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Author Topic: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?  (Read 76919 times)

Gary LaPook

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As far as Lae vs Rabaul:  An instrument rated pilot myself, 'trying' to think in terms of a poorly trained (she had vitrually none) instrument pilot, with 1937 navigation technonlogy, and considering where they were, 'personally' I would want as much "dead reconing" as possible during this last leg.  Better to calculate wind drift and ground speed early in the flight....before going out over the vast....nothingness!  But, that's just me trying to think like a VFR pilot having to go over the ocean....in 1937.  I want to fly over as much land as possible.....
And just how many 2,500 mile flights have you made on which the wind correction angle calculated at the beginning worked for the whole flight?

Yep, that's what I thought.

Earhart didn't have to rely on a wind correction angle determined only over land at the beginning of the flight because Noonan had tools that he could use to determine the actual wind encountered in flight and then work out the proper WCA for different portions of the flight. I don't know if your flight instructor taught you how to determine the winds encountered in flight by plotting on your E-6B the heading, the air speed, the ground speed and the track between two landmarks. A navigator can do the same thing between celestial fixes and Noonan himself said  "This method proved to have been quite accurate." See page 424 of Weems: https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/resources/weems

Here is an example of how the wind can be determined between fixes by comparing the "no wind position" with the actual fix:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/other-flight-navigation-information/in-flight-celestial-navigation

Noonan also had a Mark IIB pelorus with which to take drift readings from which he could determine the wind and the new WCA, see:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/topics/measureing-and-determining-wind-speed-and-direction-while-in-flight

and Noonan's description of this process at:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/resources/noonan-article/Noonan1936article.pdf?attredirects=0

gl
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 03:39:51 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 05:57:55 AM »

That's all fine and good but isn't it a FACT that they didn't find Howland?  No matter what Noonan was "capable" of, they didn't find Howland.  Something happened along the way.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 05:59:59 AM by Irvine John Donald »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 10:04:23 AM »

That's all fine and good but isn't it a FACT that they didn't find Howland?  No matter what Noonan was "capable" of, they didn't find Howland.  Something happened along the way.
You noticed that, did you, congratulations.

But they didn't expect that outcome when they took off based on the navigation tools and methods that Noonan used so no reason to do as Mr. Swift suggested.

gl
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 10:06:21 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Dan Swift

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2011, 10:11:37 AM »

Gary,
All I am saying is, I wasn't around in 1937....so I do not know how accurate forecasting winds aloft was....especially in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  A Pilot knows their limitations better than anyone else.  I am saying that, if I were in the position AE was in, with available Navigation at the time, I would have wanted to fly over as much land as possible until I headed out over the open ocean.  Very seldom winds aloft actually were the same as forcasted when I flew long trips. 

Better question might be how many 2,500 mile trips had she flown over an ocean and ended up at the right place?     

And great point:  Noonan didn't find Howland...did he?   

Too bad AE couldn't push the mic button on her yoke and just say "Lae Ground....Electra 16020 IFR Howland Island"...and get her clearance instructions, route, initial altitude assignment, initial frequency, and her transponder code....and take off with clearance from the Lae tower.  And then get those vectors to the approach at Howland....and they both live happily ever after.   Not so much! 
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2011, 11:02:58 AM »

Gary,
All I am saying is, I wasn't around in 1937....so I do not know how accurate forecasting winds aloft was....especially in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  A Pilot knows their limitations better than anyone else.  I am saying that, if I were in the position AE was in, with available Navigation at the time, I would have wanted to fly over as much land as possible until I headed out over the open ocean.  Very seldom winds aloft actually were the same as forcasted when I flew long trips. 

Better question might be how many 2,500 mile trips had she flown over an ocean and ended up at the right place?     

And great point:  Noonan didn't find Howland...did he?   

Too bad AE couldn't push the mic button on her yoke and just say "Lae Ground....Electra 16020 IFR Howland Island"...and get her clearance instructions, route, initial altitude assignment, initial frequency, and her transponder code....and take off with clearance from the Lae tower.  And then get those vectors to the approach at Howland....and they both live happily ever after.   Not so much!
Well the winds aloft forecasts in 1937 certainly were no better than today's and today's are not accurate enough to DR to Howland, hence the need for a navigator that had the tools to actually measure the actual winds in flight. Nor would a WCA determined on the first few hundred miles based on pilotage have been accurate enough to find Howland.

gl
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 11:05:10 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2011, 11:08:00 AM »

Well the winds aloft forecasts in 1937 certainly were no better than today's and today's are not accurate enough to DR to Howland, hence the need for a navigator that had the tools to actually measure the actual winds in flight.

There is good reason to believe the flight experienced overcast conditions during at least part of the night time portion of the flight.  How does a navigator measure actual winds in flight at night while flying over the ocean under an overcast?
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Chuck Varney

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2011, 11:45:43 AM »

How does a navigator measure actual winds in flight at night while flying over the ocean under an overcast?

By dropping flares?

Chuck
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 12:27:27 PM by J. Nevill »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 11:52:10 AM »

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Gary LaPook

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 06:42:21 PM »

By dropping flares.

From 10,000 feet???

Ric,

The closing punctuation to my post should have been a question mark, making it By dropping flares?

Chuck
Yes, by dropping flares from 10,000 feet. The flares only ignite when they hit the water, according to Noonan and he aught to know, see:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/resources/noonan-article/Noonan1936article.pdf?attredirects=0

Also see page 34 of U.S. Navy Aircraft Navigation Manual, H.O. 216, available here:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/topics/measureing-and-determining-wind-speed-and-direction-while-in-flight

According to H.O. 216 a flare dropped from 8,000 feet hits the water about one mile behind the plane so from 10,000 feet it will hit the water a little farther back. To get the most accurate reading of drift you want to take the observation as far past the flare as possible and the manual mentions 8 nm as a good distance.

So if you think that this can't be done then you are disagreeing with the navigation experts in the U.S. Navy and with Noonan.

gl
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 06:53:50 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 07:41:47 PM »

So if you think that this can't be done then you are disagreeing with the navigation experts in the U.S. Navy and with Noonan.

I wouldn't dream of it.  So Noonan had flares, was able to use them effectively, got accurate winds aloft information, and was able to navigate accurately to Howland. What are a relief.
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2011, 08:20:41 PM »

Obviously the next expedition should go to Howland.  Come to think of it, it's the only place that wasn't searched!  I'd recommend first dividing up the island into a search grid, the looking carefully in each grid section for anything that looks like a large silver airplane.
(sorry, my sense of humor got out of control again)
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Heath Smith

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2011, 07:28:35 PM »

As Gary has often pointed out, the Lae/Howland flight was well within the capability of the airplane and navigational methods and technologies of the time and yet the flight failed to reach its intended destination.

Has anyone created some type of guesstimate as to how close they actually came to Howland? The only evidence that I can recall was the radio operator saying that the radio signal strength was excellent, 5 out of 5. Someone had commented that they should have been within 60 miles if this were true although I do not recall where I had read that.

I also read another document that suggested that if there was cloud cover and they were at 1000ft, they might not have been able to differentiate the shadows of the clouds from the island. This seems pretty compelling.

Playing with Google Earth, assuming a 1000ft elevation on a clear day with unlimited visibility, I could see the Howland at about 70-80 miles out. Of course this that is a simulated environment but it might suggest the outer limit of how close they were. On a real aircraft, at 1000ft, assuming perfect conditions, how far out could you be and spot Howland Island? It seems by all accounts they were very close to the destination given the total distance from Lae to Howland.

Are they any opinions as to whether they headed South prematurely or whether they passed to the North and missed Howland when they turned South and passed by it? I am guessing that they headed South prematurely, but this is just a guess.
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2011, 07:48:52 PM »

Hi Heath. Please take a look at Celestial navigation forum. Topic is "Working the flight backwards". In particular reply #95 by Jeff Neville. His reply has a clear snapshot of why they turned south when they did. (the theory anyway).

I think in general that the general consensus is they went to far southof Howland, headed north on the LOP but turned back south just a bit too soon. 
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 08:41:57 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 02:13:08 AM »

As Gary has often pointed out, the Lae/Howland flight was well within the capability of the airplane and navigational methods and technologies of the time and yet the flight failed to reach its intended destination.

Has anyone created some type of guesstimate as to how close they actually came to Howland? The only evidence that I can recall was the radio operator saying that the radio signal strength was excellent, 5 out of 5. Someone had commented that they should have been within 60 miles if this were true although I do not recall where I had read that.

I also read another document that suggested that if there was cloud cover and they were at 1000ft, they might not have been able to differentiate the shadows of the clouds from the island. This seems pretty compelling.

Playing with Google Earth, assuming a 1000ft elevation on a clear day with unlimited visibility, I could see the Howland at about 70-80 miles out. Of course this that is a simulated environment but it might suggest the outer limit of how close they were. On a real aircraft, at 1000ft, assuming perfect conditions, how far out could you be and spot Howland Island? It seems by all accounts they were very close to the destination given the total distance from Lae to Howland.

Are they any opinions as to whether they headed South prematurely or whether they passed to the North and missed Howland when they turned South and passed by it? I am guessing that they headed South prematurely, but this is just a guess.
Looks like Google Earth strikes again. From 1,000 feet the horizon is only 41.6 SM away so anything at sea level beyond that distance is hidden behind the curve of the Earth. If Howland was 20 feet tall then this would add to the distance that you could see the top of that tree by 5.9 SM making a maximum that it might be possible to see Howland 47.5 SM (41.3 NM) no matter how good the meteorological visibility happens to be and it is never that good over the ocean.
See response #67, https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5577.html#msg5577
#68, https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5578.html#msg5578
and #71, https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5583.html#msg5583
on the same thread.


gl
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 02:48:08 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Course lines, speed lines, where's Howland, and... where did she go?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2011, 02:35:12 AM »

Hi Heath. Please take a look at Celestial navigation forum. Topic is "Working the flight backwards". In particular reply #95 by Jeff Neville. His reply has a clear snapshot of why they turned south when they did. (the theory anyway).

I think in general that the general consensus is they went to far southof Howland, headed north on the LOP but turned back south just a bit too soon.
If you read Neville's post #95 then make sure you also read post #87 at http://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5618.html#msg5618
post # 99, at http://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5637.html#msg5637
post #104, http://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5647.html#msg5647
and post #73, https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,452.msg5586.html#msg5586

Then if you want more complete information go to:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/navigation-to-howland-island
and also look at the standard flight navigation texts available here:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/topics/landfall-procedure
and  more generally here:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/

If you read Neville's post #95 then you might also like to ask him about the last time he did a sun line "landfall" approach to an island (I did my last one about seven months ago on May 1, 2011, see: https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/other-flight-navigation-information/recent-landfall-approach  and I've done lots of them before) and also ask him when he took his last sextant observation in flight, (I took some today.)

gl
« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 12:48:20 AM by Gary LaPook »
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