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Author Topic: Status of "the stick"?  (Read 56096 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2016, 10:10:08 AM »

A post elsewhere hinted that further White Bird news and a possible expedition are on the horizon. As TIGHAR's oldest project, a new expedition is a fitting way to celebrate TIGHAR's 30th anniversary. Since I haven't seen any public announcements, can we assume planning is underway? Can you share any insights?

I'll try to quickly review where we are with that project.

Has new information been uncovered that refines the search area or points to a new one?

No new information.  Just some new thoughts.

What kind of team is required to conduct the search and what skills or expertise are needed? Has the effort to identify and select team members begun?

We're not there yet.  Here's the hypothesis we'd like to test:

On the morning of May 9, 1927, as the White Bird flew southwestward over the Cape Shore arm of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula, the aircraft's coolant system ruptured forcing an emergency landing on or near a small lake known locally as The Gull Pond (shown on maps as Goose Pond). The landing was not successful and the aircraft was destroyed.  The crew was probably killed on impact or in a post-crash fire.  Months or possibly years later, the wreck was discovered by James Joseph (Jim Joe) Doyle of Gooseberry Cove, a small village on the western side of the Cape Shore about eight miles from the pond.
Doyle's sole interest in the wreck was as a source of useful materials (aluminum sheet and steel wire/cable). There was more useful material than he could carry home at one time so he stockpiled salvaged components on a small rocky island in the southern end of the pond.  This was probably accomplished in the winter using a horse and sled to move wreckage over the ice from the crash site to the stash site on the island.  Local people typically only went "back in the country" during the summer months to hunt grouse, so storing his stash on the island protected it from being taken by others.  Local people did, however, notice the debris on the island and recognized it as airplane wreckage - thus was born the legend of "the plane in the pond." 
Over the years, Doyle retrieved and used much of the material.  Eventually all of the debris was removed from the island except for one fragment buried in the mud which we found.

Logically, all that now remains is the rusted hulk of the 12-cylinder Lorraine-Dietrch engine. 
Logically, the engine is at the original crash site, it being too heavy for Doyle to move and of no value as salvage.
Logically, the crash site and engine are within a distance from the island in the pond that
Doyle could traverse with a horse and sled.

We have searched the southern end of the pond and the immediately surrounding area. Nothing there.

It is impractical to physically search the rest of the pond and the surrounding muskeg with boots on the ground.  The area is only accessible on foot (five mostly vertical miles from the nearest road) or helicopter.  What we need is some kind of remote sensing technology that can image an anomalous mass of metal from the air even if it's buried in silt on the bottom of a pond.  So far I've looked into LIDAR and Synthetic Aperture Radar. Neither seem ideal.


Is any approval or cooperation of a government agency needed?

Any archaeological searching on the ground requires the participation of an approved Newfoundland archaeologist and a provincial permit. 

Based on those approvals, is there any anticipated timeframe when the expedition will occur, how long it will last, and how much funding needs to be raised?

The first step is to identify the right technology, figure out how much it will cost to deploy it, raise the money, do the survey, and then we'll know if we have targets to go after with a ground team.
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2016, 11:40:27 AM »

Very interesting!  So no one in the area had any real interest in who the crash might involve?
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2016, 11:46:06 AM »

Ric, if I may ask, how did you come up with the hypothesis of the crash? The reason I ask is that the AE threads have a TREMENDOUS amount of excellent information about all the theories and findings of your research.  Knowing full well you've got your hands pretty full with the AE stuff, would it be possible at some point to put together a good synopsis of what's been found and theorized about the White Bird?  No problem if you can't do it now, I'm (hopefully) patient!

Never mind, you did it while I was gone.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 01, 2016, 03:39:26 PM by Dale O. Beethe »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2016, 01:02:32 PM »

How about a magnetometer suspended below a helicopter so as to make slow passes over the area of interest?
Bill Mangus
Researcher #3054SP
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2016, 03:20:50 PM »

Very interesting!  So no one in the area had any real interest in who the crash might involve?

It's unlikely that anyone living in the area in 1927 had any knowledge of the transatlantic flight attempts.  The area was, and still is, rural and remote.  The people were, and still are, working class Irish Catholic, intensely insular, and suspicious of outsiders.

In later years, Doyle's adopted son Patrick "Patsy" Judge became very curious about the identity of the plane.  Attached is a chronology of events relating to The Gull Pond.


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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2016, 03:30:02 PM »

Ric, if I may ask, how did you come up with the hypothesis of the crash?  This is the first I've seen of it.

Short version:
A string of witnesses trace the progress of the aircraft southwestward across the Avalon Peninsula. The last witness in the string reported seeing an aircraft "on fire trailing white smoke" over the Cape Shore.  Burning aircraft trail black smoke.  What the witness probably saw was steam from a ruptured coolant system. The engine of the White Bird was cooled with glycol that ran through pipes from the engine to radiators in the wing roots. A failed coolant pipe would leave a cloud of white steam.  The engine would quickly overheat and seize.  The White Bird was designed to land on water but it had to be calm water. The ponds on the high muskeg would be a natural choice.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2016, 03:34:42 PM »

How about a magnetometer suspended below a helicopter so as to make slow passes over the area of interest?

The crankshaft of the engine should provide a decent magnetic return but unfortunately the area is dotted with "glacial erratics," large rocks that also have a strong magnetic signature. A magnetometer survey would turn up hundreds of false positives.
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2016, 03:42:25 PM »

Excellent!  Just what I was looking for.  Do you have any maps or photos of that area?  Would the wreckage have been near land?  How deep is the water where you suspect it may be?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2016, 03:58:34 PM »

Do you have any maps or photos of that area?

Attached.

  Would the wreckage have been near land?

You tell me.

  How deep is the water where you suspect it may be?

The pond is relatively shallow - about ten feet in the part we've searched - but much of the bottom is covered in six or seven feet of silt about the consistency of oatmeal.

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Captain Andy

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2016, 06:48:23 PM »

ric how come the people who found wreckage don't mention finding one of nungessers gold and silver prosthetics
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #25 on: January 01, 2016, 07:05:31 PM »

ric how come the people who found wreckage don't mention finding one of nungessers gold and silver prosthetics

Prosthetics would be in Nungesser's body.  Nungesser's body would be at the crash site.  Whoever salvaged useful debris from the crash site was not concerned with human remains. If there was a fire the bodies might not even be recognizable.
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Captain Andy

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #26 on: January 01, 2016, 07:13:41 PM »

dont forget the priest story where father charles mccarthy found a strip attached to a tightening device 
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2016, 09:06:56 PM »

Is that little island in the picture the small, rocky island he stockpiled the salvage on?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2016, 09:06:46 AM »

Is that little island in the picture the small, rocky island he stockpiled the salvage on?

Yes.
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Status of "the stick"?
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2016, 09:10:32 AM »

Ric,

Would you annotate one of the pictures with the supposed direction of flight?
Bill Mangus
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