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Author Topic: Waitt search report.  (Read 60924 times)

Erik

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #45 on: January 16, 2012, 08:32:42 PM »

Fyi google earth has a degrees/minutes input. You can change it in the options menu.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #46 on: January 16, 2012, 08:45:29 PM »

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Well, yes, and that is how everyone else has taken it. Using your "decimal degree navigation notation"  would make the position reported at 0718 Z 4° 20' south, 159° 42' east, 43 SM away from the correct location. (BTW, you are the only person in the history of the world to use decimal degrees for latitude and longitude for navigation, you can find this out for yourself by referring to any navigation text. Just because Google Earth allows people to use that notation doesn't make it a standard navigation notation, Google Earth is not for navigation and it wasn't even available in 1937.)

You are not suggesting that we pull out a map, compass, protractor, and a slide ruler are you? Although Google Earth does display degrees minutes seconds, it seems to only accept decimal degrees as input. Debating over the form of the coordinates is completely irrelevant to the discussion. I also do not see a point in debating whether visualizing in Google Earth is a valuable tool, we are not creating precision navigation plans here, we are talking about 2 points on a map. Are we bound to some secret oath to use old school degrees minutes seconds and nautical miles? If you like it, go for it, I think the conversion is trivial and not worthy of further debate.

Degrees and minutes are used in navigation for very good reasons, maybe you didn't get the memo. Latitude and longitude are measured in angular units and degrees and minutes have been the standard units used since the ancient Sumerians invented the sexagesimal numeral system and the ancient Babylonians used it for their astronomical observations starting about 2,000 BC. All the calculations for navigation use these units and all the trigonometry tables used by navigators were printed only in these units. Decimal degrees did not come along until the invention of the calculator in the 1970s. Nautical miles are defined so that one nautical mile equals one minute of latitude and also one minute along any great circle on earth. Since all navigation calculations use this notation, the results come out naturally in nautical miles and it takes an extra step, multiplying the result by 1.15, to come up with statute miles. All the charts are printed with a grid of latitude and longitude marked in degrees and minutes. These marks also provide convenient distance scales since one minute tick marks on the chart also represent one nautical mile. You suggested that Balfour converted the minutes he heard on the radio from Earhart to decimal degrees to make it easier for him to follow their progress on a chart, how could this be true since no chart he had was marked in decimal degrees, only in degrees and minutes.
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The distance from the 0519 Z erroneous position, 7.3° S 150.7° E, to 4.33° S 159.7° E reported at 0718 Z, both positions that you prefer, one hour and 59 minutes later is 685.4 SM making the ground speed 346 mph which is a whole lot less reasonable than the  112.5 mph that you calculated for the ground speed between the correct locations.

Yes, this is why I said the time stamps are problematic and I stated this. It seems reasonable to me that the Lae radio shack was not being run like a well oiled military machine. If it were, we would not be having this discussion. Clearly either the coordinates given are wrong or the time stamps are wrong. For that matter they could be be wrong invented after the fact by a sloppy radio operator that had no idea what was unfolding at the time and had no concept that people would be discussing the details 75 years later trying to make sense of it. There are currently no facts able to substantiate the truth one way or the other at this point.

This modification latitude from 150.7 to 157 was also proposed by the Waitt Institute. Rather than considering that the time stamps could be in error, they also focused on this idea. Is this any more valid than 5:19 becoming 2:19? Maybe Balfour was dyslexic? Who knows. Once you go down the slippery slope of changing the data, anything is possible. I am sure I could find a yet to be discovered set of coordinates that would fit perfectly with the time line with just a couple of digits swapped here or there.

Absolutely, unless you can show strong justification for doing so as I have done, e.g. Balfour's non-standard use of the "point;" Balfour's other transcription errors (omitting a "6" in the coordinates of Nauru adding a zero to the height of the Nauru light) these indicate that the transcription was in error from the beginning; the impossible ground speeds that result from interpreting 150.7 as decimal degrees; that decimal degrees weren't in use until 40 years after the flight; that interpreting ".7" as another error that should be simply a "7" and doing so produces ground speeds that are consistent with what we know about the air speeds being used by Earhart and about the winds on that day; etc.
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The report one hour prior, where they stated that they were at 7,000ft,  is interesting in that it could suggest that they were still approaching the storm, uncertain of a plan to maneuver around the storm and eventually decided to climb up and over at 10,000ft, an hour later. Can you provide a reasonable explanation for the one hour report prior to the 5:19 GMT report?

At the lighter weight the plane was operating at around 0519 Z the rate of climb would be greater than 900 feet per minute so it would have only taken a bit more than three minutes to climb from 7,000 to 10,000 feet and the best rate of climb speed is only 20 mph less than the planned cruising speed so slowing to climb speed and climbing for three minutes would add less that 30 seconds to the flight time so no reason to not climb to clear the low clouds below 10,000 feet,
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You also never explained with your line of reasoning why they would continue such a long segment before heading back to the course? Was the storm that large such that they had to go 687 miles out to get around it? Perhaps they were just sight seeing? Waitt never seemed to address that either but it sure pushed that square peg time stamp in to a round hole, hey kind of like a rabbit hole. :)

So many are enamored with that line drawn on a planning chart by Williams in the opposite direction months before the flight and not incorporating the most up to date information supplied to Noonan and Earhart at Lae. I have pointed out before that you can deviate a great distance off the straight line between the departure and the destination without adding significantly to the overall flight. Flying over Choiseul did not take them 687 SM out of the way but added only 65 SM to the flight. The straight line distance was 2556 SM and this deviation made it 2621 SM, only 2.5% longer. So if there is any reason to deviate, such as avoiding storms or turbulence, getting on top for celestial observations, to pick up even a slight tailwind or to find even a slightly lower headwind, or to provide an additional navigation check then you do the deviation.

Why aim for Choiseul? As I pointed out in previous posts, during the day, when only the sun is available for celestial observations, you cannot obtain a fix. You can obtain a "running fix" as I explained before but this is dependent on the sun changing in azimuth in a short enough period so that the LOPs cross at a large enough angle to provide an accurate cut and that not so much time has elapsed since the earlier observation so that the DR uncertainty for the run between the two observations is so large as to significantly degrade the accuracy of the "running fix." Running fixes are normally done with the first observation less than one hour before noon and the second observation about the same amount of time after noon because the azimuth of the sun changes most rapidly at noon. Noon at 157° east longitude occurred at about 0130 Z so by 0519 Z it was not possible to get a running fix because the azimuth of the sun changed only 7° in the hour leading up to that time and you need a minimum of a 30° azimuth change for a "running fix." Choiseul represented a target 10° wide starting from Lae so would be very difficult to miss and provided an accurate visual fix from which an accurate wind could be determined that they would use for computing the rest of the flight and for making a decision about turning around or continuing. This provided plenty of good reasons to aim for Choiseul rather than attempting to stay on William's imaginary course line plus avoiding the storms forecast to be on the straight line course line. And, as I said before, without a visual check point Noonan had no way to determine the coordinates that were transmitted in the 0519 Z contact with Lae.

gl

« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 03:03:18 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #47 on: January 17, 2012, 04:35:35 AM »

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Degrees and minutes are used in navigation for very good reasons, maybe you didn't get the memo.

Yes, I am aware of it's purpose but I see no point in belaboring whether someone posts here in decimal degrees or degrees minutes seconds on an Internet forum. We were discussing Balfour's conversion, not anything I was posting.

By the way, you never addressed the issue of Balfour using decimal degrees. It is difficult to know why he did, perhaps it was more intuitive to him. If it was so unusual, why was this not pointed out by Chater or Collopy when they sat around discussing the events? They were the ones that created the reports. If it were that outlandish to use this decimal form, why would they themselves have passed along the information in the same form? You also mentioned that decimal degrees weren't in use until 40 years after the flight. Do you have any evidence to support that theory? This defies the evidence that Chater published these coordinates in decimal form.

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Absolutely, unless you can show strong justification for doing so as I have done, e.g. Balfour's non-standard use of the "point;"

It is only a non-standard use of the "point" if you believe your theory, otherwise it is is just as it appears at face value, a decimal degree form. You did not address the dropped six being a much more accurate approximation compare to the .minute theory that you proposed.

As far as the mistakes in the telegram go, is the image you posted of the telegram at the receiving station? Who actually typed the telegram on to paper? That is the person you need to look at for errors. The dropped 6, the extra zero on altitude, the extra zero on barometer, let alone the attempts to correct the typing mistakes.

The decimal degree on the second reported position is only about 3.5 miles off the original flight line just passed Nukumanu Island. This is just another coincidence? They surely would have seen the island and FN probably determined the headwinds on that reference which is why this was stated in the report (23 knots). FN would have had at least 12 minutes to perform the calculation before AE announced it. Your reference point is before the island suggesting that they were passing along old head wind calculations from the last time they were over land.

As far as the modified coordinate theory goes, we are also not just talking about the .minute notation, this is transforming 150 degrees to 157 degrees. This is the basic point. If you are willing to make such a change, what is to say the time stamps were not wrong?

They were already fighting a headwind and I cannot believe they were caviler about using fuel excessively or wastefully. If they did not care about being on the flight line, why head back to it at all? The seem to head back to it aggressively and wastefully if we use your 157 longitude.

We have no evidence that the storm was 687 SM is size. It does make a lot of sense that the storms were being reported 250 to 300 miles out of Lae. Once they saw the worst of it and found a path around it they headed back to the flight line. Bouganville Island was closer so the use of a more southerly island does not make sense for land references. The alternative theory also has them flying on a much more Easterly course, flying right in to the storms outside of Lae.

I remain unconvinced that the coordinates given were incorrect. The time stamps being incorrect are just as likely.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 04:41:48 AM by Heath Smith »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #48 on: January 19, 2012, 03:48:15 AM »

If they had measured a 23kn headwind then I hope they would not have left because they would know that if sustained they would arrive at Howland on fumes.

Of course nobody had any way of measuring winds aloft anywhere along the route.  Lae did not even have a meteorologist.
Well there was the MK II pelous for taking drift reading from NR16020 from which Noonan determined the winds aloft. In addition he could measure the wind encountered between two celestial fixes. See U.S. Navy manual and Noonan's newspaper article about taking drift sights. See attached letter from Noonan about computing wind between two fixes by the difference between the "no wind position" and the actual fix.

gl
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 12:49:27 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #49 on: January 19, 2012, 04:14:26 AM »


Looking at that telegram it is pretty sloppy in general. It looks like the person typing it was drunk. This is where the 5600ft altitude came from instead of the 560ft. There is also the 29.908 barometer?

It might have read 0.32S 165.5E which is close to 0° 32' south, 166° 55' east.

Perhaps Balfour preferred to work in decimal and actually converted the coordinates given by AE? Maybe he heard "SEVEN ZERO ELEVEN SOUTH ONE FIFTY ZERO FOUR TWO" and gave the decimal equivalent?

It is too bad all of these folks are deceased.
I've reread your posts and I think I know what you are saying but just to make sure please answer these questions:

1, You do not claim that Earhart actually used the word "point" in sending the position report at 0519 Z, is this correct, yes or no?
2. You do not claim that Earhart actually used the word "point" in sending the position report at 0718 Z, is this correct, yes or no?
3. You believe that Earhart said "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" during the 0519 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
4. You believe that Earhart said "ONE FIFTY   FORTY TWO EAST" during the 0519 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
5. You believe that Earhart said "FOUR    TWENTY SOUTH" during the 0719 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
6. You believe that Earhart said "ONE FIFTY NINE    FORTY TWO EAST" during the 0719 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
7. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" from the 0519 Z position report to 7.3 S, is this correct, yes or no?
8. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "ONE FIFTY   FORTY TWO EAST" from the 0519 Z position report to 150.7 E, is this correct, yes or no?
9. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "FOUR    TWENTY SOUTH" from the 0719 Z position report to 4.33 S, is this correct, yes or no?
10. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "ONE FIFTY NINE    FORTY TWO EAST" from the 0719 Z position report to 159.7 E, is this correct, yes or no?

gl
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #50 on: January 19, 2012, 04:20:20 AM »


Gary,

I do not have time this morning to go through each question you posted but I do believe that Balfour was the one that converted from degrees/minutes to the decimal degrees. Will check it out after work.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #51 on: January 19, 2012, 04:59:25 AM »


The report one hour prior, where they stated that they were at 7,000ft,  is interesting in that it could suggest that they were still approaching the storm, uncertain of a plan to maneuver around the storm and eventually decided to climb up and over at 10,000ft, an hour later. Can you provide a reasonable explanation for the one hour report prior to the 5:19 GMT report?


I see, you believe that they climbed to 10,000 feet to get over the storm clouds and you don't think the storm would have extended that far. Here's some news, you can't get above a storm by climbing to only 10,000 feet, storms go much higher, just ask the crew of Air France flight 447 (oh, you can't, they're dead) that crashed in 2009 flying in storm clouds at 35,000 feet at about the same latitude as Earhart's plane. But you might respond "that was in 2009, storm clouds didn't go that high in 1937." Well then, we have the report of the PBY sent from Hawaii to Howland that was in a storm at 12,000 feet and the clouds extended up to 18,000 feet, see attached excerpt from the Murfin report. The reason that Earhart climbed from 7,000 to 10,000 feet was stated in the message, it was due to cumulus clouds that she could top at 10,000. Staying lower where there were scattered cumulus clouds would have necessitated weaving around them or flying through them on instruments and cumulus clouds are bumpy inside so they would then have had to deal with the turbulence. Climbing to ten avoided these problems. Nothing to do with any storm.

gl


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John Ousterhout

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #52 on: January 19, 2012, 07:04:57 AM »

I'm with Gary on this one.  No one used decimal degrees in 1937.  Dials on instruments were in degrees, minutes and seconds.  Work sheets used by navigators were in degrees, minutes and seconds.  Instruction manuals, Training courses, official documents, etc, were in degrees, minutes, etc...  Those conventions did not change until GPS became popular, and even now has not changed most navigation instruments, conventions, training, etc.  Most GPS instruments, for that matter, offer display option of degrees, minutes and seconds in order to make sense commonly available maps that use that universally recognized scales.
A telegraph operator might or might not be familiar with the generally accepted nomenclature associated with degrees, minutes and seconds. I can easily imagine an operator recording a dot for the space he hears in the middle of a number. It is similar to the current use of an underscore_to_denote_a_space.  To anyone reading it at the time, no one would confuse a dot in the midst of a position report with a conversion to a decimal system, anymore than someone reading an underscored string of words would think it meant some sort of mathematical conversion. I'll give an example:

This_doesn't_equal = This-doesn't-equal-this = this.doesn't.equal.this = this+doesn't+equal+this   

They're all equally readable, but Thisdoesn'tequalthis isn't.

(This subject is even related to the reason telegrams use the word "stop" rather than using ".", because it's easily misread.)
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #53 on: January 19, 2012, 03:02:37 PM »


Looking at that telegram it is pretty sloppy in general. It looks like the person typing it was drunk. This is where the 5600ft altitude came from instead of the 560ft. There is also the 29.908 barometer?

It might have read 0.32S 165.5E which is close to 0° 32' south, 166° 55' east.

Perhaps Balfour preferred to work in decimal and actually converted the coordinates given by AE? Maybe he heard "SEVEN ZERO ELEVEN SOUTH ONE FIFTY ZERO FOUR TWO" and gave the decimal equivalent?

It is too bad all of these folks are deceased.
I've reread your posts and I think I know what you are saying but just to make sure please answer these questions:

1, You do not claim that Earhart actually used the word "point" in sending the position report at 0519 Z, is this correct, yes or no?
2. You do not claim that Earhart actually used the word "point" in sending the position report at 0718 Z, is this correct, yes or no?
3. You believe that Earhart said "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" during the 0519 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
4. You believe that Earhart said "ONE FIFTY   FORTY TWO EAST" during the 0519 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
5. You believe that Earhart said "FOUR    TWENTY SOUTH" during the 0719 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
6. You believe that Earhart said "ONE FIFTY NINE    FORTY TWO EAST" during the 0719 Z position report, is this correct, yes or no?
7. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" from the 0519 Z position report to 7.3 S, is this correct, yes or no?
8. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "ONE FIFTY   FORTY TWO EAST" from the 0519 Z position report to 150.7 E, is this correct, yes or no?
9. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "FOUR    TWENTY SOUTH" from the 0719 Z position report to 4.33 S, is this correct, yes or no?
10. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received  "ONE FIFTY NINE    FORTY TWO EAST" from the 0719 Z position report to 159.7 E, is this correct, yes or no?

gl

While it is impossible to know exactly what was said, such as "SEVEN EIGHTEEN SOUTH", which could have been read  "SEVEN ZERO ONE EIGHT SOUTH" or any other possible combinations, I think it is very possible that Balfour did the conversion to decimal himself since this would not be a format that Noonan would use and Earhart was probably not performing conversions.

As I stated before, if the decimal notation was so unusual, why did Chater pass it on without question. If it was so obvious, why was it not corrected and pointed out back then? I am sure they could have typed 150°7' but for 150.7, why didn't they? While it would make sense if a telegram keyboard did not have a apostrophe perhaps the period was standard practice. Do you have any evidence of that? We know that Balfour's telegram discussed earlier was a pretty good approximation if we assume decimal degrees. The DEGREE.MINUTE theory did not exactly pan out in that instance did it?

Even if we say the meaning is DEGREES.MINUTES, this would not change the positions but a few miles. If we assume your proposed interpretation, the ground speed achieved would be 117.5 MPH versus 124.2 MPH. I am not sure what is achieved by doing this but it does make spotting the Ontario more probable.

Now when you take liberty to change 150.7 to 157.0, this is something else entirely.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 05:40:11 PM by Heath Smith »
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Chuck Varney

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #54 on: January 19, 2012, 04:28:16 PM »

Heath,

You wrote to Gary:

Quote
While it would make sense if a telegram keyboard did not have a apostrophe perhaps the period was standard practice. Do you have any evidence of that?

Radiotelegraph traffic relating to the Titanic disaster provides many examples of the period used as a separator between degrees and minutes for communication of geographic position.  See, for example, the links below.

1.  Message transcriptions that include position data in the form degrees.minutes:

http://www.qsl.net/g3yrc/Titanic.htm

http://www.hf.ro/#trd

2.  Two copies of hand-printed message receipts that include position data in the form degrees.minutes:

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/marconi/exhibition/titanic.htm

3.  A Titanic-related 1912 report from the Hydrographic Office that gives positions in a form that confirms that the period is being used as a separator between degrees and minutes in the radiotelegraph traffic examples above:
 
http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq94-1.htm

Chuck
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 05:33:50 PM by Chuck Varney »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #55 on: January 19, 2012, 05:38:59 PM »


Chuck,

That looks pretty convincing that this was some sort of standard at the time. Good find.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #56 on: January 19, 2012, 06:26:30 PM »


Looking at that telegram it is pretty sloppy in general. It looks like the person typing it was drunk. This is where the 5600ft altitude came from instead of the 560ft. There is also the 29.908 barometer?

It might have read 0.32S 165.5E which is close to 0° 32' south, 166° 55' east.

Perhaps Balfour preferred to work in decimal and actually converted the coordinates given by AE? Maybe he heard "SEVEN ZERO ELEVEN SOUTH ONE FIFTY ZERO FOUR TWO" and gave the decimal equivalent?

It is too bad all of these folks are deceased.
I've reread your posts and I think I know what you are saying but just to make sure please answer these questions:

7. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" from the 0519 Z position report to 7.3 S, is this correct, yes or no?


gl

While it is impossible to know exactly what was said, such as "SEVEN EIGHTEEN SOUTH", which could have been read "SEVEN ZERO ONE EIGHT SOUTH" or any other possible combinations, I think it is very possible that Balfour did the conversion to decimal himself since this would not be a format that Noonan would use and Earhart was probably not performing conversions.


It could not have been "SEVEN ZERO ONE EIGHT SOUTH" as that would be 70° 18' south which, based on your theory, Balfour would have converted to decimal degrees of 70.3 S. But it does make sense that she could have said "SEVEN EIGHTEEN SOUTH" or  "SEVEN ONE EIGHT SOUTH" either of which would have been converted to the same decimal value, 7.3 south.
gl
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 09:02:04 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Heath Smith

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #57 on: January 19, 2012, 07:45:33 PM »


Looking at that telegram it is pretty sloppy in general. It looks like the person typing it was drunk. This is where the 5600ft altitude came from instead of the 560ft. There is also the 29.908 barometer?

It might have read 0.32S 165.5E which is close to 0° 32' south, 166° 55' east.

Perhaps Balfour preferred to work in decimal and actually converted the coordinates given by AE? Maybe he heard "SEVEN ZERO ELEVEN SOUTH ONE FIFTY ZERO FOUR TWO" and gave the decimal equivalent?

It is too bad all of these folks are deceased.
I've reread your posts and I think I know what you are saying but just to make sure please answer these questions:

7. You believe that Balfour (or someone else in Lae) converted the received "SEVEN    EIGHTEEN SOUTH" from the 0519 Z position report to 7.3 S, is this correct, yes or no?


gl

While it is impossible to know exactly what was said, such as "SEVEN EIGHTEEN SOUTH", which could have been read "SEVEN ZERO ONE EIGHT SOUTH" or any other possible combinations, I think it is very possible that Balfour did the conversion to decimal himself since this would not be a format that Noonan would use and Earhart was probably not performing conversions.


It could not have been "SEVEN ZERO ONE EIGHT SOUTH" as that would be 70° 18' south which, based on your theory, Balfour would have converted to decimal degrees of 70.3 S.

gl

Ok, "SEVEN PAUSE ONE EIGHT SOUTH" or "SEVEN POINT ONE EIGHT" or "SEVEN DEGREES EIGHTEEN MINUTES". The convention used to report has nothing to do with what Balfour reported. What Balfour heard is not knowable.

The question is whether the meaning is DEGREES.MINUTES or decimal degrees. As Chuck pointed out this seemed to be a typical reporting format for the era.

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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #58 on: January 19, 2012, 11:23:05 PM »


The report one hour prior, where they stated that they were at 7,000ft,  is interesting in that it could suggest that they were still approaching the storm, uncertain of a plan to maneuver around the storm and eventually decided to climb up and over at 10,000ft, an hour later. Can you provide a reasonable explanation for the one hour report prior to the 5:19 GMT report?


I see, you believe that they climbed to 10,000 feet to get over the storm clouds and you don't think the storm would have extended that far. Here's some news, you can't get above a storm by climbing to only 10,000 feet, storms go much higher, just ask the crew of Air France flight 447 (oh, you can't, they're dead) that crashed in 2009 flying in storm clouds at 35,000 feet at about the same latitude as Earhart's plane. But you might respond "that was in 2009, storm clouds didn't go that high in 1937." Well then, we have the report of the PBY sent from Hawaii to Howland that was in a storm at 12,000 feet and the clouds extended up to 18,000 feet, see attached excerpt from the Murfin report. The reason that Earhart climbed from 7,000 to 10,000 feet was stated in the message, it was due to cumulus clouds that she could top at 10,000. Staying lower where there were scattered cumulus clouds would have necessitated weaving around them or flying through them on instruments and cumulus clouds are bumpy inside so they would then have had to deal with the turbulence. Climbing to ten avoided these problems. Nothing to do with any storm.

gl
I don't know how many thunderstorms you have seen from the inside from a small plane but I can tell you they go a whole lot higher than 10,000 feet. In the U.S. weak thunderstorms go up into the mid 20's and the garden variety go up to the mid 30's where they are stopped by hitting up against the tropopause. Really strong storms actually punch through the trop and continue up thousands of feet into the stratosphere. Storms are even taller near the equator because the trop is higher, above 50,000 feet.

Chatter recorded the messages from Earhart:

"Arrangements had been made between the plane and Lae station to call at 18 minutes past each hour and arrangements made to pass any late weather information, but local interference prevented signals from the plane being intelligible until 2.18 p.m. The Lae Operator heard the following on 6210 KC –“HEIGHT 7000 FEET SPEED 140 KNOTS” and some remark concerning “LAE” then “EVERYTHING OKAY”. The plane was called and asked to repeat position but we still could not get it. The next report was received at 3.19 pm on 6210 KC – “HEIGHT 10000 FEET POSITION 150.7 east 7.3 south CUMULUS CLOUDS EVERYTHING OKAY”. The next report received at 5.18 p.m. “POSITION 4.33 SOUTH 159.7 EAST HEIGHT 8000 FEET OVER CUMULUS CLOUDS WIND 23 KNOTS”.

They are describing the common scattered cumulus clouds found over the ocean, called "fair weather cu's" that top out usually below 10,000 feet.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Waitt search report.
« Reply #59 on: January 20, 2012, 12:03:01 AM »

Ok, "SEVEN PAUSE ONE EIGHT SOUTH" or "SEVEN POINT ONE EIGHT" or "SEVEN DEGREES EIGHTEEN MINUTES". The convention used to report has nothing to do with what Balfour reported. What Balfour heard is not knowable.

The question is whether the meaning is DEGREES.MINUTES or decimal degrees. As Chuck pointed out this seemed to be a typical reporting format for the era.

The problem with deciding which is correct, 7.3° or 7° 03' is that they are close to each other so neither can be eliminated since we don't know the correct answer, and this goes for the other latitudes and longitudes in the two position reports. But we may have a way to discern Balfours notation methodology by looking at the telegram containing the coordinates for the light on Nuaru. These coordinates were recorded as "THE FOLLOWING FROM NARAU STOP NEW NARAU FIXED LIGHT LAT 0.32 S LONG 16.55 EAST..."  You interpreted these as 0.32° south and 16.55° east and I take them to be 0° 32' south and 16° 55' east and these also are close to each other. First, there is an obvious problem with these coordinates since no matter which version you accept that location is more than 10,400 SM away from Nauru, in the center of Congo in Africa. You resolved this problem by shifting the decimal point one position to the right, changing the longitude to 165.5° east. I resolved this by supplying a missing "6" that was apparently omitted making the longitude 166° 55' east. Can we decide which interpretation is the correct one? Yes, because we do know the correct answer. One way is to place both on Google Earth and see which comes closest to Nauru. I have done this and I am attaching the map. Your position, 0.32° S 165.5° E, is 103 SM away from Nauru while my interpretation, 0° 32' south and 166° 55' east, lands right on Nauru!  But maybe Google Earth is not definitive. I have attached a second source for the accurate coordinates for the Nauru light from the 1938 edition of the American Practical Navigator which gives it as 0° 32' south and 166° 55' east. This pretty conclusively proves that when Balfour used the "point" notation that he was using it to separate the degrees from the minutes in the position of the Nauru light and it would be pretty hard to argue that he used the "points" in a different manner when recording the aircraft position reports.

And since you were perfectly happy to move the "point" one space to the right in your re-interpretation of the longitude of the Nauru light you cannot now argue against my doing the exact same thing with the longitude transmitted in the 0519 Z report making it 157° 00' East, that would be a clear case of "the pot calling the kettle black." This is especially true since my re-interpretation results in  a position that makes sense as it is consistent with what we know about normal methods of talking on aircraft radios, "ONE FIFTY    SEVEN, " which you have admitted regarding the other numbers transmitted in the position reports. The derived position is also  consistent with what we know about the airspeed, the wind speed, and the ground speed on that leg of the flight while your moving the "point" moves the position of the Nauru light away from what we know is its actual position.

gl
« Last Edit: August 07, 2012, 10:00:38 AM by Gary LaPook »
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