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Author Topic: Why Lexington for AE search?  (Read 5193 times)

Sheila Shigley

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Why Lexington for AE search?
« on: October 16, 2011, 12:05:13 PM »

Why did the navy devote an aircraft carrier to the search for AE?

When Pan Am pilot Ed Musick went down the following January, for example, with seven souls aboard, Avocet alone conducted the search, promptly locating the slick (but unfortunately no survivors).

I realize Avocet, working out of Pago Pago where Musick had taken off, was the logical choice in his case; but the two search responses still strike me as imbalanced.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 12:17:01 PM by Sheila Shigley »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Why Lexington for AE search?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 07:30:08 PM »

Why did the navy devote an aircraft carrier to the search for AE?

Briefly:
When Earhart went missing the Chief of Naval Operations told the Commandant of the 14th Naval District at Pearl Harbor, Rear Admiral Orin Murfin, to do whatever was "practicable." Everybody knew that what was needed was aircraft but Murfin didn't have any aircraft carriers or battleships or cruisers. Pearl was not yet the home of the Pacific Fleet. The only aircraft Murfin had were PBYs so he sent one south to help with the search, but it had to turn back due to weather.  Colorado, with three float planes, was in Honolulu on its annual NROTC training cruise.  Murfin got permission to commandeer the battleship for the Earhart search.  He told the CNO that if he wanted more airplanes than that he'd have to send a carrier.  The CNO was not at all sure he wanted to send a carrier but, just to be safe, he sent a message telling Lexington to stand by for a possible mission.  Somebody leaked the alert to the press and the the next day the papers were full of how the Navy was about to send Lexington to find Amelia.  At that point the CNO was stuck.  He had to send Lexington or look like he was callously abandoning Amelia Earhart to her fate.

Like much of the Earhart search, Lexington's involvement was a comedy of errors.

It's all in Finding Amelia.
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Why Lexington for AE search?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 08:41:01 AM »

Thanks for that, Ric--I really need to stop procrastinating and get a copy.

Just occurred to me that since Avocet did find Musick's slick in short order, no other effort was needed--possibly a larger search for his crew would have been conducted if no evidence of ditching had been found right away, do you think, as in AE's case?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Why Lexington for AE search?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 08:47:23 AM »

Just occurred to me that since Avocet did find Musick's slick in short order, no other effort was needed--possibly a larger search for his crew would have been conducted if no evidence of ditching had been found right away, do you think, as in AE's case?
I would imagine so.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Why Lexington for AE search?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 09:22:34 AM »

You also have to remember that at the time Amelia and Fred went missing, America was still largely isolationist and spending on things military wasn't wildly popular, so there was also the PR element - "Might as well get some value out of all this useless hardware sitting around doing nothing." And so the Navy garnered a warm fuzzy from the public, in addition to getting some training in. Fortunately they managed not to lose anyone in the process of looking for the lost duo.

LTM,
Monty Fowler
TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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