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Author Topic: Why Howland?  (Read 12895 times)


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Why Howland?
« on: November 03, 2014, 11:31:42 AM »

Forgive me if this is answered elsewhere; if so, feel free to call me out and point me to the answer :)

Why was Howland a stop?  I understand that it was the original stop for the first attempt, and presumably that is one (and perhaps the sole) reason why it would be a stop on the second attempt. It's also close to the equator (which Earhart was trying to do) and it was US-controlled. Also, Earhart wanted to stop in what people then would consider exotic locations for the news reports and the planned book.

That being said - why Howland? It's hardly exotic (since there was nothing there at the time) - one couldn't write a chapter in a book about stopping on a small uninhabited island. It required building an airfield/temporary radio station. Surely Earhart and/or Noonan would have known about the relative size of the island and that nothing was near it (except Baker which was still over 40 miles away), meaning that using DR to get in the general vicinity could still leave you with nothing but ocean visible even with relatively clear skies, compared to an island group which would have given them a higher chance to spot at least one island and use that as a navigational reference.

Having it being under US administration would have helped but they had already made numerous stops in non-US territory (like Lae.)

Distance-wise, the plan from Lae to Hawaii was 2556 miles (to Howland) and 1900 miles (to Hawaii.)  A stop at (say) Tarawa would have been ~1900 miles from Lae, then 2700 miles to Hawaii (per Google calculations) - a second longer leg but within the capabilities of the Electra, still relatively close to the equator, and with a bit more to write about than Howland. I'm not certain if the island had an airstrip then, but certainly the British wouldn't have balked too much if one needed to be built (making at least one part of the British Empire easier to access.)  And of course, it would have been a much larger target.  A bit further from the equator than Howland, but certainly close enough to have a better claim for a longer journey around the world than the previous ones which used the northern route.

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Why Howland?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2014, 11:51:27 AM »

It's all explained in detail in Finding Amelia - The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance, available on Amazon for a paltry $9.99 as Kindle or $16.02 as paperback - or you can have a hard back edition signed by the author for a donation of $100.
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