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Author Topic: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"  (Read 53952 times)

JNev

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2015, 06:59:33 AM »

See if this accurately summarizes the situation:

Unable to find the mapped island with their planned navigation and Coast Guard assistance, they were able to successfully locate an unmapped/unknown island 350 miles away starting from an unknown position while under life or death pressure running out of fuel... during which time they failed to communicate the change of plans and must have flown through clear enough sky to get a bearing and known their actual position, yet decided to continue further away from their target and support vessel.
The radio log evidence indicates were flying on a LOP, North and South to try to locate Howland, not knowing if they were north or south of it on that line. There is no evidence they were 350 miles from Gardner when doing this. See when they changed frequencies and the "donut" for the chances they could be heard. The donut provides a clue on how far they were from Howland. I think the evidence suggest they were well south of Howland and while flying south on the LOP to locate Howland, spotted Gardner instead.

All of which held me spellbound for years - but we have the problem of clear skies in that sector ('stellar' conditions to S-SE and around Howland through night / into morning - according to Commander Thompson of Itasca, Cruise Report - see FACTS (b) and (h) on page 5).

By Thompson's words he speaks to clear skies for a 40 mile radius around Howland, so we can't know for certain what lay well outside that radius to the S-SE, it is realized, but Thompson also noted that the plane had reported "flight through cloudy and overcast skies throughout the night and morning" (see page 5 "FACTS" item (d) in above report), hence his belief that the plane was lost in the cloudy sector N and W of Howland beyond the horizon (40 miles or more away).

None of that disproves a Niku arrival per se - but we do have the problem that the airplane likely might have broken into clear skies and made a different report to Itasca had she gone to the S-SE sector, given what Thompson reported.  We can at least see why his initial reflex was to search to the North and West from these things.

We also have the fact of the sun and moon both being visible in that clear area.  Those bodies could have provided welcome references for Noonan had he been where he could see them.

Which also does not disprove Niku - odd things do happen - but it seems more odd to me than not as I reflect on these things that Earhart wound up in a clear sector given the record Itasca left us.

Before I am dismissed as a naysayer, I'll add that Friedell of the Colorado also used good evolving logic - and that is one strength behind the Niku idea: at the time, radio signals were believed to be coming from the plane, and as it had to be on land for that to happen, the Phoenix group was the best likelihood; Gardner (Niku) lay among those and not terribly far off the LOP as extended SSE from Howland as it is deemed determined at sunrise on July 2, 1937.  We of course have Earhart's confirmed call that she believed the flight to be flying north and south along that line.  We also know that Friedell knew that Itasca had already searched to the N and W of Howland, and that Friedell reasoned that Noonan might attempt to err toward alternate lands since he was in a landplane.

A conundrum, perhaps - but Thompson's observations were timely and made by an experienced crew and commander who felt the brunt of the responsibility to find the lost flight with all haste - and I'm reminded that most often one's first choice of answers in a multiple choice question is said to be correct.  YMMV, of course - but Niku is no shoo-in to me at this point.
- Jeff Neville

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« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 07:01:19 AM by Jeffrey Neville »
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Bob Smith

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #31 on: August 27, 2015, 07:08:01 AM »

Or Baker, maybe Greg?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2015, 09:06:54 AM »

Or Baker, maybe Greg?

You seem to be referring to Greg's,
"I think the evidence suggest they were well south of Howland and while flying south on the LOP to locate Howland, spotted Gardner instead."

There were people on Baker.
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Greg Daspit

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2015, 09:28:27 AM »

See if this accurately summarizes the situation:

Unable to find the mapped island with their planned navigation and Coast Guard assistance, they were able to successfully locate an unmapped/unknown island 350 miles away starting from an unknown position
The radio log evidence indicates were flying on a LOP, North and South to try to locate Howland, not knowing if they were north or south of it on that line. There is no evidence they were 350 miles from Gardner when doing this.

All of which held me spellbound for years - but we have the problem of clear skies in that sector ('stellar' conditions to S-SE and around Howland through night / into morning - according to Commander Thompson of Itasca, Cruise Report - see FACTS (b) and (h) on page 5).

By Thompson's words he speaks to clear skies for a 40 mile radius around Howland, so we can't know for certain what lay well outside that radius to the S-SE, it is realized, but Thompson also noted that the plane had reported "flight through cloudy and overcast skies throughout the night and morning" (see page 5 "FACTS" item (d) in above report), hence his belief that the plane was lost in the cloudy sector N and W of Howland beyond the horizon (40 miles or more away).
I agree that Thompson describes conditions at or near Howland, within a “radius of 40 miles” for example. Based on the 3105 Donut, the chances they could be heard within 40 miles are not as good as them being heard from around 100nm to 200nm.
In addition to cloudy conditions being a possible problem, there are examples of people getting off course from equipment problems. Some were mentioned a few times on this forum. The Croyden and the example of Rickenbacker's B-17.

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« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 09:31:35 AM by Greg Daspit »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2015, 09:35:24 AM »

All of which held me spellbound for years - but we have the problem of clear skies in that sector ('stellar' conditions to S-SE and around Howland through night / into morning - according to Commander Thompson of Itasca, Cruise Report - see FACTS (b) and (h) on page 5).

Unfortunately, Thompson's after-action reports - both his Cruise Report and his Radio Transcripts Earhart Flight are full of "facts" that are contradicted by more contemporaneous sources. The skies were not clear.
The ITASCA Deck Log recorded "bc" (blue sky with detached clouds, what we would call "scattered') conditions throughout the morning.  Having spent many a morning in that part of the world I can tell you that a scattered deck at about 1,500 feet is routine - which is probably why Earhart said she was flying at 1,000 feet when she was looking for Howland.

Thompson's reports were written after the search failed.  They're full of errors and distortions that cover his butt. You have to go back to the original source material. It's all in Finding Amelia.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 09:37:00 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Eddie Rose

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2015, 09:37:00 AM »

Not having Gardner & surrounding islands on a map makes it even less likely for me they would end up there. With fuel running out, they decide to probe ever southward, hour after hour, into the blank space of open ocean... ?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2015, 09:46:54 AM »

Not having Gardner & surrounding islands on a map makes it even less likely for me they would end up there. With fuel running out, they decide to probe ever southward, hour after hour, into the blank space of open ocean... ?

You really don't understand the situation.  They were trying to find Howland.  They were following the best procedure available to them under the circumstances.  They came upon Gardner by accident while trying to find Howland.  They did not "probe ever southward, hour after hour."  If they hit the LOP 200 nm south of Howland they were within a little over an hour's flying time of Gardner.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2015, 09:51:27 AM »

I agree that Thompson describes conditions at or near Howland, within a “radius of 40 miles” for example.

Good example of Thompson's BS.  ITASCA never ventured south of Howland.  Thompson could not possibly know what conditions were like 40 miles away.
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Eddie Rose

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2015, 10:19:38 AM »

If they hit the LOP 200 nm south of Howland they were within a little over an hour's flying time of Gardner.

If they hit the LOP in that area they should have had clear enough skies, at that point, or during their exploration along the line, to pinpoint their location.
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2015, 10:32:27 AM »

What would have been the "normal" degree of error north and south on an over-water leg of that length?  I realize that would depend on wind, cloud cover, etc.  I'm curious as to what Fred or other navigators would consider acceptable accuracy at the time.  It would make a difference in how far out you'd plot potential landing spots (not too plentiful in the area) in case you missed your primary target. 
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JNev

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2015, 10:40:59 AM »

I agree that Thompson describes conditions at or near Howland, within a “radius of 40 miles” for example.

Good example of Thompson's BS.  ITASCA never ventured south of Howland.  Thompson could not possibly know what conditions were like 40 miles away.

And do you know what conditions were there?

A 1000' high object can be seen at 46.95 statute miles by an observer 15 feet above the surface.  Don't you think significant weather at much greater altitudes than 1000' might have been seen by Itasca?

Commander Thompson was a professional seaman.  I respect your research and writing, but it leaves me far from willing to impeach a professional observer and reporter and officer of the U.S. Coast Guard like Thompson as you just did upstream.  We both seem to be amateurs at that sort of observation compared to Thompson.

---

Added: Examples of distant weather - and clear air beyond at 40+ miles:

- Jeff Neville

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« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 06:16:17 PM by Jeffrey Neville »
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2015, 10:57:52 AM »

As I see it, the problem with Thompson's report was that it didn't match the observations made at the time of the search.  That tends to impeach his credibility. He certainly wasn't the first (or last) military officer to try to cover his butt by rewriting what happened to make himself look better.

It occurred to me that if Fred did have the Phoenix Group in mind as a backup landing spot (sort of a "preventer"), it would have been prudent to let someone know about it before setting out on that leg.  "If we don't show up at Howland, you might look at some islands southeast of there."  On the other hand, if they ended up on Gardner it could have been a total surprise to them that there were even islands there.
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jgf1944

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2015, 01:20:21 PM »


In Larremore's words, she reports hearing that "plane was down on an uncharted island. Small, uninhabited. Plane was partially on land, part in water" [my underlining]. Signal Catalog, credible report #28.  AE apparently describing the island as uncharted is, IMO, pretty convincing support for Ric's incomplete-chart hypothesis.
Guthrie
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Craig Romig

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2015, 02:14:06 PM »

What I find most unreal. Is that no answering wave was seen on the search flyover.

Unless they went down with the plane. But where did the bones and box come from then.
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JNev

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Re: "We're on Gardner Island. Gardner, Gardner, Gardner!"
« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2015, 04:33:03 PM »

As I see it, the problem with Thompson's report was that it didn't match the observations made at the time of the search.  That tends to impeach his credibility. He certainly wasn't the first (or last) military officer to try to cover his butt by rewriting what happened to make himself look better.

It occurred to me that if Fred did have the Phoenix Group in mind as a backup landing spot (sort of a "preventer"), it would have been prudent to let someone know about it before setting out on that leg.  "If we don't show up at Howland, you might look at some islands southeast of there."  On the other hand, if they ended up on Gardner it could have been a total surprise to them that there were even islands there.

From Itasca's deck log -

Deck weather observation key (as to the essential attributes appearing from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m.):

Wx type:
B = Blue sky, cloudless;
BC = Blue sky with detached clouds

Cloud form:
a cu = Alto cumulus (larger white or greyish balls, with shaded portions, in flocks or rows, often so close that edges meet);
s cu = Strato cumulus (A succession of rolls of dark cloud which frequently cover the whole sky. The characteristic cloud of storm areas, especially the forepart of those areas);
cu = Cumulus (Thick clouds whose summits are domes with protuberances, but whose bases are flat, "woolpack" clouds).

Coverage: in 10ths ("2" = 2/10's, etc.)

Visibility factor:
8 = Prominent objects not visible at 20 miles
9 = Prominent objects visible above 20 miles

Hourly deck observations from July 2, 1937 (taken verbatim from log as to hour, Wx type, cloud form, direction and coverage and visibility) -

Hour               Wx type                    Cloud form     Dir. from     Amt. Coverage          Vis. factor
1                        B                                 -                  -                    -                           
2                        B                                 -                  -                    -                          8
3                        B                                 -                  -                    -                          8
4                        BC                              a cu               E                   2                          8
5                        BC                                cu                E                   2                          9
6                        BC                              s cu              ENE                 4                          9
7                        BC                                cu                E                   3                          9
8                        BC                                cu                E                   3                          9
9                        BC                                cu                E                   2                          9
10                      BC                                cu               ESE                 3                          9
11                      BC                               s cu               NE                 5                          9
12                      BC                                cu               ENE                 5                          9

From this it can be seen that the worst local conditions reported by the deck watch on Itasca during the crucial hours of 1 a.m. through 10 a.m. (regarding Earhart's approach and loss) was a sky coverage of 4/10ths of Strato cumulus at 6 a.m., visibility 9 (prominent objects visible at greater than 20 miles).

With predominantly blue skies and broken clouds (mostly cu's) at 2 to 3/10ths coverage and visibility factor of 9 for most of the hours involved, I don't see the problem with what Commander Thompson recorded.  IMO he could have well seen 'stellar' navigation conditions off to the south and east for celestial work, and large cloud masses beyond the distant horizon to the west and north. 

As I review this, I certainly don't see anything that would cause me to seek to impeach his record as 'butt covering'.  We at least seem to lack the smoking gun needed to discredit a ship's master.

---

Added 8/28/2015 -

Example of distant weather taken from Statesboro / Savannah, GA areas on 8/28/2015 at around 6:30 p.m. - 45 miles+ distant:

- Jeff Neville

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« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 06:08:51 PM by Jeffrey Neville »
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