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Author Topic: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337  (Read 104939 times)

Gary LaPook

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LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« on: May 21, 2012, 04:00:13 PM »


TIGHAR has been claiming the opposite, that Noonan and Earhart abandoned searching for Howland and continued to the southeast because they thought that they were sure to find one of the the many islands in the Phoenixs,

TIGHAR has never claimed any such thing that I am aware of, and has never held that there was any sort of 'guarantee' of landfall - just a better chance of it where 'there be lands' and that it is a possibility.  Friedell thought it at the time based on his logic of how a landplane navigator would rationally operate, as did others whom Friedell had heard from: there is 'less' land (none) with reach to the NNW of Howland; 'there be land there' to the SSE - hence the logic.  But never a 'guarantee' of finding has been claimed at all.


Well maybe "guarantee" was too strong a word but the TIGHAR hypothesis does rest on Noonan abandoning searching for Howland based on, as shown by at least one case, the incorrect belief that there was a very good chance of finding one of the widely spaced Phoenix Islands. My point, for all these years, is that this is incorrect and this point is obvious to anybody who knows the navigation, it was always much more likely to find Howland from their position near that island, based on what they knew of their position, than it was to find any one of he Phoenix group. Because of this, the obvious choice was to expend all fuel available to find Howland, not to fly off across 400 SM of ocean with their fingers crossed that they would bump into one of those islands.

Friedell, looking at the situation after the disappearance, knew that they had not found Howland or Baker so his considerations were different and at that point it made sense to search the nearest piece of dry land. But this was after the event, not at the point that Noonan and Earhart were making their decisions.

gl
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2012, 05:53:37 PM »

... the TIGHAR hypothesis does rest on Noonan abandoning searching for Howland based on, as shown by at least one case, the incorrect belief that there was a very good chance of finding one of the widely spaced Phoenix Islands.

The TIGHAR hypothesis is that AE and FN ended up at Gardner.

Exactly how they got there is speculative.

It makes sense (to me) to think that AE's last transmission is a correct account of what they were doing: first flying north, then flying south on "the line" that they thought would lead them to the vicinity of Howland Island.

It may well be that Fred never gave up hope of finding Howland, but stumbled across Gardner instead while doing a search for Howland.  I grant that this places them farther off course that one would expect--but then again, the loss of the aircraft suggests that something went wrong with Fred's navigation.

Quote
My point, for all these years, is that this is incorrect and this point is obvious to anybody who knows the navigation, it was always much more likely to find Howland from their position near that island, based on what they knew of their position, than it was to find any one of he Phoenix group. Because of this, the obvious choice was to expend all fuel available to find Howland, not to fly off across 400 SM of ocean with their fingers crossed that they would bump into one of those islands.

OK.  One of these days you'll have to draw a picture of what Fred would have done if he were you, showing how much territory that he could search with the four or five hours of fuel remaining in the aircraft after the last transmission.  That will show us how far off he had to have been from Howland and Baker in order to search that long using that technique and come up short.  It will be interesting to see how close that point is to Niku. 

I don't trust my mathematics or plotting skills to do the drawing, but it has to be a series of rectangles angled at 357-157, working from the first line flown north and south, then creating ever-larger boxes at some reasonable visual distance apart from each other (whatever that might be--10 NM?  20 NM?).

Quote
Friedell, looking at the situation after the disappearance, knew that they had not found Howland or Baker so his considerations were different and at that point it made sense to search the nearest piece of dry land.

From my point of view, the bearings that point toward the Phoenix Islands still support that line of reasoning.



I understand that you do not find any of these persuasive.
LTM,

           Marty
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Bill Mangus

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2012, 04:27:45 PM »

I don't have a lot of experience working/transmitting on radios, but I do have a little.  I think the order in which Amelia stated the numbers in the LOP do indicate which direction she was heading or about to head at the time of the transmission.  "Flying the line 157 337" tells me she's heading 157 degrees.  If she were headed 337 would not correct radio procedure of that time dictate she state that figure first?  Of course with all the other things she didn't do correctly, we've not way of knowing but the the transcripts do seem to indicate she knew correct procedures and generally followed them.  Just a thought. . . .
Bill Mangus
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Gary LaPook

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 05:07:13 PM »

I don't have a lot of experience working/transmitting on radios, but I do have a little.  I think the order in which Amelia stated the numbers in the LOP do indicate which direction she was heading or about to head at the time of the transmission.  "Flying the line 157 337" tells me she's heading 157 degrees.  If she were headed 337 would not correct radio procedure of that time dictate she state that figure first?  Of course with all the other things she didn't do correctly, we've not way of knowing but the the transcripts do seem to indicate she knew correct procedures and generally followed them.  Just a thought. . . .
But she did NOT say  "Flying the line 157 337" she said "we are on the line 157 337."

Ever hear of "beans and pork"? No? It's hard to
pronounce it, isn't it? The expression "pork and
beans" , however, rolls off your tongue in one smooth complete single
expression. Now try saying "south and north." "North
and south" is also a common expression and also just rolls off the tongue.
My point is don't read too much into the order of AE's
words in the logs. It is also possible that she did say "south and north" but
that the radioman wrote it down in the reversed order
because of common "north and south" expression.

It is also possible that they had already made several passes both north
and south in an effort to find Howland prior to the
transmission.

gl
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 05:54:11 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Monty Fowler

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 06:13:34 PM »

"Because of this, the obvious choice was to expend all fuel available to find Howland, not to fly off across 400 SM of ocean with their fingers crossed that they would bump into one of those islands."

I'm curious about this statement of yours, Mr. LaPook. Why is this the "obvious" choice. What makes this the "better" choice than what they may have ended up doing, flying southeast and landing at Gardner Island? Let me ask you a question, and I am being completely serious. It is an either/or question, just like the one Amelia and Fred faced 75 years ago:

                                                   ----- Do you want to be stabbed, or shot? -----

Your first reaction is probably neither, correct? But what if those are your only choices? And you have to choose one or the other right now?
  • Stabbing involves a lot of pain, blood, tissue damage, possibly even death if done with a big enough implement, enough times or in the right place.
  • Shooting involves a lot of pain, blood, tissue damage, possibly even death if done done enough times or in the right place, or with a large enough caliber weapon.
Which is the more "obvious" choice now, Mr. LaPook? Which one gives you a better chance of coming out alive? What other factors come into play in your mind that I can't possibly be aware of?

You weren't in that cockpit 75 years ago. Neither was I, for that matter. I don't even want to begin to imagine how Amelia and Fred felt at 20-plus hours when all they saw below them was blue ocean instead of the brown smudge of Howland Island and the white speck of the Itasca.

But flatly stating that the "obvious" choice was to do one thing, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, to the outright exclusion of all other evidence, thoughts, information, etc., on the topic, is, to a certain extent, intellectually dishonest. Regardless of how adept you may be in your own chosen field, and I have absolutely no doubt that you are, we can always learn from others.

LTM, who knows what he doesn't know,

Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER

Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Adam Marsland

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 12:01:34 AM »

Hey Gary...Adam here...want to tell you I appreciate your putting forth your ideas to critique, and I always respect when people with expertise bring their ideas to bear.

I try to look at things from the logistical/practical ground view, so to speak, and I want to tell you why I, as an admitted aviation know-nothing, find the search pattern theory unpersuasive. 

Here's the thing:  you have a navigator who's been up for 24 hours straight, there's limited fuel and...here's the kicker:  the noise of the engine makes complex direct two-way communication well-nigh impossible.  So, yes, in THEORY, one could execute a search pattern.  But success or failure would depend on making -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- a series of course corrections that would require careful keeping track of where one thought one was, and how one progressed in relation to it.

I would submit that, under the circumstances, this just would not have been practical in a real world way.  Yes, of course FN was a competent navigator, and he'd been passing AE written course corrections.  But now everyone's tired, stressed, time is running out, and if FN wanted to embark on this course of action, first he would have to explain/persuade it to AE, and then execute the course corrections calmly and carefully.  To me, in that kind of a situation, there's just too much margin of error.  What if AE doesn't understand what she's doing?  What if out of stress or fatigue, someone screws up a course heading, or just fails to keep proper track of the last turn?  Without real time two way communication, there's no way to really work these details out in a crunch situation.  And my understand is this did not exist.  They wrote each other on a blackboard.  So any communications have to be simple and direct.

I anticipate that your response will probably be of course they could have done it...and I agree with you, it is possible.  But it's one of those things where I just don't think under the circumstances, sitting in FN's seat, it would have seemed like a good move.  Far simpler and more goofproof to tell AE to fly the LOP to the best of one's ability, and use the southern islands as a backstop, and it may have seemed just as likely to get them to land as any other option.  I'm not suggesting these people were incompetent...but tired and stressed competent people make stupid mistakes based on bad communication all the time, and that's without having the roar of an engine drowning out any details.  And competent people know this, and compensate for it.  I don't want to say what FN "would" have done, but I am sure that, having been with AE and in that plane for a long time, there is no way he could fail take all this into account.

That's my opinion, and I don't vouchsafe it as being anything else.  I'm neither pilot nor navigator, though I am a student of how things go wrong when people fail to communicate.  But to me, from my admittedly surface understanding of what you're suggesting, it just doesn't take into proper account conditions in the cockpit as they existed at the time, and the practical limits of what people can do with limited time in an emergency situation without good two-way real time communication to work out misunderstandings or make a contingency plan.  To me, whatever they did, given the limits in time, extreme likelihood of error owing to fatigue, stress and fear, and the inability to really communicate, it would have had to be kept simple.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 12:11:03 AM by Adam Marsland »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2012, 06:52:00 AM »

... Far simpler and more goofproof to tell AE to fly the LOP to the best of one's ability, and use the southern islands as a backstop ...

Gary has persuaded me, FWIW, that to a professional navigator, the Phoenix Group doesn't look like a catcher's mitt or backstop.  There are a lot of holes in those two metaphors.   :D

I'm inclined to think that if AE and FN found Niku, it was while searching for Howland.
LTM,

           Marty
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John Ousterhout

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2012, 10:05:08 AM »

Keep in mind that Fred was also a pilot.  During a landfall approach, they might have preferred to have both sets of eyes in the front of the aircraft.  If a search pattern was to be flown following Fred's directions, the easiest way to overcome the communication difficulties would be to have Fred sitting in the right hand seat to monitor and direct the course changes.  He could also have flown the aircraft while Amelia was busy with the radio.  He didn't need to stay in the back of the aircraft to navigate.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2012, 11:42:24 AM »

Could we discuss the idea of a box search pattern and see where it goes?
I'll start it off with this point...
If we start a box search pattern we must have a start position so, where exactly are we?
Now, there are a number of theories regarding this position, Monte Carlo theory and so on...
The main point to bear in mind is that any box search pattern would start from where they thought they were, at the time.
This must be the place
 
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Chris Johnson

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2012, 02:43:02 PM »

No flyer/navigator question by me!

To fly a box search is it advantageous to know where you are.

I ask and bear with me as my example is based solely on Terra Firma

I lost a valued cross from a chain as a young man.  I knew i'd put it on in the morning and had been in my flat all day until a friend suggested I go down the road to join an friendly football game (soccer to 90% of Forum ites).  After a pleasant kick around I went home the same way.  Only when I was nearing home did I notice said cross was missing from said chain.

I had 3 options, search flat, search route or do a search of football field.  Knowing that my flat would remain in the same spot I back tracked to the field of dreams and commenced a 'Kris cross' grid search.  Low and behold after a short period of time I found it :)

I knew where I was going, my route and where I’d been.  To find the object I just had to go back and search.

Is this the right idea?
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2012, 04:55:45 PM »

That's the idea Chris, to get some discussion going.
With the Electra we have a different scenario in as much as they were not exactly sure of their location (otherwise they would have landed on Howland, seen the Itasca smoke etc...)
So, 'we must be on you' indicates they thought they were at Howland. The events that followed showed they were not.
There are two positions to take into account:
Where we think they thought they were
Where we think they actually were
Both of these positions are open to debate.

My thought is that if they instigated a box search pattern from the position they thought they were at they would likely start toward the direction they thought Howland should be from this position.
So for example, if they were actually in the position from the Monte Carlo simulation and they attempted the previously mentioned maneuver then they may have inadvertently headed off into the wild blue yonder in the mistaken belief that Howland must lie in that direction.
This must be the place
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2012, 06:50:34 PM »

To fly a box search is it advantageous to know where you are.

I visited a radio-controlled aircraft flying field one evening and heard that a friend had lost a plane in the woods out in front of the landing area.  Someone pointed at some bushes in the treeline to give me an idea of where to search.

I came back the next day with a compass and walked a search grid, starting in line with the bush and the flight station, and guestimating how far I could effectively search with me eyes in order to decide how far apart to space my search lines.

The depth of the box was determined by a guess about how far away the plane might have been.  There was no strong rationale here--just the thought that measuring distance by eye to objects in the air is difficult.  My rule of thumb is to go farther than I think is likely, and then some.

After four or five fruitless sweeps, my compass heading pointed me into the heart of some thick shrub brush.  I almost turned away from it to follow the well-worn paths around it.  The lost airplane was in the center of the brush, of course.  I didn't see it until I was almost past it--there was only one spot from which it was visible. 

So, I understand the logic of a box search, too.  They can work.
LTM,

           Marty
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2012, 08:49:32 PM »

Very good example of a search pattern and, the logic behind the search Marty.
I am with Gary on this one and, am sure that is what FN would have done. My only concern with the box pattern search scenario is that as history has shown, they were not where they thought they were. Consequently the search pattern began from a mistaken belief that they were at point A when in fact they were at point B. Any search pattern would have been based upon trying to locate Howland from point A which is not much use if you are in fact at point B.
The logic behind this becomes clear when you apply it to 2 different locations on the map. The search box will cover the same size area but, in totally the wrong place.
This must be the place
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2012, 09:08:23 PM »

... The logic behind this becomes clear when you apply it to 2 different locations on the map. The search box will cover the same size area but, in totally the wrong place.

Understood.  The hope is that one is not so far off at the outset, and that there is enough time to expand the box until you find what you seek.

The beauty of the box search is that, if it is done well, you know more and more about where your objective is NOT.  As with my search for the lost RC model, luck was involved as well as planning.  I could easily have taken a step past the model--I was quite amazed at how hard it was to see.  It was nose down in the scrub brush.  I think I had a different image in mind for what I was looking for.
LTM,

           Marty
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: LaPook Hypothesis: Box Search around 157-337
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2012, 11:18:03 PM »

"I think I had a different image in mind for what I was looking for.". Marty, this is something I think AE and FN also had a problem with. In searching for a tropical island with an airport would AE have imagined a lush tree covered island with neatly cut out runways when looking for Howland?  Could they in fact have "had a different image in mind". Howland was without trees, no real height above sea level and two runways running from one beach sidebof the island to the other beach side.  Quite unlike anything she had ever landed on before. Yes Itaca was there spewing smoke but I wonder.....
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 08:45:28 AM by Irvine John Donald »
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