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Author Topic: Government Surveillance Flight Theories  (Read 70106 times)

Sheila Shigley

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Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« on: December 20, 2010, 10:55:31 AM »

I don't believe the theories of AE's possible government surveillance flight duties automatically imply capture by the Japanese, so I took the liberty of starting this thread - hope that's okay.

One possible witness to government involvement is a Mr. Wayne Green of New Hampshire, who states in a blog post marked 7/11/07:

"Back in 1928-1930, when my dad was the designer and manager of Philadelphia’s Central Airport, Amelia kept her Lockeed [sic] Orion there [in a 1/15/10 post he states it could have been a Vega]. I used to climb into the cockpit and pretend to fly it. And dad had her out to our house in Pennsauken (NJ) for dinner several times. She and Tommy Luddington owned Luddington Airlines, America’s first airline. I still remember being on the inaugural flight between Philadelphia and Newark in 1928. In 1936 Bob Wemple, a good friend of my dad’s and Amelia's chief mechanic, came out to dinner at our house and explained that he had just outfitted her Lockheed with larger engines and extra gas tanks so she could, on her around-the-world flight make the hop from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island by way of Truk Island so she could take spy pictures of the Japanese installation there for President Roosevelt, who had earlier been the Secretary of the Navy. The Navy wanted to know what the Japanese were doing there.  With the more powerful engines she would be able to make the trip to Howland Island via Truk in about the same time as she would have been able to do it flying direct with her standard engines. Bob said these pictures were the whole reason for her flight."

Mr. Moleski proposed digging into the following questions:

Was his father really designer and manager of Philadelphia’s Central Airport?

Did AE and Tommy Luddington own Luddington Airlines, America’s first airline?

Was Green really on the inaugural flight between Philadelphia and Newark in 1928?

Was Bob Wemple really Amelia's chief mechanic?

Was AE's Vega, in fact, at the airport as he claims it was? 


Off to the races!

Sheila
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2010, 10:57:34 AM »

From the Smithsonian:

"Earhart served as a partner in the Transcontinental Air Transport and Ludington airlines..."
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2010, 11:02:50 AM »

Note:  Green misspells Ludington as Luddington
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2010, 11:14:06 AM »

Not surprisingly, an early reference to Ludington Air Lines includes a reference to G. P. Putnam.  For a bit of background, the US government was at odds with independent air service providers regarding who would control the soon-to-be-lucrative air mail business:

"...E.W. Savage, adviser for Ludington Air Lines...has set up an organization including G.P. Putnam, New York Publisher, and Captain J. J. Reiley, public-relations counsel, who handled the details of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition, which organization offers its services to member [air] lines."

Hope this isn't too off-topic; mainly trying to establish the relationship Wayne Green states his family had with Earhart's.
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2010, 11:36:49 AM »

Who was Bob Wemple, named by Green as "Earhart's chief mechanic?"

Haven't linked a Wemple to Earhart thus far  However the morning--er, afternoon--is young, and an obituary turns up of a Navy flight mechanic (PBY-5A patrol bomber, 1943-1945) Robert Olson Wemple, who passed away this June at the age of 90.




Of course the "Bob" in Betty's notebook is giving me goosebumps.  I'll return that to my "cockamamy theories not to be mentioned twice" box for now.  Especially as this Robert Olson Wemple would only have been 16 in 1936, the year Green names him as "chief mechanic."

« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 11:42:57 AM by Sheila Shigley »
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2010, 11:57:25 AM »

Ok---IF she were on a govt mission to overfly the Marshalls, including Truk, we all agree that she would have had to be making nearly 200 mph ground speed to arrive near Howland at about 8-8:30 am, given the flight time for the original course. I do agree that she would not have been able to see much from the altitude she was flying. She would have to fly at about 17.5 degrees from Lae to hit Truk, then 100-105 degrees from Truk to Howland. Total trip of about 3000 miles. I guess my question would be, did the radio station on Nauru have a bearing on her radio signals that she supposedly sent during the night? If so, that direction would tell us whether she was north of Nauru, to overfly the Marshalls, or south, for the direct course to Howland. I havent seen any references to this at all. This occured to me by looking at the sun line reference 157-337, which seemed to indicate a SSE flight instead of a ENE flight direct to Howland. maybe some of our navigator or radio friends can find this out.
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2010, 12:02:37 PM »

Who was Bob Wemple, named by Green as "Earhart's chief mechanic?"

Haven't linked a Wemple to Earhart thus far  However the morning--er, afternoon--is young, and an obituary turns up of a Navy flight mechanic (PBY-5A patrol bomber, 1943-1945) Robert Olson Wemple, who passed away this June at the age of 90.



Age 90 in 2010 suggests a birth year of 1920, I think. 

That would make him 16 years old in 1936, if I've done the math correctly.

Probably too young to be a "chief mechanic" for anything.  But he might have been a son of one of her mechanics.

Quote
Of course the "Bob" in Betty's notebook is giving me goosebumps.  I'll return that to my "cockamamy theories not to be mentioned twice" box for now.

The Electra was constructed (and reconstructed) in Burbank, California, on the west coast, not anywhere near Wemple would have met the Greens.  His name does not appear in Finding Amelia nor anywhere on TIGHAR's website.  The original radio equipment was installed at the Newark Airport, New Jersey in February, 1937.  That would have been Wemple's only opportunity to see the airframe up close and personal.  I believe that there is a fairly complete documentation of the state of the aircraft's engines and structures from then on, although I do not have the photographs at my fingertips, arranged in chronological order.

Here is one that shows (to those who have eyes to see--I'm not one of them) that the aircraft as configured for the first round-the-world attempt was fitted with Pratt and Whitney's 550 h.p. Wasp S3H1 radial engines.



AE did not plan to crash at Luke Field--far from it!  There was no thought of a second attempt until after the first one failed so miserably.
LTM,

           Marty
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2010, 01:12:08 PM »

Turns out (more-than-you'd-ever-want-to-know-about) Central Airport in Philadelphia was technically in NJ, though it served as Philadelphia's as well.



Note name of airline.

Finally--and yes, I should have been at work 6 hours ago but alas--a bonafide connection between the Greens and Ludingtons:

Contents of CSA #2942

Case File of Igor Sikorsky
Committee on Science and the Arts


Letter from George A. Hoadley, to C.T. Ludington, Requesting information on experience with the Sikorsky automatic control device, 8/24/1931

Letter from George A. Hoadley, to W. Sanger Green, Advising of the use of adjustable stabilizers on non-Stinson motors and availability of an automatic pilot from Guardian Aerial Corp, 9/1/1931

Letter from W. Sanger Green, to George A. Hoadley, Annotated copy of Hoadley letter stating Guardian Aerial device is not being used by American Airlines, 9/2/1931

Letter from CSA Secretary, to W. Sanger Green, Acknowledging receipt of information on the availability of the Guardian Aerial control device, 9/2/1931


W. Sanger Green is our Wayne Green's father, according to Wayne's 9/14/07 blog entry.

Doesn't really prove Ludington knew Green, but does establish at least that they were connected to the same people and were both being consulted on their knowledge of automatic aircraft controls.




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Don Dollinger

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2010, 01:21:51 PM »

FWIW:  I read somewhere that a friend of Amelia's said that she was a very passive person and the thought that she would accept a spy mission is totally absurd.  Unfortunately though, unlike Marty I do not have a veritable file cabinet in my brain where I can readily point to a link where I read that little gem.  Now of cousrse that is someone elses opinion of Amelia and I have had friends do things that anyone who knew them would have sworn that the person was not capable of doing such a thing until they in fact did do such a thing.

Just thought I would throw that out there.

LTM

Don
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2010, 01:50:25 PM »

Here's a reference to Green's position as op manager of Central Airport - see the Google snippet free, but to view PDF will have to pay:

Chem. Eng. News, 1930, 8 (3), pp 8–10
Publication Date: February 1930
Copyright © 1930 American Chemical Society

Local Sections
by P Meetings - 1930

Sanger Green, operation manager of the Central Airport,. Camden, N. J., outlined to the dinner group the development and...
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2010, 03:45:52 PM »

So it does appear thus far that:

1) Wayne Green is the son of W. Sanger Green
2) W. Sanger Green was manager of Philadelphia's Central Airport (located in Camden, NJ)
3) Earhart, Putnam, the Ludingtons, and the Greens are connected in the same time frame (1930s) to Ludington Air Lines, Philadelphia Central Airport, and other common projects in the field of aviation and aircraft mechanics

I'm going to skip past the inaugural flight question because--well, the Bob Wemple thing is just more interesting, lol.  As is searching for lucky snapshots of AE's Vega at Central Airport.  But I'll keep any eye open for child passengers on Ludington flights nonetheless.


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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 07:53:35 AM »

Earhart's chief mechanic at the time of both the first and second world flight attempts was Ruckins D."Bo" McKneeley.  He's in many photos and he flew with AE, FN, and GP as far as Miami on the first unannounced legs of the second attempt.  I talked to Bo on the phone several years ago shortly before his death.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2010, 08:34:10 AM »

Marty was nice enough to sent me the link of the in-flight radio transcripts. For the spy theorists, take a look at the transcripts. GMT 0519 7.35S/150.7E--on course for Howland, south of New Brittan. GMT 0718 4.33s/159.7E near Nukumanu Island, also on course. GMT1030, Nauru report "ship in sight", but no position report. A Capt. Johnson near Tabituea Island, says natives report of a high flying airplane. Thats at 1.21S/174.48E, again on course to Howland.
There isnt anyway possible that AE flew the Electra to Truk and the Marshalls, and these reported positions being correct. All of these positions would have to have been "fabricated", and that just does not seem likely. This flight path is about 1000 miles SOUTH of the Marshalls. Given the speed of the Electra, the fuel on board, and more importantly the times and coordinates posted, she could not have been in 2 places at the same time, 1000 miles apart. If the reports were fabricated, she would have arrived over Truk near dusk, and at 8000 feet, what was she going to see? Probably nothing that she would recognize, like gun emplacements. So, unless she had alot of extra fuel, and jet engines on the Electra, my personal belief is that the Marshalls overflight theory has been disproven. Any thoughts?
Tom
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2010, 10:19:42 AM »

Marty was nice enough to sent me the link of the in-flight radio transcripts.

It's not so much "the" link as a link to a timeline of transmissions, based on other TIGHAR documents.  Corrections and amendments much appreciated!

Quote
For the spy theorists, take a look at the transcripts. GMT 0519 7.35S/150.7E--on course for Howland, south of New Brittan. GMT 0718 4.33s/159.7E near Nukumanu Island, also on course. GMT1030, Nauru report "ship in sight", but no position report. A Capt. Johnson near Tabituea Island, says natives reported hearing a high flying airplane. That's at 1.21S/174.48E, again on course to Howland.

There isn't any way possible that AE flew the Electra to Truk and the Marshalls, and these reported positions being correct. All of these positions would have to have been "fabricated", and that just does not seem likely. This flight path is about 1000 miles SOUTH of the Marshalls. Given the speed of the Electra, the fuel on board, and more importantly the times and coordinates posted, she could not have been in 2 places at the same time, 1000 miles apart. If the reports were fabricated, she would have arrived over Truk near dusk, and at 8000 feet, what was she going to see? Probably nothing that she would recognize, like gun emplacements. So, unless she had a lot of extra fuel, and jet engines on the Electra, my personal belief is that the Marshalls overflight theory has been disproven. Any thoughts?

Conspiracy theorist, would (in my view!) of course, equip the aircraft with a magic radio to go along with the magic engines and fuel supply, so that the reported counterfeit position call would be heard on Nauru and so that the aircraft could both spy before dusk, then get back to Howland when a "normal" 10E would be expected to arrive.  They would probably also supply a military aircraft to simulate AE's flight over the natives.  All it requires is a deeper and more technically excellent conspiracy.   :P

To my eye, you've found a silver bullet to slay the conspiracy vampire.  I hadn't thought of using the report of the natives as a way of nailing the "Japanese spy" theory.  Well done!
LTM,

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« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 10:23:52 AM by moleski »
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2010, 10:50:42 AM »

I really wasnt thinking of the natives report, as much as the radioed position reports. Assuming that the natives knew what an airplane was ( I mean, we are talking about the south pacific, before WWII), I think that we can take 3 positions, and draw a definate conclusion as to AE's route to Howland.
Funny thing though, What about all those people in the Marshalls and on Saipan that 'saw" her and Fred? Might they be right too?
Another mystery wrapped in another mystery!
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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