Highlights From the Forum
October 17 through 23, 1999
I notice debris from the Norwich City on the reef in one of the photos. Will you elaborate a little more on what type of debris this is. Where did it come from on the ship? Were there big, or heavy items up on the shoreline in the trees? Was there a specific pattern to the debris field? Was any ship debris found anywhere else on the island? Now far to Starboard and Port was debris found?
I think you mentioned something about this in the last expedition report. I also think one team member said he explored the wreck in detail on the last trip.
There is now, right at the edge of the beach probably an eighth of a mile southeast of the ship, a section of iron hull plating about 15 feet long by maybe 6 feet wide that must weigh at least a ton. The biggest pieces of debris I've seen actually up in the treeline weigh, I would guess, on the order of several hundred pounds. The pieces of debris you can see on the reef in Photo #5, #6, and #7 could easily weigh a ton or more each. Exactly where on the ship they came from is hard to tell until we get a better look at them forensically.
Look at Photo #2 and think of the ship as if it was sitting on the edge of a table with the stern hanging off the edge. The edge of the "table" is signified by the line of breakers. As you see, the ship is about half up on the reef and half off.
As you can see from Photo #1, #2, and #4, there is little or no ship debris on the reef prior to Photo #5 which was taken in June 1941 after the stern had broken off the Norwich City. The pattern of wreckage distribution is especially apparent in Photo #5, #6, and #7. If we consider the bow of the ship to be 12 o'clock, you'll see that the wreckage is distributed shoreward almost exclusively between, say, 11:30 and 2 o'clock. This is entirely consistent with the storms from the northwest and west between November and April (been there, done that).
What is interesting is that there seems to be one anomalous object visible as a black dot in Photo #6 (June 1941) at about 10 o'clock which may have moved shoreward some by Photo #7 (January 1942). I wonder if it may be part of the stuff we see a little closer to the reef edge in Photo #1 (October 1937) and Photo #3 (December-February 1938).
It has been a long time since I have been on the Forum, so please excuse me if I print some things that have already been covered. But I find the recent photos and the Emily interview very interesting.
The witness accounts of aircraft wreckage on the northwest side of the island near the ship wreck, leads me to believe that they contain some truth. I believe that location is where Earhart and Noonan would want to be,mainly because north or northwest is where they would expect ships searching for them to come from.
Now that the wreckage has been placed near the reef and breakers a good distance from the beech, it helps to clear up some doubts I had about the search planes not seeing it.
I believe it is several little things that add up to not sighting the aircraft by the planes from the USS Colorado. First, evidently it was hightide when the search was conducted. Their eyes would be mostly on the beach. Lambrecht's report seemed to imply that he thought most likely if Earhart landed on this island it would be in the lagoon.
Plus the white breakers could contribute to making it hard to see the wreckage. Also the search planes themselves, you have to look over the side to look down, the lower wing blocks some of the view especially for the man in front. Even sight of the shipwreck could have distracted their eyes to contribute to over seeing the visible parts of the aircraft, and at hightide I don't think they would expect to see any airplane out near the reef anyway.
I do have a few questions about finding aircraft pieces today, after over 60 years. I understand that the reef is a coral reef , coral would cover things up some. Is there a lot of sand out on the Island side of the reef where pieces could be buried? Just one more question, I noticed in one of the photos that the reefflat seemed to slope down from the beech to the reef at what looked like a pretty good angle. Could this slope have made landing an airpllane more difficult?
There is little or no new coral growth on the reef flat. Norwich City debris is not coral encrusted.
There is no noticable slope to the reef flat from the beach to the ocean. The primary factor in whether a landing a could be made would be the surface of the reef itself. in some places, particulary in toward shore, it is very rough and pitted. Any attempted landing there would end in disaster. Out near the breakers there are stretches that dry at low tide and are sufficiently smooth and free of depressions to allow a safe landing in an airplane with big tires like the Electra.
There has been constant speculation over the last few months, about the methods that Noonan might have set-up on his an Am flights in order to establish a system that he might have used on the A.E. flight. Tom Van Hare mentioned that he was investigating this aspect by utilising Pan Am archives and interviews with Pan Am personnel; but, Tom, I am confused as to what you are in fact pursuing and what is required by the Forum, when, in a response to some inputs, you questioned whether we were heading for another interminable discussion on Noonan's techniques. To advance the search we should examine all avenues within the guidelines set-up recently by management and this includes the evaluation of any sound alternative hypothesis. The request for information on Gatty to clarify the Noonan link, was obviously also made in order to identify navigation techniques as well as understand his behavioural patterns , his employment details at Pan Am and how he was introduced to A.E., and as well as trying to solve the sextant problem. Therefore, by corollary, the navigation techniques should be open for debate.
To this end, I offer the following additional information which has so far not been quoted:
In his book Flying the Oceans: A Pilot's Story of Pan Am 1935-1955 by Horace Brock, he describes that the Wake leg of the China Clipper run was the most difficult, especially when considering the fact that radio direction finding was notoriously unreliable. Noonan navigated in earnest on this leg, putting into practice the techniques that he had set up after conferring with Gatty. One of the methods Gatty introduced was the "Theory of Deliberate Error" which Chichester had developed for his Trans-Tasman flights. (If you'd like a map showing Chichester's method that he used for his aerial crossing of the Tasman Sea in 1931 contact me directly at email@example.com) This was a standby procedure used to locate Wake Island , and Brock goes on to say:
On that first China Clipper flight to Manila, Noonan took seven celestial observations and the radio log recorded forty-one radio direction bearings taken on that first leg to Honolulu; it is clear from the evidence that Noonan did in fact have a contingency plan on these flights should he fail to locate the destination with radio aids.
As has been previously discussed, Noonan used this offset method only when required on these Pan Am flights, and the radio logs from the A.E. flight can be interpreted with more than a reasonable amount of certainty that he did not use this method on that last fateful morning.
Until the wreckage is found, we can only examine all the current available information on their particular methods of flying and navigating and marry this to an examination of their mental characteristics when placed in such a stressful predicament to allow us to arrive at the best fitting scenario as to whether they circled for a lengthy period or whether they decisively headed for the Phoenix Islands immediately on establishing that they were lost.
I can see no reason why the "circling" scenario, married to the later "running north/south" is not acceptable as a sound interpretation of their radio transmissions, and of what probably happened when they arrived in the vicinity of Howland: realising that they were near but unable to locate the island, most pilots would circle in ever increasing box patterns, searching for the island while attempting to obtain a radio fix, and, failing this, having arrived at Howland without an offset, would logically turn north and follow the position line for a reasonable time, then turn left for a reasonable time before turning south and following the 157 bearing. (They knew that by keeping west of the position line through Howland would give them a better chance of locating one of the Phoenix islands if their fuel lasted the distance.)
Their contingency plan for an emergency landing in the Phoenix Islands would only have been considered as just that, a last resort to head for when all else failed, regardless of remaining fuel, as they had not located Howland, and would have had serious doubts about locating the spread-out Phoenix Islands; they knew that at least they had a ship in close proximity which would search for, and hopefully locate them if they did ditch after failing to obtain a radio fix. They also knew that Baker Island was close by, which they must have searched for as well on their way south. Given these facts, most pilots would have hung about in the vicinity of Howland and Baker hoping to succeed with radio information for as long as they dared, and we also have to definitely consider seriously the more likely 'safe option' decision that a pilot would exercise given the circumstances.
I am certain that Noonan was well aware that Kingsford Smith used the Phoenix Islands as an emergency landing area for both of his trans-Pacific flights , and succeeded in locating them on each occasion, flying directly over Enderbury Island at night as planned on the first east-west crossing as witnessed by the Navy ship Somona in 1928 , and easily locating Canton island on his 1934 west-east crossing in the single-engined Lockheed Altair.
During the hoax discussions by Forum members, people have wondered about the profusion and proliferation of hoax calls and about the apparent dearth of emergency radio calls as well as radio calls from A.E. devoid of any urgency.
I have wondered why these particular scenarios seem to be unique to this particular flight, and do not seem to exist for any of the other flights which ended in similar circumstances during that period. I have so far been unable to locate references of any kind pertaining to hoax calls or to inadequate radio messages (when aeroplanes were fitted with radios that were functional) appearing in the accounts of four major disappearances:
(a) Kingsford Smith and Ulm lost for 13 days in the outback of Western Australia in 1929 on their way to England , which resulted in the disappearance and death of his previous partner, Anderson, who was searching for him in the Tanami Desert;
(b) The Dole race of 1927 to Hawaii in which four aeroplanes and their crews were never seen again;
(c) The loss of Ulm and his crew between Oakland and Hawaii in the Airspeed Envoy in 1934 on their way to Australia; while unable to apparently receive, they transmitted a constant stream of radio messages as to their position , their headings, and fuel status right up to the point of impact. They were never seen again after a massive, failed air and sea search of a similar size to the one launched to find A.E. -- 23 ships including submarines and minelayers searched with 18 aircraft an area of 100,000 square miles. This particular disappearance is interesting when comparing the last radio transmissions with those of the A.E.flight, and with respect to Tom Van Hare's posting in response to Bob Sherman's enquiry of January12, 1999 when discussing A. E.' s last transmissions.
(d) The disappearance of Kingsford Smith in 1935 in the Andaman Sea.
I have not been able to locate any newspaper reports or books describing hoax messages of any description for any of these other disappearances.
The only messages which were transmitted and received was from Ulm's last flight. In his previous disappearance off the West Australian Coast they were able to receive but not transmit messages from their stranding on an isolated river mouth on a desolate coastline.
In those days of radio infancy, how many people other than military or merchant navy personnel, would have had access to radios; how many would have been tuning in to the disaster; and then how many of these people would be inclined to partake in this ridiculous charade? And why did they not participate in a similar fashion when the other disappearances occurred? This aspect has been dealt with before on the forum when the reply to this sort of question was answered with comparisons of the Unibomber, etc.
These comparisons are interesting and puzzling at the same time, and the authenticity of any hoax calls and the quantity of them must be considered in a similar manner to U.F.O. sightings and can only be wondered at.
We all look forward with great anticipation to the new evaluation of these post-flight transmissions headed by Jim Thompson as posted today.
I think that you raise some very good, and new to us, references to support your conclusion (which I share) that Noonan almost certainly did not use offset navigation on the Lae/Howland flight.
The reason that, at least in my opinion, "circling" and "running north/south" are not acceptable as sound interpretations of the radio transmissions is that a close inspection of copies of the original logs makes it clear that, unlike the rest of the messages, neither entry was a real-time notation of what was said but, rather, an after-the-fact attempted reconstruction of what was said. Whether or not either phrase makes sense or is what a given pilot "would do" is firmly in the realm of speculation.
Your point about the lack of hoax messages associated with other famous disappearances is well taken and, again, new to our discussion. If I were going to defend the allegation that at least some of the post-loss Earhart messages were deliberate hoaxes I would point out that amateur radio transmitters were far more common in the U.S. of 1937 than you seem to think and that Amelia Earhart was far more famous among the American public than were Kingsford-Smith or Ulm.
Since there have been definitive statements from folks who should know, I'll take it as a given that there is no way to determine the timing of high tides. There is a second component to the tide discussion that it should be possible to identify. The value of high and low tides varies over a three month period. The high tide where I live (coastal Maine) varies within a range of 7.1 feet to over 10.1 feet, with correspondine low tide values of -.7 feet to 2.0 feet, just in the month of September. In other months, the high tide value has been as high as 13 feet. There are no local geographic features which would influence these ranges and these ranges are before any storm action.
It might be interesting to know the values of high and low tides from 7/1 through 7/5 since the high tide value could change by as much as 2 feet in four days. Would this be significant given the locatation of the "dot dash" figures in the photograph and the testimony that the wreckage was within the tidal range boundaries (covered by high tide and visible at low tide)? Would 2 feet be enough to cause whomever survived the landing to have to abandon the wreck, especially with even minimal wave action?
I think the variations in tide values might be much more important than the actual timing of high tide. Anyone know how to compute this?
LTM ( who hates
getting her feet wet)
That would be interesting to know. We saw considerable variation in the height of the tides while we were there in July.
I know everyone's starting to get excited about photos showing what may or may not be in the water near the Norwich City wreck, but hasn't TIGHAR gone over that area with photo analysis in the past? In "The Castaway of Gardner Island," July 1997, there is some discussion about photo analysis of part of the shoreline and a debris field, by the redoubtable Jeff Glickman. Is that the same place.
Monty Fowler, #2189
Not exactly. Glickman found evidence of what may be a few pieces (four, to be exact) of aluminum debris on the reef farther down toward Tatiman Passage. The area we're talking about now has never been subjected to forensic imaging examination. The scattered anomalies found farther "downstream" from the supposed site of the original wreck fit quite nicely with the current hypothesis.
Could a radio expert give a brief explanation for laypersons: Was Earhart's frequency widely published and was it for arranged use for individuals only, or could anyone say "I'll be broadcasting on frequency X" and go right ahead? Would the authorities look to boot unauthorized users off a particular frequency, as they might today with a pirate FM broadcaster? Does the repeated presence of a carrier wave imply an unsuccessful attempt to transmit something more meaningful? If so, does a high preponderance of carrier-wave-only observations tend to suggest a user in distress or at least with technical difficulties?
LTM Phil Tanner 2276
Excellent questions, for which I'm sure we'll have some excellent answers. What say ye, radio gurus?
About 4 p.m. yesterday I received, via UPS from Simon & Schuster publishers, a review copy of Amelia Earhart - The Mystery Solved by Elgen and Marie Long. Although not officially due for release until November 4, at least one TIGHAR member has ordered it from Amazon.com and has received confirmation that the book has been shipped.
In the tiny world of Ameliana, this is an important book. Elgen Long and his wife Marie have long been the principal and most widely respected proponents of the theory that the Earhart/Noonan flight ran out of gas and crashed at sea in the general vicinity of Howland Island shortly after the last radio transmission heard by the Itasca at 08:43 local time. Unlike other recent books which are essentially biographies of Amelia and deal with the disappearance in one chapter at the end, the Long's book spends very little time on biographical issues and is primarily a study of the last flight. Although TIGHAR is investigating a different hypothesis, we need to pay close attention to Amelia Earhart - The Mystery Solved if only because it is the first published compilation of the information the Longs have assembled in 25 years of painstaking research.
As the title suggests, the authors do not present their work as evidence in support of a theory. They assert, instead, that they have solved the mystery. All that remains to be done is to go out and pluck the virtually intact Electra from the ocean bottom. If anyone can present a convincing argument for crashed-and-sank and, in so doing, show that landed-at-Niku is an impossibility, the Longs should be able to do it. If, on the other hand, their work does not stand up to respectful, but careful, scrutiny - then the landed-at-Niku hypothesis remains viable (as does crashed-and sank). We therefore need to take a close look at the case presented by the Longs to see whether we should stop wasting our time and all go look for Jimmy Hoffa.
Of course, I have not yet had time to read the entire book, but I have read the section in which the Longs present their proof that the aircraft ran out of fuel shortly after 08:43. I'll paraphrase their case in a separate posting for the forum's consideration, but I do recommend that you buy the book. We obviously can not put long direct quotations from the book up on our website and I'm sure we will be discussing various points of evidence in the weeks to come. Besides, Elgen and Marie have worked hard at this. I hope their book sells well.
From the press release accompanying Amelia Earhart- The Mystery Solved:
From "From Lae Into The Blue" an article by Hugh Leggat in Prospect, the corporate magazine of Placer Dome Inc., Volume 4, Number 2, June 1992:
It's not clear what is meant by the Chater report being "authenticated in 1995." We announced its discovery in TIGHAR Tracks Vol. 8, Nos. 1 &2 on March 12, 1992. The entire report is on the TIGHAR website at The Chater Report.
According to the Longs, the crucial phrase in the Chater report is in a paragraph on page 8, the last page, where three progress reports from the aircraft, heard by the Lae radio operator, are described. This is how the paragraph reads:
The Longs say:
The Longs say that, because the aircraft was fueled the day before and sat around in the sun all day on July 1st, "the 1,100 gallons on board were reduced by expansion and venting to an equivalent 1,092 gallons." They further say that, using Kelly Johnson's figures, those 1,092 gallons would have lasted 22 hours and 29 minutes had Earhart flown at the recommended 150 mph, but because she flew at 160.5 mph (thus increasing her ground speed against the 26.5 mph headwind 8.5 percent from 123.5 mph to 134 mph) she ran out of fuel 20 hours and 34 minutes into the flight because "it is a mathematical certainty that an 8.5 pecent increase in ground speed will result in an 8.5 percent increase in hourly fuel consumption."
So that's the proof. Earhart ran out of gas because headwinds forced her to carry higher power settings which depleted her fuel more rapidly than anticipated.
Points to consider:
1. Earhart's 0418 GCT report of "HEIGHT 7000 FEET SPEED 140 KNOTS" does not specify whether she means indicated airspeed (as the Longs allege), true airpseed, or ground speed. Indicated airspeed is read from the airspeed indicator. Earhart's instrument was a Pioneeer Model 354 (according to the original specs for c/n 1055) calibrated in miles per hour, not knots. True airspeed is indicated airspeed corrected for temperature and altitude. Neither figure is terribly useful in a position report. The meaningful figure is ground speed which, in this case, would almost certainly be calculated by Noonan in knots.
So - the question is, did Earhart read 160 mph off her airspeed indicator and convert it to knots before sending her radio message or was she relaying ground speed information in knots given to her by Noonan? I don't know of any way to be sure.
2. The Longs' conclusions rely upon the presence of an average headwind for the entire flight of 26.5 mph (23 knots), but Earhart never said she had a headwind of 26.5 mph. Three hours after she reported her "speed" as 140 knots she said "WIND 23 KNOTS" but said nothing about its direction. The Longs say that: "An average of the forecast winds and actual reported winds aloft over the route was 26.5 mph." Is that correct? There was one tentative forecast of surface winds along her route and one observation of winds aloft (see Chater Report, page 7). A forecast from Fleet Air Base, Pearl Harbor received in Lae just as the airplane was taking off and too late to reach the crew said:
ACCURATE FORECAST DIFFICULT
ACCOUNT LACK OF REPORTS YOUR VICINITY PERIOD
and another report apparently from Nauru:
BARO 29.898 THEMO 83
WIND EASTERLY 3 CLOUDY BUT FINE CLOUDS CI CI STR CU CUMI
By the time Earhart got anywhere near Nauru that observation was about 12 hours old. I see no reliable way to determine what winds the flight actually encountered.
From what I can see at this early stage in our assessment of the Longs' work, they have an interesting theory but it's based upon supposition and interpretation rather than hard facts. There is much, much more in the book that we'll need to consider.
An easy explanation for the reason an alleged "post loss" radio signal may have been an unmodulated carrier wave is, the microphone cable may have failed. From much experience in two-way mobile radio communications, I can tell you that any kind of cable or cordage in a system is one of the first things to give trouble. Mic cords are among the most common failures, due to constant handling of the mic, yanking on the cord when it gets tangled with anything, or simply on account of loose connections in plugs (or broken plugs).
Mic cables in those days were commonly made from stuff called "tinsel wire," which is almost like the consistency of aluminum foil. The advantage of this type wire is its flexibility. The disadvantages are (1) it is fragile, and (2) the stuff is very difficult to make a connection to, when repairing it... tinsel wire does not take solder well at all. Special crimp-type lugs must be used to repair this sort of cable. If these lugs are not used, the repair will not last long. If the lugs are improperly crimped, or the wrong tool used to make the crimp, the repair will fail soon.
Suppose the audio wire in the mic cord was open, but the lead to the push-to-talk button was OK... the radio would still key up, but no voice modulation.
This is a very likely scenario. I have seen it occur time and again in public-safety radio equipment. Perhaps AE and FN, IF they sent these signals, may not have known the transmitter wasn't modulating.
And as for repairing mic cords: been there, done that, got the shirt in every style and color.
Another possibility which would cause an unmodulated carrier: bad modulator tube (one type 6L6) in the transmitter; or a failed component in the audio circuit.
Pyrene was one of several companies that produced Liquid Carbon Tetrachloride fire extinguishers.
They typically were a brass cylinder 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter, and 12 to 15 inches long overall. One end had a nozzle and the other end had a "T" handle connected to an internal piston pump and a valve that sealed the nozzle when the unit was in its bracket. This end also had a Hex shaped screw plug for filling the unit with liquid carbon tetrachloride.
To use it you would turn the "T" handle 90 degrees to un-lock it from its stored position, withdraw the handle to the rear to fill the pump with liquid, then aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, and squirt the liquid at the fire. Repeat the pumping action until the fire was successfully extinguished, or the unit was empty.
These units typically had an embossed brass plate on the side of the barrel that gave the manufacturers name, address, and essentially the same instructions detailed here. This type of extinguisher was also used by the US military in both aircraft and armored vehicles. They were eventually removed from service and obsoleted because Carbon Tetrachloride vapors are toxic by themselves, and when they are vaporized in a flame, can generate small amounts of Phosgene gas. People were injured by these units if they became trapped in high concentrations of the "breakdown product".
I have and old empty unit somewhere at home and I will attempt to locate it and photograph it for reference purposes.
Note that Carbon Tetrachloride is a Halogen compound and this type of vaporizing liquid extinguishent was replaced by Halon 1211 and Halon 1301, which have much lower toxicity. These Halogen compounds have now been replaced by new materials (FM200, and FE241) because of their detrimental effect on the Ozone layer. I am under the impression that I have seen a picture of the inside of the Electra 10E with this type of extinguisher mounted to a bulkhead.
>it is a mathematical
certainty that an 8.5 pecent increase in ground speed will
Rather, a percent increase in hourly fuel consumption would be about proportional to a percent increase in TRUE AIRSPEED. So, if the TAS were 160.5 mph instead of 150 mph, the increase in hourly fuel consumption would be about 7% = (160.5/150), regardless of the percent change in groundspeed.
Ground speed is, however, relevant to calculation of miles per gallon and range.
That bothered me too. Although it's a mathematical certainty that any time I try to do anything mathematical I'll screw it up, it just didn't seem right that there would be a direct one to one correlation between those two values.
That's great, Mark, and your description pretty precisely describes Artifact # 2-4-V-100. Of course, I imagine the Loran Station was equipped with this kind of extinguisher. In any event, I'll take it to TIGHAR Central tomorrow and maybe we can put a picture of it up on the web site.
LTM (who loves a
good, clear description)
Well, well, well....Just being wildly optimistic for a moment, mightn't the Loran station have been equipped with larger units than an airplane? Do any of our Loran veterans rememeber anything about the fire extinguishers they had? Would a Coast Guard fire extinguisher look just like a commerical unit or would it have gummint markings?
From the press release accompanying Amelia Earhart- The Mystery Solved.
Am I missing something, or is the Electra crossing 9 degrees of longitude in about 2 hours? Isn't the distance between those reported fixes 566 nautical miles? The ground speed appears to be something like 286 knots; (maybe somewhat slower if the first fix were crossed some time before 3:19). I am somewhat taken aback.
Unless I am reading the press release wrong there is some confusion about the position reports. I am sure the correct reports are on the TIGHAR web page but I did not find them. Could you point me in the right direction? I was coming up with ground speeds close to what Amelia reported using the Lae to 5:18 report. At least I would assume she was giving ground speed straight from Fred's report to her. I don't think indicated or true would have any meaning as you pointed out.
The "wind 23 Knots" at 5:18 would be a head or tail component as anything else would mean nothing and again would be from Fred's computations. I can't come up with the Long's results. The 134 MPH ground speed is speculation since only the starting point is known not the point or time they reached Howland. The Longs don't know what altitudes they used except for a few points. Nor do they know what the winds and temperatures aloft were.
I also cannot find any reason to discount Fred using an offset nav leg to destination but then I find no evidence of it either. I would guess he did as it would be the only way he could have known which way to turn at his final lop UNLESS he was simply confident of picking up Howland, the Itasca or a radio or smoke and just flew "straight" in.
I'm not sure any of all this matters as we know he made it to the vicinity of Howland but didn't find it. Knowing whether they flew offset or how fast they flew wouldn't tell us much more. How much fuel they had will always be mere speculation. They either flew around Howland for a while and ditched or went to Hull which seems to make far more sense but then I suppose that's the main theory any way isn't it.:-)
At my nice lunch with Muriel in 1976 it was clear she thought ditching at sea was most likely although she gave no reason.
>"it is a mathematical
certainty that an 8.5 percent increase in ground
As someone else noted here, the correlation is certainly not one-to-one, and any correlation should be related to true air speed, not ground speed. But it becomes much more complicated-- the fluid dynamics involved with the airframe (that is, air resistance increasing at a rate far greater than 1:1 with airspeed) and the effect on engine performance of different airflows into the manifold make precise fuel consumption calculations so fraught with variables that I'd be uncomfortable extrapolating too much precision over long distances without actual fuel consumption tables produced from real-world testing with the airframe and engines involved. Add to this the unknown wind conditions and cruising altitudes for the majority of the flight and we have lots of uncertainty.
In any event, the flawed understanding and "math" quoted above utterly ruins the authors' credibility concerning any conclusion they may have drawn about the Electra having run short of fuel.
Regarding the "expansion and venting" of fuel, the idea that the Electra left several gallons short may turn out to be pure speculation.
LTM (who played
by the numbers)
You may take the statement in the book "it is a mathematical certainty that an 8.5 percent increase in ground speed will result in an 8.5 percent increase in hourly fuel consumption" as proof that these people know nothing about aircraft performance.
Not only is there not a one-to-one relationship, there is no direct relationship.
Hourly fuel consumption is purely a function of fuel flow rate.
Ground speed is a function of true airspeed and drift.
Fuel flow rate does affect airspeed, but even that is not on a one-to-one basis. Doubling the fuel flow does not result in doubling the speed (if it did there would be no reason to go slower to save fuel, just double the speed and you get there in half the time on the same amount of fuel). For any particular aircraft, configuration, and set of atmospheric conditions there is a particular airspeed which results in the greatest number of air miles per gallon of fuel (the C-130 I crewed used the term ANMMP "Air Nautical Miles per Thousand Pounds"). The function is a normal curve. The aircrew tries to keep the airspeed at the calculated peak of the curve (ATC frequently disagrees). Deviations above or below the calculated airspeed result in fewer air miles per gallon of fuel. The airspeed charts Kelly Johnson worked out were apparently tabular data of this calculation for predicted conditions.
This, by the way, is one of the flaws in the conspiracy theories based on the idea that NR-16020 had "secret high power military engines" which allowed a course deviation over Japanese Mandate territory. Higher power engines would allow you to go faster, not farther. A high speed off course run would have reduced range. Only if higher power engines were used to pull a heavier airplane off the ground with more fuel would greater range be achieved. I haven't heard any of the conspiracy nuts assert there were more fuel tanks installed.
Getting back to the point, I think the inaccuracy in the quote from the book also derives from a confusion of range and endurance. Drift does not affect endurance, it does affect range. They seem to have taken a factor affecting range (wind speed) and applied it to a calculation of endurance to decide when the aircraft would run out of fuel.
Finally, does anyone have the performance manual for 16020 or the basic Lockheed model 10E? It would be nice to run calculations and determine what was possible.
We unfortunately do not have a performance manual for the Model 10E. We have lots of other specs and literature, and even a parts manual, but not a flight manual. We'd dearly love to have one. Anybody got one kicking around?
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