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Author Topic: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?  (Read 50023 times)

Tom Swearengen

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Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« on: August 04, 2011, 12:33:28 PM »

Looking at Google Earth (again) or Niku, and wondering what the beach/shallow water conditions are on other locations of the island. Any possiblilites that they could have landed the electra on the northern shore line, from west to east, ending up near the seven site? We know from earlier expeditions that there isnt anything in the lagoon. Is the landing area near the Norwich City the only possibility? Also, Ric has told us of the reef conditions just off the beach at the shipwreck, but do we know if the area on the northern shore is alot smoother and better for a possible landing area?
How about the southern shore, from the lagoon entrance to the southeastern point?
OR is this a crazy hypothesis?
Tom
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 02:49:21 PM »

Working with Dr King et al's book Amelia Earharts shoes the 1997 expedition looked at the area Aukaraime South as a potential landing site.  The reasons were that is was "very flat" and photos showed it to be clear of vegitation in 1939, 1941, 1953 and 1975.

Rics idea was that the plane landed here, taxied up into the shade (hence not seen by navy fliers) and that in time with nor'westers was pushed into the lagoon.

Anyway the search in 1997 kind of disproved this theory and current thinking, oral evidence and nessie photo's point more to the Nutiran shore just north of the Norwich City.

Other areas looked at and ticked of as not suitable include the nortern northern mud flat of the lagoon shore.

The windwerd side may be a non starter because of the cross winds but to be honest I can't find a quote for that :(

« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 01:44:52 AM by Chris Johnson »
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Rich Ramsey

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 06:22:07 PM »

Could it be possible that they picked the spot near the ship wreck because they might of thought it not a ship wreck and just a ship in anchor? Thinking if we touch down here they can help us get home. For example they did some circles because they saw it from a far. When they got there and circled they realized that it was a wreck it was too late. But being the only man made object they thought it best to put down there. That and the fact that was so flat.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 07:02:22 PM »

I'd say that there are many places on the reef that an aircraft could have been landed, North, South, East, and West.  The reef is typically some 100 yards wide from the beach to the edge, and at low tide there is typically less than a few inches of water out there.  The reef flat at the 7 site is pretty attractive in terms of flat and uniform, but the wind does blow more strongly and the surf tends to be higher, factors that may not be easily understood from a pass overhead.

It is the anecdotal and photographic evidence that has led us to look at the area north of the NC shipwreck.  We have to focus somewhere, and there just isn't the same kind of hints to point to other locations as there are with the NW end of Niku.  I feel that the NC wreck would certainly have been a draw whether or not it could be discerned from the air that it was a shipwreck as opposed to a ship anchored off.  Probably pretty obvious that it was a wreck, but a magnet nonetheless.

AMCK
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 09:47:04 AM »

Here are three (low resolution) photos of the reef flat at low tide.  First is right next to the landing channel on the South side, and the others are just off the 7 site one looking East, the other west.  Either are reasonable places to land a plane if you had no other choices.  AMCK
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 10:12:47 AM by Andrew M McKenna »
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Craig Romig

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2011, 11:58:14 AM »

Thank you for that first picture. that really gives me more of and idea what the coral  flat looks like. i thought it ran out less than it does. from that picture really tells how far out some of it goes.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2011, 08:18:50 AM »

My thinking was this: AE and Noonan were approaching from the Northwest. They probably made at least 2 passes over the island to check it out. My thoughts were that they might have wanted a longer glide decent to bleed off airspeed, hence the beach landing from the Northwest tip, towards the 7 site. About 19,000 feet of landing room, versus about 1700 at the NC site.
Andrew's Pics of the beach and the reef help alot. But, landing near the NC meant that they may have thought of some provisions there. Try this: on a NW to SE approach, they fly over the shipwreck, make a left turn and follow the shoreline to the southeast point, AE sets up a slow decent for landing, and ends up on the North West corner, close enough to the Norwich City, but unfortunately also too close to the breaking waves of the incoming tide.
Dont know how that theory will hold up, maybe some of our pilot menbers could chime in on how they 'might' approach this landing situation, with only a visual reference to the shipwreck, and with out all the other information that we have. The Electra IS THERE---has to be.
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Zach Reed

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2011, 10:15:30 PM »

While I agree with TIGHAR's going hypothesis that AE/FN landed near the NC, my backup has been that they either landed or crashed near the Seven Site, and never left. There is a lengthy thread on this, somewhere.

To me, there's a strange disconnect between landing on the West side, and camping on the NE side...because there aren't many obvious advantages  to leaving the first for the second, while there are several disadvantages. In brief:

Advantage: Rick says that there is a constant breeze blowing on the NE tip, and that our castaways would have sought to get away from the sweltering West.

Neutral: Some have speculated that the narrowness of the land at the Seven Site would have allowed them to observe more of the surrounding sea, and to easily be able to traverse between ocean beach and the lagoon. But a quick look at the grid map shows that the Seven Site isn't the narrowest area, that's a few 100 yards further East. For that matter, the eastern tip of the island, where they would have had a sweeping view of the sea (after all, the CG station was posted there later) was nearby, so if those were the attributes they were looking for, why travel all the way from the West, and then stop a few 100 yards from your ideal location?

Disadvantages:
A) Why leave the most famous "landmark": a 12 year old shipwreck? It would seem natural that it would grab the attention of any scouts to the island, whether by air or sea. Why forsake that for some indistinguishable spot in shrubbery on the opposite side?

B) Why leave a spot that would offer at least some shelter, and perhaps rudimentary supplies of some sort? The NC was a burned out hulk, but there was still a shell there that could have offered some protection from animals and the elements. Instead, they supposedly exchanged this for the Seven Site, which had millipedes and crabs that were so aggressive, the castaways had to build a ring of fires around themselves for protection.

C) Given that the ships guts were spilled out all over the west side, (as Tom describes in his fictional story of local boys who go to visit), surely this had a least some kind of opportunity to use something as a spear or blade or eating utensil or...anything. Instead, they decided to forsake any resources here and carry the few items they did have from the plane over a mile away to the Seven Site. And they did this with one or both of them hurt (according to our going theory).

D) The human factor: as someone mentioned above, it would seem unlikely for them to leave the one evidence of human civilization-no matter how forlorn its condition-so they could go camp out in bushes a mile away.

What underscores all of this is that people need a compelling reason to move from Point A to Point B. Especially if Point B is well away from Point A. Perhaps they landed on the westside, and then were on a recon around the island until the came to the Seven Site and stopped because of physical injuries that prevented them going any further. That's plausible. But then why bring their handful of items (like the box) along with them for the recon?

For that matter, is there anything at all that connects the two sites? Is there any physical evidence in hand of AE/FN or the Electra on any other part of the island? It sounds like it's hard to say definitively...originally there was thought to be the heel of a woman's shoe on the South side, but I don't think that is cannon any more. There were scraps of metal and I think roofing material (?) found at the Seven Site and used for cooking, that was thought to maybe come from the West, but was that from the plantation, or from the village which post-dates AE and FN? For that matter, how do we know AE/FN used those, instead of the CG or the magistrate?

If we take all that TIGHAR has found and theorized about over the years, all the tremendous work that they did, and categorize it according to levels of relative certainty, I think at the center you have to put the bones and likely personal affects of AE and FN, as found at the Seven Site. That's a bullseye, because the find is unimpeachably documented, the materials have been tested as likely to be a match, and because any alternative explanation would be more stranger than that of it being AE/FN. So to me that's concrete. I also believe in TIGHAR's theory of traveling on a positioning line...I find it very compelling. So that's our inner circle of concrete evidence and ironclad theory.

The next concentric circle would have to be the radio messages. I think Ric has made a case here...but it's not as concrete as the "bullseye" material, and even if it were true, it doesn't by itself show anything more than they were alive in a plane in rough surf for up to three days...i.e., even if there were radio messages, it's easy to have widely different interpretations of the messages themselves.

The third concentric circle is everything else...a whole mass of things ranging from an object in an old photo to the recollections of villagers many decades after the fact. Any of these could be true, but they are definitely on the outer edge of what we can take seriously.

And so there you have it: TIGHAR has built a strong case that AE/FN made it to Niku, and spent some amount of time at the Seven Site. And that's all anyone can say for sure. Based on that, you could easily say that they crashed or landed on the NE side, and camped within yards of where they emerged on the beach.

I would point out that every single one of the personal artifacts found can float. For all the world, they could have swam for shore, picked an item or two out of the surf, and collapsed in the bush. And that would explain why the Seven Site has so little in personal artififacts.

So that's my backup theory to our going hypothesis. Sorry for the long post.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2011, 05:33:48 AM »

I think that Jeff has seen what I was talking about. I fly 'alittle', but not a licensed pilot. One of the things early on that I learned flying over water--and ALOT of it in Beaufort, SC--is that there is alway the possiblilty of going down in the water, and if land, or an island, is near, to use the shoreline as a runway. That thought may be in error, but, the idea was to bleed the airspeed as much as possible to help ease the impact. Now, light planes arent an Electra, and I have no idea what the emergency land procedures are for an Electra. But, even I can land something in 19,000 feet. In 1900 feet, maybe not.
The other point that I think has been brought up about the landing site verses the 7 site, IF the Electra was landed near the shipwreck, I wonder why AE and Fred, or maybe just Amelia, hiked down to the 7 site area. Granted, if they did overfly the island on their approach as I think they (I) would have, then they would have seen the 7 site as a long way from their landing area. A long hike, no maps--other than maybe a note that was made during the overflight, little provisions, very hot weather. If they wanted to be in an area to watch for possible ships or rescue, I would think that a camp on the Northwestern point near the shipwreck would servae as a good place. Maybe not perfect, but near a landmark tht can be seen from the water as well as the air.
I'm not disputing the facts of the 7 site at all. Quite the contrary. But my thoughts are 'WHY" would she or they go to the seven site after landing at the shipwreck site? Exploring? yes I can see that. Looking for food? yes I can see that too. The timeline from landing (wherever that was) to ariving at the 7 site would be interesting. A week? 10 days? I would think that other factors would come into play: heat, lack of provisions and WATER, possibily injures.
Sorry to conjure up all of this optional stuff. I tried to look at this from a "what if scenario" point of view, and what would I do if placed in the same situation. Stimulate some thinking. The fact of the matter is that we were NOT with AE & Fred when they made their decision on where to land, nor were we in the Electra when it did land. We can theorize on the conditions at the time. I guess my question is, are we missing something? Ric and TIGHAR are on the right track, and have found an enormous amount of evidence. I think we can safely say that they were on NIKU.  One big piece of the puzzle is missing---a pretty large aircraft.
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2011, 07:52:30 AM »

Quote
I wonder why AE and Fred, or maybe just Amelia, hiked down to the 7 site area.

I had puzzled over the same question in my mind.  My thinking on the issue all comes down to water.  I would think that they/she found the cache left by the NC crew as evidenced by them finding the cork with chains (match what would be used in water casks of the day) near or with the bones (if in fact they belonged to our intrepid crew) and the benedictine bottle.  Once rescue was not immediate and they/she started running out of water there would be nothing to hold her to that location so explore for a more hospitable location and check out the water pools at the other end of the island in hopes they are fresh water.  Once finding they are not, but the area is a bit better then previous location (shade, trade winds, easy access to clam beds, etc) plus the fact that now you are a long way from NC site where you started from you might as well just put down there for the time being.  The time being lasting until her demise.  Just what I see in my minds eye.  Also believe Fred's injuries were severe enough as to finally incapacitate him to the point that he could not make it to shore and went over the side with the Electrica.

LTM,

Don
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Rich Ramsey

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2011, 07:57:34 AM »

The big question I keep asking, besides the "why" leave the wreck, is why could they not move the Electra? If we are to believe that she was able to use the radio, which I do. We then have to believe that she can run an engine. Why not bring the plane closer to shore and save it from the surf? Why not roll it down to the 7 site? Surly if I am to do something like that I would want the plane. I mean if  a search party was to find me they would be more interested in the Electra than they would a 12 year old Ship Wreck. 

Just questions I don't think anyone will ever answer but good to ponder in our search for them.
"Hang Tough"
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2011, 08:36:26 AM »

Don & Rich have valid questions. I think that if the Electra was landed, it may NOT have been able to taxi, much less roll on the sandy beach. Landing gear issues, blown tire, stuck in the reef, etc.
Don's theory about Fred being in the Electra at its demise is something that I had not considered. If critically injured and not much hope, Amelia may have left him there, especially if he were unconcious, or deceased.  I'm guess his injury is speculation, other than a reported radio message?
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2011, 12:04:49 PM »

Quote
Don's theory about Fred being in the Electra at its demise is something that I had not considered. If critically injured and not much hope, Amelia may have left him there, especially if he were unconcious, or deceased.  I'm guess his injury is speculation, other than a reported radio message?

If you tend to believe Betty's Notebook and/or Mable Duncklee's Letter then you would have to believe that at least Fred is injured and perhaps Amelia as well just not to the same extent.  Pure speculation but would think that most probable injury for Fred would be head injury from contacting something within the cabin causing a concusion.  If he does have a concussion now he is hurt to the point that it could eventually incapacitate him, and Amelia herself is injured to some extent, does she have the strength to get him to shore especially if he is either not cooperating with her or worse (unconscious)?  Plus your inside the Electra in the heat of the day with the sun beating down on it.  I would think it would be like a dutch oven further dehydrating you thus sapping more of your strength.  Not a pleasant situation.  IMHO, If the Niku Theory is the correct one as too their disappearance, I don't think Fred ever made it to shore.

LTM,

Don   
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2011, 12:25:24 PM »

The big question I keep asking, besides the "why" leave the wreck, is why could they not move the Electra? If we are to believe that she was able to use the radio, which I do. We then have to believe that she can run an engine. Why not bring the plane closer to shore and save it from the surf? Why not roll it down to the 7 site? Surly if I am to do something like that I would want the plane. I mean if  a search party was to find me they would be more interested in the Electra than they would a 12 year old Ship Wreck. 

Just questions I don't think anyone will ever answer but good to ponder in our search for them.

This is what Ric has to say about the reef near the Norwich City in another thread! Jagged with pot holes

Seems once on the reef edge there is no way to safely taxi to the shore line.  Not sure if this is the case near the Seven site but guess it may be typical of the fringe reef?
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Any other possible landing sites on Niku?
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2011, 12:34:16 PM »

Quote
Don's theory about Fred being in the Electra at its demise is something that I had not considered. If critically injured and not much hope, Amelia may have left him there, especially if he were unconcious, or deceased.  I'm guess his injury is speculation, other than a reported radio message?

If you tend to believe Betty's Notebook and/or Mable Duncklee's Letter then you would have to believe that at least Fred is injured and perhaps Amelia as well just not to the same extent.  Pure speculation but would think that most probable injury for Fred would be head injury from contacting something within the cabin causing a concusion.  If he does have a concussion now he is hurt to the point that it could eventually incapacitate him, and Amelia herself is injured to some extent, does she have the strength to get him to shore especially if he is either not cooperating with her or worse (unconscious)?  Plus your inside the Electra in the heat of the day with the sun beating down on it.  I would think it would be like a dutch oven further dehydrating you thus sapping more of your strength.  Not a pleasant situation.  IMHO, If the Niku Theory is the correct one as too their disappearance, I don't think Fred ever made it to shore.

LTM,

Don   

I posted a thread where I suggested that Fred injury is not necesserily a fact Was Fred injured?.  My main thrust was that Mables message was a fake and that Betty was only guessing that the 'man was hurt'.

One scene in the recent Discovery channel show that I like is the one with Fred and Amelia sat on the shore looking down cast.

Its only my guess based on what I read in Rics book though.
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