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Author Topic: Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009  (Read 8920 times)

Michael Vincent Maina

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Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009
« on: January 10, 2010, 04:20:26 PM »

Ric,

Big article in today's local Vero Beach newspaper about the Waitt search for AE's Electra off the west cost of Howland. Vero Beach is home to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute which operates the Research Vessel Seward Johnson that was used on the search.

Waitt Institute has new webpage <searchforamelia.org> full of interesting stuff.

I would be most interested in your reaction to Waitt's conclusions, some of which seem to run counter to your research - especially the airplane's range performance and also interpretation of certain radio TX's.

One very interesting speculation is that LAE radio incorrectly recorded the 0519 position longitude as 159.7E instead of an actual 150.7E. When such a correction is made it is possible to match a theoretical flight path quite close to the few radio reports made.

I guess overall the Waitt search must have cost a bundle, but when you have a dedicated Billionaire involved many things become possible!

Regards,

Mike

  
« Last Edit: January 10, 2010, 05:38:11 PM by moleski »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2010, 05:07:43 PM »

Mike,

Thanks for the heads-up about the Waitt site.  It's interesting that they are now going public with the results of their most recent failed search. We'll want to take a close look at the information they present but I can already tell you that they are surprisingly ignorant of TIGHAR's hypothesis. They say:

"Main support for the theory comes from analysis of radio transmissions allegedly made by Earhart and received at Honolulu, Wake Island and Midway Island radio operator stations. But numerous questions exist also, not the least of which is whether or not the Electra could transmit any signal with inoperative engines and generators, especially following an off-field landing or water-ditching."

We, of course, do not postulate a crash or ditching but, rather, a successful landing on the atoll's fringing reef.

Ric

Ric
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 06:45:49 AM »

Ric:-----Gee wouldnt it have been great if TIGHAR and Waitt had gottne together, and used their underwater search equipment to check the depths off the reef at Nikumaroro. As you told me earlier, the ocean flood drops off rather quickly once you get past the reef. Check Google Ocean--it says from 10 foot to 2000+ feet ---like the side of a mountain. So If AE's electra is down there, the water might be cold enough to help preseve it, along with the sand.
Their equipment or the of Woods Hole (Bob Ballard) would be perfect.
On you next trip, are you thinking of looking around the depths just off the reef?
Tom

Ric,

Big article in today's local Vero Beach newspaper about the Waitt search for AE's Electra off the west cost of Howland. Vero Beach is home to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute which operates the Research Vessel Seward Johnson that was used on the search.

Waitt Institute has new webpage <searchforamelia.org> full of interesting stuff.

I would be most interested in your reaction to Waitt's conclusions, some of which seem to run counter to your research - especially the airplane's range performance and also interpretation of certain radio TX's.

One very interesting speculation is that LAE radio incorrectly recorded the 0519 position longitude as 159.7E instead of an actual 150.7E. When such a correction is made it is possible to match a theoretical flight path quite close to the few radio reports made.

I guess overall the Waitt search must have cost a bundle, but when you have a dedicated Billionaire involved many things become possible!

Regards,

Mike

  
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 07:34:29 AM »

The steep reef slope environment at Nikumaroro is, in some ways, a more difficult place to search than the relatively flat, but much deeper ocean bottom near Howland.  If the Electra is down there on the reef slope - and I think it is - it's in pieces. We think the plane was initially hung up on the reef edge in the surf zone and eventually pounded to pieces, some lightweight components washing ashore to be later salvaged and used by the colonists who arrived in 1939 to make fishing lures, combs and decorative inlays for carved wooden handicraft items (boxes, model canoes, etc.) for trade. We have found examples of all those items made of 24ST Alclad aircraft aluminum in the abandoned village.

Some lightweight components were probably washed "downstream" from the wreck site and may now comprise an underwater debris field - but that stuff could be widely scattered. The heavier components - the massive center section and the two engines - probably didn't travel far laterally and should be in deep water near where the wreck initially went over the edge.  That's the theory anyway.  We hope to test it with an ROV on this upcoming trip but we need to raise the money to do it. 

The money we need to do an ROV search is a tiny fraction of the millions Waitt and others have spent searching the ocean bottom north and west of Howland but there is no point in whining about that.

Ric
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Michael Vincent Maina

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Re: Waitt Institute for Discovery Search Expedition 2009
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 05:42:38 PM »

Mike,

Thanks for the heads-up about the Waitt site.  It's interesting that they are now going public with the results of their most recent failed search. We'll want to take a close look at the information they present but I can already tell you that they are surprisingly ignorant of TIGHAR's hypothesis. They say:

"Main support for the theory comes from analysis of radio transmissions allegedly made by Earhart and received at Honolulu, Wake Island and Midway Island radio operator stations. But numerous questions exist also, not the least of which is whether or not the Electra could transmit any signal with inoperative engines and generators, especially following an off-field landing or water-ditching."

We, of course, do not postulate a crash or ditching but, rather, a successful landing on the atoll's fringing reef.

Ric

Ric

Thanks Ric.
Obviously the fundamental difference as between the Waitt Institute (plus others) and TIGHAR is our belief that AE landed at Gardner and subsequently perished whereas they believe she perished at sea. In arriving at their consensus of a ditching or CFIT west of Howland they appear to disregard irrefutable facts of the plane’s performance with regard to range. Statements made about Cambridge Analyzer failure, excessive fuel consumption etc. are pure speculation and are quite likely invalid. My own reconstruction of AE’s flight shows a probable arrival at Gardner after 22.4 flight hrs (including an expanding square/parallel track search of 1.5 hrs) with 68 gallons of fuel remaining. Distance flown being 3,110 SM which is well within the plane’s capabilities. Waitt seems to have placed great reliance on a number of sources which to me do not have anywhere near the quality of your research and indeed in most cases appear to simply imply self seeking publicity.
Anyway, I puts me money on you and certainly hope this year’s expedition turns up the “smoking gun”. Like many others I am sure the Electra wreckage will be discovered off the reef.
Mike
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