The Radio Logs of the USCG Itasca

Analysis of the 0843 Message


Premise: Neither of the radio operators aboard Itasca actually heard the 0843 transmission.

Remember that these log entries are being made in real time so when, for example, the number “44” is typed at the end of a line, the event described on that line must have happened before or exactly at 44 minutes past the hour. Look at the log and take out the later overstrikes that “correct” the times.

From 08:34 to 08:41 Galten is calling Earhart on 3105 but his calls are unanswered.

At “44” Galten is “Listening 3105” but hears “nil.” At that same moment “CRM” (Chief Radio Man Bellarts) is “tuning up the T-16 (transmitter) for transmission to NMC (San Francisco).”

The next entry is “NMC this is NRUI (Itasca), 12600 (the frequency), Unanswered” and the time notation is “45-”. That little “-” is significant because normally it would be followed by the another number to bracket the time of the attempted transmission, but the entry is never completed.

Instead, the “44” time notation is overstruck with two “X”s and “42” is typed in. The “45” is overstruck with two “X”s and “43” is typed in. Below that is added: “KHAQQ to Itasca we are on the line … etc. … 3105/A3 S5” The time noted for this entry is “43”. The “(?/KHAQQ transmission We are running &he” entry is tacked on and the “43” is xed out and another “43” is typed in. It’s a mess.

The next entry is: “Listening on 6210, KHAQQ from NRUI, heard you ok on 3105, sent on 7500 Kcs” and the time “44-6.”

As far as I can see, there is only one way that the log can end up looking the way it does. It must have gone something like this:

Having bought O’Hare’s claim that he heard Earhart say “half hour gas left” at 07:42, by 08:42 with no further word everybody thinks that the plane is down in the water. Bellarts begins tuning up the tranmsitter to call Coast Guard headquarters in San Francisco to tell them that Earhart is down and the ship is going to go looking for her. At about 08:42 Galten notes that he is still listening on 3105. Before he completes that line Bellarts arrives in the radio room with orders from the captain to contact San Francsico. Galten notes down that Bellarts is tuning up the T-16 and logs the time at 08:44. At 08:45 he makes the first call to San Francisco but gets no reply. He types “45-” and at that moment somebody says something like, “Bill! Did you get that?”

Galten: “Get what?”

“Earhart! She was just back on!”

Galten: “When?”

“Couple of minutes ago!”

Galten: “What did she say? I was trying to raise NMC.”

“I heard it clearly. She said, ‘KHAQQ to Itasca, we are on the line 157 337. We will repeat message. Will repeat this on 6210 Kcs, wait.’ ”

Galten: “Okay, about two minutes ago? That would be 08:43. I’ll have to change some of these times.” He juggles the times to keep it looking chronological and makes the entry.

Somebody else: “Yeah, I heard it too. She also said something about ‘running on line north and south.’”

Galten: “That was part of that same 08:43 transmission?”

“Yeah, I can’t believe you didn’t hear it.”

Galten: “I told you, I was trying to raise San Francisco. I’ll add in the bit about running on line but I’m going to put a question mark on it because you don’t seem sure about exactly what she said.”

It looks to us like none of the three radio operators heard the 08:43 transmission. The receiver that was tuned to 3105 was going out over the speakers in the radio room and on the bridge. Galten probably missed the 08:43 transmission because he had put on his headphones to try to contact San Francisco. O’Hare, across the radio room from Galten, totally missed the 08:43 transmission and never does make any mention of the switch to 6210, but it was not his job to listen for Earhart and he may have been listening for incoming administrative messages on headphones on another frequency. Cipriani on Howland missed it because by then his batteries were down and he was out of business.


PDFs of Originals Background Itasca Radio Room
Glossary Radio Traffic Analysis of 0843
Archived Research Bulletins Earhart Project Home Page

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