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Author Topic: Modern day vs 1937  (Read 9262 times)

John Hart

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Modern day vs 1937
« on: July 13, 2012, 07:06:28 AM »

Johnny D,

To first answer your question. I needed -8000 feet of load bearing runway to land either. Both aircraft weighed 20+ thousand pounds at landing with small high pressure tires. 300+ PSI of nitrogen IIRC. There were very few such places anywhere on the planet in 1937. No such choice at Gardner. When the F-16 goes four wheelin, usually because of running off the end, the nose wheel usually fails and,if fast enough, it breaks up. Best case it sucks up a lot of dirt. Worst case it rolls up in a big pile of metal and composite material plus teeth, hair, and eyeballs as we used to refer to remains. The F-4 was more rugged but harder to stop and heavier. It used a drag chute that sometimes failed and made stopping sporty.

You would never ditch either airplane and expect to swim away. Remember approach speed light weight is faster than Electra wide open. Ride the rocket seat was only option. Obviously that could fail too but that is when we would say kiss your A.. goodby, salute smartly, roll inverted and pull. A big smoking hole preffered to thinking about it any further.

Much different than Electra with big ballon tires and slow landing speed. I think generally jumping out (parachute), and ditching were less preferred over a rough landing surface in those days. Ejecting is much easier. You don't have to think too hard about it and once you pull the handle it's all automatic. Seconds later you are in your chute.

Hope that answers your question.

JB
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Anthony Allen Roach

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 09:48:00 PM »

It dawned on me reading your post that Amelia intended to land on Howland, which was not paved runway.  It was bladed coral rubble.  The reef flat at Nikumaroro looks smoother to me than the makeshift field she was hoping to land on at Howland.
"Six the Hard Way."
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2012, 09:11:08 AM »

It dawned on me reading your post that Amelia intended to land on Howland, which was not paved runway.  It was bladed coral rubble.  The reef flat at Nikumaroro looks smoother to me than the makeshift field she was hoping to land on at Howland.

I'm not conscious of ever having seen pictures of the Howland runways.

The coral runways at Howland were both bladed and rolled, if that makes any difference.  It was done quickly and cheaply, I suppose, but they were certified as ready for use in March 1937 and only got better by July.

I'm only a radio-control pilot, so I'm working from pure fantasy at this point.  My own wildly-amateur guess is that most pilots would prefer to land on land rather than a reef, all other things being equal.   :)
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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C.W. Herndon

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 09:28:34 AM »


I'm only a radio-control pilot, so I'm working from pure fantasy at this point.  My own wildly-amateur guess is that most pilots would prefer to land on land rather than a reef, all other things being equal.   :)

As a pilot, I agree with you! :)
Woody (former 3316R)
"the watcher"
 
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Don Dollinger

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2012, 01:01:03 PM »

Quote
My own wildly-amateur guess is that most pilots would prefer to land on land rather than a reef, all other things being equal.

Wholeheartedly agree, however; lost, low on fuel, and no land areas clear enough for landing then the reef is your best choice for survival.

LTM,

Don
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William Thaxton

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2012, 03:50:17 PM »

As a pilot with a LOT of time in transports, I would have to say that landing "on the reef" would have been that item that comes one step after your last feasible idea has failed.  In fact, the claim that AE landed "on the reef" has always bothered me a bit UNLESS "on the reef" simply refers to the fringe of land surrounding the lagoon at Gardner.

Having flown over (and examined at close range while diving/swimming at places like Diego Garcia), I would think "landing on the reef" and "suicide" would be synonyms.  In order of preference (for me with my experience) my choices would be the sand fringe around the lagoon, ditching in the lagoon, or sliding through the beach into the scrub.  Note "landing on the reef" didn't even make the cut.

William
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John Hart

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2012, 04:58:51 PM »

I started this thread to answer a question from Johnny D in regards to choices I might make at Gardner flying an F-16 or F-4. Clearly I indicated neither landing or ditching would be an option in either.

But I expanded the answer to speculation about AE in 1937. Obviously it would be preferred to land on a runway, particularly Howland as that was the intended destination. But the question was not about a preference for a runway over a reef or ditching. If you find yourself at Gardner w/o gas to go somewhere else you have a choice:  bail out (if they actually had parachutes), ditch, or land on some terra firma. The point I was making was that, based on my readings, parachutes were not the trusted means they are today. Ditching seems to have been a lesser option that landing on even very rough surface. And finally, the pictures of the part of the reef postulated by TIGHAR seems very smooth. If you have not looked at them and are thinking typical coral reef then you have the wrong mental picture.

So while I would have a different plan in a modern fighter, I think AE/FN in 1937 would prefer landing on the reef area TIGHAR projects vice narrow/steep beach, trees, or ditching in lagoon.

TWW
JB
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William Thaxton

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2012, 09:17:04 PM »

John, I totally agree that a "fast mover" wouldn't do well in any sort of landing on a marginal surface or in a ditching.  Best option:  ride the rocket!  You are also accurate in saying that parachutes were a pretty iffy deal in 1937.  The problem I have with the "on the reef" concept is that I have yet to see a coral reef that I would consider suitable for any sort landing.  I've been at Diego, Guam, Wake, Midway, Okinawa, and several places in Florida and haven't seen any area smooth or uniform enough (not to mention "dull"; coral is SHARP) to consider using it for landing.  It would also seem to me that FN (at least) would have similar knowledge/experience since he was experienced in flying the Pacific.  That would leave us to assume (if we accept an "on the reef" landing) AE and FN, in the "heat of battle" and suffering from fatigue (and, perhaps, a bit of panic) identified an atypical stretch of reef and decided it was superior to any other option.  Perhaps that is what happened but it seems more than a bit of a stretch to me.  Even Alaskan "tundra tires", though they nmight handle the rough surface, wouldn't do much good when they were cut to shreds by the coral.

William
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john a delsing

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2012, 10:50:11 PM »

John Hart,
    u r the man!
The Earth is Full
 
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Jeff Lange

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Re: Modern day vs 1937
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2012, 05:26:54 PM »

In regards to AE and her final decision, you must keep in mind that she would STILL be trying to salvage the chance of continuing on with the flight, as well as her substantial investment in the plane, so ditching in the water (which means a definite goodbye to the aircraft) was not going to be a choice unless the only one before death. As Ric and others have described the reef flat at Gardener, I am sure it would have have looked inviting to AE.

"Look, Fred! A flat area to set down! We then figure out our exact location, call the Itasca and they ferry fuel to us from Howland. Top off the tanks and away we go to Hawaii!"

Also take into account the state of mind and weariness they both must have felt and I'm sure that looked like the place to attempt a landing.
Jeff Lange

# 0748CR
 
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