Forum artHighlights From the Forum

January 7 through 13, 2001

(click on the number to go directly to that message)
Re: Satellite photos Doug Brutlag
Re: WOJ Hue Miller
Re: Radio Propagation Allan Rickman
Re: Radio Propagation Randy Jacobson
Re: Satellite Images Marty Moleski
Re: Satellite Photos Dan Postellon
Black as GP's rep. Randy Jacobson
W40K--new development Tom Byers
Re: Black as GP's rep. Chris Kennedy
Re: Black as GP's rep. Randy Jacobson
Secret Bones Terry Lee Simpson
Re: Secret Bones Tom King
WWII question Tom King
WWII answers Nick Murray, Mike Everett, Phil Tanner, etc.
Suitcase Mike Muenich
Go West, Young Woman Ron Bright

Message: 1
Subject: Re: Satellite photos
Date: 1/8/01
From: Doug Brutlag

You might have something there Pete. (Canton or Kanton---which is it Ric?) Besides Pan Am using it as a stepping stone to Austrailia, the Air Force had an installation built during WWII and was abandoned in the 1960's. NASA built a satellite tracking station there in 1965 and abandoned it in 1967. Mix this with a little cold-war paranoia and you might find nice glossy or two. Good luck!

Doug Brutlag #2335

From Ric

It was Canton until it officially became part of Kiribati in 1979 and then became Kanton.

Pan Am first used the lagoon as a seaplane landing/refueling base in 1939. The Army built a runway in 1941 and the island was a heavily used refueling stop all through the war. After the war and thoughout the 1950s it was a vital transpacific refueling stop for both American and British airliners. Nonstop jets made it obsolete in the early 1960s but, as you say, NASA had a telemetry station there from 1965 to 1967. In 1970 the USAF used the Phoenix Group as a target area for multiple (dummy) warhead ICBMs launched from Vandenberg AFB, California. Canton was the main base of operations. That operation ended in 1973. In 1979 the island became part of the new nation of Kiribati. Nothing much has happened there since then.

Message: 2
Subject: Re: WOJ
Date: 1/8/01
From: Hue Miller

WOJ is one of the call letters mentioned in Betty's logbook. Altho WOJ is listed in the postwar Berne station listings, I am unable to determine when the station began. I suggest 1935 or 1936, because that is when AT&T's WO* stations first appear, located in New Jersey and Florida. If I recall, the Berne list does not show the owner, but it the station can be associated with other known AT&T stations by the similar call, the location, and the stated service. I was unable to find in the radio enthusiast magazines of the period, any reception report on WOJ, altho there are frequent mentions of WOO and another WO* station or 2. I would guess, that WOJ was the call letters for an infrequently used frequency channel, or was a call letter assigned AT&T and maybe held but practically never used. These stations at first were dual purpose, serving telephone system interface to both overseas telephones and to ships, but it appears over the years the land service faded away, no doubt with improved cable capacity and finally, satellite systems. In fact, satellite communications is what finally did these AT&T stations in: AT&T closed all their remaining HF stations on Feb. 28, 1999, so after that date the call letters WOO, WOM, WOK, WOJ, and others would be unassigned. (This date per article in Popular Communications.) There are still a couple, just a couple, of stations in the USA providing SSB telephone access to ships, one on Alabama coast and one at San Francisco (if I'm not mistaken). Clearly, HF voice radio is in a steady decline in use.

As to why Betty wrote down "WOJ", that's still open. I think it was discussed that she was writing down possibilities for what she might have heard. Another possiblity is that she briefly heard a snatch of actual WOJ. In the Betty reception scene, we are pretty much agreed that if it happened, it had to happen on one of the higher wavebands, multiples of AE's transmitter channels, that means approximately 12 - 18 MHz. ( Higher? not likely I think --- harmonic output from AE's transmitter at higher frequencies "might" be too low to be useful. Also --- her neighbor was able to hear parts of it --- and "assuming" his radio was not a top-end, high cost set, unlike Betty's, it would not be expected to tune much higher than 18 or 20 MHz). In those days, radios were just not that stable on the high ranges --- no amount of bucks could buy you total stability. That means that unless the radio had been warming up for hours before Betty used it, and she tuned in after switching it on, you would expect that after 15 or 20 minutes at 15 MHz or above, you would need to readjust the tuning on whatever she was listening to, and then again maybe after the same period of time. What I am suggesting is a possible explanation of how WOJ or snatch of whatever other communcation got mixed up in there--- perhaps in the tweaking of the tuning knob to try to bring the station in better, something else was briefly brought in. "Howland Port" ??? "WOJ" ??? There is (was) a WOJ, but at Hialeah, not Howland.

Hue Miller

From Ric

My personal opinion is that all the agonizing over WOJ is for naught. According to Betty's notebook she heard either W40K or WOJ. We've already determined that there was a ham, Francis Carroll, with the call sign W40K living in Palm Beach, FL at the time (and on the same propagation path from Gardner as Betty in St. Pete) and who, at least anecdotally, claimed to have talked to Earhart.

Message: 3
Subject: Re: Radio Propagation
Date: 1/8/01
From: Allan Rickman

The Itasca carried radio transmitters were calibrated to 7500,6210,3105,500 & 425 kilocycles. The Itasca's radio direction finder frequency range was from 550 to 570 kilocycles. This was a low frequency radio direction finder which was permanent equiptment aboard ship. There was also an emergency high frequency Navy radio direction finder, sent from Pearl Harbor, which was installed on Howland Island. This was powered by the ship's gun batterys, which had run down during the night, so apparently no one realized that it wasn't working. This was accompanied by a Richard Black, an official of the Dept. of the Interior, who was also a personal representative of G.P.,who also later became a Rear Admiral in the Navy.

By the way, does anyone know anything about an XC-35 or NR16020 /R16020/N16020 ? There seems to have been several planes with this number or alot of changes to one plane's number.

LTM Allan Rickman

From Ric

Where are you getting your information, Allan? What made Black a "personal representative" of George Putnam? Dick Black was an employee of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and certainly not the representative of any private citizen.

The XC-35 was, and is, a one-off pressurized version of the Lockheed Model 10. The airplane is now stored at the Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland. I've crawled all through it.

Earhart's Electra was constructor's number 1055 (the 55th Model 10 built). Before delivery to AE on July 24, 1936 it was registered X16020 because it was in the Experimental category while Lockheed checked out the special long-range fuel system. When it was delivered to Earhart she registered it as R16020 because it was licensed only in the Resticted category until it was approved for international flight at which time it became NR16020. That approval was granted in September 1936 but they didn't paint the N on the airplane until about January 1937.

Many years after Earhart disappeared, her friend Paul Mantz registered his Lockheed 12A "Electra Junior" N16020 in memory of Amelia. Later the airplane was sold and crashed.


Message: 4
Subject: Re: Radio Propagation
Date: 1/9/01
From: Randy Jacobson

Actually, Richard Black was GPP's representative for Howland Island. He had agreed to that somewhat reluctantly way back in March, 1937.

From Ric

Is there correspondence on that? Was he paid? Why would Putnam need a "representative" at Howland?

Message: 5
Subject: Re: Satellite Images
Date: 1/10/01
From: Marty Moleski

Ric wrote:

> If anybody comes up with a satellite photo of Niku with 1 meter resolution
> please let me know.

I think this is a red herring.

The maps available online or through various sales agencies seem to concentrate on:

  • weather
  • ex-military missions
  • places that are populated
I doubt very much that any 1-meter photos were ever taken of Niku.

There are said to be three start-up companies providing hi-resolution photos (down to about 2-meter details). One of them may have its own satellite. The one company named that I saw (Space Imaging Inc of Thornton, Colorado) seemed not to have a web site and only deals in orders of about $1600 and up. Even if they could be persuaded to shoot Niku, I suspect that the TIGHAR team already knows about most objects that size on Niku that would be visible from the air (i.e., not hidden under the scaevola--hey, Ric, is there a nickname for that stuff that is easier to spell and more romantic?).

Of course, I have not proven that the photos do not exist. What I'm really saying is that the ten minutes I spent looking for them discourages me from looking any further. ;o)

Marty #2359

From Ric

The Gilbertese call scaevola "te mao." We often call it "'vola" (as we call Nikumaroro "Niku"). We also call it other names that can't be published.

Message: 6
Subject: Re: Satellite Images
Date: 1/10/01
From: Dan Postellon

Here it is. Do you want to pursue this or drop it?


From: SpaceImaging
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2001 4:10 PM
To: Daniel Postellon
Subject: TIGHAR

Dear Mr. Postellon:

Thank you for your interest in Space Imaging's products and services. In order to serve you better, we need you to provide your area of interest in coordinates. Note that the one you provide is over water in the Pacific Ocean. And depending on what type of resolution (details) you like, we have different satellite to suit your needs there. Please also visit us at SpaceImaging for a description of different products.

Kind Regards,
Eric S. Joe
Customer Service Representative

From: Daniel Postellon
Sent: Wednesday, January 03, 2001 10:11 AM
Subject: TIGHAR

I am a member of a non-profit organization, . They will be running an expedition to Nikumaroro, Kiribati (4.6666667 degrees S, 174.5333333 degrees W) in September of 2001 to look for evidence of the end of Amelia Earhart. Details are available on the website. I do not speak for the organization, but would you consider providing them data prior to the expedition, or providing news satellite photos during the expedition?

Daniel Postellon

I tried to see if Spaceimaging would do a free one for us, but did not get a reply. You can order a custom photo (1 meter resolution B+W or 4 meter resolution in color) for about $3,000. I also suggested that maybe they would want to take a photo of Niku 4.

Dan Postellon TIGHAR#2263

From Ric

Thanks Dan. This has real possibilities and I intend to follow up on it directly with Spaceimaging. If we're really talking about ballpark $3,000 and we can get one meter resolution (especially if we can see down through the water to a depth of at least 10 meters) it would be money well-spent. It's not in the budget but I'm sure the TIGHAR membership would rise to the challenge. We would, of course, put the image up on the TIGHAR website.

LTM, Ric

Message: 7
Subject: Black as GP's Rep.
Date: 1/10/01
From: Randy Jacobson

Yes, there is correspondence on this. Putnam needed a man "on the scene" at Howland, and contacted Black to do this. Normally, he had a variety of "hacks" or newsmen doing this, but because of the Coast Guard ship being the main transportation to Howland, there were restrictions on number of people who could go. While there were newsmen at Howland for the 1st and 2nd attempts, they were folks that GPP apparently couldn't rely upon.

There was probably a connection between Bill Miller, GPP's coordinator on the first attempt and also former head of Howland/Baker/Jarvis Island colonization scheme, and Dick Black, present head of colonization. Miller probably told GPP that this would be an easy job for Black to do, he was a good man, etc etc. Putnam wrote/cabled Black to enlist his help. Remember, on the second attempt, Black was coordinating radio messages until Thompson took over after the disappearance. He was acting as Putnam's agent.

From Ric

Thanks Randy. I hadn't realized that the relationship was that formalized.

Message: 8
Subject: Re: W40K-- New development
Date: 1/10/01
From: Tom Byers

The 3105 kc and 6210 kc frequencies (HF) were reserved for aircraft transmissions only. Reception should have been on another frequency 500 kc (?). Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that amateur radio operators would communicate directly with her.

Since the antenna for 500 kc under the plane did not work (lost during takeoff) she could not hear the Attics calling her. The HF antenna on the top of the aircraft was still functional. She may not have been aware that the one antenna was not working.

It is my assumption that she was depending on homing in on the 500 kc transmissions from the Itasca. Had her antenna worked she would have found Howland Island and completed her flight.

Tom Byers (Springfield, MO)

From Ric

There is a growing body of evidence that hams and shortwave listeners heard Earhart on harmonics of her primary frequencies (3105 and 6210).

There's still a lot of debate about what antenna was used for what, but the best evidence (in my opinion) suggests that the dorsal vee antenna on top of the airplane was for transmitting only. The belly wire antenna was for receiving only, as was the Bendix loop over the cockpit. The loss of the belly wire at Lae removed the airplane's capability to receive anything unless the loop was selected.


Message: 9
Subject: Re: Black as GP's rep.
Date: 110/01
From: Chris Kennedy

My thought on learning that Putnam had a "man on the scene" is that this could open up a whole new avenue of inquiry. I would suppose that Black reported back to Putnam about what he had observed on the morning of the disappearance, since that appears to have been his purpose for being there in the first place. Perhaps this is at the root of Putnam's insistence that Earhart landed in the Phoenix isles. Randy, do you know of a way we could see if Black made a written report, notes, etc.? If he has any surviving relatives, perhaps these could be contacted to see if they have any documents or recollections of what Black may have told Putnam. Ric, have we gotten any word back from the Putnam descendants who are members of TIGHAR on our earlier inquiries?

--Chris Kennedy

From Ric

I'm not aware of any report Black made to Putnam but he did write a brief report for the Dept. of the Interior which basically concurs with Thompson's conclusion that the plane crashed at sea.

Putnam's descendants have responded to my query and are not aware of any story about anything important being found in a suitcase or briefcase in a closet following Earhart's disappearance.

Message: 10
Subject: Re: Black as GP's rep.
Date: 1/10/01
From: Randy Jacobson

Black's personal records are now at the Naval Historical Center, being cataloged by someone on the forum, IIRC. I've not had a chance to see them.

Black's relationship to Putnam appears to be strictly one of providing logistical support. For example, Putnam needed gas to be placed on Howland Island, and needed someone to ensure it got there. He also needed someone onboard the Itasca to ensure that weather reports were provided to AE via Tutuilla Naval Radio Station and the Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor. It was GPP's way of making sure things got done. From Black's perspective, it was probably no big deal, except for dealing with petty issues from a civilian that really wasn't his true job overseeing the colonization of the islands.

Message: 11
Subject: Secret Bones
Date: 1/11/01
From: Terry Lee Simpson

Why did the British in Mr. Gallagher's time want to keep the bone and shoe discovery secret?

No member # yet
TL Simpson

From Ric

Ascribing motives is always dicey, but we do have the High Commissioner's response to suggestions that the American Consul in Sydney be notified.

On October 26, 1940, Sir Harry Luke wrote in the file:

[B]etter I think await the arrival of the remains etc. Thinnest rumours which may in the end prove unfounded are liable to be spread.
When the "remains etc." finally did arrive in Fiji the following spring, an examination by Dr. Hoodless resulted in the opinion that the bones were those of a short, stocky male--- not Amelia Earhart. By that time there was, in fact, a new American Consul resident in Fiji but he was apparently never informed about the matter.

Tom King has recently done some archival rersearch which seems to shed new light on why Sir Harry did not bring the American Consul into his confidence. I'll let him tell you about it himself. Over to you Tom.


Message: 12
Subject: Secret bones
Date: 1/12/01
From: Tom King

Ric wrote:

>Tom King has recently done some archival rersearch which seems to shed new
>light on why Sir Harry did not bring the American Consul into his confidence.
>I'll let him tell you about it himself. Over to you Tom.

Thanks, Ric. I've spent a couple of days in the U.S. National Archives this week, looking at the records of the U.S. Consular Office (later Consulate) in Suva, 1940-44. Unfortunately, State Dept. records are organized by subject, not station, so finding the Suva records involves wading through lots and lots of documents on all manner of other places -- some amazing stories there. Anyhow, I have more work to do, but what's come to light so far is that Wainwright Abbott, the U.S. Consul, had no use whatever for Western Pacific High Commissioner and Governor of Fiji Sir Harry Luke, and felt (among many other things) that Sir Harry was biased against the U.S.. This is quite at odds with what others have told us, and I can't begin to say what lies behind it, but if the two didn't get along, it might have discouraged Sir Harry from talking with Abbott about the bones.

Of course, Sir Harry had reason to be a bit distant with Americans, given the continuing competition over possession of the Phoenix and Line Islands (to which the U.S. gave up claims only in 1979), and considering some other irritants like Admiral Byrd's removal of parts of the HMS Bounty wreck from Pitcairn Island as souveniers for President Roosevelt. The U.S. yacht Wing-On was also wrecked in Fiji about this time (another remarkable, tragic story), and although the British authorities seem to have handled the matter with a great deal of delicacy and courtesy, there was a good deal of controversy, verging on litigation, between the U.S. State Dept. and the representative of the wreck's sole survivor, which (to the extent it was known to the British authorities) may have discouraged reporting potentially controverial discoveries.

Sir Harry was replaced in mid-1942 by Major-General Sir Philip Mitchell, about whom Abbott was quite bullish. Mitchell apparently rather thoroughly reorganized his office as Governor of Fiji; he may well have reorganized the WPHC offices as well. If so, this might have provided a context in which (particularly combined with the confusion of the War) both the bones and records of them could have gone astray.

I need to get back to the Archives for at least another day before I'll have a reasonable fix on this, but one thing it tells me is that it would be really, REALLY good to take a hard look at Sir Harry's papers, which are housed at Oxford.

Tom King

Message: 13
Subject: WWII question
Date: 1/12/01
From: Tom King

This will doubtless seem like a really dumb question to those on the Forum who know all about World War II, but can somebody give me the actual date on which the Japanese took Tarawa? All I can find in the sources I have around here just says it happened shortly after Pearl Harbor. Anybody have details? Yes, there's a reason for my query, which almost certainly has nothing to do with our topic, but does relate to getting a better understanding of what was happening around the time the bones disappeared.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Tom King

Message: 14
Subject: WWII answers
Date: 1/13/01
From: Nick Murray, Mike Everette, Phil Tanner, etc.

Tom, I found the following narrative about one of the missionaries on Tarawa during WW2: Angelfire.

Reading through it, it seems the Japanese landed twice on Tarawa, the first time on December 9, 1941, the second, just before Christmas, 1941. They didn't actually occupy Tarawa until September 3, 1942. I hope this helps!

Nick Murray

From Mike E. the Radio Historian #2194:

I don't have the book in front of me right now but I recommend you check Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa by Alexander. Very scholarly and thorough. I believe you will find your answers therein.

Mike E.

From Phil Tanner

The Encyclopedia Britannica site narrows it down very slightly to "the first few days of the war" and before 23 Jan 1942:

On the eastern perimeter of the war zone, the Japanese had bombed Wake Island on December 8, attempted to capture it on December 11, and achieved a landing on December 23, quickly subduing the garrison. Guam had already fallen on December 10. Having also occupied Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands in the first days of the war, the Japanese successfully attacked Rabaul, the strategic base on New Britain (now part of Papua New Guinea), on Jan. 23, 1942.
A site on WWII history at Timeline says rather cryptically:

Guam surrendered Dec. 11 1st US possession to be occupied opened way for fall of Rabaul Tarawa on Dec. 9 and Makin Dec. 10 in Gilberts

Another site on the Pacific War -- Chronology --- also says the Japanese landed on Tarawa on 9th December. I imagine "landing" amounted to "taking" that early in the war.

Phil 2276

From J.W. Clark

Tom King: According to my reference books, the Japanese landed on Tarawa and Makin on December 9, 1941. Regards.


From Cam Warren

Att: Tom King -

According to the Encyclopedia of World History, Tarawa (and Makin) fell to the Japanese on December 10, 1941. Singapore, the source for the very effective British coast artillery pieces still to be found on Tarawa, were acquired after Singapore fell February 15, 1942 (source: me, who has been to both places).

Cam Warren

From Harry Poole


Here is another reference from Britannica:

Supporting the assault on the Philippines, the Japanese bombed Wake Island on December 8 and overcame fierce resistance from the tiny U.S. garrison on December 23. By February 10, Guam and Tarawa in the Gilberts and Rabaul and Gasmata on New Britain were occupied. Japan was now master of a vast empire stretching from Manchuria to the East Indies and the border of India deep into the western Pacific.
Harry Poole, #2300
From Tom King

All right Harry! Thanks. So Tarawa was occupied by Feb. 10 1942.

Now the reason for my question. Among the papers I reviewed earlier this week at the National Archives was document 819.857/150, relating to an alleged incident of cannibalism in a lifeboat from a torpedoed merchantman. No, this wasn't just my grisly archeological side coming out, I looked at it because it featured a lot of our old friends from the WPHC -- Secretary Vaskess, Education Director Holland, and Drs. Steenson and Isaac. But here's the funny thing: the key part of this multi-part document is a memorandum to Vaskess from Holland describing his interviews with the survivor who lodged the allegation, who had washed ashore with other survivors in the lifeboat at Tarawa on January 17th 1942 and been treated by Steenson and Isaac in hospital there. So now I know that Tarawa had not in fact necessarily been occupied by mid-January; THAT's a relief. However, Holland's memo is headed: "Education Department, Tarawa, 25th February, 1942."

Unless I've stumbled into a time warp, I can only assume that the G&EI Education Department was still functioning as such in exile in Fiji, but still ascribing itself to Tarawa, at least a couple of weeks after Tarawa itself fell to the Japanese. Or does somebody have a better interpretation?

If this seems a bit distant from the Earhart quest, let me just note that it does seem to indicate that Steenson and Isaac were on Tarawa in mid-January 1942, and that could turn out to be of some relevance.

LTM (who doesn't countenance cannibalism or time shifts)
Tom King

Message: 15
Subject: Suitcase
Date: 1/13/01
From: Mike Muenich

When was the National Geographic map published? That would be the earliest date on which the notations could have been made and AE's date of departure closes the period.

From Ric -- I couldn't find a date on the map.)
Where is Enderbury Island in relation to the Phoenix Group and particularly Niku?
See the map on the TIGHAR website at Phoenix Islands Map.
How does it fit with the 157/337 sun line?
It doesn't. But remember that the 157/337 sunline only became significant once the actual date of the Lae/Howland flight became known. It might be interesting to see what the sunline would have been for the anticipated date of the Lae/Howland flight.
What is on Enderbury that might have made it attractive as an alternate?
Nothing that I can think of.
Was it populated; did it have an area that was suitable for landing; was it closer to Howland?
None of the above.
Mike Muenich

Message: 16
Subject: Go West Young woman
Date: 1/13/01
From: Ron Bright

I viewed the American Experience documentary made in 1993 for tv and narrated by David McCullough. Sure enough in an interview with Gore Vidal, he recounts his fathers assistance in planning the world flight, and added that when he (not sure if he is talking about Gore or himself) asked Amelia what she considered the most dangerous part of the flight would be, she answered "Africa," spelling out her reasons.

Gore then says, well what about the long flight over the Pacific from Lae to Howland, and Amelia answers something like: if you're lost, you can't miss an island at that "latitude". It does suggest as of 1993 that Gore believed she would head back on a west latitude if she missed Howland. We have hashed out Gores Vidal's quote before, but for those who want to see it come out of the horse's mouth, check it out of the Library. (Written by Nancy Porter) Also the takeoff film is good and one can see the "puff" in super slow motion. And lots of other anedotal stuff from Gore, such as "personnel problems" meant that FN was drinking again.The production does not go into any of the various theories of what happend after 0843.

LTM, Ron Bright

From Ric

I have to take a couple of deep breaths before replying to this: The PBS American Experience documentary about Earhart is the shoddiest piece of work I've ever seen on public television. Rumor, innuendo, and outright falsehood presented as fact to support an agenda.

For example: we're told that AE was kicked out of finishing school for walking on a window ledge in her nightgown. Never happened. In fact, AE voluntarily left the Ogontz School to be a nursing aid in Canada.

The interview with Gore Vidal is laughable. He was 11 years old in 1937. He says he was with his father and GP in New York when AE phoned from Lae, but GP was in California when AE was in Lae and there was no phone service from New Guinea.

Total garbage.


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