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Author Topic: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water  (Read 8754 times)

Monty Fowler

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While I'm willing to give the nod to the numerous proposed deepwater searches that the crashed and sank school of thought is proposing, I find it helpful to remember the SCALE of what they're trying to do. The ocean is 17,000-odd feet deep there. And a tad dark. This sums it up better than anything: http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/35_Titanic/titanicbulletin.html

Ballard was looking for a ship 882 feet long when he finally found the Titanic. The Electra has a wingspan of 55 feet, not even 10 percent of the Titanic's length (or width/beam for that matter, the Titanic's was 92 feet). And unlike the Titanic, there will probably be no debris field for the crashed and sankers to follow, just whatever images they get on sonar, which will then have to be ground-truthed, as it were, with photos from an ROV or something similar.

Somehow the word "daunting" just doesn't seem to encompass the sheer enormity of their challenge.

LTM, who prefers searching for stuff on dry land,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Mark Pearce

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Re: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2014, 11:07:35 AM »

While I'm willing to give the nod to the numerous proposed deepwater searches that the crashed and sank school of thought is proposing, I find it helpful to remember the SCALE of what they're trying to do. The ocean is 17,000-odd feet deep there. And a tad dark...

...there will probably be no debris field for the crashed and sankers to follow, just whatever images they get on sonar, which will then have to be ground-truthed, as it were, with photos from an ROV or something similar.

Somehow the word "daunting" just doesn't seem to encompass the sheer enormity of their challenge.


Monty, one crash and sank crew has already proven they are up to the 'challenge.'  Here's a great image of a steel drum the Waitt Institute found somewhere off Howland Island- in water 17,355 feet deep.   



More photos here-

http://waittinstitute.org/gallery/search-for-amelia/
http://www.stratusproject.com/search/
« Last Edit: May 15, 2014, 11:29:53 AM by Mark Pearce »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2014, 11:19:06 AM »

Many of the same problems also apply to searching in the deep water around Niku.  Currents around the reef face can be strong, so a relatively light/low-density object like an Electra (with empty tanks in wings and body providing additional flotation) could drift a long ways before coming to rest.  If the wings were separated from the body, then they might drift in a different direction and distance.  That doesn't present much of a debris "field", for any searchers.  For that matter, the first place it comes to rest might not be the last, and TIGHAR has only searched a relatively small area, and not even in the deepest waters around the island.  We do have an anomaly to investigate, which is more than the crashed-and-sankers have, and it's in about a spot that is consistent with the landed-on-the-reef-then-sankers' hypothesis, assuming whatever it is dropped off the edge of the reef and sank nearly straight down.  It's obvious (to me) worth a visual look.
In some ways, the crashed-and-sankers are doing the same thing TIGHAR has done - hypothesize where AE went, then look for anomalies, then investigate those anomalies to see if they're evidence or clues that help refine the search.  TIGHAR just seems to have moved further along those lines than the other searchers.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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JNev

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Re: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2014, 01:13:36 PM »

There's no question that the deep water searchers are 'up to it' in terms of technical capability - as Mark has posted we've seen the images already.  Note too - that is a nice, clean and smooth bottom where that barrel lies... it won't all be that way.

As John notes, the other searchers face the very same restraint as TIGHAR - they must first divine some idea of where to look (mowing the entire Pacific is not a viable option), and then proceed by way of hypothesis - just as TIGHAR has had to do.

I wish them luck.  There are likely to be a few barrels and odds and ends that will turn up before it is over; far from probable that an Electra will do so, IMO, but somebody has to hold their nose and jot a check out for about $2M just to follow someone's best hunch on where to look... OK, to be fair, would-be sponsors must find enough confidence in someone's hypothesis to enable that person or group to go test it. 

To answer the topic, it will be extremely difficult and expensive - just as it will be on the slopes of Niku - if the wreck is even where they think it is.  Would help to have good reasons to look in a given expanse - like TIGHAR's theory that Gardner was a reasonable alternative to Howland under the circumstances (which many of course disagree with) -

I don't know what criteria all these folks are using to go after their particular acre of seabed, but I do recall discussions of the past here where things like smoke from the Itasca were either discounted or defended - and nearly contridictory thoughts of there having had to have been a visible smoke trail but despite that the Electra missed it (and therefore the island) but just had to be in the vicinity flying a search box, etc.  I also recall one of these outfits saying that anomalies exist in other's data that deserve another look - good luck.

If I had to throw a dart into the Pacific it would probably involve N to NW by 20 miles to 50 miles away - which narrows things down to about 3,000 square mile 'box' in one notion of it - and looking therein for the aforementioned 55 foot wingspan Electra.  This would be due to where the clouds were observed by Itasca, Earhart reporting being down to 1,000 feet (what else would put you so low while looking).  Anybody got a rational way, short of channeling Fred, to cut that area down?  Can you search all that on $2M??? 

Of course going for a second look at an already defined anomaly isn't quite so loose-ended... but at $2M a throw I'd want a fair bit of confidence that the first lookers really passed over something promising - what makes us believe that?  We have a crystal clear picture of a barrel at > 17,000 feet of depth above, so how did some good thing get passed by?

One problem I have with the presumed 'where' in the open ocean is that it is clear to me that Earhart had a better-than-even shot at another couple of hours of flying time (maybe more) when she reported flying on the line - at that point she may well have cleared the clouded area and ventured thence to the SE along the LOP, as many of us tend to think.

Choose your poison well.  Whether one agrees with their effort or not, one should note that TIGHAR presents an excellent model - we've not exhausted the hunting ground by a long shot in all these years: it will be very hard to find.
- Jeff Neville

Former Member 3074R
 
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2014, 01:16:48 PM »

Mark, I was aware of the Waitt Institute's drum find. And their pipe/chain/rock finds.

I'm not saying it's impossible. I just wanted to help people fix the sheer scale and size of the endeavor in their minds.

LTM, who never forgets to kick the can down the road,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Kent Beuchert

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Re: Just how hard will it be to find the Electra in deep water
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 11:06:36 AM »

 As for comparison to the search for the Titantic, that disaster scene was far more accurately located
than is the case with Earhart. I remember that Titantic had taken  a star reading not long before hitting the iceberg and thru extrapolation of time since then and speed, reported their position in their distress calls.
In the case of Earhart, there's literally nothing one can assume about her position when one assumes
the crashed and sank hypothesis, especially since radio signal strength turns out out be such a poor
indicator of proximity. I also am skeptical of the belief that she crashed right after her switch to her
higher frequency, thus supposedly explaining the lack of further transmissions. First, anyone going into the drink in her situation most likely is going to broadcast the fact, so that her listener will begin searching for her downed aircraft. Secondly, it's altogether too convenient to assume the timing. Thirdly, we are dealing with a virtual novice radio operator who announces that she is going to perform some operation on her radio set, is never heard from again, and yet no one seems willing to acknowledge that she may have screwed up in her attempt.
    No one can guarantee that searching the sea floor will fail, but I don't see any plausible evidence to indicate what area should be  searched. Even if I firmly believed that she crashed and sank, I would be extremely pessimistic about any affordable search effort being successful. There simply isn't anything concrete to go on here. 
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