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Author Topic: Back to the Gull Pond  (Read 662 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Back to the Gull Pond
« on: August 27, 2021, 09:24:46 AM »

The Discovery series "Expedition Unknown" is seriously considering funding a remote-sensing search of the Gull Pond and surrounding area for the engine and any other surviving components of l'Oiseau Blanc (The White Bird). Regardless of what you might think of the series, this could be a long-sought opportunity. TIGHAR has been wanting to do such a search since our last expedition to Newfoundland in 1995 but the cost made it impractical.  Now, with better technology that can be deployed from a drone rather than a helicopter, a thorough search is more economical.  We've been discussing this with the production company for several weeks and we'r trying to settle on the best technology.  I had been thinking LIDAR would be good, but if the engine in in the pond is buried in several feet of silt, LIDAR won't see it.
In 1994 and 19095 we used electromagnetic sensors carried in inflatable boats. Electromagnetic sensors detect all kinds of metal but the range is limited and the equipment is bulky.  We only did a small portion of the pond and the anomalies we found turned out to be "hot rocks" (magnetite glacial erratics).
Magnetometry might be the best choice. The best magnetic targets are ferrous objects with a high aspect ratio, that is, long and skinny. A barbed wire fence is a better target than a cannon ball. In this case, the crankshaft of the engine would give a better return than the steel cylinders. The aluminum case would give no return at all.
According to the parts manual for the Levasseur PL-4, from which PL-8 l'Oiseau Blanc was derived, the flying wires on the aircraft were “acier special” (special steel) which I take to mean stainless steel.  Some types of stainless steel are magnetic. Some are not. If the wires are magnetic (and were not salvaged) they would make excellent magnetometry targets.
We have two questions I'm hoping the Forum can help with:
•  We need a vendor.  Are there companies that do remote-sensing, especially magnetometry with drones?
•  What kind of stainless steel were being used for flying wires in the 1920s?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2021, 09:35:04 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Bill Mangus

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« Last Edit: August 27, 2021, 02:23:48 PM by Bill Mangus »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2021, 08:56:19 AM »

Thanks Bill.  Yes, we'll need a calm day.
Most of those links are to companies that sell drone systems, but DroneGeoScience is service provider.  Another one is UAV Exploration. I'll get in touch with both of them.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2021, 09:47:09 AM »

Stainless steel is made non-magnetic by the addition of nickel to the alloy and is known as "austenitic" steel. Today, Steen (referenced by Bill Mangus) uses austenitic steel for flying wires, but it's not at all clear when it first came into use for aircraft flying wires. Austenitic stainless steel was invented by Krupp in 1912.  The Chrysler Building in Manhattan (1930) was among the first uses of austenitic steel in the U.S.

The flying wires of the White Bird were "acier spécial", literally "special steel", but it's not clear what that means. Today, stainless steel in French is called "acier inoxydable" but is that what it was called in 1927?  "Acier spécial" translates into German as "Edelstahl" which, in turn, translates into English as both "his grade steel" and "stainless steel." (Confused yet?)

Bottom line: I think there's a good chance the steel in the White Birds flying wires was "high grade" (high chromium content) but not stainless. If it was stainless it was probably not non-magnetic austenitic. 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2021, 10:03:46 AM »

For what it's worth:
We have a 1917 French-English Military Technical Dictionary (how's that for an obscure source?)
It lists dozens of types of "acier" (steel) but no "acier inoxydable" (the modern French term for stainless steel).  It does list "acier spécial" translated as simply "special steel."
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Jeff Lange

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2021, 07:51:38 AM »

And....just like that, The White Bird is back and alive as a topic! ;)
Jeff Lange

# 0748CR
 
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Matt Revington

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2021, 01:08:32 PM »

Working ( ie turning it into wire) even some types of the austentic steel can give it magnetic qualities “ All austenitic grades have very low magnetic permeability’s and hence show almost no response to a magnet when in the annealed condition; the situation is, however, far less clear when these steels have been cold worked by wire drawing, rolling or even center-less grinding, shot blasting or heavy polishing. After substantial cold working, Grade 304 may exhibit quite strong response to a magnet. Grades 310 and 316 will in most instances still be almost totally non-responsive.”
http://blog.loosco.com/bid/46881/enough-with-the-aircraft-cable-magnet-test-already
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Kenton E. Spading

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2021, 04:50:50 PM »

Hello Forum,
I participated with Ric and others on 4 expeditions to the Avalon Peninsula.  Three in 1994 to Goose-Gull pond and one in 1996 to Green Island pond.  Before, during and after the expeditions I conducted research related to the White Bird Project.  During that process I noticed numerous changes in geographic place names throughout the decades.  On various maps the pond we visited three times in 1994 was labeled Goose Pond.  On other maps it was labeled Gull Pond.  Other ponds in the area were labeled Great Gull Pond or Little Gull Pond.  Correspondence in archives related to the mystery referenced Great Gull Pond.  As a result after I returned to St. John's Newfoundland from the field after the last 1994 expedition I visited various archives and map libraries to research geographic place names. 

The attached letter report dated 18 October 1994 summarizes my research while recommending additional investigations.   Quoting Paragraph No. 1 of my summary on Page 6 of 6:

“I am not suggesting that we were searching in the wrong pond. We certainly have reasons to believe cultural activity of some sort occurred within our search area.  However, issues like the dynamic nature of the maps described here and the reference to Great Gull Pond in a letter to the government indicates that research into historical maps of the area is necessary.”

I went to state: “I would not recommend additional field work at this time unless additional evidence comes to light to support the existing or a new hypothesis.”   

If I could turn back the clock I would state that as:

“I would not recommend additional field work at this time unless additional evidence comes to light to support the existing or a new hypothesis.  I suggest researching pond place names on maps from the early 1900s to late 20th century versus anecdotal and archival references which reference pond names.”

Attachment: Letter Report Dated 18 October 1994

Thank you,
Kenton Spading, PE, FRGS 20, FN ’20
1586 Grotto Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117-3460
Voice/Text: 651-272-7970
KSpading@Comcast.net
« Last Edit: August 30, 2021, 10:44:57 PM by Kenton E. Spading »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2021, 07:28:38 AM »

New Zealand TIGHAR member Keith Gordons writes,:
- we have a large collection of vintage aircraft here - many are operational - speaking to one of my mates involved with their rebuild and maintenance as well as flying them - flying wires are carbon steel - stainless has been tried in some cases back in the 1970’s but found prone to failure so is not used - With aircraft of the 1920’s carbon steel was used.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2021, 07:40:32 AM »

If I could turn back the clock I would state that as:

“I would not recommend additional field work at this time unless additional evidence comes to light to support the existing or a new hypothesis.  I suggest researching pond place names on maps from the early 1900s to late 20th century versus anecdotal and archival references which reference pond names.”

We can research pond names 'til the cows come home, but there's no doubt that the Cape Shore stories about The Plane in the Pond refer to airplane debris seen on and salvaged from the little rocky island in the Gull Pond, the same little rocky island where we found an artifact which might well be from the White Bird.  If Discovery wants to fund a remote-sensing survey of that area, I'm all for it.
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Don White

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2021, 08:26:43 AM »

The reference that stainless steel was not used for control cables at that time, that carbon steel was preferred, makes sense to me. It also seems to me that a logical place to inquire about this is of a French aviation museum. "Special" may only mean a high-carbon steel of extra strength.

The first large-scale industrial use of stainless steel I know of was for the brightwork on 1930-31 Model A Ford cars. The equivalent parts on 1928-29 Model A cars had been nickel plated. These were all decorative, non-load-bearing parts. Chrome plating on cars was just coming into use around that time. I have heard that General Motors owned patents on chrome plating, and Henry Ford did not want to pay them royalties (however, the bumpers on all Model A Fords (1928-31) were chrome plated, the only parts of the car that were). Ford called it "rustless steel." Its proper or trade name was Allegheny metal, which corresponds to today's 18/8 stainless. I have a stainless steel serving spoon found in a thrift store that is labeled "Allegheny Metal" which has been brought along to serve my contribution at local Model A Ford club potlucks.

Not much use regarding control cables, but interesting.

LTM,
Don
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Kenton E. Spading

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2021, 10:37:54 PM »

Map research would inform this project.

Regarding the proposed Avalon Peninsula Discovery Channel Expedition.  In 1994 TIGHAR deployed remote sensing equipment at Goose-Gull Pond.  An EM-31 manufactured by Geonics Limited in Canada was utilized there and on Nikumaroro, Island.  The EM-31 is an effective metal detector with a wing-span of 10 feet give or take.  It covers a wide swath.  A "hot" rock was located in the Goose-Gull pond.  An EM-31 is not the tool for the proposed mission.   However, Geonics has other equipment that can be deployed from the air including from drones.  In the 1990s I visited the Geonics headquarters in Canada to be trained on the EM-31 and EM-38.  These guys and gals know remote sensing inside and out.  In particular they are experts at detecting ferrous and non-ferrous targets and often times both with the same instrument.

In 2007 TIGHAR member Veryl Fenalson (God Rest His Soul) consulted with me on again deploying remote sensing in search of the White Bird.  The prior year (2006) Veryl and his team hiked into the English Pond on the Avalon Peninsula.  Veryl was planning another expedition.  Given my previous experience operating Geonics equipment, I called their office.   They offered various options.  Since then drones have arrived on the scene.

For example, the Geonics EM61-MK2A metal detector sensor is a high sensitivity, high resolution, time domain metal detector that is mounted on a drone.  It can be utilized to detect both ferrous and non-ferrous metal.  Typical target response is a single, sharply defined anomaly peak which facilitates determination of the target location.  The depth of detection is dependent on many factors to include surface area and orientation of the target.  A 55 gallon drum can be detected at depths greater than three meters (9.8 ft).  The UgCS SkyHub enables the drone to fly in True Terrain Following (TTF) mode with the help of the radar altimeter.  A RTK/PPK GNSS receiver on the drone can geotag the data with centimeter-level precision (half inch or so).

Thank you,

Kenton Spading, PE, FRGS 20, FN ’20
1586 Grotto Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117-3460
Voice/Text: 651-272-7970
KSpading@Comcast.net
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Kenton E. Spading

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2021, 10:32:05 PM »

Team,
I have been reading my 1994 and 1996 field notes and contemplating the White Bird Project.   I did not intend to down play the Discovery Channel’s interest.  I am encouraged new energy is being breathed into this endeavor.  The exchange of ideas is productive. 

Ric: Does Discovery have a schedule in mind?   If it is Post-Nov, I am planning to visit you in November.  I could bring my notes and ideas for discussion.   If the plan is to deploy before Nov, we could Zoom to share thoughts. 

Thank you,
Kenton Spading
651-272-7970
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Back to the Gull Pond
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2021, 12:43:03 PM »

Weather permitting, it looks like the Expedition Unknown survey is going to happen in late September but this is their show and we don't get to pick the technology. The drone/magnetometry equipment they've chosen is not ideal, but it will be interesting to see what they get. This is not a TIGHAR expedition. I'll be there as a guide and consultant.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2021, 12:45:50 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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