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Author Topic: Ballard is going back to Niku next year  (Read 892 times)

Matt Revington

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« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 03:57:06 AM by Matt Revington »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2021, 08:36:19 AM »

Bob and I disagree on only one point.  He thinks the airplane, or some big piece of it, must still be there and findable.  He agrees with all the evidence that says Earhart landed at Niku but he rejects the evidence that says 80+ years of storms have broken, scattered, and/or buried whatever remains of the airplane.  (Psssst....look at the Norwich City.)

I don't think he'll find anything but anything that keeps Amelia Earhart's name in front of the public is good for TIGHAR.  Ballard ended his 2019 effort with doubts that we're right about Niku being where she ended up, but he has apparently regained his faith.  His announcement that he'll try again is a second endorsement of our work.  That NatGeo will again spring for the cost tells me the two-hour television special was a financial success despite the 2019 expedition finding zip.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result - but that's not what's happening. There's nothing crazy about doing the same thing over and over if it makes money. Remember, Ballard was sponsored by National Geographic Partners, a media company controlled by Disney.  It's all about the TV show and the TV show is all about money.  The same executive who was responsible for the two Discovery Channel specials about TIGHAR's 2010 and 2012 expeditions moved to NatGeo and was responsible for their 2019 Expedition Amelia special.  A 2022 NatGeo/Ballard expedition to Niku would be a win/win for all concerned, regardless of the search results.  Nat Geo will make money from another TV special, and Ballard will get another blast of media attention.  Chances are, NatGeo Partners will need to come back to TIGHAR for help telling the Why Nikumaroro? story and they'll have to pay for that.

It's really quite amazing when you think about it.  In the ten expeditions, scientific analysis and archival research from 1989 to 2010 TIGHAR found more than enough evidence to solve the case. At Niku we found what there was to find. The last five expeditions to Nikumaroro - TIGHAR in 2012 and 2015, Betchart in 2017 and NatGeo/Ballard in 2019 - have found nothing.  And yet, here we go again.

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Christian Stock

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2021, 09:26:06 AM »

Broken up and scattered along the reef would make it easier to find, IMO. If there were a million pieces scattered about, chances are you would have found more than one. Every colonist would have had an Alcoa frying pan. However, the one piece you found looks like it was separated from the airplane intentionally.

Floated or flew* away and sank is the real needle in the haystack, and I think that is what Ballard is counting on. He's probably thinking it's either in a 40 square mile chunk of ocean West of Niku, or a slightly larger chunk of ocean East of Howland.



*Flew Away and Sank Theory = The 7 site has produced only items that would have been on Amelia Earhart's person or in a small cosmetic bag, including bits of the actual bag (zipper, bit of unidentified fabric, bead), and skeleton of one person, leading me to believe that they lost the Electra and its supplies rather suddenly. Maybe the Electra landed intact and with some fuel on the reef. With the airplane still flyable, they did not unload supplies. Fred, injured and delusional from heat, attempted to take off, lost his landing gear (Bevington Object) and wound up in the drink off the reef. 12 hours or so later, the Navy flew over and found nothing.

Floated away works the same way - Tide comes in after a few days on the reef and carries away the airplane and Fred, unexpectedly.

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Don White

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2021, 09:33:14 AM »

When I read in the interview that the Titanic search was funded by a secret mission to find Thresher and Scorpion, I thought, the Amelia-was-a-spy crowd will have fun with this.

LTM,
Don
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2021, 09:36:10 AM »

 I still have questions about the first expedition I hope get answered.  In the National Geographic documentary Ballard said their ROV system could not search the more shallow depth due to the hazards of the reef edge. There was mention of divers searching the remaining shallow areas but it was not clear to me that their divers really searched the more hazardous 200 to 250 depth that he said his ROV could not search. The area where Glickman noted a possible debris field from the 2012 expedition. Did he search that area? And with what technology and methods?




3971R
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2021, 10:13:11 AM »

Broken up and scattered along the reef would make it easier to find, IMO. If there were a million pieces scattered about, chances are you would have found more than one. Every colonist would have had an Alcoa frying pan.

If the stories are true, it WAS easy to find at least from about 1941 (Emily Sikuli) until the late 1950s (Tapania Taeke, Pulekai Songivalu) and others.  The colonists didn't make frying pans.  They made fishing lures (consumptive use), combs (we found a few but most probably went with them), and decorative inlays for carved wooden objects.

However, the one piece you found looks like it was separated from the airplane intentionally.

Yes, if it's from the Electra. But we've found other aircraft pieces that we think are from the Electra - putative "heat shields" that were apparently nailed to the wooden floor bards, and plexiglas from one of the cabin windows.  If we're right, those artifacts could only come from a fuselage that was torn apart.

Floated or flew* away and sank is the real needle in the haystack, and I think that is what Ballard is counting on. He's probably thinking it's either in a 40 square mile chunk of ocean West of Niku, or a slightly larger chunk of ocean East of Howland.

Yes, I think he's probably thinking like that.  My problem with that hypothesis is that there is no evidence to support it and there is evidence that something else happened. It's exactly like Crashed & Sank.   

*Flew Away and Sank Theory = The 7 site has produced only items that would have been on Amelia Earhart's person or in a small cosmetic bag, including bits of the actual bag (zipper, bit of unidentified fabric, bead), and skeleton of one person, leading me to believe that they lost the Electra and its supplies rather suddenly.

Or were unable to get much of anything ashore over the reef (anything that would take both hands to carry would be extremely difficult to take ashore, or there just wasn't much of anything useful aboard the plane, or they did manage to get a bunch of stuff ashore that didn't;t get taken all the way down to the Seven Site and was later buried in coral wash-up.


Maybe the Electra landed intact and with some fuel on the reef. With the airplane still flyable, they did not unload supplies. Fred, injured and delusional from heat, attempted to take off, lost his landing gear (Bevington Object) and wound up in the drink off the reef. 12 hours or so later, the Navy flew over and found nothing.
That still puts the aircraft in the shallow surf zone
Floated away works the same way - Tide comes in after a few days on the reef and carries away the airplane and Fred, unexpectedly.

If the plane went into the ocean intact on a calm day, it could float away and sink later in very deep water, but there is nothing to support that hypothesis and it requires that we discount the many anecdotal accounts of wreckage seen on the reef and the internal components we've found in the village.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2021, 10:22:05 AM »

I still have questions about the first expedition I hope get answered.  In the National Geographic documentary Ballard said their ROV system could not search the more shallow depth due to the hazards of the reef edge. There was mention of divers searching the remaining shallow areas but it was not clear to me that their divers really searched the more hazardous 200 to 250 depth that he said his ROV could not search. The area where Glickman noted a possible debris field from the 2012 expedition. Did he search that area? And with what technology and methods?

It's not at all clear how thoroughly Ballard searched the shallow water between the reef edge and the first big drop-off, but that area has been searched repeatedly by TIGHAR and by divers during several New England Aquarium expeditions.  The only confirmed piece of wreckage in that region is the small "embedded object" our dive team found in 2015, and we couldn't even find it again despite repeated efforts.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 10:29:27 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Greg Daspit

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2021, 10:51:45 AM »

I still have questions about the first expedition I hope get answered.  In the National Geographic documentary Ballard said their ROV system could not search the more shallow depth due to the hazards of the reef edge.

It's not at all clear how thoroughly Ballard searched the shallow water between the reef edge and the first big drop-off, but that area has been searched repeatedly by TIGHAR and by divers during several New England Aquarium expeditions.
My question is specifically the 200-250 depth at the base of the first cliff.

In Bulletin 63  “The debris field identified by Jeff Glickman is on a moderate slope near the base of a cliff amid apparent coral debris from landslides. For obvious security reasons, we’re not releasing the exact location and depth of the debris field.”
 The depth is not mentioned in Bulletin 63 but in an image in Bulletin 65 you can see the depth readout in an image taken just south of the debris field that the depth is 196.7’

Was this 200’ depth searched by any divers? This is deeper than the 130’ recreational diving depth.
Edit: I watched the Documentary again. The "100 meter gap" Ballard refers to is probably horizontal distance from reef edge instead of depth so the ROVs probably searched up to the Debris Field depth.
3971R
 
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 11:41:57 AM by Greg Daspit »
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Don Yee

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Re: Ballard is going back to Niku next year
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2021, 03:36:48 PM »

Bob and I disagree on only one point.  He thinks the airplane, or some big piece of it, must still be there and findable.  He agrees with all the evidence that says Earhart landed at Niku but he rejects the evidence that says 80+ years of storms have broken, scattered, and/or buried whatever remains of the airplane.  (Psssst....look at the Norwich City.)

<my first post, glad to be here>
I think that of everything that is likely to be found I'd be putting my money on the engines.
Pro:  They won't float away, are a reasonably good size, and are likely to be intact (at least the cylinders).
Con:  They could tumble down an underwater cliff and be lost among the geology.

I also recall Ric giving a detailed description for how the Electra was put together, and that the center section where the wings attach was one big piece (I've forgotten what that section was called). That would be my second bet (reminds me of the keel sections found near the Titanic). It's big and flat and likely to stay intact.

I'm not an underwater archaeologist but I wonder what tech there is for detecting metal objects from a distance (like a side scan sonar + metal detector)? I guess it won't pick up aluminum but could pick up the cast iron in the engine.

Regardless, if Ballard is looking I don't see any harm at this point (and of course I'd watch the show).
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