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Author Topic: aircraft parts villagers had?  (Read 60788 times)

Shaw Durman

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aircraft parts villagers had?
« on: December 23, 2011, 04:11:49 AM »

if the electra was washed over the reef edge into deep water, what aircraft parts did the settlers from the village have access to?
if they were parts of the electra, this surmises the electra broke into pieces on the reef, with the wings staying on it for a period of up to several years and the main section (e.g fusalage) being washed into the deep in the 38 hours after the last radio transmission?

I would think the electra would be washed over the reef edge more or less intact. are there any aircraft crash cites on Niku? is the B24 crash site mentioned on a neighbourghing island?
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2011, 06:22:00 AM »

I dont recall Ric indicating that there was anything else---even near the Coast Guard station. And if the electra was underwater, and hung up on the reef, I would think that the search overflght 'may' have been able to spot it-----guess not
Tom
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2011, 06:39:08 AM »

are there any aircraft crash sites on Niku?

No (not counting the possibility of a landing on the reef by our heroes).

Quote
is the B24 crash site mentioned on a neighbourghing island?

At least one C-87 crashed on Canton during the war.
LTM,

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Rich Ramsey

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2011, 08:14:29 AM »

If you want my unprofessional take on this read on. My view on this issue is that after they landed on the reef there were able to taxi to spot where they could run the engine's to send out the radio calls. The reason's they didn't move the aircraft to the beach could be more than one. My feeling is that the reef was not flat enough near the beach and the plane might of got stuck in a rut. This would explain Nessie. Now the surf must of come in and ripped the plane apart to the point they couldn't use it anymore and it was covered by the surf when the fly over was done. I don't think it was a few years later that the remainder of the aircraft went over the edge. This would explain many things and if you ask me, this is how it happened. No, I can't prove it.
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2011, 11:56:19 PM »

This is the problem I posed in the thread about "Could the Electra have taken off from Gardner".  From the time of the last credible post loss radio message, Wednesday at 8.18pm local Gardner time, to the overflight on the Friday at around 10am or noon, local Gardner time, is 38 to 40 hours.  In that time the aircraft went from being able to transmit (engine running and crew onboard, to total vanished and presumed washed away over the reef flat edge.  Could it have only been partially destroyed such that natives got parts of it ashore to use as tools?  I don't think that's likely as that presumes the wreckage was still in place months after the landing and overflight which is when the natives arrived. So the surf tore up the plane in 38 hours to the point of being unrecognizable and yet the surf did not wreck the wreckage during the several months before the natives arrived. So the surf isn't consistent in its damage?
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Bill Mangus

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2011, 07:03:41 AM »

"So the surf isn't consistent in its damage?"

I believe it's not because the surf isn't consistent in it's damage but more like the surf's ability to do damage on the wrecked, remaining parts diminishes over time.  Remember, the a/c is mostly hollow, air-filled space.  The surf would knock these things apart, bash them around, poke holes in them and they'd fill with seawater.  Once they fill-up and sink they get heavier and thus harder to move around by the "normal" surf.  Over time and larger storms these pieces then get scattered or pulled off the reef.

Once the initial damage has been done, probably in a few days, most of the pieces would have been pulled apart in such a way they were not visible at high tide during the Navy flyover.
Bill Mangus
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2011, 07:33:16 AM »

"So the surf isn't consistent in its damage?"

I believe it's not because the surf isn't consistent in it's damage but more like the surf's ability to do damage on the wrecked, remaining parts diminishes over time.  Remember, the a/c is mostly hollow, air-filled space.  The surf would knock these things apart, bash them around, poke holes in them and they'd fill with seawater.  Once they fill-up and sink they get heavier and thus harder to move around by the "normal" surf.  Over time and larger storms these pieces then get scattered or pulled off the reef.

Once the initial damage has been done, probably in a few days, most of the pieces would have been pulled apart in such a way they were not visible at high tide during the Navy flyover.

Okay, but the surf didn't damage the plane and pull it into pieces from July 2 to July 8. The crew transmitted on the evening of July 8. Engines running and crew inside the cockpit to start engines and operate the radio. Then you're suggesting the surf got bad enough over the next 38 hours to break the plane up into pieces small enough to be hidden from view by the surf to aerial searchers yet large enough to be there months later for natives to get parts.

The surf didn't do that type of damage for 6 days but then on the 7th day it did all that damage?  Ric has suggested the current at that point on the island is strong and would push the aircraft towards the reef edge. I can buy that based on his on the spot experience and photo evidence. However something in the back of my mind says that if the plane was being pushed towards the edge and it suddenly went over during that 38 hour window then, because they could transmit, it was being pushed as one piece. Not being broken up during its push.  This would mean when it went over the reef edge it should have done so as one big piece of wreckage. Not broken up. This fits with the fact that three aircraft searching on the Friday did not see wreckage of an airplane.  But that doesn't fit the natives seeing the wreckage months later and getting parts off of it. Either wreckage was there to be seen or not. I don't think it can be both ways.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2011, 01:09:01 PM »


It wasn't just the 38-40 hour period between 2018 hours Gardiner time and midday 7/9 that the surf and tides had to interact with the Electra, it was also the 6-1/2 to 7 days (14 low tides and 14 high tides) between the landing and the disappearance that the weather had to interact with the plane.  A little bit at a time unntil voila gone.
No Worries Mates
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John Ousterhout

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2011, 08:44:22 PM »

I'm skeptical that the searchers paid much attention to the reef area.  I doubt that they would have thought that there might be aircraft wreckage to look for there.  They almost certainly didn't know that the reef would have made an attractive landing site at the time the Electra might have been there, especially since they flew over at high tide when there was a heavy surf noted.  We only know some fragments of what they were looking for, and can only surmise what they weren't looking for. Survivors waving from somewhere on the island was something they WERE looking for, and didn't see.  They reported that they believed they would have seen the Electra if it had ditched in the lagoon.  They also believed they would have spotted anything as large as a life raft floating on the sea.  Wreckage hidden in the surf 200yards+ from the beech may not have been what they looked for. We know that people tend to see what they are looking for, and don't see what they aren't looking for.
An aircraft gradually breaking up off the edge of the reef, even in fairly deep water, might occasionally give up pieces that wash onto the shore.  Numerous shipwrecks have done this, years after they went down.  Why not an aircraft?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
« Last Edit: December 25, 2011, 07:35:01 PM by John Ousterhout »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2011, 09:38:12 AM »

I agree that the a/c was intact enough on 8 July 37 to allow for transmissions but I also agree that some minor damage might have been done during the period 2-8 July.  Betty's notebook offers indications of a struggle, possible injury(s), panic, etc. notably 'waters coming in. . .get out'.  Do not recall the date of Betty's transcriptions, but wasn't it the 8/9th July?  In any case, if you believe Betty's notes, something significant/serious was happening.  Perhaps that was the start of the breakup, leading AE/FN to hastily evaculate to the beach.  The absence of recovered removable/transportable gear from the a/c, either by the Oct 37 survery party, the native islanders over their period, the CG crew and TIGHAR searchers might suggest that AE/FN left the a/c in a hurry, not having used the preceeding 6 days to ferry possessions to the beach.  Along with their other poor decisions, maybe they didn't realize they were in a "survival" situation until it was too late to do anything about it.

As for the natives seeing the wreckage and getting parts off it, I think whatever material they found and used for their own purposes was stuff that was swept along the reef, into the lagoon channel or onto the beach where it would be found and recovered at little/no risk.  As Ric and other TIGHAR searchers can probably attest, doing anything on the edge of the reef is an extremely dicy proposition, and even the island natives, with all their skill and experience would likely shyed away from doing any extensive recovery operations there.  Perhaps the 'ghost'story(s) related by Emily and others were nothing more than parents wanting to keep the kids from exploring a dangerous location and getting badly hurt.

Clearly something catastrophic happened to the Electra in that 38 hour window between the last transmission and the Navy flyover.  Something serious enough to rip it off its landing gear, poke holes in the fuselage and wings and fill them with water.  How deep is the water at reef's edge during high tide?  Three or four feet?  The latest photo of Nikumaroro from the ISS, in another thread here, shows what might be the start of a trench at the spot where the wreckage was supposed to be.  Ric identified a hole at the spot where Nessie was supposed to be.  Might that trench be nearby?  How deep is it?  What's the largest diameter of the a/c--8-12'?  Add breaking 3-5' foot swells at/near high tide and its not hard to imagine the a/c being mostly hidden to someone not focusing their attention there anyway.

Bill Mangus
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2011, 10:52:13 AM »


Betty's notebook

the date of Betty's transcriptions, but wasn't it the 8/9th July?

Oct 37 survey party

As for the natives seeing the wreckage and getting parts off it

How deep is the water at reef's edge during high tide?  Three or four feet? 

The latest photo of Nikumaroro from the ISS,

What's the largest diameter of the a/c--8-12'?


Please use the search tools to dig out information that is readily available on the TIGHAR website.

Then provide links as an aid to your readers who would like to see for themselves what it is that you are discussing in your posts.

Betty's notebook (or materials linked from that page) answers your question, about "the date of Betty's transcriptions, but wasn't it the 8/9th July?"
 
 Oct 37 survey party: this is the GEIC survey.
 
"As for the natives seeing the wreckage and getting parts off it," you are probably referring to the interviews with Emily Sikuli, Pulekai Songivalu, and Pulekai's daughter.

 "How deep is the water at reef's edge during high tide?  Three or four feet?"

Cf.  "Post-Loss Signal Statistics with Tide Information."
 
 The latest photo of Nikumaroro from the ISS,
 
"What's the largest diameter of the a/c--8-12'?" Depends on what you're trying to measure.  Some clues in the article on the Electra.  I don't see an 8' 12" dimension in the planform.
 
 
LTM,

           Marty
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Bill Mangus

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2011, 02:05:54 PM »

Sorry Marty.  I was not attempting to post accurate, historical, researched data.  Think more of questions for those far smarter than I to ponder and respond to.
Bill Mangus
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2011, 07:46:11 AM »


It wasn't just the 38-40 hour period between 2018 hours Gardiner time and midday 7/9 that the surf and tides had to interact with the Electra, it was also the 6-1/2 to 7 days (14 low tides and 14 high tides) between the landing and the disappearance that the weather had to interact with the plane.  A little bit at a time unntil voila gone.

But Harry, "A little bit at a time unntil voila gone.". But you are suggesting damage happened but not enough damage to stop them from getting in the aircraft, start and run the right engine and transmit on the radio.  That's either very selective or very little damage. In fact it could have been that the left wing was completely gone but then her left gear would also be gone and that likely means damage to gas tanks. Others know better that I do but I'm guessing that the main beam between the wings would have caused serious structural damage as this would not have been a sudden in flight failure but a slow destruction likely transmitted through the wing root. I'm not sure of the nomenclature here but I'm trying to make the point that surf damage wouldn't be selective.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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John Joseph Barrett

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2011, 10:01:13 AM »

As Harry said, " a little bit at a time". Pure conjecture, of course, but wave and surf action work on the plane, maybe even exacerbating any structural damage from the landing. Plane finally gives in and falls from at least one remaining gear strut. Now it's laying on the reef, radio is submerged when tide is in. Tide and waves lift plane up and down, banging it against the reef and opening more holes for water to get into wings, etc.. Waves eventually slide plane across reef and into one of the spur and groove areas. Damage to the plane allows water to enter wings, lower fuselage, etc throughout this so the plane doesn't float well or for long. Weight of the engines and cockpit hold the plane nose down exposing the tail surfaces and fuselage to the force of the waves. Fuselage is weakest in the long open area of the aft cabin with no bulkheads and gives way, maybe even crushing the fuel tanks that haven't already filled. Plane settles in water that allows settlers to see it but yet be covered by surf during overflight by searchers. Plane eventually breaks up from surf action/corrosion and slides into deeper water. Plane continues to break up during storms, allowing for pieces and parts to be found on shore and used by settlers. Steel ships sunk in 130' of water can be moved and broken up by hurricanes. I would think an aluminum aircraft could be similarily affected. Spanish treasure from ships sunk in the 1600's is occasionally tossed ashore after storms in Florida. I think it is quite possible that the plane was in a position where settlers could recognize it as a plane, obtain bits and pieces on occasion, and not have been seen by the overflights, especially if the searchers were looking for the plane on land and not in the water.   LTM,  John
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: aircraft parts villagers had?
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2011, 10:33:53 AM »

As Harry said, " a little bit at a time". Pure conjecture, of course, but wave and surf action work on the plane, maybe even exacerbating any structural damage from the landing. Plane finally gives in and falls from at least one remaining gear strut. Now it's laying on the reef, radio is submerged when tide is in. Tide and waves lift plane up and down, banging it against the reef and opening more holes for water to get into wings, etc.. Waves eventually slide plane across reef and into one of the spur and groove areas. Damage to the plane allows water to enter wings, lower fuselage, etc throughout this so the plane doesn't float well or for long. Weight of the engines and cockpit hold the plane nose down exposing the tail surfaces and fuselage to the force of the waves. Fuselage is weakest in the long open area of the aft cabin with no bulkheads and gives way, maybe even crushing the fuel tanks that haven't already filled. Plane settles in water that allows settlers to see it but yet be covered by surf during overflight by searchers. Plane eventually breaks up from surf action/corrosion and slides into deeper water. Plane continues to break up during storms, allowing for pieces and parts to be found on shore and used by settlers. Steel ships sunk in 130' of water can be moved and broken up by hurricanes. I would think an aluminum aircraft could be similarily affected. Spanish treasure from ships sunk in the 1600's is occasionally tossed ashore after storms in Florida. I think it is quite possible that the plane was in a position where settlers could recognize it as a plane, obtain bits and pieces on occasion, and not have been seen by the overflights, especially if the searchers were looking for the plane on land and not in the water.   LTM,  John

Hi John. You paint an interesting picture.  I especially like the tide part with surf and tide raising and lowering the aircraft frame onto the coral and punching holes.  I assume you don't mean on the reef flat.  Thats flat enough to land on so not a lot of big jagged coral formations there for punching holes.  Perhaps after it slides off the reef edge. 

However....You're suggesting that the section I bolded above all happened during the 38 hour window. Transforming in 38 hours from a recognizable aircraft with running engine to unrecognizable wreck where natives could recognize it as a plane wreck?  I can buy that over time your scenario could happen. But two points bother me. First is if the Electra went over the reef edge how would much be left for the natives to see?  Secondly is what would the natives actually see as wreckage?  It's suggested the surf would cover it from aerial view. That means the wrecks below the surface. What does a native see from shore?  During low tide they could walk out and perhaps swim down to the wreckage?  Why swim there?  Nessie?  Why didn't aerial searchers see Nessie? 

It's a fascinating puzzle. Unfortunately no one has the answers. Yet. And maybe even after the Electra is found in the deep waters off Niku, we won't know why they got lost and didn't find Howland. Keep it up John. Good thinking.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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