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Author Topic: Taraia object  (Read 22835 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Taraia object
« on: September 15, 2020, 12:53:45 PM »

I was recently contacted by Michael Ashmore who spotted something interesting on Google Maps.  About once a week, somebody finds the Earhart Electra on Google Earth or Google Maps. I always look at what they found. It's usually the Norwich City wreck or some imagined airplane shape in the bush or water, but this is a real thing and it's kind of interesting. I'd like some opinions.   It will take several postings to lay out, so bear with me.

The point of interest is a spit of sand that sticks out into the lagoon from Taraia, the peninsula on the north side of the lagoon opposite the main passage (image below).
Although not a TIGHAR member, Mike Ashmore has read the TIGHAr website carefully and is familiar with our research.  Back in May or June, he was looking at the shore of the lagoon on Google Maps and noticed a linear shape in the water near the Taraia sand spit (image below). He wondered if it might be airplane wreckage.
Recall that in 1997, while we were in Funafuti, former Niku schoolteacher Pulekai Songivalu told us of seeing airplane wreckage on the lagoon shore opposite the main passage (where floating wreckage washed through the passage might have ended up). This was in the 1950s and he assumed it was wreckage from WWII.
In 2007 we searched that whole shoreline with metal detectors and found nothing.
When Mike Ashmore looked at the area again July, the object was gone. (image below)  Had it washed away or was it buried in sand/silt? That's when he decided to contact me and send me the screen captures he had made. My first impression was that it is probably a log, but I was curious to see if anything was visible in that location in the satellite imagery we have. We don't have imagery from 2019 but we do have June of 2018 and there appears to be something there (image below).
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 01:18:22 PM »

The object also appears in imagery from 2017 and 2016 (images below). We don't have imagery from 2015 and nothing is visible in the 2014 imagery but there's a lot of sunlight reflection in that image (image below). There's definitely nothing there in earlier satellite imagery going back to 2001.
When we were there in 2015 we saw clear evidence of a major storm that had hit the west end of island within the past year or so.  The most logical explanation for the object is that it is a log that washed up as a result of that storm, stayed there for five years and was washed away between May and July of this year.  The fact that the location corresponds with Pulekai's anecdotal is coincidence. Anything that washes through the passage can end up over there.
But nothing is ever that simple.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 01:26:45 PM »

The 1938 New Zealand aerial photos do not include a good overhead view of Taraia. The best we have is an oblique view looking south and no object is apparent (image below).
However, just to make life interesting, the 1939 U.S. Navy mapping montage shows a dark something in just about exactly the right location (image below).

Thoughts?
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2020, 03:51:49 PM »

I wonder if anyone from either of the two expeditions in 2015 took any pictures of that area?

Perhaps reach out to everyone who went?

Don't know the distances between trees, etc there, that seems to be an awfully big log.

« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 04:04:55 PM by Bill Mangus »
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Keith Gordon

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2020, 06:22:51 PM »

I am not used to making posts on the Forum but on our 2017 Niku visit one of our group Rick Pettigrew flew his drone in the lagoon area, he has views of the area of interest from different angles. He didn't fly directly over the spit but has oblique views from different locations at 500ft altitude in 4K. I have given him details of the object of interest and he will check to see if he can obtain views that may assist. I will try to attach a example drone image showing the area but may need advice to do this. 
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Keith Gordon

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2020, 10:14:26 PM »

I have zoomed in on the drone image previously posted as Rick Pettigrew does not think he has another suitable image. This is the largest I can do before losing definition - however it does appear to show an object of interest in similar location, also some detail of the spit as in 2017. I have also enhanced the satellite image of the item of interest that was posted - it does seem to show a target that is not natural. We did note some large items from the wreck in the channel and on-shore when carrying out survey of the channel area - perhaps the object is from the wreck?
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Christian Stock

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 08:28:08 AM »

Any idea of scale? I did a quick Google Earth ruler and swagged it as about 24' for the long piece, and maybe 17' for the shorter bit over the top.

What does an underwater log in an emerald lagoon look like? There should be others to examine.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 08:52:41 AM by Christian Stock »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 09:54:56 AM »

I wonder if anyone from either of the two expeditions in 2015 took any pictures of that area?

I don't think the Betchart people went over there and I'm quite sure none of our people were there in 2015. 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2020, 10:29:59 AM »

Any idea of scale? I did a quick Google Earth ruler and swagged it as about 24' for the long piece, and maybe 17' for the shorter bit over the top.

Yeah, I get something similar for the long piece.  I don't see a shorter bit over the top.  The left end appears to be out of the water and there seems to be something extending at a right angle from the shoreside edge.  If it's a log with a branch sticking out, it's not a coconut palm log.

What does an underwater log in an emerald lagoon look like? There should be others to examine.

That's a problem for the log hypothesis.  I don't recall ever seeing a log washed up on the lagoon shore.  Andrew?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2020, 10:44:20 AM »

This is frame 23:43 from the 2001 Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro.
Worth watching.  We made a very close pass.  No object visible but there's a small log on the beach in the foreground - too small to be the object in question.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2020, 11:15:23 AM »

Here's the problem with the object being Electra wreckage.  The object appears to be cylindrical.  The only part of the airplane that is cylindrical is the fuselage.  A 24-foot section would be a majority of the fuselage.  We're looking at a whole new hypothesis.  The airplane broke up on the reef edge and most of the fuselage washed into the lagoon. That's why nobody has found anything in the ocean.

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 11:48:15 AM »

Here's the problem with the object being Electra wreckage.  The object appears to be cylindrical.  The only part of the airplane that is cylindrical is the fuselage.  A 24-foot section would be a majority of the fuselage.  We're looking at a whole new hypothesis.  The airplane broke up on the reef edge and most of the fuselage washed into the lagoon. That's why nobody has found anything in the ocean.

Even if the pipe is from the Norwich City, it may show where some debris accumulates and gets buried in the sand or mud.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Christian Stock

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 12:06:52 PM »

That thing is only a few feet from shore, so probably only a few feet deep. The intact Electra fuselage would not be fully submerged at that depth. It would be 50-60% above water. I think it is too long and too narrow to be an airplane. I think we would also see the forward half of the fuselage with somewhat intact wing spars before we would see an intact 24 foot length of fuselage with no wing spars. Would it look like a piece of a plastic model, or would it look like an airplane wreck with weaker parts broken off?

Not to mention the lack of any reflection from any exposed aluminum.

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2020, 12:49:41 PM »

That thing is only a few feet from shore, so probably only a few feet deep.

Lagoon silt deep enough to hide an Electra is rare. There's one are over by Kanawa Point that's really deep but along most of the lagoon shoreline the silt depth is less than a foot. I don't recall being in that exact spot but when we were metal detecting in that general area in 2001 the silt was not deep.

The intact Electra fuselage would not be fully submerged at that depth. It would be 50-60% above water. I think it is too long and too narrow to be an airplane. I think we would also see the forward half of the fuselage with somewhat intact wing spars before we would see an intact 24 foot length of fuselage with no wing spars.

The Model 10 did not have wing spars.  The wing was built around a "main beam" that ran from engine to engine, including right through the cabin.  Passengers in the forward seats had to climb over it. 

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Greg Daspit

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Re: Taraia object
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2020, 01:09:23 PM »

If the horizontal thing sticking out is the main beam it looks like it is in the wrong place. If the thing sticking out is the exposed back part of the wing and the rest is buried then it seems like it needs quite a bit of sand/ silt depth to hide it.
(FYI You guys are answering my questions about before I finish typing my replies.)
The black tip seems like it could be a root ball but the light color does not seem natural.
3971R
 
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