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Author Topic: Night landings  (Read 4630 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Night landings
« on: May 19, 2021, 10:48:30 AM »

In writing the Electra book, I noticed something I don't think anyone has ever mentioned.

Earhart sometimes flew at night – much of her transatlantic flight in 1932, her Honolulu to Oakland flight in 1935, and the Oakland to Honolulu flight in March 1937 were made in the dark, but she always arrived after sunup.  In fact, she purposely delayed her arrival in Hawai’i until it was light. Airmail and airline pilots routinely made night landings, but not Amelia.

She and Helen Richey made a pre-dawn takeoff for the Bendix race in September 1936, but can anyone find an occasion when she made a landing at night? 
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Don White

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2021, 12:34:53 PM »

Does the landing in Africa count, when she went to the wrong airport?

LTM,
Don
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2021, 12:45:12 PM »

Does the landing in Africa count, when she went to the wrong airport?

Elgen Long says she landed in St. Louis at "about 7:35 pm local time." (Mystery solved, page 144)  Sunset there on June 8 is 7:38pm (local time is same as GMT), so it was still twilight.
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Matt Revington

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2021, 01:46:22 PM »

It sounds like she tried hard to avoid night landings, the newspaper report on her arrival in Darwin included the following “ . On arrival she said she had intended to wait at Darwin only for re-fuelling purposes, but the late arrival made it impossible for her to cover the next stage of the journey in daylight. There was no necessity to take the risk of a night landing. ”.  While it is not a direct quote it sounds like the reporter is paraphrasing her.

From Brisbane’s Courier Mail, Tuesday 29 June 1937.
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Don White

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2021, 01:48:37 PM »

So it wasn't Darkest Africa, but it was the Twilight Zone.

Don
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2021, 03:48:40 PM »

Given the state of runway, taxiway and approach lights (or compete lack thereof) at some of these more "remote" destinations, I think her apparent aversion to night landings is understandable.  There woud have been very few lights of any kind out in the countryside as well Of course this doesn't account for those times she was traveling around the US.

The airmail pilots of the day were experienced in finding, understanding and navigating between locations using the abundant airport beacons

Anyone still use those?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2021, 08:51:04 AM »

Of course this doesn't account for those times she was traveling around the US.

She made three round-trips between California and New York in the Electra with a total of 16 stops at major airports.  None were at night.

The airmail pilots of the day were experienced in finding, understanding and navigating between locations using the abundant airport beacons

Anyone still use those?

I don't think any of the route marking beacons are still in operation. By 1937,  low-frequency radio ranges and non-direction radio beacons were in common use. 
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2021, 10:21:18 AM »

Sorry, Ric 

I was referring to the relative abundance of lights out in the countryside in the US in contrast to lack of same throughout most of her route.

I guess this begs the question, "Why plan a flight which would require a night landing when you don't have to?"  Perhaps it was lack of confidence/training/expertise.  The evidence seems to point that way but I don't think we can say that for certain.  Personal preference must count for something.  If she knew/recognized her lack of confidence/training/expertise, it may be the first time we see her using sound judgment instead of bulling right on ahead.
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Christian Stock

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2021, 12:21:18 PM »

I always assumed she planned on landing an hour or so after sunrise as a navigational method, with the whole line of position thing.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2021, 07:57:45 AM »

I guess this begs the question, "Why plan a flight which would require a night landing when you don't have to?"  Perhaps it was lack of confidence/training/expertise.  The evidence seems to point that way but I don't think we can say that for certain.  Personal preference must count for something.  If she knew/recognized her lack of confidence/training/expertise, it may be the first time we see her using sound judgment instead of bulling right on ahead.

It's an interesting question. Her flying skills were limited and narrowly focused. Night landings are more difficult than daylight landings, but they're also avoidable except in an emergency.  Record-setting long-distance flying required an ability to handle a heavily-overloaded airplane, perform basic dead reckoning navigation (as long as the target destination was not a tiny island in the middle of an ocean), and stay awake for long periods. It also required money and courage.  Putnam's promotional skills provided the money and Earhart provided the courage.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Night landings
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2021, 07:58:50 AM »

I always assumed she planned on landing an hour or so after sunrise as a navigational method, with the whole line of position thing.

That was true of the Lae/Howland flight.
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