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Author Topic: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing  (Read 83038 times)

Irvine John Donald

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2011, 01:09:24 PM »

Would Fred not be taking sightings and marking his charts feverishly as they flew "on the line" towards Gardner?  Why would he not know it was Gardner while in the air and discussing landing there with AE?

Would the discussion upon sighting land not be something like " there's land over there Fred.  What island is that?".  (Probably a little more excited/relieved than that.)  Why do we assume he would wait until they were landed first before trying to figure it out? 

The logic used in flying south on the line was that there were more islands available if they got into trouble so they were looking for these islands and hoping to find them. Not stumbling around the Pacific not knowing where they were. That is " IF" all the logic used in why they flew towards Gardner is correct.

So this still begs the question why no radio messages have any reference to Gardner. So many questions and no answers. Frustrating
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Tim Collins

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2011, 03:12:44 PM »

I think we need to remember when we start asking questions like "why didn't A or F mention coordinates or the name of the island? etc..., that any evidence of heard radio signals from them (weeding out the hoaxes of course) represent only a very small fraction of those actually sent.  Have there been any estimates as to how much radio air time they could have had before fuel and batteries would have expired?  Best/worst case scenerio of course.

BTW - Just finished Tom Neale's book. What a great (and fast) read. Very evocative too.
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Walter Runck

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2011, 05:57:36 PM »

I did get a funny look from the helmsman when I said, "If that other boat shows up lay me alongside at pistol shot."

Wow, when Peter Benchley wrote about The Island, I thought he was making it all up!
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Bill Lloyd

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2011, 07:02:55 PM »

There's another aspect to the question of whether or not Noonan was somehow incapacitated.  With almanacs and a sextant and/or octant Noonan should have been able to come up with an accurate lat/long for the island on the first night.  With any kind of decent chart he should be able to get the name of the island.  And yet, in none of the post-loss messages that have intelligible content are there coordinates for Gardner or anything that sounds like Gardner.
Absolutely. In keeping with what we know about Noonan and his reputation as a navigator, one of the first things he would have done is attempt to establish their location and then tried to communicate that information in those radio messages. The fact that there were no coordinates nor anything that sounds like Gardner might indicate that the mans voice was not Noonans.
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2011, 07:52:35 PM »

This brings me back to my earlier point. Why would Noonan wait until he landed to determine his position?  As an expert aviation navigator wouldn't he know his position on his charts and know the name of the island before they landed? 

He and AE are desperately searching for somewhere to put the Electra down but he would already know they were headed for the Phoenix islands when they headed south "on the line north and south".  This means he should have known it before the landing and the suspected injury.  Were the charts of the day accurate and complete?  I can only suspect the charts were incomplete (no names of islands) or Gardner shown in the wrong place.  Perhaps his injury made him forget where he was. Particularly a head injury. But I'm sure he would have told AE where they were when land was sighted (in the air and before he received his injury) and she could have passed it on.

Of course by this time they were dangerously low on fuel and perhaps were so relieved to find land that they didn't care but that doesn't feel like how this would go down.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Ted G Campbell

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2011, 08:32:35 PM »

Ric,
In the number of times you hav e been on Niku have you observed any prop stikes on the reaf?

Ted Campbell
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david alan atchason

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2011, 08:47:10 PM »

Thanks to Chris' link I looked up PIPA and this led me to more cursory investigation. I found that Hull Island, perhaps the nearest to Gardner, was a very active island through the first 60 years of the 20th century. Apparently there was a successful copra operation there for quite a while. While it seems that it was uninhabited in early 1937, and the population there earlier nearly starved when they weren't supplied, mostly there were people there. Why wouldn't a boat show up at Gardner once in a while to pick the few coconuts? Wouldn't they have then stayed a while to process the coconuts? What about fishermen? Some group recently harvested sea cucumbers on one of the Phoenix Islands. What about cutting down the last of the valuable trees on Gardner? Maybe there really were signs of recent habitation the Navy flyers saw. But constructed by men and maybe women who camped there to harvest something. Perhaps there was one or more men there when A & E allegedly crashed. Who can say definitely there was no one there? Maybe people who weren't authorized? Was Fred so seriously injured he couldn't function? It doesn't sound like Amelia was an ace navigator, so she wouldn't likely take a position reading. I read Pancho Barnes' opinions tonight and they are illuminating. She thought highly of Fred, but was critical of Amelia's skills. Fred needn't have been injured in the plane landing, many things could have happened to him, in the surf, perhaps? Trying to reach the shipwreck? Perhaps I have an overactive imagination.
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david alan atchason

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2011, 09:12:03 PM »

Sorry, I am replying to myself again. I saw on the Luke Field inventory many tools. If a propeller was badly bent could they have removed it themselves? Wouldn't that save a lot of gas if they ran the engine without the propeller blades? Or would it have run that way? It must have been an air cooled engine. (Shows how much I know or don't know.)
On a different subject, Pancho Barnes believed Amelia never did learn how to adjust mixture for maximum range, and she was of the opinion that Amelia simply ran out of gas long before Howland. The part where she says the Air Force men heard her on the radio actually crashing seems unlikely. But why would she make that up?
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david alan atchason

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2011, 09:40:29 PM »

You may be exactly right, but I thought I saw wrenches for hubs or something like that. I don't feel like finding and reading the inventory again right now. Why would they carry such obviously heavy tools if they were incapable of using them? Maybe for when they had to make a landing at a primitive field where there were no tools but there were mechanics? That doesn't make a lot of sense either. So I am trying to get an opinion from somebody more knowledgeable than me. That would be almost everyone.
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Friend Weller

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2011, 09:58:12 PM »

A speculative thought......since we're all good at that!   ;D

What do we feel the likelihood is of Fred becoming incapacitated to one degree or another while in flight?  Dysentery or some sort of tropical fever or disease that may have come upon him after taking to the air from Lae.  Something that might have slowly sapped his strength/abilities - not so much at first allowing our intrepid flyers to arrive "safely" on Gardener but worsening upon landing; exacerbated by the conditions on Niku resulting in the symptoms we have found some evidence of (disorientation, heatstroke, etc.).  Thoughts?
Friend
TIGHAR 3086V
 
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2011, 10:18:32 PM »

Was Fred more likely to be in the co pilot seat for landing or in the back at his navigator position?  I believe I read somewhere it wasn't easy to move around the aircraft due to the bulk of the extra fuel tanks.

Was there equipment around the nav position that he could have injured his head on? Would the seat be forward facing?

I'm still struggling with how he can be hurt so seriously in a landing where the aircraft could still start and run an engine for battery charging.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #26 on: April 20, 2011, 10:27:11 PM »

A speculative thought......since we're all good at that!   ;D

What do we feel the likelihood is of Fred becoming incapacitated to one degree or another while in flight?  Dysentery or some sort of tropical fever or disease that may have come upon him after taking to the air from Lae.  Something that might have slowly sapped his strength/abilities - not so much at first allowing our intrepid flyers to arrive "safely" on Gardener but worsening upon landing; exacerbated by the conditions on Niku resulting in the symptoms we have found some evidence of (disorientation, heatstroke, etc.).  Thoughts?

That's an interesting thought. I believe the reason it's suspected that Fred is injured is from Betty's notes and other reports from radio messages. I believe it was the Larabee report that said AE reported Fred was seriously hurt and AE had a few minor injuries. I'm not sure how Betty thought Fred was hurt.

By end of day four it's possible Fred was simply suffering from lack of water in that environment and not injured from the landing at all. From what I read about Gardner it's not the most hospitable place. I'm also guessing that Fred would likely have insisted that AE drink the bulk of whatever water they had. Those were more chivalrous years.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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david alan atchason

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2011, 10:43:56 PM »

Yes, perhaps. I've done a lot of air travel for my adventure travel/trekking trips and I have experienced sickness coming over me on the plane more than once, but I think I would be capable of saying on a radio I was stranded on an island with a big shipwreck in front of me. Of course he could have contracted something like that which did in Gallagher. I never have heard what he died of.
I was also thinking about Amelia's calculation of her plane's range. Had she ever flown such a long leg before? Somehow, I don't think so. If I were her, and it was feasible, I would have taken the plane to 10,000 ft. and flown at a steady airspeed to see how long it would fly before the engine started to cough. Of course I would do it near an available airfield so I could quickly land. I would not depend on what the Lockheed salesman said in the airplane showroom. Then I would sight Nauru on the fatal flight and see what my groundspeed was so far. If I found that I didn't have enough hours to make it to Howland I would have the option of changing my plans. Or I would have Fred take a position to give me a general idea of how far I had flown. If I had to drive my Chevy on a -40 F night in Alaska and the gas stations were far apart, I think I would try out first going a steady 60 mph in a more populated area in similar conditions to see just how many miles the car was capable of. Especially if my life were going to depend on it. Of course we all know Amelia was deficient in the preparation department and she may also have been flying very inefficiently due to her poor skills, so I'm just kicking a dead horse again.
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2011, 08:43:08 AM »

Quote
I've commented here in the past that I didn't believe they survived long. Days. I've still probably gotta' believe that. I think the take-home message from Ric has always been survival could have been for possibly months. Don't know how I can see that. At what point have you survived long enough that you've then figured it out and you'll survive on into the future like Tom Neale?

IMHO Survival time was most dependent on finding water.  Now if the inventory of when she wrecked in HI is any indication they had some fluids with them such as tomato juice, etc.  That would buy them/her enough time to explore at least their immediate area.  If they/she found the cache left behind by the Norwich City crew which I tend to believe that they/she did due to them finding the corks with chains when they found the bones.  Too much of a coincidence in my mind that they find an artifact that exactly describes what was used in them days to plug the fill hole on wooden casks.  Without water then your ascertation of days would be spot on, but with water located now the whole equation changes.  The questions then becomes how much water was there?  Did the castaway(s) develop some type to system to augment the supply with rainwater?  It appears that they/she may have tried to distill seawater with the melted glass found in some of the fire features.  That would indicate to me that perhaps they/she were running low on water.  In my minds eye I can see survivability of weeks perhaps even a month. 

There is one thing that does puzzle me though,  Looking at the location of the 7 site I would think that they/she would have reached that site eventually by traversing the island in a clockwise route around the NW end and then SE to the end of the island that they would have approached from as I would assume that a normal person would think that a search party would approach from the same direction.  Then there is the site where the shoe fragments were found on the opposite shore.  If they/she found the water source left behind by Norwich City crew why would you wander miles away from it?

LTM,

Don 
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Was Fred Noonan injured in the Landing
« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2011, 12:59:35 PM »

Quote
Looking at the location of the 7 site I would think that they/she would have reached that site eventually by traversing the island in a clockwise route around the NW end and then SE to the end of the island that they would have approached from as I would assume that a normal person would think that a search party would approach from the same direction.

Just to clarify that thought.  I would assume as they flew over or around the island to come in for a landing I would think that they would notice that the NW shore of the island does not have the inlets from the lagoon to the sea and would be easier to traverse.  Although, I could be wrong there but Ric or one of the other people who have been to Niku could clarify this.  When the tide is out are the inlets to the lagoon dry so as you can walk across them "easily"?  They would've at least known the shape of the island as they viewed it from the air and would think that the place you are emergency landing/crashing at would be indelibily imprinted on your brain and you attempt the easiest route to do any exploring.  Unfortunately, questions as to the route taken and why will probably never be known until Ric finds that secret cache buried by AE which includes a day-to-day diairy of her stay as a castaway.   :o
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