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Author Topic: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland  (Read 268606 times)

Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2012, 11:37:00 AM »

Harry,
    The problem is, you and I know you can get water that way, but did AE and FN know that?  One of the most difficult things I've found in doing historical research is to nail down what someone ACTUALLY knew or did.  It's hard to believe sometimes that someone would do something that seems really stupid to us, but evidently seemed logical to them at the time.  ("It seemed like a good idea at the time!)
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2012, 12:10:25 PM »


Dale
Yeppers, never know what goes on in someone's mind.
Briefly, I once witnessed one of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" moments. 
The objective was to lift, move, lower, turn, set in place a 400 ton Stator over the Rotor of a MG set.
Well, the load got lifted and moved over the rotor, but, instead of following the reviewed and signed off procedure, the "genius" crane operator decided to turn the load while ir hung 20 feet above the rotor.Needless to say, the crane failed, the load fell bouncing on the rotor, etc.  No deaths, no injuries, only 16 million dollars and 6 month delay.  "Seemed like a good idea at the time."
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2012, 09:58:49 PM »

I'd really like Gary's input on when chutes would be wanted, and when they wouldn't be.  I've never worn one, but then I've only flown a few small GA aircraft.  In general, light aircraft are usually thought of as being the best means to get back onto land in case of emergency.  Then again, I can think of a few situations in which a parachute might be a better choice, over mountains for one example.  If I were in great big highly visible Lockheed though, with lots of big empty fuel tanks that mostly guarantee flotation, I think I'd take my chances with the aircraft in a ditching.  There was no liferaft or emergency radio to take with, so bailing out would mean leaving everything else that might help survival.  I don't recall reading that they even carried life vests, but I'm not sure about that.  A floating Lockheed would be easier to spot than a single person, if that's what they thought of.  Juust how useful might a parachute be over the ocean?
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Harry Howe, Jr.

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2012, 10:09:15 PM »


John O
The Luke Field inventory after the ground loop incident listed 4 life vests and various bags containing emrgency rations like chocolate, etc  but I don't recall seeing a life raft listed.
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2012, 01:35:47 AM »


Dale
Yeppers, never know what goes on in someone's mind.
Briefly, I once witnessed one of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" moments. 
The objective was to lift, move, lower, turn, set in place a 400 ton Stator over the Rotor of a MG set.
Well, the load got lifted and moved over the rotor, but, instead of following the reviewed and signed off procedure, the "genius" crane operator decided to turn the load while ir hung 20 feet above the rotor.Needless to say, the crane failed, the load fell bouncing on the rotor, etc.  No deaths, no injuries, only 16 million dollars and 6 month delay.  "Seemed like a good idea at the time."
I had a case where an overhead crane on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, being used to mate a very expensive communications satellite to the top of a rocket dropped the satellite and caused seven million dollars of damage to it. Crane operator screwed up.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2012, 01:40:41 AM »

I'd really like Gary's input on when chutes would be wanted, and when they wouldn't be.  I've never worn one, but then I've only flown a few small GA aircraft.  In general, light aircraft are usually thought of as being the best means to get back onto land in case of emergency.  Then again, I can think of a few situations in which a parachute might be a better choice, over mountains for one example.  If I were in great big highly visible Lockheed though, with lots of big empty fuel tanks that mostly guarantee flotation, I think I'd take my chances with the aircraft in a ditching.  There was no liferaft or emergency radio to take with, so bailing out would mean leaving everything else that might help survival.  I don't recall reading that they even carried life vests, but I'm not sure about that.  A floating Lockheed would be easier to spot than a single person, if that's what they thought of.  Juust how useful might a parachute be over the ocean?
On my honeymoon with my first wife, I flew a Cessna 172 from Chicago to the Virgin Islands.
Since I was a skydiver I had several parachutes so we took them with us and wore them over our
Mae Wests when out over the ocean because it is a lot safer to bail out over the ocean than it is to
ditch, half of the time the occupants can’t get out of the plane due to damage sustained during the
ditching. A parachute is guaranteed to work, if it doesn’t they will give you your money back. I
had our life raft tied to my parachute harness. My new wife, who was not a skydiver, wore a
parachute that had an automatic opener. The opener had a lanyard attached to her seat so if she
went out the door, the lanyard would pull the pin, arming the opener which would then activate
falling through 5,000 feet, count five seconds and then open the chute.

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, it lasted
about fifteen seconds. My wife was reading her book and didn’t even notice. It then smoothed
out but I had to sweat it out for another two hours until we saw land again. I ran through in my
mind what I would have to do if the engine did finally quit cold. I decided that I would have to
reach over my wife, open the right side door, undo her seatbelt and push her out because I knew
she wouldn’t go peaceably. Then I would jump out on my side, come down next to her and open
the life raft. But what to do, if, after I pushed her out, the engine started running again? Should I
jump out anyway so that she wouldn’t be alone in the ocean? Should I circle down and then drop
the raft to her and then climb back up and try to get somebody on the radio? Climb back up and
go for help? Fortunately, I never had to choose between these options. I didn’t tell her, until after
we were back in Chicago, how close she came to making her first parachute jump.

I have attached two photos of the chute that my wife was wearing, the orange lollipop houses the retractile automatic opener lanyard.

So, parachutes ARE useful over the ocean and Earhart apparently thought so too.

gl
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #36 on: February 06, 2012, 01:58:55 AM »

Gary, nice story and lucky for you that you have experience of sky diving.  What about AE and FN though? Neither of them have any jumps between them, how likely then that one or both of them in a similiar situation would be able to jump?
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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #37 on: February 06, 2012, 02:12:54 AM »

Gary, nice story and lucky for you that you have experience of sky diving.  What about AE and FN though? Neither of them have any jumps between them, how likely then that one or both of them in a similiar situation would be able to jump?
Virtually none of the military pilots who have bailed out had any previous jump experience, they managed to get past the white knuckles. There are no "practice jumps" they are all real from the very first one. Same is true of civilian pilots who have made it into the "Caterpiller Club."

gl
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 03:11:28 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2012, 02:41:30 AM »

Wonder how many didn't bail out as they had white knuckle syndrone where on a commercial jump first timers grip for there lives and the instructor talks them down until there grip weakens and then gives them a helping hand such as you would have given your wife.

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Gary LaPook

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2012, 03:05:09 AM »

Wonder how many didn't bail out as they had white knuckle syndrone where on a commercial jump first timers grip for there lives and the instructor talks them down until there grip weakens and then gives them a helping hand such as you would have given your wife.
Your wording makes me chuckle. I remember an occasion when a first time skydiver was hanging under the wheel strut and wouldn't let go. I knew it was just a matter of time until he did let go, you can only hang on for so long, and we were approaching the forest surrounding the airport. If he didn't go soon, when he finally did let go, he would land in the trees. So I just stomped on his fingers, he let go and landed safely on the drop zone. He didn't remember how he managed to bruise his fingers.

gl
« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 03:12:40 AM by Gary LaPook »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2012, 05:58:27 AM »

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.

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Dan Swift

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2012, 10:57:14 AM »

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!
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Chris Owens

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2012, 11:41:10 AM »


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 ;)
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2012, 01:03:26 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!
Kiel canal accident September 1974
"He recalls that at the air briefing, there was huge nervousness among some of the younger aircrew and he got the impression that this was one of the first times that some of them had been involved in a large stream parachuting exercise at night. Great emphasis was placed during the briefing about the paratroopers exiting the aircraft extremely quickly to avoid late dispatch, and the subsequent possibility of some men falling into the smaller canal at the end of the Personnel DZ should they run out of DZ. He does not recall anything said about a `short drop or an early dispatch' He got the impression that the DZ was perhaps close to the DZ limit for full sticks. Everything of course depended on the stream leader getting it right because the other pilots would take their cue from him.
 
Prior to emplaning, a message was passed to all that at least one C130 of 2 PARA had been unable to dispatch 50% of its pax owing to airborne lifejackets (later to be known as Life Preserver Parachutist if memory serves) inflating through the accident release of the CO2 bottle. As a result of this, certainly some people, and Vic was one, partially unscrewed the bottle to prevent accidental inflation. The intention was to re-screw the bottles when getting closer to the drop zone...Vic never did manage to do this owing to the crush in the aircraft and suspects that others were in the same predicament. I must confess that I did exactly the same at times when I viewed the `water threat' to be minimal...never at low level over the sea may I add!!
 During the drop, he of course landed in the canal. 15 parachutists from the stream did so, and only 9 survived."
Jeff
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Irvine John Donald

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Re: Did Earhart carry parachutes on the flight to Howland
« Reply #44 on: February 06, 2012, 01:36:01 PM »

Thanks Ric for those pics.  It seems that almost all of the photos i could find on the Irving chutes are taken from the rear as this is the best way to show the seatpack feature.  I was looking for an across the chest snap fastener.  I will continue to hunt for that type of shot.

Ric, you wrote "Bottom line: it is far from certain that the parachutes were aboard for the Howland trip."    I would like to suggest the opposite based on the following:
1. First thing AE and FN asked for in landing at Darwin was if their chutes had arrived.  This shows importance to the fliers and concern for the rest of the trip that they might need them.
2.  Irving chutes had an average price of $350 each.  Ae and GP had money concerns so why pay for the expense of sending all the way to Darwin and then leave them in Lae?  To pay for them to be shipped back to California?  Extra shipping costs and possibly losing them?
3.  Why go to the trouble of shipping them to Darwin and then dump them at Lae?  What was there about the Darwin to Lae leg that necessitated carrying parachutes for only that one leg of the trip?
4.  May the reason they were delivered to Darwin because it was better to deliver there and not to Lae (poor facilities at Lae for getting anything shipped in). 
5.  Hedging their bets by shipping the parachutes to Darwin and if they didnt get them then they had the chance to borrow a pair at either Darwin or Lae.

I think if we can determine the reason for getting parachutes delivered in Darwin then that might help us with did they then unload them at Lae.  But even so then based on my above points I would think the "might have done" answer is left them in the plane at Lae and took them to Howland.

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)

if there are other pros and cons then please help me out.  However it seems the "leave them in plane for trip to Howland, and ultimately back to California." is the better option.  As you say Ric, we will not know for sure.

I am going to slip one point in that has nothing to do with practical use of a parachute.  The Irvin parachute company hit its best sales days after 1937.  It was promoting to air forces and aviators around the world.  They got a big spread in Life magazine in 1937.  If your flight around the world is running short on cash then perhaps a "sponsor" might not be a bad idea.  Land in California wearing your seat pack parachute would be a big PR boost for Irvin Parachute. 

Comments?
Respectfully Submitted;

Irv
 
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