY 1/2 HR LEFT CANT HR US AT ALL

When Elgen Long interviewed Bellart's in 1973 and asked him specifically about this descrepancy, Bellart's replied:

"Well, don't go on O'Hare's log because I say -- I wasn't even aware O'Hare was putting that stuff down. ...No, I mean that. I mean that. O'Hare shouldn't have been putting that stuff down because it was not his reponsibility. It was actually mine and Galten, you know. ... Now here it is here. ... 'But gas is running low'. Now, that is what it said. She didn't say she was running out of gas or anything, but 'gas is running low."

So where might O'Hare have gotten the idea that Earhart said she only had a half hour left? Bellart's log shows that she made several references to "half hour." It seems likely that O'Hare just misunderstood something he overheard. In any event, there seems to be little reason to belive that Earhart ever said that she only had a half hour of gas left. Why did she say "gas is running low" at a time when she should have had four hours of fuel remaining? The standard fuel reserve for long distance flights at that time was 20 percent. Her known fuel load at takeoff and Johnson's recommendations indicate that she should have had a total endurance of about 24 hours. If she was following standard procedure she considered 4.8 of those hours as reserve, meaning that she expected to reach her destination within 19.2 hours. Her 19:12 "but gas is running low" transmission comes just as she is beginning to burn into her reserve.

Your second reason for rejecting the idea that the airplane could have reached Gardner begins with your impression that TIGHAR thinks the airplane has only two hours of fuel left at 20:13 GCT and that Gardner is 450 miles from Howland. In fact, it looks to us like Earhart should have had closer to four hours fuel remaining at 20:13 and Gardner is only about 350 nautical miles from Howland (about 404 statute miles).

Finally, I have to disagree with your impression that the Longs' assessment of the aircraft's endurance is well thought out. Their reasoning is circular, their assumptions are fanciful, and their calculations are unsupportable.

I hope you're not offended, but I assumed that you presented your views expecting a response. It's always a pleasure to have a new forum member with your depth of experience in the Earhart mystery. We welcome your input.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Have yours call mine....
Date: 3/24/00
From: Dennis McGee

Jim Tierney suggested: AE should be portrayed by Sigourney Weaver----Handsome-classic woman

Jimbo! You got the eye! Nice pick . . . Sigourney . . . steely glaze (oops, that should be gaze), lanky, can swagger in the right role, totally BUFFED, babe material, but . . . it's those lips, Jim-Man. Follow me, here . . .frame this . . . the plane is about to run out of fuel . . . Spielberg calls for an X close-up of AE's reaction. . . and . . . and . . .and . . . WE GET THIN LIPS! Death, Jimmy, DEATH!

No, Mr. T-man . . .and I'm not dissing you here, trust me, OK? No one respects your judgement more than me, OK? . . .but go with me here. We need POUTY! She's about to crash . . . her airplane may get destroyed . . . she might die -- along with whatshisname, Newsome? . . . we are at the CLIMAX, Jimbo. Thin lips won't make it. No SYMPATHY there!

Does VULNERABILITY poke its sweetness into this scene? OK, OK, OK, now you see it, right? Pouty, vulnerable, with a hint of dreamy SENSUALITY and a coarse whisper of ABANDONMENT. Badda-Boom, babes, you've nailed it!

Yeah, Sigourney is close . . . But we need LUSH, FULL, ABUNDANCE.

Pick number two is Susan Sarandon -- reprise Bull Durham, perhaps?

Talk to me T-man, we're close. Have yours call mine . . .Love ya.

LTM, who often wanders far from the home,
Dennis O. McGee #0149


From Ric

Is this stuff copyrighted?


Note from Webmaster: It is now.


Subject: Re: Gallagher's Clues
Date: 3/24/00
From: Tom King

Assuming for the moment that it wasn't on Nutiran, where did the colonists find the bones that were sent to Fiji? Gallagher says the site was at the "South East corner of island" (17th October 1940) or the "South East shore" (27th December 1940). The true southeast corner of the island is Ameriki, which results in the rather awful proposition that the U.S. Coast Guard may have destroyed the site where Earhart breathed her last. But the true southeast corner may not be what Gallagher actually meant. The term is used in a variety of ways by different visitors to and residents on the island.

Paul Laxton, in his memorandum report of 6th April 1949, says:

The southeastern and southern rim is again generally narrow, being broken by a shallow tidal passage named Bauareke Passage, the land up to this passage being named Aukaraime.

So Aukaraime South might be considered to be on the "southeast end." Since this is where TIGHAR found the shoe parts in 1991, it's tempting to think that this is where Gallagher had in mind.

But in the same memo, Laxton also says:

Fish are plentiful, and fishing is possible on most days off the ocean reef on the sheltered eastern end of the atoll, particularly off the southeastern corner, near the 'Neriti' village site. The 'baneawa,' a fish which it is possible to 'farm' in brackish water ponds on the tidal flats, abounds in the lagoon and on the ocean reefs. [Emphasis added]

But "Neriti" or Noriti is the land parcel just below Ritiati, on the northwest side of Baureke Passage. And the location Laxton had in mind is nailed down more certainly by the following from his 1951 article in the Journal of the Polynesian Society:

Nearby, on either side of the peninsula, two large pools form on the lagoon flats, filling on the high springs, when tens of thousands of young baneawa fish take refuge in them...

The peninsula to which he refers is Kanawa Point. He goes on:

Further along the atoll's southern rim is the land known as Tekibeia and then, beyond the shallow reef passage of Baureke the land called Aukaraime.

Further east from the end of Aukaraime the atoll rim narrows...

At the eastern tip the wedge-shaped area is taken up partly by great pools,....

Turning the tip to return along the northern rim.....

Pretty clearly, Laxton envisioned the island as oriented with its long axis running more or less east and west, so all of Noriti, Tekebeia, and Aukaraime made up the "south" part of the island, and Ameriki was the "east" end.

But even so, how could one envision Kanawa Point as being at the "southeast" end? One possibility is that Laxton, and hence perhaps Gallagher, thought of Nikumaroro overall as an atoll made up of two islands -- one between Tatiman and Baureke Passages made up of Ritiati, Tekebeia, and Aukaraime; the other comprising the rest of the island. Kanawa Point would be on the "southeast corner" of the former island.

Kanawa Point as the bones discovery site has the attraction of being where Nei Anna encountered Nei Manganibuka in the ghost maneaba. Does this story somehow relate to the finding of the bones? And at Kanawa Point, too, there are all those clam shells cemented into the coraline ledge. Obviously somebody, sometime, ate a lot of clams there.

But Harry Maude confuses the issue with the following, in his 1938 report on the PISS proposal:

On the south-west corner of the lagoon a natural lake had formed which teemed with 'baneawa' fish.

So here Kanawa Point is seen not as being on the southeast corner but the southwest. And in his second PISS progress report, Maude says:

...it is estimated that all of these (coconuts) can be planted around parts of the lagoon and on the savannah country in the south-east part of the island.

The only savannah country on the island is at Aukaraime South.

So, is it Aukaraime South or Kanawa Point? Or someplace else? Gallagher provides a few more clues:

Body had obviously been lying under a "ren" tree and remains of fire, turtle, and dead birds appear to indicate life (17th October 1940 telegram)

So it's someplace with Tournefortia trees, perhaps close to someplace where turtles and birds can be had. Not much help there, but perhaps some, as we'll see.

All small bones have been removed by giant coconut crabs. (17th October 1940 telegram)

Birgus latro likes to live in the shade, so the place couldn't have been too exposed.

This part of the island is not yet cleared (17th October 1940 telegram).

So the site hadn't yet been cleared for coconut planting, but ...

...something may come to hand during the course of the next few months when the area in question will be again thoroughly examined during the course of planting operations (27th December 1940 letter accompanying box of bones).

So it was supposed to be cleared soon. Kanawa Point was obviously cleared (since it no longer has kanawa trees, and does have some coconuts), and airphotos taken in June 1941 by the U.S. Navy show that Aukaraime South was cleared and planted in early 1941.

In the same letter as the above, Gallagher mentions that the box in which the bones will travel was made from a kanawa tree that--

was, until a year ago, growing on the edge of the lagoon, not very far from the spot where the deceased was found.

Suggesting that the site was on the lagoon shore, that kanawa trees grew nearby, and that someone had been cutting them down a year earlier. This implicates kanawa point, and Emily Sikuli recalled kanawa trees growing only on the point, but Laxton's article refers to kanawa trees elsewhere and Bevington's diary suggests that they were common on the island.

Finally, there's Gallagher's minute to the file dated 3rd July 1941:

There was no evidence of any attempt to dig a well and the wretched man presumably died of thirst. Les than two miles away there is a small grove of coconut trees which would have been sufficient to keep him alive if he had only found it. He was separated from those trees, however, by an impenetrable belt of bush.

Kanawa Point is under a mile from the Arundel-period coconut groves at Ritiati. Aukaraime South is well over a mile but under two miles from the same groves.

So on balance, particularly given what TIGHAR found there in 1991, Aukaraime South seems like the most likely place for the bones to have been found. Or is it?

Laxton, describing his walk around the island in 1949, said of Ameriki:

The 'buka' trees rise here sixty feet high, and were partly cleared to accommodate the neat grey iron quonset huts of the U.S. radio installation, neatly sealed, awaiting dismantling and transportation. Turning the tip to return along the northern rim, narrow, thundering with surf driven by the northeast trade winds, the path ends in a house built for Gallagher on a strip of land cleared from lagoon to ocean beach so that the fresh winds blow easily through.

That house built for Gallagher. Presumably represented today by the Evans-Moffett water catcher found by the 1996 expedition, with the tar paper and bird bones ...

Bird bones?

"...and remains of fire, turtle, and dead birds appear to indicate life," Gallagher had said.

And the house, Laxton had said, was on a strip of land cleared from lagoon to ocean beach.

Cleared in preparation for planting operations that never happened?

Why had Gallagher needed a house at the opposite end of the island from the village, anyhow?

Let's put things in sequence. On 17th October 1940 Gallagher sent a long telegram to Vaskess answering the questions that Macpherson had posed, through Sir Harry and Vaskess, about the site. He indicated that:

Organized search of area for remaining bones would take several weeks as crabs move considerable distances and this part of the island is not yet cleared.

On 26th October, Vaskess directed that:

Organized search should be made in vicinity and all bones and other finds should be forewarded to Suva...

The bones file then goes blank until Gallagher's 27th December letter transmitting the box of bones. But his Quarterly Report for October-December 1940 says:

The second half of the quarter was marked by severe and almost continuous North-westerly gales.

No communication was available, during the quarter, with any of the islands of the District.

Difficulties of communication were by no means alleviated by the failure of the wireless telegraph installation at Gardner Island in the middle of December and the Officer-in-Charge was completely cut off from headquarters for some five weeks until communication could be restoried on the 11th, January, 1941.

So Gallagher was directed to make an organized search of the bones site, butthen ugly weather intervened, and he was busy battening things down and coping with the damage. He didn't communicate with headquarters about it because his wireless went down. But at some point he must have undertaken some kind of organized search, resulting in the discovery of the corks on chains -- mentioned in Steenson's minute on his examination of the artifacts in Fiji, but not in any of the telegrams -- and perhaps the shoe parts from a "male person" also mentioned by Steenson. And perhaps, too, the inverting eyepiece, which Gallagher said on 28th April 1941 had been "thrown away by finder."

So, does one perhaps have a house built (perhaps not much of a house, just a four-pole number with a water catcher) so that one can have shelter from passing squalls while thoroughly searching a site during a period of inclement weather? Does one perhaps have this done so that one can stay there and do the searching when the lagoon is too rough to travel. Does one perhaps stay there and do the searching oneself because one doesn't trust one's colleagues not to throw stuff away?

Suddenly the water catcher site has started to look much more interesting. It is more than two miles from the nearest Arundel-period coconut grove, but not much more; it's obviously on the southeast end, the southeast shore. It's about 100 feet or so from the high tide line, and it's not far from the lagoon. It was apparently wooded in buka, and hence was shady, a good place for Birgus. And the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs along the windward shore.


Subject: Re: Electra's Range: Contradictory analyses
Date: 3/25/00
From: Alan Caldwell

Ross, Cam, & Ron who wrote on this subject made interesting points but I think Ric's reply to Ron should have put this issue in proper prospective. We have a lot of talented and educated folks in this group and some may qualify as experts in one field or another. So might Elgin Long and others but the term expert was used a bit loosely. I would guess I could qualify a Lockheed engineer as an expert if he could show he was intimately knowledgeable on the Electra that AE flew. Beyond that we're hard pressed to find one.

I venture to say that any TIGHAR member who would like to could propose almost any theory conceivable and as a group we could support it using an approach similar to that of Mr. Long and the like.

My fellow genealogists do the same thing. They want a certain connection in their ancestry line and so they wiggle the data a little until they get it. That won't hold up to a good scientific analysis -- nor has Mr. Long's theory nor has any of the Japanese internment theories.

The Elgin Long and other insupportable theories are exciting and stir our imaginations but they go nowhere. The scientific approach is dull and plodding which may be at least one reason why foolish ideas continue to pop up as though they have somehow attained a measure of credibility simply by repetition and passage of time.

The solution to our quest has a lot of possibilities but clearly no one has the definitive answer. TIGHAR is doing the best it can to methodically resolve the mystery. I, personally, have found no supportable evidence to steer me away from the Gardner theory. If anyone has such data I would like to know about it.

Alan
#2329


Subject: Re: Scientific method?
Date: 3/25/00
From: Dean A.

> The mystery of the Earhart/Noonan disappearance
> does, however, have immense value as a vehicle for the exercise,
> demonstration, and teaching of the scientific method of inquiry. It's the
> challenge and process of learning the truth that has us hooked, not any
> conviction that we already know the truth.

This really might not be relevant to the forum and is not meant as a criticism as I do believe there is a strong possibility that TIGHAR's "theory" is correct but nevertheless I wonder about it. My thoughts here are difficult to convey in words but here goes:

I admit that if TIGHAR's hypothesis is proven to be correct then it will be a wonderful example of the scientific method in action. What if no wreckage/evidence is found that is really the smoking gun? There will be no proof of what really happened one way or the other. The NIKU landing might or might not have happened.

On the other hand, what if the plane went down somewhere in the middle of the ocean. How would the "scientific method" determine much of anything? With present technology, and barring a total scouring of an unbelievable amount of ocean bottom, one would never really know for sure what happened to the plane. Theories would still abound but with no resolution. Admittedly, by using the scientific method, one could rule out some possibilities, but to what end? To me there are a lot of possible scenarios where yes, one could follow the "rules" of the scientific method, but unless someone finds that smoking gun no one will really care (other than the ones actually involved in the search on some level). I guess what I am saying is what good does all this stuff mean if no smoking gun is found?


From Ric

What a great question. I can think of about a dozen answers, but here are two for starters.

Of course there is no guarantee that a smoking gun can be found or that one even still exists, but if we decide to look for one there are really only two ways to proceed:

  • follow the scientific method of inquiry
  • or

  • trust to luck

Personally, I see abundant evidence that I expended my entire supply of good luck in my errant youth and am now left with only the other kind. I'm stuck with the scientific method.

The other option, of course, is to not try. Armchairs are far more comfortable than coral rubble, and explaining why someone else is wrong is always safer than trying to figure out what's right.

Another way to answer your question is to take issue with the assumption that only a smoking gun will solve the Earhart mystery. Granted, the smoking gun is the easy way. Headlines, talk shows, documentaries, best sellers, ticker tape parades, knighthoods, Nobel Prizes, ... the usual, but most advances in science and in the understanding of historical events don't happen that way. Scholarship is a process, not an event. If we do our work well, explain what we're learning in an articulate way, and make the information widely available; reasonable people will reach the same conclusions we do. The rest will believe anything they see on PBS.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: The Search for Amelia Earhart
Date: 3/25/00
From: David Evans Katz

Far from being offended, I am delighted with your response. One should not pose a hypothesis without expecting it to be challenged. As important, one should be willing to respond to challenges that can and should be met and to accept those that either refute or add clarity.

With respect to your point about secondary sources, you are absolutely correct. I have no access to primary sources, so I must attempt to evaluate secondary sources in order to ascertain those that are reasonable to me based upon previous evaluation. This is not "one giant step removed" as you claim, it is many giant steps removed. Every evaluation one makes premised upon a previous evaluation that is, itself, premised upon secondary (or tertiary) information is potentially unstable --- a house upon the sand, so to speak.

I must argue your point about what I believe an experienced pilot and navigator would do. Being neither, I rely not on any experience as a pilot or navigator, merely on the application of simple logic and an evaluation of expected outcomes. Assuming that TIGHAR is correct and that Earhart has four hours of fuel left (or even three hours), picture a matrix with four possibilities (two situations and two possible actions): (1) You are north of Howland, (2) You are south of Howland, (3) Turn north, (4) Turn south. Combination 1-3 must result in no landfall, as there is only open sea north of Howland for hundreds of miles; Combination 2-3 has an outcome of landfall; Combinations 1-4 and 2-4 have an outcome of landfall. Hence, action (4) "turn south" is the only option that has a 100% outcome of landfall within flight range. I don1t need to be in "a world that none of us know can know anything about" in order to choose a southerly direction (toward Gardner) along the LOP.

Thank you for clearing up the "half hour" reference. Nonetheless, Miss Earhart did, indeed, assert that "gas is running low" at 19:12 GCT, 61 minutes before her last transmission. Of course, such a statement is qualitative not quantitative (half-hour) as I had previously believed it to be. (By the way, I know that Earhart's last transmission was at 20:13, not 21:03. I suffer from a mild form of dyslexia and often transpose numbers. I am usually more careful than that.) Neither you nor I have any way of knowing that Miss Earhart was "just beginning to burn into her reserve." For all we know, she could have been half-way or three-quarters (or more) into her reserve. It is my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong) that Johnson's estimate of 24 hours endurance is based on ideal conditions. While it is impossible to ascertain exactly the speed of the headwinds or their duration, headwinds were, in fact, reported for at least part of the flight. This would reduce the Electra's range.

With respect to your opinion of the Longs, I must take issue with your characterizations. I neither know the Longs, nor do I have an axe to grind with them. Like all parties to this investigation (including TIGHAR), one must begin with certain assumptions. The Longs' assumptions are in no way "fanciful" (tales of spies and capture by the Japanese are fanciful); rather, they are straight-forward: (1) 1,080 standard gallons of fuel as opposed to 1,100 due to heat expansion, thus reducing range by half an hour; (2) constant headwinds of 26 mph. Assumption 1 is reasonable and supportable by primary sources (though they are, indeed, secondary to me). Assumption 2 is impossible to substantiate, but is not fanciful. Even if one accepts that there were not constant headwinds, but only intermittent headwinds, the Electra's range would have been reduced from its ideal. The Longs' reasoning is certainly not circular. If anything, I would have labeled it linear. With respect to their calculations, they have been subsequently supported by fuel experts from the Jet Propulsion Center of the California Institute of Technology. Of course, such calculations continue to depend upon Assumptions 1 and 2.

It is my understanding that Johnson's best estimate of fuel range (at an average airspeed of 150 mph and no headwind) was 23 hours and 38 minutes. At 20:13 (she conveniently departed at 00:00 GCT), she would have had 3:25 remaining assuming that she had the full 1,100 gallons and encountered no headwinds at all. Earhart's own transmission (07:18 GCT) reports headwinds of 23 knots. Even if one assumes that such headwinds were short-lived, it would indeed be "fanciful" to assume that the Electra encountered no headwinds at all.

David Evans Katz


From Ric

I agree with you about the logic of turning south on the LOP. It's a no-brainer.

I'll be happy to present my reasons for characterizing the Longs' conclusions the way I did (if you haven't seen it yet you might look at my review of the book on our website at Long Book Review), but before I do I thought I'd let some of our other forum subscribers comment on the issues you raise.


Subject: Maude Journals
Date: 3/25/00
From: Ross Devitt

Are you aware that in Australia is apparently a HUGE repository of information on Harry Maude, and some of it seems to be about the Phoenix Islands.

The Pacific Collection of the Barr Smith Library at the University of Adelaide is a collection of national significance for research on the islands of Melanesia, Polynesia and, in particular, Micronesia. It is based on the rich and comprehensive library accumulated over 65 years by Professor H.E. Maude, a former British colonial administrator in the Pacific and Professor of Pacific History at the Australian National University, and his wife and fellow researcher, Honor Maude. The Pacific Islands Library was purchased by the Barr Smith Library in 1972 and while the largest part of it was deposited between May 1972 and April 1973, further items were added by the Maudes to August 1995, including new books purchased by them, journals to which they subscribed and the important Gilbert and Ellice Islands material retained in Canberra while they completed their series of books on the I-Kiribati. As now received, it comprises some 4 000 monograph titles, more than 120 journal titles (of which a third are extensive runs) and over 1 000 pamphlet publications.

A lot of it will be irrelevant, and of course you have probably seen all this stuff already. But as I hadn't seen it mantioned on the forum......

It includes the following:

Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme

Papers relating to the establishment and progress of the scheme to settle people from the over-crowded Gilbert and Ellice Islands on the unpopulated islands of the Phoenix group. 1936-40, with a later article on the scheme by Maude.

His wife had her own publishing facilities, and I had no idea the man was alive and still living in Australia as recently (apparently) as 1994!

Have you spoken to him? Was he any help with information on Gallagher? He must have known him very well.

Anyway, even the introduction on the website is a good read. Maude Papers.

The little side excursions in this research get more interesting every day.

Ross Devitt. (who has just spent 10.30pm to 4.20am researching this stuff --- again)
off to sleep for an hour. lol


From Ric

I think we should all chip in and buy Ross a puppy. I can't handle the guilt.

Yes, we raided Adelaide years ago and we've corresponded with Maude many times (he and Tom King are now old friends --- sort of) and we've even had a TIGHAR member interview the great man (and I do not use that term in jest). Not to put to fine a point on it, Harry thinks we're nuts.


Subject: Re: The Search for Amelia Earhart
Date: 3/25/00
From: Randy Jacobson

The Longs' assumption of constant (or averaged) 23 knot winds during the entire flight is based upon a single observation made by AE early in the flight, and was provided without direction. Other wind information is available from Howland, the Ontario, and the Itasca. Winds do indeed diminish during the night, and it is inconceivable that the average winds were that high. Radio propagation and AE's own estimates of distance from Howland suggest winds averaged more like 13-16 knots, and is generally more consistent with known information.

Johnson's 24 hour aloft time is independent of head or tail winds, so long as AE stuck to the fuel management schedule.


From Ric

For those who don't know, Randy is a scientist at the Office of Naval Research in Washington and did a detailed analysis of the known and specualtive weather conditions surrounding the Earhart/Noonan disappearance as part of a U.S. Navy test to evaluate some new software for search and rescue. Randy also compiled the immense amount of data presented on the TIGHAR Earhart Project Research Library CD Volume 1. And that ain't the half of it. Randy knows whereof he speaks (except when he disagrees with me) .


Back to Highlights Archive list.

About TIGHAR Join TIGHAR TIGHAR Projects TIGHAR Publications Contract Services
The TIGHAR Store Blog TIGHAR Forum Contact TIGHAR TIGHAR Home

Copyright 2018 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org  •   Phone: 610.467.1937   •   JOIN NOW