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Author Topic: So Where Are Fred's Remains?  (Read 20783 times)

Randy Jacobson

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So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« on: March 12, 2018, 12:07:28 PM »

A question has been bothering me for some time, assuming AE's bones were those found, reburied, dug up, and sent to Fiji via Tarawa (gawd...I hope I got that sequence right...).

Since her bones were not originally buried, that suggests either (a) she died after Fred Noonan so there was no one around to bury her, or (b) Fred did out-live her but was incapacitated to bury her.  In either event, what happened to FN's remains?

If AE survived Fred, she either buried his remains as best as she could or left them in place on the surface and likely moved away from them.

If Fred outlived AE, he must have died somewhere on the island, so his bones would have been on the surface. 

It's interesting that only AE's bones have been found and no remains of Fred.  Occam's Razor would indicate that they simply have not been found and now likely disintegrated or scattered by creatures.  Is it only me that finds this a somewhat strange circumstance?

Respectfully,
TIGHAR's resident skeptic.
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Bill Mangus

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 12:20:45 PM »

I believe Fred's remains are in the cairn discovered by a member of the Betchart Expedition in 2015.  The team(s) were unable to relocate it last year.

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Pat Fontaine

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 12:52:35 PM »

I’ve wondered as well.  I’m reading ‘Finding Amelia’ (again) and got to wondering... if Betty’s notes suggest that FN was injured, perhaps he was unable to exit the aircraft?
They’re both on the radio (Betty talks about a woman’s voice and a man’s voice), so they would have to be in the cockpit.  If FN was badly injured, it might be that AE was unable to hoist/pull/push him out to the top hatch.  And if she could, it doesn’t seem likely that she’d haul him back out to the aircraft and lower him down in thorugh the hatch every time they tried to use the radio.  Yet Betty reported two voices...  So I wonder if he might have remained in the aircraft from the time it landed until it was washed over the reef?  (Would imagine the heat would have hastened his demise).
Just a thought, but perhaps that’s why there’s no second set of bones
Pat
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 01:24:39 PM »

Randy

It is a good question, one that I think will be hard to answer given the lack of information we have. 

It makes sense that the first to die gets buried by the survivor in some fashion, even if that means just getting a bunch of rocks piled on top of them.  It would be natural for a survivor to do that, if they we physically able to do so.  In this case we simply don't know the timing or status of the first of the two to go, so it is possible that other scenarios played out that leave no trace.  Was Fred in the Electra?  Maybe.  Did he fall and get washed out to sea on his way to/from the aircraft?  Attacked by sharks (unlikely)?  Is he buried somewhere on the NW end of the island that we simply haven't found yet?  It's possible.  Was he out hunting food & water and just never came back to camp, now scattered about in some inaccessible place we haven't looked yet?  Could be.

Having been there a number of times, I can tell you that it is really easy to get disoriented and turned around in your thoughts about how to navigate through the underbrush, particularly scaevola.  It isn't hard to imagine Fred out foraging / exploring and simply getting lost and stuck, weakened and exhausted, out in the scaevola with no food, and no water.  AE may have never known what happened to him, just disappeared one day and didn't come back to camp.

People sometimes say things like "haven't you searched the whole island yet?" or "if there was anything there to find, you should have found it by now" but the reality is that there is a lot of territory that we haven't been able to search due to time and manpower constraints.  Nikumaroro is much bigger than most imagine, and most of it is heavily vegetated.  For those who haven't seen the aerial tour of Nikumaroro, you should check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL9FGsvB3E8  The combined man-hours of 12 expeditions is still not enough to have searched everywhere.  Just last year we found several ancient graves up in the NW end we never knew about.  There is still a lot to learn about Nikumaroro.

So, I think that poor old Fred is still out there, probably under a pile of rocks up on the NW end, with a Brandis sextant on his chest, but that is pretty much just my speculation.

Cheers

Andrew
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 01:26:10 PM by Andrew M McKenna »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 01:53:26 PM »

If Fred outlived Amelia, he too remained unburied and yet Amelia's bones were the only human remains found on the island.
With the bones were found the remains of a woman's shoe and the remains of a man's shoe.  Not the remains of a pair of women's shoes and a pair of men's shoes - just one of each.  Why? 

Going back to Betty's Notebook, Fred is acting irrationally, possibly due to a head injury.  Amelia complains of an injury probably to an ankle (heard as "uncle" by Betty).  We think the transmissions heard by Betty occurred on July 5, so they had been on the island for three days. It is reasonable to suppose that during that time they transited back and forth across the reef from the plane to the island at low tide.  Walking on the reef is dangerous.  It's slicker-than-snot and, near shore, pitted and jagged. I suspect that Fred's head injury and Amelia's ankle injury were sustained in falls on the reef early on. 
On the night of July 2, according to Mabel Larremore, "She stated that her navigator Fred Noonan was seriously injured. Needed help immediately. She also had some injuries but not as serious as Mr. Noonan.” (Message 28 in the Post-Loss Radio Signals Catalog

On July 5, Fred is out of his head but still ambulatory, climbing over Amelia as he tries to escape the sweltering cockpit via the hatch above her head.  As Pat Fontaine suggests, if he dies in the airplane he probably goes with it when it is washed into the ocean the next day.  If he makes it to shore and dies there, the only place AE can dig a grave without tools is in the sand beach.  His remains get washed away in the next big storm.

Earhart has a swollen foot.  She can't wear one of her shoes but she can wear Fred's shoe.  That's why there is one woman's shoe and one man's shoe found with her bones.
Speculation, but it accounts for the known evidence.
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Randy Jacobson

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 04:12:38 PM »

OK, all good scenarios, but then if they are operative, then FN probably did not make it to the Seven Site.  Is there any evidence from there that at least two people were involved at that site?  And how did AE, with an injured ankle, make it half-way around the island, a very long walk indeed?  Even more intriguing, is why she would do so with an injured ankle.  If she did, she took a freckle cream jar and a sextant box with her?  How bizarre is that, given that she has abandoned the plane site and FN is not around?  Freckle cream?  The woman must be seriously concerned about her appearance, or found an alternative use for a very small jar. 

It still ain't a addin' up to a fully satisfactory explanation, at least to me.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2018, 04:58:19 PM »

OK, all good scenarios, but then if they are operative, then FN probably did not make it to the Seven Site.

Right.

  Is there any evidence from there that at least two people were involved at that site?

No.

  And how did AE, with an injured ankle, make it half-way around the island, a very long walk indeed?

Sprained ankles heal.  It's like when a witch turns you into a newt.  You get better.

  Even more intriguing, is why she would do so with an injured ankle.

It's amazing what you can do if your life depends on it.  The only reason to be at the Seven Site is because it's the best spot on the island for a castaway to hang out. A ridge that catches the cool easterly trade wind. Easy access to both ocean and lagoon for food. Nearby Buka forest where rainwater collects in fallen leaves after squalls.  Easy to climb Kanawa trees (back then) to watch for ships.

 
  If she did, she took a freckle cream jar and a sextant box with her?  How bizarre is that, given that she has abandoned the plane site and FN is not around?

Not very.  She didn't abandon the plane.  The plane abandoned her.  If Fred's gone, Fred's gone. Nothing she can do about that.  The sextant box was described as having been most recently used "merely as a receptacle."  She apparently used it to carry the few possessions she had.  All of the bottles we found at the Seven Site that we think are associated with the castaway would fit in a Brandis sextant box.  Any small bottle is valuable.  At some point the freckle cream ointment pot was broken, either by accident of intentionally.  One fragment that is easy to grasp safely and has a sharp cutting edge, was found 20 meters away from the rest of the pieces near some turtle bones.  An archaeologist who specializes in identifying stone tools found that the sharp edge showed signs of having been used as a cutting or scraping tool.

 

It still ain't a addin' up to a fully satisfactory explanation, at least to me.

Keep pitching and I'll keep batting.
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Randy Jacobson

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2018, 06:46:26 PM »

I'll posit that AE, if she landed near the Norwich City, would not have a good clue about the rest of the island's habitability to warrant a long walk to the opposite side of the island.  To undertake such a journey, there must have been a good a priori reason. 

I can understand a walk-about the general area where she landed: that makes a lot of sense.  But to undertake a long journey with a bad ankle (you indicate she may have had it healed it time, but then why continue wearing the larger shoe?) seems far-fetched to me. 

I can shrug shoulders with the best of 'em...
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Mark Appel

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2018, 07:09:57 PM »

I’ve wondered as well.  I’m reading ‘Finding Amelia’ (again) and got to wondering... if Betty’s notes suggest that FN was injured, perhaps he was unable to exit the aircraft?...

Just a thought, but perhaps that’s why there’s no second set of bones

More than a thought and exactly what I have been thinking. Would it even have been possible for Amelia to extract Fred from the plane unaided? Moving a dead weight body is awkward and difficult under any circumstances. Moving one vertically through a hatch is a challenge indeed.

My guess is all she could do is make him as comfortable as possible. There's also a real possibility he didn't last all that long after the landing. It's perhaps more likely than not, Fred never left the plane (and may still be in it).
"Credibility is Everything"
 
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 07:14:28 PM by Mark Appel »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2018, 08:27:01 AM »

I might be reaching a bit, but here goes. . . .

We know the inverting eyepiece for the sextant was found at the Seven site and later discarded.

Questions for Ric or Andrew:  Was the inverting eyepiece typically removed when the sextant was put away in the box?

                                            Is there any reason to believe AE was at all familiar with the composition and use of a sextant, to the point where she would have  known the eyepiece might have been useful in starting a fire?  ( I don't believe she would have been)

My point is, I believe since the eyepiece made it to the island, the rest of the sextant did also and Fred is the one who brought it (and it's with him in the cairn).  It's not unreasonable to think Fred would have taken it ashore to use the first night to fix their position.

IMO it's a bit of a stretch for me to believe that if Fred died in the aircraft, Amelia would have had the presence of mind to dump the sextant (Fred would have habitually put it away after using it) -- except for the eyepiece -- and take the box ashore without filling it with things from the a/c that might have been useful (don't know she didn't but nothing's been found except for the jackknife). 

I know, a lot of "should have's" and "would have's" in there -- forgive me!, but I think they're reasonable speculations.

Thoughts?

 
Bill Mangus
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2018, 09:00:43 AM »

I'll posit that AE, if she landed near the Norwich City, would not have a good clue about the rest of the island's habitability to warrant a long walk to the opposite side of the island.

It would have been helpful if she had the opportunity to look the island over from the air ...no, wait ...she did.

  To undertake such a journey, there must have been a good a priori reason. 

If we accept that Earhart died at the Seven Site then she undertook the journey, so it seems safe to assume that she had what she considered to be a good reason. The fact that you cannot think of a good reason is irrelevant. She did it.

I can understand a walk-about the general area where she landed: that makes a lot of sense.

And I agree that she probably did that. In 2015 we knocked ourselves out looking for an initial campsite somewhere on the NW end.  What we learned is that it's a wretched place, shielded from the cooling easterly trades, devoid of any source of fresh water, and far from food sources in the the lagoon.  Even the shady Buka forest is dank and reeks of bird dung.

  But to undertake a long journey with a bad ankle (you indicate she may have had it healed it time, but then why continue wearing the larger shoe?) seems far-fetched to me. 

Would you undertake a long walk with a painful ankle if you were dying of thirst and you knew there was a big lake at the far end of the island that might contain fresh water?  The photo below was taken during the New Zealand survey in December 1938. This is probably what the island looked like to Amelia a year and a half earlier.  The big lake at the southeast end was (and is) salt water, but there's no way ti know that without going there.  In this photo the natural "7" of the Seven Site is clearly visible.  It is also clear that the dense beachfront vegetation there is naturally thinner than elsewhere along coast, which might invite a hiker to venture inland at that spot.

I've made the hike from the NW end to the Seven Site. You stay at the water's edge where the sand is firm. It's no walk in the park but its not crossing the Sun's Anvil to attack Aqaba either.

I can shrug shoulders with the best of 'em...

Agreed
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Leon R White

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2018, 10:03:41 AM »

If the radio messages are to be accepted, could amelia have possibly left a corpse of FN in the plane, in the extreme heat, for any length of time if she expected to try to use the radio?  Unless she knew he was absolutely dead, isn't she's more likely to have pulled him up out of the cockpit to see if she could revive him? or because most of us would do that? OR to put his final remains on the island. 

If they're both in the cockpit on landing he may have been injured but are the odds good that he's DOA and she can get around, AND exit the cockpit? And return? The part of the cockpit containing all the components to operate the radio would have to be somewhat undamaged.  This is all tube radios and mechanical controls/batteries etc.  And if the radio is working, the one engine has to be turning (even with the prop was removed by a handy mechanic who swam away),  wrecked cockpit seems unlikely.

If you grant her on the radio at all, then perhaps probability would seem to favor FN getting out at the beginning, injured, dead, or whatever.

Given that EVERYTHING about this trip defies probability, the dead in the plane alternative seems a stretch.  I've always wondered about the daughter of the doctor who referred to 'the man and woman from the plane' or what ever that quote was. Could they have found FN first and put him in the Cairn? wouldn't they have buried him, at least like some of AE's bones?  And if they did, wouldn't they have buried him where the other bones/graves of islanders were located at the time?  Speculation of course.

Seems more likely FN brings the sextant to determine their location to radio for help.  What happens after that - they both die at different times.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2018, 10:24:00 AM »

Questions for Ric or Andrew:  Was the inverting eyepiece typically removed when the sextant was put away in the box?

I don't know, but I don't think it matters.  At some point, it becomes obvious that the sextant is no longer of any use, either because Fred has used it to establish their position as best he can or Fred is dead and AE doesn't have a clue about how to use a sextant.  At that point the sensible thing to do would be to look at the instrument and decide if there was anything worth hanging on to. Just about everyone knows that you can start a fire with a magnifying glass. It's not much of a leap to figure out that the lens for the inverting eyepiece is basically a magnifying glass.  Good.  Keep that. The rest of the sextant is junk.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2018, 09:44:10 AM »

Questions for Ric or Andrew:  Was the inverting eyepiece typically removed when the sextant was put away in the box?

I don't know, but I don't think it matters.  At some point, it becomes obvious that the sextant is no longer of any use, either because Fred has used it to establish their position as best he can or Fred is dead and AE doesn't have a clue about how to use a sextant.  At that point the sensible thing to do would be to look at the instrument and decide if there was anything worth hanging on to. Just about everyone knows that you can start a fire with a magnifying glass. It's not much of a leap to figure out that the lens for the inverting eyepiece is basically a magnifying glass.  Good.  Keep that. The rest of the sextant is junk.

I think Ric is basically right.  Once Fred used the sextant to determine their position (assuming he did)  it becomes useless.  The island isn't moving anywhere, so no need to carry the whole sextant around, but the box becomes a convenient small carrying vehicle for whatever will fit in it. 

At Nikumaroro, you'd use your freckle cream to protect yourself from the sun until it ran out (poisoning yourself with mercury in the process), and then the jar becomes a potentially useful tool, broken or not. 

The windward side is where the turtles come ashore, particularly down by the 7 site, so there is a source of food down there.

The NW end is extremely hot.  The coral has been stained dark black, and it just radiates heat back at you.  Very uncomfortable place to be.  Rescue by ship would likely come from the NE, so it makes sense to go where you can see them coming and find a comfortable (relative term) place to wait.

My guess is that AE would have thought that the eyepiece to the sextant could be used to start fires.  Not easy to do, but worth taking with you just in case.  There are several eyepieces typically found in a Brandis box, see attached photo.  Usually there is one long tube that has to be removed to put the sextant in the box, and two shorter tubes that are stored at the top of the box.  For the the sextant I own that is complete, the long tube does invert and magnify the image, and the shorter tubes do not.  I'm not fully versed in the function of all these parts, but the short tubes have just pin hole openings and my guess is that they are used when sighting the sun vs having the long tube magnify the sun into your eye.  Just speculation, I need to take a sextant course one of these days.

Hope that helps.

Andrew

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Jerry Germann

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Re: So Where Are Fred's Remains?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2018, 12:13:08 PM »

Concerning what was believed to be a sextant part;  In documents; it mentions Gallagher describing, through second hand information, the found and discarded piece as a thread of an inverted eyepiece,(page 19)
 
 https://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/Bonesimages/wphcdocuments.pdf

The transcript of Gallagher’s copy is:
Confidential. Your telegram No. 2, no sextant was found. Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of an inverting eyepiece. Gallagher.
The transcript of the W.P.H.C. copy says:
Confidential. Your telegram No. 2, no sextant was found. Only part discovered was thrown away by finder but was probably part of thread of inverted eyepiece. Gallagher.

So was the part found a lense or a piece of threaded material?
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