Forum artHighlights From the Forum

April 16 through 22, 2000
Page 2 of 2

Subject: Caldwell-Luc, cont.
Date: 4/20/00
From: Tom Ruprecht

The operation is done in the area described precisely because the bone in that spot is very thin and access to the antrum is easier. It is also done there because the chance of a permanent communication ("hole") into the mouth is less likely there. This is why I feel that the area would NOT be much weaker than on the unoperated side. It is certainly possible that the healing bone does not completely re-cover the area and only soft tissue healing takes place. That would leave a hole under the cheekbone in the skull which might be visible to examiners.

IMHO (no experience with dry skulls on tropical islands), the strength of the malar area is largely in the anterior portion beneath the orbit, the floor of the orbit, and to a lesser degree by the zygomatic arch, and that a pretty radical operation would be necessary to weaken it enough to make a fracture much more likely than the left side. A skull without the mandible (unattached when dry) does leave the malar area exposed and and any blow to the side of a skull laying on its side on a firm surface would naturally take force on the area.

An area fractured since death would have sharp edges (if not severely weathered). An area wheich was operated three years prior to death would have rounded and softened edges even if a hole were left in the maxilla. Since she had the area operated on at least twice, maybe the last procedure WAS very radical, which would obviate the above.

Did AE have any facial deformity that I haven't picked up in photos?

From Ric

Not that I can see.

Subject: Re: The Noonan Project
Date: 4/21/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Regarding Tom King's remarks about alcoholism: in the United States, for most of the 20th century, and especially among white middle class males born between around 1880 and 1930 or so and living in urban areas, something called "social drinking" was very common. The practice was certainly widespread, even the norm, among successful, educated, and competent people during the era.

I know this because I grew up watching it. Passing through the wide orbit of my parents' social circle around the world I saw dozens of successful, very hard working, high level business executives and engineers who, usually along with their wives, during their non-working hours consumed amounts of alcohol that, today, would seem abusive. They called these recreational beverages "cocktails" when they contained "hard" liquor like gin or whiskey. Many of the men also consumed prodigious amounts of beer, especially on weekends and holidays. I've also witnessed this firsthand in the "salaryman" culture of modern Japan.

Were these people in an alcoholic haze at night? Yes.

Did they beat their wives and children? Usually not, this was firmly against the rules. Did they crash their cars while driving drunk? In general, no, this was recognized as utterly irresponsible.

Were they psychologically "distant"? Of course-- they drank to escape the hard work and routine of their lives. Were they drunk on the job? As a rule, never.

These people built the American technological and economic engine of the 20th century. They founded businesses, provided goods and services, created vast wealth, and as a rule, raised and sent multiple offspring through college with no government assistance. They worked hard, and they often played hard. Many undeniably suffered health and other problems as a result later in life.

As I have mentioned previously, people like Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Churchill all drank, and they drank far more than I would ever believe appropriate for myself. This was the norm during that era. It is also interesting to note that one of the most famous abstainers in those days was Adolf Hitler.

One could argue that many of the leaders and achievers of the western world during the 1930s through the 1960s lived their days anticipating mild alcoholic recreation, and their nights experiencing it. Our definition of "alcoholism" today is much broader than what it was then. Someone whom we might today characterize as a "functioning alcoholic" was, 60 years ago, not considered to be an alcoholic at all, but "normal".

It is exquisitely important to bear this context in mind when pondering any reference to alcohol consumption in the correspondence of a successful male in the 1930s. There is no evidence (in Ric's words, "zero, zip, nada") that Noonan ever had any personal habits that conflicted with his responsibilities or abilities as a world-class navigator.

History is replete with examples of intelligent and responsible people who died young as a result of error or miscalculation. It is unnecessary to assume the possibility of a moral (read "vice related") cause when there is no evidence for it to begin with.

In the case of Fred Noonan, I strongly suspect that his disappearance (with Earhart) is most likely attributable to a lost antenna on the Lae take-off, making it difficult or impossible for them to have heard vital localizing transmissions from the Itasca, the displacement of Howland Island on contemporary charts, and the presence of dappled cloud shadows on the ocean surface that day, which would have made visually sighting a flat island the size of Howland from a range of more than 5 miles or so difficult if not impossible.

With quite genuine respect for the views and perspective of Tom King, it is in my humble opinion irresponsible to give the "alcoholic myth" any serious consideration at all when there is really no shred of evidence to support it. There is no obligation to "prove the negative".

To illustrate my point, this reminds me of the old "alien visitors" loop:

I say, "there is no evidence that earth has ever been visited by a sentient alien".

I am then told, "but that doesn't mean it didn't happen, you can't prove that it didn't happen".

My response is, "of course, but without any evidence, and based on what we do know about the immense size of the galaxy and the universe and the limitations on speed imposed by relativity, it appears unlikely that we've ever been visited, even if there are billions of other civilizations out there, which is very possible, but for which there is zero evidence either right now."

To which I have been told, "well you speak very intelligently but I think you have a closed mind."

Present some hard evidence that Noonan had a problem with booze, and I'll have a very open mind. Everything in the documented record that I've read so far indicates exactly the opposite.

william 2243

Subject: The Dado
Date 4/21/00
From: Mike Muenich

Do we know who received the Model 10E's produced immediately before and immediately after AE's and what happened to them? If we could establish that the dados immediately before and immediately after AE's are identical, then the one in the "middle" should be likewise.

From Ric

Model 10E c/n 1054 was the airplane built immediately before Earhart's (c/n 1055) and was delivered to Varney Air Transport in El Paso TX on March 11, 1936. It was an airliner, as were almost all Model 10s, and so its interior might be expected to be somewhat different from Earhart's 10E Special. The airplane passed though several owners and was last known to be in service of Reeve Aleutian Airlines in Alaska proably sometime in the 1960s. If it still exists the chances of it having the original interior are about nil.

The next 10E Lockheed built was the only other 10E Special, c/n 1065, delivered to Harold S. Vanderbilt on August 26, 1936. This airplane was the one most likely to have the most similar interior to Earhart's but it ended up being purchased by the Soviet Union and is long gone. HOWEVER, c/n 1065 got a lot of press attention because Dick Merrill and Charles Lambie flew it across the Atlantic and back in May of 1937. If somebody took a photo of the interior and it showed a dado like ours, that would be pretty interesting. BUT, the very nature of the component is that nothing would show in the cabin except one little bead of trim and you can't make an ID based on that.

Subject: Light bulbs
Date: 4/21/00
From: Dennis McGee

OK, I suppose it was inevitable, so here goes.

Q: How many TIGHAR members does it take to replace a light bulb?

A: 62.

  • One to organize a trip to the hardware store to purchase a replacement.
  • One to raise funds for the trip and the purchase.
  • One to design a new series of T-shirts, "Light Bulb Change - 2000!"
  • One to create a web site page.
  • Fifty-two to endlessly discuss the life cycle of the common light bulb, the manufacturing techniques involved, source of the raw materials, delivery schedules and methods, the number of stores that sold them, and countless other issues, ad nauseam.
  • One to research 20th century glass making techniques and metallurgy, and the heating/cooling ratios and rates of tungsten.
  • One to photograph, document, and catalog the expired bulb.
  • One to perform a series of definitive forensic exams on the expired bulb to determine the race of its former owner.
  • One to analyze the properties of a minute "unknown foreign substance, possibly biological" found on the surface of the bulb.
  • One to spend 3-4 weeks in the bowels of the Smithsonian Museum to explore the possibility of a similar bulb still in use in an unused and locked broom closet.

And lastly,

  • One to create a corny-assed joke ridiculing a fairly serious issue.

LTM, who often "light"ens up
Dennis O. McGee #0149CE

From Ric

You're a cruel man, McGee.



Date: 4/21/00
From: Ross Devitt

> ... of thought. We are all in essence searching for the truth, whatever that
> might be.

Sometimes I feel TIGHAR is dedicated to "proving" Earhart made it to Gardner as its "holy grail". Then something reminds me what this is really about. For a time the bones story was just a story some guy recalled the natives telling him about a skeleton. Just as the recollections of various stories about AE on Saipan were.

Then the "bones" correspondence was discovered and opened up a whole new possibility. Until then (correct me if I'm wrong) the bones story was given about as much credence as the Amelia on Saipan story.

I dare say if TIGHAR had uncovered some correspondence between Lt. Gen. Yoshitsuyu Saito, and his superiors about a captured American woman flyer, they would not be spending all this time digging up Gardner Island!

RossD (The Mouth from the South)

From Ric

The Mouth from the South?!? I love it.

You're correct Ross. We got involved in this mess reluctantly 12 years ago. The only reason we've continued is because the Niku trail keeps getting warmer and all of the other trails remain stone cold.

If anyone needs proof that TIGHAR is willing to abandon a cherished hypothesis if the evidence leads elsewhere they need only look at Project Midnight Ghost. We spent 8 hard years (20 expeditions) searching for l'Oiseau Blanc in Maine and when it became apparent that it was a dead end we shifted our search to Newfoundland. There are STILL people searching for the French plane in Maine who can't let go of that hypothesis.

Contrary to rumor, I do not own the Sheraton franchise for Nikumaroro. I don't CARE where the lady ended up, I just want to know what happened.


Subject: Amelia's Skull and Dr. Finerman
Date: 4/21/00
From: Ron Bright

As you know we were trying to confirm the letters purportedly sent from several doctors to Dr. Ted McCown, Univ. of California, circa 1963, concerning dental records of AE and FN that might help identify skeletal remains. Fred Goerner in his book suggests that he personally reviewed the letters, but that is not clear, only that McCown had the letters.

Of critical importance to TIGHAR was a letter from "Wilmore B. Finerman,M.D. of Los Angeles," that claimed that Amelia was his patient in 1934 "at his office" and "he knew her skull should show evidence in the right maxillary sinus of an Caldwell-Luc operation".

Forum doctors Ruprecht and Postellon explained the operation and its significance to the examination of a the questioned skull. Now for even better mystery, and one that I will pursue. Get this.

My investigation disclosed that a California License #A000049285 was issued to a Wilmore B. Finerman, M.D. currently at 1245 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 603, Los Angeles,Ca. 90017 which is close to Beverly Hills. His license was actually issued on 12 Sep 1941 in California. He went to USC medical school. And surprise, his license is good and expires 3 Aug 2001. If he graduated from Med School around 25 years old, he is today 84 and about 18 in 1934.

So the only problem is how could this Finerman see Amelia in 1934. So something is amiss. Maybe this Wilmore B. Finerman is not the same guy as the Finerman who saw Amelia, but it is a unique name. (There is another Wilmore Bemart Finerman in Rye Brook,NY., but he graduated in 1976 from Med school, probably this guy's son.)

I doubt thatGoerner was mistaken, but that's why it would be interesting to see if Finerman's letter is in Goerner's stuff at the Nimitz Museum. Other scenarios are more sinister: could a doctor just make up stuff and write his way into history ? How would he know about Amelia's long time sinus problem and invent a Caldwell-Duc operation? My guess: wrong guy so far.

Maybe forum members might have some ideas. For one thing was Amelia in Los Angeles in 1934?

I shall press on.

Ron Bright ( who had his tonsils out in 1939)

From Ric

Hey, go for it. (You write like a guy half your age. That's a compliment.)

Subject: Seven Site Hypothesis
Date: 4/21/00
From: Ric Gillespie

I'm gonna take a shot at this and see where it takes us.

Circa April 1940

A Gilbertese work party out scouting for kanawa to harvest spots a big old kanawa tree on the shore of the lagoon down near the southeast end at what we now sall the "Seven Site." They go ashore, cut down the tree, and start sectioning it for transport back to the village. In the process somebody comes upon a human skull and a Benedictine bottle. Whoa! The skull gets buried, bossman Koata gets the bottle, and everybody steers clear of the area (and, after all, they already have the tree).

September 1940

Gallagher arrives about the same time Koata splits for Tarawa with the bottle, but it's too good a story and somebody blabs to "Kela" who insists that they take him to the place where it happened. He looks around and finds the other bones and artifacts. He alerts his boss that he may have found Amelia Earhart and tells Dave Wernham in Tarawa to snag that bottle when Koata shows up.

October 1940

This is the coolest thing to hit Suva since sliced breadfruit and lowly Irish soon finds himself answering direct queries from the high muckety-mucks of the WPHC. None other than Henry Harrison Vaskess, Secretary of the WPHC, orders Gallagher to conduct an organized search. Gallagher rounds up what assets he can (a tank to collect drinking water, some screening, canned food, a plate to eat it on, and even a light hooked up to one of the batteries normally used to power the wireless) and sets up a camp where he can manage the "organized search" with the help of a half dozen or so of the men from the village. The boys clear a bunch of underbrush and find a few more objects, but nothing spectacular.

December 1941

Before leaving the area Gallagher exhumes the skull, intentionally leaving it for last so as not to upset the boys. Afterward, the camp is struck and everything of value is returned to the village.

In 1944 some of the Coasties come upon the site and don't know what to make of it. In 1949 Laxton is shown whatever is left and is told that it was a "house built for Gallagher" which, strictly speaking, it was. In 1996 we locate the site and find only the stuff left behind.

Fire away.


Subject: Caldwell-Luc and the Miami Connection
Date: 4/22/00
From: Roger Kelley

Ric wrote:

>The most interesting thing here is the coincidence of the broken
>right malar on the Hoodless skull.

How close can the date of the injury be placed in relation to the death of the victim, (the Hoodless skull)? Any evidence that the wound may have healed, or partially healed?

Possible injury to the victim upon landing an aircraft or while attempting to survive in the wilds of Niku?

Roger Kelley, #2112

From Ric

Unfortunately, Hoodless give us no information other than that the bone was "broken off."

Forget Earhart for a minute. We know that the skull belonged to a castaway. How do you get to be a castaway on a Pacific atoll? Chances are, you were involved in an unpleasant event involving some mode of transportation, in this case either a boat or an airplane (probably not an automobile, train, or horse - but we don't KNOW that).

The unpleasant event that resulted in your separation from your mode of transportation (sinking boat, crashing airplane, falling off your horse) was, in all likelihood, a violent occurence which may have occasioned a facial injury. We have always said that infection resulting from injury is one of the primary life-threatening aspects of vacations on Niku. So -- we can make an argument for the broken cheekbone being pre-mortem (is that a word?).

On the other hand, we also know that the bones were chewed and scattered by some kind of critter, which presents an opportunity for the cheekbone to be broken post-mortem.

Take your pick.


Subject: Earhart's Contributions
Date: 4/22/00
From: David Evans Katz

I think most people will agree that AE did a lot to advance womankind, even if they don't believe she ended up on a Japanese prison on Saigon.

David Evans Katz

From Ric

I think you mean Saipan, not Ho Chi Minh City.

I agree that most people think that AE did a lot to advance womankind but I think you'd be hard pressed to document any specific example. AE, like many others, spoke out for equal employment opportunities for women, but she was not instrumental in bringing them about. It was not until the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s that women received that right and then it was only because the provision was added to the bill as an attempt to make it so extreme that it would not pass. Female airline pilots owe much more to Martin Luther King Jr. than to Amelia Earhart.

Since her death, and especially in recent years, a mythological Amelia Earhart has been embraced and elevated as a role model and icon -- and that's wonderful -- but it has very little to do with the professional celebrity who met an untimely end in 1937.


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