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Author Topic: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland  (Read 333812 times)

Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #45 on: February 06, 2012, 01:50:22 PM »


Chris
Yeppers, anytime I was flying over water ( Lake Michigan, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay) and got near to my PNR (Point of No Return) Oliver Sudden (all of a sudden) raised his head, the laws of physics were repealed, the engine began spitting and sputtering and running rough and the plane started saying "Turn around you fool, don't you know that planes can't fly over water?" LOL
No Worries Mates
LTM   Harry (TIGHAR #3244R)
 
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #46 on: February 06, 2012, 02:19:25 PM »

I'm no expert, going up a step ladder requires mind over matter but to jump out of a plane with a shute i've never used and the thought that I could get wound up in ropes, guides and silk and then not be able to open the harness makes trying to land the ship in the drink a no brainer.  Also can I swim? what about my navigator? 5 lengths in the pool or hours in the sea (and don't forget the sharks!!!!!)

Now land! thts something I understand?
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #47 on: February 06, 2012, 06:17:22 PM »

Just thought I would post this as it was one of the reasons why it was decided to curtail night drops near water by Brit Paras. The other reason was in daylight drops over water the task was to release the harness (but still be in it) and drop free at less than 50ft. The problem discovered was that guys were having difficulty in judging height where there were no reference points to refer to e.g. buildings/trees. End result was people exiting harness at incredible heights in excess of 125 ft. Ouch!

Jeff
Back in the '70s a group of skydivers wanted to set a group high altitude jump record, got a plane that could go high and oxygen equipment and went up to 35,000 feet. They were trying to find the drop zone but a solid layer of clouds moved in which prevented any view of the ground. Since they were up there already they didn't want to ride the plane down so the pilot talked the FAA radar controller to give them vectors to the drop zone and when the controller told them they were there the jumpers got out of the plane. As they fell they entered the clouds (interesting, this does not violate FAR part 103) and when they came out the bottom all they saw below them was water. The controller had been watching the wrong blip on his radar and the jump plane was over the middle of Lake Erie. I think about ten jumpers drowned.

-----------------------------------
The problem with jumping out of your harness too soon when landing in water has been well known for a long time. The rule is "you stay in your harness until your feet get wet."

I have made quite a few "water jumps," usually making demonstration jumps at municipal 4th of July celebrations into lakes in northern Illinois. The parachute harness is basically a "U" shaped strap about two inches wide with the ends connected up to the parachute and your butt sitting in the middle of the "U", like on a children's playground swing. There are additional straps and snaps that hold you in the harness so you don't fall our but it is still basically a swing. When landing in water your main concern is to not get entangled in your parachute and drown, so on the way down, after the chute is open, you undo all the snaps and there your are, sitting in a swing a half a mile up in the sky with nothing to keep you from falling out. It's funny, thinking about it now sure is scary but it seemed perfectly normal then.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #48 on: February 06, 2012, 06:19:14 PM »


On the leg from Grand Turk to San Juan, Puerto Rico, about 400 miles, right in the middle, out
of radio contact with anybody for awhile, the engine started coughing and shuttering,

Nothing like a long ocean passage to make the engine run rough.  Or an instrument flight over the mountains at night.  It's not known what it is about the physics of these passages that affects engines ;)
"Automatic rough" starts when you first go "feet wet" as  you "coast out," not after being over the ocean for a couple of hours.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2012, 06:24:52 PM »


Now I will take the other side of the point and say perhaps they did unload in Lae because...
1.  There is no sign or record of parachutes in aircraft leaving Lae.
2.  No sign of parachutes being used as survival gear at Gardner
3.  Weight was an issue leaving Lae for Howland. trade parachutes for fuel. (someone already said the parachute weight was negligible)


Comments?
Number two presumes your conclusion, that they were on Gardner. Another way to look at this, if they had parachutes in the plane when they left Lae, then the parachutes not being seen by Lambrecht or found on Gardner is additional evidence that Earhart did not end up on Gardner.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2012, 06:28:08 PM »

I'm no expert, going up a step ladder requires mind over matter but to jump out of a plane with a shute i've never used and the thought that I could get wound up in ropes, guides and silk and then not be able to open the harness makes trying to land the ship in the drink a no brainer.  Also can I swim? what about my navigator? 5 lengths in the pool or hours in the sea (and don't forget the sharks!!!!!)

Now land! thts something I understand?
No good choices were available. Earhart had the chutes shipped to Darwin so she had obviously decided that jumping was safer the ditching, and it is. The rest cuts both way, you still have to swim with the sharks no matter how you got down into the sea.

gl
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 06:59:53 PM by Gary LaPook »
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #51 on: February 06, 2012, 06:42:34 PM »

Thanks John.   As a non aviator I'm still puzzled re when you would and wouldn't carry a parachute.  1937 and aviation is still relatively young. AE is flying around the world and flying over oceans and lots of land between airports. Why would they not consider parachutes as essential on every flight. Even a flight from town to town in the US. Any flight for that matter.  Was it common for non military pilots to fly without parachutes?
Some apparently start with the presumption that parachutes are useful over land but not useful over the ocean, and that is just wrong. You have probably noticed that they don't carry parachutes on your over land airline flight, why not? Parachutes are only useful for dealing with a very narrow list of in-flight problems. Most crashes happen while landing or taking off and by the time you know you have a problem, you have already hit the trees plus the plane is not high enough to allow the chute to open anyway. They are useful if you have a structural failure which is why you must wear a parachute when doing aerobatics since, if you screw up, you might pull a wing off.

How about an engine failure, she had two. Most twins can climb or at least maintain altitude (below the single engine ceiling) on just one engine and this was true of the Electra if operated at its normal maximum gross weight of 10,500 pounds. At the 16,500 pound weight specified in Report 487 we see the plane will climb at a rate of 738 feet per minute with 1200 horsepower. This means that there was 369 horsepower in excess of what it took to just maintain altitude and these excess ponies made the plane go up at 738 feet per minute, it is simple physics. Now if you lose 600 of those ponies then you come up short by 231 hp of what it takes just to maintain level flight so the plane would descend at a rate of 462 feet per minute unless she could jettison some fuel, this would allow them to plenty of time to put their chutes on and calmly walk to the exits. And, of course, there's the old "run our of gas" scenario leading to both engines going quiet and the plane coming down at around a thousand feet per minute, still time enough to get dressed and head for the door. And this works equally well over the ocean as over land, ask the thousands of Navy pilots who bailed out over the Pacific and were picked up and rescued.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #52 on: February 06, 2012, 06:56:16 PM »

DUH!

Boy do I feel stupid, the answer was staring me in the face and I missed it. There is no conflict between the two accounts. We are not talking about two parachutes, we are talking about four parachutes, the two she had carried around the world and the replacements for them that had been shipped out to Darwin.

Why replacements, why not just continue on with the chutes that she had?

Because regulations require that a parachute may not be carried in an American airplane unless it had been opened, hung up, aired,  inspected, and re-packed by a U.S. licensed Parachute Rigger within the prior 60 days. The rigger must seal the ripcord and sign the parachute log card that is carried in the parachute container. This must have been accomplished within in the preceding 60 days or it would have been illegal to have the chutes in the Electra. I know that this has been the regulation for the last 60 years so I am confident that the same requirement applied in 1937. From my experience with the old CARs I know that these types of regulations do not change in any appreciable way

The tip-off, which I missed, is in the newspaper story, the parachutes had been delivered from America "Fully tested and ready for immediate use," so they must have been packed within the prior 60 days by an American Parachute Rigger. Earhart had to remove the first, out of date, set of chutes from the plane and replace them with the legal chutes. Then, as she said, she shipped the first set of chutes home.

I have attached several photos of my chest type parachute. You open the protective flap in the front to expose the ripcord and the ripcord pins. The last pin is sealed with a lead seal on thread carrying the code imprint for the particular rigger which you inspect before every jump to ensure that the chute has not been opened since it was sealed by the rigger. The back on the container has a pocket in the center which holds the log for the chute showing when it was packed, the license number of the Parachute Rigger, and his signature.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #53 on: February 06, 2012, 06:58:04 PM »

DUH!

Boy do I feel stupid, the answer was staring me in the face and I missed it. There is no conflict between the two accounts. We are not talking about two parachutes, we are talking about four parachutes, the two she had carried around the world and the replacements for them that had been shipped out to Darwin.

Why replacements, why not just continue on with the chutes that she had?

Because regulations require that a parachute may not be carried in an American airplane unless it had been opened, hung up, aired,  inspected, and re-packed by a U.S. licensed Parachute Rigger within the prior 60 days. The rigger must seal the ripcord and sign the parachute log card that is carried in the parachute container. This must have been accomplished within in the preceding 60 days or it would have been illegal to have the chutes in the Electra. I know that this has been the regulation for the last 60 years so I am confident that the same requirement applied in 1937. From my experience with the old CARs I know that these types of regulations do not change in any appreciable way

The tip-off, which I missed, is in the newspaper story, the parachutes had been delivered from America "Fully tested and ready for immediate use," so they must have been packed within the prior 60 days by an American Parachute Rigger. Earhart had to remove the first, out of date, set of chutes from the plane and replace them with the legal chutes. Then, as she said, she shipped the first set of chutes home.

I have attached several photos of my chest type parachute. You open the protective flap in the front to expose the ripcord and the ripcord pins. The last pin is sealed with a lead seal on thread carrying the code imprint for the particular rigger which you inspect before every jump to ensure that the chute has not been opened since it was sealed by the rigger. The back on the container has a pocket in the center which holds the log for the chute showing when it was packed, the license number of the Parachute Rigger, and his signature.

gl

Some more photos.

gl
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2012, 07:25:38 PM »

Earhart left California on May 20.  If she left with freshly packed parachutes they should be good until July 20 - long after she planned to be back in the the States.  She left Miami on June 1. If she left with freshly packed parachutes they should be good until August. Let's say she left with 'chutes that were not fresh and but still had enough time left on them to allow her to get back to the States by early July as originally planned.  At some point she or Putnam might have realized that, due to unforeseen delays, she was not going to get back to the States before the parachute expiration date.  At what point would that realization have to be made in order for freshly packed 'chutes to be shipped from the States and arrive in Darwin, Australia before June 28?  There was no FedEx in 1937 and no commercial air service between Australia and the U.S.  The parachutes had to come by boat.  I just don't see there being enough time for your hypothesis to work.
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #55 on: February 06, 2012, 08:45:33 PM »

Gary: Ric. Interesting points. Now I'm even more confused on this.   As Ric suggests Gary, your timeframe doesn't appear to work.  Ric's point also shows some serious long term planning must have been going on to get those two parachutes to Darwin.  We often take modern conveniences for granted.  So I still ask why those parachutes were sent to Darwin?  Or, for those who believe she shipped them back to California, why ship them back?  Why would there be any chutes being shipped anywhere? 
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2012, 09:16:12 PM »

I think we can be fairly sure that the 'chutes were collected in Darwin and carried to Lae.  Whether they remained on board for trip to Howland is unknown. 

Two years ago we received this email:
'"My father who served in the U.S. Army in WWII and helped liberate the Philippines and the surrounding islands. He has bestowed upon me I think a rare piece of history before he passed away. When he was in Lae, New Guinea, he bought a hook from a native that was supposedly taken out of Amelia Earhart's plane. Maybe the local "Sam" stole it out of her plane I don't know. My dad bought it from him, and gave it to me. What route should I pursue to authenticate it's verification? I believe it is from a Lockheed Electra, so I'd like to make sure. If it is real, it could be a treasure for many to enjoy."

We asked for photos of the "hook" (see attached).  It's almost certainly parachute hardware but after considerable research we were not able to pin down whether it could have come from the Irvin 'chutes that AE picked up in Darwin.  Maybe the editor of "Last Flight" was just mixed up about where the 'chutes were left behind.  Maybe they were left in Lae and the fastener in question is from one of those 'chutes.  Bottom line: it is far from certain that the parachutes were aboard for the Howland trip.
I am attaching two catalog pages of parachute hardwear.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2012, 09:27:06 PM »

I think we can be fairly sure that the 'chutes were collected in Darwin and carried to Lae.  Whether they remained on board for trip to Howland is unknown. 

Two years ago we received this email:
'"My father who served in the U.S. Army in WWII and helped liberate the Philippines and the surrounding islands. He has bestowed upon me I think a rare piece of history before he passed away. When he was in Lae, New Guinea, he bought a hook from a native that was supposedly taken out of Amelia Earhart's plane. Maybe the local "Sam" stole it out of her plane I don't know. My dad bought it from him, and gave it to me. What route should I pursue to authenticate it's verification? I believe it is from a Lockheed Electra, so I'd like to make sure. If it is real, it could be a treasure for many to enjoy."

We asked for photos of the "hook" (see attached).  It's almost certainly parachute hardware but after considerable research we were not able to pin down whether it could have come from the Irvin 'chutes that AE picked up in Darwin.  Maybe the editor of "Last Flight" was just mixed up about where the 'chutes were left behind.  Maybe they were left in Lae and the fastener in question is from one of those 'chutes.  Bottom line: it is far from certain that the parachutes were aboard for the Howland trip.
I am attaching two catalog pages of parachute hardwear.

gl

Looks a lot like number 407 in the catalog.

gl
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2012, 09:45:04 PM »

Gary, it looks very much like 407. Does your catalog say anything about how common this item was or who the manufacturer was?  If its not Irvin then it's not likely AE's. However if it is an Irvin that doesn't mean it was AE's as Irvin had a large market segment back then with 37 air forces around the world using Irvin chutes.

But why all this shipping of parachutes around the world?   Let me ask you as an aviator with experience with chutes. If you crashed on an island as the TIGHAR hypothesis suggests, would you think of using the parachutes as survival gear? 
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2012, 09:51:24 PM »

She wouldn't jump out of that plane until the engines were sputtering and there was no sight of a landing spot.  She and GP had too much invested, in that bird and neither AE or FN were 'sky divers'  The parachutes, if aboard, went down with the Electra over the reef and that may be some of what you are seeing in the ROV stills.  "T" handles, ropes, wheel, steering wheel.  Too bad they didn't get them out before the surf took the Electra over the edge...they would have made nice tents and been VERY easy to see from the air!
Considering the value of parachutes for survival camping, sun shade, hundreds of feet of lines, etc. and the several days that the Gardner Island hypo has them in and out of the plane, it seems most likely that the chutes were carried ashore immediately if they were onboard the plane and it landed on Gardner.

gl
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