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John Kada

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2012, 05:42:08 PM »

Thank you for posting that portion of the map, Ric. I agree that with the information we have at present we can't know whether someone from the Bushnell spent time within the boundaries of the Seven Site.

But I’m not motivated by ardent naysaying, I’m simply trying to come to the best possible interpretation of the clues that Tighar has amassed through a lot of hard work. One of the most important of those clues is sextant box. The Bushnell was surveying the lagoon and it’s my understanding that surveying sextants were tools used in that kind of work. It’s certainly reasonable to think that surveying sextants used by personnel from the Bushnell would have had Naval Observatory numbers, and it is conceivable that somehow a sextant box from the Bushnell got left behind near the castaway’s remains and then was found during the search that uncovered the rest of the castaway’s bones, after Gallagher learned of the skull. You and I and the rest of the forum can keep posting about the likelihood of this hypothesis being true without ever resolving the issue. The thing about it though is that this hypothesis is testable, at least potentially. If records of the Naval Observatory numbers of the sextants used by the crew of the Bushnell when it surveyed the Phoenix group are available, then if those records indicate that a surveying sextant with Naval Observatory number 1542 was used in this surveying work, the hypothesis I’ve put forward will be proven correct and we’ll properly understand the origin of the sextant box. If sextant #1542 wasn’t used by the Bushnell, the hypothesis can be set aside. (added later: And if no relevant records are found, then we'll all have to live with the possibility that the sextant was from the Bushnell).

What are the chances of finding this information? Probably slim, but I refer you to this timepiece with USNO#44 inscribed in its case, which I posted about here. An impressive amount of information was dug up about this watch, including its assignment to the USS Cushing. Perhaps the information we seek about the Bushnell’s surveying sextants can be found through archival research. I admit that I don’t know where to begin but perhaps Tighar’s resourceful researchers do. Or perhaps Tighar can hire a person with the research skills to find those records if they do still exist. It is my understanding that the National Archives maintains a list of experienced researchers who do this kind of work—for a fee of course. I’ve gotta think that the cost of trying to uncover this information would be a very small fraction of the cost of a full scale expedition to Nikumaroro. It seems to me that Tighar might wish to consider the merits of such an expenditure.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 06:47:54 PM by John Kada »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2012, 07:32:19 PM »

The Naval Observatory Records are kept at the National Archives (NARA), in Washington, DC.  Although I live on the "west coast", I've been a little involved in a search of those records for information about sextants that might be associated with Noonan and Manning.  The TIGHAR folks who have actually spent time at the archives looking through hundreds of boxes of old records deserve a LOT of thanks, even though they haven't given us a smoking gun.   What they have given us is a clearly identifed place to look for the information that will eventually connect a particular sextant to a person or ship.  I wish I was on the "right" coast and could spend time in the archives looking through boxes of old Navy Observatory correspondence.  Any volunteers?  It just takes lots of hours to leaf through boxes of old papers, but for some of us those hours are fascinating!
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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John Kada

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2012, 07:59:07 PM »

The Naval Observatory Records are kept at the National Archives (NARA), in Washington, DC.  Although I live on the "west coast", I've been a little involved in a search of those records for information about sextants that might be associated with Noonan and Manning.  The TIGHAR folks who have actually spent time at the archives looking through hundreds of boxes of old records deserve a LOT of thanks, even though they haven't given us a smoking gun.   What they have given us is a clearly identifed place to look for the information that will eventually connect a particular sextant to a person or ship.  I wish I was on the "right" coast and could spend time in the archives looking through boxes of old Navy Observatory correspondence.  Any volunteers?  It just takes lots of hours to leaf through boxes of old papers, but for some of us those hours are fascinating!

There may be other places to search for records relevant to the Bushnell, besides the records of the USNO. I've been pretty occupied making posts on this Bushnell Hypothesis idea and haven't tried to get some idea where to look. But perhaps the a branch of the National Archives on the West Coast would hold files worth investigating. The Bushnell could have been supplied with its instruments through a west coast Naval Shipyard, for instance. A first step might be to explore that possibility.

Perhaps a Tighar member in the know can tell us where in the National Archives the Bushnell papers came from? Perhaps there is more to obtained wherever those came from. I would be very interested in pursuing that if I had a chance to get to D.C.

Separate from the question of the Bushnell I'd previously made a post on another thread suggesting that files of the U.S. Shipping Board might be of interest with regard to the transfer of sextants from the USNO to the merchant fleet after WWI. I still think that line of research should be pursued. But the Bushnell--it was right there at Gardner Island!...
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2012, 09:20:58 PM »

I agree that with the information we have at present we can't know whether someone from the Bushnell spent time within the boundaries of the Seven Site.
With respect, I would say that insufficient data to know with certainty didn't impede Ric from drawing a conclusion.  He said the evidence the Bushnell party left behind, from their own maps and documentation of where they surveyed and built towers, indicates they were never at the Seven Site. The knowledge on this point is about as reliable as we could hope it to be.  Ric never said "we can't know."  Rather, he said based upon what he has seen and assembled, we can guess fairly accurately.

But I’m not motivated by ardent naysaying, I’m simply trying to come to the best possible interpretation of the clues that Tighar has amassed through a lot of hard work.
I for one appreciate your approach of considering new possibilities. We need to do this and, to the extent possible, test each one and see how it does or does not line up with the collective or individual's interpretation thus far of the evidence.

One of the most important of those clues is the sextant box. The Bushnell was surveying the lagoon and it’s my understanding that surveying sextants were tools used in that kind of work. It’s certainly reasonable to think that surveying sextants used by personnel from the Bushnell would have had Naval Observatory numbers, and it is conceivable that somehow a sextant box from the Bushnell got left behind near the castaway’s remains and then was found during the search that uncovered the rest of the castaway’s bones, after Gallagher learned of the skull.
It's reasonable, but there's no evidence that has been presented that this is what happened. There is, however, a chain of photographic evidence and a written account by Noonan himself that potentially link the box found on Nikumaroro to a World War I U.S. Navy surplus sextant.  The evidence is not ironclad, but if it leads where it seems to point, then would not the U.S. Navy have had to re-purchase sextants it sold as surplus 20 years before the Bushnell team arrived in 1939 for that box to be brought by them to the Seven Site (which they indicated on a map they never visited)?  I don't ask this rhetorically, and I'm not dismissing it out of hand.  A single document could, as you suggest, entirely dismiss this evidence and attribute the sextant to the Bushnell party. 

You and I and the rest of the forum can keep posting about the likelihood of this hypothesis being true without ever resolving the issue.
I've had a number of forays into research for TIGHAR with corporate archives and libraries, and my experience is that with the right cooperation you can gather a lot of useful information, but resolution to the level at which you speak comes at a much higher price.  And it's a moving target.  Those who disagree can always raise the bar once they find you've reached that level.

I very much appreciate your effort to try to build new possibilities with regard to the sextant box, and I notice you made a valuable addition to the dating of the Keuffel & Esser sextants, as well as research on Navy surplus activities.  Your research has led me to consider a new "sign-off" in my signature.  I hope you will not consider the question rhetorical, but rather an invitation to enlighten me.  There is much I can see, especially with regard to the Bushnell Papers, that your analysis has led me to examine and newly discover.

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     Joe Cerniglia
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John Kada

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2012, 01:08:56 AM »

Joe,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Rather than create a series of nested boxes, let me try replying to your comments in order (the mechanics of nesting posts are beyond me at this hour...).

I’m not sure Ric is actually saying what you claim he does, but in any case I’m not following how from the map of the Bushnell team’s survey points one can conclude that the Bushnell sailors were not at the Seven Site. Can you flesh this out for me?

You say that I have not provided evidence that a Bushnell sailor left a sextant box at the Seven Site. Indeed I have not, any more than Tighar has provided evidence that that Noonan carried a Brandis/Naval Observatory sextant onto the Electra on his last flight.  I’ve suggested that a good case can be made that the sextant box found on Gardner could have been from the Bushnell. This is based upon a sound set of facts: teams of Bushnell sailors surveyed Gardner Island in 1939; surveying points were close to the Seven Site; surveying sextants are used in that kind of work; a US Navy surveying sextant of that era would be marked with a Naval Observatory number. If I may say so, I don’t think this line of reasoning is really any weaker than the reasoning Tighar uses to hypothesize that Noonan had a Brandis/Naval Observatory sextant on his last flight, and that is not meant as some kind of put down -- Tighar has presented good reasons to believe such a sextant may have been on the last flight of the Electra, but it doesn’t have evidence. In the case of what I’ll refer to as the Bushnell hypothesis, we actually know the Bushnell made it to Gardner so I think one might even argue that the Bushnell hypothesis better explains how a Naval Observatory sextant box could have been found near the castaway than does the Nikumaroro hypothesis. But again, the kind of evidence you are asking me to provide does not exist for either hypothesis. Good reasons can be offered for Noonan having a Brandis/Naval Observatory sextant on his last flight and that last flight may have ended at Gardner. I have good reasons to believe that Naval Observatory sextants were used by the crew of the Bushnell and it is a fact that the Bushnell was at Gardner. (Notice that we are now getting into a potentially endless, unresolvable, argument? Wouldn't it be better to look for the evidence that will end the argument?).

I’m not following your point regarding re-purchasing 20 year old sextants—I never said the Bushnell was using re-purchased sextants.  Perhaps you are thinking of my previous posts on other threads where I’ve estimated that the sextant with N.O. number 1542 was given its N.O. number around 1918 or 1919. I’ve also pointed out that the US Navy had a glut of sextants after WWI and disposed of them in two ways: by giving them to the merchant fleet (where Noonan served) and by sending them to the Washington Navy Yard for sale as surplus; I certainly still think that those are avenues of research that should be pursued. The sextant with N.O. number 1542 might have left the Navy by one of those routes, but here on this thread I’ve been considering the possibility that sextant #1542 remained in the US Navy and was used by the crew of the Bushnell in 1939. The US Navy apparently continued to use sextants it purchased in the WWI era for many decades—that is why we see what appear to be WWI era sextants with eccentricity certificates dated in the 1930’s and 1940s. One ebay seller of a sextant on the Ameliapedia sextant table actually claimed he used his Brandis sextant on a USN vessel in the 1960s, incredibly enough.

To summarize: one year before the castaway’s skeletal remains and a US Naval Observatory Sextant Box were found the US Navy did hydrographic surveying work at Gardener Island. Surveying sextants were a tool used in doing hydrographic survey work. Sextants used by the US Navy can reasonably be expected to have had Naval Observatory numbers. Navy personnel were clearly in the vicinity of the Seven Site and could well have spent time there. It is certainly possible that a Navy guy left a sextant box with N.O. number 1542 behind. 

That’s my quite reasonable hypothesis. I would say that it would be a terrible error for Tighar not to make an effort to try to find records that would tell us whether a surveying sextant with N.O. number 1542 was used in the Bushnell survey. Obviously this line of research could weaken the Nikumaroro hypothesis if it is discovered that the sextant box was from the Bushnell. In the past Tighar has found artifacts that held promise as potential artifacts from the Electra, only to later announce that careful research had led them to conclude the object in question was from somewhere else. I see no reason why Tighar should not once again do that kind of careful research regarding the possibility that the sextant was from the Bushnell.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 01:13:15 AM by John Kada »
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #35 on: November 02, 2012, 06:06:04 AM »

Joe,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I always enjoy reading your posts.
Thanks. I enjoy reading yours as well.  I can see that behind the scenes, you've put a lot of research into what you're saying.

I’m not sure Ric is actually saying what you claim he does, but in any case I’m not following how from the map of the Bushnell team’s survey points one can conclude that the Bushnell sailors were not at the Seven Site. Can you flesh this out for me?
What I said above was really just a fancy way of saying, Ric is not absolutely sure, but he thinks the evidence points more in one direction than the other.  By "conclude," I should point out, I don't mean to say the answer is final and unimpeachable and that new evidence, such as what you seek, couldn't overturn all of it.  What I'm saying is, the conclusion is based upon where some think (not know) the evidence points.  By the way, I never let such "conclusions" stop me from pursuing the data, and I don't believe you will - or should - either.

Just one brief example: There was a very brief moment back in 2010 in which we had "concluded" the ointment jar held a food product.  We backtracked, took another look, and concluded all over again from glass catalogs that, no, actually it probably didn't.  Glass catalogs had ample evidence that the type of jar in question had been used for cosmetic ointments. No harm done.  This sort of thing happens all the time. 

You say that I have not provided evidence that a Bushnell sailor left a sextant box at the Seven Site. Indeed I have not, any more than Tighar has provided evidence that that Noonan carried a Brandis/Naval Observatory sextant onto the Electra on his last flight. 
If by evidence you mean proof, then you're right. I offered no proof.  But I did offer evidence, as did you.  If you look at the photo of Victor Wright I've attached, you'll see there's some very good documentary evidence that Noonan carried sextant boxes, probably with the same dovetailed joinery Harold Gatty observed when he looked at the Nikumaroro sextant box, on his flights.  Wright and Noonan were like Spock and Captain Kirk in those early days, so there's even a chance the box pictured in the background may be the same one found on Gardner Island, according to the bulletin I cited earlier.

Now, this is speculative interpretation of the evidence, but I find this to be an interesting coincidence. 

You have proof the Bushnell Party was there and one can speculate they used sextants of the type that may have been contained in the sextant box found on Nikumaroro. It would remain for each to weigh this in his own way and decide what he or she thinks happened.  This is fine.  In light of the sum total of evidence for the Nikumaroro Hypothesis that TIGHAR has gathered, I rather believe that the sextant would not ultimately be necessary as evidence in its overall case.  The sextant box is not worth an argument per se, but it might be a good springboard for a discussion on how one or another approaches the overall evidence.

I’ve suggested that a good case can be made that the sextant box found on Gardner could have been from the Bushnell.
Yes, you've made a good case.  If the sextant box were the only thing the Nikumaroro Hypothesis had going for it, I'd even say your case is the most probable version of events.  When you combine the fact that the sextant box was found with a diorama of other artifacts, faunal evidence, and human remains of a castaway, along with the radio evidence, the navigational logic, and anecdotal evidence, it seems logical that the sextant box may have belonged to the castaways who were Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Please note I did say may.  Gallagher, who was there, seemed to have thought so, given that he went to some degree of effort to describe it to the authorities who questioned him about it.  The authorities, who examined the box, also thought it worth sending to two experts in air navigation for an opinion. These experts did not share TIGHAR's opinion.  You might be pleased as well to know that the Western Pacific High Comissioner would have readily subscribed to your Bushnell Hypothesis.

Alternative solutions can be generated by isolating each piece of evidence. It just becomes much harder to do so when you imagine the entire scene that must have greeted Gallagher when he came upon the bones.

I think one of the problems we are having is that many of us, and I am one, have become so accustomed to ambiguity and uncertainty in the data that we've long since become dependent on probabilities.  We have also become quite accustomed not to rely upon any single piece of evidence or artifact as the key to solving the mystery.  It's the difference between a smoking gun and preponderance of evidence.  I am firmly in the preponderance of evidence school of thinking.  By this same token, I believe in the details of each piece of evidence, learning absolutely everything one can possibly know, not to strengthen it as a smoking gun, but to strengthen the overall chain of evidence.

I hope this has not led to any misapprehension that I or anyone else knows any of these things for sure.  And, yes, I can see quite clearly how the chain of events with the Bushnell party could have happened.  I am simply inclined to suppose that a different set of events happened. 

Wouldn't it be better to look for the evidence that will end the argument?).
I personally do not have any immediate plans to do more extensive research on the sextant for the simple reason that I'm already committed to a set of other projects with the artifactual glass.  I simply don't have that much free time.  One of the reasons I could write more than usual yesterday was a rare vacation day.  This doesn't mean that you should not pursue it, or that anyone else should not.  Have at it.

By the way, I would like to state, for the record, that the answer to the question below will always be a hearty 'yes'.

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     Joe Cerniglia
     TIGHAR #3078 ECR
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #36 on: November 02, 2012, 06:34:00 AM »

I have just one "fun" addendum.  In order to provide some perspective on the "school of thinking" of which I speak, Dr. Tom King, TIGHAR board member and archaeologist, has generously offered this morning to share an email he wrote back in August that I thought might be relevant. The email was in reference to the attached jpeg I unearthed from an Earhart discussion blog on the internet.  I think it summarizes things about as nicely as any book could.  Here it is:

Dr. King:
"Never assume" -- part of the Navy Seal training mantra of "Rogue Warrior" author Richard Marcinko -- is excellent advice, I think.  Of course we can't assume that Niku "natives" wouldn't have had access to freckle cream.  We also can't assume that a Coast Guardsman wouldn't have been carrying a compact full of rouge, that some "native" might not have chosen the Seven Site to experiment with culturally atypical forms of clam opening and fish cooking, that an adventuresome Coast Guardsman mightn't have put a couple of bottles upright in a fire to see whether they'd melt or explode, that John William Jones wasn't really a super-clever hoaxer with a functioning radio, that Emily Sikuli wasn't kidding about the wreckage on the reef, and so on. 
 
It's the old "smoking gun" vs "preponderance of evidence" thing; to account for our evidence we can either ascribe it to Earhart or posit that some Niku resident was using freckle cream, AND that a Coast Guardsman was carrying a compact, AND that a "native" got crazy with the fish and clams, AND that some Coastie was a bottle burner, AND that Jones was a hoaxer, AND that Emily was kidding -- AND of course that the bones found in 1940 were those of some unknown castaway who floated in on his sextant box that just happened to be US Navy surplus.  A reasonable person, I think, really has to opt for Earhart.  Unfortunately the media want a smoking gun, and tend to turn everything we find into one, which guarantees this kind of reaction.
###

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     Joe Cerniglia
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #37 on: November 02, 2012, 08:02:54 AM »

I'm enjoying this discussion greatly.  I'll add one very minor comment about the photo of the navigator's station in reply #38, above:  I understand that British (and presumably American) flying boats carried marine sextants, in addition to the aeronautical octants discussed elsewhere.  The purpose of the marine sextant was for accurately determining positions of locations on the ground/sea, not for navigation in the air.  It's easy to understand why this was important - a bay or lagoon that might be used for future air service needed to have accurate charts showing features important to aircraft that might not appear on a nautical chart, such as the location of a suitable beaching spot, or underwater obstructions, or the centerline of a long enough open area for a takeoff/landing.  The presence of an old-style marine sextant box in a photo of a flying boat navigator's station should not be a surprise.  With that in mind, what would be the purpose of carrying a similar marine sextant on Amelia's round the world flight?  Was Fred needing to determine accurate locations on the ground at their various landing spots?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 08:05:22 AM by John Ousterhout »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2012, 08:27:06 AM »

I understand that British (and presumably American) flying boats carried marine sextants, in addition to the aeronautical octants discussed elsewhere.
Where does that understanding come from?  It may be true but I have never heard that alleged.  Cite your source.


  The purpose of the marine sextant was for accurately determining positions of locations on the ground/sea, not for navigation in the air.  It's easy to understand why this was important - a bay or lagoon that might be used for future air service needed to have accurate charts showing features important to aircraft that might not appear on a nautical chart, such as the location of a suitable beaching spot, or underwater obstructions, or the centerline of a long enough open area for a takeoff/landing.

That doesn't make sense to me.  An aviation bubble octant works just fine on the ground (or sea).  I see no need for a mariner's sextant except, as Noonan put it, as a "preventer."

The presence of an old-style marine sextant box in a photo of a flying boat navigator's station should not be a surprise.

That's a bold statement of fact without supporting documentation.

  With that in mind, what would be the purpose of carrying a similar marine sextant on Amelia's round the world flight?  Was Fred needing to determine accurate locations on the ground at their various landing spots?

Fred clearly explained why he carried a mariner's sextant aboard the clippers.  Not for the reasons you speculate, but as a "preventer" (back up).  It was a personal quirk.  If he did it on the clippers I see no reason why he wouldn't do the same on the Electra.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2012, 11:38:27 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2012, 09:03:57 AM »

In a different thread I made a post about my surprise to discover that British flying boats carried marine sextants for survey work as late as 1944.  I'd just seen one advertised in a catalog, and did a bit of google-searching about their use.  Why a marine sextant would be preferred over the aviation instrument is a good question - the implication is that it is better suited to the task, but in what way I can't say.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2012, 09:34:33 AM »

I’m not sure Ric is actually saying what you claim he does, but in any case I’m not following how from the map of the Bushnell team’s survey points one can conclude that the Bushnell sailors were not at the Seven Site. Can you flesh this out for me?

Let me clarify what Ric is saying.  There is evidence that a member or members of the Bushnell survey party were, at some point during the survey, on the lagoon shore roughly 100 meters (as the Frigate Bird flies) from the Seven Site.  There is zero evidence that any member of the Bushnell party was ever at the Seven Site.  We can't say it didn't happen.  We can only say that there is no reason to think that it did happen.


I’ve suggested that a good case can be made that the sextant box found on Gardner could have been from the Bushnell. This is based upon a sound set of facts:

Let's look at your sound set of facts.

teams of Bushnell sailors surveyed Gardner Island in 1939;

True.

surveying points were close to the Seven Site;

"Close" is subjective.  The closest surveyed point was on the lagoon shore about 100 meters from the Seven Site.
 
surveying sextants are used in that kind of work;

What kind of surveying work was the guy on the lagoon shore doing?  Why do you think he needed a sextant? 
If he did, why do you think he was using an obsolete WWI F.E. Brandis Sons Navy Surveying Sextant? 

a US Navy surveying sextant of that era would be marked with a Naval Observatory number.

It would?  We know that some Navy sextants were marked with N.O. numbers but we don't know that all were.



If I may say so, I don’t think this line of reasoning is really any weaker than the reasoning Tighar uses to hypothesize that Noonan had a Brandis/Naval Observatory sextant on his last flight,

I disagree.
• Both hypotheses acknowledge that the sextant box found by Gallagher was almost certainly for an F.E. Brandis & Sons Navy Surveying Sextant.
• Both hypotheses can argue, but not prove, that an F.E. Brandis & Sons Navy Surveying Sextant was brought to Gardner Island.
• The sextant box was found in the immediate proximity of the castaway skeleton.  The Noonan Hypothesis requires only that Earhart found the box useful.
• The Bushnell Hypothesis requires that some member of the Bushnell party visited the Seven Site without noticing the bones and then somehow proceeded to abandon the sextant box at that location.

I think Occam would choose the Noonan Hypothesis.

I would say that it would be a terrible error for Tighar not to make an effort to try to find records that would tell us whether a surveying sextant with N.O. number 1542 was used in the Bushnell survey. Obviously this line of research could weaken the Nikumaroro hypothesis if it is discovered that the sextant box was from the Bushnell. In the past Tighar has found artifacts that held promise as potential artifacts from the Electra, only to later announce that careful research had led them to conclude the object in question was from somewhere else. I see no reason why Tighar should not once again do that kind of careful research regarding the possibility that the sextant was from the Bushnell.

If you feel strongly that this avenue of research is worth pursuing I urge you to get out of your armchair, stop telling TIGHAR what it would be a terrible error for us not to do, and go do some real research.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #41 on: November 02, 2012, 11:50:25 AM »

John actually seems to have done a great deal of legwork going through archival records for sextants if I'm following his efforts correctly in 'Who did the USN give its sextants too after WWI?' and 'Can you add to the list of sextant numbers?' on this forum.

If I've wronged John I sincerely apologize.  I've checked the two postings you linked and I don't see anything new.  I confess that it does irk me when people advance an alternative hypothesis that doesn't make sense to me and then tell me that I should devote resources to trying to prove them right.  I'm constantly looking for holes in our reasoning and good alternative explanations but I can't afford to chase what I consider to be remote possibilities.  I'm all for civility but I'm not for wasting time on snipe hunts.
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Alan Harris

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2012, 02:36:38 PM »

John actually seems to have done a great deal of legwork going through archival records for sextants if I'm following his efforts correctly

Strongly agree.  As far as I can see, John has furthered the tracing of sextants and understanding of the numbering more than everyone else put together.  Reading through those entire threads, not just single posts, I have been amazed at his persistence and tenacity.
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John Kada

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2012, 05:31:58 PM »

Ric,

You acknowledge that a Bushnell sailor could have been at the Seven Site, so we agree on something, at least. If a Bushnell sailor could have been at the Seven Site, as you agree, then don't you agree that it is possible he left a sextant box there? The two of us sitting in our armchairs can argue till we’re blue in the face whether it actually happened without resolving the matter. The proof, one way or the other, might be in the records of the surveying work done on Gardner, if they still exist. I think it takes some pretty ardent naysaying on your part to dismiss the Bushnell Hypothesis as a ‘snipe hunt’. On the “What’s Next For Tighar?” page I read “Meanwhile, there are many avenues of Earhart Project research that need further work” and “How many other “sleepers” do we have in the volumes of data and artifacts we’ve collected over the years?”  I am suggesting the Bushnell Hypothesis as one of those sleepers worthy of investigation. Apparently I can lead a Tighar to water but I can’t make her drink.

You asked why a Bushnell sailor might have a sextant with him. The sailors of the Bushnell were doing hydrographic surveying work. That work resulted in the production of a map showing the lagoon bottom and of the reef slope on the ocean side of the lagoon, as we see from the portion of the Bushnell map you posted. In order to produce this map the Bushnell guys needed to know the position they were at each location in the lagoon where they measured the water depth (they had small boats to make these measurements). My understanding is that the tool used for determining position in a boat on the lagoon was the surveying sextant, which was used measure angles to three landmarks--those steel towers--to determine a position fix in an analogous manner as used for celestial navigation. Here is how the use of sextants in hydrographic surveying is explained in the 1942 edition of the Hydrographic Manual of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (US CGS):

“The sextant is a portable instrument for measuring the angle between two objects. It is universally used on shipboard by the hydrographic surveyor and is one of the most important instruments used in marine navigation. With it the hydrographer afloat makes most of the measurements for which a transit or theodolite is used ashore. In hydrographic surveying the sextant is used principally to measure the horizontal angle between two terrestrial objects or survey buoys. It is by this means that the three-point problem is used in hydrographic surveying for locating the position of the survey vessel at selected times during the sounding. The sextant is also used extensively to measure the altitude above the horizon of celestial bodies; to measure inclined angles to celestial bodies to obtain azimuths; and to measure small vertical angles from which distances are obtained.”

The use of steel towers for triangulation is explained as follows:

“Portable steel towers, identical with those designed for and used in first-order triangulation, have been used for tall hydrographic signals where they were needed at the same time for establishing triangulation control. For details of design and construction see Special Publication No. 158, Bilby Steel Tower for Triangulation. The towers are designed in 14-foot sections. This permits them to be dismantled and re-erected at other sites. The total height desired is gained by the addition or omission of the lower sections.”


So that’s what the Bushnell sailors on Gardner were using their surveying sextants for: measuring angles between the steel towers that were erected at those 20 triangulation stations. The Bushnell Reports describing the work done at Gardner are consistent with what the US CGS Hydrographic Manual says. The Bushnell papers tell us a shore party came and erected triangulation towers, then a few weeks later a surveying team came and made their measurements, after which the triangulation towers were disassembled.

You say the Brandis sextants were obsolete, i.e., out of US Navy service? Can you please present your evidence? If you read through my previous armchair research (the links that Jeff Nevill referred you to) you’ll see that I made the case that the Naval Observatory assigned N.O. number 1542 to a sextant in 1918 or 1919. My armchair research also indicated that after WWI the USN had a glut of sextants and thus transferred some of them in 1919 to the merchant fleet; more sextants were removed from USN service and sold as surplus in 1929. I don’t think the USN got rid of all of its WWI era sextants, and I have never said so. In fact I’ve said that the USN kept using them all the way up to WWII, and perhaps even the 1960’s, as I explained in my last reply to Joe C.  My evidence? The Brandis sextants with 1930s and 1940s eccentricity certificates dates we see in the Ameliapedia sextant table. So I hope you now see why is entirely reasonable to think the sextant with N.O. number 1542 may have been one of many WWI vintage sextants that were still in use by the USN in 1939. If you think the US Navy got rid of all of its WWI vintage sextants what evidence can you cite ? You can’t merely proclaim it to be so—where’s your evidence?

As to whether you’ve offended me in your last remarks, quite frankly I don’t worry about those sorts of things. My experience is that people resort to personal attacks when they feel they are ‘losing’ the argument.  So you didn’t offend me but perhaps you’ve offended some of the many other armchair researchers out there who have made an effort to resolve the Earhart Mystery. Believe it or not, I’m simply trying to help Tighar resolve this longstanding research project.

My thanks to Jeff and Al for their kind words about my posts on the USNO sextants. I actually had a great deal of fun doing that work -- all from my armchair!
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Seven Site
« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2012, 05:56:45 PM »

While diminishing none of John's fine work, I think some credit for sextant research is also due to the following TIGHAR and EPAC members: Kenton Spading, Art Rypinski, Rick Jones, Erik Davis, Dan Brown, Tom King, Ric Gillespie, for his bulletin on the Noonan 'preventer' connection, and most of all, Peter McQuarrie, for finding the bones papers that told of the sextant box.  There are many others as well who have lent their time and expertise, sifting through library archives and reading endless documents.  If anyone would like to add to my list, they are welcome.

Joe Cerniglia
TIGHAR #3078 ECR
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 07:55:57 PM by Joe Cerniglia »
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