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Author Topic: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air  (Read 146877 times)

Gary LaPook

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #105 on: November 30, 2011, 10:50:18 PM »

----------------------------------
I did an experiment once. In a C-150, at a good altitude above an empty uncontrolled field, I pulled the mixture and then slowed the plane down until the prop stopped. When that happened I could feel the reduction in drag, the plane felt like it was real slippery, kinda like flying a sailplane. No problem getting it down safely, dead stick, on the runway. It was a pretty convincing demonstration of the amount of drag created by a windmilling prop. (Note, I don't recommend trying this for everyone.)

gl

Cool. 

I tried that in my trusty Cessna 140 in my A&P school daze, but her poor ol' C-90 Continental had such sleepy compression the prop never got stopped!  I had a ton of fun with that little bird - she really taught me to fly (and yes, eventually I gave her a fresh top...  ;) ).

One of my fun little exercises was slipping her to a landing on a quiet taxi-way at our country airport and turning into my 'private' hangar - just off the airport property and through the woods.  Those were the days, what I wouldn't give to relive some of that now!
I remember takeoffs and climbs in a C-140. It reminded me of the children's book  "Li'l Toot", "I think I can, I think I can."

gl
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richie conroy

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #106 on: December 07, 2011, 11:30:47 AM »

do any 1 know what this is at edge ov reef 
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richie conroy

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #107 on: December 07, 2011, 11:40:28 AM »

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675063657_Amelia-Earhart-Putnam_Fred-Noonan_transatlantic-flight_Fred-Noonan

makes intresting viewing watching stuff be removed from its case to save weight
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #108 on: December 07, 2011, 11:58:04 AM »

do any 1 know what this is at edge ov reef

A breaking wave?  Flaw in the print?  That photo was taken in April 1939.  The water in that location is hundreds of meters deep.  If it's an object it must be floating. I don't think it's anything to get excited about.
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richie conroy

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #109 on: December 07, 2011, 12:08:37 PM »

 :) k just thought would check
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #110 on: December 08, 2011, 01:54:40 PM »

... and a gent stands nearby who could easily be a 'Fed' of the day... using something that resembles a 'pocket calculator' ...
I'm pretty sure your "Fed of the day" is none other than George Putnam ... probably inventorying all that superfluous stuff (like an inflatable raft! and one of Ric's helmets) as he logs the weights on his iPhone app.  :D  And isn't that FN leaning against the wing near the end of the clip as AE demonstrates how note-passing will be done during the flight?
LTM,

Bruce
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Jon Romig

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #111 on: August 24, 2013, 01:38:36 PM »

I am not sure that I should be extending this thread, starting a new one, or finding another thread more appropriate, however:

We should give more credit to the Colorado's aviators. Lambrecht's descriptions are very detailed and accurate for the other islands searched. For Gardner he says they saw signs of recent habitation. Not abandoned huts, not a flagpole, not the old Norwich City camp. "Recent habitation" is what he saw.

Occam's razor says he saw Camp Zero.

If we further give the aviators credit for observational skills and good eyesight, then they saw Camp Zero on the first loop around Gardiner.

Camp Zero could have been (likely was) a very seductive target, including "markers," and thus should have led Lambrecht to focus entirely on Camp Zero and nearby areas. This could have drawn in all three planes, if Camp Zero was seductive enough. I may be wrong but I have an impression that coordinated, formation flying was their training and default response in unfamiliar circumstances. Without radio communications it seems unlikely to me that one of the junior pilots would have taken the initiative to hie off and explore other parts of the island, and especially unlikely that one pilot would continue the previous search pattern (circling the island or whatever).

After repeated circling and zooming with no result Lambrecht would have concluded Camp Zero was abandoned and (watching the fuel guages?) immediately continued onward to Carondelet (this is a literal reading of Lambrecht - it maybe wrong).

My scenario results in only one loop around Gardner and a departure from the Camp Zero vicinity toward the Southeast, either across the lagoon or along the southern shore.

So why didn't the Colorado aviators see EA or FN? Obviously, they weren't there. They (or she) were elsewhere on the island, likely on the north or west beach (in the shade) trying like hell to get back to camp.

Context: the Electra had been swept off the reef, so there is no very good reason to continue to use Camp Zero, for reasons fully explained elsewhere. They are very likely in desperate straights regarding food and water after a week on Gardner. The night of the 8th may very well have been the first night when they (she) actually slept.

The morning of the 9th: Awake at dawn, desperate for food and water, believing Camp Zero is going to kill them if they stay there. It is still cool but by midday physical activity for the depleted survivor(s) will be near impossible. AE is not the type to give up - she has a strong will and determination to survive, which means: go find food, go find water, go find a better camp. NOW! The tide is rising and crossing the channel to the South is undesirable, even perhaps dangerous (there is a good chance they hadn't ever done it yet). So she heads North.

Surely it is possible (even likely) that between 6 AM and the searchers' arrival she has travelled more than a mile from Camp Zero and is in deep cover as it gets warmer, as the search for water takes first priority and the best place to find it is in the woods in hollows and cupped leaves. A mile in depleted condition over rough terrain would take 20-30 minutes. Too long. Lambrecht has left.

Conclusion: Almost everything went right. But AE and FN weren't in camp (FN may have been but was unconscious or dead) when the searchers arrived, and, tragically, the markers were so good (but not good enough to overcome the absence of people) that the searchers failed to properly search the rest of Gardner.

Jon
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« Last Edit: August 24, 2013, 01:55:25 PM by Jon Romig »
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Adam Marsland

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #112 on: August 24, 2013, 04:37:32 PM »

Great analysis, Jon.

Not only would there have been no reason to hang around the plane once it was gone (and with it the radio), it would have been almost incumbent on them to move, and quickly, to explore the island, particularly if one of them was injured.  Water, better shelter...and there was also the chance, however slight, that there were other humans on the island somewhere who could get them help quickly.  Having no firm knowledge they couldn't be sure of, or rule out, anything.  What if there was a survey party or native fishing expedition on the other side of the island somewhere?
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #113 on: August 26, 2013, 01:12:29 PM »

Two points

First is that if Lambrecht thought he saw something worthy of zooming on then why not land in the lagoon or request a followup overflight, or even a land search by a landing party?  In my opinion he did not see anything compelling enough to warrant any of those three possible options.  Instead he flew on.  Apparently none of the six sets of eyes saw anything noteworthy enough to warrant one of those three actions.

My second point is that we know the last post loss radio message was Thursday night.  The overflight was Saturday morning.  If we believe in the post loss radio messages then this means the aircraft likely went over the reef's edge between those two points in time.  Could AE and FN inadvertently gone over with it?  The Electra is a tail dragger.  With a rising tide does this mean the tail would now be floating free and possibly pivoting the aircraft on its two large float tires?  Could the aircraft have just worked itself to the reef's edge on the Thursday night and dropped over the edge taking the two crew with her?  We just don't know.  But I would think there was nothing noteworthy for 6 sets of eyes to see on Saturday morning.  If AE and/or FN were on the island at that time then it is a sad set of circumstances that prevented eight people from spotting each other.   I also make note that the 6 pilots were looking for castaways and the 2 castaways likely looking for rescuers.   
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #114 on: August 26, 2013, 08:23:13 PM »

I still believe a castaway would try to leave something to indicate they were there on the island. Maybe they wouldn't start right away as confidence of being rescued was high but as time marched on and confidence waned a castaway might create some diary to at least keep track of time and events. If for no other reason than to leave some message for future island visitors to say "I was here and didn't get rescued."

Would AE and/or FN actually expect to be rescued by aircraft?  By extension would they have prepared to be spotted from the air?  They knew how "quiet" the Pacific was in relative terms. Heck Ric has stated that all the modern day expeditions by TIGHAR have not been interrupted by a lot of boat traffic. I think he said only once did TIGHAR come across another ship. Would aircraft be even more scarce?   FN himself was a pioneer in transpacific flights. He knew how rare they were.

This thread is "Odds of Spotting survivors from the air."  It was only a week after landing that this flying search took place. We're the survivors in such poor shape after a week to not be able to make themselves seen?  Were three rotary engines flying around drowned out by the sounds of surf and wave? Did the survivors think to make some sign that could be recognized from the air as a plea for help? Again Lambrecht and the other 5 aviators saw nothing to warrant further investigation. I have to wonder if our castaways got caught by surprise by the sight of three aircraft overhead.  Both our castaways would have identified those aircraft as able to land on water.  They knew no land based aircraft had an airfield nearby. AE had the government build her one on Howland but there were no aircraft stationed there. 

I submit the castaways likely got surprised and couldn't respond for any number of valid reasons. Not the least of which was a week without fresh water. But they were surviving somehow as they had the strength to start the engine and operate the radio. So they became so incapacitated from Thursday nights last radio message to Saturday mornings search flight that they couldn't signal. Weakened yes. Incapacitated?  And so far Lambrecht was the first, and only, sign of a search.

Ah. If only we had a crystal ball to gaze into to understand why nothing became of the Lambrecht overflight.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #115 on: August 26, 2013, 10:04:50 PM »

Good points Irv. I put this thread up a little while back about being caught totally unprepared for a WW2 Dakota suddenly flying overhead. Didn't even get time to get a decent picture. Obviously it didn't circle but then again I was out in the open fields...
http://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,1238.0.html

This must be the place
 
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Joshua Doremire

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #116 on: August 27, 2013, 01:00:50 AM »

Extra/more credit by any one of a number of people involved and we would not have a 76 year old mystery.  ::)

Extra credit is overcoming the single line of thought. In this case it is likely the thought of a "big visible airplane" or “smoking crater” they expected to see. After all it has to be transmitting and in some working order on land per reports they had. No airplane than no good reason to go and check it out. Aka land the plane: risk a bird strike, or flipping the plane landing by in the lagoon and hitting an uncharted object. Then you get to explain the aircraft loss to your commander…
 
I submit a reasonable expectation was to see the airplane due to radio signals reported and having to be on land confirmed by Lockheed.
 
With everything they noticed you have to ask why they didn’t take the time to check it out. They had the discretion to do so before the paper got shoveled when they got back. Why is there a camp here? Did the campers see an airplane? Maybe we should ask these yahoo’s what they are doing out here… Mindset as seen even today with the DC sniper “Must be a van.” And it turned out to be a sedan.  “Must be a big airplane visible…”
 
They already had to overcome the misinformation and early reports of splash and sink.

“Signs of recent habitation” Really? Is that all they could think of to write? This lack of information from the description did not help the situation. Next in chain of command would look at that with a ‘you didn’t see anything’. Describing the signs seen may have sparked a second look to possibly look up the island’s state of occupation and thus be worthy of extra credit.
 
The report says this “habitation” about two islands.
 
The thought that the airplane got swept away from the tide took decades to come up with.

IMO camp zero was the airplane itself safe from the wildlife with a working radio. I imagine the aircraft went over the edge with dead batteries after every drop of fuel was used to keep it on the reef and power the radio. After the visible plane is ‘gone’ you need a new marker…
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Paul Parsons

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #117 on: August 27, 2013, 01:24:15 AM »

I also make note that the 6 pilots were looking for castaways ...

Really? My reading of the Lambrecht Report suggests he was looking for the missing plane, not people.

Do we know the orders Lambrecht was given?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 02:13:08 AM by Paul Parsons »
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Adam Marsland

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #118 on: August 27, 2013, 02:37:35 AM »

I can't help thinking that perhaps, tragically, they were asleep when help came.  They landed sleep deprived, and if the post-loss messages are to be believed they spent their nights in the cockpit and they can't have gotten much sleep at Camp Zero during the daytime with the lack of cover, daytime temperatures and crabs, plus possible injuries and most likely trying to scout for water.  It's easy to imagine the scenario where they finally give up on help, remove to a place where they can rest comfortably and marshall their energy, finally fall into their first real deep sleep in a week and then bam...Bob's your uncle, game over.
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Joe Cerniglia

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Re: Odds of Spotting Survivors from the Air
« Reply #119 on: August 27, 2013, 05:47:31 AM »

“Signs of recent habitation” Really? Is that all they could think of to write?
It's fascinating to me and might be to others that Eric Bevington mentioned "signs of previous habitation" in his diary of October 1937, almost the exact words Lambrecht used. As with Lambrecht, that is all he said. Bevington was there on the ground to see the signs, or perhaps he saw them close in to the shore from the lagoon.  He later in 1992 pointed on a map to the lagoon side of Aukaraime South as the place he vaguely recollected seeing them.  Gallagher seems to be the only individual from the early days of the search of the actual island (edit: although he was by no means a part of the official search) who saw something and speculated in his writings it might be related to Earhart.  But Gallagher found human bones and had reason to speculate further than Bevington or Lambrecht.

Joe Cerniglia ~ TIGHAR #3078 ECR
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 06:05:45 AM by Joe Cerniglia »
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