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Author Topic: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937  (Read 444044 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »

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.  

I did the same and came up with 241 nautical miles (256 statute).  I suspect the difference is in our respective calculations of the launch and recovery points.   

Wind direction and force are in the Colorado Log as well as the  positions for launch and recovery.

Wind information in the deck log is surface wind and no winds aloft information is available, however, the flight was a round trip with relatively little difference between the launch and recovery points so the winds en route are going to be pretty much a wash.


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.


I should have the research bulletin done soon.

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?


That sounds about right, especially if you have a bit more elevation than we have aboard Nai'a.

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.

Lambrecht's off-the-cuff comment that as they were flying from McKean to Gardner they "sighted the ship to starboard" is interesting and may provide a clue about the flight's progress.

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?

I would be surprised if AE and FN were at the Seven Site by July 9.  I suspect it took them some time to explore the island and figure out the best place to camp.  If they were still in the Norwich City area or anywhere south of there, anything that happened off to the east was hidden by the tall buka forest that stands on the island's NW tip.
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Erik

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #46 on: January 03, 2011, 06:53:08 AM »

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.  
I did the same and came up with 241 nautical miles (256 statute).  I suspect the difference is in our respective calculations of the launch and recovery points.   

Using the more accurate ship's deck logs lat/long locations, I found the distance to be approximately ~290 statue miles.  I also found that the hand-drawn paper map was innaccurate by as much as 5-10 miles.  Also of interest is the ships bearing after leaving the launch point.  You'll notice that the hand-drawn paper map 'draped' onto real-world coordinates is very skewed compared to the actual deck logs plotted lat/long locations - especially when they talk about coming with 15 miles of the island.  By plotting the hourly locations of the deck logs, you can actually 'visualize' the ship coming to a halt for each of the recovery efforts.  It is pretty impresive.  I can post some GE files if you like?

The most interesting thing that I stumbled upon was a very predictable pattern regarding the distance and timing of the searches.  If you calculate the entire linear distance flown plus the distance of three perimeters of each island/reef (3X circled passes), you come up with a very accurate elasped time matching the total time enroute.  Using the plane's speed of 90kts (104 mph), that nearly matches the launch/recovery times with an accuracy of just few minutes.  This 'formula' works not only for the McKean/Gardner/Carondelet circuit, but is also remarkably accurate for all the other searches as well.

I suspect that the SOP was to make 3 passes of each island then move on.  Using this as a benchmark means that they likely spent around ~20 minutes making 3 passes of the ~12 mile perimeter of Gardner. 

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 have some GE files to share if interested.  Also, does TIGHAR have a professional version of GE ($500)?  This allows animated movies and other goodies to be created. 

Some comments from earlier discussions:
I found (from the reports and letters) that the fliers were able to spot much smaller (non-aircraft) items from the air.  In particular, I found it interesting that they were able to identify loin cloths (or lack thereof) of the natives waving when arriving Hull, rock cairns at Phoenix, and huts amoungst the trees on other islands.  Also surprising to read that the natives heard the planes coming upon arrival at Hull and had enough time to gather on rooftops.  If the pilots could see such smaller items, they certainly would have had the same capability at Gardner.  If the natives heard the planes coming, that would indicate that folks on the ground were able to identify approaching aircraft - most likely from the sounds of the WASPs (engines).

Regarding the usage of the word 'markers'....
I feel as though this term was used by the pilots to reference previous expeditions' attempts to 'mark' an island.  Either with rock cairns, flags, poles, etc.  Oftentimes, rock cairns are referred to as 'markers' in situations like this.




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Mark Petersen

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #47 on: January 05, 2011, 04:40:39 PM »


Some comments from earlier discussions:
I found (from the reports and letters) that the fliers were able to spot much smaller (non-aircraft) items from the air.  In particular, I found it interesting that they were able to identify loin cloths (or lack thereof) of the natives waving when arriving Hull, rock cairns at Phoenix, and huts amoungst the trees on other islands.  Also surprising to read that the natives heard the planes coming upon arrival at Hull and had enough time to gather on rooftops.  If the pilots could see such smaller items, they certainly would have had the same capability at Gardner.  If the natives heard the planes coming, that would indicate that folks on the ground were able to identify approaching aircraft - most likely from the sounds of the WASPs (engines).

This is a very interesting discussion and I look forward to seeing the research bulletin that Ric is preparing, and I'm also impressed by the work that Erik and others have done in digging into what I think is really an important topic.  The amount of time that was spent by Lambrecht and crew over Niku, directly translates into a finite probability that AE and FN would have been found.  The longer the time, the higher the probability.  The key question though is whether 20 minutes or even an hour over Niku is enough to raise the probability from unlikely to likely.   In my guesstimate (and it's only a guess), I think the probability that AE/FN would be detected if they were there will go up significantly if the flight time over Niku is increased to 20 minutes or more, but even given this I would put the probability at less than 50-50.  

I view the excerpted comments from Erik in the same light.  No doubt that Lambrecht and crew were capable of spotting items that are smaller than a plane and no doubt that they could spot natives on the ground when many were present.  But could they have spotted only one or two natives on the ground if 1) that is all that were there and 2) they had no idea where to look?  There is a huge difference between "could have" and "would have" and I think that Lambrecht definitely "could have" spotted AE or FN in even a 5 minute overflight.  But I don't think that the conditions in this search were sufficient even at 20+ minutes, to amount to a "would have".   I'm sure that if Putnam, Mantz or other personal friends of Earhart were aware of the particulars of the search that they would have requested a more thorough search for exactly these reasons.  


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Randy W Kerr

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #48 on: January 05, 2011, 05:00:56 PM »

One of the aspects that might bear on this point is the searcher's fatigue.   I know from experience that no matter how motivated you are at the beginning of a search the mind-numbingly boring aspects of hours scanning the water and terrain can induce what can only be described as a trance-like state.  On surface vessels we generally relieved the lookouts after two hours.  With the two man crew of the search planes this could not be done of course, and adding to the workload is navigation and the basic act of controlling the aircraft.  I can attest that a certain degree of focus comes back when making a landfall after a water leg, but the physical and mental fatigue of an open cockpit flight in tremendous heat and humidity accompanied by noise cannot be discounted.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #49 on: January 05, 2011, 08:12:57 PM »

You can work up a Probability of Detection POD yourself by downloading a CAP Form 104a and using the POD chart on page 2

Either Google "CAPF 104a - Civil Air Patrol" or try this link www.capmembers.com/media/cms/capf104_A87C7901A597C.doc

Search visibility is defined as " the distance at which an object on the ground can be seen and recognized from a particular height" i.e. how far away can you recognize a VW as a VW, from the height you are flying at.  Rule of thumb is that you really can't tell a VW from anything else at more than a mile, so 1 mile is usually the max Search Visibility used, especially if were looking for humans instead of Electras.

So, using the chart, flying at 500ft with a track spacing of .5 miles - up the beach side of the island and down the lagoon side, with a 1 mile Search Visibility in Heavy Tree Cover, yields a 10% POD.  That would be one pass around the exterior combined with one pass around the lagoon side.

To get the cumulative POD of multiple passes, google "CAP Cumulative POD" to get the CAP Mission Pilot / Aircrew Course Slides, where you will find the Cumulative POD chart on slide 19.

Two complete circuits would raise the Cumulative POD to 15%, three complete passes to 20%, etc.  You can see that our flyers would have to remain on station for some time making some 7 to 8 passes before they could get their POD up above even 50%.

Have Fun

Andrew


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Randy W Kerr

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #50 on: January 05, 2011, 09:11:36 PM »

I am familiar with the 104a....CAP pilot here.   :) 
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #51 on: January 05, 2011, 09:57:18 PM »

We can play with the theoretical all we want, but the bottom line is that no matter how much time the Colorado pilots spent, it wasn't enough time to provide a thorough search by modern standards.  I urge anyone interested in this topic to view the aerial tour of Niku in which human beings - even when we know where they are- are hard to spot from a helicopter at 100 ft, never mind 500 ft in altitude. 

It is just an incredibly hard place to search, whether from the air, or on the ground, and it isn't hard to understand that the Navy search was inadequate to really be effective.

AMCK
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Mark Petersen

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2011, 11:29:09 PM »

Andrew thanks for posting the info on CAPF 104A.   This helps to flesh out the rough numbers.  When I viewed the Niku aerial tour DVD I put the odds of detection at maybe 10% assuming only 5 minutes or so of flight time over Niku.  But based on this thread and a longer on-station time of maybe 20 minutes, the odds, while better, still seemed to be well below 50%.  From the CAPF 104A numbers that you've mentioned it sounds like these rough butt-pull numbers are probably in the ballpark.   A person can calculate the numbers all they want though, but the Niku aerial tour is what clinches it for me personally.   They say pictures are worth a thousand words and that's definitely the case here. 

As an aside, the Waitt video that shows Howland in the same morning sun as AE & FN would have seen it is another clincher.  It would have been easier to spot the Itasca I think than Howland Island.  Not surprising that the flight failed without RDF assist.  To bad we won't ever know how close AE & FN got to Howland, but I'll bet that it was close.  The more that I've learned about FN and his navigational abilities, it wouldn't surprise me if he got within visual range but they just weren't able to pick it out.  Pretty tragic.

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Tom Swearengen

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #53 on: January 06, 2011, 06:58:57 AM »

Perhaps the reason they didnt see Amelia and Fred on the search is that they were already gone-----
Tom
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #54 on: January 06, 2011, 07:29:56 AM »

Perhaps the reason they didnt see Amelia and Fred on the search is that they were already gone-----

Gone where???
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Don Dollinger

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2011, 10:41:29 AM »

Its too bad that we do not have a way of "estimating" how much fresh water they had.  Dehydration would come on rather quickly and exploring a website of dehydration effects it states (many symptoms, but will only list debilitating ones) that only 2% fluid loss; fatigue/weakness and head rushes.  5% fluid loss; extreme fatigue and cramps.  10% (fatal) spasms, dim vision, seizures/unconsciousness.  IMHO in that tropical environment it would not take long to lose in excess of 5% fluid which would make sense why they didn't or couldn't signal.  If FN was still among the living and had a head injury as reported in Betty's notebook he would be delirious in short order.  When stationed in the tropics, year round 95 degrees, we were under orders to drink minimum of 2 quarts of water per day if not doing physical labor, with physical labor it was 1 gallon.

If water were in short supply seeing how she jettisoned so much that could have helped them between initial takeoff and Lae and it got used up (that is suggesting that they had not found or if found the water left by the Norwich City crew was not good/rancid), just how long would they last if there were not any water collection going on until it was too late, no rain, etc.  6 days, that is a fair amount of fresh water that would be needed. 

LTM,
Don
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Bessel P Sybesma

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2011, 11:17:08 AM »

A few years ago, I discovered the Tighar site and learned about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earheart.  The more I read, the more convinced I became that the Nikumoro theory holds water, and I follow the developments on the site closely, hoping that one day (soon?) the ‘smoking gun’ will be found proving that the last destination of AE has been found.

There is however one part of the story that still troubles me.

AE and FN landed on the coral flats on Nikumaroro on July 2nd, and possibly continued to transmit radio signals on the 3rd and perhaps even the 5th of July.  However, when the search planes from the Colorado flew over the island on the 9th, no sign of the Electra was found. 

The discussions in this thread all concentrate on whether or not the planes would have been able to spot AE and FN, I can find no mention of the Electra and why or how it remained undiscovered.

The one explanation I can find for this is that the plane was covered by high tides or in the surf line at the time of the overflight, possibly confused with wreckage of the Norwich City.

But if the tides managed to cover and hide the plane on the 9th at high tide, surely this must have happened on a twice daily basis  in the days before – and I find it hard to believe that radio transmissions would have been possible from a plane once it had been swamped by salt water, even if it was above the water level at low tide…

One explanation for the (apparent) sudden disappearance of the plane could be that somewhere between the 3rd (or 5th) and the 9th, heavy weather and accompanying swells broke up and scattered the airframe – but then there must be a record of such weather in the area on those days.

The log of the USS Colorado shows windspeeds of up to 22 mph (with a peak of 27 on the early morning of the 7th) in the days leading up to the 9th – not really that much, nor exceptional, but then the ship did not arrive in the immediate area of the Phoenix islands until the 7th.

So the question is, have other weather data for the period and area been researched to see if this might have caused the airframe to collapse and be largely swept out to sea?
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #57 on: January 07, 2011, 11:00:32 AM »

Perhaps the reason they didn't see Amelia and Fred on the search is that they were already gone-----
Gone where???

deceased
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2011, 07:18:47 PM by moleski »
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #58 on: January 07, 2011, 11:09:16 AM »


I think the theory (at least mine anyway)is that sometime between the 5th, and the 9th, the Electra, was swept over the reef edge. Whether it was intact, or in pieces, we wont know until the next expedition. If, the landing gear was NOT stuck in the reef, the tides could that floated the plane enough to carry it off the edge, especially if higher than normal wave action was caused by winds, or storm activity. MY hope is that the Electra will be found intact in the deep water off the reef shelf, maybe 1500 feel down.
Tom








A few years ago, I discovered the Tighar site and learned about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earheart.  The more I read, the more convinced I became that the Nikumoro theory holds water, and I follow the developments on the site closely, hoping that one day (soon?) the ‘smoking gun’ will be found proving that the last destination of AE has been found.

There is however one part of the story that still troubles me.

AE and FN landed on the coral flats on Nikumaroro on July 2nd, and possibly continued to transmit radio signals on the 3rd and perhaps even the 5th of July.  However, when the search planes from the Colorado flew over the island on the 9th, no sign of the Electra was found. 

The discussions in this thread all concentrate on whether or not the planes would have been able to spot AE and FN, I can find no mention of the Electra and why or how it remained undiscovered.

The one explanation I can find for this is that the plane was covered by high tides or in the surf line at the time of the overflight, possibly confused with wreckage of the Norwich City.

But if the tides managed to cover and hide the plane on the 9th at high tide, surely this must have happened on a twice daily basis  in the days before – and I find it hard to believe that radio transmissions would have been possible from a plane once it had been swamped by salt water, even if it was above the water level at low tide…

One explanation for the (apparent) sudden disappearance of the plane could be that somewhere between the 3rd (or 5th) and the 9th, heavy weather and accompanying swells broke up and scattered the airframe – but then there must be a record of such weather in the area on those days.

The log of the USS Colorado shows windspeeds of up to 22 mph (with a peak of 27 on the early morning of the 7th) in the days leading up to the 9th – not really that much, nor exceptional, but then the ship did not arrive in the immediate area of the Phoenix islands until the 7th.

So the question is, have other weather data for the period and area been researched to see if this might have caused the airframe to collapse and be largely swept out to sea?

Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: FAQ: Colorado / Lambrecht Search, 9 July 1937
« Reply #59 on: January 09, 2011, 01:27:43 PM »

  To bad we won't ever know how close AE & FN got to Howland, but I'll bet that it was close.  The more that I've learned about FN and his navigational abilities, it wouldn't surprise me if he got within visual range but they just weren't able to pick it out.  Pretty tragic.
According to this research, the Electra was at least 80 and perhaps as much as 210 nautical miles from the Itasca at the time of the last transmission.
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