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Author Topic: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937  (Read 446795 times)

Phil O'Keefe

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2010, 05:16:30 PM »

Thanks Ric. :) Your explanation of the relative conditions of the two locations makes sense to me, and supports the evidence and their apparent decision to relocate.

I'm still a bit confused about their failure to respond to the aerial search though.  ???

According to Lt. Lambrecht's report of his flight on 9 July 1937 (one week after the disappearance)

"From M’Kean the planes proceeded to Gardner Island (sighting the ship to starboard enroute) and made an aerial search of this island which proved to be one of the biggest of the group. Gardner is a typical example of your south sea atoll … a narrow circular strip of land (about as wide as Coronado’s silver strand) surrounding a large lagoon. Most of this island is covered with tropical vegetation with, here and there, a grove of coconut palms. Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants and it was finally taken for granted that none were there." (Emphasis added).

No offense, but that would seem to contradict "There was one (1) overflight of the island. That doesn't like a whole lot of SAR to me." True, they only overflew Gardner on one occasion and never re-visited it (a mistake IMO, due to its location on the LOP), but it's not as if they did a single cursory pass at 1,000' AGL and moved on. It would seem from his report that Lt. Lambrecht observed and understood the density of the vegetation and difficulty of traversing the terrain, and took action that he felt sufficient to draw attention to the aircraft, and allow time for someone to appear and respond. To do otherwise in light of his own admission of "(clearly visible) signs of recent habitation" would be dereliction of duty under the circumstances.

If AE and / or FN relocated to the Seven Site within a week after landing, the very points Ric made regarding the narrowness of the atoll at this location and the ease of access to the beach and lagoon come into play. It would suggest that they would have had ample time to respond to Lt. Lambrecht's "repeated circling and zooming". The fact that they apparently did not suggests one of the following possibilities:

1. They weren't on Niku to begin with.
2. They were, but had already perished, or were incapacitated and unable to respond.
3. They were at a different point on the island and too far from the shoreline or lagoon at the time of the overflights to respond in time, despite the "repeated circling and zooming".

Of the three, I suspect the third is the most likely, and would support the theory that they were still in the northwest (widest) part of the island for at least the first week after their disappearance. The evidence appears to contradict the first, although the second is something I can't rule out based on my limited knowledge. Of course, it's possible that an additional reason for their decision to relocate to the Seven Site (beyond the ones listed by Ric) was the narrowness of the land at that end of the atoll; allowing them to respond faster in the event of another overflight. Unfortunately, if that was part of their reasoning, they waited in vain. :(

Quick question: Does the archeological evidence support a long stay at the Seven Site? If they were there for several weeks or even two or three months, I would expect to see signs of multiple fires, or large amounts of charcoal from a continuously stoked / refreshed single fire pit. The amount of bird, fish and turtle shells and bones should also suggest the length of their stay at that location.
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2010, 07:20:01 PM »

According to Lt. Lambrecht's report of his flight on 9 July 1937 (one week after the disappearance)

No offense, but that would seem to contradict "There was one (1) overflight of the island. That doesn't like a whole lot of SAR to me."

That is precisely the one overflight to which I referred.  If you wish to count the two passes as "two overflights," you may.

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... it's not as if they did a single cursory pass at 1,000' AGL and moved on. It would seem from his report that Lt. Lambrecht observed and understood the density of the vegetation and difficulty of traversing the terrain, and took action that he felt sufficient to draw attention to the aircraft, and allow time for someone to appear and respond.

They were artillery spotters flying biplanes designed for directing naval batteries.  The had a limited field of vision and flew at 400' AGL to avoid the flocks of birds on and around Niku.  They were not trained in the SAR techniques that we have today for aerial surveillance. 

No other airplanes ever reached the island.  A PBY sent from Hawaii had to turn back.  By far, the bulk of the search was done by naval vessels.

Bill Lloyd and I discussed this at length in another thread.

LTM,

           Marty
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2010, 09:20:12 PM »

Yes indeed, the Lambrecht flight has been a hot topic of discussion on this forum for many years. In my estimation the Niku hypothesis turns on the issue of whether or not the scout planes from the Battleship Colorado missed seeing Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Gardner Island on July 9, 1937 either because they were not there or  were there on the island and simply overlooked. The official report of the search by the Colorado stated that no one was seen on Gardner Island while a report written by Flight Leader Lt. John O. Lambrecht stated that it was taken for granted that no one was on the Island.  This issue had been discussed many times in the old forum and I would recommend reading all of those discussion posts as they are very informative.

As a long time aviator, I can relate to the Colorado aviators and their flyover and what they should have seen and not seen. I am reasonably sure that if I had been flying the lead, we would have found Earhart and Noonan if they were there and wanted to be found.  Of course it was 1937 and I can agree that SAR was not what it is today.

I tend to believe that Earhart and Noonan would have expected someone to come looking for them and would have put out some sort of signal markers. The fact that Lambrecht did not find Earhart and Noonan does not prove that they were not on the Island. The last post lost signals from Earhart were sent out on Monday July 5 and the flyover was on Friday July 9. Would they have moved away from the landing site to another part of the island in that period of time? 

If they had expected airplanes to come looking form them, I suspect they would have stayed near the Norwich City and their landing site. If they had expected rescue to come by ship only then perhaps that is why they went to the southeast end.   
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Phil O'Keefe

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2010, 08:47:05 AM »

That is precisely the one overflight to which I referred.  If you wish to count the two passes as "two overflights," you may.

I'm apparently missing something here. What are you basing "two passes" on? ??? Again, Lt. Lambrecht's report (which you quote in the thread you linked to below with your discussion with Bill Lloyd) clearly states "repeated circling and zooming". Three aircraft, two sets of eyes per aircraft (and observers with binoculars), and "repeated circling and zooming" would seem to indicate one of the three possibilities I mentioned earlier:

1. They weren't on Niku to begin with.
2. They were, but had already perished, or were incapacitated and unable to respond.
3. They were at a different point on the island and too far from the shoreline or lagoon at the time of the overflights to respond in time, despite the "repeated circling and zooming".

I still feel certain that an aviator would not dismiss the possibility of an aerial search, even in 1937. AE and FN had been to Hawaii earlier in 1937 - and even though not a single one ever reached the area, they knew those shiny new long range PBY's were there and could possibly be used to search for them. FN flew with / navigated the first Clipper flights with Pan Am - he was well aware of what a seaplane was. As a master mariner, he was certainly aware of the fact that cruisers and battleships (not to mention aircraft carriers) carried aircraft that were specifically there to increase their search range and capabilities. The USN had been routinely using catapults and aircraft launched from cruisers for well over a decade by the time of the 1937 flight. Heck, when the stranded crew of the SSNC was being rescued, and encountered problems with escaping through the surf in small boats, her skipper suggested to the captain of the SS Trongate:

"The position as to getting over that reef surf appears to be hopeless. The only thing I can see for it is a cruiser with a seaplane to alight in the lagoon inside if possible."

That was in 1929 - eight years before the Electra's disappearance. As far as I know, he was not an aviator. If a non-aviator was aware of the availability of such shipboard aircraft, do you really think it wouldn't occur to AE and FN that aerial assets at least might be used in a search?

I'm not trying to interject "my" logic or thinking into the situation; rather, I am attempting to "put myself in their shoes". And in their shoes, I certainly would have at least considered an aerial search as a very real possibility.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2010, 10:27:26 AM »

That is precisely the one overflight to which I referred.  If you wish to count the two passes as "two overflights," you may.

I'm apparently missing something here. What are you basing "two passes" on? ??? Again, Lt. Lambrecht's report (which you quote in the thread you linked to below with your discussion with Bill Lloyd) clearly states "repeated circling and zooming".

Lambrecht's Report

"As in the case of the subsequent search of the rest of the Phoenix Islands one circle at fifty feet around M’Kean aroused the birds to such an extent that further inspection had to be made from an altitude of at least 400 feet.

"From M’Kean the planes proceeded to Gardner Island (sighting the ship to starboard enroute) and made an aerial search of this island which proved to be one of the biggest of the group. Gardner is a typical example of your south sea atoll … a narrow circular strip of land (about as wide as Coronado’s silver strand) surrounding a large lagoon. Most of this island is covered with tropical vegetation with, here and there, a grove of coconut palms. Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants and it was finally taken for granted that none were there."

I was presuming that they went around McKean and Gardner more than once, since the first sentence talks about "one circle" and then "further inspection."

The "repeated circling and zooming" took place over the "signs of recent habitation."  I don't count that activity as an extra circuit of the island nor do I think that they "circled and zoomed" over the whole island--just the apparent campsite.  With their attention focused on that spot, they might well have missed "answering waves" from elsewhere on the island.

The way I count things, that is one (1) search from the air, one (1) "overflight" of the island.  I understand that you are using a different system.

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I still feel certain that an aviator would not dismiss the possibility of an aerial search, even in 1937.

To my eye, the actual count of visits to the island by aircraft vs. the number of ships engaged in the search discredits your certitude. 

AE did things that many other aviators would not have done.  Would you consistently give the wrong frequencies of your equipment to people who had to use those frequencies to help you land safely at Howland Island?  Would you ask for a transmission on 7500 kcs for equipment that was limited to lower frequencies?  "Direction finder on plane covers range of about 200 to 1400 kHz."  Would you transmit on 3105 kcs if the Coast Guard told you, "Itasca direction finder range 550 to 270 kHz"?  Would you transmit too briefly for a direction finder to get a bearing on you?

Reasoning from what "aviators would do" to what AE did is perilous at best.

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AE and FN had been to Hawaii earlier in 1937 - and even though not a single one ever reached the area, they knew those shiny new long range PBY's were there and could possibly be used to search for them. FN flew with / navigated the first Clipper flights with Pan Am - he was well aware of what a seaplane was. As a master mariner, he was certainly aware of the fact that cruisers and battleships (not to mention aircraft carriers) carried aircraft that were specifically there to increase their search range and capabilities. The USN had been routinely using catapults and aircraft launched from cruisers for well over a decade by the time of the 1937 flight. Heck, when the stranded crew of the SSNC was being rescued, and encountered problems with escaping through the surf in small boats, her skipper suggested to the captain of the SS Trongate:

"The position as to getting over that reef surf appears to be hopeless. The only thing I can see for it is a cruiser with a seaplane to alight in the lagoon inside if possible."

That was in 1929 - eight years before the Electra's disappearance. As far as I know, he was not an aviator. If a non-aviator was aware of the availability of such shipboard aircraft, do you really think it wouldn't occur to AE and FN that aerial assets at least might be used in a search?

Do I think they would believe in an aerial search strongly enough to not search the island or relocate their camp if they found a better place for it?  No, I do not think that.  I think that one visit from one flight of aircraft that failed to spot them (a common occurrence, even in our vastly advanced SAR experience!) would probably not cause them to stay put near the leeward reef.

Quote
I'm not trying to interject "my" logic or thinking into the situation; rather, I am attempting to "put myself in their shoes". And in their shoes, I certainly would have at least considered an aerial search as a very real possibility.

Archaeology and DNA analysis may tell us where one of them died--or whether the castaway was someone else altogether.  Pure logic (reasoning from axioms taken to be self-evident) can't decide what was going on in their minds when they made the choices they made.
LTM,

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Phil O'Keefe

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2010, 06:03:23 PM »

I was presuming that they went around McKean and Gardner more than once, since the first sentence talks about "one circle" and then "further inspection."

I see. Thank you. :)

It would appear that you're extrapolating from the comments about McKean ("perfectly flat... with no vegetation whatsoever") and assuming the aviators took the same approach and actions at Gardner - a much larger and more complex location. If your orders are to "search", you're going to have to do more at Gardner than you would at McKean in order to comply with those orders.

The "repeated circling and zooming" took place over the "signs of recent habitation."

Another assumption that isn't directly indicated by the report, but a logical one that is a definite possibility. But an equally possible assumption is that, having found signs of "recent habitation", they not only zoomed and circled that site, but took a closer look at the rest of the atoll too, just in case the castaways were elsewhere; looking for food and water, gathering firewood, etc.

Lt. Lambrecht's comments about the only other uninhabited island that showed "signs of recent habitation" (Sydney Island) indicated they made "several circles of the island" and "repeated zooms" without eliciting any response. As long as we're extrapolating, that would tend to suggest that they took similar steps at the even larger Gardner Island, as opposed to the more cursory search of the much smaller and relatively featureless McKean Island.

To my eye, the actual count of visits to the island by aircraft vs. the number of ships engaged in the search discredits your certitude.

If you count the number of aircraft involved in the search - the three flown off the Colorado, the PBY (even though it never reached the area, it was dispatched as part of the search effort), and all the aircraft flown off the Lexington, the amount of aircraft involved actually greatly exceeded the number of ships involved.

Facts:

Aircraft visited and searched Gardner Island.

Ships did not.

The vast majority of the areas that were covered in the search were searched by air, not from the deck of a ship.

AE did things that many other aviators would not have done.  Would you consistently give the wrong frequencies of your equipment to people who had to use those frequencies to help you land safely at Howland Island?  Would you ask for a transmission on 7500 kcs for equipment that was limited to lower frequencies?  "Direction finder on plane covers range of about 200 to 1400 kHz."  Would you transmit on 3105 kcs if the Coast Guard told you, "Itasca direction finder range 550 to 270 kHz"?  Would you transmit too briefly for a direction finder to get a bearing on you?

No sir, I would not have done those things. However, I am an audio engineer with decades of communications experience and training; unlike most people, I deal with different frequencies on a daily basis. But I take your point. AE made some significant mistakes. The failure of AE to avail herself of proper training on the operation of the Bendix RDF, or to perform test flights in order to test that equipment and practice with it, along with the decision to leave the trailing antenna behind were significant factors in their ultimate demise IMHO.

Do I think they would believe in an aerial search strongly enough to not search the island or relocate their camp if they found a better place for it?  No, I do not think that.

No sir, nor do I. "Believing" in the possibility of an aerial search does not automatically rule out relocating (or searching for water, etc.); the two are not mutually exclusive. However, it would probably influence your actions. In other words, the assumption is that you would conduct that relocation and / or search for water / food with one eye scanning the horizon and sky, and that you would make an effort to leave yourself a ready route to a location where you could be easily spotted or attempt to signal a passing ship or aircraft.

In light of some of the illogical and unwise decisions AE made, it is certainly possible that she put herself into a position where, in spite of the repeated efforts of the naval aviators to locate her and make their presence known, she was unable to reach a clearing or light a signal / smoke fire in time to make her presence known to them. It is also possible, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, that she and FN were incapacitated and incapable of making their presence known. Or that they were never on Niku to begin with - although the preponderance of the evidence currently available would tend to argue against that last possibility.

I think that one visit from one flight of aircraft that failed to spot them (a common occurrence, even in our vastly advanced SAR experience!) would probably not cause them to stay put near the leeward reef.

Yes, it's not unheard of for modern SAR efforts to miss people or downed aircraft, as the recent Steve Fossett search clearly demonstrates. But if you're alive, and want to be found, and are taking steps to make yourself more visible (signal panels on the beach, signal fires readied in the event a passing ship is spotted, etc.), the chances of you being spotted are greatly increased.

Again, I am not suggesting that they would remain near the leeward reef; only that is is reasonable to assume they would have taken some efforts to make their presence known in the event a search party should arrive in the vicinity, and that they most likely would have been watching and listening for such search activity.

The evidence would seem to suggest that they eventually relocated to the southeastern part of the atoll; it does not, as far as I know, indicate exactly when that relocation took place. If we accept the northwestern reef landing site theory as accurate, then the only thing we can reasonably surmise is that at least one of them remained at that location for as long as the radio on the Electra was being used to send out distress calls; probably until at least 5 July 1937. If they began exploring and searching the island on 6 July, that leaves only two to three days to reach the far end of the island. Considering the density of the native vegetation, that would tend to argue against an extensive search of the island occurring along the way, with their arrival at the Seven Site location prior to the aerial search on 9 July.

If they were at the Seven Site when the aircraft appeared, they could have reached the beach or lagoon fairly quickly unless they were disabled, thus greatly increasing their chances of being spotted. In my opinion, that would tend to argue against them being at that location by 9 July.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2010, 06:44:30 PM »

It would appear that you're extrapolating from the comments about McKean ("perfectly flat... with no vegetation whatsoever") and assuming the aviators took the same approach and actions at Gardner - a much larger and more complex location.

I'm not extrapolating.  I'm quoting: "As in the case of the subsequent search of the rest of the Phoenix Islands one circle at fifty feet around M’Kean aroused the birds to such an extent that further inspection had to be made from an altitude of at least 400 feet."

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If your orders are to "search", you're going to have to do more at Gardner than you would at McKean in order to comply with those orders.

So you say.   :-\

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The "repeated circling and zooming" took place over the "signs of recent habitation."

Another assumption that isn't directly indicated by the report ...


It is part of the syntax of a single sentence: "Here signs of recent habitation were clearly visible but repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants ..."  It's true that the sentence does not include the words "circling and zooming over the signs of recent habitation," but I don't see why that is not a fair inference from the sentence structure.  Loosely translated, "We saw a place where we thought someone might have been camping, but repeated efforts to get someone to come out and wave at us failed."

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But an equally possible assumption is that, having found signs of "recent habitation", they not only zoomed and circled that site, but took a closer look at the rest of the atoll too, just in case the castaways were elsewhere; looking for food and water, gathering firewood, etc.

Looks like your aviator's mind has just taken off on another flight of fancy to me.  I have reasons from the text to suppose that they "circled and zoomed" over the signs of habitation; you object, "But those words are not in the text."  Then you say, "They must have circled and zoomed in many other places, too."

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Lt. Lambrecht's comments about the only other uninhabited island that showed "signs of recent habitation" (Sydney Island) indicated they made "several circles of the island" and "repeated zooms" without eliciting any response. As long as we're extrapolating, that would tend to suggest that they took similar steps at the even larger Gardner Island, as opposed to the more cursory search of the much smaller and relatively featureless McKean Island.

Yes, I originally granted that it seemed to me that the text suggests they made more than one pass over Gardner.

Quote
To my eye, the actual count of visits to the island by aircraft vs. the number of ships engaged in the search discredits your certitude.

If you count the number of aircraft involved in the search - the three flown off the Colorado, the PBY (even though it never reached the area, it was dispatched as part of the search effort), and all the aircraft flown off the Lexington, the amount of aircraft involved actually greatly exceeded the number of ships involved.

Fair enough.  One (1) search took place over Gardner.  If they were there, they failed to get the attention of the crew.

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Facts:

Aircraft visited and searched Gardner Island.

Ships did not.

The vast majority of the areas that were covered in the search were searched by air, not from the deck of a ship.

The ships sailed search patterns, too.

A ship without aircraft was waiting for them.

I don't think it would be unreasonable for them to hope the Itasca would sail to the rescue.  You think otherwise.  Such is life.

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AE did things that many other aviators would not have done.  Would you consistently give the wrong frequencies of your equipment to people who had to use those frequencies to help you land safely at Howland Island?  Would you ask for a transmission on 7500 kcs for equipment that was limited to lower frequencies?  "Direction finder on plane covers range of about 200 to 1400 kHz."  Would you transmit on 3105 kcs if the Coast Guard told you, "Itasca direction finder range 550 to 270 kHz"?  Would you transmit too briefly for a direction finder to get a bearing on you?

No sir, I would not have done those things. However, I am an audio engineer with decades of communications experience and training; unlike most people, I deal with different frequencies on a daily basis. But I take your point. AE made some significant mistakes. The failure of AE to avail herself of proper training on the operation of the Bendix RDF, or to perform test flights in order to test that equipment and practice with it, along with the decision to leave the trailing antenna behind were significant factors in their ultimate demise IMHO.

Then I hope you see why I'm not moved by your argument from your view of what an aviator "would have done" to what AE and FN did do.  You may be right; you may be wrong.

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"Believing" in the possibility of an aerial search does not automatically rule out relocating (or searching for water, etc.); the two are not mutually exclusive. However, it would probably influence your actions. In other words, the assumption is that you would conduct that relocation and / or search for water / food with one eye scanning the horizon and sky, and that you would make an effort to leave yourself a ready route to a location where you could be easily spotted or attempt to signal a passing ship or aircraft.

That's what I would do.  But I have the benefit of hindsight about her case and dozens, if not hundreds of other cases I've read or heard about wilderness survival.  I don't think the things that I would do have much bearing on the case.  I have ideas about how to keep coals burning for rapid lighting of a fire; I see no reason why AE would have such ideas.

Twice Niku team members have been overflown by aircraft.  Once it was a helicopter that gave them a chance to video Niku from the air.  They were not able to get out and identify the other aircraft that flew overhead.  Hearing and identifying where the aircraft were coming from was a big problem.  To which shore do you run if you do hear the engines?

In light of some of the illogical and unwise decisions AE made, it is certainly possible that she put herself into a position where, in spite of the repeated efforts of the naval aviators to locate her and make their presence known, she was unable to reach a clearing or light a signal / smoke fire in time to make her presence known to them. It is also possible, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, that she and FN were incapacitated and incapable of making their presence known. Or that they were never on Niku to begin with - although the preponderance of the evidence currently available would tend to argue against that last possibility.

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I think that one visit from one flight of aircraft that failed to spot them (a common occurrence, even in our vastly advanced SAR experience!) would probably not cause them to stay put near the leeward reef.

... Considering the density of the native vegetation, that would tend to argue against an extensive search of the island occurring along the way, with their arrival at the Seven Site location prior to the aerial search on 9 July.

I'm not arguing that they were at the Seven Site on 9 July.  I'm defending the idea that it may have been an attractive spot to pitch camp for a while once they found it.  There are a lot of layers of activity there.  It wasn't just the castaway who found it a good place to catch and cook things; others apparently did, too.
LTM,

           Marty
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2010, 11:07:02 PM »

Phil et al

I think we've figured out based upon the logs of the Colorado aircraft launch and recovery times, and working the time and distance problem using the typical airspeed of the aircraft involved, that the search aircraft spent less than 15 minutes total time, maybe as little as 10 minutes, over Nikumaroro.

Regardless of the actions reported - "circling and zooming", the time spent over Niku is no where near enough time to effectively "search" the island, and certainly not enough time for anyone on the ground back in the bush to get to the beach in time to be seen, or even get a signal fire going.  Whatever circling and zooming may have been done (and it is an important clue that Lambrecht thought someone might be there) it was probably localized on one part of the island to the exclusion of the rest of the island.  If AE and FN happened to be exploring a 1/4 mile down the beach, or over on the lagoon side that day, they stood no chance of being seen in such a short period of time if they happened to be out of the focus of the aircrews.  By modern search standards, a 15 minutes search by 3 aircraft over densely vegetated ground would yield a probability of detection well under 10%, and that is for the area covered, not an entire island.  

If you don't have the Aerial Tour of Niku - the video of the helicopter ride from 2001 - I recommend that you get it.  From 100ft off the beach it is near impossible to see our own TIGHAR team members on the beach, even when we know where they are.  The video makes one pass around the perimeter of the island, and one pass around the lagoon, which take about 20 minutes.  You will understand that it is a much bigger place than it seems, and that a 15 minute flight around the island is woefully inadequate.

In addition, a common problem in modern Search and Rescue (never mind 1937 era technique) is the pre-conceived notion of what one is looking for.  Aircraft searchers typically have in mind the vision of the aircraft they are looking for, not the broken trees, distributed small parts, flocks of hungry birds, or disturbed snow that indicates the last resting spot of that aircraft.  It really does take a lot of specialized training and experience to set aside such preconceived notions and concentrate on the true signs that might be out there.  I doubt our flyers off the Colorado had extensive experience in SAR that is available today, and the fact that the recent habitation wasn't reported in the official records would support my doubts as today SAR participants are trained to officially report anything out of the ordinary.

In this case, the Colorado aviators figured they be finding a L-10 Electra out on the beach - remember they were sent to search the islands because of the post loss transmissions indicated the aircraft was intact and on land - they were not looking for individuals in the trees or other signs without an aircraft.  I believe that when they didn't find the aircraft they were looking for, they moved on despite the "signs of recent habitation".  Looking through a modern day prism, we find it hard to swallow that they passed up such a blatant sign, but even today such signs get missed in searches.  It is not a perfect system today, and much less so then.

Andrew

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2010, 07:17:34 AM »

... You will understand that it is a much bigger place than it seems, and that a 15 minute flight around the island is woefully inadequate.

Andrew knows more about Niku and SAR than I do.  He is one of the many TIGHAR authorities to whom I defer.

I don't think he or any other TIGHAR member is impugning the talent, training, or character of the naval airmen drafted to search for AE and FN.  The fact that the search may now be judged as "woefully inadequate" in terms of what SAR teams have learned since 1937 does not in any way suggest that the personnel involved in 1937 didn't do the best they could with the training and equipment at their disposal. 

I haven't seen the South Park episode(s) about Hindsight Man, but I know that he is alive and well in many of us who participate in the Forum.   :-\
LTM,

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2010, 11:09:12 AM »

haven't seen the South Park episode(s) about Hindsight Man, but I know that he is alive and well in many of us who participate in the Forum.   

Does this imply that you have watched South Park? :)

Not necessarily.  Logically, if I had never seen any South Park episodes, that would include those about Hindsight Man. 

As a matter of (probably unverifiable) fact, I have, in solitude, watched portions of South Park.  I suppose a forensic investigator might even be able to examine my computers or those of my ISP and find out which ones have been played on my machines.

Friends or students have sent me links to clips.  I don't think I've ever watched a whole show, but I could be wrong.  I do hope to watch the Hindsight Man episode(s) after I'm done grading papers.   :)
LTM,

           Marty
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2010, 07:49:31 AM »

Quote
Phil et al

I think we've figured out based upon the logs of the Colorado aircraft launch and recovery times, and working the time and distance problem using the typical airspeed of the aircraft involved, that the search aircraft spent less than 15 minutes total time, maybe as little as 10 minutes, over Nikumaroro.
According to my interpretation of the data, a much different result is derived and suggests much more time on station than you have calculated. My calculations are based on the information contained in the Log Book of the USS Colorado for Friday July 9, 1937. The Colorado was steaming south in a position southwest of Mckean Island and northwest of Gardner Island

Lt Lambrecht’s sea plane was catapulted from the Colorado at 0656 and with his flight of three sea planes flew direct to Mckean Island thence to Gardner Island thence to Carondelet Reef and then returned to the Colorado which had steamed to the southeast at 12 knots.  Distances as measured between the islands and reef for the entire flight is 295 statute miles.  Figuring in the winds as reported in the Colorado Log and the approximate cruise speed of the Vought O3U-3 Corsair sea plane, the total en route flying time would be approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes.

After 3 hours and 34 minutes, Lt Lambrecht and flight returned to the Colorado at 1030 hours which leaves approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes of on station time that was used in the reconnaissance of each island and the reef.  Lambrecht stated in his report that McKeen was small and only required a perfunctory search., likely no more than 10 minutes, likewise for Carondelet Reef, therefore, a total of 1 hour flying time appears to have been available for the search of Gardner, much more than the 10 to 15 minutes that you have stated. 

This is not to say the flight searched Gardner for a full hour, however, Lambrecht reported detailed information on the Norwich City, lagoon, vegetation, shoreline, took a photo and when he saw signs of recent habitation, repeated circling and zooming.  Surely all of this activity took more than 10 minutes.   
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Phil O'Keefe

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2010, 08:28:12 AM »

Bill, what are you using as the cruise speed of the Corsairs? I've found their maximum speed, but that's it.

I believe I saw a chart somewhere with the actual course plotted for the flights; from launch to recovery. Given what we know based on his report, those plots and with an estimate of their speed, it should be relatively easy to calculate the approximate amount of time available for the actual search.

I do agree that the amount of time spent at McKean vs Gardner were not equivalent; based on the descriptions of each and the wording of his report, it sounds like they definitely spent considerably more time at Gardner.
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2010, 08:23:46 AM »

Quote
Bill, what are you using as the cruise speed of the Corsairs? I've found their maximum speed, but that's it.
The maximum speed is listed at 164 MPH and I have not been able to find an operations manual with a cruise chart for the 03U-3. There is a photo of the airspeed indicator but the green arc is not discernable. From my experience, cruise power is usually 75% to 85%, therefore that is what I used to estimate a cruise speed.   

A cruise speed of 125-135 MPH  flying the courses between the islands should give them about one hour and 20 minutes of on station time. Of course as you burn off fuel, the airspeed will increase or you can further reduce power for less fuel consumption.  In this case, these Naval aviators probably kept their airspeed on the high side because that is what they are taught to do.

I plotted the two positions of the Colorado and measured the distances between the islands and the reef.  Also there is a diagram of the flight in Lambrecht’s report.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2010, 07:34:55 PM »

I'll have to defer to Ric, or whoever did the original analysis of the flight and time over Niku. 

Even if they spent an entire hour over Niku, the probability of detection would have been pretty small by modern standards. 

Andrew
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2010, 08:04:31 PM »

Also there is a diagram of the flight in Lambrecht’s report.

There is?
« Last Edit: December 23, 2010, 08:20:38 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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