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Author Topic: Wet Radio  (Read 9388 times)

Brad Beeching

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Wet Radio
« on: December 03, 2011, 05:33:32 PM »

I was wondering. If the last credible transmission from the plane was at 8:18 pm Gardner time on July 7 (see Signal Catalog) then there were several high tides between the time she crashed and the time she went off the air for good, correct? Is it possible that the plane was flooded and drained several times during that time? And if it had flooded, how long do you think it took to dry the gear enough to attempt to transmit? Is it even possible given the location of the equipment in the plane? I got curious because the strength of the signals varied so much, coupled with such poor reception at Howland, Itasca and elswhere. Is the poor transmission quality due to damp radios?

Brad
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« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 05:02:42 AM by Brad Beeching »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 07:20:29 PM »

My impression of various analysis of the "Betty" notes indicates the the radios and aircraft were un-modified.  Proficient technicians could have remounted the radio equipment on shore, but not recharged the batteries without the engine.  I supposed the engine could have been moved as well, but that's stretching credibility past reason.
I would be tempted to throw out the proposition "out of hand", considering the difficulty in transplanting the disparate bits of the radio system to short - Batteries, dynamoter, remote head, transmitter, receiver, antenna wires, and (most critical) the wiring for all of that stuff. Then they would have only the unrecharged battery power for a brief time, on an untuned system.
I believe that when the Electra is found, it will still have the radio gear in-place.
To go back to the topic, I think that the dynamoter would not work after a salt-water dunking (I've got one to offer for testing the idea), nor would the lead-acid battery, which are the two lowest parts of the system, so, first to get dunked.  Then again, even with flat tires, those critical components are 5-7 feet above the "ground", so 3-4 feet above normal high-tide (someone please adjust my figures).
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Brad Beeching

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2011, 09:06:15 AM »

I agree that the probability of our subjects dismantling all the necessary components and moving them to the beach is very low. In reading Betty's notes, and what Betty said during interviews, I'm left with the impression that IF they found Gardner Island, they didn't land on it, they crashed on it. Now all of this is not relevant to proving the theory, it's just fun to think about but picture this:

After finding Gardner she checks the reef flat and wind direction in however many passes it would take to satisfy the pilot. The Electra comes in low and slow, engines muttering like sowing machines, skims the Norwich City and sets it down as soft as she can. As the plane slows during the rollout, the left wheel rolls through the surf as the pilot stands on the right rudder to try to keep the plane strait. As the speed falls off, rudder authority falls away rapidly until the plane goes ballistic and skids toward the broken reef edge and drops the left gear into a hole on the reef edge. The sudden deceleration whips the aircraft to the left, twisting the left gear off the airframe and dropping the left wing into the water at reefs edge. The aircraft is too badly damaged to ever fly again, but not so damaged that the right engine can still be run to charge the battery.

In such a scenario, the cockpit would not be 7 feet above the water, but would be a good deal lower. It has been my experience that equipment of that era was considerably more robust than what you find today. After all, we're not talking about a transistorized cell phone, but equipment with vacuum tubes and wires. I think that the equipment just might work after a dunking, but I also agree that it wouldn't last long if it did run. The above scenario might explain some of the dialog in the alleged radio calls, i.e.: both pilots injured, water rising, "watch that battery" , etc. etc.

Brad
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2011, 09:18:59 AM »

I'm left with the impression that IF they found Gardner Island, they didn't land on it, they crashed on it.

You're entitled to your impression but there's nothing in Betty's Notebook about a crash, or even about an airplane for that matter.

In such a scenario, the cockpit would not be 7 feet above the water, but would be a good deal lower.

The critical depth is not the cockpit height.  It's the height of the transmitter in the rear cabin, which was .9 meter (about 3 feet) above the reef surface.  If the aircraft is where the debris appears in the Bevington photo, the water at high tide will flood the transmitter.  When the aircraft was sending distress calls it had to be on it's gear and higher up on the reef.  The debris we see in the photo has to be something that got jammed in the reef as the aircraft was being washed over the edge.
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Brad Beeching

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2011, 10:30:04 AM »

Yes sir, I understand that there is no mention of either a crash or airplane in the notebook, but didn't Mz Brown say during an interview that she had the impression that there were injuries? Wasn't there at least one other mention of injuries reported in the post loss transmissions? I was just playing with an idea that seemed to fill a few blanks for me and having a little fun.

I realize that each componet in the radio equipment is critical to it's operation and no one component is more important than another, but suppose such a scenario did occur and the aircraft does have a gear failure on the left, how far from the surface does that put the transmitter? Not that it matters mind you, I am just trying to think out of the box... ;D

I have read all that I can find here and in "Finding Amelia", watched the video several times as well as studied publications by others. Bowing to your infinitely greater knowledge of the subject, and allowing that you know or suspect things that have may not been as yet published, what makes you believe that she landed higher on the flat? Having been there a bunch you would know far better than I, but I couldn't tell from the flyby video where the smoothest parts were. Given that I am NOT trying to make new theories and Im just asking questions, isn't it true that our heroine crashed or force landed every plane she ever flew? Kinda makes it easy to conjure up stories doesn't it? Who knows, might make a work of fiction some day!  ;)

Brad
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2011, 11:10:47 AM »

I realize that each componet in the radio equipment is critical to it's operation and no one component is more important than another, but suppose such a scenario did occur and the aircraft does have a gear failure on the left, how far from the surface does that put the transmitter?

Not much different than if both gear legs are intact.

...what makes you believe that she landed higher on the flat?

She seems to have sent radio calls for several days (nights actually).  She can only do that from the airplane.  The airplane has to be somewhere where the water does not reach the transmitter at high tide and where the water is low enough at low tide for her to run the engine to recharge the batteries.  The place where the debris is seen in the Bevington photo does not meet those criteria.  Where the airplane was "parked" while sending radio messages does not necessarily have to be where it stopped at the end of its landing roll - unless the landing ended in a gear collapse.  She can land wherever the reef looks smoothest and then taxi to a higher spot that may not be as smooth but gives her a few more inches - anything to stay above water.  She can't taxi to anywhere near the beach.  Way too pitted and jagged.

This, of course, is all theorizing.  We start with what we believe to be fact and then say, "If this is true then this must also be true."
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Brad Beeching

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2011, 02:17:55 PM »

Well, that makes sense to me... but then... I can't help it, I have to ask... if a landing was made on the smooth part of the reef and she succeeds in taxying the aircraft further up the reef, doesn't that imply a smooth landing? And if it was a smooth landing, and the post-loss transmissions were to be believed, what injured both the occupants? I refer to "Finding Amelia" pg 180. Apparently you toyed with the same thoughts as I, that a rough landing was made, and it was possible the the plane was down on the left side, albeit higher on the beach than I have been thinking... or have I read into what you wrote?  ;D

Brad
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Wet Radio
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2011, 03:07:20 PM »

And if it was a smooth landing, and the post-loss transmissions were to be believed, what injured both the occupants?

We think Betty heard them on Monday the 5th.  They had been there since Friday, almost certainly transiting between plane and beach several times.  I've been hurt on that reef and I've never landed an airplane there.
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