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Safford, Laurance

Earhart’s Flight Into Yesterday - The Facts with the Fiction (Paladwr Press, 2003)

Captain Laurance Safford passed away before this book was published. Co-editors Cameron Warren and Bob Payne salvaged the original manuscript and its supporting exhibits, presenting the work in this publication. Most of Safford’s work involves the communications in the planning and search phases of the mission. Safford devotes only 38 of 199 pages to the actual Lae to Howland mission segment. Most of his work is with radio logs and communications, coordination, control (operational as well as administrative), and the search effort.

This is no surprise as Captain Safford’s Navy career was in Cryptology, and Intelligence.

Safford’s conclusion (p115) is that AE crashed at N 01.00 degrees and E 178.00 degrees, with a 95% probability of a final position within 100 miles [units not specified] of this location.

This is approximately 325 miles [units not specified] west of Howland Island.

Safford’s inclusion of logs, messages, radio communications, and the attention to command and control issues associated with the mission planning and conduct of search operations, is valuable in adding background detail to our overall analysis.

Perhaps the most valuable information from Safford concerns the Itasca search patterns, and search decisions, made by its commanding officer, CDR Thompson. In his messaged assessment to COMDESRON 2, CDR Thompson concluded that AE was within 250 miles [units not specified] of Itasca, based on signal strength, and went down within 250 miles [units not specified] of Howland Island between 337 degrees and 45 degrees true and not nearer than 30 miles [units not specified].

CDR Thompson and Itasca assumed AE had laterally deviated north and had overflown Howland.

Safford is critical of many elements of this mission and his work does a credible job of detailing errors and inconsistencies.