Forum artHighlights From the Forum

April 23 through 29, 2000

Subject: Re: Truth
Date: 4/24/00
From: Ron Bright

Note: this is in partial response to some off-topic discussion concerning Tom Devine's book on Earhart, and his theory about what happened to her.

Re: Devine's eyewitness stuff of the Electra burning

Probably the most persuasive arguement against his "eyewitness" account, is his identification of James Vincent Forrestal,then SECNAV, was outside the hanger orchestrating the whole thing in his white shirt sleeves. A thorough biography and search of all US Navy records, flight schedules, documents, dairies, notes, travel itineraries, navy personnel interviews, etc, show that there is no record of Forrestal on Saipan that Jul 1945, let alone the absurd notion that the SECNAV would destroy Amelia Earhart's Electra. But conspiracy remains, as Forrestal went out the 11th floor of Bethesda Hospital and some say it was murder!! I have emailed that question to the author Mike Campbell of the "Absolute Truth Concerning the Fate of AE" but no response to date.

Ron Bright (who once guarded CNOs/SECNAVs from Admiral Zacharias to Admiral Zumwalt---and believe me people know where these guys are.)

Subject: Devine/Saipan
Date: 4/24/00
From: Dave Bush

I remember one thing that he claims one of the servicemen said -- to the effect that the "Marines" wouldn't let him in the hangar, stating that it held AE's airplane. Questions:

A) Why, if it was supposed to be top secret, would they tell him that there was something specific in there?

B) How often will someone tell you the truth, if they are trying to hide something? Thus, Army units identifying themselves as Marines and telling someone that the hangar contains something top secret when the truth is they have captured some really good Japanese spirits are throwing a wild party!

Also, as I mentioned earlier, one of the 10E's supposedly went to the airline in Alaska, which claims they never, ever had one. So where did it go? Probably, the researchers that compiled the data misread something (have you ever looked up a telephone number, then written down the one on the next line down/up?). However, as I pointed out, is it possible that AE/FN were "shadowed" by an identical plane which WAS on a spy mission?

Lots of speculation, no answers.

LTM - Lovin' This Mess,
Blue Skies,
Dave Bush #2200

From Ric

Tell me you're not serious.

Subject: Lightbulbs and Saipan
Date 4/24/00
From: Tom Robison

Ric wrote:

>Good question. What does it take to make a light bulb run off a battery?

The standard filament light bulb doesn't care whether the voltage is AC or DC. It will light with the proper voltage applied. It will glow dimly if the voltage is lower than its rated voltage, and will blow out if a higher voltage than rated is applied.

On Saipan: In the past two days I have corresponded with three former USAAF fellas who were stationed on Saipan during WWII. They apparently arrived on the island after the events related by Thomas Devine, but all three claim to have NEVER heard of ANY sightings or any activity of any kind regarding Amelia Earhart WHILE THEY WERE THERE.

This doesn't prove anything, of course, but I can't believe that a group of ordinary GIs "knew" about Amelia on Saipan without rumors and stories getting around. There was also a fair-sized press contingent on the Island. Surely they would have hear the stories, if such stories were there to be heard.

Two of the aforementioned veterans have been back to Saipan within the past few years, and report visiting the little jail where Amelia was allegedly incarcerated. It's on the standard tourist map now, and very easy to see. It's tended by an old fella who claims to have been chief of police in the mid-30s, and guarded Amelia himself.

(Boy, the first liar doesn't have a chance with this story, does he?)

Tom #2179

From Ric

As for Garapan Prison - it should be easy enough to prove whether or not AE was there. Surely she would have scratched the walls trying to get out (like in Silence of the Lambs) and it should be a simple matter of collecting DNA from a broken fingernail.

It is a little known clinical fact that merely discussing the Japanese Capture Theory lowers one's IQ by 20 points. That's why we don't do it.

Subject: Re: Seven Site
Date: 4/24/00
From: Tom King

> The presence of a lightbulb means only that he had some form
> of electric light that used that kind of bulb.

Jumping to conclusions again. The presence of the lightbulb MIGHT mean that Gallagher had some form electric light, but it might also mean that somebody else was there, at some time or other, with an electric light. For use, perhaps, in nighttime turtle hunting, or any number of other things. On the other hand, the fact that the kind of base found at the Seven Site is used for light bulbs doesn't necessarily mean it's not used for things like photoflash bulbs, does it? Or does it?

And I do wonder if the lousy weather that Gallagher reports during this period might have created the need for artificial light, or if Gallagher might have thought that there were some things he could see better by artificial light at night than by natural light during the day. The great advantage of artificial light, especially a relatively strong artificial light, is that you can control its direction, and hence highlight things on the ground that would be washed out in full daylight. I know, sheer speculation.

I wonder if we should give more attention to the tar paper. Its described as having shingles on one side. Can we describe it accurately enough to pursue its origins? If it's typical Brit stuff it would mean one thing, if typical Yank stuff it would mean another.


From Ric

We have a photo of the tarpaper and we can certainly put it up on the website, but it sure looks like pretty generic stuff. I'd be surprised if anyone could reliably pronounce it to be British or American without much closer inspection, and maybe not then.

As you've seen, Tom, from the video tour we did of the site in 1996, there is also a very rusted-out round, low, flat can about 4.5 inches in diameter by maybe 2 inches tall -- reminds you of a can of car wax. There is also a fragment of what appears to have been a fairly heavy-weight porcelain plate. The implication is a can of food and a plate to eat it on. To me, it all seems more consistent with Gallagher than with Gilbertese turtle hunters or picnicing Coasties-- but then I tend to jump to wild conclusions.

Speaking of jumping to conclusions, you've made much of the bad weather that may have prompted Gallagher's "organized search" and even caused him to bring along supplemental lighting. Let's look at the chronology.

Vaskess orders the "organized search" on October 26, 1940.

Gallagher's PISS Progress Report for 4th Quarter 1940 says, "The second half of the quarter was marked by severe and almost continuous North-westerly gales ...." The 4th Quarter is October, November, December. The second half of the quarter is roughly November 15 to December 31. Is it more likely that Gallagher carried out Vaskess' orders before or after the weather turned sour?

In his report Gallagher specifically says:

"Due to the very heavy rains during this period (the second half of the quarter), properly organized work at any distance from the village was impossible and advantage was taken of the opportunity to build roads and paths and to clean up one or two small areas of land on ro near the Government Station."

I would submit that the available evidence strongly suggests that whatever additional searching was done in response to the orders for an "organized search" was carried out sometime in the three weeks between October 26 and November 15 -- before the weather got bad.


Subject: Re: Seven Site Hypothesis
Date: 4/24/00
From: Tom King

Testy, testy. Sure, there's a lot of stuff at the Seven Site suggesting some sort of "domestic" use of the place, but we don't know that it's had only one use. In fact, we know that it HASN'T; it was where whatever happened that brought in the tank, and it was where at least a couple of bored Coasties went fossicking about in the bush to see what they could see. We don't know what else may have happened there, but if it was, as it seems to have been, a reasonably clear spot in the Scaevola, with access both to the sea and to the lagoon, it would naturally attract people interested in moving through the area for whatever purpose.

As for when Gallagher did the intensive search, I dunno whether it would be before the weather turned bad or not; I can equally easily imagine him jumping right out in response to Vaskess' direction and doing the work toot sweet, or putting it off pending finishing important work around the Government Station and then being caught by the bad weather -- or even choosing the bad weather time to do it because he couldn't do anything else useful. We should accommodate both possibilities.


From Ric

Well, you can take Gallagher at his word or not, but whether the search was done in good weather or bad, or was done at all doesn't change the need to take a hard look at the Seven Site when we return to the island. More work will produce more information -- negative or positive -- which should tell us more about what happened there. For example, if no more buttons turn up it would appear likely that somebody merely lost a button. If several more identical buttons are found in the same place it would suggest that an entire garment was once there. etc. etc.

Subject: Re: Seven Site Hypothesis and plan for Niku IV
Date: 4/25/00
From: Tom King, Ric Gillespie

> Well, you can take Gallagher at his word or not, but whether the search was
> done in good weather or bad, or was done at all doesn't change the need to
> take a hard look at the Seven Site when we return to the island.

No argument at all with that, and we need to think carefully about how best to do it. I just worry about putting all our eggs in that basket when there may be other ways to account for what we see there.


From Ric

Yes, in the absence of unlimited time and funding we have to take risks. We have to look at the available evidence and make guesses, knowing that there are other possible explanations. We literally can't afford to play it safe. That has been a fact of life for this project since the beginning and it's not likely to change any time soon.

Here's how it looks right now. We want to run Niku IIII in the summer of 2001. At this time Nai'a (the ship we've used for the past two trips) still looks like the most economical of the very few choices available. We'll need to make that commitment later this year, and it will cost money that we'll need to raise before then. How much money? Depends on how long we charter the ship for. A 21 day charter gives us about 10 days on the island and costs just about $100,000. More time costs more money at a rate of about $5,000 per day. And, of course, there are the other associated costs of airfare, accommodations in Fiji, equipment, shipping of equipment, etc. A low-tech expedition runs about another $20,000 in direct costs. Going hi-tech, even if the technology itself is donated, can easily triple that.

So, figure 10 days on the island with a team of maybe a dozen people. Our objective will be what it always is -- find a diagnostic artifact (smoking gun) by testing the best hypotheses we can come up with given the available evidence. Because the evidence suggests that the fate of the airplane was separated in time and space from the fate of at least one member of the crew, we have two paths to follow -- one to find airplane debris and one to find crew debris (organic or otherwise).

Let's consider airplane debris. Our current hypothesis is that the airplane was broken up and the pieces were eventually washed through the main lagoon passage. Some chunks may have gone seaward and may now be on the ledge just off the edge of the reef, but other debris seems to have followed the model of the Norwich City wreckage. It is apparent from the work done last summer that there is no great quantity of airplane debris along the Nutiran shore (we looked hard and found none). Best guess -- whatever was once there has long since been scarfed up and may account for some of the apparent Electra parts we've recovered from the village. I would be very hesitant to commit resources to further scaevola whacking in that area. Likewise, the work done in the village during Niku III demonstrated that to be a poor place to expend effort. Of the hundred or so bits and pieces collected in many days of intensive work, nothing has (so far) proven to be as interesting as the few artifacts recovered during our earlier, less exhaustive inspections. The implication is that we have already found the obvious stuff and, although there might be something really neat lurking somewhere in the village, the effort (time/money) it would take to find it makes further village work impractical.

At present, the best place to look for airplane debris would seem to be on the ledge off the reef (low-tech Scuba work), and in the sand bar at the mouth of the passage (relatively hi-tech remote sensing work). There might also be (buoyant) airplane debris in the dense vegetation along the lagoon shore, but it could be literally anywhere and there's no way to target a search. At this time I would anticipate putting perhaps four divers in the water to check the ledge and then work the lagoon bottm just inside the mouth of the passage. Just what we might be able to do about the sand bar is still an open question. I suspect that the best we'll be able to hope for on this trip is to confirm or deny that there is a scattering of debris down in the sand and, if we're lucky. determine that some of it is aluminum. I see maybe two people using appropriate remote sensing technology and the divers helping them excavate the shallower "hits."

Let's consider crew debris. We've long recognized that the best way to approach this search is to figure out where the bones were found and comb the area for additional clues. The discovery of the shoe parts on Aukeraime quite naturally prompted the hypothesis that we had found the right general area, but extensive work there in 1991, 1997, and a little bit more in 1999 has been disappointing. Further work at the Aukeraime site would involve casting the net wider and geometrically increasing the square meters to be searched. Not an attractive prospect. Kanawa Point, on the other hand, has received very little attention but it also has very little to recommend it as the possible discovery site. In a perfect world we could put a team of masochists in there and let them hack through the scaevola looking for possible clues, but our world is not perfect and our supply of masochists is limited.

At this point, the "Seven Site" looks to be, by far, the most promising place to deploy our resources. I'd figure on putting the other half of the team on that site for as much time as we have or until there was reason to think that we had exhausted its potential. We probably also want to excavate the grave on the shoreline directly opposite the Norwich City, based on the anecdotal accounts of remains found in that area. Experience (way too much experience) has shown a grave exhumation on Niku to take three people about four days to accomplish.

That's how I see Niku IIII at this time.

Subject: Lights on Gardner
Date: 4/25/00
From: Andrew McKenna

I don't think we need to labor over Gallagher's need for light.

Too often we stateside continentals envision life on a tropical island as being a long summer day, every day of the year, where the sun sets at 2130 hrs and rises at 0530 hrs. From my living on a tropical island, I can tell you that in the tropics the sun sets pretty early, even in the middle of the summer, and especially during the last quarter of the year.

I suspect Gallagher found the sun setting around 1900 to 1930 and rising about 12 hours later. This is a longer stretch of darkness than the average human needs to sleep, never mind a driven guy like Gallagher (no, I don't know this as fact).

I'd like to suggest that it is not unreasonable to postulate that Gallagher, as the big cheese of Niku, would commandeer whatever lighting equipment was available and take it with him to the 7 site if he were planning on staying overnight. I just don't picture the guy sitting in the dark counting stars for 12 hours. Rather, I see him writing out his plans for the island, reports to PISS, a personal diary, etc. under the dim glow of a battery powered incandescent bulb.

Do we really need to invent more elaborate needs than some simple lighting used during the hours of darkness when he was still awake?

Is there someone in the Celestial Choir who can verify how many average hours of daylight / darkness per day on Niku during the last quarter of 1940?

LTM (who hates reading in the dark)
Andrew McKenna 1045C

Subject: Basic Questions
Date: 4/25/00
From: John Buontempo

As this is my first post on the Forum, I respectfully request that you bear with me for the long post and any areas of stupidity or lack of knowledge that I reveal.

I have a number of questions I would like to have answered -- if they have not already been answered elsewhere on the TIGHAR website. If they have, then please direct me to the location of the answers.

Here goes:

As previously noted, the 250' trailing wire antenna was removed from the plane sometime prior to the departure at Lae and replaced with a 40' trailing wire (am I correct?).

1. Was the weight difference between the 250' and 40' trailing wire antenna that great to justify removing it?

2. Would/did it allow that much more fuel to be added to the takeoff fuel?

Based upon the assumption (I know what ASSUME means) that the antenna was knocked off upon takeoff at Lae, did our two daring adventurers have the materials, knowledge (either slaps forehead with hand and says -- "Duh! I think the antenna is missing!"), or the wherewithal to fix the antenna upon a successful landing at Gardner Island?

3. Would the repair have made any difference anyway?

In reference to the "C" word (Conspiracy), I read/heard somewhere there may have been a dogleg in the actual route of NR16020. Remember, there was no ARTCC or radar tracking at this time.

4. How much of a dogleg could it have been (if this is true)?

5. Could it have been "NORTH" to "check out the situation"?

6. If so, how much fuel could have been consumed?

Regardless of whether FN "was or was not" an alcoholic, was there alcohol on board NR16020 upon departure from Lae? I have not seen any evidence in the photos or video at Lae nor have I seen an inventory list relating to this.

If he did have any alcohol and was/is an alcoholic:

7. Does this mean that he became drunk during the Lae-Howland leg?

8. Did the alcohol affect his performance as Nav?

IMO, I think NOT. FN realized that too much was riding on this leg.

If he didn't have any alcohol or wasn't/isn't an alcoholic:

9. Did the excessive crew duty time affect his performance as Navigator?

IMO, I think NOT. FN probably performed to the best of his ability anyway on this leg.

And now for the moment we've all been waiting for -- my last question.

10. Where can I read or acquire a copy of the Itasca's radio log that CMDR. Thompson wrote in its entirety?

Finally-- I was talking with my parents over the Easter Weekend -- Dad is 84 and Mom is 78. They gave me the impression that the concept of the flight was not of much consequence back in 1937. They remembered AE but didn't remember FN being with her. (Media?). They acknowledged they remembered her being missing but it didn't seem to be too much of a big deal then. I'm wondering if the rest of the world felt the same way -- 2 aviators missing in the Pacific -- MY GOD! or SO WHAT!

OK. I now stand with head humbly bowed for my chastisement!

LTM/D (Love to Mom/Dad)
John Buontempo

From Ric

Aw c'mon. We're not THAT bad, are we? I'm happy to answer your questions.

> ...the 250' trailing wire antenna was removed from the plane sometime
>prior to the departure at Lae and replaced with a 40' trailing wire (am I correct?).

No. The 250' trailing wire that was in place for the first world flight attempt was not reinstalled during the repairs that followed the March 20th wreck in Hawaii. No other trailing wire was installed.

>1. Was the weight difference between the 250' and 40'
>trailing wire antenna that great to justify removing it?

See above. Earhart seem to have deleted the trailing wire from the ship's equipment in the belief that the changes Joe Gurr made to the dorsal vee antenna would be adequate to give her sufficient 500 KCs capability.

>2. Would/did it allow that much more fuel to be added
>to the takeoff fuel?

See above.

>Based upon the assumption (I know what assume means) that the antenna was
>knocked off upon takeoff at Lae, did our two daring adventurers have the
>materials, knowledge (either slaps forehead with hand and says -- "Duh! I
>think the antenna is missing!"), or the wherewithal to fix the antenna upon a
>successful landing at Gardner Island?

The available evidence seem to indicate that our two daring adventurers had no radio expertise at all.

> 3. Would the repair have made any difference anyway?

Hard to see how.

>In reference to the "C" word (Conspiracy), I read/heard somewhere there may
>have been a dogleg in the actual route of NR16020. Remember, there was no
>ARTCC or radar tracking at this time.
>4. How much of a dogleg could it have been (if this is true)?

The only evidence of a dogleg is the rather bizarre position report described by Chater which puts the plane well south of its intended course a few hours after takeoff. A later position report has the flight on course. The most likely explanation seems to be that the first report was incorrectly transcribed.

> 5. Could it have been "NORTH" to "check out the situation"?

Had the flight deviated northward far enough to overfly any Japanese area it could not have been in the vicinity of Howland when it was.

> 6. If so, how much fuel could have been consumed?

Too much.

>Regardless of whether FN "was or was not" an alcoholic, was
>there alcohol on board NR16020 upon departure from Lae?

There is no evidence either way.

>If he did have any alcohol and was/is an alcoholic:
>7. Does this mean that he became drunk during the
>Lae-Howland leg?

How would we know?

> 8. Did the alcohol affect his performance as Nav?

If Noonan was drunk on his butt it probably affected his navigational performance. If Earhart was drunk on her butt it probably affected her piloting ability.

>If he didn't have any alcohol or wasn't/isn't an alcoholic:
>9. Did the excessive crew duty time affect his performance as Navigator?

Fatigue certainly can effect performance but neither Earhart nor Noonan was a stranger to long flights. whether fatigue was a contributing factor in the flight's failure to reach Howland is an imponderable.

>10. Where can I read or acquire a copy of the Itasca's radio
>log that CMDR. Thompson wrote in its entirety?

Thompson did not write the Itasca's radio log. He wrote a version of the log along with his many comments. Thompson's "Radio Transcripts - Earhart Flight" is at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

> They acknowledged they remembered
>her being missing but it didn't seem to be too much of a
>big deal then. I'm wondering if the rest of the world felt
>the same way -- 2 aviators missing in the Pacific -- MY GOD!
>or SO WHAT!

The world does not normally get together and agree upon a reaction. Some people were very upset. Others weren't. It was a big news story for a while, then it died away.


Subject: Earhart Radio Signals
Date: 4/26/00
From: Birch Matthews

In the current hypothesis under investigation by TIGHAR, it is believed that Amelia flew from a point near Howland Island along a course leading to, or close to, Gardner Island. The last transmission received from Amelia occurred some 20+ hours into the flight. I assume at that time she was in general proximity to Howland based upon the perceived signal strength of her messages by those manning the radio aboard the Itasca. The flight from near Howland to Gardner Island would have required an additional three or so hours. Has there been any discussion on the Forum speculating why no more signals were received during this period? Amelia had been reasonably punctual in communicating previous to this time period even though she received no response to her transmissions.

If this has been extensively discussed previously, my apologies. Perhaps you could tell me what conclusion was reached if this is the case. Thanks.

From Ric

It has indeed been discussed at length but it's an important point that bears reviewing.

As you know, the cessation of radio transmissions from the plane has been taken by many (from Warner Thompson to Elgen Long) as evidence that the flight ended catastrophically shortly after the last message was received. This seems to be an odd conclusion to reach given that her last transmission recieved by Itasca was made on schedule, mentioned no mechanical problem or portent of imminent disaster, and simply described a course of action they were following (running on the 157/337 line) and that she was about to change radio frequencies ("will repeat this on 6210").

Itasca had never heard Earhart on 6210 and she had been warned in Lae that her transmitter was "very rough" on that frequency. Even today, it is not at all uncommon for Air Traffic Control to ask a pilot to change to a new frequency only to lose communication with the aircraft. No one immediately assumes that the plane has fallen out of the sky. The procedure is to simply return to the frequency that worked, but Earhart did not have that option. She had made repeated attempts to establish communication on her only other frequency, 3105, without success. She had no way of knowing that she had been heard. If 6210 failed, she was out of luck.

There has been considerable discussion and debate about the daytime characteristics of 6210 over the probable distances involved between Itasca and Earhart's location. Several pilots experienced in the use of HF are not at all suprised that 6210 did not work in that situation. Whether the problem was due to the characteristics of the frequency or the documented roughness of the carrier wave, or some other factor is impossible to say.

In summary, there seem to be three possible reasons for Itasca's failure to hear anything from Earhart after 20:13.

1. She gave up trying to use her radio -- but that seems unlikely given her stated intention to repeat the message on a different frequency.

2. The airplane crashed before she had a chance to carry our her stated intention to repeat the message -- but there is no evidence that it did.

3. There was a radio communications failure on the new frequency. Because the aircraft is known to have been having radio problems and is not known to have had any mechanical problem, this last would seem to be by far the most likely explanation for the silence.


Subject: HF Radio
Date: 4/26/00
From: Mark Riddell

HF is an excellent way to transmit over a great distance if you are trained in its use and do things the way you should.

I started using HF in the 80's. New equipment, factory schooling and still managed to do a few things wrong on occasion.

One fine day while enroute in a Lear 35 from Teterboro to the Dominican Republic I was trying to make a routine position report using HF. It was midday so I was on a higher frequency -- high sun ... higher frequency -- Transmit ... no answer ... try again ... no answer ... check manual ... try again ... no answer ... scratch head ... turn up non-automatic squelch feature ... try again ... answer, and the comment that they'd heard me for a hour.


Highly qualified crew, new stuff, routine route in a jet in the mid 1980's. A small error and an hour of being "deaf" to the outside world.

AE. Not an especially great aviator when it came to onboard boxes? Probably. More of a show person than a problem solver? Probably. AND ... motoring around a remote part of the world in a machine where the highest tech item WAS the HF and not even having a decent aerial for that.

Major OOPS.

Not to over simplify their problems, but an event is seldom a product of just a single factor. I do think, however, that a communication system that was used poorly certainly contributed to taking them to their eventual landing site and I don't mean Howland Island.

Mark 1214C

Subject: Re: Earhart Radio Signals
Date: 4/26/00
From: Ross Devitt

Something I've not seen mentioned here is that the radio antenna MIGHT have been very directional.

Therefore if she turned away from Howland, and the back of the airplane was facing Itasca the signal may have become weaker.

Simply put, a horizontal wire radiates signals in a way that is "polarised" or points the signals in certain directions.

I was a radio tech about 25 years ago. I'll let someone more current take up the explanation. Actually I meant to bring it up in the radio discussions earlier on forum, but I was still pretty ill at that time.


From Ric

...and you're BETTER now? (just kidding)

Earhart's transmitting antenna was the dorsal "vee" and was, in fact, somewhat directional. I'll leave to Bob Brandenburg to comment on how heading southeast away from Howland may have effected propagation. It's an interesting point. Bob?

Subject: Re: Earhart Radio Signals
Date: 4/26/00
From: Robert Heine

Ric wrote:

> She had made repeated attempts to establish communication on her only other
> frequency, 3105, without success. She had no way of knowing that she had
> been heard. If 6210 failed, she was out of luck.

Now from the website:

At 0800 local time she responded to the Itasca's broadcast on 7500 KC by saying that, although she had heard the signal, she was "unable to get a minimum" (take a bearing using her Radio Direction Finder)."

I disagree that "she had no way of knowing that she had been heard". I have always thought that Amelia knew Itasca could hear her since she heard them make the long count immediately after she requested them to make the long count. Unless there was some arrangement made before Amelia left Lae for Itasca to make the count at exactly 0758, she had to know that Itasca heard her on 3105.

-Robert Heine

From Ric

You make an excellent point. At 0758 Itasca time Earhart is recorded as saying:

KHAQQ calling Itasca. We are circling [more likely "We are listening..."] but cannot hear you. Go ahead on 7500 with a long count either now or on the sceduled time on half hour.

Earhart is asking for a "long count" (a voice transmission counting from one to ten and back down to one) but Itasca has no voice capability on 7500 so they send morse code letter "A"s (dit dah, dit dah, dit dah, ...) in response to this request. The trouble is, for Earhart the time is 19:28 GCT and when she says, "...either now or on the scheduled time on half hour" she is saying, "...either now or in two minutes." It's not clear exactly when the "A"s were sent but it is clear that Earhart heard them within a minute or so of when Itasca was scheduled to send them anyway.

Quite a quandary for Our Lady. She requests a long count but hears something different within a minute of when Itasca is supposed to send a homing signal anyway. Are they responding to her request or just doing what they were supposed to do? What would you think?


Subject: Caldwell-Luc
Date: 4/26/00
From: Kar Burns

Ric -- you asked on 19-20 April:

>You wrote: "Hoodless notes that the "right zygoma and malar bones of the
>skull are broken off". Kar? Could this be in any way related to the
>operation Earhart had on the right maxillary sinus?

First, about the bones: The zygoma is the "cheek bone." "Malar" is an adjective, not a noun, and it refers to the region of the cheek. However, it is common to refer to the zygoma as "the malar." I think I wrote in my original report that Hoodless probably meant the "right zygomatic arch and malar bone." This area is commonly broken in exposed skulls.

Second, the operation: The Caldwell-Luc operation is a radical method of removing the contents of the maxillary sinus. A drainage hole is made in the area of the maxilla above the second molar tooth. The bone is thin in that area, and entrance to the maxillary sinus is immediate. The maxilla supports the zygoma from below. When the zygoma breaks off, the upper part of the maxilla often breaks also. That could include the area of the operation. Interesting that the operation and the breaks were on the right side. But, no conclusions. (A small hole in that area would also bear a resemblance to an apical abscess.)

Ron Bright wrote:

>Would the Caldwell-Luc operation be of such magnitude or
>plainly obvious to Dr. Hoodless ...?

I don't know what Dr. Hoodless saw or even what he was capable of seeing. It is easy to say, "A doctor would find it obvious." But experience says otherwise. What was Dr. H. looking for? What was his mind set with regard to this find?


Karen Ramey Burns, Ph.D.
Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

Subject: Gallagher's Reports
Date: 4/27/00
From: Mike Muenich

Thank you for posting Gallagher's 9th report. It is always helpful to read a primary document and I have noted a number of interesting items within the report. Before venturing down that path, do we have a copy of the 8th report and could it be posted as a document of the week. It's importance lies in the fact that it covers the month of September, when Gallagher arrived, and thus the period of time when he was first apprised of the "bones".

I have compared some of the report with what I knew about the island settlement. I note on the map depicted in TIGHAR Tracks, vol. 15, p. 37 a legend with two arrows pointing to "5" and "7", identifying "Village 1938-1963. In reading the report at 4, there were in fact two villages, one constructed on arrival beginning December 1938 and then moved, beginning September 1940. Which "Village", 5 or 7 was the original, or, since the distance between 5 and 7 appears to be small, approximately 1,000 feet, do 5 and 7 jointly represent the "new" village?

In your discussion of the Debris Field, vol. 15, p. 36, you twice refer to an "abandoned" village, referring once to 5, and then to 7. This becomes significant, at least to me, since your outline for work on the island in the summer of 2001 indicates no work in the "abandoned" village, I believe due to the large amount of debris and refuse there. While this may be true of the "second" village, given its time of existence from Sept. 1940 to 1963, I would think the original village, constructed in 1938/39 and being the closest in time to the event might be worthwhile. This is when the most debris might be drifting ashore, the easiest scavenging for the natives, and the place where they might abandon small items, not worth their while, in the course of moving to the "new" village. It also seems that the "old" village would be the one the Emily Samuela resided in. Is the carpenter's shop, map reference 8 a remnant of the "old" village, or the "new"?

From Ric

We'll put up the Third Quarter 1940 report as soon as we can get to it. The originals are not of sufficient legibility to be OCR'ed (Optical Character Recognition software) and so have to be transcribed by hand.

Let me see if I can sort out this new village/old village/abandoned village confusion, most of which is due to my own linguistic sloppiness.

When the first work party arrived in late December 1938 they set up residence on a little bulge of land along the southern shore of the main lagoon passage. The island map prepared as a result of the New Zealand survey (which departed the island on February 5, 1939) shows the "Gilbertese Settlement" in this location and has its name as "Keresoma." We have no idea who named it that or why. Technically I suppose this would be the "First Village" but, as shown in a photo snapped by the survey party, it was really only a couple of largish barracks-type buildings to house the ten-man work party.

On April 28, 1939 the families of the workmen finally arrived and the aerial photo mosaic of the island taken two days later by the Grumman "Duck" from the USS Pelican shows that the workers, in anticipation, had built a neat little row of 8 huts well inland along the edge of the open feature we call Crab City. I suppose we could call that line of huts the "Second Village." Total population is 23. This is also when foreman Jack Petro arrives with the materials to construct a 10,000 gallon cistern which is built roughly in the middle of the land mass that forms the "hook" on the southern side of the main lagoon passage.

The next batch of settlers arrives June 17th bringing the island population to 58 (16 men, 16 women, 11 boys and 15 girls). Logically, this would involve the construction of another 8 or 10 houses which we must assume were added to the existing neighborhood on the edge of Crab City.

The trouble with living on the edge of Crab City (as we learned in 1997) is that when the weather gets bad the whole place floods. As Gallagher says in his report, "Since this area was found to be waterlogged at high spring tides, however, it had long been realized that the village would have to be removed to a better site." When Gallagher arrived in September he began construction of the Government Station with its array of streets and buildings and parade ground (with flag pole) on higher ground in the center of the "hook." Before the onset of the high December tides he had the village relocated (by now, forty houses) "in such a manner as to accord with the eventual requirements of the Government station". Aerial photos taken in 1941 and 1942 show the village houses now neatly bordering the main drag leading from the Government Station to the boat landing. We'll call this the "Third Village."

It should be noted that all of these first three villages were on the "hook" that forms the southern boundary of the main lagoon passge.

The fourth and final village on Niku was mandated by Asst. Lands Commissioner Paul Laxton in 1949. In an attempt to get the colony moving again after the stagnation that set in during the war he moved the entire village southward to the area immediately inshore of the boat landing. This left the Government Station more or less abandoned, although some structures such as the radio shack, the carpenter's shop, and of course the cistern, appear to have remained in use.

Archaeologically, this all makes for a very complicated situation. The village in use at the time of the initial skull discovery was the "Second Village" of which virtually nothing now remains because it was moved and the area has since been repeatedly flooded. At the same time that the other bones and artifacts were being found by Gallagher, the Second Village was being moved to become the Third Village, and that village was later moved yet again.

The dado was found in the vicinity of the First Village, but that area was also later part of the Government Station. The shielded cables were found in the remains of the carpenter's shop which was part of the Government Station (the carpenter at that time, as you'll recall, was Emily's father). The plexiglas was found at a former house site in the Fourth Village, but it's clearly the last remnant of a larger piece that may have been around for many years. The section of airplane skin was found near the boat landing in the wash-up line from the storm that wrecked the landing beacon and the Co-Op Store (which, itself, been moved from the Government Station in 1949).

All of the many aluminum artifacts recovered in 1997 are from the post-war Fourth Village. Some are known to be non-Electra aircraft parts. Most are too generic to identify. None seem to be consistent with an Electra. If any of the previously settled areas of the island merit further inspection it might be argued that the carpenter's store is worthy of more digging.

I've probably just confused everybody more.


Subject: Communications
Date: 4/27/00
From: Mike Muenich

I believe George Bernard Shaw once stated, paraphrasing, that the English and the Americans were two people separated by a common language. Paragraph 3 of Gallagher's 9th report discusses, at some length, "communication" between the islands of the district. If you read it several times, it becomes clear, at least to me, that "communication" means something other than the modern context of telephone, telegraph, radio, etc. Gallagher first states: "No communication was available, during the quarter, . . . (except) . . . the meagre information . . . collected by wireless. . . ". He also refers to communication established between Canton, San Francisco and other points by Pan American, but then notes that it is of little use "since there is no intra-district communication.

Finally he notes in the last paragraph that "Difficulties of communication "were . . (not) . . alleviated by a failure of the wireless" beginning in mid December. (The double negative in the sentence makes it difficult to read and I think he meant to say that the failure of the wireless exacerbated the communication difficulties) In any event, communcation to Gallagher did not mean the wireless telegraph. It may refer to some form or regular or irregular shipping between the islands, since he notes restoration of communication on January 11th, which seems to coincide with the arrival of R.C.S. Nimanoa and his subsequent movement between the islands.

The point being if the messages between Gallagher and the home office or administrative heads was "top secret" or "strictly secret" I doubt that the messages would have been transmitted over the wireless which could have been heard by any number of stations, unless transmitted in some form of code. It would not appear that the messages or letters could have been "hand" delivered, since the dates in early October do not coincide with shipping and Gallagher notes "no communication was available, during the quarter." Unless there was some other form of transmittal, how were the messages of October, between Gallagher, the Resident Commissioner and the High Commissioner, transmitted?

From Ric

I think you're reading way too much into this. There were three methods of communication available -- wireless messages, letters delivered by ship, and personal visits by ship. All three methods were unreliable. Not all islands had wireless sets, the available sets often broke down, and ship traffic between islands was sporadic and frustratingly unpredictable. When Gallagher says that the communication Pan Am at Canton has with the outside world doesn't do him any good because there is no intra-district communication, he is merely saying that there is no British radio at Canton. Likewise, there's no mystery about how his September and October telegrams were sent. Gallagher makes it clear that his wireless on Gardner was out of whack from mid-December 1940 until January 11, 1941. His use of the word "alleviated" in the sentence you cite is perhaps misleading. I think that what he was trying to say is "It didn't help matters that my radio broke down in mid-December..."

There is no indication in any of the correspondence that any form of encryption was used. When Vaskess tells Gallagher to keep the matter "strictly secret for now" he is not assigning an official category of classification, he is simply telling him not to talk about it. These people are not military. They are civil servants. The whole bones matter was kept quiet per Sir Harry Luke's instructions, but it was never "classified."


Subject: Caldwell-Luc
Date: 4/27/00
From: Dan Postellon

I'd like to try to clarify the anatomy involved. The cheekbone (zygomatic arch, malar bone) is not involved in the Caldwell-Luc procedure. This bone sticks out (you can feel it just below your eye), and would be easy to break off in a skull.

The squeamish can skip this paragraph. In a Caldwell-Luc, you lift up the upper lip, and make a hole in the bone of the upper jaw, over the second molar (the one next to the Wisdom tooth.) AE appears to have had this operation for sinusitis, which was a common treatment before antibiotics were available. The hole may have been relatively large, as the idea is to strip out the lining of the maxillary sinus, and eliminate the sinus as a cavity. The hole does usually heal, and might even close. If you had a complete skull in a coffin, this might be obvious to anyone with any anatomy background, but I agree that it might be confused with an apical abcess (infection of the root of the second molar, with a collection of pus).

Found skulls are a somewhat different matter. The teeth often fall out, and the bones surrounding them (including those penetrated by the Caldwell-Luc) are often broken off, particularly if the skull rolls. A standard forensic anthropology practice is to look for a skeleton uphill from where the skull is found, but this might not be relevant to a relatively flat Niku. Skull with a lot of handling or trauma might be missing the cheekbones and the entire upper jaw. The Peking Man skulls are reasonably good examples. The part of the skull surrounding the brain is rounded and relatively strong, at least when compared to the upper jaw or cheekbones.

My medical dictionary lists George M Caldwell as an American physician, 1834-1918. I can't find Luc. It is a pretty basic ear-nose-throat surgical procedure, and I suspect most physicians would be at least vaguely familiar with it. On the other hand, it might be called something else in Europe or the former British Empire. Any British or Australian physicians out there?

Dan Postellon MD
TIGHAR 2263 (and skulls will roll..)

Subject: Re: Earhart Radio Signals
Date: 4/27/00
From: Bob Brandenburg

At radiation angles below about 30 degrees above horizontal, the azimuthal pattern of AE's antenna was shaped rather like a figure eight with a large waist and fat lobes. The pattern was symmetrical with respect to the axis of the beam pattern, and each of the two lobes was about 80 degrees wide. The axis of the pattern was oriented about 30 degrees to starboard of the the aircraft's longitudinal axis - - an apparent consequence of the location of the antenna feedpoint - - but the width of the pattern lobes was such that there was no significant loss of signal strength in the fore and aft directions relative to aircraft heading. As the radiation angle increased above 30 degrees, the pattern became closer to circular, and above about 45 degrees was omnidirectional. It's worth noting that AE's antenna was shorter than a half wavelength at both of her frequencies, which accounts for its broad radiation pattern.

When AE turned southeast on the LOP, Howland and the Itasca were very close to the peak of the aft lobe for low angles, but that factor didn't come into play. When AE was 100 miles from Howland, the vertical radiation angle was 70 degrees. At 150 miles, the angle was 45 degrees, and the radiation pattern was still omnidirectional. At 200 miles, the radiation angle was down to 30 degrees, but by then AE's signal strength at Howland and the Itasca had dropped well below the threshold for detection.

LTM, who thinks that figure eights are cool for ice skaters.
Bob #2286

From Ric

I take it from the above that the characteristics of Earhart's dorsal antenna were probably not a factor in the failure of Itasca to hear anything after 2013 GCT. Yes?

Subject: Encryption Systems?
Date: 4/28/00
From: Dennis McGee

This new thread of "coded" messages going from Vaskess to Gallagher is intriguing. While the context of the word "coded" certainly appears to indicate the use of some type of encryption, could it not also be in reference to being given a file number or some such identification?

I'm guessing at this, but I assume any type of encryption they used would be a manual system that required the users to have compatible code books/lists to enable them to read their mail. As such it would be fairly cumbersome system to use, requiring each party to carefully spell out the plain text and then find the corresponding encrypted character(s) and writing them down for the wireless operator. Even a simple one-for-one substitution system would be very time-consuming even for relatively short messages.

Plus that, security would always be a problem. Crypto systems tend not to be left laying around (or at least they shouldn't be!) and both parties would have to take at least minimal precautions to protect them. Not knowing the sensitivity of the system they used, I would suspect that Gallagher would need at least a lockable desk or cabinet to hide the stuff in.

An interesting thread, indeed. What do the (limited) files of PISS -- or whoever -- have to say about the use of codes?

LTM, who thinks Traffic Analysts are way cool
Dennis O. McGee #0149CE

From Ric

The other problem with "codes" (as in encryption) is that you have to periodically change them, which means distributing new "code books" to all of the users and destroying the old books. With ship traffic to islands so sporadic and unpredictable it seems like it would be nearly impossible to maintain any sort of valid encryption system. I've never seen any reference to code books or updating codes in the correspondence and files of the WPHC. I share your suspicion that the term "coded" in this context means something other than encryption.

Subject: Re: Communications
Date: 4/28/00
From: Ross Devitt

In addition to making arrangements for meetings of the natives on each island, and addressing these, he carried out all the coding and decoding of telegraphic correspondence, the volume of which was considerable.

Obviously Gallagher was more than comfortable with Morse Code, but the interesting thing is the "considerable volume" out there in the middle of nowhere.. Interesting that Gallagher carried out ALL the coding and decoding...

He was put to bed in his cabin on the ship, but after having discovered that he spent most of the time at a typewriter...

Seems like a very large volume of paperwork involved.

Despite all attempts to induce him to remain ashore until convalescence was more advanced, he returned to his duties at the earliest possible moment.

There was something urgent going on here I suspect. To do with the war perhaps, or more mundane stuff?

10. After leaving Canton Island, your telegram (unnumbered) of the 30th September was decoded by Mr. Hogan, and its contents were communicated to Mr. Gallagher. Its effect on him in his then agitated mental and weak physical state was profound. He told me that he felt that he was "at the end of his tether", and that he proposed to go ashore at Gardner Island and remain there until he was well.

So Gallagher was not the only one able to code and decode to Morse. Is there a copy of that telegram of the 30th? (which I believe we worked out may have been an incorrect date)

RossD (Did Jeff Foxworthy do "You Might Be An Aussie If....." ?)

From Ric

I find it hard to believe that all this talk of coding and decoding messages is about translating them to and from Morse code. My perception has always been that a good operator does that in his head as he is receiving or sending a message. You don't write down long strings of little dots and dashes. It seems like this has got to be about encryption and only a few people have acce ss to the code book.

Yes, we have the telegram of the 30th that got Galllagher so upset. In it, Sir Harry tells him that he is going to lose his job as Officer in Charge of PISS and will become Secretary to the Resident Commisioner of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony at Ocean Island. It's a huge promotion but it's terribly upsetting to Irish who had spent the last two years getting the PISS started and had just finished the new Government Station on Gardner. He loved it there and he was, for all practical purposes, the beloved and benevolent ruler of his own little kingdom. He was genuinely devoted to the settlers and was deeply concerned about there well-being now that the war in Europe was making resources even more scarce and the political situation in the Pacific was going downhill fast. Now, at the worst possible time, he was being "kicked upstairs" to be the number two bureaucrat of the G&EIC.

Subject: Gardner from the air
Date: 4/28/00
From: Ric Gillespie

I'd like to share parts of an exchange I've had recently with E.D. "Dave" Bridges who flew for Pan Am from 1944 to 1981. He says:

"I flew the South Pacific chain for many years in PBM's, DC4's, B-377's and jets. I have been on Palmyra, Canton, Funafuti, and Efate, on the PBM and flown over Gardner many times, so this saga is very interesting to me."

I asked him:

"Do you have any opinion about how easy Gardner is to spot as opposed to, say, Howland?"

To which he replied:

"I have never flown over Howland but from pictures it seems like it would be difficult to spot if there were scattered or broken clouds present. Other similar islands are difficult, especially with no lagoon. Gardner was very easy to see from a long distance. The different contrasting shades of color made it stand out. I flew by Gardner at relative low altitude (5000 to 9000 ft) from 1945 to about 1960 and always thought it looked like "the" tropical island to vacation on."


Subject: Re: Communications
Date: 4/28/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Romantic images of Gallagher sitting at Government Station on Gardner fluently translating morse in his head and manually pecking out code on a "key" are probably inaccurate.

Gallagher's wireless may have included a simple paper punch tape/typewriter device, allowing the messages to be simply pre-"coded" on paper tape (into morse dots and dashes, but other codes could have been used), which would then run off a spindle through a basic electro-mechanical relay transmitting the message very quickly. This would also save lots of battery energy and certainly cut down on errors.

Transmit and receive times were probably determined by a firm and regular schedule, with provisions for resends.

In these systems, on the receiving end, another relay device would electro mechanically decode and type out the message in plain text on a teletype-like machine. This is how all commercial telegraph traffic was sent in the 30s and 40s-- very little of the morse code heard on the air was manually generated-- and I wouldn't be surprised if the British had a similar setup for their colonial offices, which I'm sure generated vast amounts of bureaucratic traffic.

Telexes in the 50s and 60s used a similar scheme with straight text. Secretaries at the foreign offices of multinational corporations would routinely prepare corporate communications on a telex typewriter and then run the paper tapes later. In emergencies, manual communication at the keyboard between two telex stations was also possible (but expensive, considering the cost of the phone hookups), and were much like modern "chat" and IRQ sessions today.

william 2243

From Ric

I'm well familiar with the telex system and used it extensively for communication with the London markets when I was in the aviation insurance business all through the 1970s. I wasn't aware, however, that a similar system of pre-coded (punched) paper tape was used for the transmission of morse code. Makes sense though.

From Jon Watson

Did Gallagher's property inventory contain any references to reading material, texts, etc? There are numerous encryption systems built around the use of common reading material. Even though a message might be fairly long, what else does Irish have to do while sitting around under the glow of the old kerosene lantern during those long mosquito-less evenings????

jon 2266

From Ric

Gallagher's personal effects seem to have included 37 novels and 33 other books, none of which are listed by title.

However, I think William's thoughts on what references to "coding and decoding" mean are likely correct.

Subject: Re: Communications
Date: 4/28/00
From: Dennis McGee

Ross said:

>However to translate Morse on the fly is difficult
>unless you are a trained telegrapher. Most people cannot read Morse well
>enough to do this, there for they encode the message to Morse completely
>then send the groups. On reception, they simply write down the groups and
>then decode back and typeout the message.

Ross, I don't know where you saw this being done but in my 10 years of dealing with Morse code I NEVER once saw anyone manually write down Morse code and then translate ("decode"?) the dots and dashes into plain text.

There is/was? a system of automatic Morse where a stylus scribes the dots and dashes on a strip of quarter-inch tape. The tape is then rewound onto a reel and a human being "decodes" the Morse code -- at a comfortable speed -- and types it up into plain text. This system is usually used where high-speed transmissions are needed, and the ability of the machines far exceed the ability of humans to send and receive the stuff. If I remember correctly, automatic Morse can be sent at speeds up to 100 wpm, which is well above the ability of a human to copy, either by hand or by typewriter. Also, humans can manually send Morse a lot faster than they can type it, so it is not unusual for someone receiving it to ask the other guy to slow down.

Copying the dots and dashes is sooooooo slooooooooow that I can't image anyone doing it for long before they would "automatically decode" the stuff on the fly. After about the umpteenth time the operator has written a dot and a dash (the letter A) it is so much easier to simply write "A" than to transcribe the code.

Writing down the dots and dashes maybe a good exercise to help learn Morse but as a formal system of communicating it is rudimentary at best.

As for being a "trained telegrapher," well, not really. During my intelligence gathering days I taught myself to read Morse code while on the midnight shifts at the intercept site where I was stationed. I trained myself by listening to a very slow automatic Morse station that used a looped tape when in "idle" to transmit the same group of characters over and over. The station transmitted at about 10-15 wpm and on a good night I could keep up with it. Our normal operators copied around 30-35 wpm and a couple hotshots were 99 percent accurate at 50-60 wpm. And that, my friends, is really humping on a typewriter while copying code, fighting static, tuning the receiver, and keeping that 6-ply paper straight in the typewriter.

LTM, who prefers email to Morse
Dennis O. McGee #0149CE

p.s. I was going to sign off in Morse but it would've taken up too much space!

Subject: Re: Seven Site Hypothesis and Plan for Niku IV
Date: 4/28/00
From: Tom King

I understand the need to take chances, but I worry about getting carts before horses. As we all know, ten days on the island isn't much at all, especially considering mobilization and demobilization time. The sandbar work is likely to be very time consuming, and needs careful planning. To a somewhat lesser degree, so does the work at the "crew debris" site, even if we assume the Seven Site as our one and only target. In both cases we'll have significant logistical and environmental protection issues to deal with, as well as the usual problems of getting about in the Scaevola and such. I know we've got to get Nai'a reserved well in advance, but it really seems premature to me to commit ourselves to Nai'a and a mere ten-day stint on the island, when we haven't really even sorted out what's going to be involved in doing what we want to do.

Normal practice in this kind of thing is to figure out your research design first, then figure out what you need to implement it, adjusting as necessary if you can't get what you need. I really think we ought to follow that practice, rather than letting Nai'a's schedule dictate what we're able to do.


From Ric

Normal practice for who? Government projects? University-sponsored archaeological expeditions? Anybody but me been around long enough to remember the initial planning for Niku III? We went through the whole drill and wasted about two years. We designed the research we wanted to do (about 20 people on the island for a month with lots of bells and whistles), and we figured out what we needed to implement it (The University of Hawaii research vessel R/V Ka'imimikai-O-Kanaloa at a cost of $472,282). Then, when we eventually figured out that there was no way in Hell we could raise that much money, we chartered Nai'a and took a dozen people for 21 days.

Anything you do out there is dependent upon ship availability and, of course, fund-raising. The options are extremely limited. We've looked at dozens of possibilities and it always come down to the same thing. The closest place that you can charter a ship is Fiji (there's nothing in Samoa and there's nothing in Tuvalu and there's nothing in Kiribati). Sure, you can charter a ship in New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, or Bayonne, NJ but by the time you ferry the sucker to where you need it, the ships in Fiji are a much better deal. Of the suitable ships in Fiji (there are exactly 3) we've found Nai'a to be the best. With adequate funding we could charter Nai'a for a longer period or even pay the ferry charges and bring in a bigger ship from somewhere else (as with the U of H ship) but, historically, it's been all we can do to get out there at all. We may as well build our plan around the practical limitations we can expect to have.

Subject: Field Ops, Niku Next Expedition
Date: 4/29/00
From: Tom King

I thought I should put my money (sic) where my mouth is re. what I think will be needed in terms of fieldwork on the next expedition. The following is very much off the top of my head, provisional, etc. etc.

1. Seven Site (acknowledging that this will be the focus of ground ops): I'd see us laying out a 2-meter grid over an area from beyond the hole on one end to well beyond the bird bone concentration on the other, then start excavating square-by-square at both ends, working toward the middle, making sure we go through all of the hole, its backdirt pile, areas where soil (and teeth) may have bone via erosion, etc., and through the neighborhood of the bird bones, then dealing with the area in between. Excavate systematically to at least 20 cm. depth, water-screening everything through nested coarse and fine mesh screen. There's no particular technological challenge here, but it's going to be time consuming. We should probably also do systematic MD sweeps out from the core site into the bush, and dig hits.

2. Sandbar. Here's the technological challenge. We need first to figure out the geomorphology of the bar. How has it built over the years, and does it come and go? Should be able to figure this out at least in part from analysis of sequential aerial photography, but we're going to need some specialist help. Idea is to see if we can isolate a portion of the bar, whether defined longitudinally, latitudinally, stratigraphically, or all three, in which aluminum debris from the reef would have been most likely to be deposited between about 1940 and 1960. Or more realistically, identify areas on which we SHOULDN'T spend time because they're unlikely to be where such stuff would be deposited. Then, can we calibrate MDs or mags to discriminate between aluminum and ferrous? And how deep can we penetrate with them? Or is there some other kind of effective prospecting technology? We need to work this out, and get the stuff, learn to use it, etc. etc. Then, if we're going to excavate, can we do it with the dredge we've already got in Fiji? Assuming we can, what will we need to do to avoid polluting the lagoon in the process? I imagine we could pump up onto the mudflat, go through the dredge spoil there, and let it seep back into the lagoon naturally, but I'm no expert on this kind of thing, and assuming this would work, we'd need to make sure that our dredge has the guts to get the stuff there.

3. It would also be good, I think, to take a real hard look at the Tatiman Passage shoreline, notably the Carpenter's Shop and whatever's left of Noonan's Tavern, and at the area of the original village, but that's kind of second priority, as is taking another look at Aukaraime and Kanawa Point.

Anyhow, all this looks like more than 120 person-days work to me, and there are a number of variables we don't yet control, like the geomorphology of the bar and the kinds of technology we need. Assuming it WILL take more than 120 person-days, we need to figure out how to get them. One possibility would be a longer time on-island, with Nai'a either staying on station or coming and going, but it's hard for many of us to get away for very long (though I, for one, can certainly get away for more than ten days on island). Or we can have a larger team, but that means a larger ship, and with too many people you quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. Another possibility is multiple insertions of teams in rotation, perhaps from Kanton, but that obviously presents its own logistical problems.

My bottom line point is, we need to sort a lot of this out, get advice as needed, and put a real plan in place before we start making decisions about ships and schedules.

LTM (who always checks her recipes before starting to cook)
Tom King

Subject: Re: Communications
Date: 4/29/00
From: William Webster-Garman

To clarify, my opinion is that Gallagher's messages were normally not encrypted, and were probably almost never manually keyed. The "coding" and "decoding" referred to would have been an automated or semi-automated process of transcribing the original text using a typewriter and a mechanical device that punched holes (representing dots and dashes) into a roll of paper tape for later high speed transmission. Received high speed messages would have been either transcribed automatically by a teletype or by a transcriber device printing dots and dashes onto paper tape. Most commercial (and much routine military) telegraph traffic in those days was sent at high speed by automated, electro-mechanical means.

Regarding encryption techniques (which I strongly doubt Gallagher used much, if ever), yes, the "book" method is well-known, and as a boy I saw it used in the real world. Typically used by large corporations with foreign offices as well as by spooks, the idea was that both the sender and receiver had identical copies of a mass published book that normally resided inconspicuously in their respective bookshelves. A typical scheme would have the encrypted message begin with a page number of the book, and then a predetermined routine would be employed to use that page as a progressive substitution key. For example, the recipient might decode the message by counting the alphabetic number position of each successive letter on the page in the book, and then "count up" accordingly for each successive letter in the message. Far better than a simple substitution code, and extremely time consuming to break, this was sufficient encryption for most sensitive commercial messages for a couple of centuries. A windows program using a blowfish algorithm is so much easier .

william 2243

From Ric

I see a tremendous fund-raising opportunity through the sale of official TIGHAR "Irish Gallagher Secret Decoder Rings."

Subject: Contingency Plans
Date: 4/29/00
From: Dave Porter

Your post a day or two ago about what the Niku 4 team will be doing got me thinking: If a "smoking gun" artifact is found, is there a contingency plan for securing the site until a full blown recovery expedition could be put together?

Is Niku itself so remote that safeguarding the site from treasure hunting predators isn't really a concern?

Obviously, Niku being in a different country has some bearing on the matter as well, though I can't really imagine that the Kiribati Navy could spare a gunboat to guard an American archaeological site, and would probably also frown on US ships doing the same.

The thought that occurs to me is that TIGHAR, already in good standing with the Kiribati government, could physically occupy the site while a recovery expedition was being put together. One has hopes that a smoking gun artifact could produce the kind of international cooperation that would use TIGHAR personnel with logistical support from team members home nations, say to get them to Fiji, and Kiribati help from there to Niku, team members rotating through every two weeks or so much like military reservists. After all, most folks involved would have family and job obligations back home that couldn't be put off for much longer than that.

I'm sorry if I'm wasting bandwidth on this, but I have visions of sitting around a Niku campfire, singing, (with apologies for any offense to the Aussie posse) "and he sang as he sat by a ren tree while his turtle boiled, who'll go a-finding Amelia with me..."

On the subject of contingency plans, you guys will be packing five(?) days worth of food into grizzly country on the Dragon Dig this summer. While I completely understand, and fully support TIGHAR's no armed team members on expeditions policy, I truly hope that the professional guides you've employed will have some potent, heavy calibre (the Brit spelling just looks cooler) anti-bear medicine handy.

LTM, (who thinks the Aussies have much more interesting folk songs than we do)
Dave Porter, 2288

From Ric

The issue of site security in the event of a major find is something we have struggled with long and hard. Of course, the remoteness of the island does provide a formidable obstacle to treasure hunting, but if we came up with something that was:

a) really cool, and
b) too big to recover with the assets available

it would present somethng of a quandry. We can't go leaving people on the island without a considerable (and expensive) system of logistical support.

On the other hand, if our current hypotheses are correct, there's probably nothing very big left that isn't hideously difficult to recover (for example, if by chance the main beam of that Electra is buried somewhere in that sand bar it's going to be a bitch to get it out). Of course, our first line of defense would be to simply keep our mouths shut until a recovery operation could be mounted.

As for bears in Idaho, we've engaged a professional guide and outfitter who will be packing the food in. I haven't asked specifically but I'd be surprised if he doesn't routinely carry sufficient artillery to deal with whatever bunnies and squirrels prowl the countryside.

Subject: Niku IV Expedition
Date: 4/29/00
From: Doug Brutlag

I agree with Tom King's assessment of needing the major time element to hopefully find the evidence & "smoking gun" that is needed to resolve the great AE mystery. Perhaps, it might be better to take the extra time however long it may be and attempt to raise the $$$ or find a backer such an effort instead of being hamstrung by time & personnel limits. I realize it would take longer to put together but it might be a more worthy effort. If Mr. Long can somehow raise 1 million bucks for his effort I think the possibility exists the same for TIGHAR. Lord knows people raise mega-bucks for mindless crap like space aliens & such.

Doug B. #2335

From Ric

Elgen Long has not raised a dime for his effort. Nauticos tried to raise money and couldn't do it either. They finally turned to NOVA who promised to help raise the money. So far I've heard no word that they were successful either. Timmer's search was funded by investors, not contributors. These guys are treasure hunters who hope to find the airplane and make a lot of money. Funding expeditions to search for Earhart as a nonprofit enterprise in the interest of history rather than profit is a very difficult undertaking. I've done it six times (including the Kanton Mission) and, given that nobody else has ever done it, I hope I may be forgiven for considering myself to be the world's only authority on the subject.

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