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Jeffco Squadron - Oct 2010

Jeffco Squadron - Oct 2010

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Civil Air Patrol - Colorado Wing
Civil Air Patrol - Colorado Wing

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Published by: Civil Air Patrol - Unit Newsletters on Mar 10, 2012
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03/10/2012

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CELEBRATING THE SEARCH FOR THE PAST
 
AIRWAVES
TIGHAR SEARCHES FOR AMELIAEARHART
byCapt P.D. Sargen
t
Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport Broomfield, Colorado Vol. 3 No. 11 October 2010
Continued on page 2
 Like a sea
-
 going SAR mission, TIGHAR, an archeological research group, set out to locate Aemilia Earhart and her companion, Fred Noonan, who went missing in the area of the Phoenix Islands in th
 Western Pacific as they set out to circle the world in a rebuilt Electra in 1937.
Winner of the 2009 Belsam National Award for Excellence
   P   h  o   t  o  c  o  u  r   t  e  s  y  o   f   T   I   G   H   A   R  w  e   b  s   i   t  e
The Niku VI team venturing out to Nikumaroro
 
The arrow points out Maj Andrew McKenna,Boulder Comosite Suadron, with the TIGHAR team.
 
CELEBRATING THE SEARCH FOR THE PAST
 Page 2
The Ultimate Aircraft SearchTIGHAR
-
The Earhart Project
by 2d Lt Luc Moens
The mystery has captivated the aviation community for over 70 years and has been fodderfor anything ranging from conspiracy theories to scientific studies. The story, of course, isthat of the disappearance in 1937 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean of Amelia Earhart who,together with navigational expert Fred Noonan, flew a Lockheed Model 10 Electra twinengine aircraft in what was supposed to be the final stretch of their historic flight aroundthe World.The flight started in California and would lead them over the Caribbean, Brazil, across theAtlantic Ocean, Arabia, India, SE Asia, to Australia and New Guinea. From there, the goal was to fly another 2600 miles to reach Howland Island right after sunrise. This small, onesquare mile coral island contained a runway that was apparently built solely for this historicflight, and was considered a crucial refueling spot on the way to Honolulu, from where they  would fly back to Oakland, California. Because it was surrounded by the vast expanse of theocean, the goal was to reach the 157°
-
337° ‘line of position’ that in those days was used as a navigational tool, and that was defined by the front of sunlight as it marched across theearth’s surface during sunrise.Radio communication between Amelia and a radio operator on a Coastguard Ship nearHowland Island indicated that the plane had indeed reached this ‘line’, but Amelia wasunable to hear this operator’s instructions, presumably because of a belly antenna mast onher plane that accidentally broken o
ff 
upon take
-
o
ff 
22 hours before. With only about twohours of fuel left, and no means to communicate with the ship, the plane is believed to have veered away from Howland Island.Thus began the grand mystery around the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and to tell usabout what might have unfolded after that was Maj. Andrew McKenna of the BoulderComposite Squadron, who since 2000 has participated in three scientific expeditions to thePacific to search for remnants of Amelia’s plane. As an active member of the “Earhart
 Maj Andrew McKenna’s presentation to the squadron’s October general meeting i 
 $ 
ustrated tha
t
  Amelia Earhart’s historic flight might have ended on an uninhabited island in the Pacific. However,try as he might to disprove that theory, McKenna acknowledges that as clues continue to be found, h
 is just not sure. Ed.
 
CELEBRATING THE SEARCH FOR THE PAST
 Page 3
Project” operated by an organization calledTIGHAR, The International Group forHistoric Aircraft Recovery, Maj. McKenna presented the newest findings by hisexpedition team during our OctoberSquadron Meeting. Through the use of a fascinating slideshow, he presentedcompelling evidence that Amelia mostlikely perished on Nikumaroro, “Niku”, small island among the Phoenix Islands,and located SE of Howland Island. Nikuhas a lagoon that is visible from forty milesaway, which makes it stand out from otherislands that are much harder to discernamong the shadows of overhanging cloudsover the ocean. During low tide it also has a  wide beach front, as well as a highly visibleshipwreck where a landing spot would havebeen most obvious to a pilot of a plane that was getting low on fuel. After Amelia’splane went missing, a number of amateurand military operators reported hearing a  woman’s voice on their radios. This led tothe dispatching of the Navy battleship USSColorado that immediately started whatmust have been the most expensive missing person search in history in July 1937. Threeplanes went out on a search for wreckageon the beaches and later over open water,and at one point the chief pilot of thisoperation saw some signs of habitation onthe island but did not see signs of airplane wreckage. A later analysis conducted by PanAm of all radio communication showedthat triangulation of the radio signals of thelast hearing of Amelia’s voice convergedupon Niku.In 1937, Niku fell under British colonialjurisdiction, and colonial records latershowed that castaway bones had beendiscovered in 1940 comprising a skull and13 major bones that most likely belonged toa white Nordic woman sized at 5.5 to 5.9 ft.Amelia was 5’7.” The whereabouts of thosebones are currently unknown, butapparently they were at one time shippedo
ff 
to the medical school in Fiji from wherethey later disappeared. Maj. McKenna, whois the son of a paleontologist, thenpresented an overview of all the objectsthat were dug up on Niku by the team thatconsisted of a n extraordinary collection of skilled scientists, including archeologists,forensic pathologist, anthropologists,forensic imaging people, oceanographersand ham radio experts.The detective work conducted in the fieldby this impressive team was not always glamorous as it involved three weeks of clearing vegetation and digging in the soildown to 10
-
15 cm in oppressive heat
up to110°F !
 )
. Moreover, staying o
ff 
the ground atnight was key to not being eaten alive by hermit crabs that came out of the jungle indroves. Nevertheless, many interesting objects were found that could be importantpieces of the big puzzle. These includedpieces of garments like buttons, a zipper of a lightweight jacket, a woman’s cosmeticsbottles that might have belonged toAmelia, a sextant box 
Noonan was said tocarry a sextant with him at all times
 )
, piecesof glassware, a jack knife, and even a pieceof aluminum that might have been part of the plane’s fuselage. Throughout thepresentation, the speaker shared hisscientific approach in a systematic fashionas he tried to disprove the origin andownership of the various objects, butadmitted that the mounting evidence now makes it hard to prove that it was not thesite where Amelia perished. Futureexpeditions will also focus on figuring outthe whereabouts of the bones that willmake it possible to acquire more evidencethrough DNA analysis. In the meantime,the grand mystery continues to keep itssecrets.Please learn more at theTIGHAR website:http://tighar.org 

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