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Author Topic: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board  (Read 7949 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2018, 07:18:49 AM »

Yes, Grahame did a great job locating what's left of the C-130.  We discussed it at some length when Ernie LeRoy, Mark Smith and I met him in Weymouth earlier this month.  There are still many questions to be answered about the circumstances of that loss.

Grahame and I instantly recognized that we are kindred spirits. He's now helping us with the Glenn Miller Project. 
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2019, 09:30:22 AM »

An important question in deciding whether the wreckage found by “Mr Fisher” is worth further investigation is that of the routing taken across the English Channel by the Norseman that day.  One hypothesis is that Morgan chose to route via Portland Bill and then Cherbourg.  As someone who has flown across the channel in light aircraft many times, I have to say I think that is very, very unlikely, because of the poor visibility.  It might well be “an easily identifiable landmark in low visibility”, but it would be all too easy to miss.
The best weather report we have for Twinwood that day is a visibility of only one and a half miles, which is still rubbish.  If that persisted all the way to the coast there is a good chance that Morgan would miss Portland Bill completely. OK, he would see the coast, but then he would have to fly along it east or west to find his chosen landmark, and it would be hard to know which way to go [similar to Earhart’s problem in the Pacific].
A better bet would be to head south for the Isle of Wight.  That is wide enough to make it unlikely to miss, and it would then give a good fix for the leg to Cherbourg.  Furthermore the total distance to Villacoublay is less, and crucially the overwater distance is also less.  Was there any reason NOT to route via the Isle of Wight?  Anti-aircraft defences around Southampton perhaps?

Cheers

Sean
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2019, 04:22:08 PM »

An important question in deciding whether the wreckage found by “Mr Fisher” is worth further investigation is that of the routing taken across the English Channel by the Norseman that day.

Yes.  We have tried but, so far, we have found nothing to show that the Miller Norseman did not try to cross at Portland Bill.  We can argue whether or not it was the wisest choice but we cannot dismiss it because it is not what the pilot "would have" done. In historical investigation, "would have" is a guess masquerading as a fact. To eliminate a crossing at Portland Bill we would have to find proof that the crossing happened elsewhere.

  One hypothesis is that Morgan chose to route via Portland Bill and then Cherbourg.  As someone who has flown across the channel in light aircraft many times, I have to say I think that is very, very unlikely, because of the poor visibility.

Do you know what the visibility along the Dorset coast was that afternoon?  I don't.

The best weather report we have for Twinwood that day is a visibility of only one and a half miles, which is still rubbish.

Agreed, but that report was for nearly two hours before Morgan took off.

  If that persisted all the way to the coast there is a good chance that Morgan would miss Portland Bill completely. OK, he would see the coast, but then he would have to fly along it east or west to find his chosen landmark, and it would be hard to know which way to go [similar to Earhart’s problem in the Pacific].

Agreed, but we don't know that Morgan was ever flying in one and a half mile visibility, let alone that those conditions persisted all the way to the coast.

A better bet would be to head south for the Isle of Wight.  That is wide enough to make it unlikely to miss, and it would then give a good fix for the leg to Cherbourg.  Furthermore the total distance to Villacoublay is less, and crucially the overwater distance is also less.

That all seems logical.


  Was there any reason NOT to route via the Isle of Wight?  Anti-aircraft defences around Southampton perhaps?

That would be my guess.  We haven't found a map of anti-aircraft defenses (guns and barrage balloons) along the coast for that time period, but we know that V-1s were an on-going threat to major military installations and population centers such as Southampton.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 04:24:27 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2019, 11:02:41 AM »

Hmm. If we are asking ourselves whether the wreckage dredged up by Mr Fisher is that of Glenn Miller’s Norseman, then we can’t take the fact that a line from Portland Bill to Cherbourg goes through the position of the wreckage as evidence for that.  Unless we have a reason to think Morgan might have taken that route.  After all, we can draw any number of lines through that position, and we could do the same for any other position in the Channel.  The only routing for which we have evidence is the Amber corridor, and the evidence is only that it was the “standard” route.
Like you, I don’t know what the weather and visibility was along the south coast and over the channel that day, but the reports cited in TIGHAR Tracks suggest that conditions got worse the further south you went.
Would Morgan even have needed a visual landmark?  Although he wasn’t rated to fly on instruments he had been trained “on the gauges”, and presumably that included radio navigation.  Were there radio navigation aids available in that area at that time?  Dennis Spragg seems to think so: “Morgan was used to the nav-aids and there is no reason to think he did not follow them.”
I just don’t think that there is any evidence for the Portland Bill – Cherbourg route, and it’s not a route a sensible pilot would have taken.  But then, would a sensible pilot even have departed Twinwood…?

All the Best

Sean
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2019, 10:08:23 AM »

Were there radio navigation aids available in that area at that time?

Great question.  Yes, there were two forms of radio navigation aids available:
• Low frequency radio ranges
• Non-directional radio beacons

The beauty of the Low Frequency Range was that it required only a receiver, a suitable antenna, and earphones.  Low Frequency Ranges could be used to fly the approved cross-channel routes. None of the ranges in England would be of much use in navigating from Twinwood to Portland Bill but once you got closer to France you could use LF Ranges to navigate Paris.
 Based on photos we've seen, few C-64s were equipped with loop antennas ("footballs") so non-directional beacons were probably of no use to Morgan.  If Morgan flew from Twinwood to Portland Bill he probably did it by dead reckoning and pilotage.  Tricky in low ceiling and visibility but I've made longer flights under those conditions.  As Lindbergh supposedly said, "The only thing wrong with dead reckoning is the name." 
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2019, 08:48:19 AM »

 I do like the quote.  Although there are other things wrong with dead reckoning, especially if better navigation methods are available.  And it would seem that in this case there were.  Radio navigation aids were available for the standard routes, and Morgan may well have been able to use them.  Why would he choose not to, especially on such a marginal day.  In fact, if navaids were available the departure from Twinwood is much more understandable;  I had assumed he was navigating visually.
Of course, it is entirely possible that Morgan became disorientated over the channel, made one or more gross navigation errors, and ended up miles off course. 

Cheers

Sean
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2019, 09:47:15 AM »

Radio navigation aids were available for the standard routes, and Morgan may well have been able to use them.  Why would he choose not to, especially on such a marginal day?

Fair question.  The fact that it was such a marginal day could explain why he chose not to follow the standard routes. 
A.  Morgan knew he was breaking the rules. He had no clearance and the air traffic control center knew nothing about the flight.  He was apparently hoping he could just show up at Villacoublay and no one would ask how he got there.  Taking an approved route would put him at low altitude over a number of Royal Observer Corps posts.  The passage of an unexpected Norseman would likely be noticed and reported.  When you're breaking the rules, you try to avoid being caught. (Ask me how I know.)
B.  Morgan was "scud running." He had to stay out of the clouds to avoid ice so he was sneaking along beneath an overcast in low visibility.  When you're doing that you have to go where the weather and terrain dictate.  If the ceiling is lowering up ahead but it looks better off to the right, that's where you go.  It's hairy. (Ask me how I know.)
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Joy Diane Forster

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2019, 12:39:15 PM »

Ok, Ric, I'm asking -- How do you know?   :)
TIGHAR Member #4239
 
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2019, 01:38:22 PM »

B.  Morgan was "scud running." He had to stay out of the clouds to avoid ice so he was sneaking along beneath an overcast in low visibility.  When you're doing that you have to go where the weather and terrain dictate.  If the ceiling is lowering up ahead but it looks better off to the right, that's where you go.  It's hairy. (Ask me how I know.)

So, in the discussion we've assumed that the Miller aircraft went down while flying south / southeast from England to France, but it occurs to me that at some point pilot Morgan may have decided to run from the worst of the weather back to England, didn't want to retrace his direct path from the coast due to low visibility, and heads for Portland Bill area instead, intending to intersect the coast hopefully in better weather.  History intervened.

There are a lot of variables, some of which we can only speculate on, that could have the aircraft far away from the most logical or direct course across the channel.  Most lost aircraft are not found in the most logical or likely spot.  Otherwise they wouldn't be lost.

Best

Andrew
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2019, 08:15:36 AM »

I agree with Andrew.  We do not and can never know what direction/course the Norseman was flying when it went down.  Using the location of the wreck, assuming it is the Norseman, as a clue as to the intended route to the continent is a bit of a red herring. 

It may well be that at some unknown point in time and location over the channel Morgan decided the weather was too bad to continue and changed course in an attempt to get back to England and dry land.

If the wreck does turn out to be the Norseman, then the exact route becomes irrelevant.  This is where they ended up, no matter how they got there.  And the only way to determine if it is the Norseman is to go and look. 

Pack your bags Ric, you're headed back to "jolly ole England".

Bill Mangus
Researcher #3054SP
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2019, 08:29:54 AM »

I agree with Andrew.  We do not and can never know what direction/course the Norseman was flying when it went down.  Using the location of the wreck, assuming it is the Norseman, as a clue as to the intended route to the continent is a bit of a red herring. 

You and Andrew have it backward.  The location of the wreck is not a clue to how it got there.  Deciding whether to search for the wreck requires that we ask if the aircraft could have gone down in that location.  The answer is yes.
In that respect it's similar to the question of whether missing French sailor Albert Culas could be the castaway of Gardner island.  Once we knew that Culas went missing off the coast of Newfoundland the answer was obvious.

If the wreck does turn out to be the Norseman, then the exact route becomes irrelevant.  This is where they ended up, no matter how they got there.

The same is true of Earhart and Noonan being at Gardner.  We'll never know exactly how they got there but that doesn't mean we shouldn't ask how it might have logically happened.
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2019, 09:37:18 AM »

Another question.  Or four.
Do we know the identity of Mr Fisher’s crew the day he dredged up an aircraft?  Has there been any contact with them, and do they corroborate his story?  Can they provide any additional details of the aircraft, and therefore either confirm or rule out its possible identification as a C-64?

Regards

Sean
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2019, 09:44:52 AM »

Do we know the identity of Mr Fisher’s crew the day he dredged up an aircraft?

There were only two or three other people on the boat.  One was his son who is now unable to help due to medical issues (long unpleasant story). The others were pick-up deck hands.  He now has no idea who they were that day.  Of course, today there would be video and photos taken with smart phones but this was 1987 and nobody had a camera.
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2019, 04:52:06 AM »

At that time Mr Fisher would have been required to keep both employment records for Social Security/National Insurance and crew records for maritime safety.  It's been 32 years so I guess he no longer has those records, but it's worth asking the question if you haven't done so already.  Also, does the fishing boat still exist? Would the ship's log record crew members?

Cheers

Sean
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Sean Kerry-Williams

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Re: Welcome to the Glenn Miller Research board
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2019, 09:45:18 AM »

I have been following with considerable interest the search over the last couple of weeks for Emiliano Sala’s plane in the English Channel.  For those unaware, Sala was an Argentinian footballer travelling across the channel from Nantes (France) to Cardiff (Wales) on the night of 21st January this year in a Piper Malibu registration N264DB, when the aircraft disappeared off radar between Guernsey and Portland Bill.  The Piper Malibu is a sophisticated, albeit single-engined aircraft, and the pilot David Ibbotson was experienced and instrument-rated. 
Initial searches found no traces of the aircraft or survivors, and the search was called off on 24th January.  When a couple of seat cushions washed up on the French coast a week or so later an underwater search using sonar was started.  What is interesting is that this search was confined to a very small area of only four square miles, presumably based on the final recorded radar position.  The aircraft was found on the sea bed within a few hours of the search commencing.  A submersible with cameras confirmed the identity of the aircraft, and found one body still on board, which was recovered on Wednesday.  It has subsequently been identified as that of Emiliano Sala.  There is no trace of David Ibbotson.  RIP.
The relevance of this is that we may have a pretty good position for Mr Fisher’s find – although Decca is a now antiquated navigation system it was still very accurate.  What method of search would have the best chance of rediscovering the wreckage?  Would the remains of a canvas aeroplane be easily detected using sonar?  Any ideas?
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