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Author Topic: The first few nights on Gardner?  (Read 41764 times)

Cameron Scott

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The first few nights on Gardner?
« on: March 25, 2010, 07:29:03 PM »

So I was looking at some of the satellite and aerial pictures of Niku and was wondering about the first few nights. From all the evidence they would have spent several days and nights around the airplane transmitting. Now would they have moved to the shoreline to camp out for the night or would they have slept on the plane?

In Betty’s diary, there are references to wanting to leave the plane and how the water was rising. I think that they probably would have camped out on the Island just to be safe and dry. I would also guess that they would have moved to the seven site after their plane either ran out of gas or was damaged and could no longer transmit. This would have been one heck of a walk just to transmit. I would guess that they would have picked a very close spot on the opposite shore for the first couple of nights. Has there been any evidence found that would suggest this? I am guessing that they would have taken everything useful with them to the seven site so there would probably be very little to find or indicate a camp site.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Cam
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Tim Collins

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2010, 06:59:47 AM »

I think it goes without saying that they undoubtedly found the cache left behind by the Norwich City survivors - (probable source of the benedictine bottle, chains with corks etc?)

t
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Michael Frazier

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2010, 11:44:53 AM »

Trying not to forget we are talking about two real people who sadly died tempting their fate, I must admit to me it is a really exciting story too. But I'm afraid there is not much to say besides wild guess, though. We will never know exactly what happened. However, one can start with a simple question: What would I do after crash-landing on an island? It's a really difficult task to accomplish sitting at a PC in ones own room. To make an educated guess: it depends.

One can come up with quite a few scenarios. Let's disregard the ones based on irrational behavior due to mental pressure or physical injury, although that's quite common in exceptional circumstances. Let's suppose we are well and manage to get out of the aircraft after sending some distress calls. We then certainly will salvage everything useful to survive before the aircraft sinks. I would expect most of us staying close to the airplane for the first few nights. There may be evidence at the shoreline, if the airplane in fact is there. Maybe not.

Attracting someones attention!

By the way: who among us has undergone any serious survival training in a tropical environment? A couple of days later we are still alive, though. Perhaps we found some food originating from the ships wreckage. Maybe we are clever enough to survive dependent on ourselves. Sooner or later we would hope for search planes on a reconnaissance mission. Is there an area on the beach where we can write big letters on, or something similar? A permanent fire won't work because of the huge amounts of firewood needed to make the smoke observable. In addition we run the risk of burning down the entire island because of the strong winds. Any other ideas?

Where do we go from here?

We will look for a suitable camp site. As long as food and water is in reach it can be any place we like. Why not the 7-site?
Sooner or later we perish by any reason whatsoever. Just to mention two out of numerous possibilities: how about a severe medical condition due to malnutrition or food poisoning? I'm afraid it will be sooner. What do we leave behind? Considering the hostile environment I'm afraid not much. Above all the island surely has seen many changes since then. In a while I've seen videos of Niku made by tourists posted on Youtube. Although Niku lies in the middle of nowhere there must have been hundreds of campfires over time. To exclude all possibility of doubt finding either some DNA or the Electra is mandatory. TIGHARS Niku VI expedition is the right thing to do.

Good luck!

Michael










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Ashley Such

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2010, 11:33:34 AM »

Well, if I were Amelia or Fred, I would try to find a way out of the plane so I can try to transmit on my radio to see if I can get help. If that weren't to work, I'd try to make myself useful with the shipwreck to see if there was any food or anything that'd keep me alive for a few days. I'd definitely find alternatives to find help... Whether that'd be what someone already mentioned; putting a message on the sand, looking out at the ocean... I'd also try to find shelter somewhere if there was any at the place. If there was no food in the shipwreck, than I'd have to make sacrifices and eat birds, turtles, crabs, etc.

That's what I'd do to try to get help/survive.
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Michael Vincent Maina

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2010, 02:29:50 PM »

I do not think there was much chance of either AE or FN surviving for very long. I know it's highly speculative to reconstruct events but how about the following scenario:
 
On arrival over Gardner AE likely made a quick survey of the island, noted the reef which being now at low tide looked suitable as a landing site and decided to land on it to the southWEST, partially into the prevailing wind (cross wind landing). Further, this would result in the plane stopping close to the SS Norwich wreck.
 
During the landing the left main gear impacted a crevasse, sheared and the plane veered sharply left, ending up with its tail pointing SW with the nose pointing NE toward the beach. Possibly the left side fuselage adjacent to the cockpit suffered structural damage buckling the cockpit floor/sidewall and causing injury to AE’s ankle.

FN received a severe head injury (no restraining devices in the aft cabin).

The right engine with its propellor clear of the sea was started at low tide conditions to allow radio transmissions (TX) to be made. With 68 gallons of fuel remaining that was enough to meet the estimated total TX time of some 10 to 12 hours over approximately 5 days.

TX’s heard by “Betty” and “the Randolph’s” have compelling creditability and the description of FN trapped in the aft cabin with seawater present fits a hypothetical final resting position of the plane titlted right wing up and nose up. Thus, FN could not exit through the main cabin door and there would be seawater flooding in the aft cabin of perhaps 3 feet or more especially at high tide.

Temperatures in the plane, particularly the aft cabin must have been horrendous and life threatening. FN could not crawl out over the long range fuel tanks and AE could not exit due to her ankle injury and the fact that FN was incapacitated. There was probably precious little fresh water onboard.

FN expired after A FEW days.

AE may have been able to exit the plane when it was subsequently swept into deeper water and she could float out of the cockpit. Perhaps she made it ashore and lived a tenuous existence as a castaway for a while before succumbing. With a painful disabled ankle it would have been very difficult to suvive for long.
 
The plane was eventually washed over the reef and the remaining parts are lodged in rifts below the reef and likely covered over with undersea crustacea and other detritus. It may still be possible to  discern engines, landing gear trunions and other main structural elements.

I realize the above likely implies that AE could not have reached the Seven site and thus all of Ric & company's hard excavation work there may be to little effect – but again this is only conjecture. Hopefully, they will find the wrecked Electra and with canny analysis develope a rational final conclusion.

Good luck to all on the island!
    
Mike Maina
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 03:06:36 PM by Michael Vincent Maina »
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Ashley Such

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2010, 10:06:38 AM »

I do not think there was much chance of either AE or FN surviving for very long. I know it's highly speculative to reconstruct events but how about the following scenario:
 
On arrival over Gardner AE likely made a quick survey of the island, noted the reef which being now at low tide looked suitable as a landing site and decided to land on it to the southWEST, partially into the prevailing wind (cross wind landing). Further, this would result in the plane stopping close to the SS Norwich wreck.
 
During the landing the left main gear impacted a crevasse, sheared and the plane veered sharply left, ending up with its tail pointing SW with the nose pointing NE toward the beach. Possibly the left side fuselage adjacent to the cockpit suffered structural damage buckling the cockpit floor/sidewall and causing injury to AE’s ankle.

FN received a severe head injury (no restraining devices in the aft cabin).

The right engine with its propellor clear of the sea was started at low tide conditions to allow radio transmissions (TX) to be made. With 68 gallons of fuel remaining that was enough to meet the estimated total TX time of some 10 to 12 hours over approximately 5 days.

TX’s heard by “Betty” and “the Randolph’s” have compelling creditability and the description of FN trapped in the aft cabin with seawater present fits a hypothetical final resting position of the plane titlted right wing up and nose up. Thus, FN could not exit through the main cabin door and there would be seawater flooding in the aft cabin of perhaps 3 feet or more especially at high tide.

Temperatures in the plane, particularly the aft cabin must have been horrendous and life threatening. FN could not crawl out over the long range fuel tanks and AE could not exit due to her ankle injury and the fact that FN was incapacitated. There was probably precious little fresh water onboard.

FN expired after A FEW days.

AE may have been able to exit the plane when it was subsequently swept into deeper water and she could float out of the cockpit. Perhaps she made it ashore and lived a tenuous existence as a castaway for a while before succumbing. With a painful disabled ankle it would have been very difficult to suvive for long.
 
The plane was eventually washed over the reef and the remaining parts are lodged in rifts below the reef and likely covered over with undersea crustacea and other detritus. It may still be possible to  discern engines, landing gear trunions and other main structural elements.

I realize the above likely implies that AE could not have reached the Seven site and thus all of Ric & company's hard excavation work there may be to little effect – but again this is only conjecture. Hopefully, they will find the wrecked Electra and with canny analysis develope a rational final conclusion.

Good luck to all on the island!
    
Mike Maina

Hmm, interesting theory. But, I think Gallagher found two sets of skeletal remains; a man and woman.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2010, 01:40:44 PM »

... I think Gallagher found two sets of skeletal remains; a man and woman.
Native stories mention two sets of bones, but the bones that Gallagher sent to Fiji (and that subsequently became lost) were from just one body.  The original examiner, Dr. Hoodless, thought they were the bones of a man; our forensic anthropologist, Kar Burns, thinks they are more likely to be the bones of a woman.
LTM,

           Marty
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Michael Vincent Maina

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2010, 06:09:13 PM »

Curioser and curioser!
I seem to recollect reading a statement made by Mrs. Sikuli reported in T.F. King's "Amelia Earhart's Shoes" about bones being discovered on the beach in the vicinity of the Electra north of the wrecked SS Norwich. Could it be that FN and AE finally exited the plane, made it ashore but then both expired on the beach.

That implies that FN's bones were separated from AE's and perhaps simply buried elsewhere while the box containing her bones were buried at the Seven Site. But in that case the mystery is why only AE's box was removed to the Seven Site.

Mike Maina
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2010, 08:15:46 PM »

I seem to recollect reading a statement made by Mrs. Sikuli reported in T.F. King's "Amelia Earhart's Shoes" about bones being discovered on the beach in the vicinity of the Electra north of the wrecked SS Norwich. Could it be that FN and AE finally exited the plane, made it ashore but then both expired on the beach.

That may be one of the "native stories."  It is not in the British files.

See "Bones found on Nikumaroro" for the British account of finding bones.

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That implies that FN's bones were separated from AE's and perhaps simply buried elsewhere while the box containing her bones were buried at the Seven Site. But in that case the mystery is why only AE's box was removed to the Seven Site.

No.  The bones were not found in a box; a special box was constructed to contain the 13 bones turned up by the "more thorough search."

TIGHAR believes that the Seven Site is where the bones were found.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Michael Vincent Maina

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2010, 03:43:49 PM »


That may be one of the "native stories."  It is not in the British files. See "Bones found on Nikumaroro" for the British account of finding bones

No.  The bones were not found in a box; a special box was constructed to contain the 13 bones turned up by the "more thorough search."

TIGHAR believes that the Seven Site is where the bones were found.
[/quote]

Thank you Mr. Administrator,

Yes the "bones" story by Mrs. Sikuli was obviously a "native story" told to Ric and indeed King states the story is completely at odds with Gallagher's account. I  thought perhaps if it was considered to be reliable then it would neatly fit in with my speculation as to the demise of AE and FN.
 
I was in error about the wooden box - of course the box was constructed after the bones were discovered at the 7 Site in 1940  and shipped to Suva. However Mrs. Sikuli did state that the bones were discovered under the plane on the reef whereas the likely remains of the SS Norwich crew were found on the shoreline (10 people she said).

So it seems most likely somehow AE survived and made her way to the 7 Site, but I would still hazard a guess that FN did not get ashore and was probably swept out over the reef with the plane. That being the case then of course there is absolutely no question of the supreme importance of the archaeological dig.

Michael Maina
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2010, 05:55:14 PM »


Thank you Mr. Administrator ...

You're welcome.   ;)

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Yes the "bones" story by Mrs. Sikuli was obviously a "native story" told to Ric and indeed King states the story is completely at odds with Gallagher's account. I  thought perhaps if it was considered to be reliable then it would neatly fit in with my speculation as to the demise of AE and FN.

Well, there is also the set of stories preserved by Floyd Kilts.  It's unfortunate that he didn't find more support to press the issue.  It would probably not have been hard in his day (1960s) to find someone who would remember the box of bones from Gardner/Nikumaroro that was sent to Fiji.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Ashley Such

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2010, 04:36:40 PM »


Native stories mention two sets of bones, but the bones that Gallagher sent to Fiji (and that subsequently became lost) were from just one body.  The original examiner, Dr. Hoodless, thought they were the bones of a man; our forensic anthropologist, Kar Burns, thinks they are more likely to be the bones of a woman.

Ah, thank you for the correction, Marty. :)
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2010, 10:22:40 PM »

There are a couple of things that do not add up to me in regards to the first few nights on Gardner. The first is in regards to all of the post lost radio signals that were received from the vicinity of Gardner. One of the reports stated that Earhart’s voice was recognizable and in Betty’s notebook reference is made of a man’s voice.  What is missing is that there is no report of either Earhart or Noonan trying to give their location or what they thought that their location might be.  You would think that it would be the first thing you would try to send in an sos message. Surely Noonan had some idea where he was and the name of the Island.  He knew that by flying down the LOP that he would hit land so he should have known that he was on Gardner Island.

The second totally perplexing thing to me is the failure of the Navy to located them on Gardner Island when they flew over and searched on July 9.  The Navy flyers were probably concentrating on looking for the airplane itself and not seeing the plane assumed that Earhart and Noonan did not land there.  If indeed the two were still there, it is difficult to imagine that there were so signs or markers visible to alert the Navy flyers of their presence. 

Earhart and Noonan knew or should have known that there would be searchers out looking for them and that it might be several days before they came to Gardner, therefore, it is logical to assume that they would have made some form of preparation for that occurrence unless they were both so incapacitated it was not possible to do so. The Navy flyers reported seeing “markers” and “signs of recent habitation” but not enough to cause them to continue the search.  When they flew to Hull island to the east, one of the planes landed in the lagoon and made contact with the people there.

A landing in the Gardner lagoon apparently was not justified in the opinion of the flight leader. To accept the theory that Earhard and Noonan were stranded on the Island and the Navy flyers simply overlooked them because they were not looking hard enough or in too big of a hurry, one would have to believe that the flyers were incompetent and negligent in the performance of their duties. I have seen no evidence to support a theory that the Navy was incompetent and negligent. To the contrary, it was the Navy operations in Hawaii that proposed the theory that the wind blew the Electra south of course and that Noonan probably flew down the 157 line to an Island in the Phoenix chain and landed. It would be inconsistent to think that the same Navy operations personnel would not know how to thoroughly search an island with three float planes flying off of a battleship.

Based on the aforementioned, it appears that Earhart and Noonan either did not land on Gardner or if they did land there they were no longer there on July 9. By not attempting to send out the location where they were, it would indicated that they did not know their location. Apparently the carrier waves received by Pan American did not have discernible voices but were strong enough to get approximate bearing.  There has to be a question of the reliability of these Pan Am bearings, because if they all intersected in the vicinity of Gardner, then that is probably where the radio transmissions came from, however, a few days later when the Navy arrives, there is no airplane, Earhart nor Noonan to be found. All of this strongly suggests that our heroes were simply lost at sea. Perhaps they were trying to make it down the 157 line to Gardner but misfortune befell them before they got there.

The work on Gardner presently underway is certainly justified if for nothing else but to ascertain that Earhart and Noonan were never there. The search continues.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2010, 06:04:42 AM »

There are a couple of things that do not add up to me in regards to the first few nights on Gardner. The first is in regards to all of the post lost radio signals that were received from the vicinity of Gardner.

If you concede that the signals were from Gardner, your next few questions are moot (interesting, arguable, and irrelevant).

If you think your next questions are unanswerable, then you have to explain who generated the radio traffic from the Phoenix Islands.

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One of the reports stated that Earhart’s voice was recognizable and in Betty’s notebook reference is made of a man’s voice.  What is missing is that there is no report of either Earhart or Noonan trying to give their location or what they thought that their location might be.

For the most detailed treatment of the post-loss messages, you should read Finding Amelia.  I don't think it is correct to say "there is no report of either Earhart or Noonan trying to give their location."  There are many such reports in the credible messages--efforts to describe their situation in different ways.

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You would think that it would be the first thing you would try to send in an sos message. Surely Noonan had some idea where he was and the name of the Island.  He knew that by flying down the LOP that he would hit land so he should have known that he was on Gardner Island.

The credible messages in the days after July 2, if real, were all "SOS messages"--cries for help.  If they were, in fact, from AE and FN, it appears that they did not know the name of the island nor have an exact location to transmit.  

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The second totally perplexing thing to me is the failure of the Navy to located them on Gardner Island when they flew over and searched on July 9.  The Navy flyers were probably concentrating on looking for the airplane itself and not seeing the plane assumed that Earhart and Noonan did not land there.  If indeed the two were still there, it is difficult to imagine that there were so signs or markers visible to alert the Navy flyers of their presence.

Perhaps your imagination needs training.  I've seen the helicopter video which shows what it is like to fly over Niku at 400 feet and how hard it is to recognize people at that altitude; I don't think the helicopter duplicated the speed of the naval aircraft.

Lambrecht reported about Gardner: "Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants and it was finally taken for granted that none were there."  If you find it hard to imagine that the aviators might have been looking at the campsite while missing the campers, you haven't watched enough survival TV.  It happens frequently even in our own day that people who are lost fail to attract the attention of search and rescue aircraft.

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Earhart and Noonan knew or should have known that there would be searchers out looking for them ...

Why would they assume an aerial search in 1937?  It's common now, but it was not at all common then.

There are many things we know that they "should have known."  It appears that they did not live up to our expectations.  If they had prepared properly for the task of radio navigation, they would not have gotten lost in the first place.

Such is life.  It is hard to imagine that such a beautiful and photogenic woman could have been such an airhead [pun intended; you may laugh now] when it came to learning what she needed to know about her equipment and taking the steps necessary to find Howland Island.  But we must bend our imagination to the facts that are known, such as they are, and not bend the facts to fit our presuppositions.

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... and that it might be several days before they came to Gardner, therefore, it is logical to assume that they would have made some form of preparation for that occurrence ...

Ah, logic!  What a splendid tool of investigation.  Your deduction is perfect; the issue is with your premise.  And logic does not secure its premises.  It only shows what to do with them once you have them.  ("Never grant a Jesuit his premises.")

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The Navy flyers reported seeing “markers” and “signs of recent habitation” but not enough to cause them to continue the search.  When they flew to Hull island to the east, one of the planes landed in the lagoon and made contact with the people there.

A landing in the Gardner lagoon apparently was not justified in the opinion of the flight leader.

It was a good decision.  The atoll has miles and miles of shoreline and huge acreage inland.  What could six naval aviators have done by way of a land search with the equipment and daylight at their disposal?  How would they have anchored their aircraft safely?  How would they have made it to land and back again?  Landing where there are people with canoes makes sense.  Landing where no people are observed also makes sense--apparently to Lambrecht and definitely to me.

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To accept the theory that Earhart and Noonan were stranded on the Island and the Navy flyers simply overlooked them because they were not looking hard enough or in too big of a hurry, one would have to believe that the flyers were incompetent and negligent in the performance of their duties.


You attribute a position to TIGHAR that TIGHAR has never taken.  TIGHAR argues that the naval aviators failed to observe them; it has no official "because" statement.  That's an open question that is moot.  If the Niku Hypothesis is correct, then the aviators missed them for one reason or another.  If the Niku Hypothesis is false, then some other explanation must be given for the post-loss messages.

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I have seen no evidence to support a theory that the Navy was incompetent and negligent.

TIGHAR does not hold that view.  Given the state of search-and-rescue techniques of 1937 and the type of aircraft available, the aviators did what they could.  

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To the contrary, it was the Navy operations in Hawaii that proposed the theory that the wind blew the Electra south of course and that Noonan probably flew down the 157 line to an Island in the Phoenix chain and landed. It would be inconsistent to think that the same Navy operations personnel would not know how to thoroughly search an island with three float planes flying off of a battleship.

They are not the same personnel by any stretch of the imagination--and I have a very stretchable imagination.  Lambrecht's report on Gardner might have triggered a second and more thorough search of the island.  Putnam repeatedly asked for such a search.  Friends tried to arrange such a search.  Of course, since they hadn't been on the island on foot (as TIGHAR has in nine expeditions since 1989), they literally had no idea of the difficulties such searches would entail, the first of which is simply to get folks ashore safely (long before the boat channel was blasted through the reef).

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Based on the aforementioned, it appears that Earhart and Noonan either did not land on Gardner or if they did land there they were no longer there on July 9.


That does not follow.  The competent and careful search by good men may just have happened to miss seeing them.

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By not attempting to send out the location where they were, it would indicated that they did not know their location. Apparently the carrier waves received by Pan American did not have discernible voices but were strong enough to get approximate bearing.


Since we don't know the content of that message, we don't know what it did or did not contain.

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There has to be a question of the reliability of these Pan Am bearings, because if they all intersected in the vicinity of Gardner, then that is probably where the radio transmissions came from, however, a few days later when the Navy arrives, there is no airplane, Earhart nor Noonan to be found.

You may examine the evidence for yourself of how the bearings intersect.  It seems pretty striking to me.  I don't find it hard to imagine how the aviators might have missed what they were looking for; you do.  This is not a matter of logic but a matter of judgment about reality.

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All of this strongly suggests that our heroes were simply lost at sea. Perhaps they were trying to make it down the 157 line to Gardner but misfortune befell them before they got there.

To hold that view, you have to suppose a different source for the radio transmissions or incompetence and lack of diligence on the part of professional radio operators who were (I imagine) hopeful that their work would lead to the rescue of the United States' most popular female aviator.  You also need to account for the dozens of other post-loss radio messages that cannot be discounted on other grounds (some of them were clearly hoaxes).

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The work on Gardner presently underway is certainly justified if for nothing else but to ascertain that Earhart and Noonan were never there. The search continues.

The complete failure of Niku VI would not warrant your conclusion.  The team will only be able to search a tiny part of the island and the side of the sea mount.  The evidence they seek could be one meter beyond the area that they are able to search.  All that TIGHAR could conclude from such a total failure would be that the evidence we desire was not in the area that we searched.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 07:18:20 PM by moleski »
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: The first few nights on Gardner?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2010, 09:30:32 PM »

There are a couple of things that do not add up to me in regards to the first few nights on Gardner. The first is in regards to all of the post lost radio signals that were received from the vicinity of Gardner.

If you concede that the signals were from Gardner, your next few questions are moot (interesting, arguable, and irrelevant).

If you think your next questions are unanswerable, then you have to explain who generated the radio traffic from the Phoenix Islands.

Quote
One of the reports stated that Earhart’s voice was recognizable and in Betty’s notebook reference is made of a man’s voice.  What is missing is that there is no report of either Earhart or Noonan trying to give their location or what they thought that their location might be.

For the most detailed treatment of the post-loss messages, you should read <i>Finding Amelia.</i>  I don't think it is correct to say "there is no report of either Earhart or Noonan trying to give their location."  There are many such reports in the credible messages--efforts to describe their situation in different ways.

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You would think that it would be the first thing you would try to send in an sos message. Surely Noonan had some idea where he was and the name of the Island.  He knew that by flying down the LOP that he would hit land so he should have known that he was on Gardner Island.

The credible messages in the days after July 2, if real, were all "SOS messages"--cries for help.  If they were, in fact, from AE and FN, it appears that they did not know the name of the island nor have an exact location to transmit. 

Quote
The second totally perplexing thing to me is the failure of the Navy to located them on Gardner Island when they flew over and searched on July 9.  The Navy flyers were probably concentrating on looking for the airplane itself and not seeing the plane assumed that Earhart and Noonan did not land there.  If indeed the two were still there, it is difficult to imagine that there were so signs or markers visible to alert the Navy flyers of their presence.

Perhaps your imagination needs training.  I've seen the helicopter video which shows what it is like to fly over Niku at 400 feet and how hard it is to recognize people at that altitude; I don't think the helicopter duplicated the speed of the naval aircraft.

Lambrecht reported about Gardner: "Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants and it was finally taken for granted that none were there."  If you find it hard to imagine that the aviators might have been looking at the campsite while missing the campers, you haven't watched enough survival TV.  It happens frequently even in our own day that people who are lost fail to attract the attention of search and rescue aircraft.

Quote
Earhart and Noonan knew or should have known that there would be searchers out looking for them ...

Why would they assume an aerial search in 1937?  It's common now, but it was not at all common then.

There are many things we know that they "should have known."  It appears that they did not live up to our expectations.  If they had prepared properly for the task of radio navigation, they would not have gotten lost in the first place.

Such is life.  It is hard to imagine that such a beautiful and photogenic woman could have been such an airhead [pun intended; you may laugh now] when it came to learning what she needed to know about her equipment and taking the steps necessary to find Howland Island.  But we must bend our imagination to the facts that are known, such as they are, and not bend the facts to fit our presuppositions.

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... and that it might be several days before they came to Gardner, therefore, it is logical to assume that they would have made some form of preparation for that occurrence ...

Ah, logic!  What a splendid tool of investigation.  Your deduction is perfect; the issue is with your premise.  And logic does not secure its premises.  It only shows what to do with them once you have them.  ("Never grant a Jesuit his premises.")

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The Navy flyers reported seeing “markers” and “signs of recent habitation” but not enough to cause them to continue the search.  When they flew to Hull island to the east, one of the planes landed in the lagoon and made contact with the people there.

A landing in the Gardner lagoon apparently was not justified in the opinion of the flight leader.

It was a good decision.  The atoll has miles and miles of shoreline and huge acreage inland.  What could six naval aviators have done by way of a land search with the equipment and daylight at their disposal?  How would they have anchored their aircraft safely?  How would they have made it to land and back again?  Landing where there are people with canoes makes sense.  Landing where no people are observed also makes sense--apparently to Lambrecht and definitely to me.

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To accept the theory that Earhart and Noonan were stranded on the Island and the Navy flyers simply overlooked them because they were not looking hard enough or in too big of a hurry, one would have to believe that the flyers were incompetent and negligent in the performance of their duties.


You attribute a position to TIGHAR that TIGHAR has never taken.  TIGHAR argues that the naval aviators failed to observe them; it has no official "because" statement.  That's an open question that is moot.  If the Niku Hypothesis is correct, then the aviators missed them for one reason or another.  If the Niku Hypothesis is false, then some other explanation must be given for the post-loss messages.

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I have seen no evidence to support a theory that the Navy was incompetent and negligent.

TIGHAR does not hold that view.  Given the state of search-and-rescue techniques of 1937 and the type of aircraft available, the aviators did what they could. 

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To the contrary, it was the Navy operations in Hawaii that proposed the theory that the wind blew the Electra south of course and that Noonan probably flew down the 157 line to an Island in the Phoenix chain and landed. It would be inconsistent to think that the same Navy operations personnel would not know how to thoroughly search an island with three float planes flying off of a battleship.

They are not the same personnel by any stretch of the imagination--and I have a very stretchable imagination.  Lambrecht's report on Gardner might have triggered a second and more thorough search of the island.  Putnam repeatedly asked for such a search.  Friends tried to arrange such a search.  Of course, since they hadn't been on the island on foot (as TIGHAR has in nine expeditions since 1989), they literally had no idea of the difficulties such searches would entail, the first of which is simply to get folks ashore safely (long before the boat channel was blasted through the reef).

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Based on the aforementioned, it appears that Earhart and Noonan either did not land on Gardner or if they did land there they were no longer there on July 9.


That does not follow.  The competent and careful search by good men may just have happened to miss seeing them.

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By not attempting to send out the location where they were, it would indicated that they did not know their location. Apparently the carrier waves received by Pan American did not have discernible voices but were strong enough to get approximate bearing.
 

Since we don't know the content of that message, we don't know what it did or did not contain.

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There has to be a question of the reliability of these Pan Am bearings, because if they all intersected in the vicinity of Gardner, then that is probably where the radio transmissions came from, however, a few days later when the Navy arrives, there is no airplane, Earhart nor Noonan to be found.

You may examine the evidence for yourself of how the bearings intersect.  It seems pretty striking to me.  I don't find it hard to imagine how the aviators might have missed what they were looking for; you do.  This is not a matter of logic but a matter of judgment about reality.

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All of this strongly suggests that our heroes were simply lost at sea. Perhaps they were trying to make it down the 157 line to Gardner but misfortune befell them before they got there.

To hold that view, you have to suppose a different source for the radio transmissions or incompetence and lack of diligence on the part of professional radio operators who were (I imagine) hopeful that their work would lead to the rescue of the United States' most popular female aviator.  You also need to account for the dozens of other post-loss radio messages that cannot be discounted on other grounds (some of them were clearly hoaxes).

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The work on Gardner presently underway is certainly justified if for nothing else but to ascertain that Earhart and Noonan were never there. The search continues.

The complete failure of Niku VI would not warrant your conclusion.  The team will only be able to search a tiny part of the island and the side of the sea mount.  The evidence they seek could be one meter beyond the area that they are able to search.  All that TIGHAR could conclude from such a total failure would be that the evidence we desire was not in the area that we searched.
 
I find your remarks of rebuttal quite argumentative and simply not convincing.  I have  looked at the so called post lost messages and fail to see any instance where Earhart or Noonan attempted to give a location. One must have a very good imagination to interpret some of those entries in Betty’s notebook as providing convincing evidence that the messages were coming from Gardner Island and that Earhart was telling the world where she was.

Noonan had the reputation as the world’s foremost aerial navigator so is it not logical to assume that he knew or should have known what island that he was on?  To say that they did not know their position flies in the face of the hypothesis that they flew down the LOP looking for land.  The reports by Pan American of the bearings that they compiled indicating an intersection in the vicinity of the Phoenix group is not  evidence that those carrier waves were coming from Earhart or Noonan. The veracity and accuracy of those reports could very easily be considered suspect. It would have been of great benefit for Pan American to be given credit for performing a service that led to the rescue of our heroes.

In regards to the Naval aviators and contrary to your comments, the float planes that were on the Battleships were there for the purpose of reconnaissance. The pilots and observers were trained in searching and reconnaissance so it was not foreign to them, as you suggest, to go search airways and islands for lost airplanes and aviators.  As the world’s foremost aerial navigator it should not be hard to assume that Noonan would expect someone to come looking for him, likewise, Earhart. 

The comparison you give of the video in regards to your perceived difficulty is searching for people and equipment on an island is not accurate.  Looking at the video of the helicopter fling around Gardner does not indicate that flyers could not see objects on the ground.  The helicopter in the video is a Hughes 500 and  the airspeed appears to be about 80 kts which is normal for that aircraft.  The airspeed of the Navy float planes from the Colorado is comparable to the Hughes 500.

 I can assure you that aviators trained in reconnaissance techniques can see people and other objects on the ground and in the wooded areas.  To the untrained eye such as yours, everything seems to be a blur, however, not so to a trained scout pilot.  Your statement that “perhaps your imagination needs training”  is misplaced and unwarranted.  I have over forty years of professional flying experience from flying scouts in Vietnam to extensive over water flying in commercial aviation. I think that I know what an aviator should be able to see and not see when flying over an island and it is my opinion that if Earhart and Noonan were on Gardner, they would have been discovered by the scout planes from the Colorado.

It appears to me that you are a little too sensitive to other opinions that do not completely support your position and you tend to become very defensive and condescending. Perhaps you have been at this a little too long.  Relax a bit. You speak of a “total failure of Niku VI” and what it would indicate. I don’t think that not finding evidence that Earhart and Noonan were ever on Gardner would be a failure. It should be considered successful even if the expedition concluded that our flyers were never there.  Then you could go and look someplace else.
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