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  #41  
Old 08-05-2015, 06:57 AM
Oscar D'Oslavah Oscar D'Oslavah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayerling View Post
Noonan may have been that good, but I have heard he had a serious drinking problem that Earhart was watching during the trip. It may have been under control or not.
Jeff, that's an interesting point: a few of the books say Noonan was a hard boozer, others say not. One interesting datapoint is that Noonan got what we 'Mericans call "sloppy drunk" with a pal in New Guinea the night before leaving for Howland, and Earhart had to postpone the trip for a day. (Source for that is the Longs' book.) Noonan certainly *was* a top navigator in his day.

A bit off topic, again, sorry, but speaking of the Dambusters, this is in Wikipedia's 'recent deaths' page for yesterday:

Les Munro, 96, New Zealand pilot, last surviving pilot of Operation Chastise

Men of steel, the Dambusters. What F1 race commentator David Hobbs calls having "very large attachments."
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  #42  
Old 08-05-2015, 12:33 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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From what I've read over the years, I don't think Fred Noonan was really the problem. After all these years it's difficult to point a finger at anyone, but it seems to me that the 'round the world flight' was very poorly prepared. Amelia kept changing her mind about the route, for a start. She was a very attractive woman with a persuasive manner, and it seems it was rather easy for her to 'get her own way'. The Lockheed Electra was an excellent aircraft for what it was intended for - a 'short haul' commercial aircraft designed to transport 10 passengers on flights of around 700 miles. That is, between cities within the United States. As a bit of an aviation buff, I've often wondered just why the Electra was selected for Amelia's big flight. In my humble opinion she'd have been better off with something like the Douglas DC-2 (forerunner of the famed C47 Dakota), but I wasn't paying for it....

Lockheed made excellent aircraft, of that there is no doubt. When the British Purchasing Commission visited the USA just prior to WW2, the gave Lockheed top marks in terms of quality of design and manufacture. Having said all this, the Electra Model 10E powered with two Pratt & Whitney Wasp 600hp engines should have done, and in fact did, the business. So what went wrong?

IMHO, it was a combination of bad planning, niggling technical problems that weren't properly addressed, and an insistence that a selected time-scale must be adhered to. Plus, I have to say, the filmed take-off from Lae in which it can be seen that the under-fuselage trailing antenna (aerial) was torn off, which would, effectively, have meant that Earhart and Noonan could receive but not send messages. I do believe, sincerely, that this is what did for them.

My opinion purely, and I await to be shot down - not, please, marooned on a waterless atoll.....

Graham
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  #43  
Old 08-05-2015, 06:40 PM
Oscar D'Oslavah Oscar D'Oslavah is offline
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Originally Posted by Graham View Post
From what I've read over the years, I don't think Fred Noonan was really the problem. After all these years it's difficult to point a finger at anyone, but it seems to me that the 'round the world flight' was very poorly prepared...
My opinion purely, and I await to be shot down - not, please, marooned on a waterless atoll.....
Graham
I'd be more afraid to be marooned on a rum-less atoll, myself. ;-) Graham, I agree with you on almost all of that. Noonan got them very close to Howland, very much as planned and expected. Howland was tiny, and hard to see flying east in the early morning. If they had had more fuel on board the airplane (for the 'box search') OR if Amelia had bothered to learn to use the RDF, they'd have been fine, IMO.

Remember that the people on the _Itasca_ heard AE quite regularly during the final hours of flight, using voice on 3105kHz, and very strongly 1.5 hours after local sunrise. So she certainly could transmit voice signals. Amelia asked the Itasca to take a bearing on her--which also would have solved her problem, except that the dumb lady didn't have a Morse key on board--she left it out to save weight. It is exceedingly difficult to get a bearing on a voice signal (in AM or SSB mode) because the signal strength, which is what you're measuring, bounces up and down with the voice. Sending long dashes on the Morse code key would have allowed Itasca to RDF AE's plane and find her bearing to the island--but she had no Morse key.

She could have RDF'd the Itasca's signals, except that she didn't know her shortwave receiver and the RDF loop used different scales (source: Longs' book) and she never bothered to learn to use the RDF before leaving--one more fatal mistake on her part.

She was actually terribly clueless about the radio; at one point she asked Itasca to reply to her on 7500KHz, but she had been informed that Itasca couldn't send voice on that frequency. She just hadn't paid attention to the written radio protocols that were sent to her. She also liked to transmit on 00 and 30 minutes after the hour, and listen on 15 and 45 minutes after (or the other way around, I don't recall), instead of normal two-way communications.

As I recall, a naval officer saw the proposed communications schedule and darkly predicted failure for the flight--if I'm not misremembering that. Most ships used 500KHz as a "watch frequency" (until 30 years ago, in fact.) AE never tried to send on that frequency, being clueless, and she didn't have Morse capabilities, as I said. She never learned to use her own RDF and she was unable to let Itasca effectively use its RDF. Very poor planning.

Apologies to AE's shade, but Noonan got her to Howland as well as any navigator could have in those days. (Elgen Long explains this quite cogently in the book I mentioned.) But Earhart failed in planning and preparation, with disastrous results. (Again, IMO.)

It's an interesting discussion--my thanks to you all for welcoming me so nicely!
--oscar
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  #44  
Old 08-06-2015, 12:02 PM
Oscar D'Oslavah Oscar D'Oslavah is offline
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Graham, now that I think about it, the trailing-wire antenna on the plane was for 500KHz, not the shortwave bands--so if it did break off, AE couldn't have effectively used 500Kcs. If that antenna did break off, she may not have been aware of it, since (I believe, though I don't know for sure) that 500KHz was used only for Morse (CW) communications, and I'm not aware that she ever tried to use that frequency. As a longwire, this would have been electrically "loaded" against the aluminum body of the plane.

For shortwave frequencies, which AE used during the Howland attempt, the Electra usually had a dipole antenna running from a short mast on the fuselage, each arm of the dipole running to the tail, to mounts on the tailfins. You can see them at:

http://www.history.com/news/wp-conte...very-plane.jpg

The mast is around 5 feet behind the RDF loop above AE's head on the fuselage. Neither Noonan nor Earhart were able to use Morse code. The RDF unit was linked to the plane's shortwave receiver by a new control box, which Noonan and AE weren't trained on.

Sadly, Fred (or Harry) Manning, the original choice for navigator, left the flight after the crash ended the first attempt. He had been trained on the RDF operation, and he also knew Morse at a respectable 15 words per minute. If he had been aboard leaving New Guinea, the Electra probably would have found Howland safely. Poor planning, poor technical preparation. :-(
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  #45  
Old 08-11-2015, 08:41 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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But I would have expected something to have washed up.
G'Day GUT,

To be fair something could have washed up - in 1928 Roald Amundsen took off in a plane with a crew to try to assist in the rescue of his old rival Umberto Nobile and the survivors of the crash of the airship "Italia" in Arctic regions. But he never got there, and his actual fate is as unknown as that of Earhart. Apparently (from an essay I read once) the French plane loaned to him was rather stupidly chosen - it had an air cooled motor. Not exactly what is used in Polar areas.

Anyway months later some of the plane parts turned up and suggested that Amundsen and his two man crew tried to put together the parts as a make-shift raft. But it was like a wing strut and an aileron - not really much. Still it was from a pre-1950 plane so it had metal in it, although I wonder if it was also wooden.

The recent rediscovery of a portion of the wing (most likely) from the missing Malaysian plane on Reunion Isle seems to support the floating wreckage notion, but that plane is one of the more plastic designed planes of the present day (although it is a jet liner, so it has more metal too). Oddly enough that discovery made me think of two missing ship disasters. The 1909 Waratah disaster occurred off the east coast of the Union of South Africa, but a life belt was found in Australian waters some time later. The 1860 disappearance of USS Levant returning from a trip to Hawaii (then a kingdom) left only a piece of a sternpost (I believe) that turned up on the Hawaiian Island of Hijo.

Jeff
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  #46  
Old 08-11-2015, 08:45 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar D'Oslavah View Post
Jeff, that's an interesting point: a few of the books say Noonan was a hard boozer, others say not. One interesting datapoint is that Noonan got what we 'Mericans call "sloppy drunk" with a pal in New Guinea the night before leaving for Howland, and Earhart had to postpone the trip for a day. (Source for that is the Longs' book.) Noonan certainly *was* a top navigator in his day.

A bit off topic, again, sorry, but speaking of the Dambusters, this is in Wikipedia's 'recent deaths' page for yesterday:

Les Munro, 96, New Zealand pilot, last surviving pilot of Operation Chastise

Men of steel, the Dambusters. What F1 race commentator David Hobbs calls having "very large attachments."
Hi Oscar,

I saw the obituary in the New York Times. It was a remarkable (and ultimately successful) attack, but at terrible loss among the plane crews.

The movie, "The Dambusters" with Sir Michael Redgrave had a theme music piece by the same composer as "The Knightsbridge Mark", Eric Coates. It sometimes is played as concert music.

Jeff
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  #47  
Old 07-26-2018, 11:07 PM
Pcdunn Pcdunn is offline
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Bumping this up to report on a link I was sent to a Daily Mail article about the results of the TIGHAR search for Amelia: Her plane landed on a reef, she managed transmissions at night when tides allowed, but Noonan was injured badly and eventually the plane shifted into the water and they were lost.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...lls-pilot.html

I must say it makes the most sense of any of the theories about Amelia's and Fred's disappearances.
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  #48  
Old 07-27-2018, 04:30 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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I suppose the one and only way to prove what happened (at least to Amelia) is to DNA-test the bones. She had no children, but I believe she had a niece who, if she and/or any offspring she had are still alive, would provide a match. If there is any plan to DNA test the bones, I've yet to hear it.

For my money, I'm about 95% convinced that Amelia and Noonan came down on Gardner Island, or very close to it. I've recently read that Amelia wasn't quite the top pilot she was cracked up to be....

Graham
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  #49  
Old 07-27-2018, 06:21 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Originally Posted by Graham View Post
I suppose the one and only way to prove what happened (at least to Amelia) is to DNA-test the bones. She had no children, but I believe she had a niece who, if she and/or any offspring she had are still alive, would provide a match. If there is any plan to DNA test the bones, I've yet to hear it.

For my money, I'm about 95% convinced that Amelia and Noonan came down on Gardner Island, or very close to it. I've recently read that Amelia wasn't quite the top pilot she was cracked up to be....

Graham
Hi Graham,

I read of the Gardner Island theory the other day. Quite haunting to think of Amelia's desperate attempts to use the plane's radio a few hours every day until the plane fell off the reef and sank, and then she and Noonan died of thirst. Those weakening transmissions being heard thousands of miles off, and nobody being able to use them to trace her (at the time).

In a biography of Earhart I read over a decade ago I recall that someone in the U.S. claimed she heard a transmission that was not clear with references to a ship and New York City, but not being able to understand it. Supposedly it might have referred to an island where a freighter named the New York City was wrecked.

It goes on like this, and we really are no closer than before to know the full truth yet. I hope we will one day (if those remains are found - or the plane). To me the best of the bad solutions was gas ran out and they plunged into the Pacific. The second would be the death of starvation on a desert island. The third was the Japanese prison theory. The least was they faked it, and Amelia went to live in New Jersey under another name until she died.

Jeff
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  #50  
Old 07-27-2018, 06:39 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Jeff,

the much-photographed hulk on the shore of Gardner Island was the British-registered freighter SS Norwich City, which ran aground in the early 1930's I believe. Now an American would naturally pronounce 'Norwich' as 'Nor Witch rather than the correct British pronunciation of Norridge. With a dodgy radio link, this may well have come over as 'New York City'. I suspect that in 1937 the ship's name was still legible. There are I believe bits of the ship still visible on Gardner.

If true, this transmission would I think go some way to confirming that the Electra came down on, or partly on, Gardner Island. Which, rather than being a total desert island, had been inhabited for periods of time prior to Amelia's disappearance, and was again afterwards. I have a feeling that I read one time that there is a fresh-water spring somewhere on the island.

I don't think the Japanese PoW theory holds water, in spite of fairly recent claims for it, and I honestly don't think the disappearance was faked. If it was faked, for what purpose?

Graham
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