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David B.

Unedited submissions from a reader…

Wed., Jan., 27, 2010

Re: Re-Navigation Research…

I am back at my home in Australia now and have had the time to review your document up to the Page numbered 33.

I find some inconsistencies, assumptions and some mistakes.

I do agree that “Route C” was the route they took and I have been saying that for years and that Harry Balfour in LAE misheard or “mis-recorderded” the PR as 150.7 Longitude…..

Page 9. This page assumes that Earhart made TX’s “after” the fact of being overhead a PR. The 0418 GMT Tx found in your report includes that she said 140 Knots. I thought she said “Making 140″, no definition of what that was: GS, IAS or TAS, so you rae assuming TAS. You are saying TAS 140 Knots which gives you the “Elgen Long” speed of 161 Smph but this is against a Wind of 26 Smph therefore delivering a GS of 135 Statute mph. If as Elgen says the speed is constant, then at 0418 GMT AE & FN would have been at 580 Statute miles from LAE with another 106 Statute to run for LAE to the PR is 686 SM. If the speed is constant at 135 than this is done in 47 minutes to be overhead the PR at 0505GMT so “if” the speed was a constant (which I doubt) then in your scenario it fits. However the climb out of LAE would be at 120 Smph (Best L/D) and at TOC the Electra would slowly accelerate but I doubt that it could average 135 Smph over this sector at the heavy weight.

Before we go further, I note that the assumption pervades the “Re-Navigation” that Earhart would “power-up” into a headwind found to be higher than the forecast, when this is directly opposite to what Johnson told her to do, ie; “Lean-off” into an adverse headwind. It makes no sense to powerup higher then the settings provided by Johnson for LR flying, to do so would be inviting an early fuel exhaustion time. These are things Earhart would not do.

If you are taking the “power-up” into a stronger headwind from the Aircraft Flight Manual which includes a page saying that this is what the pilot must do, then be very careful because that page, (I recall it is Page 35A) is a later amendment to the AFM. If this is so, then surely you did notice that the page is printed in “Courier” font, which was not invented in 1937………

Page 10. Another assumpion creeps in about a CFA defect where Earhrt made no mention to ITASCA about any unserviceabilities which were hampering the flight. “Fuel running low” could only indicate that she was getting to her cut-off tankage for the implememtation of her Contingency Plan. Yes, Gentlemen she did have a Contingency Plan.

Page 13. If you are accepting AE’s lift off from Oakland at 14000 lbs as per her remark in “Last Flight” then you cannot say that the AUW out of LAE was 15,500 lbs. An extra 153 USG and the weight reduction of two persons (only) out of LAE dictates a lower AUW than 15,500lbs.

Page 14. We now come to the statement that 20 USG is “likely” a “per engine” figure. In other words you are saying that in order to “slow the Electra down” so as not to arrive in the dark at Wheeler Field, Earhart now employs a fuel figure of 40 USGPH which is a higher figure than the 38 USGPH “Cruise Power” setting dictated by Johnson after 10 hours. That cannot be. A usage of 40 USGPH would “speed up” the Electra ensuring that Earhart “would” arrive in the dark. That is not what Earhart said in “Last Flight”, she said that at 10,000 feet and 120 IAS (which must be “Corrected IAS” ie; the modern term “TAS”) she is using “less than 20 USGPH” and that was around two hours out of Hawaii, I suggest that this fuel usage figure would be remembered….. very well. Once again it is Best L/D speed so she did know what she was doing. Most people have to read the book two or three times before they get the correct interpretation……

Page 17. Distances…. LAE to the PR at CHOISEUL is 686 Statute Miles. CHO to NUKumanu direct is 242 SM so by the time they get to NUK by hitting it on the nose, on track from the 0518GMT PR they will have done 928 SM as against a direct LAE-NUK sector of 867 SM. However, they did not hit NUK “on the nose”, they ended up to the West at a PR over open sea. Why did this happen ? If you take a vector diagram and plot a track at 045 Degrees TRUE, at 140 Smph GS and a course from the PR at 0518GMT to NUK (laying off to the East by 12 miles) and then use a GS of 140 Smph with a wind from the East of 26 SMPH from the East as per the actual, you will end up West of and 12 miles from the Nukumanu Atoll, first island “Tetuone”. NUK Island itself is still across the lagoon and by the time you do actually get there you will have extended 935 SM from LAE. Therefore, Noonan DID NOT KNOW the wind was 26 mph until he worked out what went wrong and therefore they have been planning on the 12 mph wind they were given in the forecast.

This by itself means that they would expect to see NUK at around 0645 GMT based on a wind speed of 12 mph Easterly giving a GS of 138 average using the pre-set power settings which would give 150 mph GS NIL WIND.

So they were “late” when they saw NUK. What does this again, say for CHO ? They would also have arrived late over Mt. Maetambe (Mt. Gourdin) on Choiseul Island which is 3300 feet high (not 2200 feet high as listed as “your” highest peak on Choiseul. To arrive over Mt. Maetambe at 0518GMT requires an average GS of 129 Smph for the sector LAE-CHO and I contend that at the power settings for a LR flight, that is about what she would get with the increased wind that they did not know about until they reached NUK.

At NUK they have a further 405 SM to run before the USCG ONTARIO.

Page 19. The three calls made on 6210 Kcs and heard by Nauru were at 0831GMT, 0843 GMT and 0854 GMT, your tabular display has them incorrectly timed. Gillespie says there were actually “four” calls heard by NRU the first being at 0825 GMT. The calls were reported by NRU to SYDNEY where they appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. Someone was either up in the air transmitting or down on the ground Tx’ing, you can’t have it both ways and for NRU to be the only station that heard the calls (with no hum of plane in the background), it says that the TX Station was over the SW Pacific.

Page 21. I see that you completely ignore Fred Goerner’s report of a call heard by Nauru: “Land in sight ahead”, which when the words of Goerner are de-cyphered the time is actually 2200GMT and being only heard by NRU (and not heard at all by Itasca) means that the TX Station was closer to NRU than to ITASCA. I believe that call, it means that if it was Earhart she is now approaching The Gilberts after invoking her Contingency Plan.

Page 23. Here is where I saw that you had not tried a simple vector digram out of CHO to see where AE & FN would end up if they did not know the wind. As per my remarks on this sector PR-PR, they did not know the wind which is why they ended up West of NUK.

Page 25. As per earlier remarks you have erred in your mountain heights for CHO. Also the extra distance by doing the dog-leg through CHO involves an extra 68 SM not 48 SM (42Nm).

Page 27. Your pictorial display of what Earhart and Noonan would have seen of NUK as they appraoched is incorrect. You have them approaching from the SW. Not so, they approached from the West as proven by their PR over open sea to the West of the atoll.

Page 28. There is NO evidence that the CFA (one or both) was playing up. You also state that the Fuel Flowmeter(s) were “not necessary”….. (Page 33) How do you come to that conclusion ? The flowmeter was a twin needle instrument, one engine gulping fuel would cause a needle split so it would be an excellent indicator of something gone awry. Earhart was used to “leaning-off” as evidenced from a passage in “Last Flight” where she says one engine was “in and out” - “leaned too much”, she says. Of course she was using Lean of Peak, you do know that ? Lean of Peak can be achieved by any piston pilot without a CFA.

There is a passage on Page 28 that does not read very well where if says: ” ….and not high enough to produce excessive fuel consumption”. Being higher would use LESS fuel…. catered for in the carburettors by the automatic leaning device - the “carrot in the hole”…….. You seemingly have it the other way around, more fuel used at higher altitude (?).

Page 29. Again, the CFA “failure” is assumed without a shred of evidence.

Also on Page 29, the 4500 mile range touted by Lockheed was only achievable with a 1200 USG fuel load and has no bearing on the matter as presented in your paper as the max. that could be carried was 1151 USG. It may well be the more than 1100 USG WAS carried as the refueller at LAE says he topped off all tanks…. Maybe he did it by mistake but that is what he said.

So there we are. I have taken the trouble to review the first 33 pages. I hope that you take the trouble to respond to what I have said. You have not yet responed to my first mail, so I am not hopeful that you will respond to this either….. I will review the rest when time permits.

Thurs., Jan., 28, 2010

Your “Re-Navigation Report”….

Continuing comment:

I hope that you tried the Vector diagram from CHOISEUL to the NUK PR…… It proves the wind from the East and it also proves that Noonan did not know the wind when he left CHO. Only when he ended up to the West of NUK would he say, “Ah, the wind must have picked up… by how much I wonder….?”

In regard to Flight Planning, I believe Earhart’s method was simple….. The aim was to achieve a GS of 150 Smph and do the 2556 SM to HOW in 17 Hours and 01 Minute as per Clarence Williams’ strip map in NIL wind conditions. With a forecast wind of 12-15 mph for the flight, Earhart chose to deduct the low figure “12″, from 150 and divide the resultant 138 into 2556, thereby achieving a FP time of 18.52 Hours or 18:31. This speed and time to be achieved using the recommended power settings by Kelly Johnson. Deducting the higher “15″ figure would have resulted in an FP time of 18.9 hours in which case AE would have told everyone she expected to be at HOW in “19″ hours, not the 18 or so she is said to have elicited.

Finding a wind at 26 Smph from the East at NUK, Noonan would have had to revise this FP time from then on and “if” one takes the time at NUK as 0718 GMT and then subtracts that from 1912 GMT (when they “thought” they were at HOW), the resultant 11.9 hours for the remaining 1683 SM (NUK-HOW) means an average GS of 141.5 Smph to be attained, meaning a FP wind of only 8.5 Smph as a headwind when FN now had acute knowledge of the 26 Smph wind from the East. Is something wrong ? Theoretically to use the “magic 150 mph power settings” and know a wind of 26 mph then FN would FP at 124 Smph average meaning a sector time of 13.6 hours and an arrival time at HOW of 2054 GMT. Why then call at 1912 GMT “Must be on you”….?

Even if the “Ship in sight” definitely was the USCG ONTARIO (as I believe), the remaining 1278 SM in 8.6 Hours delivers a GS average of 149 Smph which with “your” 26.5 mph headwind means a TAS of 175.5 Smph
For it to be the MYRTLE, the distance remaining of 1140 SM means a GS of 132.5 and a TAS (with your wind) of 159 Smph which is within your comfort zone. But this does not explain the LAE-MYRTLE distance of 1491 SM in 10.6 hours (allowing time for the Electra to be overhead), meaning an average GS of 141 Smph and with your wind, a TAS of 167 which is a little outside of your comfort zone. Something is, therefore, not adding up. I believe it is quite a stretch to say that the wind value and the aircraft speed value remain constant for the whole flight.

Lovell’s book (Sound of Wings) records that Mary Lovell did actually speak to Harry Balfour before he left us and she obtained first hand from him several calls which you do not record. There is a call recorded at 0500 GMT and another at 0700 GMT The 0418 GMT call recorded in The Chater Report is then (according to Balfour in speaking to Lovell) followed by one at 0500 GMT where no PR is given, shortly followed by the 0519 GMT call giving a PR at Mount Maetambe on CHO. Then a call at 0700 (Lovell) “7000 feet 150mph”. At the time of day for the 0718 GMT call in the area of NUK it is in reality 0548 Local time and dusk is approaching. After that (Lovell) a call at 0800 GMT “…on course for HOW at 12,000 feet”. 12,000 feet ? AE had flown the Electra at 12,000 feet in the U.S. and would know just what fuel flow she could achieve at that altitude. After being at 8,000 and 7,000 feet for some time she may have considered that a “less fuel flow” obtainable at 12,000 feet might save her some gas plus a ride above the cumulus cloud would be preferable to dodging them. Your Report does not take into consideration Mary Lovell’s discourse with Harry Balfour.

On to the individual pages:

Page 50. I have never heard the term “undercast” used in operational aviation. “Cloud cover”, “socked in” yes, but undercast “No”. I am pleased to see that you write:

“If AE was in fact reporting an “undercast” which we believe is likely it means FN had good celestial targets…..etc”…

Now: You can’t say “if” and them proceed to give Fred all the long distance vision up into the heavens that his heart desires to give him “good celestial or good Astro targets” when we have calls from AE mentioning “overcast” and “cloudy” conditions. It has to be said here that if Fred had obtained Astro through the night and had fixed their “circle of position” and then was able to get a sunrise peek, then…. They would have made HOW. Ergo: Fred did not get good Astro and was blind.

Page 51. The Report actually then continues on and extrapolates the “if” even further by then saying that “This understanding increases confidence in the EON and Fuel used calculations”. Understanding ? You are basing the EON and USGPH on an “understanding” ?

Page 51. In reference to a “Fuel Load” the report makes mention of the NATAL-DAKAR fuel load and surmises that it was 80% of the fuel load out of LAE, ie: 880 USG for the 1900 SM with a large target at the EON….. Recall that AE’s fuel load out of Luke for HOW was 900 USG for 1900 SM with a tiny target at EON, BUT, the contingency of The Gilberts still applied, therefore, 1900 + 600 = 2500 SM could be done on 900 USG. That is definitely implied in the event she missed HOW going Westabout. This then means the 900 USG included a 4 hour reserve not three as is written on Page 52.

Page 55. Flight Path C is agreed. I myself figured that one years ago. In this paragraph, however, it is written that AE may have incorrectly reported it, Chater may have incorrectly stated it, but nowhere does it say that Harry Balfour, having difficulty hearing her through the static may have mis-heard her Kansan drawl and recorded 150.7 instead of 157.0. You only have to say it a few times to yourself and it is easy to understand how the mistake occurred.

The idea was obviously to home in on HOW using the DF equipment on board and in the knowledge that some sort of HFDF equipment was being purloined from the USN to assist them…. Something that Safford did not know about, so it was done on “the quiet”. Little did Fred know that it was not a large Adcock array which awaited them but a puny mobile set with flat batteries.

“No Minimum obtained”….. AE heard the “A’s” but could not get a minimum… too great a range perhaps ?

Page 56. Cmdr Thompson’s report is stating the 200 miles distance where AE probably went down. After any sighting of a ship, be it the ONT or the MYR, or indeed an abeam glow from the lights of NRU reflected off the overcast at a distance of 160 SM…. One thing is for sure….. NO-ONE on this planet knows exactly how far AE & FN were from HOW at the furthest point reached. The Contingency Plan was clear: A return to The Gilberts was planned for if she could not find HOW.

No wreckage has been found in The Gilberts but wreckage resembling an all-metal unpainted aircraft with no discernable nationality marking was seen in the Jungle of New Britain and the documentary evidence from that sighting describes the Electra.

Page 57. NUK might have been visual at 20 miles but if so, there would have been no need to state a PR over open sea, so that argument falls down. FN knew he had a Latitude to reach and that depended possibly on a star sight out of the LH window at a time getting towards dusk when it would be possible. In reaching that Latitude NUK is “not there” but they catch a glimpse of the Atoll now 12 SM to the East and see the white flash of the breakers. They are 23 SM from the main island of NUK itself.

I have a chart made by a British Brigantine “H.M.S. Ariel” in 1888. The Navigator on board that Brigantine was a very clever chap. He located the southern tip of Nukumanu Island at exactly the same Lat/Long as Google Earth displays it today in the modern age.

Quite by accident, I heard from a native from the Mortlock Islands, who now works in Port Moresby, without any prompting, that his grandfather had seen a shiny aircraft fly over the Mortlock Islands well before the start of WWII. Any aircraft from Rabaul would face a 600 SM round trip to do that so it would be a waste of gasoline as there was no landing strip on Mortlock (still isn’t). The direction it was flying….. well under the rule governing Route “C” the aircraft would never have gone anywhere near Mortlock on the way out. On the way back….it is another matter !

Page 57. (4th Paragraph) It is stated here that every other author uses Elgen Long’s wind of 26.5 mph ??? I do not, in fact my wind value over the Ontario is completely different.

Lights on Nauru… A total overcast would tend to reflect any bright lights on NRU but whether they would show at a distance of 160 SM from north of Track is another matter. Possibly yes, possibly no. City lights can be seen from great distances on a clear night. We know not whether the sky was CAVOK or whether it was murky.

1000 GMT to 1100 GMT as stated. Nauru time was, for “local” time, 11 Hours ahead of GMT and for “Official” time was, 11.5 Hours ahead of GMT. Therefore 1000 GMT was either 2100 Local (9:00pm) or Officially (as in “for the Radio Station”) it was 2130 (or 9:30pm) 1100 GMT was, therefore, 2200 (10:00pm) or 2230 (10:30pm). Therefore, Cude’s 10-11 pm would be either 1100 GMT or 1130 GMT to as late as 1200 GMT to 1230 GMT which would preclude the 1030 GMT Tx falling in between those times. Therefore, the 1030 GMT “Ship in sight” call was heard by Nauru Radio at 10:00pm Local “Official” time. One then might deduce that there were some calls made to Barnes (in particular) between 1100GMT and 1230 GMT when she was reaching the horizon distance for seeing the lights glow off the clouds, passing abeam, and then leaving the arc at the time she could no longer see them.

This in turn means the ship in sight was the ONTARIO. The MYRTLE was well north of track by some 70-odd Nautical Miles with 66 Nm to go to reach NRU where it docked at 0630. It the ship travels at 8 Knots it needs eight hours to reach NRU, therefore its position at 1030 GMT would have been some 62 Nm north of track. If MYRTLE docked at 0630 Local at NRU the next day the distances as stated actually do “fit”.

The end of this session.

The Earhart saga has more conundrums within the enigma contained in the Chinese puzzle written in sanscrit and translated into Mayan word art………

The “Re-Navigation Report” as written contains assumptions and some mistakes which it should not do and therefore it will attract critiques.

On Sat, Jan 30, 2010, David B wrote:

In re-reading my post of 29/01/10 I see an error in Paragraph 5.

The time “0548″ should read 1748 hrs Local or 5:48 pm Local time.

The text should have shown the intent.

On Sat, Jan 30, 2010 David B wrote:

A few calculations using Elgen Long’s constant TAS and Wind speed which delivers a GS of 135 Smph…..

LAE to the PR at Choiseul = 686 SM in a time of 5:04 = 0504GMT. This fits with your scenario and AE tells LAE at 0518 GMT.
PR at CHO to the PR West of Nukumanu = 225 SM in a time of 1:39 = arrival at 0644 GMT
Mary Lovell has her calling LAE at 0700 GMT but Earhart still does not tell them she was at a PR which has Lat and Long accurately recorded… A good opportune time would have been the broadcast time of 0645GMT as by then they should have seen Nukumanu Atoll in their right forward quarter.

At 0718 GMT after waiting 34 minutes, AE now tells LAE where she was at 0644 GMT. (!!!) It is true, of course, that in those days, Navigators could never tell you where you were, only where you had been….

The Electra now climbs to 10,000 feet or 12,000 feet depending on who you believe and heads off towards the Ontario…

From the PR West of Nukumanu there is 443 SM to run to the Ontario and this is done in 3:17 making the GMT time overhead the ONT 1001 GMT. Did she wait 29 minutes to call “Ship in sight” ?

On Elgen’s figures, the 1030 GMT “Ship in sight” Tx would have been at an expended distance of 1417M from LAE with the MYRTLEBANK 60 degrees to Port, at a distance of 100SM from the Electra, this is hardly “Ship in sight ahead..”, it is more abeam even if seen at that distance with your “undercast” present…….. You have stated that an undercast “might” (”if”) be present in order to give Fred good Astro targets…. such an “undercast” would then blanket out the Myrtlebank and Nauru…

The position abeam Nauru is 1495 SM from LAE after doing the dogleg through CHO and adding the extra miles by missing NUK and the Electra arrives abeam NRU at 1104 GMT.

The more “southern” position you have in the diagram for the Myrtlebank is over 100 Nm away from NRU and at a time of 1130 NRU local, in order to dock at 0630 Local the MYRTLE would have to make over 16 Knots in the 7 hours to docking. I recall that the Myrtlebank cruised at 8 Knots. Correct me if wrong.

These figures for arrivals and obviously for distances differ from yours.

The point is, the arrival at the PR West of NUK does not fit your time scenario if a constant windspeed and TAS is used. The position of the Myrtlebank also does not agree with the proposition.

ONC’s M14 and M15 have been used to measure distances in the above calculations.
David B.

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