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Executive Summary

Summary of the Re-Navigation Research

Electra.jpg

Electra 10

This research was designed to conduct a detailed assessment of the body of foregoing World Flight research, critically review evidence in prior related works, validate or critique those works, and localize future search options. A reduction in the planned search area would enhance the project by reducing search time on station.

Approaching this task as a location of a lost aircraft, and definition of a probable search area, required understanding, to the fullest extent possible, the exact possible flight paths, profiles, speeds, flight times, fuel consumption, and pilot behaviors. Specifically in this case, these factors would determine flight time endurance remaining upon arrival in the Howland area - directly related to where the aircraft could be located. With little direct information on any of these factors, and the importance of accurate assessment, this information had to be created from widely disparate sources, research, and analysis.

A detailed review was conducted of at least ten authors writing directly about the World Flight, more than a dozen reports, and more than 8,000 pages of data associated with the World Flight attempt. Other documents examined included the entire Amelia Earhart Papers of the George Palmer Putnam Collection of 2,221 images from the Purdue University e-archives; Lockheed Electra and period aircraft operating manuals; meteorological and oceanographic data including the Lae-Howland geographical climatology; the effects of the Northern Equatorial Current, and Northern Equatorial Counter Current in the Howland area; and other authors/pieces with various theories about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.

Aerodynamic engineering data and aircraft performance were examined in great detail, from many sources and authoritative records. Aircraft performance is a major, critically important variable in this analysis, and largely determines the vertical and lateral flight profile from Lae to Howland Island.

Amelia Earhart’s collection of flight notes, biography, life events, and her career in aviation were closely studied to gain insight into her motivations and beliefs. Perhaps most important, we wanted to understand Amelia’s behaviors — how she planned missions, flew aircraft, thought about flying them, and how she actually conducted her flights throughout her career in the air.

Recreating the Lae-Howland flight segment, using as much hard data and facts as were available, was critical to meeting research objectives. A faithful re-creation based on fact was the primary objective, and offered the best chance to accurately locate the aircraft.

Three possible flight paths were defined and evaluated, each terminating in a high confidence, End-of-Navigation point. Among the three paths, one path appears most likely (Path C), with a very high confidence End-of-Navigation point; one path is unlikely (Path A); and one is possible but with a lower confidence that it was executed (Path B).

The highest confidence Path C results from a rigorous path recalculation, aerodynamic performance and fuel consumption assessments, with significant cross-validation of results and conclusions. Error sensitivity analyses were performed on results for variable wind velocities, wind directions, and fuel consumption.

A Search Grid was constructed around this Path C End-of-Navigation point to accommodate terminal area maneuvering that was inferred from aviation experience, and application of the most likely behavior for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, on July 2, 1937.

The search grid was initially oriented, and modified, as shown in Appendix 2, further refining Autonomous Underwater Vehicle search strategies. Several iterations of the grid with the Search Team resulted in the final search grid included in this report.

Previous estimates of position for Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s Electra include

Northwest of Howland Island at 375nm +/-100nm (Safford)

425sm southeast of Howland at Gardner Island (Gillespie)

North of Howland Island at 52nm (Long)

On islands of New Britain, Mili Atoll (Marshall Islands), Saipan (Various)

Northwest of Howland Island within 30 miles (Nesbit)

The following are among higher confidence data that support analyses

The fuel load of the Electra leaving Lae was likely between 1080-1100 US gallons.

Chater reports the fuel load at 1100 gallons.

Collopy reports the fuel load at 1100 gallons.

Swenson and Culick calculate the fuel load at 1080 gallons.

Thunderstorms were forecast in at least two weather reports from Hawaii, at 250-300 miles east of Lae, and Amelia received one of these reports before leaving Lae. The second report was broadcast from Lae, to AE, during the first 7 hours of the mission.

The Electra departed Lae at 0000 GMT.

Of thirteen position reports made by Amelia Earhart from Lae-Howland, only two included a latitude and longitude position, and one of those is potentially in error in time and/or location.

This is unusual given Fred Noonan’s experience with making detailed position reports on South Pacific proving flights with Pan Am in 1935.

Before joining the World Flight, Fred wrote about the importance of complete position reports, including latitude and longitude, air and ground speeds, wind direction and speed, and outside air temperature, in a post-flight report following one of these trips.

The Lae-Howland reporting history is also unusual and unlike that accomplished on the Oakland to Honolulu, first leg attempt.

On this initial attempt, Amelia made 9 position reports, 4 with position latitude/longitude data, and on which Fred’s log shows approximately 35 celestial and/or navigation fix computations taken en route.

“…In all cases [Oakland-Honolulu initial World Flight Attempt] Earhart provided dead reckoning positions. Of the four documented positions, three were provided with times, but the wording provided by the USCG Hawaiian Sector leads to some ambiguity as to when Earhart stated these positions. Interestingly, all four messages indicate that the positions provided were well prior to the actual broadcast times. [The aircraft is beyond the waypoint reported]. Based upon this analysis, one can easily speculate that Noonan’s method was to project future positions via dead reckoning, and provide that information to the pilot sometime prior to the radio broadcasts. In no instance does Earhart provide timely information, nor does she provide an actual navigational/celestial fix and time of the fix to help constrain exactly where the plane was.”1

“In summary [Oakland-Honolulu initial World Flight Attempt] Noonan made use of seven radio bearings, 14 star/planet LOPs (of which nine were used for navigational fixes), and the plane made only four course corrections. Analysis of the flight path versus weather maps produced after this date show major concurrence with the winds aloft patterns. It is clear that the navigator’s major responsibility was to monitor the progress of the flight, and to suggest course corrections only when deviations from desired flight path became too extreme. Use of projected, future DR positions allowed Noonan to check his forecasts vs. later navigational fixes to update his speed and direction over the ground, and to offer approximate positions, when necessary.”2

Fred Noonan may have used this technique, if only partially reported by Amelia Earhart, on the Lae-Howland segment. There is no evidence to support that Fred functioned differently on this, his most difficult segment, than on prior segments. The lack of reporting integrity and consistency may be understandable in that throughout the World Flight, position reporting was infrequent, and accomplished mostly on the Lae to Howland segment.

From AE’s aircraft performance and re-calculated time of arrival at waypoints, compared with the time AE reported those waypoints, there is behavioral consistency in the technique outlined above.

This helps to characterize the reasonableness of these comparisons, understand the probability associated with each path, and assess the accuracy of navigation.

Of note is that at 1745 GMT, AE reported “about 200 miles out.” This was a position likely provided by FN using celestial fixes throughout the night of good visibility, made from excellent celestial bodies available, and therefore, an accurate position.

The aircraft’s distance from the 1937 Howland Island coordinates at the time of this report is 204 nautical miles, according to the Path C re-calculations.

The report and the position occur at AE’s typical reporting time of 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.

This appears that at 1745, the Electra was on track and on course to Howland, and FN calculated their position with good accuracy for 1937 equipment and methods.

This level of accuracy, while not routine in that period, was certainly possible.

This creates the possibility that something happened in the last 200 nautical miles distance to Howland Island.

After 0718 GMT, position reports were made in the blind.

Amelia had no pre-arranged communications between Lae and Itasca.

There were no arrangements for communicating with Ontario.

There were no arrangements for communicating with Nauru Island.

Aircraft aerodynamic performance was established with a high degree of confidence through data integration from many sources, and with consideration for pilot behavioral performance.

While radio strength is not entirely related to distance, strengths associated with the final few reports are the only indication of possible relative terminal area position.

Our research concludes for Path C, the most likely path, an End-of-Navigation point 35-28nm southwest of Howland Island, bearing 067 degrees to the 1937 position of Howland Island. A water entry area is shown for three fuel exhaustion scenarios (Swenson and Culick, Nutter, and Kelly Johnson) which plot theoretical points of fuel exhaustion following AE’s arrival at the End-of-Navigation point, as a function of fuel remaining at the End-of-Navigation point. These comprise theoretical position boundary limits, assuming AE conducted the search pattern depicted, throughout terminal maneuvering in search of Howland and Itasca. A high confidence water entry area is shown for the time 2013 GMT until 2100 GMT, likely from either fuel exhaustion, or from controlled flight into terrain, resulting from loss of situational awareness, fatigue, or abnormal mechanical circumstances. The maximum fuel remaining at 1912 GMT is computed at 123 gallons, and with a failure of the Cambridge Fuel Analyzer (discussed later in this report), the fuel remaining may have been 63 gallons, enough for approximately 90 minutes flying time.

Fuel consumption is discussed extensively later in this report. It is very likely that fuel exhaustion occurred between 2013 GMT and 2100 GMT.

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Scope of Work

What was covered

Tasking for this report was to conduct an internal audit of prior research and provide assessments on the validity of theories, methodologies, assumptions, and historical conclusions regarding the search for a major historical artifact as disclosed by WID; critically examine previous studies; document considerations regarding planned search strategies and if possible attempt to refine a location for The Project, or narrow the area of interest.

Collaborate with Project researchers.
Conduct research, audits, and review of other previous work and assessments. Investigate the “accident” Project, in terms of standard accident investigation methodologies, and conduct new research to achieve acceptable location assessments, narrow the area of interest, and/or validate planned search strategies.

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Data Sources

Sources reviewed

Direct evidence consists of actual aircraft performance, AE reports and flight logs, operating manual data, and reference publication information such as the Lockheed Electra Flight Operating Manual, the celestial Almanac Pub 249 used for celestial navigation, and data from the engine’s manufacturer, Pratt-Whitney.

All other data is considered supplemental, useful and important, but subject to less accuracy than validated, direct evidence.

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Multi-Source Integration (MSI) Technique

Complete re-evaluation of existing information

This research employed an MSI approach to re-constructing relevant facts concerning the last leg of the World Flight attempt. With MSI, facts and other data are evaluated in a manner similar to Linear Programming, except that most relationships among parameters are not strictly numerically defined, but rather, qualitatively related. Many of the links between data elements must be created, and created in ways that have not been done before.

MSI is a forensic and creative approach to a data fusion process, integrating information from multiple sources. MSI can sometimes corroborate a finding as fact, refute assertions made as fact, and provide boundary limits on the most likely conditions and conclusions.

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Research Reviews

What our research reviewed

This research methodology included an integrated study and analysis of the following publications.

Amelia Earhart, Dick Strippel, Exposition Press, Inc., 1972

Amelia Earhart, The Mystery Solved, Elgen M. and Marie K. Long, Simon and Schuster, 1999

Analysis of Amelia Earhart’s Final Flight July 2, 1937, G. Swenson and F.E.C. Culick, JPL, CIT

Cruise Report 24 July, 1937 CDR Warner Thompson, Commanding Officer, Itasca (Gillespie disk)

Earhart’s Flight Into Yesterday, Captain Laurance Safford (USN-R) with Cameron Warren and Robert Payne, Paladwr Press, 2003

Finding Amelia, Ric Gillespie, Naval Institute Press, 2006

Itasca Radio Logs

Kelley Johnson Telegrams - Electra test flight data and World Flight performance recommendations

Last Flight, Amelia Earhart, Quinn & Boden Company, 1937

Lockheed Report 487 - June 1936 by Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson and W.C. Nelson

Missing, Believed Killed, Roy Conyers Nesbit, Sutton Publishing LTD (UK), 2002

No Limits, Linda Finch with Donald Smith, World Flight, Inc., 1996

Radio Press News - USS Colorado

The Black Report - Richard Black, U.S. Department of Interior

The Chater Report - Eric Chater, Guinea Airways Limited

The Cooper Report - Daniel Cooper, Army Corps on Itasca

The Dowell Report - Commander, Lexington Group

The Friedell Report - Captain Friedell, USS Colorado

Weather Reports from accounts by Collopy, Chater, Itasca logs and historical meteorological data

World Flight, Ann Pellegreno, Iowa State University Press, 1971

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Definitions

Abbreviations used in the report

AE - Amelia Earhart

CFA - Cambridge Fuel Analyzer

EON - End-of-Navigation point

FN - Fred Noonan

GS - Ground Speed

IAS - Indicated Air Speed

L487 - Lockheed Report 487

MSI - Multi-Source Integration

SFC - Specific Fuel Consumption (lb/BHP/hr)

TAS - True Air Speed

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Historical Perspective

Perspective considered in the report.

The World Flight attempt commenced at 1630 on March 17, 1937 with a departure from Oakland, CA for Honolulu, HI. The flight departed with 947 gallons of fuel, at a gross weight of 14,000 lbs. Takeoff power was set at 1100 Brake Horsepower (engines were rated at 600 HP per engine with takeoff power time limited) and shortly after becoming airborne, AE reduced the power in keeping with her characteristic “kind” treatment of engines.3

It is relevant that AE frequently gave human qualities to her machinery, particularly to engines, and referred to them in humanistic terms. AE seemed to always endeavor to treat her equipment with kindness, not demand “too much” from faithful engines, or push the airframe “too hard” in speed, turbulence or during landings. She wrote, “Once aloft [from Oakland], I throttled down. Engines have human attributes - they usually respond to kindly treatment. With a long grind before them I wished to give mine the least possible punishment.”4

This behavior is reflected, and to some extent, governs, AE’s aircraft performance throughout her World Flight segments, which can be generally considered “consistently conservative.”

En route to Honolulu, high tailwinds pushed ground speed at one point to 180 mph, and AE slowed to 120 mph indicated airspeed at 10,000 feet so as not to arrive before sunrise, burning slightly less than 20 gallons per hour (GPH). It was not specified if this was 20 GPH total, or per engine, but it is likely a per engine consumption rate, for 40 gallons per hour total. This conforms to Pratt-Whitney engine data.

(This data point is useful for consideration of maximum endurance speed, and fuel consumption rate, during terminal area maneuvering in the vicinity of Howland Island. In this environment, fuel consumption rate for analysis was defined in this research as 40 GPH at 120 mph indicated airspeed. Indicated air speed is roughly equivalent to ground speed at low altitudes, and construction of the search grid used a 120 mph ground speed.)

FN instructed AE to begin a descent at 80 miles from Makapu. This was approximately in line with recommendations made by Lockheed and Kelly Johnson5, to commence descents at 100-150 statute miles at 200-300 feet per minute descent rate, using slightly less than cruise power, and approximately maintaining cruise speed.6

This guidance is also consistent with the Electra Operating manual from an airline company, for the Lockheed 10A Electra aircraft.

FN likely worked in nautical miles, and 80 nautical miles is 92 statute miles, within 9% of the recommended minimum descent distance.

The flight time of 15 hours 47 minutes, over the 2410 statute miles, resulted in an average ground speed of 152.7 mph. This was a higher speed than normally flown for long mission distances, a result of the higher-than-anticipated tail wind conditions.

On the subsequent flight segment from Hawaii, a takeoff mishap resulted in aircraft damage requiring repairs to the Electra, made at Lockheed in Burbank, CA. The aircraft was shipped to Lockheed via surface vessel. This accident resulted in canceling the first World Flight attempt, and delayed the second World Flight attempt while repairs were made to AE’s damaged aircraft. During these repairs at Lockheed, apparently, one of the original two starboard side fuselage windows was replaced with aircraft skin sheet metal, at approximately amidships. Comparative photographs reveal this alteration, not considered significant to either navigation or the mission. This alteration has not been addressed in previous research. Three aft windows remained, two on the left side at the entrance door and just forward of the door at the navigator station, and one on the right side of the fuselage, for FN navigation.

An aircraft and contents pre-shipping inventory, made by military personnel at Luke Field7, revealed two important items. One was a collection of 11 insect collection tubes, also described by AE as about 1 meter in length with the circumference of a broom handle. These were used to collect air samples, and specimens, en route at various places around the world, in conjunction with government and university research8. These may be identifiable in a debris field. Second, the inclusion of 6×30 binoculars was an indication that binoculars may have been used in the final terminal area search for Howland.

While life vests were noted, a life raft was not noted in this inventory.

Following repairs completed on May 19, 1937, NR16020 was flown to Oakland, CA on May 21, 1937, then to Tucson, AZ; El Paso, TX; New Orleans, LA; and to Miami, FL, arriving the afternoon of May 23, 1937 for a week of final World Flight preparations.

On June 1, 1937 at 0556 local time (1056 GMT) in Miami, NR16020 departed for Oakland, CA via an eastbound equatorial route around the world. Aboard were AE and FN.

Their first stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico. Amelia and Fred’s plan called for a flight time of 7 hours 40 minutes on this leg. AE indicates they arrived at approximately 1310 local time, at 1810 GMT, with an approximate actual flight time for 1153 statute miles of 7 hours 18 minutes, and an average ground speed of 157.9 mph.

References to aircraft and mission performance throughout the World Flight provide an audit trail of characteristic and historical data concerning speeds, engine power settings, fuel consumption, flight behaviors, human factors, fatigue management, navigation, and progress toward achieving World Flight mission objectives.

This data provides a statistical basis to compare with re-calculated navigation and aircraft performance, providing a quality assurance function that methodology is reasonable, reliable, and affords improved accuracy.

Additional flight segments are discussed in following sections.

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Time Reference

The difficulty of converting time-zones and how important that could be

Additional central factors involved in this research were Time and Radio Schedules (transmit and receive plans among various parties). These issues are well documented by Long, Safford, and Itasca logs. These complexities are important to establishing an accurate timeline, which is necessary to document the flight profile and likely end point of the mission. Resolving all time issues was critical to accurate re-construction.

Perhaps Long said it best9, “At that point, Howland Island, and the three ships [USS Ontario, USS Swan, and Itasca] were operating with their individual clocks set in five different time zones and their calendars on two different days and dates. Two were set in zones where the whole hour came at the same time as the Greenwich whole hour; two had their clocks set a half hour different from Greenwich time; the fifth, Earhart’s, was variable and changed with her movements. With the International Date Line in the middle of the assembled ships and stations, the system was all but incomprehensible. Any requirement that an action be timed to occur on the hour as supposed to on the half hour, at a quarter before the hour as opposed to a quarter after the hour, or at any specific number of minutes before or after the hour, was wide open to misinterpretation….”

Further, Long states, “…Howland Island was using the 10+30 hour time zone -the same as Hawaii standard time - while the Itasca was using the 11+30 hour time zone; the two were one-half mile apart, but one hour different in time.

The research methodology for The Project baselined all calculations to Greenwich Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Universal Coordinated Time (UCT).

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Radio Call Log

Confirmed updates from the Last Flight

Below is a summary of relevant radio reports.

Report Local / GMT Time Originator Description
1 July WX 2330 GMT Itasca SFC NE 14 mph. At 9000 feet E-NE 31 mph. LONG p206.
Takeoff Lae on  2 July 1000 Lae0000 GMT Lae 1080-1150 gallons aboard.
2 July WX 0000 GMT Fleet Base Pearl Harbor CB 300 miles east.  Winds E-SE 25 knots (29 mph) to ONTARIO then E-ENE 20 knots (23 mph) to Howland. CHATER Report  - Large Notebook. CHATER p7-8.
WX 0000 GMT Baro 29.89 Temp 83 deg F winds E 3. Cloudy CI CI STR CU CUMI moving from E. Sea smooth…NARU 8 AM (not clear local or GMT but assume local taken before takeoff but not received by AE since it arrived Lae at 1000 local, at takeoff), Upper Air Observation 2000 feet 90 degrees 14 mph; 4000 feet 90 degrees 12 mph; 7500 feet 90 degrees 24 mph. CHATER.
Position 1418 Lae Local0418 GMT AE Height 7000 feet. Speed 140 knots. Everything OK. Received by Lae. CHATER. (Speed not specified as to type).
Position 1519 Lae Local0519 GMT AE Height10000 feet.  Position 150.7 east 7.3 south; cumulous clouds; everything OK. [Problematic report.] CHATER.
Position 1718 Lae Local0718 GMT AE CHATER reports this as 4.33 South 159.7 East; Height 8000 feet over cumulous clouds. Wind 23 knots.SAFFORD reports this as LAT 4 deg 33 min. LONG 159 deg 06 min. SAFFORD (p30) states “on course” at 750-795 miles.SAFFORD concludes this is at 7 minutes before sunset, 10 miles west of the Nukumanu Islands. If same course and speed held, ETA Howland should be 2100-2145 GMT. Unfortunately, SAFFORD reports Itasca did not receive this position report until after AE was overdue and missing. SAFFORD (p30.)ComHawSec reports this in post accident summary reports and message logs to ITASCA that “Lae, New Guinea reports last contact with Earhart plane by Lae Radio was at 1720 [LAE LOCAL] Friday GAVE HER POSITION AS 4.33 SOUTH 159.6 EAST WHICH IS ABOUT 795 MILES DIRECTLY ON HER ROUTE TO HOWLAND 0030.  (Pink tab in large notebook)
Progress Author Briand Says he plotted this giving him 750 miles and ground speed 103 knots (118 mph). Says Lexington’s plot gave 785 miles and 111 knots (128 mph). HAWSEC reports 795 miles on course to Howland. SAFFORD.
2 July MSG from Lae via Naval Radio Tutuila to Itasca (Black) received Itasca AE left Lae 1000 local due Howland 18 hours. LONG p207.
Clarence Williams Purdue and Harvard Collections Flight Plan Lae-Howland 2556 miles 17 hours 1 minute.
Position 1030 GMT AE 1100-1200 GMT Nauru Island - Mr. Cude, Director of Police reported receiving radio from AE “Ship in Sight..” SAFFORD  p31.
Position 1030 GMT USS ONTARIO Mid-point plane guard [SAFFORD p 30 states this is at 1030 GMT, but in the ONTARIO LOG, it gives an "8 PM" position. If Ontario used the same local time as Lae, this equates to being on station at 10 hours mission elapsed time. If Ontario used a one-hour time zone change, they'd be on station at 9 hours mission elapsed time.ONTARIO position logged with precision as S 2 deg 59 min  30 sec  / E 165 deg 20 min 00 sec.Included WX. Wind- east 15 knots. Blue sky cumulous moving from East. Amount 40%. (It was night, so Blue sky refers to clear skies.) Visibility 40 miles. Ceiling unlimited.Conclusion - Noonan nav is dead on. SAFFORD.
SS Myrtlebank SAFFORD p 32 explains why he concludes the ship sighted was ONTARIO and not the Myrtlebank. Likely incorrect.
Position 1415 GMT Itasca ITASCA logs "Heard Earhart plane on 3105 but unreadable through static. Chief Bellarts caught Earhart's voice and it came in through loud speaker, very low monotone "cloudy and overcast." (Large notebook logs)
Radio Log 1318-1325 GMT Itasca MSG from ITASCA to Com SF Div that they "heard Earhart plane at 0248 0235."
Position 1415 GMT AE Cloudy and Overcast. S1. LONG p208.
Position 1445 GMT AE Overcast will listen on hour and half hour 3105. S2. Ibid.
Position 1623 GMT AE Partly Cloudy. S1. Ibid.
ITASCA 1625 GMT AE ITASCA "Earhart broke in on phone - unreadable." (Large notebook Itasca logs)
Position 1744 GMT AE "About 200 miles out" request DF Steer. S3. Ibid.Large notebook Itasca logs indicate this logged at 0615 IST
Sunrise 0715 Howland1745 GMT Sunrise at Howland (USNO data) GMT 10+30 time zone.
Position 1815 GMT AE "About 100 miles out" request DF Steer. S4. Ibid. Large notebook Itasca logs have this as "PLEASE TAKE BEARINGS ON US AND REPORT IN HALF HOUR I WILL MAKE NOISE IN MICROPHONE - ABOUT 100 MILES OUT (EARHART SIGNAL STRENGTH -4 BUT ON AIR SO BRIEFLY BEARINGS IMPOSSIBLE.)
Position 1912 GMT AE We must be on you. Gas is running low. S5. Ibid.This is 1+27 after sunrise. Large notebook Itasca logs have this as "KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE MIUST BE ON YOU BUT CANNOT SEE YOU BUT GAS IS RUNNING LOW BEEN UNABLE REACH YOU BY RADIO WE ARE FLYING AT ALTITUDE 1000 FEET. Other Itasca logs record that "Earhart is on now says running out of gas only ½ hour left..." The signal strength of this AE report is noted as "5."
Position 1928 GMT AE "We are circling" request DF Steer. [Controversial log record as to what was exactly said by AE]. S5+. Ibid. Large notebook Itasca log has this as “KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE ARE CIRCLING BUT CANNOT HEAR YOU GO AHEAD ON 7500 EITHER NOW OR ON THE SCHEDULE TIME ON HALF HOUR.” Itasca logs this as signal strength 5 on radiotelephone. Some references log as 5+.
Verbiage Doubt Radioman Galten on Itasca logged this call from AE as “we are drifting but cannot hear you.” To CDR Thompson this didn’t make sense so he allegedly erased “drifting” and substituted “circling,” which then didn’t make sense, so CDR Thompson changed the whole thing to “We are circling but cannot see island.” SAFFORD. Itasca log says “we are circling but cannot hear you” so SAFFORD thinks perhaps CDR Thompson changed the verbiage in his final report.
Position 1930 GMT Large notebook Itasca logs have this as “KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE RECEIVED YOUR SIGNALS BUT UNABLE TO GET A MINIMUM PLEASE TAKE BEARING ON US AND ANSWER 3105 WITH VOICE (sent long dashes for 5 seconds or so.)
Position 2013 GMT AE On LOP 157-337. S5. LONG.This is 61 minutes after first “We must be on you gas is running low” report.Large notebook Itasca log has this at 2014 GMT as “WE ARE ON THE LINE OF POSITION 157-337, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE. WE WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KCS. WAIT LISTENING ON 6210 KCS. WE ARE RUNNING NORTH AND SOUTH.” Itasca logged this as signal strength 5.This is the last AE transmission in the large notebook logs which are CDR Thompson’s message logs from Itasca.
The next three audio messages are not mentioned in either LONG or GILLESPIE but only in SAFFORD, however, they are not referenced and the origin of these “documented” messages is not known.
Radio Call 0801 GMTNext day UNK Message garbled on 6210. Received at Nauru. SAFFORD p36 Unsubstantiated anywhere else.
Radio Call 0811 GMTNext day UNK Message garbled on 6210. Received at Nauru. ibid.
Radio Call 0822 GMTNext day UNK Message garbled on 6210. Received at Nauru. ibid.
Gillespie Bearing Analysis From Gillespie on p 164 - If bearings from three stations (Guam, Wake, Makapu) are adjusted plus or minus azimuth values of just 5 degrees in the most likely directions, they intersect and form a centroid  at about 100-200 miles SW of Howland, through which a 337-157 LOP only passes if it is displaced west of Howland by about an hour flight time (100-150 sm). Bearing variances in easterly directions intersect in areas well beyond  the range of the Electra, and are therefore discounted by me. If “post crash” radio transmissions were actually made by AE in the most likely area according to the station bearings on these signals, it would mean AE was about 150sm short, flew an LOP 200 sm south of  Howland and Baker Islands, and could transmit radio signals after a water ditching. All three are considered unlikely.

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General Flight Path Reconstruction

Re-navigation based on all available information

Research requirements demanded an extensive effort.
A fundamental research strategy was centered in an attempt to recreate the aerodynamic and environmental aircraft performance on the final flight, from well-established fact, well-founded inference, logical and experienced-based assumptions, and a critical application of statistical analysis of historical flight parameters, human factors and behaviors.

An area of inescapable uncertainty in the true location of this aircraft will always exist until a discovery is made. This research resulted in improvements in understanding the associated flight path, mission elapsed and endurance times, fuel consumption, and the probability for artifact detection.

Methodology
Our research methodology included a new approach to the navigation of the flight profile. Previous works generally used averages of total distance, divided by mission time, to ascertain location.

This research took a different approach by modeling the Electra with the following references

Flight performance data from the Lockheed 487 Report (L487)

Kelly Johnson telegrams of calculated and actual aircraft performance, and in-flight test data

Corroborated Lockheed 10A operating data, with virtually the same horsepower per pound of aircraft weight as the Lockheed 10E, slightly less frontal area due to smaller engine cowlings, and a Cambridge Fuel Analyzer of the type used by AE

Data from AE Electra flights prior to the World Flight

Historical statistical speed data from AE’s prior World Flight segments

Validated data from Long’s wind assessments

Swenson and Culick’s aircraft drag, speed and fuel consumption computational results

Aircraft and engine performance from operating manuals of aircraft using the same engine as in AE’s Electra (North American T-6, for example)

Fuel consumption analysis referencing actual Pratt-Whitney Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) data for the R-1340-S3H1 engine, used by AE’s Lockheed 10E.

A software model was created in Jeppesen FliteStar flight planning software, and used to construct flight plans from Lae to Howland via three paths. Takeoff, climb, cruise, and descent were re-calculated by segments, with performance integrated manually from multiple sources. Fuel consumption was examined by profile segments, summed across the profile, and validated from multiple source data. A more precise, manual computational analysis of fuel consumption was made from resources, further refining this important factor.