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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #30 on: April 08, 2016, 10:52:42 AM »

She and the Prez were photographed looking at a globe on November 22, 1935.

And why would they be photographed looking at a globe???  Had the deal for Purdue to buy AE an airplane been made by November 22?  Was the possibility of a world flight already in the works?

Elliott had dinner with the Putnams at the Lotos Club on December 12, 1935.

Putnam to Elliott, transmitting the invitation:"Letter from George Palmer Putnam to Edward Elliott concerning dinner at the Lotos Club and possible cooperation with Dr. [Gilbert] Grosvenor and John Oliver LaGorce of the National Geographic on the Purdue Earhart flight project, December 9, 1935."

It seems pretty clear that the game was afoot by early December.
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Joy Diane Forster

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2016, 12:36:12 PM »

"The plane in which Miss Earhart flew the Atlantic solo is now on permanent exhibition at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia."  When did the Atlantic Vega go on display at the Franklin Institute?"

A partial answer to this question is found from the Smithsonian, where the Vega now resides:  "In June 1933, Earhart sold this Vega to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute where it remained until transferred to the Smithsonian in 1966."

See:  http://newsdesk.si.edu/snapshot/amelia-earhart-s-lockheed-vega-5b

Apparently, it was on display by December 1933, if the date on this photograph is correct:

http://corescholar.libraries.wright.edu/special_ms1_photographs/1822/

I hope this helps with the timeline, as that would mean I finally contributed a little something!   :)
TIGHAR Member #4239
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2016, 01:00:47 PM »

Good work!  So by 1935 the Atlantic Vega being retired and on display was old news but it helped make Putnam's point that AE needed a new airplane.
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Steve Lyle Gunderson

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2016, 07:00:23 PM »

Looking at the Smithsonian site I found this comment.
"Earhart sold her 5B Vega to Philadelphia's Franklin Institute in 1933 after purchasing a new Lockheed 5C Vega. The Smithsonian acquired it in 1966."
I wonder where the 5C ended up.
Steve G
#3911R
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2016, 08:54:05 AM »

I wonder where the 5C ended up.

Mantz bought it.  As I recall it was eventually wrecked.

Earhart owned five Vegas and borrowed a few others. I pieced together the list below a few years ago.  Some of the dates may be off.

Lockheed Vega 1 c/n 10   NC6911   
            Purchased July 1929 - Sold August 1929
            5-place cabin monoplane
            manufactured 1928
            length - 27 feet, 6 inches
            wingspan - 41 feet
            empty weight - 1,650 lbs
            engine - Wright Whirlwind J5A 225hp nine cylinder radial
            max speed 135 mph
            landing speed 50 mph

            Accomplishments:
            August 1929 - flight from New York to California with USAAC Lt. Orville Stephens

            Accidents:
            none


Lockheed Vega 1 c/n 36   NC31E
            Purchased August 1929 - Sold March 1930
            5-place cabin monoplane
            manufactured 1929
            length - 27 feet, 6 inches
            wingspan - 41 feet
            empty weight - 1,650 lbs
            engine - Wright Whirlwind J5A 225 hp nine cylinder radial
            max speed 135 mph
            landing speed 50 mph


            Accomplishments:
            August 1929 - Third place, Women’s Air Derby from Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH
            November 1929 - Women’s speed record of 184.17 mph in borrowed Vega 5A Executive NC538M.

            Accidents:
            August 19, 1929 -landing accident Yuma AZ. No injuries, minor damage.


                                Lockheed Vega 5B  c/n 22   NC7952
                                Purchased March 1930 - Sold June 1933
            5-place cabin monoplane
            manufactured 1928
            length - 27 feet, 6 inches
            wingspan - 41 feet
            empty weight - 2,492 lbs
            engine - Pratt & Whitney Wasp 425 hp nine cylinder radial
            engine replaced 1932 - Pratt & Whitney Wasp C 450 hp
            max speed 165 mph
            landing speed 65 mph

            Accomplishments:
            June 1930 - three speed records for women in various load categories in borrowed Vega DL-1 NC497H.
            May 1932 - solo transatlantic flight Newfoundland to Ireland
            August 1932 - LA to Newark nonstop women’s speed record.
             July 1933 - LA to Newark women’s speed record

            Accidents:
            September 30, 1930 - landing accident at NAS Norfolk, VA.     Minor injuries, severe damage to aircraft.



                                 Lockheed Vega  Special 5C c/n 171  NR965Y
                                 Purchased March 1933 - Sold June 1935
                  5-place cabin monoplane
             manufactured 1931
             length - 27 feet, 6 inches
             wingspan - 41 feet
             empty weight - unk.
             engine - Pratt & Whitney Wasp C 450 hp
             max speed (est.) 180 mph
              landing speed 65 mph

            Accomplishments:
            January 1935 - first nonstop flight Hawaii to California
            April 1935 - Burbank, CA to Mexico City
            May 1935- first nonstop Mexico City to Newark, NJ

            Accidents:
            none

« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 08:55:58 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #35 on: April 26, 2016, 12:32:53 PM »

In the book's table of contents I described the second chapter as:
Chapter Two  - “The tree on which costly airplanes grow”
May 1935 – February 1936
How Earhart selected and acquired an airplane to fly around the world.

Guess what - Earhart didn't select it. For the past week I've been digging into the volumes of correspondence on the Purdue website trying to piece together exactly how that all went down.  It's not easy because many of the letters are scans of fuzzy carbon copies and the chronology is all over the place, but once you have all the pertinent documents in the proper order the story comes together and - surprise, surprise - it's not at all like Amelia described in Last Flight or the way it is presented in the various biographies. There's a story here that has never been told.  Purdue doesn't have everything and I still need to get into the Mantz correspondence, but I'm hoping to have a draft of Chapter Two ready to publish in TIGHAR Tracks in May. 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 12:34:52 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2016, 02:38:55 PM »

It gets curiouser and curiouser.  Part of the traditional Earhart story is that the university's support was pledged during a dinner party at the home of Purdue president Edward Elliott in the autumn of 1935 at which Amelia spoke of her desire to do scientific research. I'm beginning to suspect that the story is apochryphal. 

Versions of the story vary as to exactly who was present and how much was pledged. An Historical Note (http://www4.lib.purdue.edu/archon/?p=creators/creator&id=17) on the Purdue website says:
“In the autumn of 1935, at a dinner party at Elliott’s home, Amelia outlined her dreams for women and aviation and spoke of her desire to conduct studies on how long-distance flying affected pilots. Before the evening was over, guest David Ross offered to donate $50,000 as a gift toward the cost of providing a machine suitable for the flying laboratory.” No source is cited.

Biographer Mary Lovell (The Sound of Wings, 1987) wrote that in the autumn of 1935, at a dinner party at the Elliott’s home, David Ross offered to donate $50,000  toward the cost of providing  a machine suitable for the flying laboratory. As a source she cites "Frehafer, R.B. Stewart" with no further explanation.

Biographer Susan Butler (East to the Dawn, 1997) wrote:
"Now, in the fall of 1935, President Elliott arranged a dinner party at Purdue. Present were AE, David Ross and J.K.Lilly, both wealthy alumni associated with the foundation. According to Purdue Research Foundation records , each offered her a $20,000 donation."  The source she cites is "information sent to me by W.D. Griggs, assistant treasurer, Purdue Research Foundation" but it's not clear whether anything more than the amount donated was provided by Griggs.

Elgen Long (The Mystery Solved, 1999) wrote: "At a dinner party hosted by Elliott, AE and GP explained to Ross and other benefactors….[etc., etc]. Ross offered to back the project with $50,000."  No source is cited.

Biographer Doris Rich (Amelia Earhart, A Biography, 1989) makes no mention of a dinner party, nor does Mantz biographer Don Dwiggins (Hollywood Pilot 1967).  Amelia says nothing about it in Last Flight (1937) and George Putnam doesn't mention it in in Soaring Wings(1939).

Nobody who does mention it gives a specific date for the dinner but the only time Earhart was at Purdue in the autumn of 1935 was from November 7 to November 26. Correspondence between Putnam and Elliott makes it clear that Putnam first broached the idea of a new airplane for Amelia to Elliot in a memorandum they discussed during a meeting in Washington on November 11, 1935.  In that document Putnam said, "The base cost would be $30,000. The maximum total cost, including special equipment, preparation, flight outlays, etc., would be $40,000. That figure would be the guaranteed top."
On December 7, 1935 (by which time AE was gone from Purdue) Elliott wrote to Putnam saying he has "been able to do some preliminary work with reference to the proposal presented in your memorandum."

So there appears to have been no time in the autumn of 1935 when such a dinner party at Elliott's home, attended by AE and prospective donors, could have possibly happened. It is not until January 2, 1936 that Elliott writes to Putnam saying "This is being written to say confidentially that, providing a proper scientific research foundation can be established, there is no doubt now as to the availability of the money. How soon could you send me another memorandum setting forth the research characteristics of the project?"

It looks to me like it was Elliott, not Earhart, who convinced Ross and Lilly to put up $40,000, but I want to be damn sure I'm right before I declare a key event in the Earhart story to be myth.  Can anyone find a source that sheds any more light on how this all went down?
« Last Edit: April 28, 2016, 02:41:34 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2016, 03:38:38 PM »

Too easy:
R.B. Stewart and Purdue University Hardcover – January, 1983
by Ruth W. Freehafer  (Author)
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Dan Brown, #2408
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2016, 04:01:19 PM »

Too easy:

Aaaaargh! Okay, I ordered a copy.
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2016, 12:19:54 PM »

So there appears to have been no time in the autumn of 1935 when such a dinner party at Elliott's home, attended by AE and prospective donors, could have possibly happened.

On Monday, 4 November 1935, AE drove from Evanston [IL] for an appearance before >900 people at the Hammond [IN] High School on behalf of the Hammond Junior Women's Club. She dined alone (before local women joined her) at the Lyndora Hotel. Sources: 11/4/35 and 11/5/35 Hammond [IN] Times.

On Tuesday, 5 November 1935, she was in Chicago for a radio interview by Edgar Guest broadcast on an NBC network (8:30 pm on NBC affiliate WLW, Cincinnati). Source: 11/4/35 Xenia [OH] Gazette.

On Thursday, 7 November 1935, she was interviewed at Purdue by AP, UP etc. newspaper correspondents about her new position. So, the window of opportunity before Putnam's 12 November memorandum started probably Wednesday, 6 November 1935.

edit: On Friday, 8 November 1935, she dined as a guest at Cary Hall, one of the men's residence halls at Purdue. (Source: 6/10/2007 Lafayette [IN] Journal & Courier; 2/7/16 JConline.com). So, the dinner party of AE, Elliott, Ross and Lilly could have been Wednesday the 6th or Thursday the 7th. Elliott likely traveled to Washington DC over the weekend of the 9th/10th, giving AE a window over that weekend to contact GP on the east coast and convey what was discussed during the dinner party, setting the stage for GP to contact Elliott on the 11th.

Dan Brown, #2408
« Last Edit: April 30, 2016, 09:29:30 AM by Daniel R. Brown »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2016, 01:38:24 PM »

So, the window of opportunity before Putnam's 11 November memorandum started probably Wednesday, 6 November 1935.

President Elliott was in Washington the week of November 9. It is possible that Elliott did not leave for Washington until after AE arrived on Nov. 6.

On Tuesday, November 12, Putnam, who is in New York, writes a letter to President Elliott:

"I cannot tell you how interested I find myself in respect to our conversation of yesterday. I play hunches and your cooperation is exactly what is needed in this project.

   Whether we would buy an existing ship, or have a special one built, is a technical matter determinable in due course. The top figure quoted you yesterday stands in either event. Incidentally, in the preliminary training there would be several outstanding flights — as, for instance, a record dash across the continent and perhaps one to Panama or wherever. Those would build up experience and familiarity with the ship and at the same time would focus a very great deal of the right kind of attention on the project and the alliance.

   The more I consider the matter the more confident I am that, with successful outcome, the backers can get back at least a substantial portion, and perhaps all, of their advances.

   I will be eager to hear of your progress, if any, with the individual you propose to contact.
"

So Putnam pitched the idea to Elliott.  Elliott liked it and thought he knew somebody who would be a "backer."

Putnam and Elliott had the conversation "yesterday" which would be Monday, November 11. Elliott has a copy of Putnam's "Amelia Earhart Project" memorandum so Putnam was apparently in Washington and the conversation was in person rather than by long-distance telephone.

President Elliott doesn't get back to Purdue until Thursday, November 14.  On that date he writes a letter to Putnam who is in New York:
"Your generous note of the twelfth was on my desk when I returned from Washington.  Since our thrilling conversation Monday [Nov. 11], I have accumulated some ideas which I hope to be able to discuss with you when I am in New York during the week of the twenty-fifth.
I have just come from a conference here in connection with the aeronautical meeting in progress on the campus today and tomorrow. A.E. is performing in noble fashion.  She has the entire campus on its toes.
"


It's obvious from the letters that no dinner party has taken place where money has been pledged.  It is January 2 before Elliott informs Putnam confidentially that "providing a proper scientific research foundation can be established, there is no doubt now as to the availability of the money.


« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 04:26:54 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2016, 03:43:04 PM »

Interesting stuff.

I would think that Purdue might have a detailed day by day diary or calendar of President Elliot's activities.  Have you tried searching for that?

Andrew

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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2016, 03:56:13 PM »

To be precise, November 9th was a Saturday, 11th a Monday, 12th a Tuesday, 25th a Monday.

Dan
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2016, 04:23:38 PM »

To be precise, November 9th was a Saturday, 11th a Monday, 12th a Tuesday, 25th a Monday

You're right.  I had plugged in 1936.  My bad. I'll fix my earlier post.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Chapter Two
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2016, 04:44:51 PM »

I would think that Purdue might have a detailed day by day diary or calendar of President Elliot's activities.  Have you tried searching for that?

I don't see anything like that in the Purdue e-archives.  Do you?
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