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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:21 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:32 am
Posts: 211
Now we've seen TIGHAR's expedition 'Niku VIII' progress into week two with a so-far non-functioning ROV that is about to be converted to a mule by which to lower a camera and scaling rig, sans-ROV style maneuverablility, etc. and an apparent wash-out of the land search, no pun intended. The divers seem to have performed well and covered their field of search down to 120' of depth. The glaring stickout to me is 'program management' as the place one always should look when so much goes so wrong.

I've given Gary LaPook a pretty hard time here as to confidence in his navigation theory being the basis for driving those who may be interested to part with their funds to pursue Stratus' idea of the search - somewhere in the open waters near Howland. Maybe more to the point now in light of lessons learned from watching TIGHAR go through yet another painful mission is not so much the belief in where to look (there is no shortage of those having confidence in crashed and sank, in any case), but that of how the search is to be executed. Gary has rightly pointed me to Colin Cobb when I think of that particular: how Stratus plans to manage this effort, should it take flight.

I've also reflected carefully again on the fuel / range equations, spurred both by Elgen Long's excellent book on the Earhart disappearance "The Mystery Solved" and Gary's own observations as to fuel consumption rates for the engines on Earhart's airplane. As Gary has summarized on these pages, Lockheed made an assumption (claimed to have been demonstrated) of a specific fuel consumption of around .42 pounds per Brake Horsepower for the Wasp, but as Gary has pointed out, Pratt & Whitney never claimed lower than .46 pounds per hour per horsepower.

All of which gets me to a fresh view of 'crashed and sank'. Long has made a compelling case for Earhart having reached the end of her fuel at about the time of her last known radio transmission that reflects a knowledge of true operational habit and reality, as best we can understand conditions for the flight. Gary has made similar points. When the fuel limitation is considered in this light, Long and LaPook are both right - there can be but one hopeful outcome for the flight: find Howland or ditch. There was simply no margin to divert hundreds of miles.

When I review the Lockheed report 487 and consider fuel consumption in terms of the speeds - reasonably established, and specific fuel consumption adjusted per Pratt & Whitney's numbers, the Long / LaPook case become far more credible. Long an adherent to the Niku possibility, I've also had to overcome a bias toward credit to things like 'Betty's Notebook' and other 'credible' radio calls and admit these are wispy, despite Hooven's adherence to the Pan Am tracked signals, etc. that have been so tantalizing: it appears the flight had not the fuel to arrive there and to broadcast, by all I can tell.

So as I look at the area combed by Nauticos and believed by Elgen Long to be worthy of the search, and consider that Gary's own idea must be some subset wedged into the crevices that search left (I am merely guessing), I can see that his is as good as any idea for where to search in a large sea.

What I am left wondering now, as Stratus would apparently accept monies from us public to go out there and search, is how they would manage this effort so as to avoid the pratfalls TIGHAR is once again showing to be all too common in many of these searches. Nauticos-Waitt had their challenges, but seems to have been an example of 'how to' manage such a search well.

So, thinking again about how a search might continue, I wonder at how Stratus plans to manage the sea-borne effort. TIGHAR's display seems to make this a 'must know' answer. I suppose Colin Cobb is the place to go - fine, but I'd love to see him openly share Stratus' view of this operational effort and how they will manage seaborne operations professionally. This ought to be a must for anyone who is considering putting up funds for searches henceforth, and a serious organization should have no problem addressing the need, IMO.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:31 pm
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Location: Caribou, Maine
Nauticos and Stratus have seriously good equipment and the knowledge of how to use it. If TIGHAR was serious they could hire one of these companies to search off the island. With that kind of heavy-support they could probably raise more money, maybe a TV sponsorship; the issue would likely get solved (likely, the null hypothesis) on one trip. The question is TIGHAR is that serious.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:42 pm 
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Wing Commander

Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:32 am
Posts: 211
old iron wrote:
Nauticos and Stratus have seriously good equipment and the knowledge of how to use it. If TIGHAR was serious they could hire one of these companies to search off the island. With that kind of heavy-support they could probably raise more money, maybe a TV sponsorship; the issue would likely get solved (likely, the null hypothesis) on one trip. The question is TIGHAR is that serious.


That is a seriously serious question in the wake of Niku VIII and all that preceeded it in these past months (or years, as many would point out, but I'll be charitable as the purple hasn't long left my gut).

I favor that approach and am glad to hear that Stratus is planning the same depth of equipage that Nauticos demonstrated so well.

My next concern would be what kind of field (ocean-going) talent Stratus would employ to make it all click. Nauticos was exemplary in that regard, in my view. Surely Colin Cobb has observed that and realizes the need?

TIGHAR has just - again, demonstrated the challenges of depending on a 'big daddy' project manager, like Gillespie. I'm sure he had other talent aboard for specific tasks, but the impression I get over and over (and moreso this time) is that he is 'mission commander' and I'm not sure that's really in his toolbox for such detailed operations as were called for (and if I've judged unfairly, I'll gladly stand corrected).

Point being, where others are concerned, Colin Cobb is for instance a promoter, not an experienced sea-going project director (so far as I know), and there's much more to such an effort than just contracting 'the right equipment and operators'. Don't take my word for it - go ask a Ballard or Jourdan.

I realize I rode Gary pretty hard here, and Colin and Stratus for that matter. But this actually drives at the crux of where my heart was:

- If you'd take our money, how assured can we be that there's going to be real bang (success or not - we realize there's always risk of not finding the target) for our bucks?

Peace to Gary - I can grasp where he's coming from; he's made the best judgment he can, and while he no doubt might elaborate a bit differently, I think it is based largely on the same kinds of observations and assumptions that Long followed in his own assessment. I won't elaboarate on what I think the differences may be here - suffice it to say that both gents believe she splashed somewhere in the Howland area - and I'll throw in that I admire the direct simplicity of it and that it makes sense in the aviator's sniff test, big time. That kind of approach simply has to be evaluated by the donor and accepted or not, as a risk also being present - always.

But the very big 'next' is 'how will this search be managed' - gee, the equipment and operators are impressive, but who will be in charge of making it all fit and execute at the shipboard level?

Sorry to be such a gad fly, but I believe we've reached a time when many people might think it ludricrous to spend another dime looking for poor Earhart and Noonan at all at this point; to promote millions to go do it clearly requires a lot of the 'right stuff' - and what we just witnessed at Niku underscores the need for severe due diligence, as I see it. That should not be beyond the asking of whomever would ask for our money.

And as Gary pointed out, that's Colin's end of the deal - so he who might donate then assumes the burden of caveat emptor - how is this mission to be fashioned?

Niku VIII and lessons -

I will confess deep disappointment - but not real surprise, at what I just saw unfold at Niku. I have loved TIGHAR for many reasons for years, but as such, most here cannot miss that I have come to be a 'questioner' on many levels - so severely so that I wonder if I will even survive as a poster in that place, as much as I love my friends there and much of the contact: I can easily be viewed as a 'hostile', I suppose. A pity: our friends know when to kick our fannies, in my experience. But in this particular expedition (Niku VIII) I never saw a foothold that I felt worthy of trying - I'd rather have been the first cave man to eat an oyster than to have sent $50 to that campaign, frankly.

And I take no joy in realizing my instincts were right.

Instincts which were actually hard won lessons taught by watching and listening to critics who were, it turns out, actually worthy of being heard, and much of it was digested with greasy, raw crow at times: how 2-2-V-1 got to be treated, for one, raised flags; how quickly formerly sworn-off tactics were re-engaged for some expedient reason - which seems to have evolved from a need to ensure a timely rendezvous with the Fiji Princess more than to push back the frontiers of doubt about Earhart's presence on that isle. I can't say what is truly in other men's minds, but I have to judge by what I can observe for myself as best I can: this one had no hope.

Now, should TIGHAR burst that hazy, regrettable bubble with an incontrovertable revelation once home, more power to them and my deepest congratulations on attaining the highest level of luck I've ever witnessed. But I am not turning blue with bated breath.

In closing, I'll simply note that there is nothing like greasy raw crow meat to purge one's digestive tract of the purple stain of Kool Aid. Crow isn't so bad if you're willing to swallow hard and try harder going forward.

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Jeff Neville

Makin' smoke... where are you lady???


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