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Author Topic: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937  (Read 444009 times)

JNev

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #180 on: July 17, 2012, 07:39:46 AM »


"...it would be a lot harder to be spotted by the aerial search, especially if the aviators are focused on the beach."


This may be very old news for many here, but may not be for some-

"...Utah resident one of the few still alive who participated in intensive search"
Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2008

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695251117/The-hunt-for-Amelia-Earhart.html

According to Douglas Westfall, author of "The Hunt For Amelia Earhart"- 

"...Airman Richard Beckham flew over Nikumaroro (Gardner) seven days later and said: "We altered course to Gardner Island ... we always went low over the islands at 100 feet ... we couldn't see anyone, and we always scanned the beaches."
 
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/amelia-earhart-search-starts-woman-pilot-gone-missing-1937

Was Beckham ever interviewed by TIGHAR?

Mark,

It's not 'old news' to me - had not known of Beckham before this; maybe others have.

His is a fascinating account.  As to the '100 foot' altitude - I wonder about that.  We have information from the Lambrecht report that tells us they stayed at 400 feet or higher due to experience with bird 'traffic' among the islands.  Maybe a zoom or two was conducted to something that low, or maybe that was Beckham's uninitiated judgment of altitude (his first flight was during the search).

It is interesting that he mentions the beach as a focal point; that lends some thought to what Andrew has noted about the beach area and ability to spot someone under the circumstances at Gardner at the time, as we understand them.

Thanks for this information - very interesting.

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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Bruce Thomas

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #181 on: July 17, 2012, 09:45:04 AM »


"...it would be a lot harder to be spotted by the aerial search, especially if the aviators are focused on the beach."


This may be very old news for many here, but may not be for some-

"...Utah resident one of the few still alive who participated in intensive search"
Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2008

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695251117/The-hunt-for-Amelia-Earhart.html

According to Douglas Westfall, author of "The Hunt For Amelia Earhart"- 

"...Airman Richard Beckham flew over Nikumaroro (Gardner) seven days later and said: "We altered course to Gardner Island ... we always went low over the islands at 100 feet ... we couldn't see anyone, and we always scanned the beaches."
 
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/amelia-earhart-search-starts-woman-pilot-gone-missing-1937

Was Beckham ever interviewed by TIGHAR?

Mark,

It's not 'old news' to me - had not known of Beckham before this; maybe others have.

His is a fascinating account.  As to the '100 foot' altitude - I wonder about that.  We have information from the Lambrecht report that tells us they stayed at 400 feet or higher due to experience with bird 'traffic' among the islands.  Maybe a zoom or two was conducted to something that low, or maybe that was Beckham's uninitiated judgment of altitude (his first flight was during the search).

It is interesting that he mentions the beach as a focal point; that lends some thought to what Andrew has noted about the beach area and ability to spot someone under the circumstances at Gardner at the time, as we understand them.

Thanks for this information - very interesting.

LTM -

Author Douglas Westfall apparently did not bother to read the deck log for USS Colorado. Otherwise, he would not have claimed that Mr. Beckham flew over Nikumaroro (Gardner).  The pilots and observers for each plane on each launch are clearly identified in the log.  (It's available on the CD that came with Ric's book, Finding Amelia, as well as viewable directly here on tighar.org.) On the overflight of Gardner/Nikumaroro, on the morning of Friday, 9 July, the pilots were Lambrecht, Fox, and Short; their observers were S1c Marks, RM3c Williamson, and Lt. Chillingworth, respectively.  Beckham was not on that flight.

"Sea1c Beckham" is shown as the observer flying with Lt. (jg) Short, for the morning flight made on the next day, Saturday, 10 July, when the planes overflew Sydney, Phoenix, Enderbury, and Birnie.  He also was probably the observer flying with Lt. (jg) Fox around noon on Thursday, 8 July, during one of the flights when Winslow Reef was being looked for; if so, then his name is misspelled in the log: "Sea1c Beekham".
LTM,

Bruce
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Monty Fowler

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #182 on: July 17, 2012, 12:50:47 PM »

Now, now, Bruce, why would we let, ummmm, actual documented facts get in the way of churning out another "This is what really happened to Amelia and Fred" book?

LTM, who trys to keep things straight,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
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JNev

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #183 on: July 17, 2012, 07:21:08 PM »

Thanks, Bruce - good research.

I suspect Beckham was quite honest but suffered lack of clarity as to his own mission details, perhaps just faulty recall after many years.

One could wonder about the Author, Westfall - more trouble with accuracy would have been nice.

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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Brian Ainslie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #184 on: July 30, 2012, 11:49:03 AM »

Reading through the lengthy thread about the overflight, etc, I think one point that few (if any) folks made was regarding a signal. Reasonable people can debate the ability of the searchers to find the survivors under varying circumstances, but a clear signal, even if designed to be seen by a ship at see would also likely be seen from an airplane. Further, wouldn't one need to make multiple signals for a ship as it could be coming from any number of directions? Maybe that is a point in favor of moving to the Seven Site....but, again, if they had that ability to explore, it does seem odd that there wasn't a signal that didn't rely on human intervention (lighting a fire, being awake, getting out of the jungle, etc.).

Someone made the point that if the survivor(s) did miss the Navy flight, they would have been sure to leave a signal behind to prevent a future "miss". That logic (assuming they/she/he were/was physically able) is pretty clear. It does seem improbable that such a signal would not have then been discovered by later visitors to the island.

Not trying to debate issue myself as I have limited knowledge/exposure to this topic, but thought perhaps other minds would like to take this ball and run with it?
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #185 on: July 30, 2012, 03:32:23 PM »

My own opinions on this subject Brian have been influenced by what I originally envisaged happening, theories others have suggested, luck and the pros and cons other forum members have put forward.
I like the theory behind the idea that they were expecting rescue by ship, why wouldn't they? there were no planes in the area at that time (except theirs). Big pile of wood ready to set alight to when ship is seen on horizon (signs of recent habitation?), plenty of time to get a decent inferno going before ship disappears over the horizon.
Not much use when unexpectably surprised by over flight of SAR planes though. Better luck next time, when they come back we have this mirror to signal them with, can't go wrong.
Only they never came back :'(
Just my little scenario
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richie conroy

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #186 on: July 30, 2012, 03:54:44 PM »

I have often wondered why there wouldn't be a smoldering fire from night before, As they surely would have been out of rash ins by then. If not a fire that kept them warm through the night at least ?

But then maybe they were waiting for matches or lighter to dry out, or some wood too, To rub together   
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #187 on: July 30, 2012, 04:06:50 PM »

I have often wondered why there wouldn't be a smoldering fire from night before, As they surely would have been out of rash ins by then. If not a fire that kept them warm through the night at least ?

But then maybe they were waiting for matches or lighter to dry out, or some wood too, To rub together   

Take my word for it Richie, it's a bugger to keep a fire going non stop. Once the easily collected wood lying around on the ground has gone, you then have to search further afield for it and then, once that's gone, you have to start hacking it down yourself. Fires consume wood like it's going out of fashion. Machete and axework is physically draining so, let's hope their box of matches stayed dry and, Freds lighter fuel didn't evaporate too soon, bearing in mind they only expected to be out of touch for 22 hours.
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richie conroy

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #188 on: July 30, 2012, 04:28:14 PM »

I understand that Jeff

However there would have been years worth of dry loose wood scattered about in any area of island

Which bring's me back to a question i asked as a newbie on forum, What if they didn't start any fire's or made them selves aware of search plane's in case they were Japanese plane's flying over, And didn't want to be captured ? 
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richie conroy

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #189 on: July 30, 2012, 04:32:00 PM »

Also do we know, How many personal item's they could have been carrying which were highly flammable ?
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Brian Ainslie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #190 on: July 31, 2012, 08:58:31 AM »

A fire would make the most sense, especially if waiting for a ship. But, again, from what direction would a ship most likely come? Logic says north (toward Howard), but if they are in the NC vicinity, then that becomes problematic. And, again, you'd want to cover your bases from multiple directions, right?

So, how do you address that? As noted, keeping a fire lit (assuming they even got one going) is difficult under the best of circumstances. Keeping multiple fires lit, separated by miles....well, let's rule that out. Unless you split up....

Besides fire though, they've got many other suitable options for signaling a ship or plane. The Plexiglas is somewhat reflective. The aluminum skin of the plane, likewise. Plus, as previously mentioned, you could leave a marker of some sort on the beach. One thing that struck me watching the helicopter video is that the beach is bright! Anything dark on that beach would stand out from an aircraft, especially if moving. But the downside to that is that, from a ship, anything dark on the beach would blend into to the trees behind.

So a lot to think about if you are a would-be survivor.
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John Balderston

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #191 on: July 31, 2012, 11:00:47 AM »

Were Frederick Hooven able to jump into this thread he would tell us that Lt. Lambrecht's search didn't turn up AE and FN because they were no longer there

Only one week after the emergency landing on Gardner - no plane, no "SOS" written on the beach, no fire, no signal mirror, no NOTHING.  Hmmmm. 
John Balderston TIGHAR #3451R
 
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #192 on: July 31, 2012, 11:22:24 AM »

But, again, from what direction would a ship most likely come? Logic says north (toward Howard), but if they are in the NC vicinity, then that becomes problematic.

Not problematic, but probably advantageous! The wreck of Norwich City was like a beacon to approaching ships.  Your logic is correct concerning the approach -- from the deck log of USS Colorado, which was proceeding down from Howland, at 0945 hours (nearly 3 hours after launching the three floatplanes that overflew Gardner Island):
Quote from: Decklog USS Colorado
Sighted Gardner Island bearing 179.5o (True), distance about fifteen (15) miles. Sighted wrecked ship a little to right of island, bearing 180o (True).

Thirty-five minutes later, at 1020 hours, the ship prepared to receive the returning floatplanes, with the first one hoisted aboard at 1025 hours. 

Quote from: NW shore of Gardner Island about 8:30 a.m. July 9, 1937
AE:  Damn!  Where did those 3 noisy floatplanes come from Fred?  I told you we should have been down there near that shipwreck!  Did you see how interested they were in circling it and checking it out?  Why didn't they see us up here?  We were jumping up and down like crazy, and they never even noticed us.  I never expected to see an airplane fly over.  Where'd they come from? We've just been expecting a ship to come and find us all this time. 

FN:  That's it, Amelia!  The Navy's looking for us!  I saw the markings on them.  They're U.S. Navy floatplanes.   They have to have come from a ship, probably a big one, too.  Let's see if we can spot it on the horizon.  It can't be very far away.

AE:  Let's run up to the corner of the island and as far up that slope as we can.  What is that awful vegetation called, anyway?  I sure wish we had a machete.

[a few minutes later]

AE:  I don't see any ship. Those damned planes flew off towards the southeast.  Why are we looking north?

FN (wheezing):  It's the logical direction from where their ship would have come.  I don't see anything either.  But I'm sure they would have come from the North.  We did, and they probably started looking from up there around Howland Island.

AE (angrily):  I told you we needed a stack of driftwood to signal with.  But no, you had to go and smoke all those cigarettes and use up all your lighter fluid.

FN:  I'm sure there's a ship out there that those planes will have to fly back to.  Maybe if we keep looking northward, we'll have another chance to be spotted by them.

AE:  We need a stack of wood.  Remember that place down the shore a mile or so, the one with the taller trees?  Let's run down there and start preparing a bonfire.  Those planes may rendezvous with your Navy ship off towards the east instead.  You can show me your Boy Scout skills.  Just find a way to start a fire without your lighter.

[about 90 minutes later, closer to the southeast corner of Gardner Island]

AE:  How's that fire-starting going, Fred?  I'm keeping my eyes peeled looking for that ship of yours.

FN:  I've almost got it.  I'm glad I kept my sextant.  That inverting eyepiece has come in handy.  Keep looking -- do you see a ship yet?

AE:  Damn!  There they are again, in the distance, those 3 floatplanes!  They're flying toward the northwest.  See them out there?

FN:  And look on the horizon, Amelia.  I see the mast of their ship.  Looks like a battleship.  I told you!

AE:  Good old Franklin and Eleanor!  They've sent the Marines for us!

FN:  They're mostly sailors, Amelia.

AE:  Shut up and get that fire smoking, Fred!  That cigarette dangling from your lips isn't going to be enough.

AE (beginning to jump up and down and shout):  Hey!  We're here!  Send those planes back if you don't believe me!  Don't they have binoculars on battleships, Fred?

FN (coughing loudly):  Just keep jumping.  They're sailors, and can spot a shapely female even at this distance.

AE:  I wish I'd packed a dress instead of all these manly shirts.  Let me powder my nose.  Do you think this mirror in my compact might help to get their attention?  Say, you oughta stop smoking, Fred.  It's going to kill you someday.

FN (quietly, to himself):  Yeah, if I live that long.
   
LTM,

Bruce
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« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 11:31:33 AM by Bruce Thomas »
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Brian Ainslie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #193 on: July 31, 2012, 11:39:27 AM »

But, again, from what direction would a ship most likely come? Logic says north (toward Howard), but if they are in the NC vicinity, then that becomes problematic.

Not problematic, but probably advantageous! The wreck of Norwich City was like a beacon to approaching ships.  Your logic is correct concerning the approach -- from the deck log of USS Colorado, which was proceeding down from Howland, at 0945 hours (nearly 3 hours after launching the three floatplanes that overflew Gardner Island):
Quote from: Decklog USS Colorado
Sighted Gardner Island bearing 179.5o (True), distance about fifteen (15) miles. Sighted wrecked ship a little to right of island, bearing 180o (True).
First, very amusing,  :D

Second, am I understanding correctly you are saying that the northernmost point of the island (one could say the NW corner) is the place they'd find most likely to attempt to signal? If so, I agree, other than the distance from the wreck of the NC. It isn't terribly far, but seems like a lot of possible back and forth. 

Third, the 7 site offers virtually no advantages in terms of survival and detection from searchers compared to the area near the wreck of the NC. Different trees? Eh, maybe. Less distance from the lagoon to the ocean? Yes. But then you are too far from your best signaling point - the northernmost point of the island.

Finally, based on the map here, and working on the premise above, it seems likely they would have found the cache from the NC (don't know how to post the actual map in this post, sorry).


http://tighar.org/aw/mediawiki/images/7/75/Norwich_City_Rescue.jpg
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 06:13:10 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Michael Calvin Powell

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #194 on: August 18, 2012, 10:14:17 AM »

I've been reading a lot of this speculation for some time and I agree that it is easy to think of things that a castaway should have done to make sure a search plane (if they could have guessed there were planes) or a searching ship would have known they were present.  However, it seems to be that these speculations are founded on an assumption about the possible castaways that is itself a speculation.

Specifically, what should we assume about the physical, emotional and mental state of a castaway in AE's situation (if, in our theory, we assume she was present).  The Niku theory assumes that after an exhausting, lengthy flight in an extremely noisy cabin at high altitude, AE and FN went through the incredibly scary emotional ordeal of being lost in the middle of the Pacific as fuel ran low.  They then (according to this theory) made a "hail Mary" effort to find an Island and happened on Gardner.  They may, or may not, have known what that island was (it didn't match the outline in the charts - if they had them.)

They attempted (according to our theory) an incredibly dangerous landing on a reef at low tide.  We have no way to know how that landing went.  Was it an incredibly rough landing (balloon tires on sharp coral?)  Were they injured?  Was FN still functioning after the landing?

Then our theory assumes that they made at least one and most likely multiple trips between the lagoon and the reef.  We know that the surf - especially on the outside of the reef - was extremely difficult.  The trained and well equipped boat crews that rescued the Norwich City survivors had a very difficult time getting ashore and speculated, at one point, that it would be impossible to do so.  Some of the Norwich crew died getting ashore (in a storm) but all accounts mention a great number of sharks.  Admittedly conditions inside the reef should be far better but seriously folks, we are not talking about Mike Phelps here.  We are talking about exhausted, possibly injured, people swimming to and from a wreck that is partially submerged at high tide in an area frequented by sharks.

Now add what their experiences much have been ashore (again, assuming the theory is correct).  No or very little available water (one of the other parties that explored the island resorted to drinking water that had been puddled in a guano deposit).  Resting - at night or during the day - must have been hellishly difficult because of the predatory crabs.  If FN was still functional then perhaps they could have taken turns but even that would have been difficult for exhausted, possibly injured, people.  They could try to start a fire to protect against crabs but that, in itself, might not be easy for exhausted, possibly injured, people.

So put that all together and what kind of speculative assumptions should you make?  A physically, emotionally and mentally fit AE would have likely left some visible signal.  Would an exhausted, emotionally wrung out, possibly injured and potentially panicked AE have done so?  Could she even have fallen asleep in the shade of a tree following an unsuccessful search for water?

I think the answer is we don't know.  Depending on the assumptions you make, the lack of a signal is very strange or perfectly understandable.  Either way, I don't think you can treat the ABSENCE of a signal as proof against the hypothesis.  It is simply one more factor to be weighed in the balance with ointment jars, lost skeletal remains and sextant boxes.

Anyway, my two cents.  Now I am off to set my DVR to record Sunday night's show.
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