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Author Topic: October 1937 exploration  (Read 71338 times)

Michael HALL

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October 1937 exploration
« on: June 23, 2010, 03:55:03 PM »

I understand 3 months after AE's landing an exploration took place to the island.

Was anything found at that time? What was meant by "signs of recent habitation?

Could the Electra have dissapeared that quickly? Or could we be looking at a water landing with the loss of the plane more swiftly?

But that rules out the accounts of the plane being spoken of by locals and also the ability to transmit messages.

Is there a time line of the locals reports of seeing a plane and also when the exploration took place? if the plane was seen after the exploration why was it not seen at the time?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 04:09:38 PM by Michael HALL »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2010, 06:23:47 PM »

I understand 3 months after AE's landing an exploration took place to the island.

The 3 day visit (hardly an "exploration") is described in Bevington's Journal.

Was anything found at that time? What was meant by "signs of recent habitation?

Bevington wrote seeing "signs of previous habitation" which doesn't mean quite the same thing as ""signs of recent habitation."  When questioned many years after the event, Bevington described what he saw as "It looked like someone had bivouaced for the night."

Could the Electra have dissapeared that quickly?

Easily, if it was washed over the reef edge.  In fact, there is photographic evidence to support the hypothesis that part of the plane was still visible when Bevington was there.  See Hiding in Plain Sight

Or could we be looking at a water landing with the loss of the plane more swiftly?

The post-loss radio signals rule out a water landing.  The airplane was on land for several days after the disappearance.

Is there a time line of the locals reports of seeing a plane and also when the exploration took place? if the plane was seen after the exploration why was it not seen at the time?

Most of the plane seems to have gone over the edge and into deep water before July 9, 1937.  Only some wreckage was visible on the reef and then only at low tide.

July 9, 1937 - Navy search pilots see "signs of recent habitation" but no plane.
October 15, 1937 - Photograph taken by Bevington inadvertently reveals presence of foreign object on reef edge.
1940-41 - Island resident Segalo Samuela (now Emily Sikuli) sees wreckage on ref edge that her father tells her is from an airplane.
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Michael HALL

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2010, 06:52:23 PM »

Great info thanks Ric, and shows I clearly have a lot more to learn.

I appreciate your time :)
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Michael HALL

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2010, 07:44:09 PM »

not sure if this should be a new thread but will ask here anyway ;)

Have you received the High res photo of Nessie yet?

My mind seems to make out what would be an engine casing vertical with a prop attached? Anyone else see the same thing?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2010, 08:17:09 PM »

We have the higher resolution image but we can't release it because of restrictions by Oxford University who now own the original image.  We can only use the scan for internal research. I'm working closely with Jeff Glickman, our forensic imaging specialist, and LCDR Bob Brandenburg, our tidal conditions expert, to learn as much as we can about Nessie's size and constituent components. I can tell you that the higher resolution image shows the object to be more complicated than it appears in the published image.  It does appear to be man-made.  We do not yet have a hypothesis about what it is but we don't see anything that would rule out airplane wreckage .
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Michael HALL

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2010, 08:20:52 PM »

wow, sounds so close to that all important "smoking gun" evidence.

Shame you are restricted in sharing.

Are you at least able to tell us all what your thoughts might be of what it is now you have seen the hi res ??

wheel under carriage? engine?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2010, 08:27:15 PM »

Anything I said at this point would be just wishful thinking.  It doesn't look like anything immediately recognizable - but wreckage, whether from a boat, plane train or automobile, is often like that. We need to quantify the image and narrow the possibilities.  In any event, we'll probably never be able to say that we know for sure what it is.
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Michael HALL

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2010, 08:30:53 PM »

And there was me getting my hopes up ;) But I understand exactly what you mean. Unless the image is clean enough that it can show beyond reasonable doubt, it will never be that crucial final puzzle piece.

Hoping things come together for a new expedition in the very near future!
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Alan Williams

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2010, 08:49:29 AM »

Just trying to better understand the hypothesis, would the following be an accurate recap?

The theory of events on the first few days is pretty clear. The plane lands on the reef ledge sometime late morning July 2nd. The landing is rough with a lot of splashing and tires possibly blown. Perhaps when tires are blown occupants receive injuries as severe as broken bones. Tide is low enough at landing for occupants to initially make their way to the beach and look back out at their craft pondering their predicament.

Over the days, as the tide rises and lowers, through it all AE and FN are able to get to and from the plane multiple times moving small items and making radio transmissions. Possibly at times the reef is almost dry and possibly at other times water is high enough to threaten the electrical circuity on the craft.

Sometime before the July 9th flyover the craft is washed into deeper water. The aviators scouting the island see only parts of the plane they presume to have come from the SS NC. AE and FN are already too debilitated if not one or both already deceased, and no ground signal profound enough to be visible is made to the planes.

Later, the expedition of Oct 1937 does not detect evidence of the wreck. Later still it is common knowledge among island inhabitants there was a wrecked plane in the vicinity of the presumed landing.

--- Sounds about right?


In the interest of better understanding, some quick questions come to mind:


Do historical tide charts for that part of the world support a low tide necessary for landing late on the morning of July 2nd?

Is there any significant breakup of the ship upon landing?

Upon final approach why is landing location chosen that could put the plane dangerously close the the existing wrecked ship?

In that part of the world what was the approximate tidal shift for the first few days after July 2nd? Six feet? Eight feet?

Is there any way to know how strong the surf was running in the first few days after July 2nd?

How high would the the electrical circuitry of the Electra stand with wheels blown? High enough to still be out of the surf at high tide?

How much of the ship is coming apart due to daily tidal and surf action alone?

Sometime after the last radio reception but before July 9th the ship goes into deeper water. How large a time window is that?

Does the ship just slip over the edge or does it float some distance out into deeper water?

Was there particularly high surf shortly before July 9th? Was there a storm? What event exclusive of ordinary surf and tide puts the plane into deeper water?

Does FN possibly go down having been still inside the craft when it slips into deeper water? Could rising tide and surf ever acted quickly enough to trap the fliers on the disabled craft when they would have preferred to return to the beach?

The 1937 expedition does not see evidence of the wreck, but noteworthy is that they aren't looking for it. Yet, how do islanders three years later report a visible, well known airplane wreck on the reef?

How much of the plane washes back up onto the reef over time? Does a large section wash back up intact? How would the islanders identify it as an airplane wreck if only bits and pieces wash back up?


I'm not trying to make a case against the hypothesis, just better trying to understand what might have happened and how the pieces of the puzzle would most naturally come together. Would enjoy any thoughts.
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Michael HALL

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2010, 09:12:01 AM »

You have picked up two points that I was struggling with last night

Why land so close to an obsticle? is it really the only place to land?

If the plane had gone over  the edge and was hardly noticeable in october, as you say why is a plane noticeable later down the line by locals?

I cant imagine the tide washing it back up.

My thoughts are the plane landed and as already assumed was washed over the edge pretty quickly, but maybe the red herring is the locals memory, as that is the only part that does not add up for me.

My other thoughts are, if the plane was in a fit state to run the engines, would of AE not wanted to "move" it to a more salvageable location, or was it too damged to be moved? My assumption would be yes.

For a living I deal with corals and know how incredibly sharp skeletol coral can be, tyre punctures would be very likely
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 09:37:32 AM by Michael HALL »
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Alan Williams

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2010, 09:51:29 AM »

Some additional thoughts...

AE and FN are flying along the LOP with a feeling of dread and impending doom. They spot Gardner in the distance and their hearts jump; they initially don't know if it isn't Howland. As as they get closer they again get a sinking feeling with the realization it isn't Howland and FN scrambles to identify it. Possibly FN does successfully identify or guess it to be Gardner, but why is there is no report of post loss transmissions referring to Gardner or similar? Ultimately, on the final approach they're feeling a lot better, believing it must be very clear to potential rescuers where they are and that they'll ultimately survive.

Still a ways out from Gardner it is wholly clear they will be compelled to land the craft on this small atoll. They know they are running on fumes and there might not be enough fuel to reach the island, much less to make multiple inspection runs. Perhaps, though, they do make one or two low passes. If so, from the air traveling 150 MPH how clearly could they identify the depth of water on the reef ledge? Would tide have been low enough for the reef to have been exposed? If exposed, would an aerial inspection reveal that the reef was smoother out closer to the edge? How could they have told the difference of a water depth of one or ten feet? Do the engines sputter on their first approach to the island and do they simply crash land at the closest point?

I wonder what the depth profile is from the sandy beach out to the edge of the reef? From the sandy beach is there a drop off of eight or ten feet and then back up to the sometimes exposed outer reef or is the depth uniform from the sandy beach out?

Yes, to the degree that the pilot maintains control and the ship will move, assuming there isn't an area of deep water, the best idea would appear to have been to taxi the craft as close to the sandy beach as possible, away from the dangerous surf and reef edge. Probably, however, shortly after touch down they were just along for the bumpy ride with essentially no control of the craft.

I wonder, had the ship come to rest closer to the sandy beach, further away from the pounding surf, would the flyover of July 9th identified the Electra and the outcome have been very, very different?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2010, 10:06:43 AM »

Thanks guys. Good questions and thoughts.  I can offer some answers when I get a minute.
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Scott Erwin

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2010, 10:29:13 AM »

Just a few of my thoughts as a former aviator:

"Why land so close to an obsticle? is it really the only place to land?"
     
     - If I'm looking to put down an aircraft and hoping to be spotted, I would choose to land it as close to something that will catch the eye as possible.  The wreck of the Norfolk is just that - extremely eye catching.  From the diagrams I've seen of the reef there is PLENTY of room to put down there without fearing a collision with the wreck. The coral, however, could be an entirely different story...

"Yes, to the degree that the pilot maintains control and the ship will move, assuming there isn't an area of deep water, the best idea would appear to have been to taxi the craft as close to the sandy beach as possible, away from the dangerous surf and reef edge. Probably, however, shortly after touch down they were just along for the bumpy ride with essentially no control of the craft."

     - I concur:  the first thing I would try to do is to focus on getting the aircraft as far up onto the beach as possible.  However, the aircraft may not have been taxi-able depending upon the condition of the tires and landing gear after the coral landing.  They may have been stuck where the aircraft came to a stop or in a spot where the gear became stuck in a crevasse, etc.
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Alan Williams

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2010, 04:20:08 PM »

Ric, I'm still a newbie as you can see from my posts but coming up fast. I'm half way through your book and boy what an outstanding job you did. My, my, what painstaking detail. I'm rereading each page about three times trying to absorb as much as I can. What a tale of courage, vanity, over-confidence, luck, determination, faraway places (that might otherwise be idyllic), potential ticker-tape parade super-stardom and ultimately the running out of luck and tragedy.

Yes, would love any observations to questions/thoughts above...
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 06:25:48 PM by Alan Williams »
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Thom Boughton

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Re: October 1937 exploration
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2010, 11:54:45 PM »

I'm working closely with Jeff Glickman, our forensic imaging specialist, and LCDR Bob Brandenburg, our tidal conditions expert, to learn as much as we can about Nessie's size and constituent components. I can tell you that the higher resolution image shows the object to be more complicated than it appears in the published image.  It does appear to be man-made.  We do not yet have a hypothesis about what it is but we don't see anything that would rule out airplane wreckage .



Ric.....

Not to beat a dead horse here...just seeking deeper understanding....

Are you saying that, in the higher res view it no longer appears to be a main mount stanchion? Just some other as-yet-unidentified man-made object..still possibly of Lockheed manufacture?



....Thom
TIGHAR #3159R
 
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 12:06:54 AM by Thom Boughton »
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