Forum artHighlights From the Forum

July 16 through 22, 2000


Subject: Re: Curvatures?
Date: 7/17/00
From: Vern Klein

> From Charles Lim
> The latest revelation about the 'ceramic' bit is certainly good news. At
> least we can now say, with some certainty, that the mystery bit here is
> man-made. What fragment of which object however will probably remain a
> mystery... etc.

As you guys try to fit that bit of ceramic (possibly) to the lamp base, remember that there will probably have been a metal "shell" (sleeve) inside the socket with "J" slots to engage the two pins on the side of the lamp base. This "shell" will have been of relatively thin material however, to be a free fit, it would add some to the required inside diameter of the ceramic part. The "J" slots could have been molded in the ceramic part (no electrical contact needed) but that's unlikely -- too subject to chipping, etc.

I doubt you would find a similar ceramic socket around the house, but check any sizable hardware store. You'll find replacement sockets and some will be ceramic. These will have a brass "shell" inside. Of course, in the states, that will be a threaded "shell" for our screw-in lamps. This will give a pretty fair idea of what the ceramic part of a lamp socket would have been like.

You might encounter the "el cheapo" kind of socket that has only a wrinkled up strip of brass in one side to make contact with the threaded lamp base.

LTM (Who likes to see an example to guess from)


Subject: Re: Curvatures?
Date: 7/17/00
From: Tom King

For Charles Lim: It's interesting that Nancy, looking at the object as a possible shell ornament fragment, and without knowing about the light bulb base, said it looked to her most like a fragment of a porcelain light fixture. I think we're fairly safe in assuming, for the sake of argument anyhow, that it and the light bulb together suggest that somebody had a light on the site. Duh. Now the question is, why? And we're back to the question of "where did they get the power?" Whoever "they" were.

LTM (who's lighthearted about all this)
Tom King


Subject: Randy's Riley Response
Date: 7/17/00
From: Randy Jacobson

Here is my submission to Naval History in response to Riley's article on the Earhart disappearance. I leave it up to you to post on the forum.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing this message for "In Contact" regarding the article written by John P. Riley, Jr, in the August, 2000 edition of Naval History.

John Riley Jr.'s article on Capt. Warner K. Thompson of the USCG Itasca and the subsequent search for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan offers some interesting viewpoints: some correct and not articulated before, and others that are patently wrong. He is essentially correct regarding the use of "military service politesse" and the generally one-sided series of Navy/USCG reports regarding the disappearance that are largely self-serving. Riley writes that the Coast Guard stonewalled release of many of the documents, but failed to state the actual reasons:

(1) CG regulations (1930 CG Communications Instructions) prohibited the release of any radiotelegrams from civilians without their express consent. Since Earhart was not available to provide such consent, a fair amount of work would be needed to go through all the documents for redaction. Pre-WWII Coast Guard was woefully undermanned and underfunded, and could not afford to properly vet all available documentation at that time.

(2) While the reports indicate that Earhart "failed to follow orders" (in reality, radio protocol), this leads to the usual interpretation that release of the documents would sully her reputation. In fact, as Riley points out, it was the Itasca radiomen, more so than Earhart, that failed to follow radio protocol. Nevertheless, these two reasons were likely the cause for both Adm. Waesche and Secretary Morgenthau to be unwilling to release the various documentation under the control of the Coast Guard.

Riley writes about the improper usage of 500 kHz radio beacons for direction finding. In fact, there was never any discussion between the CG and Earhart immediately prior to the final flight that either party was to use 500 kHz, either in primary or emergency mode. What was confusing to the Itasca radiomen was that they had documentation that Earhart was going to use 500 kHz on her attempt to land at Howland in March, 1937, but her crash on Luke Field in Hawaii and subsequent repairs to her plane changed the radio protocols to be used. The trailing wire antenna that was to be used for 500 kHz transmissions by Earhart was removed in Burbank during repairs, and neither George Putnam, Earhart's husband, nor the CG were really aware of the removal of this capability.

Riley makes an excellent analysis of the Itasca's search patterns, clearly demonstrating many exaggerated claims by Capt. Thompson. However, except for the first afternoon, the ship's position was dictated by Navy (plane guard for aborted PBY flight to Howland) or CG station in San Francisco (amateur radio reports of locations of the downed plane) that caused the Itasca not to make a persistent search of the proper areas. Much of this blame should be put squarely upon Thompson's superiors at the CG station in San Francisco.

Riley, as almost every other Earhart researcher, makes much of the various Howland locations. In fact, the true location was classified "confidential" by the US Hydrographic Office until it's maps could be updated (eventually in 1938 or 1939). The person who actually reported the revised locations to the HO was William Miller, an employee of the Bureau of Air Commerce, and was intimately involved with Earhart's planning of her world flight during the early months of 1937. It is inconceivable that Miller would hold back that information from Earhart, but there is no documentation of her receiving the proper coordinates.

Much of Riley's article is devoted to the Howland Island Radio Logs, and the possibility of those logs being bogus. While those logs contain a fair number of discrepancies (as does almost every other Earhart document), most are innocuous. I am much obliged to the author's pointing out that Yau Fai Lum's name is incorrectly spelled on the radio logs, as I failed to catch that in my own research. I have examined both the smooth and rough Howland Logs, located in the National Archives, and neither version contain any handwritten signatures. Examination of the Howland Island diaries of the colonists, also located at the National Archives, and a contemporaneous document, clearly indicates Lum, Lau, and Leong stood nightly radio watches. While the diaries do not mention radioman Cipriani by name, enough contemporaneous documentation by non-USCG personnel exists to document that Cipriani was on Howland from July 1 through July 18. A simpler, better, explanation for the Howland Island Radio Log discrepancies is that Cipriani wouldn't allow civilians to record their observations on official CG logs. Instead, Cipriani probably transcribed the civilian's own notes onto the official logs, and "typed" their (misspelled) names on them as well.

While researchers can make many interpretations of Earhart documents and actions, it is only when one collates and examines all pertinent information together that the "real" facts slowly emerge. The disappearance of Earhart was a typical transportation accident, caused by a series of small mistakes, none of which by themselves was catastrophic. The actions of the US government were in good faith, and no conspiracies are evident; in fact, what becomes clear is a fair amount of incompetence on the part of both the US government and Earhart. Unfortunately, there was not something like the NTSB back in 1937 to examine this particular air accident immediately after the loss. Further, the classification of the documentation left too much information beyond the reach of researchers for far too many years. In fact, the amount of documentation retained by the various government organizations is staggering, and is located all over the United States, making collation of such documents hard to undertake.


Subject: Why a light?
Date: 7/17/00
From: Charles Lim, Tom VanHare

I don't know why anyone would put up a light fixture at such a lonely part of Niku. I can't even begin to speculate. It is very odd that even Gallagher might be of need of such equipment at the '7' site of all places.

From all the maps and photos I've seen, the remoteness of the site as well as certain weather patterns on Niku would make the site inhospitable.

The '7' feature is like nothing I've seen. Why does the vegetation in that particular area grow in that way, when the rest of the site is covered with scaevola?

The presence of the water tank would explain the presence of the bulb, but I would think that if they did work there, they would certainly work during daylight hours only.

Then there is nagging question of power sources. Light bulbs consume a lot of energy, so a battery is worthless. They would need to have a generator of some kind. If they did use a generator to provide lighting, why at all in the first place??

LTM
Charles Lim (Who is not en-light-ned the slightest bit)


From Tom Van Hare

Lacking power at the location, one wonders if the light was broken and thrown away as garbage -- but even that is a bit strange. Why carry it across the island to throw it out? I somehow cannot picture an islander with a machete cutting his way through the underbrush to find a safe location to dump the broken pieces of his former desk lamp. Or am I mistaken in thinking that the island residents were not settled in that location?

Thomas Van Hare


From Ric

The island residents were not settled in that location. As far as I know, we haven't come across any lightbulbs or lamps even up in the settled area. There was once a light on the top of the beacon that marked the landing channel cut through the reef but that's the only lightbulb I know of on the whole island. An electric lamp or light of some kind at the 7 site sure seems strange.


Subject: Re: Curvatures
Date: 7/17/00
From: Charles Lim

Light Fixtures come a variety of designs. The point that you're trying to make concerns the brass contact inside the ceramic shell. I've seen what you're trying to get at. I'm mystified why such an essential bit of the fixture would not be present in close proximity of the bulb and the 'mystery bit'.

I'm also perplexed as to why similar fragments were not found around the same area. The brass contact would have lined the inside of the fixture as you mention, so, by guesswork, it would probably be a cylindrical item, or if it is an el-cheapo version, it would just have a contact snaking from the base.

I would like to think that the contact that was used was the cylindrical version, else it is the 'el-cheapo' version. I don't think that 'Empire made' would go for the cheap alternative, any thoughts??

LTM
Charles Lim (Who is a bit more expensive than el-cheapo)


From Ric

Remember that a thorough search of the area was not made in 1996. We thought that we had eliminated the site as being something of interest to our investigation and our time was very short. There is almost certainly more stuff there that will shed light (sorry) on what was going one there.


Subject: U.S. News & World Report
Date: 7/17/00
From: Ric Gillespie

The cover story in the current "special double issue" (July 24-31, 2000) of U.S. News & World Report is titled "Mysteries of History" and, although AE's name and photo figure prominently on the first two pages of text (pages 30 & 31) the Earhart disappearance is not one of the 21 mysteries featured in the article. Instead, TIGHAR's work is cited at some length as an example of how real historical investigation is not a breezy hobby but hard, costly, frustrating, and sometimes dangerous work. (Note: I did NOT "lose my corneas to equatorial sunlight" as the article says. A dog would be typing this if I did. The UV's out there DID cook the lenses in both of my eyes causing cataracts. I now have intra-ocular plastic implants and I see better than ever.) Tom King and I are quoted fairly accurately. I think that, overall, it's good exposure for the organization and the project.

The most interesting aspect of the piece (to me) is the place the Earhart disappearance is accorded in the pantheon of historical mysteries. It's the defining example, literally too big or too well-known to cover. Not bad. Call it market penetration.

LTM,
Ric


Subject: The Seven Site
Date: 7/18/00
From: Frank Westlake

Putting the seemingly unrelated pieces together in a way that they DO relate, I wonder if there could be steam venting around the Seven Site. If so, here's how the pieces may be related:

  • Nikumaroro is near, if not in, an area of high geologic activity. In the first four months of this year the islands of Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Santa Cruz experienced 48 quakes between mag 4.1 and 7.1. I don't have any data outside of that four month window because one of my hard drive controllers failed during a move. Isn't Niku a volcanic atoll? I can't think of how else it would've been created.
  • Both steam and elevated levels of CO2 will kill plants and coral.
  • Steam wells are often dug to generate electricity. This would certainly explain the lamp but it seems like a rather large project for such a small settlement.
  • Was the "water collection device" found near the Seven Site? If so then perhaps they were making a steam bath.

Subject: Re: Why a light?
Date: 7/18/00
From: Christian D.

Basically we can just speculate a lot. We need to find many more artifacts at the Seven to build a better picture...

Even though we haven't yet found testimony from the Coasties that they remember using the place, I would find it hard to believe that they never set up a picnic site somewhere. If I remember correctly, the Loran station was bulldozed wide open, and the trade winds must have been blowing tru it relentlessly; the beach in the area has constant pounding surf... They had a launch and a small dock, on the Lagoon side, the Seven was the narrowest land nearby, so seems a dandy place to cross from the lagoon, to set up a beach picnic site.

Certainly the Loran personnel had access to all kinds of materiel and generators, and must have been very bored. They weren't allowed to the village, so would want a R+R site closer. Might have reused the site of "Irish" with a tank. Might have set up a couple of lights with screw bases... In the early sixties a Brit from the village might have wanted to reuse the old picnic site, and brought a bulb, not realizing his bayonet style bulb wouldn't fit... If there was indeed one style of bulb, there could have been the 2 styles in use at different times. Isn't turtle hunting done at nite too?

All kinds of possibilities... Time to dig!

My 2cts...
Christian D.


From Ric

Yes, turtle hunting is done at night. Hmmmm. But you'd need a portable light.


Subject: Re: Why a light?
Date: 7/18/00
From: Vern Klein

Ric wrote:

>There was once a light on the top of the beacon that marked the landing
>channel cut through the reef but that's the only lightbulb I know of on the
>whole island.

I wonder how that was powered? Battery power and used only for short times?


From Ric

We have a photo taken in 1963 that shows a wire running from the top of the beacon to a pole sticking up from a hut that then stood in front of the Co-Op Store (maybe 15 meters away). The wire went down into the hut. My guess would be a battery and the light was used only when somebody needed to get ashore in the dark.

Come to think of it, the light at the Seven Site may have served a similar purpose. That coastline all looks pretty much alike from the lagoon and trying to find that place in the evening would be next to impossible without something to guide on. Just a thought.


Subject: Fred Noonan
Date: 7/18/00
From: Doug Brutlag

Just recently I got a phonecall from a Mr. Mark Farmer. He saw the picture of my (formerly intact) AT-7 in Flying magazine and read the short about celestial navigation training. He is a retired navigator who started his career with Pan Am and flew the M-130's & B314 China Clippers. He sent me a courtesy copy of his book Flight To Anywhere telling of his exploits as a professional flight navigator. Not only is this book interesting reading, but it contains a brief story on Fred Noonan. Although he never knew Fred personally, he writes:

Pan American's first navigator back in 1935 had been a man named Fred Noonan. I was told by those who knew him that being first, he did more or less as he pleased. He was lax about taking deviation checks on the compasses, carelessness that would be distastrous if you were depending on dead reckoning alone for a landfall. To start a long flight with undetected compass error is pure folly. We always figured that was what happened to Amelia Earhart who vanished during her round the world flight in 1937. Fred Noonan was her navigator.

Earhart & Noonan had another strike against them. Prior to WWII, there were hundreds of islands in the south pacific which had no economic value to the rest of the world. Pilots were still flying by marine charts, and these charts were plotted so ships could avoid running into islands [SS Norwich City fame], not because anyone wanted to find them. Some were as much as 20 miles from where they were depicted in the charts. I wonder if FN checked the actual position of Howland island, Earhart's destination when they disappeared.

I am going to have phone conversation with him sometime to talk navigation. I'll ask him if he would be willing to interview with you about FN specifically if you like.

Doug Brutlag


From Ric

Interesting. Mr. Farmer's recollections provide some insight into Pan Am scuttlebutt about Fred post-mortem. It will interesting to see if he says anything about the drinking thing.

TIGHAR member, former USAF navigator, and Earhart Project instigator Tom Gannon remembers his navigation instruction in 1943 cautioning the class how important it is to turn the correct way on the line of position "or you could end up like Fred Noonan."


Subject: The Seven Site
Date: 7/18/00
From: Tom King

The idea of steam venting being responsible for things like the Seven clearing and the marks on the reef is intriguing, but I'm not aware of anything resembling a steam vent anywhere on Niku. We don't really know much about the underlying geology of the island (i.e. below the coral), but presumably there's a subsiding volcano down there somewhere.

Christian's point about the Coasties makes a good deal of sense, too, since the windward side is a pretty pleasant place, in the face of the trade winds; nice place to picnic. On the other hand, however, we can be pretty sure that the tank on the Seven Site came from the village, given its attribution to the Tarawa Police Department, and the airphotos certainly suggest that this is the area that Laxton described as having been cleared and made the site of the house built for Gallagher -- which could hardly have been done by the Coasties. Multiple uses of the site are certainly possible, though.

Tom King


From Ric

The windward side a pleasant place? If you say so. Blazing sun, deafening surf, constant buffeting wind. If I was going to pick a place to picnic on Niku it would be on the opposite side of the island in the shade along the lagoon shore where the breeze comes across the lagoon. None of the Niku CG veterans I've talked to mentioned anything about picnics. After a little initial exploration they quickly settled into a routine of standing their watches and vegging out with a hammock and a beer.

What the windward side beach has going for it is a view of the northern horizon from whence a ship might be spotted, if that's you're idea of a good time.


Subject: Re: The Seven Site
Date: 7/18/00
From: Tom King

Well, I haven't been on the windward side since '89, but I remember it as being quite nice then -- on the beach, where you're facing right into the trade winds. Back in the Scaevola is doubtless another matter altogether. But if you're living at the nearby Loran station, I should think the windward beach (where there is, after all, a beach, as opposed to the situation along much of the lee side) would be a pretty attractive place to hang out.

LTM (who fondly remembers the thousands of flip-flops that had floated up on the beach in '89, too)
Tom King


From Ric

Picnics or no, we do have ample evidence (anecdotal and physical in the form of spent cartridges) that the Coasties went over there.


Subject: Re: The Seven Site
Date: 7/18/00
From: Charles Lim

If the seven site is of any use to anyone on Niku it must have had some purpose or meaning for it to be manned. This is my theory, that the site had some kind of practical value for the residents. Whatever that purpose was, (as suggested by Ric as a lookout for ships on the horizon) the ability of the manned area to function would be impaired at night.

The neccesity of placing a light on that part of the island could possibly be to warn ships of their proximity to Niku. We have the SS Norwich City as an unfortunate victim of not spotting the island at full steam, so why would any other ship in that era be any safer?

This is just and idea though, there is far more debris on Niku for anyone to just pick up and speculate even if it was just a 'rubbish dump' as someone suggested. Perhaps even, maritime navagation had advanced to avoid such a repeat of the disaster.

LTM
Charles Lim


From Ric

You may have misunderstood my remark about watching for ships. I was thinking of the castaway, not the villagers. They weren't hoping and watching for a rescue ship. Their administrative ships showed up whenever they showed up. There's no indication that any vigil was kept.

There is also no sign of colonist activity at the Seven Site until after Gallagher finds the bones and is ordered to make an organized search. There is also no reference to the site in Gallagher's official status reports even though we know there was activity there during his tenure --- thus reinforcing the notion that the site and the work being done there was related to a confidential matter (i.e. the bones).

As far as the lightbulb functioning as some kind of mini-lighthouse to keep ships from running aground, there's no indication in any of the literature that anyone was concerned about that. Besides, if the light was used where it was found (near the tank) it couldn't be seen from the ocean anyway. Only the lagoon. (See the Research Bulletin at The Seven Site.)


Subject: Re: The Seven Site
Date: 7/18/00
From: Randy Jacobson

Niku is geologically inactive, and there has been no seismicity recorded historically within a couple hundred miles of Niku. There are no geothermal hot springs. While the island has a volcanic core, the age of the core is estimated to be at least 30 million years old, and the uppermost 0.5km or so is likely coral. See any geology text book on coral atolls for information on how they develop. BTW, it was Charles Darwin who first understood how they developed.


Subject:

Re: Why a Light?

Date: 7/19/00
From: William Webster-Garman

For what it's worth, at the moment I speculate that the electric lamp was somehow associated with the water tank (which came from the village), and was used with a battery for very short periods of illumination in the early evening. Taken with the roofing material, to me, the most likely reason for the presence of these artifacts is that the settlement had established some sort of dwelling or base there. It certainly sounds like it's probably the site of "Gallagher's House" on that side of the island.

I'm much more curious to know why, exactly, Gallagher (whose life I find at least as interesting as Earhart's) had a "house" in the vicinity, and what he used it for. Was he so interested in the castaway stories that he literally lived on the seven site for an extended time, digging for more evidence (with a corresponding loss to the time he could spend helping the Gilbertese develop their colony, which was his mission on Gardner)? More realistically (and only mentioning possibilities), I suppose he could have spent at least 1 or 2 days a week at the site for several weeks.

What was it about this site that might have been attractive to a castaway in the years before the settlement was established? And did Gallagher really spend significant time there looking for evidence of Earhart's presence?

william 2243


From Ric

I can see Irish, a pilot himself, really getting turned on by the mystery of the castaway and the possibility that he could be "the man who found Amelia Earhart." The discovery of the bones has already brought him into direct communication with his highest superiors who have ordered an "organized search." Carrying out that search is not a dereliction of his duty to develop the colony but rather a mandated mission.

The site is relatively remote from the village and the weather, in November 1940, is getting a bit iffy. I can easily see him having a semi-permanent shelter built on site that was later (post-Laxton) salvaged by the villagers, leaving the detritus that we found.

Why would a castaway pick that spot? It's the only place on the island where you can have easy access to both the ocean and lagoon shores and still have the shade of tall trees.

We have no way of knowing how much time Gallagher spent looking for remains.

LTM,
Ric


Subject:

Storm Action

Date: 7/19/00
From: David Osgood

Is it possible that the artifacts found at the seven site (or elsewhere on Niku) were deposited by storm and wind action? Tom King states that he, "remembers the thousands of flip-flops that had floated up on the beach in '89," so I could imagine under the right circumstances, materiel from the ocean migrating beyond the shore line. It sounds like a similar concept to the current hypothesis for airplane debris, in that storm and tidal action may have moved heavy and non-buoyant objects relatively far from the reef flat to inside the lagoon. It seems as though the narrow and flat topography of the seven site would also aid the forces of nature with the distribution of solid matter from the reef and beach.

David B. Osgood


From Ric

In our experience, flotsam from the ocean side of the island does not wash very far (about 20 meters max) into the dense beachfront vegetation even in major weather events. Airplane wreckage washing in through the lagoon passage is a very different matter. We also see no evidence of overwash at the Seven Site and the artifacts we found there seem to be the result of intentional placement rather than random distribution.


Subject:

Re: Why a Light?

Date: 7/21/00
From: Tom King

William, when I get home (I'm on the road for awhile) I'll send you a copy of a paper I've written about Gallagher that you may find interesting (nothing about Amelia, however, and it doesn't do a thing to explain what he might have been doing on the SE end of the island).

The idea of his spending time there by himself looking for the bones, as Ric points out, isn't at all outlandish, and it seems particularly imaginable in light of the discard of the inverting eyepiece. I can imagine him thinking "This is becoming a bloody circus; I'm going to send everybody home and concentrate on this myself!" Whereupon the need for a camp of some kind becomes pretty apparent. I also wonder -- all speculation -- if a light might have been useful for close scanning of the ground under different and perhaps more favorable light conditions than one could get during the daytime. The tropical sun pretty well bleaches things out on the white coral during the daytime, and there might be some advantages in doing nighttime scans by electricity. A pretty sophisticated idea for Gallagher to have come up with, though; as I recall, though the British were pioneers in identifying archeological sites by observing things like faint shadows under different light conditions (in aerial photography), this didn't really start happening until after WWII. Still, it's something to consider -- and to think about in planning our own search operations.

TK


From Ric

For once I agree with Tom. I can see Gallagher taking a very personal interest in this and feeling a lot of pressure to not screw it up. I can also see the Gilbertese being less than thrilled about searching for more bones and digging up the skull. (Remember Emily's comment that her father "had to look at the bones.") Gallagher may easily have said to himself, "Look, I just can't count on these guys to tell me about anything they find. I'll just have to do it myself."


Subject:

Re: Storm Action

Date: 7/21/00
From: Tom King

The flipflops were all in the rather active beach area, never farther up than the vegetation line and usually nowhere near that far. I wasn't there in '91, but as I recall, people reported that they'd all flopped away by that time. It's certainly not inconceivable that a piece of clothing with a button on it could get washed up onto the site, but if so, it's a pretty funny coincidence, considering all the other oddments that are there.

TK


From Ric

I s'pect that once you have a chance to stand on the site you'll agree with me that there is almost no way that a piece of clothing could make it past all that vegetation to get washed to the place where the button was found.


Subject:

Gallagher's 7 Site House

Date: 7/21/00
From: Kenton Spading

William Webster-Garman wrote:

> I'm much more curious to know why, exactly, Gallagher (whose life I find at
> least as interesting as Earhart's) had a "house" in the vicinity [of the 7 site],
> and what he used it for.

Of course no one can say exactly why a house was built near the 7 site. I offer the following speculative (and some of it factual) food for thought.

Gallagher died of complications related to malnutrition and exhaustion. He more or less worked himself to death. Complications included the walls of his intestines becoming very thin (it seems he was rotting from the inside out).

To get himself into this state, and then die as quickly as he did, he had to work at it for a while. So, I speculate he was already feeling rotten (pun intended) by the time he left the island in May of 1941 (5 months before he died). His condition was undoubtably not helped by the hot weather and lack of any consistent breeze over in the village area on the lee side of the island. The natives, who were very fond of Gallagher and most certainly concerned about him, hit on an idea....let's build a house for Gallagher over on the windward side where he could recuperate in a cooler environment. A house set back in the trees a bit away from the surf where the cooling tradewinds could blow through might be appealing to someone raised in the windy British Isles. Gallagher is going to feel very much at home in a windy enviroment. It would certainly be more like home than the village area. I envision a house with a few natives to look after the master. Transportation would be no big deal. Send the 4-man canoe over every morning and back again at night.

Gallagher's death cannot be viewed as a one or two day (or weeks) ordeal. He was hurting for a longer length of time than that before he died. Any speculation about activities related to Gallagher in the period prior to his death (at least 6 months if not much longer) need to consider his deteriorating health.

I am speculating that the house built for Gallagher could have been motivated by his health problems. I offer this as an alternative to the theory that the house was built and the site cleared as a result of the bones search. Certainly both theories have pros and cons and they could be related. For example, In the process of building the house, they might have found the bones. That is more logical (I think) than finding the bones and then building a bunch of infrastructure to support the search industry.

I am going to post some additional thoughts that I have on the 7-site in a separate posting to avoid having this email get too long.

LTM
Kenton Spading


Subject:

Re: why a light?

Date: 7/22/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Thanks Tom, I would sincerely enjoy reading the paper you've written about Gallagher.

Actually, I've never thought it outlandish to think that Gallagher might have spent time out on the SE end of the island on his own looking for Earhart evidence. Rather, I was curious to hear a synopsis of the factors that might make us comfortable considering the possibility that he did.

My impressions, from reading his messages to his superiors, is that he probably was interested, on a personal level, in the site where the castaway bones were originally found and was at some point almost certain that Earhart and Noonan had been on Gardner.

Ric's latest comments about this contain what I think may be a good point: Given what we know about the colonists' reticence (for whatever reason, probably cultural) to even discuss the topic with Gallagher, maybe it's understandable that he ultimately continued his search alone.

william 2243


Subject:

Re: Gallagher's 7 Site House--Why Build It?

Date: 7/22/00
From: Tom King

One thing that makes Kenton's hypothesis attractive is the roll of tar paper, which (maybe) suggests that (a) they were thinking of a fairly substantial structure and (b) they didn't finish building it. If they built it while he was away in Fiji, but weren't quite finished when he got back and died......

As Kenton says, both hypotheses have merit, and we can't prove either one without more work, but it's good to have alternatives to consider.

TK


Subject:

Smithsonian's Electra

Date: 7/22/00
From: Monty Fowler

While in Washington last week for a grants workshop, I was able to slip away (OK, I ditched the afternoon session) to the National Air and Space Museum. Naturally, I made a beeline to the "Pioneers of Flight" exhibit to see what of AE's was on display. There is quite a bit, but front and center is a model of a certain Electra 10-E we're all interested in.

What interested me was what was NOT on it. With the Smithsonian's mania for accuracy, this otherwise fine model was missing numerous small details, mainly antennas, antenna wires and pitot tubes, but most noticeable was the lack of the large areas of orange trim that we know AE's Electra had on the final flight.

No one at the museum I talked to had a ready answer for this somewhat major oversight, but it does make you wonder what else the "experts" miss on occasion.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, No. 2189.

P.S. - Also on display was a leather flight jacket worn by AE. Only one thing was missing - a small, brownish, button........just kidding!


From Ric

Don't get me started about NASM.


Subject:

Re: Gallagher's 7-site House, Why build it?

Date: 7/22/00
From: Hue Miller

Kenton Spading writes:

>Gallagher died of complications related to malnutrition and exhaustion.
>He more or less worked himself to death. Complications included the walls of
>his intestines becoming very thin (it seems he was rotting from the inside
>out).

Just for the curiousity of at the least, me, regarding this interesting chapter of the overall story:

Could you please elucidate: How malnutrition? Was he living out of canned foods? Did he not share in the native diet, which was by the way based on what, besides fish? Probably the Niku natives relied on rice for their main carbohydrate?

Worked himself to death? I could understand this in the context of one being a slave on a sugar plantation or in a mine. But I don't understand how overwork in Gallagher's context could have been unhealthful, or possible, except in the way of being out of reach of medical help in case of emergency. On the islands, limitations on electric power had to limit working hours, one would think. Being relatively ignorant of the realities of island life I would even tend to think of it as a health-building life, with plenty of fresh air and exercize, and freedom from what we think of as typical workday stressors: commute, crowding, bad air, multiple demands on time, ringing phones, unwanted information, noise, social pressures. Altho Gallagher was far from a plantation aristocrat, one might think there were some material and psychic rewards to his position in a benevolent colonial hierarchy.

Hue Miller


From Ric

Hue raises a good point that invites some clearing up of possible misconceptions about the nature of life in the PISS. We ain't talking Blue Lagoon here.

Niku was not then, and is not now, an inherently "healthy" environment for anyone trying to work there. The diet of everyone on Gardner in the early days seems to have consisted primarily of canned food supplemented by locally caught fish, turtles, and perhaps even birds. Rice is unknown in Micronesia. Pits for the cultivation of taro (known locally as "babai") seem to have been a later development. Poor health of the settlers from the unbalanced and culturally foreign diet was a concern in the early years.

From Dr. MacPherson's post-mortem report it seems that Gallagher's main problem was that he simply refused to take care of himself. He developed tropical ulcers on his legs while living on Sydney (probably from injuries sustained on the coral reef) and only sought treatment when they had become incapacitating. He had dental problems that he never did get fixed, even when he was working in Suva. He persisted in self-medicating his digestive ailments with purgatives and other home remedies in spite of MacPherson's warnings.

Gallagher was a strange duck by any measure. Eric Bevington described him as the "most Christ-like man" he had ever known and perhaps that comment provides a key to understanding his utter (and ultimately self-destructive) devotion to the people of the PISS.

LTM,
Ric


Subject:

Button update

Date: 7/22/00
From: Ric Gillespie

Here's the latest on Artifact 2-3-W-5 (the button).

Archaeologist James Matthews of Fort Walton Beach, Florida has examined the artifact and submitted a preliminary written report which draws the following conclusions:

The specimen (2-3-W-5) is a medium sized button of composite material, probably bakelite, of simple design. Bakelite buttons were first produced in 1909 and are still common at the present time. This specimen is moderately weathered and pitted on both sides. The source of the weathering may have been due to exposure in a dune or beach environment at some time or due to natural decomposition. Am still trying to locate similar wind- and wave-worn small items for comparison. A portion of the specimen also has a dark stain that could be charring from limited exposure to flame or from organic origins. To date, I have not been able to identify the time period or manufacturer from the sources at hand; however, am gathering other sources and will check them.

Through the good offices of our Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Kar Burns, we are corresponding with Dr. Everett Solomons, the toxicologist at the crime lab of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who has been kind enough to take an interest in the case. Our hope is that the lab can shed more light on the stain. Dr. Solomon writes:

This is an intriguing problem. I am a toxicologist and will need to determine if some of my other forensic colleagues will take an interest in this. Our serologists would be required to assist in determining if the stains are human or animal -- possibly a very difficult task at this point.

My area and thought was to provide elemental analysis to compare to another button considered to be very similar in nature -- such a button for comparison probably does not exist.

At any rate I will study the problem and see if there is anything I/we can offer.

LTM,
Ric


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