Forum artHighlights From the Forum

June 25 through July 1, 2000


Subject: Re: Noonan in Co-Pilot's Seat
Date: 6/26/00
From: Janet Whitney

If it suits TIGHAR's purposes to maintain that Noonan sat in the Electra's co-pilot's seat, so be it.

If it suits TIGHAR's purposes to maintain that the Electra was not equipped with a Bendix LF/HF receiver, in addition to the WE 20 B, so be it.

If it suits TIGHAR's purposes to maintain that Earhart's Electra didn't run out of fuel until it reached Gardner Island, so be it.

Janet Whitney


From Ric

You seem to imply that we ask people to accept our conclusions just because they suit our purposes. I suggest that the very existence of this forum and the open debate that goes on here is proof enough that your implication is as unfounded as it is mean-spirited.

TIGHAR's purpose is to figure out what happened to Earhart and Noonan. Based on what we've been able to learn so far, it looks like they ended up at Gardner. Clearly, the validity of that hypothesis is not affected, one way or the other, whether Noonan rode up front or in back, nor is it affected by the number of receivers aboard the airplane. The hypothesis could be invalidated if it could be shown that the airplane did not have enough fuel to reach Gardner.

Our conclusions that Noonan mostly rode up front and that there was no second receiver aboard the airplane are based upon the same methodology by which we conclude that the aircraft should have had more than enough fuel to reach Gardner. If you have data that support other conclusions we would all be delighted to see them.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Long's Photo of the "Bendix radio control box"
Date: 6/26/00
From: Ron Bright

A photo is as good as the photographer who can testify that it represents what is purports to represent.

Can anyone locate the original photo or can anyone in the forum locate Pan American mechanic F. Ralph Sias who reportedly took the photo of AE's cockpit on or about 26 May 1937 at Miami as published in Long's book, page 4 of photo insert.

Then again he may have just taken the photo and has no idea of what the control box is in the upper left corner unless he were involved in the installation, etc. At least it would be something if he or his notes (backside of original photo) confirm that the photo was of AE's cockpit at that date and if a clearer, sharper photo is available. Maybe, if the photo were the original, your enhancement group could further identify the mystery box.

Long identifies radio techs that inspected AE's radio at Miami, but Sias is not listed as a radio installer, tech. etc.

Is it TIGHAR's position that Gurr and Remmlein, who Long says installed the Bendix RA-1 receiver in the Electra at Burbank, have no independent contemporaneous statements or documents to support that installation?

For us laymen it is difficult to follow who installed what where and how and the difference between radio receivers, DF receivers, control boxes, remotes, etc. I'm sure your summary of all of this technical info will be forthcoming and enlightening.

LTM,
Ron Bright


From Ric

> A photo is as good as the photographer who can testify that it represents
> what is purports to represent.

Nope. That won't cut it. For a photo to be any use as historical evidence it has to stand independent of the photographer's allegations or memory.

  • What if Eric Bevington today "testified" that the objects he photographed on the reef at Gardner Island in October 1937 were wreckage from an airplane? Would that be proof that there was airplane wreckage at Gardner?
  • We've already seen that photo widely touted as being a shot of Itasca "making smoke" off Howland island on the morning of July 2nd is almost certainly a picture of the ship "blowing tubes" during an earlier visit.
  • We know that the collection of photos claimed by the widow of photographer Dustin Carter to have been taken at Burbank on May 20, 1937 were indeed taken on that date because they clearly show Earhart and Noonan with the post-repairs Electra on an airport that is identifiably Burbank. There's only one day such photos could have been taken -- May 20, 1937.

>Can anyone locate the original photo or can anyone in the forum locate Pan
>American mechanic F. Ralph Sias who reportedly took the photo of AE's cockpit
>on or about 26 May 1937 at Miami as published in Long's book, page 4 of photo
>insert.

If somebody found F. Ralph Silas and had him swear on a stack of Bibles that the picture he gave to Long is Earhart's airplane in Miami on May 26, 1937 it would prove only that F. Ralph is confident that he remembers where and when the picture was taken. Are his recollections any more reliable than Tom Devine's memories of seeing NR16020 burned by the Marines on Saipan?

>Is it TIGHAR's position that Gurr and Remmlein, who Long says installed the
>Bendix RA-l receiver in the Electra at Burbank, have no independent
>contemporaneous statements or documents to support that installation?

It's TIGHAR's position that, as far as we know, no such documents have ever been offered to support that allegation.

>For us laymen it is difficult to follow who installed what where and how and
>the difference between radio receivers, DF receivers, control boxes, remotes, etc.

But historical documentation is not rocket science and the test of any valid conclusion about an historical event is the presentation of good sources to back it up. If you can't present your case in a way that can be easily understood by a reasonably well-educated layman, it probably need more work.

I hope our conclusions meet that test.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Earhart and Radio -- IQ Perspective
Date: 6/27/00
From: Jim Hurysz

From an information quality (IQ) perspective, here's what TIGHAR might do to help the world understand what radios Earhart used, how Earhart used her radios, the Electra's radio and antenna configuration as Earhart left Miami, maintenance of Earhart's radios, capabilities of the Coast Guard's radios aboard the Itasca, radio communication procedures in 1937, and so on.

  • Archived documents from Western Electric,
  • Archived documents from Pan Am Airways,
  • Consultations with retired WE engineers,
  • Consultations with retired WE technicians,
  • Consultations with retired Pan Am Airways engineers,
  • Consultations with retired Pan Am Airways technicians,
  • Archived engineering reports,
  • Archived maintenance reports,
  • Performance evaluation of WE Model 20 B receiver and Model 13 C transmitter (obtained from radio museums or radio equipment collectors), installed in a Lockheed Model 10, tested on an antenna test range, for various antenna configurations,
  • Archived documents about the capabilities and performance of radio equipment aboard the Itasca,
  • Performance evaluation of the Itasca's radios and antennas, tested on an antenna test range,
  • Archived radio propagation reports from July 1-3, 1937 for the South Pacific,
  • Propagation prediction software for radio propagation from July 1-3, 1937, for the South Pacific
  • and so on............

IF TIGHAR (or some other organization) does the above, it must be part of a designed experimental process -- not grabbing some data, doing an "analysis," and then issuing a press release.

Jim Hurysz


From Ric

That's an impressive "To Do" list. What makes you think that half that stuff is even available? Do you have any idea what it would cost to do the kind of recreations and simulations you suggest?

TIGHAR's mission is NOT to "to help the world understand what radios Earhart used, how Earhart used her radios, the Electra's radio and antenna configuration as Earhart left Miami, maintenance of Earhart's radios, capabilities of the Coast Guard's radios aboard the Itasca, radio communication procedures in 1937, and so on."

TIGHAR's mission is to conclusively solve the mystery of what happened to Earhart and Noonan. The radio-related issues are important to the degree that they help validate or invalidate various hypotheses about what might have happened, but they are not an end in the themselves. Anything we do has to be done within the constraints of the scant funding available to us and so we have to focus our research very narrowly. There are lots of ancillary avenues we'd like to investigate and the volunteer efforts of the TIGHAR membership and forum subscribers make that possible to a certain degree. We must not, however, lose sight of our primary goal -- to find conclusive physical proof.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Noonan in the Co-Pilot's Seat
Date: 6/27/00
From: Anonymous

Janet Whitney wrote:

> If it suits TIGHAR's purposes to maintain that Noonan sat in the Electra's
> co-pilot's seat, so be it.

I have to agree with her. You seem (on occasion) to be quite resistant to other opinions that contradict your theory. I do agree that your theory seems "reasonable" on the surface. But even you have to admit it's based on mostly conjecture about what her plans were and what she "should" have done based on her past and the working knowledge of the time. And you might very well be right, but it's just as possible she did crash at sea. Whether you think it's likely or not is another story. I think all anyone should expect is a fair hearing of their ideas, no matter how "crackpot" you might think they are. In fact the total lack of any evidence to prove your theory should make you want to keep your mind open to alternate explanations until you find the "smoking gun", shouldn't it?

Having said that, I'm curious about a couple of things. I'm not clear about how you're so certain they were on the line that cuts through the island. Is it not even possible they missed it and were past or short of the island and went down at sea? I have no clue, so I'm seriously asking you. I know Fred was regarded as a fine navigator, but he was human. Is there no reasonable way he could miscalculate? Secondly, if she did indeed make it to the island as you suggest, is there any way to pu yourself in her place? By that I mean, from her heading and based on her experience, how long could/would she have circled looking for a suitable landing site? Based on the photos available, where would YOU have landed? Would it have been near the "7" site or somewhere else? Would she have known what island she was over and landed on the first one she came to? Or would she have gone on looking for a better site to put down? What would you (or any good pilot) have done?


From Ric

I appreciate postings like this because they show me where we're failing to communicate about what we're doing and why.

You say:

>But even you have to admit (TIGHAR's theory) is based on mostly conjecture
>about what her plans were and what she "should" have done based on her past
>and the working knowledge of the time.

Not at all. We began our investigation 12 years ago based upon the very simple observation that, as far as anyone knew at that time, no on-the-ground search had ever been conducted on the islands which the U.S. Navy in 1937 had considered the most likely place for the flight to have ended. Nobody knew then, and nobody knows now, what Earhart's and Noonan's plan was after failing to find Howland, but we saw the logic in the Navy's reasoning that the most logical thing would be for the airplane to follow the line Earhart said she was on toward the southeast whihc passes near two islands of the Phoenix Group -- McKean and Gardner. We visited McKean in 1989 and found nothing to support the idea that the flight had landed there. On Gardner, however, we found some airplane parts that seemed to merit further investigation. We continued our investigation and the more we've learned about Gardner Island the more it looks like we have the right place.

You say:

>And you might very well be right, but it's just as possible she did crash at sea.

While I agree with you that it is possible that she crashed at sea, I do not agree that the likelihood of that is equal to the likelihood that she landed at Gardner. Here's why:

What evidence is there that she crashed at sea?

  • A distress call that said something like, "Mayday, Mayday. We're going down." ? No.
  • Human remains, personal effects, floating wreckage or an oil slick seen by the searchers or later washed up on some shore? No.
  • Credible calculations of her fuel consumption that prove she couldn't reach land? No.

What evidence is there that she landed at Gardner?

  • A credible post-loss distress call that could only have been made if the airplane was on land? Yes.
  • Human remains, personal effects, and aircraft wreckage found on the island that are consistent with the Earhart flight? Yes.

While there is, as yet, no proof either way, there is also no conflicting evidence. The only evidence there is points to a landing at Gardner. So, when you say, "You seem (on occasion) to be quite resistant to other opinions that contradict your theory." you're correct in that I'm not much interested in opinions that are not backed up by facts.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: The Search
Date: 6/27/00
From: R. Johnson

Noting that it is TIGHAR's mission to conclusively solve what happened to AE and FN, I wonder why so much of the recent postings on the forum relate to AE's radio equipment. I do realize her radio is important in some degree, but what possible difference does it make in actually locating the Electra or what remains of it. Finding the remains of the Electra is the ultimate smoking gun. I suppose the forum is an outlet for people wishing to express their knowledge of 1937 radio technology, but is becoming quite pointless. Discussion of underwater search technology would seem to be much more in line with what is needed to find the Electra than the properties of AE radio equipment. I believe you will find conclusive proof of AE demise in the waters surrounding the island. TIGHAR, being the intellectual lot that they are, must realize by now that the Electra is not washed up in bushes, so its' remains must be in the water. I know it sounds over simplified, but is seems so logical. I would hope TIGHAR's next outing to NIKU would include an extensive underwater search.

R. Johnson


From Ric

You're right, of course. Everybody likes to talk about what they know about and more people know about radio than know about underwater search technology. I found it very interesting that I notified everyone last week that I had just put a detailed Research Bulletin up on the website about the "7" site -- the place that could conceivably yield the ultimate smoking gun in the form of DNA-matched human remains -- and got no forum postings at all in response.

I agree with you that the airplane wreckage is not on shore. I think we've pretty much established that by experimentation (i.e. whacking endless expanses of scaevola). If the wreckage is not on land it must be in the water (duh), but what water? Assuming that the airplane landed on the reef flat near the spot where Emily says she saw wreckage and where the Bevington photo shows something that might be airplane wreckage, the forces of nature tend to move material toward the lagoon passage, not the reef edge. Tom King has recently been corresponding with a Ph.D-type coral reef biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Ecoregion in Honolulu (the guy, like, knows from reefs) and we're getting interested in the lagoon floor just inside the main passage. At this point, the problem looks to be more one of looking in the right place than employing hi-tech equipment.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Earhart Project vs. Human Genome Project
Date: 6/27/00
From: Jim Hurysz

Fifteen years ago scientists did research the way Earhart research is done today...in a haphazard uncoordinated way. It didn't work very well.

What is needed in Earhart research is a coordinated, focused, and comprehensive research effort. It is obvious that if TIGHAR and other Earhart research groups have to pay for everything that has to be done to develop a comprehensive theory of what happened to Earhart and Noonan and where the Electra crashed it will be very expensive.

So far we've had expeditions, commemorative flights, interviews, speculation, and hundreds of "hypotheticals" based on one set of data or another.

But if major assistance can be obtained from the corporations that built the equipment that Earhart used, the non-profits that maintain the vintage equipment such as Earhart used, and volunteers from various fields who are knowledgeable and dedicated, the mystery can be solved in a straightforward way. (Note that I am NOT saying the answer lies in the Electra's radios and radio antennas. Understanding how the Electra's radios and antennas functioned would be one part of a comprehensive solution.)

If you can find a copy, I suggest that everyone read the series of articles about the Human Genome Project in today's NY Times (June 27th.)

Jim Hurysz


From Ric

Well, it's not often that I'm at a loss for words, but you got me this time. In moderating several thousand postings to this forum I don't think I've ever seen such a combination of hubris and naivete.

>Fifteen years ago scientists did research the way Earhart research is done
>today..in a haphazard uncoordinated way. It didn't work very well.

You wouldn't -- um -- be in your early 30s would you, Jim?

>What is needed in Earhart research is a coordinated, focused, and
>comprehensive research effort.

That's exactly what we said way back at the close of the Mesozoic Era in 1988.

>It is obvious that if TIGHAR and other Earhart research groups have to pay
>for everything that has to be done to develop a comprehensive theory of what
>happened to Earhart and Noonan and where the Electra crashed it will be very
>expensive.

Psst. Jim, there ARE NO other Earhart research groups. There are individuals who do Earhart research as an avocation and there is a group of treasure-hunting investors who have done some ocean searching based on Elgen Long's work, and there is a loose association of conspiracy buffs who call themselves the Amelia Earhart Society, but in terms of a professionally-led, federally-recognized, historical/educational nonprofit organization doing Earhart research, TIGHAR is the only game in town. And, yes, it's expensive. I'm sure that if we could just find a profit potential in the Earhart Project that compares to the Human Genome Project we too would be awash in hundreds of millions in funding.

>So far we've had expeditions, commemorative flights, interviews, speculation,
>and hundreds of "hypotheticals" based on one set of data or another.

You're pretty confused, aren't you?

>But if major assistance can be obtained from the corporations that built the
>equipment that Earhart used, the non-profits that maintain the vintage
>equipment such as Earhart used, and volunteers from various fields who are
>knowledgeable and dedicated, the mystery can be solved in a straightforward
>way.

I have sent proposals for funding to every corporation we could think of that had any association with the Earhart flight. I've met personally with senior executives at Lockheed, Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell (who bought Sperry), etc. Some have helped. Others have not. Those who declined did not turn us down because we lacked a comprehensive research program (which is exactly what we DO have). Many corporations are very nervous about getting involved in anything as controversial as the Earhart mystery. P&W put up 5.5 million dollars for Finch's commemorative flight, in part, specifically because she would not even discuss the disappearance. As far as I know (and we've looked) there ARE NO nonprofits that maintain vintage radio equipment such as Earhart used. On the other hand, volunteers from various fields who are knowledgeable and dedicated have been a major asset in our investigation. We have also had donated expert assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, the FBI, and (don't tell anybody) the CIA.

I respectfully suggest that you initiate your own comprehensive research project into what has already been done before you embarrass yourself further.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: New Umbrella Organization for Earhart Research?
Date: 6/28/00
From: Jim Hurysz

Maybe it's time to let TIGHAR go about forming a new expedition to Gardner Island, etc., and let other interest groups form their own listservs under a new Earhart research umbrella organization. The Earhart research SIGs under the umbrella organization could include: Electra airframe and powerplant, Electra acoustics, Electra radios and antennas, Electra navigation, Electra radio propagation, Electra deepsea recovery, etc.

Jim Hurysz


From Ric

I think that's a wonderful idea. Have at it. Let me know how you make out. I'd like to suggest that any forum subscriber who may be interested in working with Jim Hurysz and Janet Whitney to form a New Umbrella Organization for Earhart Research should contact them directly at DataQuality@aol.com. The rest of us will continue to muddle along here.


Subject: Book: Lost Star Purported Photo Of Lockheed 10E?
Date: 6/28/00
From: William Ellis

I am new to the forum, I have kept up with the AE Project for a number of years and continue to do so, thank you for letting me be a part of this forum, I am not trying to drift off course in sticking to the facts of Amelia's disapperance, but I have read and collected most of all the books on her then there is the book Lost Star, there is a photo taken from the air in 1944 over a Japanese air base an enlargement shows what looks like a Lockheed Electra with a broken wing, I am not trying to push any capture therory here but am wondering what airplane is this? I know the Japanese used the Lockheed model 14 and produced it under license...but it looks almost like a Lockheed Electra.

Best Wishes

William Ellis
Apple Valley, MN


From Ric

Welcome aboard William.

I don't know what kind of airplane appears in the photo. Brink says the photo shows a "distinctive twin-tailed monoplane." I see a monoplane that looks like it's probably twin-engined, but I see nothing to indicate that it is necessarily twin-tailed. As you have noted, Brink's statement that "the Japanese built no twin-tailed monoplanes" is nonsense.

Could the airplane in Brink's photo be a Lockheed 10 with the left wing missing? I doubt it. The wing on the plane appears to be missing from very close to the fuselage. An Electra's wing literally can't come off that way. The Model 10's "main beam" (a structure that looks like part of the Brooklyn Bridge) runs from engine to engine right through the cabin. It's just about indestructible. The wings of a Model 10 only "come off" from outboard of the engines where the main beam stops.

The airplane in the photo could any of a number of common Japanese types, but it's hard to imagine how it could be a Lockheed Electra. Even if it were, that would not make it Amelia's Electra. The Imperial Japanese Navy purchased a Model 10 (cn 1017) from Lockheed in March 1935 and shipped it home to Japan.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Button, button. Who's got the button?
Date: 6/28/00
From: Ric Gillespie

We need help from the forum but especially from our WWII vets.

Among the handful of artifacts we recovered from the "7" site back in 1996 was a button. You can see photos of it at Project Help. http://www.tighar.org/Projects/help4_19/help4_19.html

New TIGHAR member James Matthews is an archaeologist with experience in cultural artifacts from the 1930s and 1940s (including buttons) and he has taken on the job of helping us find out what we can about Artifact 2-3-W-5. He's performing some pretty hi-tech tests on the poor little thing but we also need your help.

How can a fairly generic-looking little button possibly tell us anything of interest? Well, maybe it can't -- but maybe it can. The question we're trying to answer is, "Whose button was it?" The site is very remote and only a few people are known to have visited it over the years (although, of course, there could have been others).

The people we have reason to think were there and may, therefore, be the source of the button, are:

  • the castaway whose remains (we think) were found nearby.
  • the Gilbertese workers who found the skull and later helped Gallagher search for other remains.
  • Gallagher himself.
  • the U.S. Coast Guardsmen who visited the site during WWII.
  • Ass't Lands Commissioner Paul Laxton who visited the site in 1949.
  • the island settlers who accompanied Laxton.

That's a pretty good sized crowd. Can we eliminate any of them? The workers and settlers on the island make up, by far, the biggest group. Photos show that some of them did wear trousers and shorts, presumably with buttons. The 1940 inventory for the Gardner Co-Op store lists 315 "trouser buttons" in stock but, lo and behold, it also mentions that they are made of "bone." Our button is not bone. We don't yet know for sure what it's made of (we suspect bakelite) but it sure ain't bone. That would seem to greatly reduce the chance that the button belonged to one of the settlers.

The next biggest group of potential button losers is the Coast Guard. Photos show that those guys mostly wore what appear to be standard-issue khaki shorts (and almost nothing else). Here's where we need for our WWII vets to go dig around in that trunk up in the attic. What kind of buttons were on Coast Guard fatigue uniforms, especially those khaki shorts?

If our button is not a military button, then our likely button losers are down to three specific individuals:

  • the castaway
  • Gallagher
  • Laxton

Of these, two are known to be Brits. If there is some aspect of the button that makes it identifiable as American rather than British then the probability moves away from Gallagher and Laxton and toward the notion of an American castaway.

Again, nothing about the button has the potential for proof but understanding the probabilities of its origin may help direct us toward other discoveries that may be conclusive.

Please look at the button on the website. Note that it is 1.5 cm (9/16ths of an inch) in diameter -- a bit large for a shirt button -- about right for a trouser button. The color is dark brown (a bit darker than it appears on the website). There's a slightly raised rim around the edge on the obverse (upward facing) concave side but none on the reverse (against the garment) convex side. If you have a button of known origin that looks like ours, please let me know. If you have an example of a WWII Coast Guard or Navy button, particulary from khaki shorts, please let me know.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Photo of the Electra---Lost Star
Date: 6/28/00
From: Ron Bright

On the subject of photos and credibility as evidence take a look at Randall Brink's photo #11 of the "Electra" on Taroa Is in the insert of Lost Star, a photo dated "1944" he attributes to the Military Branch, National Archives,taken during the US bombing. (A new forum member just brought this up.) The left wing is missing.

Brink describes it as "twin-tailed monoplane" but definitely concludes it is the Electra as Dwight and John Heine told Gervais in an interview in 1982 that they helped unload an airplane missing one wing "while its Caucasian flyers, a women and man, stayed aboard the ship (Kamoi)". Brink says in all probability it is still there.

Now look closely at Photo #38, p 266, in Nanyo, by Mark R. Peattie, published in 1988. Peattie is a professor at Univ. Of Mass* and an expert on the role of the Japanese activities in Micronesia 1885-1945.

Photo #38 is identical, in my opinion, to Brink's photo other than the margins for inclusion in their page contents. If you use the docks, and other landmarks, and a high powered magnifiying glass, the photos depict the same area. Peattie's photo is dated Dec 1943, at most a month before Brink's. (My guess is they are the same date.)

The Electra is not there. Nor anything that looks like an aircraft in the area which is blown up in Brink's photo nor the runways and storage areas.

Brink's photo is printed on glossy paper and has a much higher black and white contrast which may or may not be due to reproduction techniques. Peatties photo, also black and white, is published on ordinary book paper.

So I'm at a loss to explain why Brink's photo shows very clearly the aircraft and Peattie's photo doesn't show it. Both photos came from the Military Branch, National Archives. If Peattie's photo was taken in Dec 43, the plane should be visible a month later!

What gives and does anyone in the forum have access to the Military Branch and enough curiosity to check it out. Another example in using photos as "historical proof"!!

LTM,
Ron Bright


From Ric

By coincidence, a new forum subscriber just raised a question about the photo in Brink's book. See my reply to him.

Mark Peattie is a long-time TIGHAR member, a fine scholar and a good friend. The photo in Nanyo shows the airfield at Taroa after it was bombed into oblivion. No bomb damage is evident in Brink's photo.

The real challenge with Brink's book is to find something resembling fact anywhere in it.

LTM,
Ric


*From the Editor: Professor Peattie is now at Stanford University. At the time he wrote Nanyo, he was with the Reischauer Institute at Harvard.


Subject: Gurr and the RA-1
Date: 6/29/00
From: Cam Warren

Gurr never referred to it by the name "Bendix", but as a brand new multiband receiver that arrived in a crate marked "US Navy". There is a publicity photo extant that shows Manning, Bendix engineer Cyril Remmlein and Amelia at Newark, admiring a prototype of an RA-1. Production started shortly thereafter, and (according to Bendix project engineer Vernon Moore) one of the first four was shipped to Burbank for installation in the Earhart Electra by .... (drum roll) Joseph Gurr. (This was just prior to AE's departure for Honolulu).

Cam Warren


From Ric

What Gurr said in a 1982 letter to Fred Goerner was:

About this time [Ric: late February/early March 1937 during preparations for the first World flight attempt] we received a box marked U.S. Navy, containing a fine multi-frequency receiver, covering frequencies up to 20 megaherz. I do not know who was responsible for this acquisition, nor where it came from. I was pleased, as now the plane was capable of covering larger segments of frequencies which could be useful in radio communication, and even in direction finding. While the direction finding loop was designed for the lower frequencies, I found i could get a fairly good null on AM Broadcast Stations up to 1500KH. I figured it would probably be useful even on 3105KH if the received signal was strong enough.

Okay. What hard evidence do we have to support or refute this 45 year-old recollection? There are several photos taken in Burbank by Albert Bresnick, apparently on March 6th, which show someone that Cam Warren says is a Bendix engineer named Cyril Remmlein posing with Amelia and what is very obviously the new Bendix loop coupler (previously discussed ad nauseum). Other photos taken at the same time show AE posing with the Bendix loop. It would seem safe, therefore, to say that on or about March 6, 1937 a Bendix loop antenna and loop coupler were installed on NR16020. None of the publicity photos taken at that time (that I have seen) show a receiver of any kind. None of the photos show Joe Gurr.

Gurr, in his later recollections, makes no mention of the new loop, the loop coupler, Cyril Remmlein, or any other "Bendix engineer." The loop antenna is obviously already present when Gurr says the new "multi-frequency receiver" was installed so it must have been sometime after March 6 but obviously before March 16 when AE intended to leave for Hawaii (weather delayed the departure until the 17th). Note, however, that Gurr does not say that he installed the new receiver himself. He does, however, remember that it arrived in a box marked "U.S. Navy."

Do we know of any boxes that may have arrived in those last days before departure that might have been labeled U.S. Navy? Yes, we do. On March 15, the following message was sent by Naval Air Station San Diego to the Secretary of the Navy:

AMELIA EARHART URGENTLY REQUESTS AIR STATION LOAN NAVY OCTANT FOR PROJECTED TRANSPACIFIC FLIGHT AND SHIPMENT AIR EXPRESS TO OAKLAND IMMEDIATELY. NAVIGATOR LIEUT COMDR GEORGE MANNING USNR WILL SIGN CUSTODY. OCTANT AVAILABLE. APPROVAL REQUESTED STATING DEPOSIT REQUIRED. PROPOSE SHIP CARE COMMANDING OFFICER NRAB OAKLAND SUBJECT DEPARTMENTS INSTRUCTIONS.

The request was approved later that same day with no deposit required and the next day, March 16, the following message was sent from NAS San Diego to the Naval Reserve Air Base at Oakland (where Earhart was preparing to depart for Hawaii):

OCTANT BEING SHIPPED AIR EXPRESS COLLECT ON UAL PLANE DUE OAKLAND AT 1450 TODAY TUESDAY. CHARGES TO BE PAID BY MISS EARHART OR REPRESENTATIVE. REQUEST INSTRUMENT BE TURNED OVER IMMEDIATELY ON ARRIVAL AND CUSTODY RECEIPT OF LIEUT COMDR HARRY MANNING USNR BE RETURNED THIS STATION

Was this the box Joe Gurr remembered? But what about Cam Warren's claim that there is a publicity photo extant that shows Manning, Bendix engineer Cyril Remmlein and Amelia at Newark, admiring a prototype of an RA-1? I've never seen such a photo so I can't say whether it shows what Cam says it shows, but assuming that it does, it had to have been taken in mid-February when Earhart, Putnam and Manning had the airplane in the New York area to announce the World Flight. Obviously, a photo of AE and Manning admiring a radio does not mean that the radio was later installed in the airplane and it does seem a bit odd that Remmlein would travel all the way to California to install the radio rather than do it right there, and then not have any photos taken of it (oops, I forgot. It was supposed to be secret.).

And what of Bendix project engineer Vernon Moore's recollection that one of the first four prototype RA-1s was shipped to Burbank for installation in the Earhart Electra by .... (drum roll) Joseph Gurr? That seems like an odd recollection given that Gurr himself says that he met Earhart for the first time when she RETURNED from New York in late February. How would Moore know anything about Joe Gurr? Earhart, however, did have one of the first four prototypes of a new Bendix receiver/direction finder installed in her airplane, but it was the Hooven Radio Compass (Hooven had just been bought out by Bendix) that was installed in October 1936 and removed when the new loop and coupler were installed in March.

Once again we've seen anecdote and assumption presented as evidence to contradict documented events, and once again we've wasted everybody's time.

Sorry.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Button, button. Who's got the button?
Date: 6/29/00
From: Chris Kennedy

Ric, in this regard I have several thoughts:

1. Do you know of any museums which may have some of Earhart's clothes (shirts, trousers or anything else which might use buttons). Many times people will buy multiple pairs of the same garment that they find works well in a particular application (for example, trousers to be used while flying). You might get a clue there; if nothing else you may see whether there is anything different about a '30s button from a modern one.

2. Remember the heel---it said "Cat's Paw", and this led you to that company and its own historians who were able to date the type of heal to the '30s. Perhaps there is a similar mass manufacturer of buttons who might be able to assist (the name "Coats" comes to mind for some reason---a good place to start would be to go to a store and see the name which usually appears on packages of buttons). Something I noticed in the picture is what appears to be some sort of inner circle at the center of the button--I don't recall that being a feature of modern buttons.

3. Even though the Lae takeoff photos probably are no help, perhaps other pictures you have of Earhart might reveal clues relevant to sourcing this button.

--Chris


From Ric

Good suggestions. Let's first see if we can eliminate it by matching it to buttons used by the Coast Guard or Navy during WWII. If it passes that test I recall that Purdue has a pair of brown trousers that belonged to AE.


Subject: Re: Button, button. Who's got the button?
Date: 6/29/00
From: David Evans Katz, Ron Bright

I am no veteran of WWII, but my grandfather was a tailor (perhaps more useful in this situation). While I don't have the requisite eye or expertise, this artifact (2-3-W-5) is something that should be examined by a tailor -- the older, the better. From my limited youthful experience of playing with my grandfather's vast button collection (my sister and I played a game similar to marbles with them; each size button had a different value in the game), I remember similar buttons.

This one appears to be a little too big for a trouser-fly button, but it is the perfect size for one of three uses I can think of (again, please verify with a tailor familiar with clothing of the period): trouser-waist buttons (used for braces/suspenders); jacket cuff-buttons; jacket pocket or epaulette buttons. Logic tells me that it is unlikely to be a trouser-waist button, because one would normally use only solid white or black buttons for braces, unless the trousers in question were part of a very expensive pair of pants or suit, and then one would match the braces buttons with all of the other buttons on the suit or pants. Even so, a very expensive suit or pair of pants would likely use a more expensive material than bakelite.

For whatever you think my opinion is worth, the other uses seem (to me) to be more likely.

David Evans Katz


From Ron Bright

As far as I know the FBI lab Washington has the forensic ability to identify, classify, etc. buttons (often found at crime scenes). Have you tried them as you have with some other artifacts?

Ron Bright


From Ric

Let me tell you a little story about the FBI lab and Earhart research. Back in 1990 we approached the FBI for help in dating the paint on the Navigator's Bookcase (Artifact 2-1). The Bureau was very cooperative and we developed a great working relationship. That December they gave us a report that concluded that they could find nothing that would disqualify the artifact as being from Earhart's plane. When we announced those results one of our critics went ballistic and demanded that the FBI send her a copy fo the report. The FBI said they were sorry but the report was written for TIGHAR and they couldn't release it to anyone else. They suggested that she contact us for a copy (which we would have gladly provided) but she said she didn't trust us to not alter the report. She then filed a Freedom Of Information Act request which put the Bureau to a lot of trouble over something they thought they were doing as a favor in the public interest. The FBI lab now knows better than to get involved in anything to do with Amelia Earhart.


Subject: Re: Long's Photo of the "Bendix radio control box"
Date: 6/29/00
From: Jon Watson

When I read what Ron Bright wrote about Sias' photo, I had to get a copy of Long's book from my local library to look at it. A couple of observations.

The control box in Sias' photo is definitely not the same as the box pictured two pages earlier, where AE and Cyril Remmlein are examining "a radio direction finder loop". That unit appears to be the same as the loop Breslin photo'd AE holding up (framing her face). (As an aside, it also gives a pretty good look at what bears a striking resemblance to a Blucher Oxford...)

Sias' photo appears to me to be AE's electra, and it appears to me to be consistent with the most recent iteration of the instrument layout prior to the flight.

In what I believe to be an earlier variant, the one with the second "compass" on the windscreen centerpost, AE is manipulating radio knobs (the Hooven controls?) on the horizontal panel to the right of the throttle assembly. In a photo showing that setup, it is clear that the overhead gauge farthest to the right in Sias' photo is not present. In the later photo, that gauge is present. The location of the rest of the instruments visible in Sais' photo appear to be entirely consistent with other photos of AE's electra, and with the dash template. The horizontal panel to the right of the throttles, in Sias' picture, appears clear.

Also, in one of the other pictures I have, while the area behind the map light is dark, it appears that something is there, which is probably the control box. Why it wasn't installed on the right side when the Hooven controls were removed, I don't know, except that there does appear to be some kind of a gauge on the front of the box, and maybe she couldn't see it anywhere else.

Does any of this go toward dating Sias' photo? Probably doesn't help a bit, but I'm reasonably sure that if it's not the final version of the panel, it's close. Interesting that the control box in the photo, and the box in the photo are not the same though...

Also, a quick question, O learned one, in a couple of the later photos, there appears to be some kind of linkage, or gizmo with two parallel tubes or rods, that come up to the rear of the copilot's seat, from back in the cabin. They seem to have handles, or a fitting or something. They don't seem to show up in earlier photos. Is this part of the fuel management system? It's obviously not a fishing pole...

ltm,
jon 2266


From Ric

The controls on the shelf below the instrument panel on the copilots side (that AE is twiddling in the photo you mention) are the knobs on the 27A Remote for the Western Electric receiver. That part of the shelf is obscured in the Sias photo.

The tubes and rods you mention may be associated with the fuel system, but I'm guessing about that.

If the aircraft in the Sias photo is Earhart's and if the photo was taken in Miami, the following changes have been made since the earlier photos we have that we know show Earhart's cockpit:

  • the "mystery box" that Long says is a remote for the Bendix RA-1 has been added.
  • both of the "compasses" present on the windshield centerpost have been replaced by a different "compass."
  • two gauges, one large and one small, have been added to the right side of the eyebrow panel.

What we really need are more datable photos of Earhart's panel layout. A review of newsreel footage used in various Earhart documentaries may help.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Lambrecht's report
Date: 6/29/00
From: Mike Muenich

I have been following the button story with great interest, but know nothing about same, so I re-read the Lambrecht Report and the FAQ's about same. I noted the similarity of Lambrecht's language about his observations at Sydney and Gardner Islands and "recent habitation". You have previously reported the status of habitation on Gardner, i.e. inhabited only in the late 19th century. To compare the two sightings in their historical perspective, what was the status of inhabitation on Sydney prior to Lambrecht's flyover? Was it similar, i.e. not inhabited within the recent past, or is there a record of "recent" habitation which would account for Lambrect's observation?


From Ric

At Gardner, Lambrecht said he saw "signs of recent habitation" but did not elaborate. At Sydney he said he saw "huts" but no people.

Gardner had last been officially "inhabited" by about 20 Nuie islanders planting coconuts for John Arundel in 1892. Sydney, by contrast, was currently being planted by Tokelau laborers employed by Burns Philp South Seas Company under the supervision of John William Jones residing on Hull Island and who had removed the workers from Sydney just prior to the Earhart disappearance. There was alo a report, not mentioned by Lambrecht but reported in the press by reporters aboard Colorado, that the searchers over Sydney had seen dozens of Polynesian words in the sand.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Gurr
Date: 6/30/00
From: Hue Miller

>From Ric
>
>It would seem safe, therefore, to say that on or about March 6, 1937 a Bendix
>loop antenna and loop coupler were installed on NR16020. None of the publicity
>photos taken at that time (that I have seen) show a receiver of any kind.
>None of the photos show Joe Gurr.
>
>Gurr, in his later recollections, makes no mention of the new loop, the loop
>coupler, Cyril Remmlein, or any other "Bendix engineer." The loop antenna
>is obviously already present when Gurr says the new "multi-frequency
>receiver" was installed.

Did he really come out & say it was installed (RA-1) ? Quotations in this post I am responding to, don't indicate he more than admired it. (Truthfully, since the WE transmitter didn't cover any higher frequencies, I don't immediately see the utility of the RA-1 to AE)

>so it must have been sometime after March 6

Sure you can say this? The loop he describes in the quote:

While the direction finding loop was designed for the lower frequencies, I found I could get a fairly good null on AM Broadcast Stations up to 1500KH. I figured it would probably be useful even on 3105KH if the received signal was strong enough.

What this sez is, the loop he's referring to is the earlier no-tuning hula hoop you just hooked right up to your receiver. Just some hoops of wire in a protective shield. Performance (signal output level) falls of as the frequency your receiver is listening to, is raised. That's why he ruminates that it might work even up to 3105, if there was a strong enuff signal to compensate for its diminished performance. The RDF incorporated tuning + a small amplifier stage to deliver higher (really usable) output at higher, non-standard-for-DFing frequencies.

[BTW, modern broadband loop antenna depends on a carefully engineered amplifier to keep the sensitivity constant over a wide range of frequencies.]

>Note, however, that Gurr does not say that he installed the new receiver
>himself.

--Yes, I think that's interesting myself. Until I see something that better convinces me, I have to suspect the RA-1 was never installed. There's 50 lbs. extra for no really clear advantage.

>He does, however, remember that it arrived in a box marked "U.S. Navy." Do
>we know of any boxes that may have arrived in those last days before
>departure that might have been labeled U.S. Navy? ..... Was this the box
>Joe Gurr remembered?

--I don't think you can ding Gurr's recollection either by your system of dating these events, or doubting his abilities, or recall. I think you maybe have 2 Navy crates, not one. ( "Single Crate Theory" )

--Hue Miller


From Ric

Couple of comments:

>What this sez is, the loop he's referring to is the earlier no-tuning hula
>hoop you just hooked right up to your receiver.

What loop are you referring to here? The photos show that the airplane had no loop of any kind from its delivery in July 1936 until October 1936 when the Hooven Radio Compass was installed and used a faired-over loop in a domed housing. On or about March 6, 1937 that sytem was replaced by what appears to be a Bendix MN-5 loop and loop coupler (nomenclature unknown). That same loop remained on the airplane until it disappeared.

>I don't think you can ding Gurr's recollection either by your system
>of dating these events, or doubting his abilities, or recall. I think you
>maybe have 2 Navy crates, not one. ( "Single Crate Theory" )

Give me a reason for not doubting his recollections. I've learned to doubt ALL recollections if they are not supported by hard evidence and especially if they seem to contradict the available hard evidence.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Long's Photo of the "Bendix radio control box"
Date: 6/30/00
From: Bill Leary

Cam Warren writes:

> [Oh, sorry, I'm not supposed to pass on these "absurd
> conclusions"]

OK, here's the thing. "Absurd" implies that the facts don't warrant the conclusion. This may or may not be true. I won't go into that part here. It's actually the "conclusion" part that bothers me and, I expect, others a lot more.

For instance, you say:

> Ric (and others on the Forum) cling to the notion that the Bendix
> setup for the Honolulu trip was the SAME as later fitted.

Fine. They've stated their reasons for believing this and you've just recapped it in short form, with the inference that clinging to it doesn't make sense. This implies that you're about to tell us they're wrong and, hopefully, you'll tell us why.

You then say:

> Wrong.

This flat out statement means (or should) that you've got hard, incontrovertable evidence that the popular opinion is, well, WRONG.

But you follow up with:

> Indications are -- contemporary news reports, interviews with
> Pan Am people -- that the system was upgraded" in Miami.

What I'd like to have seen here is something along the lines of "Repair Order #1234, filed on such and such a date by such and such a person shows that the system was upgraded with such-and-such new components." Not having seen the material which supports your "indications," I can't judge its quality. If you already posted it, I regret that I missed it. Based on the type of information you credit here, though, it sounds like hearsay, and the discussions I've read about this seem to support that.

> Most likely the RA-1 stayed, but a new HF loop and coupler
> was installed, and the belly wire employed as the "sense" antenna
> for the RA-1.

This is speculation, and that's fine. But it's not fact, and as to the quality of the speculation, we can't judge that until we know what it's based on. For example, are there records that show that other upgrades of this system in other aircraft around the same time were done by adding a new HF loop and coupler?

Some of the stuff you say, I certainly do think is "absurd." On the other hand, when I first ran across TIGHAR and the idea that she'd made it to Niku, I thought THAT was pretty absurd too. What changed my mind, of course, was the chain of evidence and the way it's presented. The part of the presentation that most appeals to me is that I'm invited to observe the evidence in a certain way, rather than told that it conclusively means such-and-such. So, everytime you (or anyone else) pops up with something new, I remind myself to keep an open mind and examine the messages, looking for the chain of evidence and trying to see if the authors conclusions are consistent with not only the evidence presented in their discussion, but with other evidence previously presented.

- Bill


Subject: 7 Site Observation
Date: 6/30/00
From: Ric Gillespie

Here's something I've just noticed about the 7 site in the 1941 photo.

We've wondered whether the clearing of vegetation that is evident in that photo is a result of Gallagher's "organized search" for more bones and artifacts or was the result of normal clearing operations for a coconut planting that was never completed.

If they're clearing to plant coconuts they're doing it in the wrong place. Other clearing operations and plantings on the island make it clear that you don't plant cocos out close to the beach. If they want to plant this area they should take out the trees over on the lagoon side and leave the protective wall of vegetation on the ocean side --- but that's just the opposite of what they're doing.

If, on the other hand, they're searching for bones and artifacts after having found a partial skeleton under a Ren tree at the top of the beach, the pattern of clearing evident in the photo makes perfect sense.

Fire away.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: 7 Site Observation
Date: 6/30/00
From: Chris Kennedy

Maybe a first question to consider is why the history of plantings of cocos on the island seems to/does show that they were planted in protected areas away from direct winds and weather. Is this a coincidence, or something unique to the history of THIS island, or is it something which is done for purely practical reasons no matter where you are (such as to avoid the winds/weather disturbing the trees and coconuts?) If there's a reason for doing this, one other thought along the same lines as Ric's is why would you plant cocos at the 7 site at all----isn't this just about the narrowest strip of land on the island between ocean and lagoon? It doesn't look to me that there was ever much protection here even if you planted towards the lagoon, as the site is narrow with low shubbery and directly facing into the prevailing winds? My impressions are, like Ric's, that the coco plantings were far more protected (such as the one we mapped on Nutiran), and all on the leeward side. Is this correct?

--Chris


From Ric

That is correct. It's hard to make any sense of a coconut planting operation at the 7 site. When Laxton visited the site in 1949 he described it as a "house built or Gallagher" where the vegetation had been cleared to let the cool breezes blow through from the ocean. That doesn't make any sense either. Gallagher was a textbook workaholic. Not the sort of guy who'd have any use for a vacation home. One has to wonder whether or not Laxton knew what had really gone on at that site.


Subject: Re: 7 Site Observation
Date:

7/1/00

From: Chris Kennedy

The Laxton explanation also struck me as strange, simply for the reason that I can't imagine why anyone needs a "vacation house" get-away on the island (how much isolation can you take), which leads me to think it was built for a special, limited purpose. If the rectangular object is a desalinization unit, I wonder why it was left there. Any ideas? Maybe it didn't work, but still it could have been used for scrap like other pieces of aluminum. I will re-check the dates of the photo and when Gallagher would've been at the site searching, but, since "island time" runs more slowly than ours maybe they just hadn't gotten around to taking it back yet.

--Chris


From Ric

The chronology goes like this:

September 23, 1940 --- Gallagher says he has found bones and artifacts.
October 26, 1940 --- Vaskess orders "organized search"
December 27, 1940 --- Gallagher reports that an "intensive search" has been made.
February 11, 1941 --- Isaac informs Gallagher that remains are those of an "elderly Polynesian male."
June 12, 1941 --- Gallagher leaves Nikumaroro
June 20, 1941 --- Photo is taken.

From the above it would appear most likely that the organized/intensive search was done circa early November 1940 before the weather turned sour in late November and December as reported by Galllagher. For most of this time the island's wireless was also inop, which explains why Gallagher did not report further discoveries as they were made.

Why was a (putative) water condenser still on site in June after probably being brought there the previous November? Hard to say. It's awfully heavy and hard to transport. Maybe it wasn't needed back in the village (we see several similar tanks in the village today). It does, however, seem to have been moved from where it appears in the 1941 photo to where we found it in 1996 (assuming its the same tank). Maybe they got it part way back to the lagoon shore and said "Ah, screw it!" and just left it there.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: Re: Coast Guard Buttons
Date: 7/1/00
From: Dillard Gates

[Note from Ric: Mr. Gates is not a subscriber to the forum but copied the forum in on this response to Chuck Boyles' inquiry about Coast Guard buttons.]

June 30, 2000

Dear Chuck:

I have little to contribute to the button issue. When we first arrived on Canton many if not most of the crew cut the legs off their denim dungarees. Sometime later we were issued green shirts and trousers. Most of us immediately cut the legs off these fatigues as well. I do not specifically recall the buttons on either the dungarees or the green fatigues. However it seems to me that the waist button on both were metal.

Since there were natives on Gardner before, during and after the Loran Unit was there it would seem to me that there may have been literally 100's of sources for the button. It was a remote island but there had been British activities there before the Coast Guard arrived. There undoubtedly were many unrecorded visits to the island.

It seems to me that the researchers on this project are approaching the job with little understanding of the scientific method. The scientific method would aim at trying to identify and explain the artifacts rather than trying to prove a pre-existing notion.

I realize it is considered impossible to prove a negative. That is it may be difficult to prove that Earhart was not there but on the other hand I have neither seen nor heard solid evidence that she was there. It appears that there are some who are trying to prove she was there rather than making an objective analysis of the artifacts found and the evidence at hand.

That said I hope all is well with you and yours.

Sincerely, Dillard H. Gates


From Ric

Useful information, but Mr. Gates obviously has some misconceptions about how we do things.


Subject: Sifting Sands
Date: 7/1/00
From: Vern Klein

Meanwhile back at Tatiman Passage...

There may have been aircraft wreckage on the reef near the Norwich City hulk. Stuff from the reef tends to be carried through the passage into the lagoon. Such stuff might tend to be deposited just inside the lagoon where water velocity decreases. If the coral was already dead in 1937, there would be only a sand deposit where the passage enters the lagoon. I believe it has been said that that is the case.

Maybe this is a place for one of those pumps that can handle sand and small chunks of stuff to "vacuum" up sand and deposit it somewhere on dry land -- after passing through a screen to catch the larger pieces for examination. In the process, still larger pieces of stuff might be uncovered under water.

The pump would not have to be the kind of big pump we see used in deep water on TV. In this case, it has to lift water and sand only a few feet. I can imagine a rather modest gasoline engine driven pump.

How much sand might one sift? Depends on how much the pump will move per unit time and how much time can be given to the operation. Wishful thinking, I expect. Not enough time nor manpower to dredge out a significant area and depth.


From Ric

We actually already own such a dredge. We bought the thing in preparation for Niku III in 1997 and carted it to the island and back without ever using it. It's now stored in Fiji. The big question about digging/dredging in that sand bar is where to start? It's huge and it's about 15 feet deep. We'll want to know a lot more about where stuff should be based upon the predicted dynamics of that specific environment before we go moving a bunch of sand.


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