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Author Topic: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2  (Read 60635 times)

Monty Fowler

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Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« on: January 19, 2016, 01:06:08 PM »

I have long thought that the Plexiglas fragments found during TIGHAR's 1996 expedition held a lot more promise than any aluminum scraps as far as proving or disproving the Nikumaroro Hypothesis. There isn't near the amount of Plexiglas in an aircraft, and the specs for specific aircraft models might be easier to track down. To my knowledge, nothing has been done to definitively exclude any other aircraft type as a possibility.

The artifact does match the specs for Lockheed Model 10 Part Number 40552 – Window Glass, Fuselage, Cabin: http://tighar.org/Publications/TTracks/12_2/obj11.html. Does TIGHAR still have the paperwork specifically documenting replacement of the cabin windows in NR16020 in February 1937?

The artifact has a definite curvature and consistent thickness. With those things in mind, do those fragments match the Plexiglas from any other candidate aircraft? Would an intense period of focused research and archival work be able to exclude all other possible donor aircraft? I strongly believe so. A few observations:
  • Yes, I know Plexiglas can float. Detractors will argue the fragments could have come from thousands of miles away. Our task is to use the information TIGHAR already has to definitively eliminate all other realistically possible donor aircraft.
  • The realistic pool of potential donor aircraft is relatively small and has already been established by TIGHAR. Detractors will vigorously argue to the contrary, I am sure. Most of the donor aircraft are represented by a type example at the National Museum of the USAF? Will it be possible to build upon the cooperation that TIGHAR found during the evaluation of 2-2-V-1, the possible patch, at the NMUSAF?
  • Although the Plexiglas was chemically analyzed at the time to establish that it was, in fact, Plexiglas, what other tests or new analytic methods could be applied to extract more information about its date of manufacture, country of origin, etc.?

It's never too late to ask new questions of old information. TIGHAR has only to look to the Bevington Object for proof of that. Nailing down the provenance of 2-3-V-2 will greatly strengthen the Niku Hypothesis if it is what we think it is.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
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« Last Edit: January 20, 2016, 09:45:40 AM by Monty Fowler »
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 07:47:08 AM »

Good points, Chris, but to me, the first step needs to be to establish beyond a doubt that Amelia and Fred's Electra did receive the new 1/8-inch-thick windows. Without that, anything else along those lines is irrelevant because too much doubt can be cast on it.

So, questions for Ric:

1) Does TIGHAR have Lockheed paperwork that specifically ties the new replacement windows to their installation in NR16020? A repair order, invoice, letter, something that states that that-sized window was in fact installed on her Electra? I know what it says on the TIGHAR website, and I have no problem with that. I think it's important to establish just how certain we are so that any criticism can be instantly refuted.

2) Regarding the Winterthur Museum Analytical Laboratory, would it be possible to get a copy of the report, so we can see what was done at the time, to gauge what else could be done with additional testing, to extract as much information as possible from the artifacts?

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 11:57:19 AM »

Good points, Chris, but to me, the first step needs to be to establish beyond a doubt that Amelia and Fred's Electra did receive the new 1/8-inch-thick windows. Without that, anything else along those lines is irrelevant because too much doubt can be cast on it.

So, questions for Ric:

1) Does TIGHAR have Lockheed paperwork that specifically ties the new replacement windows to their installation in NR16020? A repair order, invoice, letter, something that states that that-sized window was in fact installed on her Electra? I know what it says on the TIGHAR website, and I have no problem with that. I think it's important to establish just how certain we are so that any criticism can be instantly refuted.

If we had something like that don't you think we would have included it in the research bulletin?
There appears to be no surviving paperwork on most of the changes that were made to the airframe.  All we can do is carefully date the photos that show the changes.  1055 was delivered in July 1936 with a bar bisecting the standard cabin windows. I've never seen a photo of any other Model 10 with a bar through the window. The bar was there at the time of the Bendix Race in September 1936.  The bar goes away at the same time the window in the door and the large special lavatory window appear.  The earliest photo we have that shows those changes is dated to February 8, 1937 - the day Earhart left Burbank with Putnam and McKneeley for Newark, NJ.  She would announce the world flight at the Barclay Hotel in Norwich City New York City on February 12.
As shown in the research bulletin, the change in the specs for Part Number 40552 was effective 1-15-37 so it seems likely, but we can't prove, that all of the window changes were made at the same time in the last half of January 1937. 

2) Regarding the Winterthur Museum Analytical Laboratory, would it be possible to get a copy of the report, so we can see what was done at the time, to gauge what else could be done with additional testing, to extract as much information as possible from the artifacts?

That work was done in 1996 - 20 years ago.  I think it was the first analysis Winthertur did for us.  Those were the days before everything was digital. There's no paper report in the file, so we either never had one or, more likely, it got misfiled somewhere along the line.  I know we were curious to know whether it was possible to date the plexi based upon its composition.  I recall that I made inquiries at Rohm & Haas and they said that the formula for polymethyl methacrylate hadn't changed.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 12:28:22 PM »

There isn't near the amount of Plexiglas in an aircraft, and the specs for specific aircraft models might be easier to track down.

Be my guest. 

Yes, I know Plexiglas can float.

Seriously?  I can assure you that THIS Plexiglas sinks like a toolbox.

Detractors will argue the fragments could have come from thousands of miles away.

They must be confusing Plexiglas with very small rocks, apples, ducks and witches.

Our task is to use the information TIGHAR already has to definitively eliminate all other realistically possible donor aircraft.

We did the same thing with 2-2-V-1 and now everyone agrees that the artifact could only have come from NR16020 - right? 

The realistic pool of potential donor aircraft is relatively small and has already been established by TIGHAR. Detractors will vigorously argue to the contrary, I am sure. Most of the donor aircraft are represented by a type example at the National Museum of the USAF? Will it be possible to build upon the cooperation that TIGHAR found during the evaluation of 2-2-V-1, the possible patch, at the NMUSAF?

For 2-2-V-1 we were examining rivet size, type, pitch, and pattern - all of which could be determined by observation.  For the Plexiglas we would need to measure the thickness and precise curvature of every window and every view panel on every gun turret on every candidate aircraft.  How do you propose we do that without cutting them apart?

Although the Plexiglas was chemically analyzed at the time to establish that it was, in fact, Plexiglas, what other tests or new analytic methods could be applied to extract more information about its date of manufacture, country of origin, etc.?

Great question.

It's never too late to ask new questions of old information. TIGHAR has only to look to the Bevington Object for proof of that. Nailing down the provenance of 2-3-V-2 will greatly strengthen the Niku Hypothesis if it is what we think it is.

I agree. I can't wait to see what you find out.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2016, 03:10:29 PM »

Thank you for the detailed response, Ric, I appreciate it.

One thing most of us long-term TIGHARs have learned is that the bar for claiming to definitively the solve disappearance of Earhart and Noonan is extraordinarily high as far as the general public goes. And, indeed, as far as the professional aviation history community goes. Preponderance of evidence isn't really going to cut it. Removing all possible doubts is the only thing, in my view, that will enable TIGHAR to make the final declaration and have it stick. We can't do that with anything that has been found to date.

So, since you stated, "There appears to be no surviving paperwork on most of the changes that were made to the airframe.  All we can do is carefully date the photos that show the changes" and "As shown in the research bulletin, the change in the specs for Part Number 40552 was effective 1-15-37 so it seems likely, but we can't prove, that all of the window changes were made at the same time in the last half of January 1937," that injects a great deal of uncertainty into 2-3-V-2's provenance. TIGHAR cannot definitively prove, through paperwork or some other valid quantifiable method, that the windows in NR16020 were replaced by 1/8th-inch Plexiglas. You can't measure window thickness by using period photographs, as far as I am aware.

That, to me, removes 2-3-V-2 as having any possibility as a diagnostic artifact. I was prepared to spend my own time, money and effort on wringing the Plexigas dry to show it came from our favorite Electra. I can't justify doing all that if the artifact can be so quickly and easily dismissed, but I'm open to having my mind changed.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC



 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2016, 04:02:00 PM »

In my view, 2-3-V-2 could never be definitively proven to have come from NR16020 no matter how much paperwork might be found. If we had a Lockheed work order that called for the windows on c/n 1055 to be replaced with 1/8 inch plexi it would bolster the probability that the artifact came from one of those windows - that's all - but that probability is already not too shabby. 
Until Amelia meets us on the beach and shouts back over her shoulder, "Fred, put your shoes on!  They're here." We're always going to be arguing about probability.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2016, 06:52:51 AM »

We're always going to be arguing about probability.

No argument here. But to solve the mystery in the public's mind, it's going to take more than probability. We have to recognize that.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 09:57:15 AM »

But to solve the mystery in the public's mind, it's going to take more than probability. We have to recognize that.

Let's think about that. 
- What great historical mystery has been solved in the public's mind by the discovery of some single dramatic piece of evidence?
- What is the "public's mind"?

Sure, we'd all like to see an Any Idiot Artifact and we will continue to search for same within the limits of our capability, but the evidence TIGHAR has amassed in the course of 28 years (and counting) of research and field work has convinced thousands that the probability of Earhart having landed and died on Nikumaroro is far higher than any of the other explanations for her disappearance.
If you're looking for something that will silence TIGHAR's detractors I'm afraid you'll have a long wait. The rational public (a term which I hope is not oxymoronic) is convinced by overwhelming probability. Every discovery we make that raises the level of probability moves us closer to a general public consensus that our hypothesis is correct. It is, therefore, especially important that we do a good job making our research known. That's why I'm working on the Electra book.

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Brano Lacika

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2016, 02:23:21 AM »

But to solve the mystery in the public's mind, it's going to take more than probability. We have to recognize that.

Let's think about that. 
- What great historical mystery has been solved in the public's mind by the discovery of some single dramatic piece of evidence?
- What is the "public's mind"?

Sure, we'd all like to see an Any Idiot Artifact and we will continue to search for same within the limits of our capability, but the evidence TIGHAR has amassed in the course of 28 years (and counting) of research and field work has convinced thousands that the probability of Earhart having landed and died on Nikumaroro is far higher than any of the other explanations for her disappearance.
If you're looking for something that will silence TIGHAR's detractors I'm afraid you'll have a long wait. The rational public (a term which I hope is not oxymoronic) is convinced by overwhelming probability. Every discovery we make that raises the level of probability moves us closer to a general public consensus that our hypothesis is correct. It is, therefore, especially important that we do a good job making our research known. That's why I'm working on the Electra book.

After thorough and patient reading of all materials available ( not only on TIGHAR site, but literally everything - including TIGHAR opponents ) I would say:
95% Nikumaroro theory
4% Crash&sank
1% Other
Best wishes to TIGHAR!
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 07:21:15 AM »

If you're looking for something that will silence TIGHAR's detractors I'm afraid you'll have a long wait. The rational public (a term which I hope is not oxymoronic) is convinced by overwhelming probability.

Then I guess we will have to differ on what we think the rational public at large will accept as incontrovertible proof. I believe the rational public, in this day and age, is convinced by the one big thing that cannot be explained away. TIGHAR has ample proof of what can happen when claims are made to the general public that a longstanding mystery has been solved, but the one big thing can still be explained away. I still have that Life magazine article.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2016, 08:26:06 AM »

If you're looking for something that will silence TIGHAR's detractors I'm afraid you'll have a long wait. The rational public (a term which I hope is not oxymoronic) is convinced by overwhelming probability.

Then I guess we will have to differ on what we think the rational public at large will accept as incontrovertible proof.

I guess it depends on who we consider to be the rational public at large. I think what we're really talking about is a general consensus that the mystery has been solved. If we differ about something I think it's about what it takes to achieve a general consensus. Is there a difference between "overwhelming probability" and "incontrovertible proof"?

I believe the rational public, in this day and age, is convinced by the one big thing that cannot be explained away.

Can you cite an example?

TIGHAR has ample proof of what can happen when claims are made to the general public that a longstanding mystery has been solved, but the one big thing can still be explained away. I still have that Life magazine article.

So do I.  Twenty-four years ago I claimed that 2-2-V-1 was from the Electra and that the Earhart mystery had been solved.  Elgen Long said that 2-2-V-1 could not have come from the Electra. There was no public consensus that the mystery had been solved. Seven years later, Elgen Long wrote a book titled "Amelia Earhart - The Mystery Solved."  I returned the favor and pointed out that he had stood the scientific method on its head and started with the received wisdom that Earhart had run out of fuel at 08:43 and then backed into the numbers that supported his theory.  Once again, there was no public consensus that the mystery had been solved.
Seventeen years later, there is still no evidence to support Long's "Crashed & Sank" theory and there is abundant additional evidence that, although I had some of the details wrong, that 1992 LIFE magazine article was basically correct.  There is still no general consensus that the mystery has been solved but we're definitely moving in that direction.
 
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Dick Jansen

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2016, 06:20:47 PM »

Hello, this would mostly be a late response to Monty's initial post.

Specifically the statement in the linked bulletin therein that curvature is probably original due to lack of enough environmental heat to change (I'm paraphrasing)...here's a WW2 document that suggests that deformation will in fact happen in sunlight.  I wouldn't have thought Plexiglas would do that but here it is in black and white so I guess its true. I think I read here on the forum somewhere that plexi is the same since introduced so I assume there would be no difference in behavior between 1937 and 1943.

So seeking/finding curvature matches may not be particularly definitive either, even if it was practical to do so.

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2016, 06:54:14 PM »

The artifact was found at the remains of a house site in the village. The whole area is shaded by coconut jungle but that's not to say that the plexi may have been at some time exposed to intense sunlight. It could be that the subtle and uniform compound curvature is warping due to heat and the match to the Lockheed engineering drawing is pure coincidence.  Just depends on how many coincidences you're comfortable with.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2016, 09:48:41 AM »

Well, it would appear from the document that Dick posted that Plexiglas can deform when exposed to intense sunlight, like that found on a tropical Pacific island. One more thing TIGHAR has to counter with a more well documented argument that the curvature in 2-3-V-2 came from the factory as opposed to Mother Nature. I must ponder this.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 EC
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taking a second look at the Plexiglas pieces - 2-3-V-2
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2016, 09:59:50 AM »

Well, it would appear from the document that Dick posted that Plexiglas can deform when exposed to intense sunlight, like that found on a tropical Pacific island. One more thing TIGHAR has to counter with a more well documented argument that the curvature in 2-3-V-2 came from the factory as opposed to Mother Nature. I must ponder this.

Let's think about how we could test the hypothesis that the curvature in the artifact was caused by exposure to intense sunlight.  I don't think I've ever seen an example of Plexiglas warped by the sun but I've seen many examples of Plexiglas "crazing" due to exposure to the sun.  It's not at all uncommon in aircraft that sit outside in the sun.  The artifact shows no sign of crazing.  It should be possible to determine whether Plexi can get hot enough from sunlight exposure to warp without crazing.
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