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AuthorTopic: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937  (Read 460269 times)

Phil O'Keefe

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2010, 09:01:57 AM »

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

There is?

http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Documents/Lambrecht%27s_Report.html

Since it's near the equator, each degree on that map (both longitude as well as latitude) represents a distance of approximately 60 nautical miles, or 69 statute miles. I don't have a compass with me at the moment, but eyeballing that map, I'd say the plotted course is about 300 miles.

If we knew the cruise speed of the Corsair, it would be relatively easy to calculate the time available to search the islands. Max speed on that aircraft is supposed to be about 164, and if cruise is 2/3 of that (109) to 3/4 (123), and the flight time was 3.5 hours (according to the report, launch was at 0700, recovery at 1030), well, you can do the math... at a cruise speed of 109, they'd have about 45 minutes of search time, and at a cruise speed of 123, they'd have a bit over an hour of search time. Of course, that would be shared between the three search targets, but again, according to the wording of Lt Lambrecht's report, I really do not believe they spent the same amount of time searching McKean as they did Gardner. Based on the descriptions of the targets, and the sat photos I've seen, I'd estimate ten minutes at McKean, and five at Carondelet; leaving the remainder of the flight time (30-45 minutes, minimum) to search Gardner.

Yes, that's conjecture on my part, but reasonable considering the relative sizes of McKean and Gardner. McKean is only about a half mile across, is flat and has hardly any vegetation on it, and Carondelet is a submerged reef.

Quoting from the report:

"M’Kean did not require more than a perfunctory examination to ascertain that the missing plane had not landed here, and one circle of the island proved that it was uninhabited except for myriads of birds."

Their third search target of the day, Carondelet Reef, also required little time to fully and effectively search.

"From Gardner, the planes headed southeast for Carondelet Reef, sighting its occasional breakers a good ten miles away. No part of the reef is above water and, although it could be plainly seen from the air, the water over it must have been at least ten to twenty feet in depth. Finding nothing here the planes returned to the ship."

Those descriptions are considerably less detailed than what he describes at Gardner.

Yes, SAR is quite a bit more advanced today than it was then, and yes, even an hour may not have been sufficient for three aircraft to fully cover Gardner and not miss someone. But based on the facts and descriptions in that report, I don't see how a "ten minute" search of that location can be assumed.

My rough calculations / approximations are even more conservative than Bill's, but if his math is more accurate (and it very well could be), then they had even more time on station in which to conduct the search.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 09:07:21 AM by Phil O'Keefe »
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Bruce Thomas

• Posts: 651
• Now where did I put my glasses?
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2010, 09:46:21 AM »

One should not just calculate the number of miles (statute or nautical) involved and create a theory about time-on-station at the targets from that alone.

Don't forget that it takes a few minutes to position and launch each float plane from the catapult and then for the three of them to form up as a group to set out on their great adventure.  What does the 0700 start time actually represent?

Then, one might have to take the stated return time to the battleship of 1030 hours with another grain of salt:  does it denote the time the three planes landed in the ocean, or does it mean the completion of the operation to recover the three of them back onto deck, when the ship can then return to its steaming speed?

Both the launching and the recovery times can thus eat significantly into the timeframe from which any estimate of on-station time at McKean, Gardner, and Carondelet Reef is made.

YMMV, as Marty is wont to write!

LTM,
Bruce

Added this a few minutes later, and a little wiser:  I was moved to finally "launch" the DVD from "Finding Amelia" and quickly scanned the Colorado's deck log.  Those sailors on the Colorado were very efficient:  Lt. Lambrecht's plane was launched at 0656 from the quarterdeck, the next one at 0656-1/2 ("from high catapult"), and the third one at 0700, also from the quarterdeck.  I guess there were at least two catapults.  For the recovery operation, Lambrecht's plane was hoisted in at 1025, and the other two at 1035 and 1037.  So that blows my idea of some superfluous time needing to be discounted!
LTM,

Bruce
TIGHAR #3123R

« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 10:26:38 AM by Bruce Thomas »
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Ric Gillespie

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• Posts: 6008
• "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2010, 09:53:04 AM »

I'm working up a detailed re-analysis of the flight using the Colorado Deck Log, Lambrecht's article (it's not actually a "report") and Google Earth - a very handy tool I didn't have when I did the original analysis many years ago.  When I'm done we'll post it as a research bulletin on the TIGHAR website.
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Randy W Kerr

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• Posts: 21
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2010, 01:59:31 PM »

Bruce Thomas:  Yes there were two catapaults on the Colorado class BBs  One on the fantail, ("quarterdeck"), and one on the #3 14in. turret.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2010, 02:14:06 PM by Randy W Kerr »
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Bob Rainville

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• Posts: 6
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #34 on: December 26, 2010, 04:57:44 PM »

On this subject of "premature demise "there is an issue that bugs me to no end:
Lt John O. Lambrecht's report reads,
Quote
“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.”
, This on 9 July 1937.

So, 3 aircraft buzz the island repeatedly an unspecified number of times and sighting unspecified signs of habitation. This begs the question how come they didn't spot Amelia or Fred. Now Ric, you've been on the island and you have shed some light on this below. If your hear approaching aircraft and we'll surmise you're in the thickest jungle part, how long would it take you to make shore or lagoon where you could easily be seen from the air?
Can a waving figure be spotted from aircraft from the far side of the island, say where the SS Norwich City lay and you're at the far east end, lagoon side?

Also, accounts read that the stores left there after SS Norwich City crew was rescued were found to be greatly disturbed but the photo of this taken by NZ folks does not open. Was there an exact inventory of those stores left for future castaways anywhere? What kind of condition would they be in after 8 years on a tropical island?

I guess it would be a safe bet to surmise that Amelia and Fred were so injured or ill and only 8 days after landing they couldn't respond to the aircraft, or they had already passed.
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Ric Gillespie

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• Posts: 6008
• "Do not try. Do or do not. There is no try" Yoda
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #35 on: December 26, 2010, 05:47:49 PM »

If your hear approaching aircraft and we'll surmise you're in the thickest jungle part, how long would it take you to make shore or lagoon where you could easily be seen from the air?

The beachfront vegetation is unbelievably dense and difficult to get through.  it could easily take at lest 15 minutes to get through to the beach even in a panic situation - and even then you will not be "easily seen from the air."  Having flown over the island in a helicopter and having seen our own people on the ground ( I knew they were there and I knew where to look) it is incredibly difficult to spot people on the ground. They are smaller than you expect them to be.  If they are waving, so is the background vegetation because of the constant trade winds. There is no relative motion to catch your eye.

Can a waving figure be spotted from aircraft from the far side of the island, say where the SS Norwich City lay and you're at the far east end, lagoon side?

No way Jose.  To spot a figure on the beach you have to be right over them.

Also, accounts read that the stores left there after SS Norwich City crew was rescued were found to be greatly disturbed but the photo of this taken by NZ folks does not open. Was there an exact inventory of those stores left for future castaways anywhere?

No. Not even a general description. Just a casual mention that provisions were left in case anyone should become marooned in the future.

What kind of condition would they be in after 8 years on a tropical island?

Depends on what was there.  Casks of water should still be okay.  Canned good?  I dunno.

I guess it would be a safe bet to surmise that Amelia and Fred were so injured or ill and only 8 days after landing they couldn't respond to the aircraft, or they had already passed.

I don't think we can make that assumption.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2010, 06:20:39 PM by moleski »
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Bob Rainville

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• Posts: 6
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2010, 07:20:33 AM »

Thank you Ric for your detailed and thorough response to my post on this subject. Just a couple of quick questions here. Was the Electra equipped with a flare pistol of any kind? Why didn't AEP and FN write something in the sand with wood or rocks on the lagoon side where the tide and surf wouldn't disturb it?
Thanks again Ric and very Happy New Year to you and family...
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Randy W Kerr

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• Posts: 21
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2010, 08:50:03 AM »

Thank you Ric for your detailed and thorough response to my post on this subject. Just a couple of quick questions here. Was the Electra equipped with a flare pistol of any kind? Why didn't AEP and FN write something in the sand with wood or rocks on the lagoon side where the tide and surf wouldn't disturb it?
Thanks again Ric and very Happy New Year to you and family...

Great questions. In the survival training I was given in the military we were repeatedly told about the difficulty of spotting people on the ground from aircraft,something I can attest to having spent many hours in USCG helicopters doing searches...which brings up the issue of survival training...is there any record of survival training conducted before the trip??
« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 08:57:47 AM by Randy W Kerr »
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Bob Rainville

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• Posts: 6
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2010, 06:40:54 PM »

There were three (3) aircraft that flew from the Colorado, Lt. John Lambrecht was flight commander, Lt.Jg William B. Short was the second mentioned, who was the third Navy pilot?
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Bruce Thomas

• Posts: 651
• Now where did I put my glasses?
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2010, 07:59:52 PM »

The third pilot that day was Lt (jg) Leonard O. Fox
LTM,

Bruce
TIGHAR #3123R

« Last Edit: December 30, 2010, 08:04:21 PM by Bruce Thomas »
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Bill Lloyd

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• Posts: 105
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #40 on: December 31, 2010, 08:00:49 AM »

Yes, I see there is. I had forgotten that.  I calculated the possible time over Gardner years ago.

Quote
I'm working up a detailed re-analysis of the flight using the Colorado Deck Log, Lambrecht's article (it's not actually a "report") and Google Earth - a very handy tool I didn't have when I did the original analysis many years ago.  When I'm done we'll post it as a research bulletin on the TIGHAR website.
I used Google Earth and the ruler to measure the distance of each of the four legs of the flight to arrive at a total en route distance of 295 miles.  Wind direction and force are in the Colorado Log as well as the  positions for launch and recovery.

It would be a good thing to post a research bulletin. It certainly will not change the results of the search, but it could show a fairly accurate estimate of the flying time available for the Gardner search and it might even show that more time was available that previously thought possible.

Also of interest was an entry in the Colorado Log dated 0945 on Friday July 9, 1937, "Sighted Gardner Island bearing 179.5°, distance about fifteen miles. Sighted wrecked ship a little to the right bearing 180°."

From your experience on Gardner, could you see a battleship 15 miles to the north?  The Colorado stood 131 feet.

At 0945, Lambrecht should have departed Carondelet Reef on a 330° heading for the 90 mile leg back to the Colorado and would pass within approximately 7 miles of the southeaster shore of Gardner. If your were at the 7 site could you see a battleship which had now  moved further southeast and the sea planes flying at 1000 ft over the water to the east as they went by on the way to the ship?

It is a tragic thought to think that AE and Fred could have heard and seen the search planes over Gardner  but could not get their attention and then observed the battleship to the north moving to the southeast and then see the planes to the east over the water returning to the ship. Talk about having a bad day!

« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 08:03:46 AM by Bill Lloyd »
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Bruce Thomas

• Posts: 651
• Now where did I put my glasses?
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #41 on: December 31, 2010, 10:50:24 AM »

Quoting Ric from his book Finding Amelia, page 208,
Quote
Colorado's log shows that the ship changed course to begin receiving the returning flight at 10:20 AM.17  The planes had been gone three hours and twenty minutes and had covered 272 nautical miles at their cruising speed of ninety knots.18  They thus spent a total of no more than twenty minutes over their three objectives.  A reasonable estimate might be five minutes at McKean, ten minutes at Gardner, and five at Carondelet Reef.
Note #18, found on page 264, attributes that information to "Lambrecht answers to Goerner, undated."  The distance of 272 nautical miles equates to 313 statute miles, while 90 knots is nearly 104 miles per hour.
LTM,

Bruce
TIGHAR #3123R

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

• Posts: 2994
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #42 on: December 31, 2010, 07:22:59 PM »

I've been working on a short summary of the discussion of the Lambrecht search in the Ameliapedia.

I've gotten another entrant into the "match the photo" contest from Jose P. Isern Comas.

"I just noted that some of the TIGHAR members tried to match Google Earth with the Lambrecht photo.  I did the same too some weeks ago and included the Google Earth kmz from which I derived the following:

"I tried to match the picture as closely as possible, and, strangely, could not match it as well with the  island centered in GE; the best match requires having Niku to the left of center.  The Lambrecht picture seems level (horizon) but I have some reservations."
LTM,

Marty
TIGHAR #2359A

« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 07:12:08 AM by moleski »
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Mike Piner

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• Posts: 44
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #43 on: January 01, 2011, 12:11:16 AM »

Marty:
That is a better match than I have seen on any of the recents posts.  I noticed the wave action is almost identical.  You win the prize.  what was the specs for the effort?  MikeP
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

• Posts: 2994
Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #44 on: January 01, 2011, 07:11:31 AM »

That is a better match than I have seen on any of the recent posts.  I noticed the wave action is almost identical.  You win the prize.  what were the specs for the effort?

I didn't win the prize--Jose does.  All I did was relay his image and comments in my post.

If you have Google Earth, you can use this .kmz file to view the scene from the vantage point captured in the image above.

It's interesting that the best match requires NOT having Niku centered in the Google Earth window.  I don't know enough about optics or projective geometry to figure that out, but I guess it might match a cropped picture where the wing of the airplane filled half the picture and the island filled the other half.
LTM,

Marty
TIGHAR #2359A

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