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Author Topic: Dana Randolph  (Read 1077 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Dana Randolph
« on: August 04, 2018, 07:46:08 AM »

Of all the credible post-loss harmonic receptions, Dana Randolph's (Message 81) got the most attention in 1937.  Dana was a 16 year-old African American boy living in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Message from U.S. Coast Guard San Francisco Division to Itasca, 23:10 GMT on July 4, 1937

UNCONFIRMED REPORTS FROM ROCKSPRINGS WYOMING STATE EARHART PLANE HEARD 16000 KCS REPORTED POSITION ON A REEF SOUTHEAST OF HOWLAND ISLAND THIS INFORMATION MAY BE AUTHENTIC AS SIGNALS FROM MID PACIFIC AND ORIENT OFTEN HEARD INLAND WHEN NOT AUDIBLE ON COAST VERIFICATION FOLLOWS

Message from U.S. Coast Guard San Francisco Division to Itasca, 00:57 GMT on July 5, 1937

FOLLOWING RECEIVED FROM ROCK SPRINGS IN RESPONSE TO INQUIRY QUOTE INVESTIGATION REVEALS SIGNALS HEARD NEAR SIXTEEN
MEGACYCLES THOUGHT TO BE FROM KHAQQ SIGNED KDN UNQUOTE

Station KDN was the Department of Commerce aeronautical radio facility
in Rock Springs. The operator there believed that Dana Randolph had heard
Amelia Earhart because he knew from personal experience that receptions
like the one the boy reported were possible. He undoubtedly realized that
the frequency Dana read from the dial of his commercial set was very close
to 15,525 kilocycles—the fifth harmonic of 3105.

The Rocket Miner, July 5, 1937, page one

"First Radio Contact With Miss Earhart Made By Springs Boy

The Fourth of July was a day for every boy in the United States to get excited over firecrackers–for every boy, that is, except Dana Randolph, 16-year-old son of Cyrus G. Randolph of 1408 Tenth street.
Dana was much too busy for firecrackers. His time was taken up answering inquiries as to the manner in which he became the first person in the world to pick up a radio message from Amelia Earhart, forced down in mid-Pacific in her world-girdling flight.
Listening on a commercial radio set equipped with a short wave receiver, he heard Miss Earhart sending out a radio message for help between 8 and 8:25 a.m., Sunday.
Professional radio operators, operators of amateur stations, government radio men, and listeners in general throughout the world had been listening for such a call since Miss Earhart and her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, missed Howland island on their flight from Lae, New Guinea.
The Rock Springs boy, listening in front of his big set, was following a hobby he began eight years ago. Following suggestions by his Uncle John Randolph he has studied and worked on the mechanics of radio. He has built sets. Sunday morning he was listening to reception brought in over a new antenna he had designed and just had erected.
He heard the following words come out of his loud speaker:
"This is Amelia Earhart. Ship is on a reef south of the equator. Station KH9QQ."
The voice then began to give the location of the fallen "flying laboratory" in which Miss Earhart and her navigator had flown more than halfway around the world. But the voice faded away and the young Rock Springs listener was unable to hear the noted woman flier tell exactly where she was.
"Hey, Paw!" Dana yelled to his father who was in the kitchen. "I got Miss Earhart!"
The elder Randolph came running and he and his son listened closely.
Again the woman's voice came from the loud speaker, repeating her name, the call letters of her station, and fading away again as she began to give her location. The procedure was followed for 25 minutes.
Dana's Uncle Victor Randolph, who lives next door, came in and was told about the reception of the call for help.
"Everybody wants to know about that," he told his nephew. "Get down town and report that."
Cyrus and Victor Randolph immediately went to the police station to learn where the report should be made. They were directed to a local department of commerce radio operator. He notified Washington of their report, saying that the plea for help had come in at 160,000 kilocycles, and then the three of them dashed to the Randolph home to listen again.
But despite constant vigilance at the radio almost day and night, no other clear message came through. Sounds that seemed almost to be the voice of the flier were heard but they were not clear enough to be understood.
The department of commerce in Washington sent notice to all radio men engaged in the search and shortly others reported hearing radio signals. Battleships, fleets of airplanes, and private ships were pointed toward the indicated spot. Later came signals that all could hear in the vicinity of the search.
In the meantime, the big press associations in Washington had been notified. The name of the local boy was carried in press stories throughout the world.
Tuesday the father received a telegraph message from a man signing himself Lieut. William J. Powell, of Los Angeles, requesting Dana's picture and biography and saying that a tour for him is planned.
Operators of local amateur transmitting stations have interested themselves in him and have offered to help him become a licensed operator if he desires.
He has shown a decided bent for the technical side of radio. It is thought likely that his service in helping to locate Miss Earhart will provide means for him to carry his studies as far as he wishes."

When the search for Earhart failed, Dana's star faded. He died in 1970.  Attempts to connect with surviving family have been unsuccessful.

There are a couple of discrepancies in the newspaper story.  Earhart's call sign was KHAQQ, not KH9QQ.  Also, the Coast Guard message reported "position on a reef southeast of Howland" but the newspaper quote is less specific, "the ship is on a reef south of the equator."

Randolph's reception was coincident with the first reception heard by Mrs. Crabb in Toronto and with a signal heard by two Pan Am DF stations - Mokapu and Midway.  Mokapu got a bearing of 213° which passes her Gardner.  We consider it Credible Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
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