Advanced search  
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5   Go Down

Author Topic: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"  (Read 53951 times)

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
"We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« on: August 26, 2015, 08:49:46 AM »

As as as we know, she never said that. Why didn't she say where she was? 
In none of the post-loss distress calls is there any mention of the name of an island. That suggests that she did not know the name of the island where she had landed, although several of the credible messages reportedly included latitude/longitude coordinates (sadly, none has survived). How could she know the lat/long but not know the name of the island? One possible answer. The map used by the U.S. Navy to plot the search was the best map available that covered the Howland Island area but it didn't go as far south as Gardner. When the radio bearings on the distress calls indicated that the plane was somewhere south of the southern border of the map, the Navy extended the map with hand-drawn lines and drew in Gardner Island. If Earhart and Noonan were using that same chart they were off the map when they landed at Gardner.
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2015, 10:29:31 AM »

Ric, I'm curious about this.  I know Gardner wasn't the only island along the line they were on, but if Gardner wasn't on the map, how would they have known it was there?  Or would they have happened upon it because it was on the line, not previously knowing of its existence?  Fortunate find (I guess, seeing how it turned out) if they didn't know it was there.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2015, 10:46:17 AM »

Ric, I'm curious about this.  I know Gardner wasn't the only island along the line they were on, but if Gardner wasn't on the map, how would they have known it was there?  Or would they have happened upon it because it was on the line, not previously knowing of its existence?  Fortunate find (I guess, seeing how it turned out) if they didn't know it was there.

Good question.  I don't think they were ever intentionally headed for or looking for Gardner.  I think the plan was always to find Howland.  They hit the Line of Position and Howland wasn't there.  They searched north on the line as far as they dared then they turned around and searched south ("We are on the line 157 337 running on line north and south). They found an island but it clearly wasn't Howland.  Any port in a storm.  They landed and Fred got their latitude by shooting the sun at local noon.  At that point he knows they're off the map to the southeast of Howland. Maybe he gets an accurate lat/long that night but it doesn't help.  They're off the map.
I used to think that Fred saw the Phoenix Group as an alternate from the start but if that was the case he should have known they were on Gardner. 
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2015, 11:17:53 AM »

That's what struck me, that if you were using a group of islands as a backup, you'd probably know what islands they were.  If he didn't know they were there, what incredible luck that there were any islands there to be found.  Would it be possible that he did know, but the alleged head injury made that information unobtainable to A.E.?  If we don't know what coordinates they broadcasted, they could have been whatever she read off his notes after they landed, perhaps the last position he wrote down before being injured.  (I realize this is all supposition.  Just thinking through it to see how it may fit.)
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2015, 11:46:15 AM »

Okay, the more I think about this, the more loathe I am to think a navigator of Fred's training, experience, and ability wouldn't know the Phoenix Group was there.  It would seem an incredible coincidence those islands would be on the 157/337 line without him realizing it.  Suppose he had the same map the Navy had, and just as they did, just extended the lines and drew in the Phoenix Group, maybe even writing in latitude and longitude for them.  He may not have even written the names in, as he would have considered it an absolutely last ditch option anyway.  I could see him not sharing the information with A.E., as her lackadaisical approach to navigation and Morse Code would indicate she was moving more into the entertainment/fame business that serious aviation, and would probably not be interested. After the alleged head injury, he was unable to share any of this with A.E., and she would just give the coordinates she could find on the map.

Of course, none of this can be proved, but is just an exercise in thought.  It may help in putting some pieces in place (or not).
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2015, 12:05:19 PM »

If he didn't know they were there, what incredible luck that there were any islands there to be found.

Well, the islands were there whether he knew about them or not.  If he wasn't intentionally headed for them it doesn't matter whether he knew about them.

  Would it be possible that he did know, but the alleged head injury made that information unobtainable to A.E.?

Sure.  Anything is possible.  What I like about the "off the map" explanation for why AE never said Gardner Island is its elegant simplicity.  Occam would love it.

  If we don't know what coordinates they broadcasted, they could have been whatever she read off his notes after they landed, perhaps the last position he wrote down before being injured.  (I realize this is all supposition.  Just thinking through it to see how it may fit.)

Or the coordinates could have been exactly correct. Another clue as to how much information she had is the mysterious "281 message."  Howland is 280 nautical miles north of where we think she landed. Not quite accurate, but close. 
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2015, 12:27:38 PM »

That's why I think my second post fits pretty well.  Everything seems to fit without needing any alien abductions, secret Japanese war construction, time/space warps, etc.  It would all be pretty difficult to prove, though.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2015, 12:28:44 PM »

Okay, the more I think about this, the more loathe I am to think a navigator of Fred's training, experience, and ability wouldn't know the Phoenix Group was there.

Fred had no experience in the South Pacific.  I see no reason to think he would be familiar with every island group in that part of the world.

  It would seem an incredible coincidence those islands would be on the 157/337 line without him realizing it.

Your logic doesn't follow.  The 157/337 line of position was determined by the time the sun rose.  Fred did not select that line because he knew that Gardner was on it.  The island was there whether Fred knew about it or not.  The coincidence is that the island happens to be on a 157/337 line drawn through Howland.  It was indeed fortunate but it had nothing to do with Fred.

  Suppose he had the same map the Navy had, and just as they did, just extended the lines and drew in the Phoenix Group, maybe even writing in latitude and longitude for them.

Why would he do that?  The Phoenix Group was over 300 nm from his planned destination.  The only reason the Navy extended the map is because the Pan Am bearings crossed below the map's southern border.

  He may not have even written the names in, as he would have considered it an absolutely last ditch option anyway.

You just fell into the "would have" trap.

Of course, none of this can be proved, but is just an exercise in thought.

That's right, but it's a worthwhile exercise.
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2015, 01:00:27 PM »

I wouldn't expect he was familiar with the area.  It just seems that as a professional navigator, Fred would likely do the research as to what land might be out there.  While the Phoenix Group is over three hundred miles from his intended destination, it's still land, which beats the heck out of landing on water.  Sorry about the "would have".  I just meant it would seem to me that a careful navigator would try to plan for ANYTHING.  (Same reason he carried a "preventer".)  "Hope for the best, plan for the worst."

Would Fred have known what angle the Line of Position would be before the flight commenced?  (I know very little about celestial navigation. Probably obvious.)  If he did, it would seem reasonable that he would look to see if there were any usable landing spots along that line.  It would probably come under the heading of "I don't really expect to ever have to use this, but just in case.........."

By the way, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.  This is where I wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee with you and discuss it face to face, instead of this somewhat cumbersome method.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2015, 01:22:41 PM »

Would Fred have known what angle the Line of Position would be before the flight commenced?  (I know very little about celestial navigation. Probably obvious.)  If he did, it would seem reasonable that he would look to see if there were any usable landing spots along that line.  It would probably come under the heading of "I don't really expect to ever have to use this, but just in case.........."

Once Fred knew within a day or two when they would be making the flight to Howland he could pre-compute the line of position he would get at sunrise, but if he didn't have a map that showed the Phoenix Group it still wouldn't help him.  We just don't know how much he familiarized himself with the general geography of the region.  That would seem prudent.  Did he know there was an island group several hundred miles off to the southeast of his intended destination?   Maybe, but without a good chart of the area he couldn't do any meaningful navigation toward an island. 

By the way, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.  This is where I wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee with you and discuss it face to face, instead of this somewhat cumbersome method.

That would be fun but then we couldn't share our profound wisdom with the rest of this august group.
Logged

Dale O. Beethe

  • T3
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2015, 01:40:33 PM »

I'm glad they're getting to see your wisdom, but I figure they're just putting up with whatever I have to offer.

Were there any good charts available at the time that would have had an accurate position of the Phoenix group?  I ask because I seem to remember the Navy was worried about grounding  a battleship on shoals that weren't even there.  It's too bad we don't have an accurate list of what charts and such Fred had to work with.  It would seem helpful to at least know what knowledge was available, even if we can't know exactly what he did with it.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2015, 02:07:12 PM »

Were there any good charts available at the time that would have had an accurate position of the Phoenix group?

Logically there should have been a chart that picked up where the northern one left off.
Logged

Tim Collins

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 316
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2015, 02:11:28 PM »

Is there a higher resolution version of that map available?
Logged

Ricker H Jones

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 118
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2015, 02:29:43 PM »

Although we know Noonan carried a lot of charts, he described his method of using plotting sheets for overwater work in his letter to PVH Weems outlining his Pan Am navigation techniques.  Plotting sheets have only printed grid lines with values assigned by the user for  latitude and longitude.  It is possible he was using such a method because of insufficient space in the cockpit for a large chart.  Plotting sheets are devoid of cultural and geographic features and would not have had any islands printed on them.
Noonan wrote:
“The actual chart work was carried out on VP-3 and 4 Aircraft Plotting Sheets.  By working along the track from Alameda to the left-hand border of the chart, then transferring that termination of the track back to the right-hand border in the same latitude, and continuing in this manner, two sheets sufficed for the entire crossing.”  (Weems, Air Navigation, p 423, 1938)
 
Examples of plotting sheets can be found here.
Logged

Ric Gillespie

  • Executive Director
  • Administrator
  • *
  • Posts: 6021
  • "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2015, 02:37:31 PM »

Is there a higher resolution version of that map available?

There is a high-res facsimile of the map on the DVD that comes with the hard-cover edition of Finding Amelia. I'll put the PDF (51.8 MB) in a Dropbox.  Any TIGHAR member who wants a link can just send me an email at ric@tighar.org
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5   Go Up
 

Copyright 2023 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.18 | SMF © 2021, Simple Machines Powered by PHP