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Author Topic: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.  (Read 452802 times)

JNev

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #315 on: February 03, 2012, 12:11:29 AM »


Simply an opinion
FN was probably  inebriated after 2 nights/days partying with the guys at Lae.  He prolly wasn't sober when he got on the plane for takeoff.  He probably was asleep (or passed out) during the early stages of the flight (perhaps longer) and AE was on her own to fly, radio, navigate, etc.

AE's telegram citing "personnel unfitness" was her way of telling George what was happening and the Brine's letter more than hints at it.

He (FN) prolly had more than one bottle of his favorite liquid refreshmnt along in his kit and prolly took a nip or two or more along the way.  Just an opinion.

Careful Harry... I got in a lot of trouble over that one - all the way from "B to V" in the alphabet ("Brines to Vidal" - character and truthfulness of their comments are sternly challenged academically)  :D

Which is not to say that I don't think it was a possibility.  I still struggle with how much good sense Gary makes for the navigation case, and how horribly wrong it apparently went - but, it could have been a very near thing that just couldn't get over the top that day because the RDF dropped out from under the plan.

But I did have a certain thought about 'the moon' while reading Gary's excellent explanation on shooting it - FN no doubt shot the moon many times; I'd lay money that he howled at it more than once too... RIP. 8)

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #316 on: February 03, 2012, 02:22:14 AM »



Navigators are expected to use all information available to them for safely conducting the flight. In trans-oceanic navigation it is unusual to be able to take visual bearings on terrestrial landmarks but when they are available, navigators take advantage of them. I'll bet that any WW2 Air Force navigator that flew over the western Pacific would tell you the same thing, that he used every opportunity that presented itself to take a visual observation of islands to confirm and to improve his navigation.

So, compared to the slight cost of less than an additional 10 NM, it was well worth going over Nauru.

gl
Twenty eight years after Earhart, in planes carrying all the electronics that Uncle Sam's wallet could buy, B-52 navigators still used celestial navigation as the primary navigational method when flying over the Pacific from Guam to bomb Viet Nam. They still took the opportunity to check and update their navigation with fixes from terrestrial landmarks whenever they were available. I have a attached several pages from a book written by a B-52 "nav" to show that this was the case which lends further support to my position that Noonan would have taken advantage of Nauru to do the same.

gl
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 02:30:14 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #317 on: February 03, 2012, 02:40:58 AM »


I'd bet you are right about the P-38's - meant to go back and look at what you wrote about the aperiodic compass

Thanks, Gary.

LTM -
This will make it easy:

https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,555.msg8006/topicseen.html#msg8006

https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,555.msg8100/topicseen.html#msg8100

See picture here.




gl
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 02:53:09 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #318 on: February 03, 2012, 02:47:01 AM »


Simply an opinion
FN was probably  inebriated after 2 nights/days partying with the guys at Lae.  He prolly wasn't sober when he got on the plane for takeoff.  He probably was asleep (or passed out) during the early stages of the flight (perhaps longer) and AE was on her own to fly, radio, navigate, etc.

AE's telegram citing "personnel unfitness" was her way of telling George what was happening and the Brine's letter more than hints at it.

He (FN) prolly had more than one bottle of his favorite liquid refreshmnt along in his kit and prolly took a nip or two or more along the way.  Just an opinion.
Chater, Collopy and Balfour dispute that he was drinking the night before they took off.
He looks pretty steady while helping Earhart to climb up on the wing in the takeoff video.
There are many alcoholics who manage to show up sober for work on Monday morning because their jobs depend on it. Not only did Noonan's job depend on his being sober when they departed Lae, his very life depended on it, powerful motivation.

gl
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Heath Smith

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #319 on: February 03, 2012, 04:45:03 AM »

Quote
Yes, and Noonan did. That is where they radioed to Lae that the wind was 23 knots most likely computed as a "wind between fixes" starting from a visual fix over Choiseul and ending with a visual fix at Nukumanu. This is why they, again, made a slight deviation, only five minutes of extra flying time, from the straight line from Choiseul to Nauru in order to get an accurate visual fix on Nukumanu to get an accurate wind.

I think that everyone would agree in hindsight that a flight over Nauru would have been worth the very slight increase in the distance traveled. This would have also completely negated the need for the Ontario in the first place. The problem is that there is no evidence that this actually happened. In fact I think that the evidence is to the contrary.

If FN was planning a flight to Nauru and wanted a land fix on the way from Choiseul, Luaniua Island was about 6 times larger and would have been on the flight line headed to Nauru. There would be no advantage of heading further North (back to the flight line) to spot Nukumanu.

If they did approach Nauru, you might as well fly right over it. When events happened off schedule, AE announced it, such as "Ship in sight". It seems logical that she would have done the same flying over Nauru. If AE was transmitting on schedule she would have been in range of Nauru for a longer period of time making other radio reports more likely to be heard. Nothing was heard. There was no reports of her flying over by witnesses on the ground. If we believe that perhaps someone on the Myrtle Bank did hear the Electra, this would also be contrary to the leg to Nauru. If FN had reduced the DR error to 99 miles, there again, they should have found Howland. There are quite a few pieces of circumstantial evidence to overcome with none in the favor of the overflight of Nauru in balance other than it would have been a good idea in hindsight.

It seems much more likely they put faith in a technology (direction finding equipment on the Electra) that they did not understand and could not use effectively (whistling in the mic for example). If the batteries on the Howland direction finder had not drained down and they were able to communicate with AE, they also might have been able to guide her back to Howland. Like most accidents, a series of smaller unfortunate events all line up to create disaster as was the case here.

I also believe that they came straight in, without an offset. The fact that Nauru reported that AE spotted at ship at 10:30 GMT and that they knew approximately where the Ontario was despite the possibility that other ships were in the area. The more confidence they had in their navigation since passing Nukumanu, the more confidence that they would have had that it was indeed the Ontario. If you "run the numbers" from where the Ontario was to Howland, the ground speed achieved was 150 Mph, which was the original plan.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #320 on: February 03, 2012, 06:16:48 PM »



Navigators are expected to use all information available to them for safely conducting the flight. In trans-oceanic navigation it is unusual to be able to take visual bearings on terrestrial landmarks but when they are available, navigators take advantage of them. I'll bet that any WW2 Air Force navigator that flew over the western Pacific would tell you the same thing, that he used every opportunity that presented itself to take a visual observation of islands to confirm and to improve his navigation.

So, compared to the slight cost of less than an additional 10 NM, it was well worth going over Nauru.

gl
Twenty eight years after Earhart, in planes carrying all the electronics that Uncle Sam's wallet could buy, B-52 navigators still used celestial navigation as the primary navigational method when flying over the Pacific from Guam to bomb Viet Nam. They still took the opportunity to check and update their navigation with fixes from terrestrial landmarks whenever they were available. I have a attached several pages from a book written by a B-52 "nav" to show that this was the case which lends further support to my position that Noonan would have taken advantage of Nauru to do the same.

gl

Gary,

I just toured 'SAM 970' (aka old B-707 "Air Force One", when the president was aboard) here in Seattle again.  There is of course a fine specimen near you at the Reagan Library.  I got a picture of the 'sextant socket' (as it was labled). 

There was a dedicated navigation station in the cockpit and overhead in the aisle
was an aperture with fixture in place.  I'll send it or post it here as soon as can download (maybe tonight) - not very good quality because of the plexiglass all over everything in there - but interesting.

You've probably seen this before.  Just thought it was pretty cool to see - and it's a reminder of where we were not so long ago, really.

LTM -
Did it look like this one?

gl
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JNev

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #321 on: February 03, 2012, 06:43:59 PM »


Simply an opinion
FN was probably  inebriated after 2 nights/days partying ...
....  Just an opinion.
Chater, Collopy and Balfour dispute that he was drinking the night before they took off.
He looks pretty steady while helping Earhart to climb up on the wing in the takeoff video.
There are many alcoholics who manage to show up sober for work on Monday morning because their jobs depend on it. Not only did Noonan's job depend on his being sober when they departed Lae, his very life depended on it, powerful motivation.

gl

Good point, Gary.

I guess some of us will always be a bit haunted by what happened and wonder 'why', with such a talented and experienced guy aboard - and the tighter the navigation case gets the less important the lost RDF procedure seems to be in a way.  But, it was important - and nobody's perfect - and anyone can have a bad day when the stars just won't line up, so to speak - so here we are.

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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JNev

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #322 on: February 03, 2012, 07:02:55 PM »


Gary,

I just toured 'SAM 970' (aka old B-707 "Air Force One", when the president was aboard) here in Seattle again.  There is of course a fine specimen near you at the Reagan Library.  I got a picture of the 'sextant socket' (as it was labled). 

There was a dedicated navigation station in the cockpit and overhead in the aisle
was an aperture with fixture in place.  I'll send it or post it here as soon as can download (maybe tonight) - not very good quality because of the plexiglass all over everything in there - but interesting.

You've probably seen this before.  Just thought it was pretty cool to see - and it's a reminder of where we were not so long ago, really.

LTM -

Did it look like this one?

gl

Very much so!  Without some of the stuff - I think only the 'upper' part was there (maybe what they meant by 'socket') - I take it the lower part stows when not in use.

Very cool!  Nice way to relax in the evenings too - good for you, man!

Still haven't downloaded - will do a bit later.

You know, too bad FN didn't have more windows, at least - Hooven goes pretty hard on AE in his report: FN crammed in back with small windows, etc., and she insisted on having all RDF controls up front with her - clear to Hooven that she wouldn't allow a man to do that part for her.  He also notes that she was a poor student at the RDF familiarization - poor interest.  Sounds like took a lot for granted.

I wonder how accurate Hooven's observations were about AE's motives and habits on that front?  She was fiercly independent supposedly.  But some of his remarks seem harsher than warranted too - I don't think the African coast mis-fall was as he described (seems somebody sorted that out differently later), etc.  And of course he saw the Japanese kidnapping as the best reason why they weren't found on Gardner, too...

Worth the read though.  As you pointed out, FN had done shots up to 75 degrees on trip to Hawaii, for one thing, so don't know that he was so handicapped by NR16020's cabin.

Got to see pix of Boeing 314 here too (FN never flew on one - they came later) - heck of a nice, spacious deck for all officers.  That thing had monster windows the navigator could use - by the radio station and nav station - right across from each other.  Fascinating history.

LTM -
- Jeff Neville

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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #323 on: February 03, 2012, 08:53:44 PM »


Gary,

I just toured 'SAM 970' (aka old B-707 "Air Force One", when the president was aboard) here in Seattle again.  There is of course a fine specimen near you at the Reagan Library.  I got a picture of the 'sextant socket' (as it was labled). 

There was a dedicated navigation station in the cockpit and overhead in the aisle
was an aperture with fixture in place.  I'll send it or post it here as soon as can download (maybe tonight) - not very good quality because of the plexiglass all over everything in there - but interesting.

You've probably seen this before.  Just thought it was pretty cool to see - and it's a reminder of where we were not so long ago, really.

LTM -

Did it look like this one?

gl

Very much so!  Without some of the stuff - I think only the 'upper' part was there (maybe what they meant by 'socket') - I take it the lower part stows when not in use.


LTM -
The mount is in the center of the picture, thse are permanently installed in the overhead. On the right is the Kollsman periscopic sextant, and it is stored in the case on the left. As you come up the stairs and enter the flight deck of a C-130, on your left you will see the bracket that holds the case. Reagan's plane, SAM 27000, is at the Reagan Library and it also has the sextant mount in the overhead in the cockpit. This is the same setup used in B-52s, KC-135s, and many other Air Force planes.

gl
« Last Edit: February 03, 2012, 08:56:18 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #324 on: February 04, 2012, 01:22:37 AM »



You know, too bad FN didn't have more windows, at least - Hooven goes pretty hard on AE in his report: FN crammed in back with small windows, etc., and she insisted on having all RDF controls up front with her - clear to Hooven that she wouldn't allow a man to do that part for her.  He also notes that she was a poor student at the RDF familiarization - poor interest.  Sounds like took a lot for granted.

I wonder how accurate Hooven's observations were about AE's motives and habits on that front?  She was fiercly independent supposedly.  But some of his remarks seem harsher than warranted too - I don't think the African coast mis-fall was as he described (seems somebody sorted that out differently later), etc.  And of course he saw the Japanese kidnapping as the best reason why they weren't found on Gardner, too...


LTM -
I had read the Hooven report before and I just re-read it. Hooven wrote:

"Caption to Figure 1: The Earhart Lockheed with the old-fashioned open loop, slightly turned, over the cockpit.

If you were flying over the Pacific ocean, and tuned in a station in San Francisco, you would not be in doubt which way to go to reach the station, but if you tuned in a station on a very small island, and found it was either north or south of the plane, you would have no way to tell which way to turn to reach the island.
...

Unfortunately the direction finder was unable to tell which direction to turn to go toward Howland due to the ambiguity of its loop signal. If they were north of the island, a northward turn would have taken them over the open sea, while a southward turn would either take them to Howland, or to the Winslow reef if they were south of Howland, so they turned south and flew along the 157-337 line. "

What I get from him is that, even after all those years, he was still P.O.ed that they had removed HIS better RDF (his baby) and replaced it with an "old fashioned" RDF. His explanation is that the inherent 180° ambiguity with the old fashioned RDF led to the loss of the plane. He had to know that there was a simple, universally known, procedure to resolve this ambiguity which takes only five to ten minutes, so he was being disingenuous with this complaint. In addition, his explanation is contradictory since he states that Earhart's RDF couldn't take bearings at the high frequencies that Itasca was transmitting on, frequencies requested by Earhart, so the ambiguity didn't enter into it all. Earhart couldn't take any bearings so she certainly couldn't take two opposite bearing, which is what leads to the ambiguity. He also doesn't mention that HIS RDF  also would not have been able to take bearings on the high frequency signals either. So even if HIS RDF would have produced an unambiguous bearing on signals it could receive, since it couldn't receive the signals either, it would not have produced any useful bearing either.

And he was wrong, or disingenuous, claiming that the "old fashioned" RDF had a 180° ambiguity because it did not, and he should have known that. I have attached a description of the MN-5 that Amelia had and you will see that it incorporated a sense antenna which eliminated the ambiguity.

Personally, I don't think too much of Hooven's report.

gl
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 04:43:39 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #325 on: February 05, 2012, 01:20:36 AM »


Navigators are expected to use all information available to them for safely conducting the flight. In trans-oceanic navigation it is unusual to be able to take visual bearings on terrestrial landmarks but when they are available, navigators take advantage of them. I'll bet that any WW2 Air Force navigator that flew over the western Pacific would tell you the same thing, that he used every opportunity that presented itself to take a visual observation of islands to confirm and to improve his navigation.

So, compared to the slight cost of less than an additional 10 NM, it was well worth going over Nauru.

gl
See attached from 1944 U.S. Army Air Corps manual.

gl
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #326 on: February 05, 2012, 06:31:23 AM »


Navigators are expected to use all information available to them for safely conducting the flight. In trans-oceanic navigation it is unusual to be able to take visual bearings on terrestrial landmarks but when they are available, navigators take advantage of them. I'll bet that any WW2 Air Force navigator that flew over the western Pacific would tell you the same thing, that he used every opportunity that presented itself to take a visual observation of islands to confirm and to improve his navigation.

So, compared to the slight cost of less than an additional 10 NM, it was well worth going over Nauru.

gl
See attached from 1944 U.S. Army Air Corps manual.

gl

That's a neat PDF. I'm not sure though how this military document from 1944 applies to FN or AE's actions. 

I see that many times you refer to technical documents and examples of what a pilot should do but unfortunately that can't be turned into what AE and FN did, without evidence. 

If you had been the flight planner for AE's world trip Gary I have no doubt she would have been successful, if she followed the plan as written.  But, you as a lawyer, know that accidents can happen because someone either forgets or ignores the written procedures.  Writing things down doesn't mean people will follow them 100%. We are only human after all.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Heath Smith

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #327 on: February 05, 2012, 08:36:28 AM »


I think that I can make a pretty good case for where the Electra was not when it arrived in the area of Howland that morning. Of course this is just kicking around a an idea, I am not attempting to establish a fact here.

If we assume that they never came within visual range (25 NM in this example) and also that they were flying North and South on a 157/337 for a sufficient distances to eliminate the DR error regardless of when the last fix was obtained, this describes an area around Howland where they should not have been. This of course does not address the possibility that they were within a 25 NM visual range but failed to see Howland, the Itasca, and the smoke trail. I am not sure what the consensus is as to whether they might have been within visual range but failed to spot the island but this exercise does not attempt to address that issue.

Referring to the attached image, the white or grayish area in the center represents and area they should never have been in as this would put them in visual range of one of the islands or the smoke trail. The pink lines represent a 157/337 heading. Theoretically, they should not have been between these pink lines, otherwise they would have been within the visual range of the smoke trail, Howland, or Baker, again assuming that they would have traveled a sufficient distance to rule out the DR error and were on a 157/337 heading while traveling North and South. The orange line describes where they should have been if accurately tracking their speed since the last fix was obtained. In this example, I used spotting the Ontario at 10:30GMT although I am pretty sure that the area described applies to any distance since the last fix.

If we then assume the cause for not being on the orange line and falling outside of the pink lines was due to not accurately compensating for the head winds, we can then make some estimates as to what type of error would have been required to fall outside of the pink lines. For example, if you look at the extreme Northern area (labeled Topmost) and calculate the distance from the orange line to the Western pink line, this would be distance of about 69 SM. If 69 SM miles of error had accumulated from 10:30GMT to 19:12GMT (8.7 hours), the head winds would have been under-estimated by approximately 8 MPH over the time frame. Performing the same calculation to the East, from the orange line to the Eastern pink line, the error required would have been about 9.5 miles, and a head wind over estimation of only 1.1 MPH over the time in question. I then show the calculations for other other areas of interest on the attached PDF.

In the attached PDF, I also included estimates based on the possibility that they had obtained a fix at 16:23 GMT but somehow fell outside of the pink lines because of head wind miscalculation. Again, I am not sure whether or not this is valid but I think it is the case.

If they did DR all the way since the spotting the Ontario, the margin for error would have been extremely small, any where from a 1.1 MPH over estimation to a 7.9 MPH under estimation.

If there is a flaw in this exercise please do chime in.

Thanks.
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #328 on: February 05, 2012, 09:04:56 AM »

Heath
I think that's a very interesting graphic and an overall novel approach.  Are there other areas you think you can eliminate?
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Heath Smith

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Re: The flight plan, magnetic course, headwinds.
« Reply #329 on: February 05, 2012, 09:07:01 AM »

Irvine,

I am not sure any other areas could be eliminated. It is also possible that if they used an offset on the N/S passes they could have entered one of these areas and that cannot be captured. I will continue to think on it though.
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