Earhart Project Research Bulletin
June 5, 2002
The Radio Logs of the USCG Itasca
The radio logs of the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca are the only contemporaneous records of the last contacts with the Earhart flight. Understanding what they say and the context in which they were written is essential to any investigation of the disappearance. This research bulletin provides downloadable PDF images of the original logs; renderings into plain English of the “radio-ese” in which they were written; background on the physical layout of the Itasca’s radio room; background on the personnel and logging system aboard Itasca; a glossary of radio terminology; excerpts from the government radio traffic pertaining to the flight; and an analysis of the all-important 0843 message.

Why We Did This

The Itasca radio logs were written in a shorthand style common to radio operators of the time. Sown liberally with technical terminology and idiosyncracy, they are all but unintelligible to the casual reader. Add in the strikeovers, errors, underlinings, notes, and highlighting and you have a visual nightmare:

Here’s what these two entries say:

Message
Time past 0800
KHAQQ from ITASCA. Go ahead on 3105 KCS with voice, and transmit position report and signal strength on our signals.
24-6
Itasca to Earhart. We are transmitting constantly on 7.5 Megacycles. Do you hear us? Kindly confirm receipt on 3105. We are standing by. Sent by voice on 3105.
27

The 0824 message was sent in Morse code.

In order to facilitate understanding of the situation and messages, we have organized the available material into categories.

  • Background describes the situation aboard ship on the morning of July 2, 1937 and includes links to full, page-by-page, plain English translations of the radio logs.
  • PDFs of Originals are graphic images of the untranslated log pages. The originals (which are, of course, not “originals” but photocopies we obtained from the National Archives) include various notes and underlinings. We don't know when or by whom most of these marks were made.
  • Itasca Radio Room diagrams show the physical layout of the space in which this was all happening.
  • Glossary provides some help with the technical vocabulary.
  • Radio Traffic provides context by reproducing the various pre-flight messages between Earhart and the Coast Guard regarding radio protocols.
  • Analysis of 0843 uses all of these tools to dissect the most important information Earhart gave the Itasca before going silent.

In order to keep your sanity intact through this complex journey, we recommend that you read the Background section first and then go through the plain English translations of the two logs, remembering that they are independent, near real-time, descriptions of the same sequence of events. You may wish to download and print out the original logs to check against the translations and the analysis.


Background PDFs of Originals Itasca Radio Room
Glossary Radio Traffic Analysis of 0843
Archived Research Bulletins Earhart Project Home Page

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