Highlights From the Forum
September 5 through 11, 1999
Tet Walston gave an excellent description of the "double drift" method of obtaining wind direction and speed, and of the manner in which the aircraft's drift angle from its true heading can be observed. But what is theoretically possible is not always realistically achievable. As a USAF navigator in the 6166th Air Weather Recon Flight at Kimpo Airfield in Korea I flew many 8-9 hour missions at 1500 feet over the Yellow Sea. I found the installed driftmeter on the Douglas WB-26C to be totally worthless, despite careful alignment of the instrument with the longitudinal axis of the aircraft. Unless a driftmeter is gyrostabilized it is almost impossible to track a foaming wavecrest (the only visible candidate for tracking if one is over the ocean) because of the pitch, roll and yaw of the aircraft. Instead of tracking in a nice straight line the observed wavecrest is wiggling left and right and forward and backward, and one ends up with only a rough estimate probably accurate to plus or minus 5-10 degrees of the actual drift angle. I don't recall reading anywhere whether there was a driftmeter on their aircraft, but I'm sure that if Fred Noonan did not have a carefully installed and properly aligned driftmeter he would be unable to achieve even that inadequate level of accuracy. And of course, the driftmeter can only be used if the water surface is visible and there are foaming wavecrests to be seen.
Someone had mentioned recently that an error of 65 miles off course after a 20 hour flight seemed excessive. This is not at all an excessive level of error. I recall that one of our crews flew into a 5000 foot mountain at 1500 feet in the soup, and all were killed. They were 5-6 hours into an 8-9 hour flight, and the mountain was on the island of Cheju-Do, 80 nautical miles off course. There was no radar on the WB-26C and no provision for celestial navigation. They had only a primitive Loran set and the aforementioned useless driftmeter. If the Loran wasn't working (a common occurrence) they would have had to rely on dead reckoning, which is not necessarily better than nothing. So they flew into a mountain and died instantly, and probably never realized anything was wrong. Fred and Amelia did not have Loran or radar and if they did have a driftmeter I suspect it was not gyrostabilized. They basically had celestial navigation, and that's only available if there are visible celestial bodies and if their chronometers had retained a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Jim Van Hare
The drift sight rig in the Electra was pure Rube Goldberg. To use it, Noonan had to open the cabin door in flight (there were folding stops at the top and bottom that held the door open just enough so that he could poke his head out). He then had to mount the drift sight in two brackets on the outside of the fuselage just aft of the door. I imagine that using the drift sight was an entertaining experience if not a terribly useful one.
No one has mentioned this yet, so I thought I would. Consider that FJN took a LOP and advanced it to Howland, or somehow determined he was on the LOP that went through Howland prior to the last message. He needs one other piece of information to ensure he stays on it: the winds! Tracking back and forth on 157/337 with a generally easterly wind means that the plane is also moving to the west. It is hard to determine wind speeds without drift sights (FJN appears not to have used the smoke bombs useful for drift sights) and/or with short durations between LOP sightings (precision typically 5-10 miles or so). It would only be on the order of an hour that another LOP reading could give him an indication of the true wind speed perpendicular to the LOP he's trying to find. Meanwhile, the plane is drifting further westward. It is possible to guestimate the wind speed, and adjust for it in the heading of the plane. Of course no one knows or ever will know the truth. (Where's Peabody and his Wayback Machine when we need it most??)
LTM, who shivers
in the wind.
No doubt about it. A reasonably accurate assessment of the wind is essential. Getting that from the drift sight sounds like a tall order. How accurately Noonan was able to judge the wind is probably the biggest unanswered question in the whole equation. One answer is pretty obvious - not accurately enough to hit Howland.
>Finding a Destination
I see that Weems is using dead reckoning to estimate when reaching the LOP, and then uses the expression, "turns.... and follows the LP." Certainly, predicting when you'll reach the LOP is good practice, and a turn at that time even without getting a confirming sun sight can be plenty accurate, but actually tracking along that LOP is verifiable by resuming sun shots, if it is still visible. Making the corrections for wind, and flying what is deduced to be the right compass heading will do for a while, but with the passage of time it is hard to know whether you're track is really along the LOP or not. That is all I mean by wondering whether "following" the LOP is really what is assuredly being done when no new information is coming in that tells you whether you're on it or deviating from it.
Dead reckoning can have excellent results--I've heard that Lindbergh's transatlantic flight done without celestial observations. His track must have been very nearly along a plotted great circle.
>Following the LOP
only requires following a compass heading that has been
Using dead reckoning to decide the turn onto the LOP is done when the navigator has either lost sight of the sun, doesn't have precomputations of its height already worked up yet, or feels that advancing an LOP a short distance is quite accurate enough, as it usually is. I am away from my copy of Weems' Air Navigation, so don't know whether he intended to follow the LOP without sun shots. But a similar example--of a flight to Canton Island--shows up in Mattingly's, American Air Navigator, under the heading, "Running Down a Sun Line":
Interpreting those "sun shots at ten-minute intervals" gives the necessary "on LOP" or "how far off LOP" information needed to reliably follow the LOP.
Also, doesn't Weems suggest a technique for knowing which side of the destination you are, when you are on the LOP? I don't mean the offset method. I think it involved just dead reckoning from a position on the LOP, that is, flying the course that matched the LOP's alignment (at that one time), and noting whether the sun height obsrvations were tending to get higher than predicted for the LOP, or lower. In the case of the July 2 flight, since the sun's subpoint was passing north of Howland, the LOP would be very slowly moving in a counterclockwise way about Howland. If Noonan were once flying along it, flew a good dead reckoned heading but didn't alter it any, then the LOP would necessarily be very slowly diverging from his course; if the trend of observed sun heights was higher and higher than the heights precomputed for the LOP, then the plane's location on the LOP was NW of Howland; if the trend was getting lower and lower then the plane was SE.
That's right. The trouble is, if he has turned SE along the line, by the time the sun is high enough to provide a noticiable "cut", he is already too far down the line to turn back for Howland.
For avionics experts--
If the Electra had landed (crashed??) on a reef, but damaged the engine that powered the transmitter, could the transmitter operate on battery power ? Do we even know if the transmitter had a battery backup? If so, and with the possibility that the Electra could be in water when the tide rose, how far above the bottom of the fuselage was the battery located? If there were no backup battery, would there have been another battery (with needed voltage, etc, for the transmitter) used in the Electra that could have been connected to the transmitter?
Reason for query? Just been reading (again) on the website about the post-landing signals
It seems to me that Dr. King's suggested amendment to Pat's..."Rules of Engagement"... for the Forum makes a lot of sense.
Permit posting of those with alternate theories concerning the AE/FN flight or the methods employed by TIGHAR in the investigation of same, providing they meet the dual test...Reasonable relevance to the topics under discussion on the Forum & that the author(s) of such alternate theories or opinions must...Bear the burden of proof...in substantiating the validity of such arguments.
Too often on the Forum we find posts that end with..."If you can't prove it didn't happen, how can you say it isn't true?"... which attempts to shift the burden of proof from the one who initiated the claim to the one against whom the claim is being pressed, resulting in the almost impossible task of trying to prove a negative argument for the person(s) originating the argument. If someone has enough confidence in their own theory/opinion, they should be willing to supply the supporting proof/evidence to be tested by those persons one is trying to convince of the validity of such theory/opinion.
When we resort to disparaging attacks upon the character or integrity of other persons on the Forum, in order to advance our own theory/opinion, it seems to me we have already lost the credibility we are seeking to gain for our own position or argument, therefore posting of such messages seems totally out of place on any forum that seeks to honestly explore questions & answers raised in presumably civil discourse.
We have no, repeat NO objection to any theory or line of argument that is substantiated with good research and solid evidence.
Our objection, as Don so clearly re-states, is to any theory (including ones about Niku, BTW) which is simply an assertion without any evidence or research to back it up.
Perhaps where we are interested in being more rigorous than some others is that we feel that a proposed theory should be posted *with* the evidence, rather than the evidence be produced much later, under pressure, and in bits and pieces.
I guess it comes down to this. Do your homework first. Get yer ducks in a row, and set them quacking. We'll gladly listen, but you (that's generic YOU, anyone who wants to post) need to look carefully at your sources, do your research, and be sure that what you say the sources say is what they really say (how's that for twisted syntax).
Any of us can be wrong, but the kind of wrong that comes from not reading the sources offered as evidence is the easiest to avoid.
Jon Pieti wrote:
>>But to see the
Niku scenario presented as the "only real
This is inaccurate. The "lost at sea" scenario has never been presented by TIGHAR as "bunk". It's a real (and obvious) possibility. The only other general scenario for which I've seen any credible, documented evidence (however inconclusive) is that Earhart and Noonan, after having failed to spot Howland under less than ideal visual conditions, capable as they were of clear thought and motivated by a desire to survive the day, flew their LoP down to the Phoenix group, found Gardner, landed, and sooner or later died there.
The Gardner scenario was recognized as a possibility in the days following their disappearance. When they weren't found on Gardner after a single cursory flyover, and searches of other locations turned up nothing, it was natural (and hardly conspiratorial) for the bureaucracy to endorse the "lost at sea" idea as the most likely outcome.
Meanwhile, whose bones did Gallagher find on Gardner? And why did he believe they might be associated with the Earhart flight?
Well, as long as TIGHAR is terminating unproductive discussion threads, allow me to submit a couple candidates:
1. The LOP business. While I have learned more about celestial navigation techniques in the past few weeks than I ever hoped to know, in the final analysis what's the point? An atlas will confirm that following AE's announced 157/337 LOP southeast though Howland leads to the Phoenix chain.
According to TIGHAR's hypothesis, that's what our heroes did, and it was a reasonable thing to have done. In short, the Niku Hypothesis *assumes* a Niku landfall (hence the name).
The question is whether this hypothesis can be proven via reliable evidence, whether physical, scientific, circumstantial or anecdotal. Fuel consumption statistics might be relevant to the question, but endless speculation on Fred's navigation techniques is not.
2. HF/DF(LF/MF/NF/OF/PF): The Electra could have been bristling like a porcupine with direction-finding gear for all the good it did. Either the equipment didn't work, or AE/FN didn't know how to use it, or it couldn't work because the Electra and Itasca used entirely different bands for RDF. Probably all of the above. What is clear is that Amelia was unable to get a bearing on Itasca, and Itasca was unable to get a bearing on Amelia. Does it make any difference how much and what brand of (ultimately useless) DF gear the Electra had on board?
I have no sympathy for people who abuse this forum with potshots and ad hominum attacks, but it seems to me that a lot of equally-pointless discussions are tolerated because they're friendly. Tnx for the oppty to put in my two cents worth.
Well, we do of course tolerate a certain amount of mirth and frivolity in the cause of not taking ourselves too seriously...... But you are quite correct, Patrick, that endless speculation concerning peripheral issues is not productive.
Again, the question becomes one of judgment, which is where (in theory) the Moderator comes in.
I have been, off and on, a participant in a number of maillists pertaining to subjects which are of interest to me (and of no interest to anyone on this Forum). It seems to be a disease of maillists that certain subjects come up like bloated bodies, regularly disrupting the conversation and causing at least two or three people to stomp off for a while. After a week or two or three, it settles down, and they come back... until the next time. But it's time to break that cycle with the Earhart Forum, if we can.
I will be taking
my role as Moderator much more ... seriously, I guess, from now on. One
thing I will plan on doing is returning posts to folks with a request
for documentation, and I have every intention of making this policy absolutely
even-handed. (Just wait until I return one to Ric....
It does seem to me that this will go a long way towards moving the research forward, by moving the work *out* into the group. The problem we (TIGHAR) have, the problem we have always had, is that there are only so many hours in a day, and we cannot possibly do all the research, seek out all the sources, ourselves.
The question of questions is easier. Questions that have been answered before will be referred to the FAQs, the Highlights, or elsewhere on the Website. Questions that have not been answered before will be answered, unless they are completely irrelevant, in which case they will be returned with a note asking what the relevance is, in case I missed it (duh). Relevant questions *may* be "farmed out" to those with expertise; not quite relevant questions may also be farmed out with a request that the answer be sent by private email.
Everyone who participates in this Forum probably needs to be reminded now and again (I know I do) that our purpose here is not education of the public, nor is it even spreading of the Word and the Law about AE's disappearance. Our purpose is to move the research forward, to come to good conclusions, and --armed with those conclusions--- do the field work necessary to test the hypothesis we have developed. Good questions and alternative substantiated theories are part of this process, but rants, rambles, and whines are not.
Thanks for asking me. I just returned from six days in New York to find your question this evening. I've been struggling to catch up on the huge volume of postings, both from this recent outing and my trip to England.
Ok, so the answer is probably best if I just quote it from a transcript of an interview we did some time ago with an old Pan Am pilot, Captain Banning (please note that Banning started with Pan Am in 1941, a few years after Noonan disappeared; they never actually met, so the evidence cannot be called primary, by any means, and reflects the common wisdom and discussions that were floating around Pan Am at that time -- the whole Noonan thing was apparantly an oft discussed topic). This portion of the interview sprang from the discussions we were having at the time about sextants and Pan Am:
.... (ed note: a later comment is here inserted for the benefit of those who wish to compare their experience with drift sights during the war years with the one FN would have used -- the one you are familiar with is much improved over the one in use in 1937) ....
So, I would have to say that the fact that Gatty looked at the sextant box in Gallagher's possession is indeed very interesting. If he (Gatty) saw it, which he apparently did, and if it was one of the Pan Am types, either a Pioneer or a Bausch & Lomb, he would have recognized the box, certainly. In addition, the numbering on the box, if it was Pan Am numbering, would have been familiar to him. He would almost certainly have identified it.
Ric, I don't recall if Gallagher actually wrote that Gatty saw the box or if he just said that he intended to show it to Mr. Gatty. Also, did he write what Mr. Gatty stated about the box after seeing it?
Thomas Van Hare
After posting the comments in response to Tom King's question about Gatty and Noonan, it strikes me that I don't recall if we posted the key points of the transcript with Capt. Gene Banning of Pan Am.
Therefore, here are some other interesting points from this interview as well, which I will post here, in their original form (pardon me, Ric, if I already posted this -- I don't recall -- if I did, simply do not post this message):
With regard to offset navigation, Banning stated:
And then, with regard to FN's use of radio homing devices (HF/DF):
I hope that in posting this, we don't dredge up too many pointless discussions and directions. Again, this is just from one interview.
Thomas Van Hare
Trippe employed Gatty in May 1935 on a salary of $5500 as Pan Am's representative in the Australasian area to assist in developing the Pacific operation. Gatty was required to assist Trippe's relevant employees in the mapping of the San Francisco-China mid Pacific air route, and his partner in his task of developing a series of navigation techniques for long distance ocean flying operations, was Fred Noonan.
Prior to his employment with Pan Am, Gatty had diligently investigated the doubtful/disputed ownership of a significant number of tiny Pacific islands on his planned route , and this knowledge together with his seaman's expertise and aviator's understanding of the technical difficulties involved in flying great distances before landing on pin-pricks in the vast ocean expanses were noticed by Trippe as valuable assets which he could harness to develop his Pan Am Pacific routes.(Gatty, unlike most others involved, was actually more interested in establishing a route for land-based aeroplanes, rather than flying boats).The main islands that he was interested in were Marcus, Howland, Baker, Canton, Wake, Johnson, Kingman Reef and Jarvis, and all his earlier research material was handed over to the U.S.Navy for further evaluation after he had requested the annexation of the these islands and their use for his company as landing sites.
His negotiations with the U.S.Naval War Plans Office and O.N.I. using Roosevelt's son, Elliot, caused a furore with the British who had officially claimed these islands, hence the New Zealand surveys of 1935 and 1938/1939.
Gatty was involved in a secret expedition to visit these islands in the schooner Kinkajou in November 1935, initiated by Trippe to gain sovereignty of these islands by the pretext of mining guano, and with the intention of landing two people on each island to validate the claims.Gatty gained special extended leave periods from the Air Corps (for whom he was a technical advisor), and conducted meteorological observations.
Interestingly, during their sojourns, they were marooned on Baker Island, ,and were nourished and saved from starvation only by Gatty's knowledge of sea bird habits.
Another interesting aside of Gatty, was his opinion of female pilots:
In the aftermath of the disclosure of the intent of Pan AmM and the U.S. Navy, there was a rush by both the British and the U.S. to 'colonise' the islands in question of doubtful ownership, and while the U.S. sent two cutters with volunteer colonists , the British sent the H.M.S. Leith, H.M.S.Dunedin, and H.M.S. Wellington , both nations leaving in June 1935.The U.S. parties beat the British to the islands, and thereafter American sovereignty was maintained. Gatty's spying activities had procured these islands for the U.S.A.only days before the British arrivals.
The Forum might be interested (in light of all the recent discussions about the possibilities of unknown vessels and aircraft in the region) to know about the amount of activity in the region at the time, involving , in addition to the above two countries, France and Japan, over at least a two year period from 1935 - 1937, and obviously most certainly extending beyond this period considering the storm clouds of war apearing on the horizon.There were numerous clashes between merchant and naval vessels; shortly after the above 'race' to 'colonise' the islands, a Japanese fisheries training vessel, the Hakuyo Maru, left Hawaii bound for Palmyra and Kingman Reef and was subsequently investigated by a Coast Guard cutter despatched to check on this unwanted interloper in the vicinity of the reef. Instead, the cutter found the H.M.S. Achilles, using a camera-equipped scout aircraft. Subsequent to this episode, large numbers of British and French merchant ships were noticed loitering in the vicinity of these uninhabitated islands (with regard to the French and Japanese, they were a long way from their respective areas of influence).
Gatty's comments about these shenanigans:
With the chase for islands hotting up, in fact exploding, a convenient total eclipse of the sun prompted a scurry of American scientific expeditions to many of the disputed islands which included the building of that airfield at Howland for the imminent A.E. flight , which alarmed the U.S. press as to the reason for the high cost of this private flight to the government.
The Royal Navy also scattered its groups of scientists around the islands (sextant boxes lost in the scuffles?), and did not trust Gatty, as, apart from his previous treasonable offences in assisting the Yanks in procuring those other islands, he alerted the U.S. of the British intention to conduct a first survey of the islands in 1936. The second survey, the New Zealand Pacific aviation survey, initiated for the purposes of examining likely landing sites for the Empire air route across the Pacific, was relocated to and conducted from Fiji by Group Captain R.Cochrane, who was specifically instructed to conduct the survey in a manner to prevent Gatty from alerting the U.S. Gatty was persona non grata with the British.
Gatty rejected a Howard Hughes offer to navigate a Lockheed bristling with new navigation aids for his record-breaking round the world flight in order to concentrate in getting Pan Am off the ground for its trans- Pacific flights.
When the Clipper flown by Musick from Hawaii to New Zealand went missing in January 1938 near Samoa, a German , Luckner, assisted with the search in his pleasure yacht, Seeteufel, which he had been sailing around the ports and atolls of the Pacific rim. No bodies or sizeable wreckage were found , although pieces of clothing and a belt belonging to the flight mechanic was found (this episode was recently discussed on the forum). My sources (as per attached booklist) list the cause as a build up of static electricity around the outlet valves). The other clipper was lost a few months later between Guam and Manila.
Gatty was offered a colonel's rank in the Army Air Corps in the war, but preferred to take up a similar honorary rank in the Australian Air Force instead.
Unfortunately Harold Gatty is the forgotten man of Australian aviation despite his wonderful achievements, and this i am sure is in no small part due to his 'collaboration ' with the Yanks in the period of island hunting preceding World War II. A great pity.
"Gatty's Navigation Instrument" (Aero Digest, January 1932) (editorial)
"Harold Gatty and the Bridging of the Pacific" (Aerospace Historian, September 1982) by F.Holbrook and J. Nikol.
"Harold Gatty, 1903--1957: Service to Australian-American Cooperation". 1982 unpublished MS by Alan Warden.
"The Gatty Ground Speed and Drift Indicator", (Air Legion Weekly, December 1931) by P.WEEMS
History of Air Navigation, by A.Hughes.
"Wiley Post, His Winnie Mae, and the World's First Pressure Suit" by S.Mohler & B. Johnson (supplied free by the Smithsonian).
The Raft Book by Harold Gatty (George Grady Press ,N.Y.,1944)
Nature Is Your Guide by Harold Gatty (William Collins) ,London, 1958
Around the World in Eight Days (incorporating the Gatty Log) by H.Gatty and W. Post.
Harold Gatty, The Commercial Air Spanner of the Pacific by N.Ellison.
"The Use of Fish Poison Plants in the Pacific" (Read 9.6.47), Fiji Society of Science and Industry, V and P , Vol.3 by Harold Gatty.
"Migration Routes and Navigational Methods of the Polynesians" (Read 10.6.57) , Fiji Society Transactions and Proceedings for the Years 1955-1957, Vol 6 by Harold Gatty.
Untitled lecture delivered at Wright Field ,October 1931 on the Post-Gatty Flight (Held by Michael Gatty) by Harold Gatty.
Gatty Memorial Lecture, by B.Hilder, Australian Institute of Navigation, August 1958
"Aeronautical Reciprocity and the Anglo-American Island Race, 1936-37", by F.Holbrook, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, December 1971,Vol.57,Part 4.
"Gatty As We Knew Him", paper delivered at 14th AGM, U.S. Institute of Navigation, California 20.6.1958
of Navigators by Bruce Brown ,1997
My goodness. :-) Thank you, Michael.
OK, Forum Folk. Here are some guidelines for posting to the Forum. These are, necessarily, general guidelines, not rules cast in concrete. Every attempt will be made to interpret liberally where interpretation is needed, but we are gonna work within this frame:
1) No unsubstantiated assertions of fact will be posted. A fact, by definition, has a source. Post the source with the fact. If your source is a book, check the note for the primary source. If there are no notes, the "fact" may well be simply an opinion held by the book's author. Find out where s/he got the fact before posting. Mother loves facts and enjoys reading references.
2) Opinions should be stated as such, and need to be backed up by by a logical train of reasoning which is based in verifiable fact. Example: It is TIGHAR's opinion that the bones found by Gallagher et al on Niku were Earhart's. We hold this opinion because of the time and place in which they were found (verifiable from primary sources), the paperwork that was transmitted with them (primary sources), and the analysis done by modern forensic anthropologists which indicates that they are more likely to be from a tallish female of European ancestry than any other group (working from a primary source). This is an opinion. Other opinions are possible and valid, but must have at least some speaking acquaintance with logic and reason.
3) It is assumed that contributors to the Earhart Forum have familiarized themselves with TIGHAR's research via the abundance of information available in the Earhart Project section of the TIGHAR web site, especially the FAQs and Forum Highlights. Follow-on questions to materials found in these sites are welcome. Questions which are relevant to the project will be posted; questions which are interesting will be posted, even if not 100% relevant; questions which are irrelevant but interesting will still be answered, but privately if possible. Questions which can be answered best by a member of the Forum will be posted with a call for a real answer.
4) Facts and opinions which diverge from the Earhart Project premise (that the flight ended at Niku) will be posted if they meet the above criteria. Otherwise, not. Facts and opinions which follow the Party line slavishly will be posted ---- IF they meet the above criteria. Otherwise, not.
Sources closest to a given event, in either distance or time, get the greatest weight of validity. (Thanks, Dave Porter, for that phrase.) Something written down *at the time* by someone who was there is better than something written down forty years later, even if the person was there.
Anecdotal sources are:
Primary sources are:
Secondary sources are:
Tertiary sources are:
Note that all books are, by definition, secondary sources, unless written from notes kept at the time by the person who wrote the book. Even then, editors being what they are, it's wise to take a look at the original notes if possible.
Thanks, everyone, for participating. We continue to push ahead with the idea of a more general forum, all votes are not yet counted.
I was reading over some research material on the TIGHAR web site tonight and came across an article about a survey party on Gardner in 1938. I knew it was there but have never read it before. As I read it tonight, some questions came to mind.
I understand that there were several islanders interviewed by TIGHAR in the last few years, who indicated they saw airplane wreckage at various places around the island. They even played with it, I think. And if I remember correctly, the Colonists didn't arrive on Gardner until sometime in 1940.
Recently, we have an eye witness who said she remembers seeing a large piece of red something resembling wreckage out on the reef flat. These islanders are the only ones, I believe that saw wreckage.
On July 9th, 1937, Lt. Lambrecht made several passes over the island during the Earhart search. He made note of and inspected the Norwich City from the air. He did not see or note any wreckage! At that time the ship was fairly complete and pieces scattered on the reef would surely have stood out. I think it is fair to say, the wreckage was not there!
The military had the Loran station on Gardner during the war years, but none of them reported seeing any wreckage.
An finally, in 1938 a year after the disappearance a New Zealand survey team was landed on the island and spent several months doing survey work. Survey work, I presume means walking the ground and looking things over. I would think they would take measurements and compass readings to various points. I would imagine they would walk the beach looking for a good place to land supplies.
In the report on the web site about the survey party, it says that we have the report from their trip. Is there any mention of wreckage anywhere on the island? Where can I read that report? Is it posted anywhere? I would very much like to see it.
Also, do we have any reports form any of the military people on the island? It would appear that what ever she saw was not there until after 1940 and then disappeared again in later years.
We'll try to get the report and correspondence relating to the New Zealand Survey up on the website as a Document of the Week sometime soon.
What Don, of course, is getting at is the fundamental question we've been struggling with for years. If the airplane or its wreckage was there, why wasn't it seen by any of the Westerners who came along at various times later?
We've formulated and tested several hypotheses without much luck. I'm hoping to have the rest of the report up on the website by this weekend. Until then, I'd like to suggest that you try to come with a hypothesis that would explain it.
Just a few points I would like clarify in my original response to your request for information on Gatty which I hope will forestall any likely questions for their inclusion or exclusion or their vagueness, and just to inform you that this response is only a synopsis of his activities:
The reason why he had originally investigated the geographical and historical value of these strings of obscure Pacific islands (before Trippe developed an interest in him), was because he and Donald Douglas (THE Douglas), were joint owners in The South Seas Commercial Company, which was attempting to establish Pacific air routes as well as to mine phosphate found on many of the islands.This venture fell through when only one contract was awarded(to Pan Am) by the U.S. authorities for an air route.
As well as working for the Army Air Corps, he was earning $5500 from Pan Am as well as a further $5500 from Donald Douglas as his representative in Australia with the intention to sell Douglas aircraft and to establish a factory for them over here (much money in those days) . Later, his main source of income during the war was $10 000 per annum from Pan Am.
One of the reasons why I included the paragraph on the Clipper Accidents, and the portion about the German luxury yacht assisting in one of the searches, was to highlight the very real possibility of unknown and unrecorded sailings of various vessel types in the Pacific and other oceans, which has been a part of maritime history and folklore from time immemorial:- I have participated in similar sailings where no one ever knew we had visited certain Pacific islands and would never know about our adventures or whereabouts unless we recorded it. The other reason for this inclusion, was because Gatty was involved with Pan Am in ensuring these Clippers were being navigated safely to their destinations, and these two accidents resulted in a serious shortage of aeroplanes and the shutting down of flight operations temporarily. Their existing bases were too primitive and hazardous, anyhow, and the U.S. government withdrew authorization for the use of Samoa.
This resulted in Gatty concentrating for two more years of solid work behind the scenes for Pan Am to locate new air bases, and he spent much time negotiating with the French for bases in New Caledonia.
Harold Gatty ended the war back with the U.S. Military, where the Navy also employed him to produce his famous Raft Book survival booklet, which was included in every survival kit for all Naval air personnel, and was distributed as well to all Allied aircrews -a phenomenal success which has grown to be a collector's item. It is a totally unconventional booklet, concentrating on the myriad of small Pacific islands and even submerged coral reefs (too late for A.E. and F.N. unfortunately), and was intended to be easily understood by stranded crew adrift in a survival craft searching for a safe haven on land somewhere.
He held the position of Director of Air Transport in the south west Pacific, and finally finished up as a consultant for the Navy in Washington where he was employed in developing advanced navigation systems and even assisted Byrd with polar navigation methods.
Clearly a man possessing boundless energy and an aptitude for the science of navigation, amongst many other interesting qualities.
I hope this information will assist you in your report.
Excellent rules, but I can't resist saying something about "anecdote." For better or worse, anecdotes are what oral historians and many cultural anthropologists have to work with, and while one has to treat them with caution, one has to do the same with written sources (which can be seen, after all, merely as anecdotes written down). It's pretty well understood in the historical anthropology game that written history always has a point of view, and is likely to be more or less biased (this is why we do historical archeology; there's all kinds of interesting stuff that people writing about the times never wrote about).
"Trust but verify" is a good motto for all kinds of historical research. With anecdote, we can verify by finding written sources and also by finding independent but corroborative anecdotes. Case in point with respect to the bones: Emily Sikuli reports bones on the Nutiran reef. Back in 1991 Bauro Tikana, Gallagher's clerk, reported that he'd heard of bones being found somewhere on western Nutiran (as well as bones being found on the SE end of the island). So we have two independent sources pointing toward bones somewhere on western Nutiran, but a disagreement about where exactly they were. Maybe another source will be found that can help resolve the differences, maybe not, but between them the two accounts give us something to work with, and they're no less useful for being "anecdotal."
LTM (who's partial
No argument. It always starts with an anecdote. My experience working for TIGHAR might accurately be described as 15 years of chasing anecdotes. We spent 8 years and 20 expeditions in Maine searching for the White Bird and all we ever found were anecdotes -- dozens of them, told by totally sincere, honest, and respectable people who passionately wanted to help us. But it wasn't until we shifted the search to Newfoundland that we started to find documentation to back up the stories. I still don't know where the White Bird came down, but if I was going to do more searching it would be in Newfoundland, not Maine.
When, I wonder, does a contemporaneous written account (which we so highly prize) become an anecdote that has been written down (which we treat with so much suspicion)? Bellart's copy of the original Itasca radio log is about as contemporaneous as a document can get, having been typed out literally as the words were heard. Thompson's "Radio Transcripts Earhart Flight" which claims to describe the same events is dated 19 July 1937, nearly three weeks later. We regard both as primary written sources but we give Bellart's log more weight than Thompson's report. The transcript of Bellart's 1973 interview with Elgen Long, however, we consider to be anecdote and more suspect than either of the above. I guess the truth is it's a continuum.
Doesn't the wealth of information we now have about Harold Gatty force a slight reappraisal of our suspicions about the attitude of British officialdom in Fiji to the bones discovered on Gardner? Reading Forum Highlights: 11/18 through 11/25/98 it seems the Western Pacific High Commission records suggest British officials in Fiji might not have grasped that the Earhart disappearance also involved a man, Noonan, and that this may have dulled their receptiveness to Gallagher's suggestion that the bones might be related to the flight.
The sextant box was subsequently shown to Gatty, who dismissed it as unlikely to have housed an instrument used in trans-Pacific aerial navigation. But for him to make that point, he must have been told that it was thought possibly linked to the Earhart disappearance. And if he was a recent former colleague of Noonan, then Fred's disappearance would have been every bit as big a deal for him as Earhart's was to the world at large. So he was in a perfect position to point out that there were in fact two people aboard, which should have rung a bell with the bigwigs in possession of the bones. I still think they were wrong to dismiss the bones, but I don't think we can still infer that one reason they did so was because they didn't realize there were two people aboard the plane.
LTM, Phil 2276
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