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Author Topic: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland  (Read 268260 times)

Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2012, 09:58:18 PM »

Jeff Hayden asked the question, "Did they carry parachutes?"


In her book, Last Flight, Earhart wrote that they left their parachutes at Darwin, to be shipped home, so that should be the end of it. (I have attached an excerpt.)

Or is it?

I must point out that I have found errors in her book, possibly originating with Earhart herself or possibly with the editor of the book, George Putnam. Is this another error?

The reason I am asking this question is that I found two Australian newspaper articles reporting her arrival in Darwin that calls this into question. Both articles state that the first thing Earhart did when she arrived in Darwin was to inquire whether her parachutes had arrived from the U.S. so that she could load them into the plane and take them with her to Lae and, presumably, on to the U.S. Each article contains a lot of detail giving them, what lawyers call, "indicia of reliability," they appear trustworthy. And each article states different facts supporting this explanation so it wasn't just one guy copying from the other guy, it appears that two guys checked these facts themselves. I have attached these two articles.

Here is the photo, taken in Darwin, showing the two seat pack parachutes on the ground.


gl
Attached is a clear picture of a seat type parachute.

gl
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #61 on: February 06, 2012, 10:11:06 PM »

Thanks Gary. That's what I would have expected.  The metal snaps and buckles would likely have been very useful to the natives if they were found.  The thick straps would have likely lasted for a few months before disintegrating in that tropical environment. Would the natives have even known what a ripped apart parachute would have been originally? 

Would the navy pilots from Colorado know what a spread out canopy was?  It would be flimsy enough to suggest not "signs of recent habitation" but current habitation.

We just won't know. But if metal parts from a parachute were found during an archaeological dig or search then it could contribute to the other circumstantial evidence. But no smoking gun.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #62 on: February 06, 2012, 10:22:05 PM »

Hi Gary.  The first image at this link shows a 1937 version of the seat pack parachute from Irvin. It looks like the ones in the pile in front of the Electra.
http://wnyheritagepress.org/photos_week_2008/irving_air_chutes/irving_air_chutes.htm
In fact, in the Electra photo, you can see a snap hook on the left side of the pile approx near the top of that silver cylinder.  Look familiar?  407 hook?  Perhaps Richie can use his skills to blow that photo up. Just below the snap hook is a strap with an adjustment buckle.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 10:26:01 PM by Irvine John Donald »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #63 on: February 07, 2012, 07:36:22 AM »

But why all this shipping of parachutes around the world?

Good question.  Logically, you don't ship parachutes halfway around the world to an obscure place like Port Darwin unless you think you might need them. (duh)
Did Earhart consider parachutes essential to crossing vast stretches of water?  I don't recall any mention of a parachute being carried on her 1932 Newfoundland to Ireland flight, or her 1935 Honolulu to Oakland flight. Most significantly, there are no parachutes in the Luke Field inventory.  So unless I'm missing something, the available evidence suggests that Earhart did not consider parachutes essential to crossing vast stretches of water.

But why else would it be important to have parachutes waiting for them in Darwin?  The route from Darwin to Lae took them over about 400 miles of New Guinea jungle, including the Owen Stanley mountain range.  In 1986 I flew in a helicopter from Port Moresby across the Owen Stanleys to the Agaiambo Swamp in Oro Province.  Believe me, there is NO place to make a forced landing and the route is dotted with airplane wrecks plastered on the walls of mountain passes.  Having heard of the hazards of the New Guinea jungle Earhart might have (wisely) opted to have parachutes aboard for the Darwin/Lae leg.  I have a recollection of Earhart writing somewhere that she was more concerned about flying over jungles than over oceans, but I don't see it in a quick scan through Last Flight.   Anybody else remember that?

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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #64 on: February 07, 2012, 07:57:10 AM »

Thanks Ric. That makes a lot of sense. When I read your part about AE saying she was more concerned about flying over jungle than water something twigged in my head that I had read that too.

So until Port Darwin we aren't sure if she carried parachutes but we are confident she did get them in Port Darwin. Is it then "likely" she dropped them off at Lae or carried them for the rest of the trip? 

Some forum readers may wonder what difference this makes to the hypothesis?  If AE landed on Gardiner then having parachutes as survival gear means we might find the metal parts that remain. The metal parts would not be a smoking gun but would be circumstantial like the women's shoes, glass makeup jars and compact case.  The more of these pieces that can be put together then the additional strength to the hypothesis.
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #65 on: February 07, 2012, 08:11:19 AM »

Gary's point is also a good one - that parachutes would be a great way to signal to search planes (if you knew there were going to be search planes). They would also make good tents and tents should be readily seen from the air.  No parachutes were reportedly seen by the search planes.  Does that mean that AE and FN were not on Gardner or that the parachutes were on Gardner?

The editor of Last Flight was obviously under the impression that the parachutes had been dropped off someplace.  He thought it was Darwin but he was apparently mistaken.  If they were picked up at Darwin there is only one place they could have been dropped off - Lae.  But where did the editor get that information?  Was there some communication between Lae and Putnam that we don't know about?  Did AE make a phone call to Putnam from Lae and did she mention that they were leaving the 'chutes there?  (I know, I know. Hilary Swank had an emotional telephone conversation from Lae with Richard Gere - but that means nothing.)
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #66 on: February 07, 2012, 10:37:29 AM »

But why all this shipping of parachutes around the world?

Good question.  Logically, you don't ship parachutes halfway around the world to an obscure place like Port Darwin unless you think you might need them. (duh)
Did Earhart consider parachutes essential to crossing vast stretches of water?  I don't recall any mention of a parachute being carried on her 1932 Newfoundland to Ireland flight, or her 1935 Honolulu to Oakland flight. Most significantly, there are no parachutes in the Luke Field inventory.  So unless I'm missing something, the available evidence suggests that Earhart did not consider parachutes essential to crossing vast stretches of water.

But why else would it be important to have parachutes waiting for them in Darwin?  The route from Darwin to Lae took them over about 400 miles of New Guinea jungle, including the Owen Stanley mountain range.  In 1986 I flew in a helicopter from Port Moresby across the Owen Stanleys to the Agaiambo Swamp in Oro Province.  Believe me, there is NO place to make a forced landing and the route is dotted with airplane wrecks plastered on the walls of mountain passes.  Having heard of the hazards of the New Guinea jungle Earhart might have (wisely) opted to have parachutes aboard for the Darwin/Lae leg.  I have a recollection of Earhart writing somewhere that she was more concerned about flying over jungles than over oceans, but I don't see it in a quick scan through Last Flight.   Anybody else remember that?
She said that early in the book about flying over Brazil.

gl
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #67 on: February 07, 2012, 11:05:46 AM »

Thanks Gary.  This dovetails in nicely with what Ric said.  May we speculate that AE left on her second attempt, got worried she didn't have a parachute when over Brazil, and ask they be shipped to Port Darwin.  Reason for Port Darwin is due to the length of time it would take for them to arrive?  If there was a commercial shipping line with a regular run to Australia from California then it would be a few weeks still before she would be able to get them.  During that time she was flying from South America and on.  As Ric reminded us, no fedex or direct commercial flights to Australia.  All speculation of course but there had to be some reason for shipping the chutes to Port Darwin.    In the absence of anything else this seems to be reasonable speculation.

Ric, has anything been found on Gardner that may be part of a metal fastener or buckle from a parachute?
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #68 on: February 07, 2012, 01:11:40 PM »

Ric, has anything been found on Gardner that may be part of a metal fastener or buckle from a parachute?

Nope.
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #69 on: February 07, 2012, 01:14:09 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
very interesting find Gary. I wonder if these two widgets are reworked bits of parachute hardware, buckles/quick release/clips/tensioners etc.. without the wood screws of course
http://tighar.org/wiki/2-6-S-03a_and_2-6-S-03b
This must be the place
 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 01:16:06 PM by Jeff Victor Hayden »
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richie conroy

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #70 on: February 07, 2012, 03:38:59 PM »

maybe the chutes were used to make markers ?

maybe given the situation they were in, i.e on the ground what use would a parachute be....

given there predicament, survival gear - equipment would be top priority....

an maybe things like chutes wud have come later, i.e they had life raft use chute as a sail

but u only have to read the Norwich city story to realize the damage the waves do as the survivors witnessed the keel snapping off ship, so the Electra had no chance 
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richie conroy

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #71 on: February 07, 2012, 04:54:21 PM »



i know we know they were labout to leave but just wanted to highlight caption
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #72 on: February 07, 2012, 06:51:27 PM »


Parachutes over water only makes sense to me (which is nothing to do with what AE may have been thinking) in the case of a night ditching (ditchings are usually not pretty, gentle things anyway - can't get better at night). 

But I also have immediate thoughts against bailing over water, even at night -
- Separation from gear in the plane that I might want for survival
- Separation from other survivors - two generally have a better chance than one


LTM -

Most of the flight was at night.

That's why you tie the life raft to your parachute harness.

If you are familiar with the loss of the "Lady Be Good" then you might remember the reason that they bailed out, instead of doing an emergency landing, is that they thought they were over water as that was the standard in the USAAC in WW2 for emergencies over the ocean.

gl
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012, 06:53:01 PM by Gary LaPook »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #73 on: February 07, 2012, 07:13:42 PM »

I was under the impression there was no liferaft on board.  None was in the Luke field inventory.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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richie conroy

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #74 on: February 07, 2012, 07:18:09 PM »

yer there was a life raft aboard it is mentioned along with kite's

but dont take my word for it  :)
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