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Author Topic: Backup plan-- Gardner island?  (Read 6292 times)

Todd Graves

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Backup plan-- Gardner island?
« on: May 27, 2015, 09:33:46 AM »

I was curious if there are any references to Amelia considering Gardner Island as a backup plan? What was her backup plan if she couldn't spot Howland?

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Backup plan-- Gardner island?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2015, 10:19:53 AM »

I was curious if there are any references to Amelia considering Gardner Island as a backup plan? What was her backup plan if she couldn't spot Howland?

So far as I know, there are no references to AE ever mentioning Gardner Island in any way, shape, or form.

Gardner is not mentioned in any of the logs of radio transmissions until after the search began and aircraft were sent into the Phoenix Islands.

From Ric in a previous incarnation of the Forum:

Earhart’s declared intention to turn back to the Gilbert Islands if she couldn’t find Howland supposedly comes from her friend Eugene Vidal. Doris Rich (Amelia Earhart – A Biography) says: “Her plan, he (Vidal) said, was to hunt for Howland Island until she had four hours of fuel left, and then, if she had not located it, to turn back to the Gilbert Islands and land on a beach.” (page 273)
Rich says that this comes from “Box 19, page 97” in the “Vidal Collection 6013, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming.” Let’s find out what that source actually says.

AE’s alleged statement is interesting. With four hours of gas at 130 kts (the Electra’s best economical cruising speed) she can cover 520 nm in still air. That could, in theory, get her to 5 of the 16 Gilbert Islands (Nikunau, Beru, Onotoa, Tamana or Arorae). The closest, Nikunau, is 450 nm from Howland. She can do that in 3 hours and 46 minutes and if her navigation is not dead on (having started from someplace where she doesn’t know where she is because she hasn’t found Howland) she has all of 14 minutes to find Nikunau. For any of the other four atolls the tolerance is much tighter.

This is a dumb plan, especially given the proximity of three closer alternative islands (Baker at 40 nm, McKean at 290 nm and Gardner at 350 nm) all close to a single, easily discernable navigational line (the 157 degree Line of Position).
(Incidentally, Dames’ wreck site is a hundred miles beyond where Earhart could have theoretically gone.)

The alleged comment may, however, provide some clue as to how much fuel Earhart planned to have in reserve after flying to and looking for Howland. We need to find out when it was that Earhart supposedly said this (it must have been between the first and second attempts) and when it was that Vidal recalled that she had said it. As far as I know, Earhart was on the West Coast the whole time between the two attempts until she flew to Miami. I wonder where Vidal was? I wonder if this is a recollection by Eugene’s son Gore (whose other well-publicized memories of his father’s involvement in the Earhart disappearance are ludicrous).

For the rest of the story, see "The Gilberts Gamble."

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