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Author Topic: Waitt search report.  (Read 58918 times)

Gary LaPook

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Waitt search report.
« on: January 05, 2012, 02:39:52 AM »

I have seen the name of Waitt come up before on the Forum. I reviewed the report available on the Waitt site and, to say the very least, I was not impressed. Here are some of my observations:

If you read from a book:

"First place a metal container filled with a liquid heat-transfer-medium onto a source of heat energy. Add energy to the system until the liquid heat-transfer-medium reaches a temperature of 373 degrees Kelvin. Next breach the outer surface of an avian ovum and carefully pour the contents of it into the liquid heat transfer medium..."

You might be able to figure out that this is a recipe for poaching an egg, but one thing you will know for sure is that the guy who wrote these words is not a cook! You know this because cooks use a standard terminology for their instructions while this guy was searching for words to describe the process, words that a cook would never use. The same is true for navigators who also use standard terminology.

I went to this website and read the whole hundred page report and ran into lots of non standard words used to describe the navigation which tells me that it was not written or reviewed  by a person who has knowledge about navigation. One of the experts relied on by Waitt was analyzing Noonan's navigation of the leg to Hawaii. He described the direction that Noonan was pointing his sextant to take observations of the stars as the "look angle!" Anybody who knows anything about navigation knows the standard word for this is "azimuth." It is the universal word for this and is the same word in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Greek,  Spanish, and  probably every other language since this word was of Arabic origin and was absorbed into all of these languages. Yet, this navigation "expert" had never heard of it!

Here is an example. The report states the coordinates for three possible "end of navigation" (EON) points, a term you will not find in any navigation text.  It gives the coordinates for EON C as  N00° 40' 51.7 W177° 16' 41.1 which is also not a standard format for latitude and longitude. The proper format would be 0° 40' 51.7" N, 177° 16' 41.1" W. ( 0 degrees, 40 minutes, 51.7 seconds North, 177 degrees, 16 minutes 41.1 seconds West.) Notice the Waitt report left off the double quote marks which denote seconds of latitude and longitude. But even more funny is that a navigator would never use seconds but would use only minutes to give the location since seconds are a very small unit. And to make it even more ridiculous it gives the position to a precision of one-tenth of a second. A degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles. (A nautical mile is 6076 feet, 1852 meters, approximately 6000 feet.) Since there are 60 minutes in a degree one minute is one nautical mile, approximately 6000 feet. Since there are also 60 seconds in a minute this means that one second is 100 feet and a tenth of a second is only 10 feet! so Waitt is claiming to know the location to a precision of 10 feet, ridiculous! Also, since the plane was flying at about 150 mph (130 knots) so it was covering about 200 feet per second of time meaning that Waitt must also be claiming to know the time of arrival to one-twentieth of a second of time!

Page 8
mixes and matches statute miles and nautical miles.

Page 9
for support for its statements about celestial navigation (n1 and n2) it cites the report written by the guy I already mentioned who invented the term "look angle."

Page 11

the report states it used as a source "the celestial Almanac Pub 249 used for celestial navigation." There is no document named "celestial Almanac." There are two American published almanacs used for celestial navigation, the Nautical Almanac and the Air Almanac, each published by the U.S. Naval Observatory. These contain the positions of celestial bodies for each second of the year which is needed for calculating celestial fixes. There is a completely separate three volume document entitled Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation, U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office Publication H.O. 249 which is used for the actual computation starting with the data already retrieved from one of the almanacs. H.O. 249 and the Air Almanac were not published until years after AE's flight so were not used by Noonan. Noonan used the Nautical Almanac and H.O. 208 which is a set of trig tables used for similar computations as H.O 249.

Page 14

states "Indicated airspeed is roughly equivalent to ground speed at low altitudes" which is wrong. Indicated airspeed is roughly equivalent to "True Airspeed" at low altitudes. You must correct your indicated airspeed to obtain true airspeed and then allow for the wind to find ground speed. So if your indicated airspeed is 130 knots at one thousand feet your true airspeed will be about 133 knots but if you have a 25 knot headwind the ground speed will only be 108 knots, nowhere near the indicated airspeed.

Page 20

states the "EON" point A is an overshoot, meaning the plane went past Howland but the use of his octant by Noonan with the sun almost directly in front of them would keep this form happening.

Page 21

states that with reduced winds the EON C ended up short of Howland. Reduced winds, since they were headwinds, would result in an overshoot, not an undershoot.

Page 21

It also states that Noonan improperly applying the refraction correction and the dip correction to his octant observation of the "sunrise celestial calculation" could have caused up to a 70 nm error. First, Noonan couldn't take a"sunrise" observation because the correction table he had in his Nautical Almanac and in H.O 208 only has corrections for angles above the horizontal that are greater that six degrees. Refraction becomes much greater vary fast below this altitude. The refraction correction for 6 degrees is 8 minutes of arc but at zero altitude it is 34 minutes of arc. A sunrise observed from 10,000 feet is actually at 1 degree and 37 minutes below horizontal. The refraction correction for such a negative observation is 50 minutes of arc but Noonan would not have known this because a refraction correction table covering negative altitudes was not available until 1952. Noonan would have to wait about 25 minutes after the sun rose to allow it to climb above 6 degrees covered by his refraction correction table. Noonan knew this so would not have relied on observing sunrise.

When using a marine sextant you must allow for "dip." When using this type of sextant you use the visible horizon as your horizontal reference but unless you eye was exactly at sea level you are actually looking down towards the visible horizon so that the angle measured by the sextant will be too big. This is the reason for dip correction and is based on your height above the sea. This is applied by sailors. For example from a ship's bridge 25 feet above the sea the correction is 5 minutes of arc but the correction for an altitude of 10,000 feet would be 1 degree and 37 minutes. But this is only used with a marine sextant, not with the type of octant that Noonan was using. His octant utilizes a bubble for its horizontal reference, not the visible horizon, so there is no dip error and so no dip correction is applied.

The myth of the "sunrise observation" was created by people who know "a little bit" about celestial navigation. The 337°-157° sunline line of position (LOP) was derived by an observation of the sun when the sun's azimuth (not "look angle") was 67° true since the LOP is at right angles to the azimuth to the celestial body. When the sun rose in the vicinity of Howland on July 2, 1837 its azimuth was 67° true. Those with "a little bit" of knowledge fastened on this fact to claim that Noonan took a sunrise observation and used only it in planning the approach to Howland. (They apparently believe that Noonan then opened the door and dropped his octant into the sea.) But what these people didn't understand is that the sun's azimuth stayed at 67° until 1847 Z, an hour after sunrise! This means that Noonan would have computed the same 337°-157° LOP from any sight taken during this one hour period and we have already seen that he would have had to wait until the sun was above 6° before taking the sight leaving about a half hour period for taking sights. He would have taken several sights as he approached the LOP then more after the interception to ensure staying on it. See attached Air Force navigator's document about this procedure.

Page 23

I already pointed out the ridiculous level of precision to which they state the coordinates of the "EON" points.

Page 25-26

states that the route was chosen to facilitate "an afternoon setting-sun celestial fix." A number of problems with this. First, you can't get a fix from observing one celestial body, it takes at least two and preferably three. Noonan would have waited till it got dark and then taken two or three stars for a proper fix. The only reason they were using a sun line LOP for finding Howland was that no stars were available during the day. Second you can't take a sunset observation for the same reasons that you can't take a sunrise observation as discussed above. Third we know that Noonan was able to take observations of bodies almost directly behind the plane on the flight to Hawaii so no advantage to this route.


Page 48-49

The report states that no handy calculators were available to make the conversions between indicated airspeed, true airspeed and ground speed until the invention of the circular slide rule type flight computer E-6B in World War Two. The report is only off by one World War. These devices were developed as early as 1910 and found wide use in WW I. The Dalton MK VII was perfected in1932 and the Jensen in 1933. These were as easy to operated and performed the required calculations. With slight modification the Dalton became standardized as the E-6B in WWII. So AE most likely could have made these calculations by herself in the cockpit. And even more to the point, Noonan wrote (as reprinted on page 424 of Weems) that he had a Dalton MK VII computer!


Page 49

Report analyzes AE's notes. While crossing the Atlantic, she had written:

"6:50 Just crossing equator, 6000 feet, Sun brilliant..."

Waitt's explanation:

o“6:50”is then the Natal local time of this logbook entry, and the local time of the equator crossing.
o With this entry is “sun brilliant” which may refer to sunrise, which in Natal on the morning of June 7, 1937 was at 0636 local time."


NO!!!!!!!

At this point they are over 500 NM from Natal so what could this have to do with sunrise at Natal? "Sun brilliant" obviously is referring to the brilliant yellow ball almost directly in front of them at the time, DUH! The sun had been up for one hour and fifty-five minutes at their location crossing the equator at 30 degrees west longitude. (see attached chart.)


On page 50 it goes on:

"At “9:41”  Natal time, on June 7, 1937, the sun azimuth from true north was 050.35 degrees, and its elevation above the horizon was +40.81 degrees. AE writes
that “…they can hardly believe the sun is north of them.…” Their true course to Dakar was approximately 038 degrees. The sun would have been slightly to
the right of their heading, south of their course, if they were on course. If they were heading in a more easterly direction, the sun would indeed appear north of
them. From AE’s logs we know that AE was north of course at some point in the crossing. It is possible that these observations of the “…sun…north of them…”
were made after a heading correction to rejoin their original track to Dakar. This heading correction would place the sun to their left, possibly appearing as
if it was “north” of them."

First, no navigator would give the azimuth to one-hundredth of a degree nor would he give the altitude in decimal degrees. This note was made six hours and twenty-eight minutes after takeoff and the plane was at 4° 30' north latitude. The sun was 22°38' north declination (latitude) so it WAS north of them no matter what their heading happened to be.  The azimuth was actually 42° degrees not "050.35" and the altitude was actually 64° 31' not "+40.81."

Page 54-55

compares the coordinates for Howland that Williams had used with the current charted coordinates. The were given only to the nearest minute, and accuracy of one nautical mile. Then is uses a Google Earth coordinate for the island and says the spot Noonan was aiming for was "5.92 NM" in error, a precision of one-hundredth of a nautical mile, 60 feet, on a bearing of  "095.17 degrees." Some problems with this. Since the charted positions were only given to the nearest whole nautical mile it is silly to then compute distances to a precision of a hundredth of a mile. And it depends on what spot of the island they put the Google Earth pointer on. And the distance that they calculated Noonan would have missed the island by was computed from the center of the island when the near shoreline would have been the appropriate spot to use, cutting the distance by a half mile. And it is also silly to give a bearing to one-hundredth of a degree. They apparently computed this value with their calculator and don't have any idea of what the numbers actually signify, GIGO. It is also quite likely that Noonan had the correct coordinates for the island because Itasca had determined them after Williams completed his work but before AE departed on the second attempt. I don't think AE's student, Elanor Roosevelt would have kept that information from Earhart. Plus they ignore the glaring fact that Itasca was making smoke that drifted past the imagined wrong coordinates which would have been visible from the plane.

Page 59

Makes the ridiculous statement that "Celestial fixes are much more accurate than a sun fix." This again shows a lack on knowledge of celestial navigation since the sun is a celestial body and fixes derived from shooting the sun are as accurate as any other celestial fix.

Page states:

Noonan sun line error exceeded "the standard 15-­‐30nm  accuracy of 1937 celestial  navigation." I have no idea where they come up with such low accuracy unless it was on purpose to discredit the method. All navigational textbooks of the era consider the accuracy of celestial fixes to be approximately 10 NM and this level is also a requirement of the Federal Aviation Regulations. See the excerpts from "Weems" especially pages 422 to 425 which reprints a letter from Noonan himself stating his accuracy is 10 NM! This is available on my website at:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/

I could go on and on with additional examples but it should be obvious by now that I have serious doubts about the value of the Waitt report.

gl

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 05:59:58 AM »

Thanks Gary.  I share your view of the research behind Waitt's multi-million dollar search.  After they put up their website, the folks at the Waitt Institute invited me to engage in a dialog about the Earhart mystery.  I was happy to oblige and I submitted the critique below.  I'm afraid it wasn't much of a dialog because they never replied.

Your criticisms of their research focus on navigation - and there's plenty to criticize.  My criticisms focus on methodology.  Here's what I said:


In 2006, and again in 2009, the Waitt Institute for Discovery (WID) tested the hypothesis that the Earhart Electra went down at sea in the general vicinity of Howland Island sometime between 2013 GMT and 2100  GMT on July 2, 1937.  Specific search areas were identified based on analyses of a wide range of data including navigation, fuel consumption, weather, radio reports, and Earhart’s performance on  previous legs of the world flight.  The search of the sea floor was carried out using technology provided by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Although coverage of the target area was impressively thorough, the aircraft was not found.

Until recently the Waitt Institute’s efforts to find the Earhart Electra were kept strictly secret.  To the institute’s credit, having concluded its search, it has now made its data public so that “the area explored can be eliminated from future searches.” The WID website www.searchforamelia.org presents a detailed, if somewhat scattered, review of the organization’s search operations and the research upon which they were based. TIGHAR is pleased to accept the Waitt Institute's invitation for comment.

A Fundamental Flaw

Let us acknowledge from the start that no one knows what became of the Earhart Electra. In the absence of indications that something else happened, the intuitive default explanation would be that the flight simply missed a tiny island in a big ocean, ran out of gas, and went down at sea. The Waitt Institute chose to test the hypothesis that the Electra is on the bottom of the ocean somewhere near Howland.  It is not TIGHAR's purpose here to lay out the case for the airplane being somewhere else but, rather, to look at the Waitt Institute’s choice of where on the ocean bottom to look.  The institute conducted an excellent search but the plane wasn’t there. If we accept that the Electra, or some identifiable part of it, still exists, we must conclude that the reasoning that put it in the now-eliminated areas was somehow flawed.

From the information presented on the WID website, one flaw is apparent and fundamental.  The WID hypothesis contradicts the WID’s own data. Simply put – the WID hypothesis has the airplane running out of fuel more than an hour before the WID’s own research says it should.

The WID hypothesis holds that the aircraft ran out of gas sometime in the 47 minutes between 2013 GMT and 2100 GMT History ("Final Flight").  Crucial to the hypothesis is the estimated amount of fuel remaining at 1912 GMT when Earhart said, “We must be on you but cannot see you, but gas is running low.”  As stated in Research>Appendix 1>Fuel  Remaining, “The amount of fuel remaining in the Electra at 1912 GMT is important because it determines how long the aircraft could stay airborne, and how far it could fly, before fuel exhaustion.”

WID’s research, as detailed in Research>Appendix 1>Fuel Remaining, reaches the amazingly precise conclusion that the aircraft probably had 3 hours and 4 minutes of gas left at 1912 GMT - enough to remain aloft until 2216.  Why then, does the hypothesis postulate fuel exhaustion less than 2 hours later (by 2100)?

Say What?

The only explanation is offered in Overview>Introduction:

“According to famous researchers, Elgen M. and Marie K. Long, ‘There is no uncharted island, rock, shoal, reef, sandbar or water less than 30 feet deep within 350 miles of Howland Island. The inescapable conclusion is that shortly after 0843 IST [2013 GMT], Earhart was forced to ditch the plane somewhere within 100 miles of Howland Island.”

Long’s statement is a non sequitur. How does the absence of land within 350 miles of Howland lead to an inescapable conclusion that Earhart was forced to ditch the plane somewhere within 100 miles of Howland Island shortly after 2013 GMT?  Why couldn’t she ditch at some other time and at some other distance?   Why the fixation on 2013 GMT?

Inspecting the Foundation

The answer, of course, is that 2013 GMT (08:43 Itasca time) is the generally accepted time of the last in-flight transmission from Earhart heard by Itasca. The assumption that the 2013 GMT transmission and the silence that followed it are indications of the flight’s immediate termination is the foundation upon which the entire Waitt Institute investigation was based.  Given the amount of work that went into speculation about why the aircraft ran out of fuel too soon and the millions of dollars spent searching the ocean bottom on the assumption that it did, it is surprising that the WID website includes no examination of the 2013 GMT message beyond a garbled mention in Radio Call Log.

Although it’s a bit like examining the latch on the barn door after the horse is gone, a close look at the 2013 GMT message would seem to be in order.

The final in-flight transmission heard by Itasca is described in one of the two radio logs being kept at the time. The 08:43 (2013 GMT) entry in the original log kept by Radioman 2nd Class William Galten, complete with numerous cross-outs and re-typings, is an important record of the confusion and anxiety that reigned in the radio room that morning. The other log kept by Radioman 2nd Class Thomas O’Hare makes no mention of the call.

According to Galten’s log, the call began at 08:43, almost exactly at Earhart’s scheduled transmission time of forty-five minutes past the hour. Earhart did not say she was running out of fuel.   She gave her position as best she knew it  – “WE ARE ON THE LINE 157 337” - and she said she would send the message again on her other frequency -“WILL REPEAT MESSAGE. WE WILL REPEAT THIS ON 6210 KILOCYCLES.”  - then she said “WAIT.”  At that point there was apparently a pause because Galten made the notations he customarily made at the end of a call – “3105 (the frequency), A3 (meaning “voice transmission”), S5 (meaning the signal was at maximum strength).  But then, on the same line, he added a second message from Earhart “ (?/KHAQQ XMISION WE ARE RUNNING ON LINE N ES S”  meaning “Questionable Earhart transmission, We are running on line north and south.”

The log entry raises some interesting questions: 

- After saying she would repeat the message on 6210 and asking Itasca to “wait,” the next thing Itasca heard was a different message on 3105.  How long was the “wait?”  The answer seems to be twelve minutes.  Three contemporary written sources – Itasca’s commanding officer Warner Thompson, and the two wire service reporters who were on the cruise, James Carey and Howard Hanzlick – reported that the final in-flight call from Earhart was heard at 08:55 (2025 GMT).  For a detailed discussion see "Final Words".

- Why didn’t Earhart repeat the message on 6210 as she said she would?  Maybe she did.  Twelve minutes is plenty of time to switch to 6210, repeat the message, receive no response, and come back to 3105 with additional information, “We are running on line north and south.”

- Why didn’t Itasca hear her if she transmitted on 6210?  No one knows, but almost every pilot has had the experience of being unable to contact a ground station on a perfectly good frequency with a perfectly good radio.  When that happens you simply return to the previous frequency – as it appears Earhart did.

- Why didn’t Itasca hear anything on either frequency after 08:55 (20:25 GMT)? Again, no one can say for sure, but it seems entirely plausible that having failed repeatedly to establish communication on either frequency she simply stopped trying.  There is also the point that Itasca did hear signals on 3105 later that evening and over the next several nights.

Perhaps the Electra did abruptly and inexplicably run out of fuel more than an hour before WID’s calculations say it should have, but there is nothing in the last in-flight transmission heard by Itasca to suggest that happened.  When last heard from at 20:25 GMT Earhart was still trying to find Howland Island.

Misinformation

Apparently uncomfortable with basing a hypothesis on Long’s assumption that the aircraft ran out of fuel so quickly after 2013 GMT that there was no time to make a “Mayday” call, the WID hypothesis expands the window 47 minutes to 2100 GMT (even though WID calculates that the plane should have been able to remain aloft until at least 2216 GMT). The rationale for extending the time to 2100 GMT without a distress call is explained in Final flight:  “While continuing to search for a sign of Howland, Earhart’s tanks ran dry between 2013 GMT and 2100 GMT. The left engine likely quit first – it powered the only generator on the aircraft–and the radios required this generator to transmit and receive.”

But that’s not true. The radios on the Electra did not require the generator to transmit or receive. Joe Gurr, who worked on Earhart’s radios, sent a telegram to Putnam on July 5, 1937 saying, “Not necessary have motor running for operation radio on Earhart plane stop two batteries carried will permit operation independent of charging generator mounted on motors.”

The complete telegram is available in the Purdue archives.

As explained by TIGHAR's radio expert, LCDR Bob Brandenburg, USN (ret):

"The radios, like every other electrical device on the aircraft, got their power via the dynamotor under the pilot’s seat which boosted the voltage provided by the 12-volt main electrical bus which drew from either of the two batteries – the main battery under the floor in the center section and the auxiliary battery in the rear cabin.  The generator charged the batteries.

"It was impossible to operate the transmitter from the generator alone because the generator output was limited to 50 amps by the generator control unit, and keying the transmitter would start up the dynamotor, which drew 60 amps. Therefore, it was necessary to have at least one of the batteries on the bus, to provide the additional current required during transmission.   When the transmitter was in standby, the battery would receive charge from the generator.

"However, given the battery capacity, it was possible to transmit on battery power alone for a combined total of about 2 hours, if both batteries were fully charged at the outset."

So we’re back to both the engines going silent within a couple minutes of 2013 GMT even though Earhart seems to have been aloft and talking at 2025 GMT and, by WID’s own calculations, the airplane should have been able to continue aloft for another hour or more.

Misrepresentation

In his book Amelia Earhart – the Mystery Solved, Elgen Long got the engines to quit before they should have by alleging that Earhart mismanaged her power settings to overcome headwinds he imagined that she encountered. The WID Hypothesis gets rid of the unwanted fuel by postulating a failure of the Cambridge Exhaust Gas Analyzer (referred to by WID as the Cambridge Fuel Analyzer or CFA). The justification for the proposed failure is offered in Research>Navigation Paths>Detailed Fuel Consumption Analysis: “Apparently the CFA was also somewhat fragile, as it was frequently being repaired throughout the World Flight, at many of AE’s intermediate stops where maintenance was available.”

It was? Research>Navigation Paths>Detailed Fuel Consumption Analysis notes that the analyzer failed en route to Karachi. The plan was for repairs to be made in Calcutta or possibly Singapore, but the only mention of repairs actually being made was in Bandoeng. The analyzer may also have been the instrument that required a return to Bandoeng from Surabaya because it didn’t stay fixed.  That’s one failure and possibly two fixes. In Lae, a “new cartridge” was fitted to the analyzer on the starboard engine. See The Chater Report.  To say that the Cambridge Exhaust Gas Analyzer was “frequently being repaired throughout the World Flight, at many of AE’s intermediate stops where maintenance was available” is simply not accurate.  Maybe the analyzer failed en route to Howland, but there's absolutely no evidence that it did.

Flawed Science, Great Technology

The WID hypothesis was based on a single pre-conceived conclusion - that the supposed failure of Itasca to hear anything further from the Earhart aircraft after 2013 GMT was due to premature fuel exhaustion. When WID's analysis of the airplane’s fuel consumption resulted in too much gas, events were imagined that would bring the data in line with the pre-ordained moment of crisis. Rather than change the hypothesis to fit the data, the data are skewed to conform with the hypothesis. This inversion of the scientific method is a systemic problem that runs through the entire selection of where to search. The search itself, by contrast, appears to have been well executed. The Waitt Institute is to be commended for valuable experience gained in the application of deep sea technologies.

Until there is proof that something else happened, it remains possible that the Earhart aircraft ran out of gas and went down somewhere in the open ocean.  With the mounting evidence that something else did happen, that possibility grows increasingly remote.[/b]
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 08:55:29 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 08:08:53 AM »

The myth of the "sunrise observation" was created by people who know "a little bit" about celestial navigation. The 337°-157° sunline line of position (LOP) was derived by an observation of the sun when the sun's azimuth (not "look angle") was 67° true since the LOP is at right angles to the azimuth to the celestial body. When the sun rose in the vicinity of Howland on July 2, 1837 its azimuth was 67° true. Those with "a little bit" of knowledge fastened on this fact to claim that Noonan took a sunrise observation and used only it in planning the approach to Howland. (They apparently believe that Noonan then opened the door and dropped his octant into the sea.) But what these people didn't understand is that the sun's azimuth stayed at 67° until 1847 Z, an hour after sunrise! This means that Noonan would have computed the same 337°-157° LOP from any sight taken during this one hour period and we have already seen that he would have had to wait until the sun was above 6° before taking the sight leaving about a half hour period for taking sights. He would have taken several sights as he approached the LOP then more after the interception to ensure staying on it.

In any reconstruction of what Fred actually did (rather than what you suppose he would have done), you have to either account for the data that we have or else discredit the data.

If Fred did, in fact, do what you say he would have done, why did Earhart say "We are on the line 157 337"?  If you do not accept that as a constraint on your imagining what Fred would have done (if he were you), what evidence can you provide from primary sources (your imagination is not a primary source) that they were not using 157 337 as an advanced LOP?

At this point, your argument is nothing but coulda, woulda, shoulda.

1. Fred could have done as you suggest.
2. If he were you, he would have done as you suggest.
3. Some period documentation recommends that the ought to have done as you suggest.

None of that adds up to the conclusion, "this is what Fred did on 2 July 1937."

The two fellows who sold TIGHAR on the idea of investigating the Niku hypothesis, Tom Willi and Tom Gannon, and  were not amateur navigators by any means.  No doubt their solid explanation of how navigation works has been garbled a bit by those of us who are amateurs.  I have modified my post on "Visualizing the 337-157 LOP" and will, in future, note that any observation in the first hour of daylight would give an azimuth of 67° and a corresponding LOP of 337°-157°.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Alfred Hendrickson

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 10:02:03 AM »

If you will allow an off-topic random observation; On that Waitt website is a video of Ted Waitt and Tom Sharp in a helicopter, trying to see Howland Island during conditions similar to those on the morning on July 2, 1937. It is sobering how difficult it is to see that island.
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JNev

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 10:06:46 AM »

Thanks for your clarification, Marty. 

I have never been able to understand why there has been such a rub over 'when' in the first hour of daylight the shot might have been made, given that we can understand that the sun's azimuth was constant for an hour after sunrise.  The point seems to be that a shot made at any reasonable time within that hour would have been a reliable way to establish a LOP.

Could not FN also determine how far east or west NR16020 lay from on a similar determination?  If not sunrise, then by the altitude of the sun at a given time? 

I hope my terminology is not too offensive as I am not a professional navigator.  But most of us can 'get the picture' with a little help, even if we don't know the fine points or proper terminology in all cases.

Thinking all this through one more time it is just not hard to see FN making an emphatic effort to get that shot 'in the first hour of sunrise' to -
- Determine how far east NR16020 had come, and
- Establish a LOP through the desired point-east (where Howland ought to be) that AE could follow by heading.

I WON'T claim that my technical analysis or terminology are worthy of publication, however...  :D

---

Gary's and Ric's critiques of WID's work is apt, I think.  It is a shame that WID didn't match their herculian search investment with more expertise in their report and in how they arrived at what areas to search.

The good news is that apparently their science and technology was otherwise excellent, and that they did do a thorough search and eliminate a large area from further need of investigation.  I don't think impeachment of their entire effort would be warranted on the basis of the obvious flaws among some elements of it.

Now if we could just marry WID's kind of search technology and science to TIGHAR's hard-gained hypothesis we might just find that we have indeed a rich field to search...  If only.

---

Alfred, as an ordinary member here I don't see your post as off-topic at all:

It's one aspect of the mystery that deserves attention, and WID did make an attempt to help us see what it might have been like.  I still believe that difficulty in sighting Howland from the air may have been a huge factor. 

I'm struck by the relative contrast of islands like Howland to that of other lagooned islands, for one, and by how they contrast with their immediate environment, respectively.  Howland looks like a 'challenge' to me.

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

Former Member 3074R
 
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 12:37:14 PM by Jeff Neville »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2012, 10:46:16 AM »

If you will allow an off-topic random observation; On that Waitt website is a video of Ted Waitt and Tom Sharp in a helicopter, trying to see Howland Island during conditions similar to those on the morning on July 2, 1937. It is sobering how difficult it is to see that island.

A link to that video plus another anecdotal account is in "Problems with Seeing Howland from the Air."
LTM,

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2012, 10:55:37 AM »

I have never been able to understand why there has been such a rub over 'when' in the first hour of daylight the shot might have been made, given that we can understand that the sun's azimuth was constant for an hour after sunrise.  The point seems to be that a shot made at any reasonable time within that hour would have been a reliable way to establish a LOP.

That's something I've learned from Gary.  In my talks and writing, I've been guilty of speaking as if the observation could only be made at the crack of dawn.

Quote
Could not FN also determine how far east or west NR16020 lay from on a similar determination?  If not sunrise, then by the altitude of the sun at a given time? 

Yes.  I think that is the argument that Gary has been making.  Since he could have and should have, and since this is what Gary would have done, Noonan must have done so, even crossing later observations with earlier to get a rough idea of latitude.

But, so far as I can tell from the logged transmissions, the LOP that Noonan cared about was the 337°-157° line.  Either that, or else Earhart was not in fact flying on the 337°-157° line when she said she was.

Strange things do happen, and people make mstikaes.  But it seems to me that the sober approach is to take the logs at face value until something truly compels us not to.  The 0519 transmission is discarded because it suggests a groundspeed of 37 mph from takeoff to that location at the time of the transmission.  Something got garbled somewhere with that transmission and/or log entry.  That leaves five "position reports" that have to be dealt with in any renavigation of the flight.
LTM,

           Marty
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2012, 01:13:33 PM »

I have never been able to understand why there has been such a rub over 'when' in the first hour of daylight the shot might have been made, given that we can understand that the sun's azimuth was constant for an hour after sunrise.  The point seems to be that a shot made at any reasonable time within that hour would have been a reliable way to establish a LOP.

That's something I've learned from Gary.  In my talks and writing, I've been guilty of speaking as if the observation could only be made at the crack of dawn.



That is the only point I have been trying to make, he didn't just have one opportunity to establish his position in relationship to the 157°-337° LOP running through Howland but could, and probably did (based on the published navigation manuals of the time as the normal procedure) take a number of such observations, each one leading to a more accurate measure of the distance remaining to the point of interception. And (again according to contemporary manuals including the one written by Noonan's friend P.V.H. Weems) the normal procedure was to then take additional observations while following the LOP to ensure accurately staying on the LOP.

gl
« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 10:26:35 PM by Gary LaPook »
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JNev

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2012, 01:24:51 PM »

That makes perfect sense, Gary - thanks!

Once established, would the LOP have primarily been followed by AE (or anyone in such a case) flying mag heading?  My thought is she would do so, and would get occasional updates from FN if he was taking additional observations?

What are the restraints for north - south determination by celnav as the sun rose higher? 
What are they for east - west? 
It seems like if you have visibility, an octant, an accurate compass and time piece that you should be able to determine both, at least with the sun within certain bounds of the sky -
And it strikes me that the sun would have to have enough altitude in the sky to be of use for n - s... but is all that possible?

Maybe FN also needed a morning star to gain all that... 'Electra' can be such a sad name - ironic.

But I'm in over my head...

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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« Last Edit: January 05, 2012, 01:51:48 PM by Jeff Neville »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2012, 10:23:07 PM »

Thanks Gary.  I share your view of the research behind Waitt's multi-million dollar search.  After they put up their website, the folks at the Waitt Institute invited me to engage in a dialog about the Earhart mystery.  I was happy to oblige and I submitted the critique below.  I'm afraid it wasn't much of a dialog because they never replied.

Your criticisms of their research focus on navigation - and there's plenty to criticize.  My criticisms focus on methodology.  Here's what I said:



Ric, I was shocked by what I read, especially thinking about the amount of money Waitt spent. I am not the only one who knows about this navigation stuff so I can't understand why they didn't get somebody who knows about it to work with them (they could have hired me.) I don't know anything about Long's association with Wiatt, if any, but he wouldn't have let the report go out with the errors I found. Wait...it's coming to me. With all those decimal places it looks like...it looks like...Mr. van Asten.

gl
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2012, 12:45:52 PM »

Quote
With all those decimal places it looks like...it looks like...Mr. van Asten.

Thanks Gary, I passed coffee through my nose!

LTM,

Don
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 05:21:39 AM »

It is interesting that they went down a path that defies the data. For example, they proposed their own "path C" to avoid the storms at Lae which would have put the plane on a more Easterly course. This was comprised of two legs, a 688 mile leg to the coordinates of -7.3 150, so the 5:19 time stamp would work, and a 276 mile leg to Nukumanu Island at 07:18 GMT. This would imply a 132 Mph ground speed achieved. I believe they liked this fit as AE apparently stated that they were "making 140 knots". With a 23 knot head wind, this would work out to 135 mph ground speed achieved so it fit their model well. This would have implied that AE was already compensating for the 23 knot headwind and reporting her ground speed achieved. While they did say it was possible that the time stamp was perhaps incorrect, maybe the actual time stamp was 2:19 GMT, they completely ignored that line of reasoning going forward.

Update: Waitt document, page 43, "This technique produced en route speeds after 0718 GMT, of 138 knots true air speed, or 158.8 mph. Applying the 23 knots, or 26.5 mph, headwind component, produced 116 knots ground speed, or 132.3 mph ground speed, after the 0718 GMT position, which was held until the perceived descent point to Howland Island at approximately 80 statute miles per Kelly Johnson, Paul Mantz (OAK-­‐HNL) and Fred Noonan recommendations."

Something is amiss there. The distance from the point near Nukumanu Island (4.33S 159.7E) to 200 miles out on the great circle is 1,474 miles. If we use the 132.3 mph from 07:18 GMT until 17:42 GMT (10.4 hours), where they are supposed to be 200 miles out, this would produce about 1,376 miles. That is a difference of 98 miles that seems to have disappeared on their trip. Maybe that is why the Waitt Institute thinks they fell short of Howland. ;)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 02:47:39 PM by Heath Smith »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2012, 06:15:17 PM »


On page 18 of the Waitt Report, there is the following entry:

Position, 1445 GMT, AE Overcast will listen on hour and half hour 3105. S2. Ibid.

I am not seeing anything about this transmission at 14:45 GMT.

Does anyone know if this is legitimate?

Thanks.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2012, 03:44:25 AM »



Strange things do happen, and people make mstikaes.  But it seems to me that the sober approach is to take the logs at face value until something truly compels us not to.  The 0519 transmission is discarded [/b][/u]because it suggests a groundspeed of 37 mph from takeoff to that location at the time of the transmission.  Something got garbled somewhere with that transmission and/or log entry.  That leaves five "position reports" that have to be dealt with in any renavigation of the flight.

"KHAQQ CALLING LAE"

"POSITION SEVEN THREE SOUTH"

"ONE FIFTY (PAUSE) SEVEN EAST LONGITUDE."

or was it

"ONE FIFTY SEVEN EAST LONGITUDE"


What did Balfour and Chater actually hear at 0519 Z ?

The 0519 Z position has always been transcribed consistent with "ONE FIFTY (PAUSE) SEVEN" which was written as 150.7  meaning 150° 07' east longitude which is only 215 SM from departure producing an impossibly low ground speed of only 40 mph. Then the leg from that position to the position reported in the 0718 Z transmission is 642 SM which would require an impossibly high ground speed of 320 mph for the two hour period between the two reports.

But what if what was actually transmitted by Earhart at 0519 Z was actually "ONE FIFTY SEVEN" which would mean 157° 00' east longitude? The distance from Lae to this position is 687 SM producing a ground speed of 130 mph which is not an unreasonable ground speed. Then the leg from there to the position reported in the 0718 Z transmission is 225 SM resulting in a ground speed on that leg of 112 mph which also is not out of the reasonable range of ground speeds. Especially when you keep in mind that the times of these reports were not necessarily he exact time at the coordinates that were reported so it is likely that they were at the 0718 Z reported coordinates sometime earlier than 0718 Z which would have produced a higher ground speed. If the actual ground speed between these two positions was the same 130 mph from Lae to the first point then they would have arrived at the second position in only one hour and forty-four minutes, only 16 minutes earlier than the time of the second report. A 130 mph ground speed is also consistent with the expected air speed and the forecast and reported headwind speed.

When you look at the navigation methods being used by Noonan you find more support for this interpretation. How did Noonan come up with those coordinates? I'll give you a hint, he didn't read it off of a GPS display. If you say he did it with celestial navigation then tell what two objects were available in the sky at the times and at the coordinates that we are considering? It takes two objects to determine a fix. Well.....there was only one object, the sun, and at the 0718 Z time and position the sun was too low, less than 6°, for Noonan to take an observation of it. Oh, Oh, Oh, I know, isn't there such a thing as a "running fix" that you can get by observing just one celestial object? (A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.) Well, yes, but it wouldn't work here. To get a running fix you take an observation of the object (usually the sun) wait a period of time, say one hour, and then observe the sun a second time. You then plot the two LOPs after advancing the earlier LOP based on the DR movement of the plane, to account for that movement, and where the two plotted LOPs cross is the running fix. To get an accurate fix you need the two LOPs to cross at a large angle, 90° is the ideal, but certainly the angle must be greater than 30° and even at that angle the uncertainty in the resulting fix is doubled, and it gets much worse as the angle gets less. A 0419 Z (one hour early) the azimuth of the sun (in the area of the earlier coordinates) was 308° and at 0519 Z it was 301° so the crossing angle (called the "cut" by navigators) of the resulting LOPs would have been only 7° producing an unusable running fix with an uncertainty of more than 95 SM. It would have been even worse for a running fix at 0718 Z because the crossing angle would have been only 2° producing an uncertainty of 330 SM! And after 0650 Z the sun would have been too low to shoot anyway. (van Asten just couldn't get these concepts.) (The uncertainty in a perfect celestial fix, shot from a plane, is 10 NM (11.5 SM) if the cut is the perfect 90°. When the cut is less than 90° then the uncertainty varies with the cosecant of the cut, times to perfect 11.5 SM.)

So how did Noonan get the reported coordinates? He looked out the window. At 0519 Z they were over the center of Choiseul and at 0718 Z (or earlier) just to the west of Nukumano both providing good visual fixes with Noonan getting the coordinates from his chart.
 gl
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 03:05:57 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2012, 10:02:07 AM »


Did someone invent this 'pause' theory "ONE FIFTY (PAUSE) SEVEN EAST" to fit the time stamps? Is there any real written evidence that suggest that this was the case?

Did they also say "SEVEN (PAUSE) THREE SOUTH"?

Or was it really "ONE FIFTY SEVEN POINT SEVEN EAST SEVEN POINT THREE SOUTH" as we have assumed?
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