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Author Topic: Navigating to Gardner Island  (Read 38807 times)

Steve Van Slyke

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2014, 04:28:09 PM »

Thanks, Jeff.

I am still agnostic on the whole subject, but my problem with the "search, ditch, drown" theory is that if they had ditched within 100 miles of Howland why did no one on Howland, Baker or the Itasca hear a Mayday?  Even though it was after sunrise the propagation was apparently good enough for AE to have been heard 5by7 or something like that after 8am.  Despite AE's poor radio skills I cannot imagine that she should would not have transmitted some kind of Mayday or distress call when she knew she was out of fuel or close to it.  It is just inconceivable to me that she would not have wanted rescuers to know she was going down.

On the other hand, if she was more than 200 miles away when she made her last in-air transmission, it is conceivable (based on all her strength reports) that the daytime propagation conditions would have been such that a ditch or emergency landing transmission might have gone unheard.  As a maritime mobile ham radio operator I rarely bothered to make calls from early morning until mid-afternoon when some of the early nets came up on 15 meters (22khz), and that with a current, state-of-the-art radio.
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JNev

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2014, 04:52:23 PM »

I can understand agnostic in this and it's not a bad place to be, actually. 

Good stuff, thanks!
- Jeff Neville

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2014, 05:07:52 PM »

I can understand agnostic in this and it's not a bad place to be, actually. 

Yes, a nice safe place to be.
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JNev

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2014, 05:57:26 PM »

I can understand agnostic in this and it's not a bad place to be, actually. 

Yes, a nice safe place to be.

Not very exciting, however.  I thought that might bring you out...  ;D

That said, I'll take the honest thought of an agnostic like Van Slyke - and we've at least piqued him, huh?

And you have to admit, it beats Daffy Duck screaming and spitting at us saying "yer WRONG, WRONG, you hear me?  WRONG! Woo-hoo!"
- Jeff Neville

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2014, 07:45:45 PM »

"I will teach you how to escape death.
There is a raven in the eastern sea which is called Yitai (dull head).  This dull head cannot fly very high and seems very stupid.  It hops only a short distance and nestles close with others of its kind. In going forward it dare not lead, and in going back it dare not lag behind. At the time of feeding it takes what is left over by the other birds.  Therefore, the ranks of this bird are never depleted and nobody can do them any harm. A tree with a straight trunk is the first to be chopped down. A well with sweet water is the first to be drawn dry."

---Taikung Jen, in a conversation with Confucius

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JNev

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2014, 09:45:39 PM »

A poignant reminder of how tepid safety can be.

Nor can we wish a thing into being.  We must labor for it - as we do.  I preach to the choir, of course.

The agnostic may serve to remind us that we'd not know of Ahab had he rested, and that there can be no remarkable story without doubt.

This monster will be reached.  Those who are safe will have their reward, as will those who risked all.
- Jeff Neville

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Steve Van Slyke

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #36 on: December 04, 2014, 01:40:31 PM »

I can understand agnostic in this and it's not a bad place to be, actually. 

Yes, a nice safe place to be.

and we've at least piqued him, huh?



Piqued enough to be at Niku this summer
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Steve Van Slyke

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #37 on: July 07, 2015, 05:51:53 PM »

Well, "The Agnostic" has just returned from Nikumaroro.

One bit of information that might be of interest to the Choir...I recall someone mentioning earlier in this thread something about Niku probably being visible at something like 8 to 10 miles or thereabouts.

As we approached Niku on a course of 060 true from Funufuti Atoll in the early afternoon I went up on the Sky Bridge of the Fiji Princess and Niku was already easily visible at 18 statute miles out (my Garmin bike GPS does not offer nautical miles as an option).  There were others already on the Sky Bridge that had been watching it for some time, so I am guessing that it was visible at 20 statute miles.

At 1,000 feet above sea level I would think it might have been visible at perhaps double that distance.

FWIW
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #38 on: July 07, 2015, 07:21:50 PM »

One bit of information that might be of interest to the Choir...I recall someone mentioning earlier in this thread something about Niku probably being visible at something like 8 to 10 miles or thereabouts.

The issue is not sighting Nikumaroro, but Howland Island.

Niku has highlands, trees that can grow to 60' tall, and a beautiful blue lagoon.

Howland is just barely above sea-level and was and is covered in scrub.

Niku is bigger than Howland.

The picture below is from the same eye-height for the two islands.

From "The Sight Earhart Sought":

With binoculars, the island was visible from 25 milesMonday. Without them, the sand could have been mistaken for a cloud. Visibility was much better at 3,000 feet.Albatross pilot Reid Dennis, a San Francisco businessman and amateur aviation historian, said he thought the results of the experiment were inconclusive. There is no way to mimic the exact conditions in which Earhart flew, he said.

``We could not have asked for nicer conditions, and we could have expected a lot worse,'' he said.

The Electra and the Albatross arrived over Howland about 12:45 p.m. local time, two- thirds of the way through an eight-hour flight from Tarawa island to Kanton island. Both are part of the nation of Kiribati.

Earhart intended to refuel on Howland after a grueling 20-hour flight from Lae, New Guinea. She then planned to take off for Honolulu, and to fly from there to Oakland.

On Monday, waves of aquamarine water lapped gently at the reef that fringes Howland.

``It's a damn small island. It's a postage stamp,'' Dennis said, marveling at how Earhart could ever have expected to find Howland before modern satellite navigation systems became common on even the smallest planes.

Finch agreed, but said Earhart had no alternatives because there were few Pacific runways in the '30s.

As Finch approached Howland, she, too, realized how fortunate she was to be able to find the island. It was right in front of the Electra when Finch dipped out of the clouds.


The Niku hypothesis does not depend on how close AE and FN came to Howland.  If they had seen it, we wouldn't be here today.  That Niku is easier to spot, all things being equal, is a fairly innocuous observation.

Ah--it was Ann Peligrino in 1967 who had trouble finding Howland:

From Ric, Wed, 25 Sep 2002:

Pellegreno and the three men with her made an effort to arrive in the Howland area at the same time of day as Earhart.  They actually hit the advanced LOP (with an intentional 45 mile offset to the NW) at 1855Z or 0725 Itasca Time and spotted the island about an hour later (after much difficulty and almost giving up) at an estimated 10 to 12 miles.

From "Pellegreno, Ann Holtgren":

Near Howland Island, as Pellegreno was flying on the Line of Position heading 157 degrees at 1905 GMT (p160), a squall appeared over where Howland Island should be. The flight adjusted course slightly to avoid the squall, but continued to pursue visual acquisition of the island.

With pilot Pellegreno flying, and two dedicated observers (one in the cockpit right seat and one in the cabin), Howland Island could not be found until approximately 1957 GMT, when the person in the cabin spotted what he thought was land. They had less than 20 minutes remaining fuel on station to devote to the search for the Island, and as Pellegreno later said, “we nearly missed it.” This, after searching for nearly an hour.
They were approximately 10-12 miles [units not specified] north of Howland Island at the moment they visually acquired the island.

Pelllegreno’s account of her thoughts and feelings upon arriving and not seeing Howland, then conducting a protracted search with limited fuel resources, is extremely interesting as a human factors and operational comparison to what may have occurred on AE’s mission. Pellegreno writes a compelling narrative here, one that can not help but evoke a sense of urgency, desperation, and elevated tension.

 Pellegreno’s flight had the advantage of better navigation equipment, a third set of human eyes, a nearby ship providing good DF bearings, and the luxury of having departed Nauru Island, with a Canton Island destination. With all of these advantages, they nearly missed visually acquiring Howland Island.

This account demonstrates the great challenge attempted by Amelia and Fred, and provides a good assessment of the difficulty in visually acquiring tiny Howland Island.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 07:44:41 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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John Balderston

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #39 on: July 07, 2015, 08:09:14 PM »

In navy aviation the rule of thumb we used for visual line of sight (in nautical miles) was 1.05 * square root of aircraft altitude in feet.  For instance at 400 ft. altitude (not a bad altitude for search and rescue) visual line of sight would be 20 NM.  If the target is much higher than sea level a better rule of thumb was 1.23 * (SQRT aircraft altitude + SQRT target altitude).
John Balderston TIGHAR #3451R
 
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Brano Lacika

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2015, 04:58:01 AM »

One bit of information that might be of interest to the Choir...I recall someone mentioning earlier in this thread something about Niku probably being visible at something like 8 to 10 miles or thereabouts.

The issue is not sighting Nikumaroro, but Howland Island.

One of the objections against Nikumaroro theory was, that Earhart and Noonan could hardly find it simply by following the Line Of Position. The bigger is the distance from which Nikumaroro is visible, the bigger are odds of seeing it flying south on LOP. In other words - better visibility of Nikumaroro supports the theory of AE+FN found it and landed there.
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2015, 05:15:30 PM »

In navy aviation the rule of thumb we used for visual line of sight (in nautical miles) was 1.05 * square root of aircraft altitude in feet.  For instance at 400 ft. altitude (not a bad altitude for search and rescue) visual line of sight would be 20 NM.  If the target is much higher than sea level a better rule of thumb was 1.23 * (SQRT aircraft altitude + SQRT target altitude).

 That seems to be an accurate rule for over water flying. Flying over the Gulf of Mexico on a CAVU, clear and vis unlimited, day at 500 ft,  a 90 ft tall Penrod Drilling Rig could be seen at about 30 NM.

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Steve Van Slyke

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2015, 02:50:58 PM »

One bit of information that might be of interest to the Choir...I recall someone mentioning earlier in this thread something about Niku probably being visible at something like 8 to 10 miles or thereabouts.

The issue is not sighting Nikumaroro, but Howland Island.

Sorry, I seemed to have hit a nerve.  I was not attempting to say that finding Howland was not the issue.  I was only trying to offer some ground truth about the visibility of Niku, which obviously, for the reasons you stated, would be much easier to spot than Howland.
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Dave Ross Wilkinson

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #43 on: July 10, 2015, 01:32:12 PM »

Steve:  Why did no one hear a mayday from Earhart? 

Why did no one in the vicinity of Howland/Itaska hear anything from Earhart after she switched frequencies from 3105 fo 6210?   

Presumably (I have read somewhere on the forum) it was because Earhart waited ~30 minutes for her next scheduled transmission,  and  by that it time she was out of range due to propagation and her antenna. 

If so, she probably thought she had enough gas to fly for at least another 30 minutes.  It's possible (maybe likely) that a Mayday, sometime within those 30 minutes, would go unheard because of the same propagation issue.
Dave Wilkinson
 
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Randy Conrad

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Re: Navigating to Gardner Island
« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2016, 04:27:17 AM »

Personally, I don't think Noonan ever navigated to Gardner Island. I think he was always looking for Howland and stumbled upon Gardner by accident.  If it were otherwise he should have known it was Gardner when he saw it but the content of the post-loss radio messages strongly suggests that Earhart did not know the name of the island she was on.

After reading several pages of the chapter in "Beyond the Harbour Lights" by Chris Mills... I'm convinced that Gardner Island (Nikumaurro) is in itself its own anomaly. This is something you might find in a motion picture such as "King Kong"or "The Mummy" ...You won't know its there until the sun hits it just right or the clouds and fog dissipates at a certain time.

Quote:

 "After passing north-west of the Fiji Islands, the ship encountered cyclonic disturbances that lasted for several days. Strong gales, rough seas and heavy rain hurled the ship around and set her badly off course. Overcast skies made celestial observations impossible and, with no land in sight, there was no way of establishing the vessel's (Norwich City) position. By Friday, 29th November Captain Hamer was navigating by dead reckoning which at best could be described as educated guess work. He called Chief Officer Thomas and Second Mate Henry Lott to the chartroom and jointly they concluded that the ship was far from any land. The closest land to them was the low-lying Phoenix Islands, but the three experienced navigators were confident that the Norwich City was well clear of that island group.
     That evening Henry Lott was drowsing on the settee in his cabin and at midnight he was due to take over as officer of the watch from Third Mate Caldcleugh. The monotonous thumping of the engine and the ceaseless motion of the ship made sleep difficult, but he needed to rest. Suddenly, he stiffened involuntarily as he felt, rather than heard, an almighty crash. The ship quiivered, the engine-room telegraph jangled and the Norwich City shuddered to a dead stop. Lott looked at his watch, it was 11:05PM. He grabbed his jacket and made his way up to the bridge. The wind was howling and a white foam smothered the forepart of the ship. Neither Captain Hamer nor anybody else had any idea where they were but the ship had obviously driven hard onto a reef. All Hands were told to put their life jackets on and Chief Officer Thomas and the carpenter spent a precarious half-an-hour sounding the bilges to confirm the damage. Meanwhile, Captain Hamer mustered the crew outside the galley where they were best sheltered from the blasting wind and the drenching spray. Apart from the cacophony of the sea, the relentless echoing from the empty holds as the keel grated on the reef was the most ominous sound. It was after midnight and Henry Lott Knew that the seas were too rough to launch a lifeboat. Whatever happened they would have to stay put until the morning.  The captain deduced that they were probably on uninhabitted Gardner Island, one of the far-flung Phoenix Group, 1800 miles south-west of the Hawaiian Islands and 600 miles north of Samoa. Wireless Operator Clark, ensconced in his small radio shack behind the wheelhouse, began to transmit a distress call giving their position, and this was eventually picked up and acknowledged by Apia Radio Station in Samoa."
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 06:31:48 AM by Randy Conrad »
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