Advanced search  
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10   Go Down

Author Topic: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?  (Read 128179 times)

JNev

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 778
  • It's a GOOD thing to be in the cornfield...
Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« on: November 29, 2011, 07:43:48 AM »

I've borrowed the name for this topic from Irvine John Donald's latest post under "Fuel Consumption" in the Aircraft & Powerplant section of the AE forum.  In fact, it is in keeping with his suggestion that a new string might be a good idea for this.  My apologies if already covered somewhere, but I thought it was a good question that was worth exploring.

Among the post-loss message evidence there is a good bit of information suggesting many things - "ship on reef", etc. and there have been many musings on how AE and FN might have identified the Norwich City wreck, as that could tie into Betty's Notebook and the references to "NY" therein, etc.  No where do I recall any reference to Gardner.

None of this means that I personally don't believe AE and FN found their way to Gardner - I happen to believe in this theory very strongly.  But this is an interesting point.  Perhaps exploring the reasons why it may not have been mentioned by name during post-loss transmissions may help others understand more about the conditions AE and FN may have found themselves in.  It may also help us understand that "name that island" may not be so crucial to the theory we find so worthwhile (landing at Gardner) - tragically, that event could well have occurred without AE ever realizing the name of the place.

Enjoy.  Any other thoughts on this?
- Jeff Neville

Former Member 3074R
 
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 09:56:43 AM by Jeff Neville »
Logged

John Ousterhout

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2011, 06:57:55 PM »

What is known about the charts they had on board the aircraft?  Was Gardner actually named on the chart, or might it only have been shown as one of several small islands with (approximate) positions?

Reading Betty's notes makes me wonder if she was hearing attempts to describe what was known by AE/FN, such as radio bearings from commercial stations, distances from known features, frequencies picked up, etc, all only partially heard and then only partially written down by someone who didn't recognize the nomenclature.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
Logged

John Ousterhout

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 04:29:29 PM »

According to http://www.unmuseum.org/earhart.htm , "Clarence Williams prepared the maps and charts for the flight".  I'm not familiar with his name, and will do some research to learn more about him and what he might have prepared.   Fred's Atlantic chart indicates to me that he did a lot of preparation that would make it easier to track progress.  By pre-calculating expected navigation readings at hourly checkpoints, he could quickly identify how far off and in what direction they were from the desired course, assuming he could get a star shot.
When AE radioed "We are on the line 157 337", I take that to mean they had just intercepted the line.  Her next transmission, "We are running on line north and south", I take to mean they had turned to follow the line.  I think it safe to assume they could accurately fly a 157 337 heading, but I don't have the same confidence that they could accurately determine drift while following that line.  The winds aloft that pushed them off course for Howland weren't accurately allowed for, but Fred's technique allowed for that by accurately figuring arrival at the LOP, then following it up (or down?) to the island. Since they missed Howland by some unknown (to them) distance, how do they know what island they arrive at after changing to a different course for another hour or two that he hadn't prepared in advance?  Sometime he must have moved from the cockpit back to the navigation table to work out where they were, leaving Amelia to fly the plane, try to communicate, and look for a place to land.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
Logged

Gary LaPook

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1624
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 10:59:38 PM »

What is known about the charts they had on board the aircraft?  Was Gardner actually named on the chart, or might it only have been shown as one of several small islands with (approximate) positions?


I would love to find some examples of 'marine general charts' such as FN may have used to see what can be learned.  That will be a bit of a quest to look forward to.

LTM -
Check out Noonan's chart to Dakar available here:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/navigation-to-dakar

Other charts are available at Purdue but you have to pay to have them copied. On line you can look at Purdue's index to those charts.
gl
Logged

John Ousterhout

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 01:47:09 AM »

The Cape Verde islands are shown on Fred Noonan's map in Gary's link (thanks Gary).  There are two in particular that are practically dots between Santa Lusia and Saint Nicolao in the northern group. Those two un-named islands are Ilheu Branco, and Ilheu Raso.  I. Raso is listed as having an area of 8 sq. km, making it roughly twice the area of Gardner island.  If FN had landed on Branco or Raso, and relied on that map, he would not have known the island's name.
Was Gardner so small that it didn't have a name on the chart AE/FN had with them?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
Logged

Friend Weller

  • TIGHAR member
  • *
  • Posts: 135
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 08:14:49 AM »

An additional point to ponder:  as we know from the Niku Overflight Video the size and shape of Gardner Island are different from what was depicted on maps in 1937.  AE and FN may have been thinking "well it doesn't match what's on the map but hey, it's land!  We'll figure out where we are once we're on the ground."  Since what they saw from the plane isn't what's depicted on the maps available to them and if during any pre-flight research FN had seen the older German map with its dual-named Gardner and McKean islands as well as the imaginary Mary Laetitia and Arthur islands, there may have been a degree of confusion as to where they felt they had ended up.  Rather than broadcast an uncertain location, the use of an obvious landmark might have been decided to be a better way to identify their location to rescuers.
Friend
TIGHAR 3086V
 
Logged

Gary LaPook

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1624
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 01:08:22 PM »

Good points, John.  And excellent find, Gary - thanks for sharing that - I look forward to digging into those!

LTM -
It wasn't a "find," I paid Purdue to make that copy for me. :D
You may find other things of interest on my website at:
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/
I am attaching the index to the Purdue collection, the charts start on page 47. The Natal to Dakar chart is number 83. Here is a link to the National Geographic map listed as number 86.
http://www.maps.com/map.aspx?pid=15967
The listing states that charts 111 through 126 have been digitized so should be a available for a reasonable price. The high cost I paid for the Natal to Dakar chart was to have it digitized.
gl
gl
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 04:14:23 PM by Gary LaPook »
Logged

Thom Boughton

  • T2
  • **
  • Posts: 89
  • Infinite Rider on The Big Dogma
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2011, 06:25:49 PM »

An additional point to ponder:  as we know from the Niku Overflight Video the size and shape of Gardner Island are different from what was depicted on maps in 1937.  AE and FN may have been thinking "well it doesn't match what's on the map but hey, it's land!  We'll figure out where we are once we're on the ground."  ........

Actually, I like this one....as well as not wanting to confuse matters with unverified guesses.  Let me throw in this compleatly hypothetical corollary to the notion......

If we assume that Betty's Notebook is accurate and what Betty heard were indeed authentic distress calls (I do, actually)....then all indications are that FN was not of lucid mind most of the time...or at all...after their arrival. And while FN might have known (even in the face of the charting errors) where they were, after their arrival (and the injuries sustained therein) he wasn't in any condition to remember. 

I can see where in planning FN would have had Gardner (or maybe not specifically Gardner but 'one of the islands in this group right here' ) in his back pocket as a backup plan, yet not fully discussed every little detail of the matter with AE.  Navigation was his department and keeping the airplane upright, running, and pointed in the right direction was hers.  All indications seem to be that AE did indeed believe her own press and may very well have dismissed any real trepidation over not finding Howland.  Although, there might have been discussion of 'what do we do if we don't find it'....the discussion in her mind may have been something in the neighbourhood of 'we can deviate to this island group here on the chart I am pointing to...surely we'll find one of them'. 

Surely FN was not so lackadaisical about such details, but AE didn't seem to be big on minutia...especially on things that weren't her department.  Let's face it, this is the person who didn't bother to fully learn and understand the DF radio she was betting their lives on. And that WAS her department.  If that wasn't important enough for her to spend time on, then the names of potential backup waypoints probably weren't either.  Or at least not enough to commit them all permanently to memory.  The fact that Fred had a plan that he was confident in may very well have been enough for her to go on.

Once in flight and not having found Howland, the discussion was probably more concerned with headings, time, winds,  and fuel, than the names of places.  As Friend puts it 'I'll worry about asking Fred what its called we when we're on the ground."  Only....once on the ground, the fellow who knew the name of it now wasn't even capable of counting his toes. And, even with the charts in her hands...her knowledge conceivably may have been limited to 'we're somewhere on one of these islands'.


Just a thought. Utter unfounded speculation, admittedly.  (Therefore, worth less than the time I spent typing it.)  But, a thought nonetheless.



LTM,

     .....twb

TIGHAR #3159R
 
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 06:28:11 PM by Thom Boughton »
Logged

John Ousterhout

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2011, 09:04:24 PM »

Good thinking Thom,
I agree that the confidence that AE had in untested abilities and technology seems incredible, to put it mildly.  It appears that they didn't actually "test" two-way communication at all, until they were approaching Howland.  Were they truely so confident in Fred's navigation that DF wasn't of primary importance?  I find that almost unbelievable.
If the map scale they were using was similar to the one FN used to fly across the atlantic, then Gardner island was likely drawn as little more than a dot, without any recognizable shape, like the two islands in the Cape Verde group I mentioned above that were similar in size* to Gardner.
(*I couldn't find the length or width of the Cape Verde islands, but they don't have lagoons.  Gardner may actually be "larger", but is mostly lagoon)
Cheers,
JohnO
 
Logged

Thom Boughton

  • T2
  • **
  • Posts: 89
  • Infinite Rider on The Big Dogma
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2011, 12:28:06 AM »

......Were they truely so confident in Fred's navigation that DF wasn't of primary importance?  I find that almost unbelievable......


Well, in our conjecture let's not lead ourselves astray.  The DF was of primary (or at least equal) importance. Celestial Nav is not a silver bullet. Even with the best (and FN was clearly considered to be THE best) at the helm, it's nominal resolution is maybe ten miles.  So the plan was to navigate to within DF range and then steer the final several miles via DF.  Only....for whatever reason we didn't feel it necessary to bother with fully understanding the usage or any of the real limitations of the equipment. 

Now, whether this was due to other distractions, unbridled narcissism,  or just plain forgetfulness, seems to be pretty much anybody's guess.  Ultimately, this bundled together with the unexpected loss of a working voice receiver resulted in Suicide By Technology.

If there was one thing that I learned throughout my career, underlined much more clearly during the few times I worked in conjunction with NTSB investigations, it is that accidents usually are not the result of a single lone error.  Rather, it's the collective outcome of several errors, failures, or really bad decisions made at really bad times, all working in concert with each other.  And if this whole matter doesn't put an exclamation point on that, then I suspect that nothing ever will.


LTM,

    ....TB
TIGHAR #3159R
 
Logged

Gary LaPook

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 1624
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2011, 09:50:54 PM »

......Were they truely so confident in Fred's navigation that DF wasn't of primary importance?  I find that almost unbelievable......


Well, in our conjecture let's not lead ourselves astray.  The DF was of primary (or at least equal) importance. Celestial Nav is not a silver bullet. Even with the best (and FN was clearly considered to be THE best) at the helm, it's nominal resolution is maybe ten miles.
LTM,

    ....TB
The uncertainty of a celestial fix is considered to be 10 NM, very few fall outside of this distance from the actual position and most are much better, about 5 or 6 NM. To obtain fixes within 10 NM, the uncertainty of each LOP making up the fix must be less than 7 NM, very few fall outside this range and most LOPs are better, usually within about 3 to 5 NM of the actual postion. The celestial sun line LOP "landfall" procedure is a standard navigational procedure used to find small islands WITHOUT the use of any radio navigation aid whatsoever.

"The celestial landfall is the most certain method of reaching destination....If your destination is a small oceanic island without a radio, you may need celestial." Air Force Manual 51-40 (1951) Page 304.
https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/resources/air-navigation-afm-51-40-1951/afm51-40-1951-304.JPG?attredirects=0


"Landfalls - The safest way to get to destination," Navigator's Information File (1944) Page 3-17-1.
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxmcmVkaWVub29uYW58Z3g6M2I5OTVhMWZmMmI4ZDFiZA



Even at the outer limits of 7 NM uncertainty, Fred's LOP should have brought them close enough to see Howland, the Itasca (and the LOP crossed the Itasca's smoke screen if they were west of Howland.) So either method, celestial or RDF, should have been accurate enough, used alone, to find Howland so they provided redundant methods making the resulting failure very unlikely. But sometimes even redundant systems fail, e.g. a skydiver's reserve chute doesn't open properly after the failure of the main parachute or a pilot runs out of gas with both fuel gauges and a fuel totalizer installed.

See the standard flight navigation reference books available here:

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/topics/accuracy-of-celestial-fixes

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/topics/landfall-procedure

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/other-flight-navigation-information/recent-landfall-approach

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/navigation-to-howland-island

https://sites.google.com/site/fredienoonan/discussions/the-myth-of-the-sunrise-lop

gl

« Last Edit: December 03, 2011, 10:02:15 PM by Gary LaPook »
Logged

John Ousterhout

  • T4
  • ****
  • Posts: 487
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2011, 07:36:13 PM »

What % of the radio messages do we have records of?  I'd be surprised if it totalled 5%, and more likely much less.  Is it reasonable to think that "Gardner" (or something that sounds like "Gardner") would be included in there?  For that matter, I doubt that "Gardner Island" was identified on Fred's charts, based on the comparable-sized islands shown on his Atlantic charts, prepared by the same person.  If they landed on Gardner, I believe they did not know the name ("on an unidentified island"), nor the general shape (see Fred's Atlantic chart, and look at the smallest of Cape Verde islands - they're not identified, yet were larger than Gardner).
Notes passed back and forth:
AE "wht's islnd name?"
FN "not shown. Looks recently inhabited"
AE "no fuel. landing"
FN "ok.  'will get location fm grnd & xmt location"
AE "buckle up"
Cheers,
JohnO
 
Logged

Irvine John Donald

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 597
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 11:45:31 PM »

I think that if you have TIGHAR faith (believe in the Gardner theory) you likely believe that AE and FN, for whatever reason, failed to find Howland and flew south on the best chance of hitting an island.  It's likely the charts of the day didn't specify the island names but the Norwich City was one heck of a landmark.  Again, if you have TIGHAR faith, you believe that Betty heard the calls for help and the name of the wreck. Reasonably minded people can make reasonable assumptions that the locals, who AE and FN thought might hear their radio calls, would know about the landmark. What better way to describe to those listening where they were. Time is an issue for them as water is limited. They need to be rescued. Even if they guessed they were on Gardner the natives may have another name for the island and not recognize "Gardner". Besides, what if they had doubts about what island they were on?  So many islands with palm trees and lagoons. How do you describe the one you're on versus another?  Your island has a great big shipwreck to make it special.  If someone other than young Betty had heard the ships name would that have been enough?  I think Ric posted somewhere in this forum that the shipwreck was not well known. But if someone else had heard it then it's still a better clue than "waiting for rescue on a deserted island with a lagoon and palm trees."  Someone could at least investigate the name "Norwich City".  Could this be why Gardner wasn't mentioned?
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
Logged

Mona Kendrick

  • T2
  • **
  • Posts: 71
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2011, 10:43:23 AM »

I think that if you have TIGHAR faith (believe in the Gardner theory) you likely believe that AE and FN, for whatever reason, failed to find Howland . . .   Again, if you have TIGHAR faith, you believe that Betty heard the calls

    Ric has pointed out in the past that TIGHAR is not a faith-based organization.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.  ;D

Mona
Logged

Irvine John Donald

  • T5
  • *****
  • Posts: 597
Re: Why wasn't Gardiner identified in the radio messages?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2011, 01:26:18 PM »

LOL!   Good point.  Perhaps substitute "certitude" for "faith".  I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea or be offended.  However I'm sure others may comment on this point.  Perhaps claiming it's faith based may increase contributions.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 10:55:48 PM by Irvine John Donald »
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10   Go Up
 

Copyright 2019 by TIGHAR, a non-profit foundation. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be reproduced by xerographic, photographic, digital or any other means for any purpose. No portion of the TIGHAR Website may be stored in a retrieval system, copied, transmitted or transferred in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, digital, photographic, magnetic or otherwise, for any purpose without the express, written permission of TIGHAR. All rights reserved.

Contact us at: info@tighar.org • Phone: 610-467-1937 • Membership formwebmaster@tighar.org

Powered by MySQL SMF 2.0.15 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines Powered by PHP