Tuesday, January 13, 2009

David Billings on the Amelia Earhart saga



I have been meaning to say something about your figures and directions which you continually post on your blog........  You need to get your facts right before committing pen to paper and what you have written for the world to see is incorrect in the areas I am about to explain to you.

The basis for this email to you is that:

1. Your figure of 8 Tonnes for the weight in fuel carried by the Electra is wrong.


2. Your figure of 4600 Kilometres as the distance from Lae to Howland Island is wrong.


3. Your direction of the course "North" from Lae to Howland Island is wrong.

There are many "conversion" websites on the www. for finding out figures in Tonnes and Kilograms Metric and changing these to Tons and Pounds Imperial.  The sites will also convert Kilometers into Statute Miles or Nautical Miles

Basically a Metric Tonne is 1000 Kilograms; an Imperial Ton is 2400 Pounds (weight).

1 Kilogram (Kg) = 2.205 Pounds.

Basically a Kilometre is 1000 Metres and a Statute Mile is 1760 Yards.

I Kilometre (Km) = 0.621 of a Statute Mile.

1 Statute Mile = 1.61 Kilometres.

A simple luk-luk (by you) of the world map showing the area from Papua New Guinea to Howland and Baker Islands out in the Pacific Ocean will indicate to you that the direction from Lae to Howland is anything but "North".  In fact the True track to Howland is 078 degrees (True), which is hardly a northerly direction.  I hope you understand what I mean by "True" if you do not then ask.

Let me first explain to you "what" the Electra could carry in fuel.

The tankage of the Electra c/n 1055 was a maximum capacity of 1151 United States Gallons.  That's "U.S." Gallons (USG) not Imperial Gallons (ImpG).  The fuel was gasoline and 1 USG of gasoline weighs 6 pounds.  US Pounds are the same as British (or Imperial) Pounds.

1.  So to fit your figure of 8 Tonnes of fuel into the Electra would require the tanks to hold:

8000 Kg x 2.205 lbs = 17,640 Pounds = 2940 USG.

Current opinion is that Earhart and Noonan left Lae with 1100USG of fuel = 6600 Pounds in weight.

6600 Pounds = 2993 Kg or 2.993 Tonnes.

The normal full fuel of a stock passenger carrying Electra in airline use was 398 USG or 2388 Pounds in weight.

If we say then that on leaving Lae, Earhart and Noonan had 6600 lbs as against the "normal" 2388 pounds, then they were 4212 Pounds overweight which equates to 1910 Kg or very nearly 2 Tonnes.

Now on to the distance.

LAE-HOW as Earhart and Noonan thought was 2556 Statute Miles distant but there had been an error in the last sextant fix and Howland was actually a further 6 Statute miles to the East so the true distance was 2562 Statute Miles.

2.  If we convert 2662 Statute Miles (SM) to Kilometres (Km) we get:

2662 SM x 1.61 Km = 4285 Kilometres. (Not 4600).

Now to the direction Earhart took.

3.  There is a position report stated in "The Chater Report" which is times at 0518GMT, 5 Hours and 18 Minutes after Earhart left LAE.  It was recorded over the static of the radio as being only 247 SM from LAE which is impossible as the Electra would only have been travelling at 49 SM per Hour groundspeed.  It is likely that the position given meant that Earhart and Noonan were close to Mount Maetambe which is located on Choiseul Island in the Solomon Group.

If you have not read "The Chater Report" it is on the www, try Google.

There had been a reported storm just south of New Britain, between the east of New Britain and Bougainville Island and it is likely that Earhart and Noonan avoided this storm (it was a Low cell) by flying almost due East to pick up Choiseul before turning north-east for Nukumanu.  I hope you know where Nukumanu is as most Papua New Guineans have never heard of it.  It is close to Ontong Java and I hope you know where that is too.

At Nukumanu AE & FN would then be able to pick up their "true" course, turn right onto 078 True and continue on to Howland.  The dogleg by Choiseul costs them an extra 37 Statute Miles but saves them going through a storm.

As I say, the direction of "North" is completely incorrect.

There are lessons to be learned Malum, before you put pen to paper. 

The facts have to be correct or you will look foolish.

Incidentally, when you write that I have denied that the Ip River wreck recently reported is the aircraft I am looking for, that too is an incorrect statement.  I refuted the notion that the Ip River wreck is the aircraft I am looking for.  There is a difference.  Please get your facts right.



David Billings.              


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