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Author Topic: Final Takeoff film  (Read 34607 times)

Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2016, 10:16:34 AM »

    Happy Amelia Earhart Day, fellow TIGHARS!
    It occurs to me that we learn something else from Ric’s discovery that the first of the two entries by AE and FN into the Electra cockpit that are shown in Marshall’s film must have occurred on July 1, and must have been for the test flight on that date.  Namely, we learn that AE chose to have FN accompany her on that test flight, the main purpose of which was to check out her radio-direction-finding (RDF) capability, on which their lives would depend as they approached Howland Island.  But for that purpose and on that short-range test flight, she did not need a navigator.  She needed a radio technician, to learn why the RDF was not working for her.
    A radio technician might have been able to point out to her that the problem was something as simple as failing to turn off the AVC switch on the receiver.  That was a step that was not needed with either of the two previous RDF set-ups, because they both had a dedicated RDF receiver.  But for the second attempt her overhead loop direction-finding antenna was connected to the original WE receiver.  That receiver had an Automatic Volume Control (AVC) switch, the normal setting for which was ‘On,’ for normal communications.  But that AVC circuit would tend to defeat any attempt to find a minimum by rotating the overhead loop antenna.  So that switch must be set to ‘Off’ for direction finding to succeed, with the equipment she was depending on.
    Do we have any evidence to support this hypothesis? 
    It is documented that AE’s attempt at direction finding in Lae failed on July 1, with FN in the co-pilot’s seat, and not any radio expert, as we see in Marshall’s film.  AE explained away this failure as due to her plane’s being too close to the signal source for a minimum to be found.  But it is also documented that in late May the Pan Am radio technician in Miami had been able to get a minimum on the local commercial station while the plane was on the ground at the airport.  (That station was probably WQAM, 1,000 watts power at 560 kilocycles).  In that successful ground test in Miami, the plane was probably as close to the signal source as it was for AE’s failed in-flight test over Lae.  Yet the Pan Am technician was able to get a directional minimum, no problem.  One wonders, was AE with him at the time in the cockpit at the Miami airport, when she could have received useful instruction in working the direction finder?
     Soon after AE, FN, GP, and Bo arrived in Miami after flying from New Orleans, someone in their party apparently told a newsman that a radio direction finder was to be installed in the plane.  While it’s possible this was a cover story to explain a stay in Miami that was really for other purposes, it seems to me just as plausible that it reflected a genuine concern with the adequacy of the plane’s RDF capability thus far.  Had AE been able to make it work at all, one wonders.  And if not, why not.
   There are many possible explanations for the failure in direction finding as they approached Howland.  That small AVC switch is only one of them, but it seems to me that it fits what we know, and it explains some of what is otherwise rather puzzling.
   
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
« Last Edit: August 12, 2016, 11:19:54 PM by Harbert William Davenport »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2016, 10:36:19 AM »

Good grief, could it have been something as simple as a switch setting :) :) that led to all the problems? 

This is good work! :)
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2016, 11:04:27 AM »

Good grief, could it have been something as simple as a switch setting :) :) that led to all the problems? 

The "Automatic Volume Control" switch could help explain not finding a null while listening to the letter "A" being broadcast on 7500 Kcs.

It does not explain not being able to hear voice transmissions on her other channels.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2016, 02:51:48 PM »

I wonder if there are enough old transmitters, receivers and other components that were installed in the Electra still in existence that could be used to duplicate the set-up used in the second attempt as they left FL.  Would need assistance from real radio archaeologists to attempt something like this.
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Randy Conrad

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #34 on: July 25, 2016, 02:20:53 AM »

In light of the findings by Ric on the Sid Marshall film...kinda curious to know exactly how long an 18mm film is when fully filmed. I just dont see Sid Marshall filming just Amelia and Fred getting in the plane twice and taking off down the runway. You have to assume he's doing an interview or something. Unless this film is a silent film! It makes you wonder! Also, Ric....and help me on this and I know its rather early in the morning but I don't think my eyes are deceiving me...but tell me guys if you actually see a patch in the window in this film as she is preparing to guide the plane to the runway. I just don't see it!!!
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2016, 07:41:21 AM »

"...but tell me guys if you actually see a patch in the window in this film as she is preparing to guide the plane to the runway. I just don't see it!!!

I can just make out an area of slightly lighter shaded fuselage aft of the cabin window.  You kind of have to look away from that area a bit to be able to see the difference.  The resolution of the film isn't great, but I can see a difference.
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Final Takeoff film
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2016, 05:12:04 PM »


...and an Electra 10B, pictured here:

No registration letters visible but that's  VH-UZO, c/n 1107 delivered to Ansett Airways on July 8, 1937 and last known (1978) to be on exhibit at the Marshall Airways Museum, in Bankstown, NSW as VH-ASM (note the "ASM" on the tail of the airplane in the photo).  Today there is no Marshall Airways Museum listed but there is an Australian Aviation Museum in Bankstown.  No Electra listed in the collection. 
I have a vague recollection of hearing about an Aussie Electra being purchased from a museum for rebuild to airworthy condition.

Here’s some further info on that Australian Electra 10B c/n 1107, the one that for a time in the 1970s was owned by Sid Marshall, the Guinea Airways mechanic and pilot who filmed Amelia’s final takeoff in Lae.  The best source for the story of this plane is already linked from the Electra Survivors Project page of Ameliapedia:  http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/Lockheed%2010%20VH-UZO%20Ansett%20crash%207-3-43.htm
   As told there, by 2004 the restored c/n 1107 was in the collection of what was then called “Australia’s Museum of Flight,” located at the naval air station HMAS Albatross near Nowra, New South Wales.  Another source probably dating from about that time also listed it as “on display” in that navy museum, along with a Lockheed 12A and more than 30 other historic aircraft: http://military.wikia.com/wiki/Fleet_Air_Arm_Museum_(Australia)
(The links provided in notes 4 & 5 no longer work.)
   In 2006 this museum was renamed the “Fleet Air Arm Museum,” and has since been owned and managed by the Royal Australian Navy.  C/n 1107 is not listed on their website as of August 2016:   http://www.navy.gov.au/history/museums/fleet-air-arm-museum#contact
So its current location is yet to be determined, but the Fleet Air Arm Museum is obviously the place to start the inquiry.
     My guess is that given the focus of the museum on naval aviation, there may be no suitable place for the display of c/n 1107, even though it did see military service during WW II.  (It and two sister-ships were “leased to the USAAF for transport work,” and “averaged 12 hours of flying per day and sometimes flew up to 20 hours per day,” in Australia, according to the article cited above.)
   One key paragraph from that article: “In April 1981 the remains were obtained by Laurie Ogle for restoration, which was duly completed a decade later. In the process of restoration the original Wright Whirlwinds were replaced by Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Juniors, effectively turning the aircraft into a Lockheed 10A. On 5 September 1991 the aircraft was restored to the Register as VH-UZO, and had its first post-restoration flight the next day. This historic aircraft still exists and today (c.2004) resides with Australia's Museum of Flight at Nowra, NSW.” 
    So c/n 1107 was originally and throughout its service a Model 10B.  Only later in the restoration work of 1981-91 was it in effect converted into a 10A with the change of engines.
    Here’s a history of the museum that for a time housed c/n 1107, and may still, for all I know:
http://www.navy.gov.au/history/museums/fleet-air-arm-museum

    Addendum of Sun Aug 14:  Further info from Australian Rob Russell, who had posted his 1976 photo of this plane outside the (Sid) Marshall Airways hangar in Bankstown, the photo from which Ric identified this Electra as c/n 1107  http://www.secretsofasydneypast.com/2008/05/marshall-airways-lockheed-electra.html:

Hi Bill. I don't have an email but I believe the FAA [Fleet Air Arm] museum can be reached on (02) 4424 1920. ASM/UZO [c/n 1107] doesn't seem to be on their display list, however it was gifted to them by Laurie Ogle so they should know where it is now.
Other links for anyone interested:
http://www.adastron.com/lockheed/electra/vh-uzo.htm
[end of post from Rob Russell, aka "gtveloce," his blog-name.  I omit his other links because I have already given them above.]

Now my comments on his post:  It's an important new fact that Laurie Ogle gifted the plane to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, then known as Australia's Museum of Flight.  Laurie Ogle acquired the plane in 1981 and had it restored, by 1991 converting it from a Model 10B to Model 10A, its present official designation.  As Rob says, that museum should know its present location.
    The document Rob linked above is also important as a detailed history of this plane, and has been added as a link from the Electra Survivors Project page in Ameliapedia.  Note the number of forced landings!  Note also the great photos, before, during, & after restoration.
    How ironic that this plane when brandnew was in shipment across the central Pacific in July 1937!
   




H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 05:34:59 PM by Harbert William Davenport »
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