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    Re: Earhart's Plane - Search For?
    From: Gary LaPook
    Date: 2011 Apr 25, 18:57 -0700
    My further, further comments on the Waitt report:


    Continuing my review of the Waitt report:

    Page 48-49

    The report states that no handy calculators were available to make the conversions between indicated airspeed, true airspeed and ground speed until the invention of the circular slide rule type flight computer E-6B in World War Two. The report is only off by one World War. These devices were developed as early as 1910 and found wide use in WW I. The Dalton MK VII was perfected in1932 and the Jensen in 1933. These were as easy to operated and performed the required calculations. With slight modification the Dalton became standardized as the E-6B in WWII. So AE most likely could have made these calculations by herself in the cockpit. Noonan wrote a letter to Weems in which he stated he used the Dalton computer, see:


    Page 49

    Report analyzes AE's notes. While crossing the Atlantic, she had written:

    "6:50 Just crossing equator, 6000 feet, Sun brilliant..."

    Waitt's explanation:

    o“6:50”is then the Natal local time of this logbook entry, and the local time of the equator crossing.
    o With this entry is “sun brilliant” which may refer to sunrise, which in Natal on the morning of June 7, 1937 was at 0636 local time."


    At this point they are over 500 NM from Natal so what could this have to do with sunrise at Natal? "Sun brilliant" obviously is referring to the brilliant yellow ball almost directly in front of them at the time, DUH! The sun had been up for one hour and fifty-five minutes at their location crossing the equator at 30 degrees west longitude. (see attached chart.)

    On page 50 it goes on:

    "At “9:41”  Natal time, on June 7, 1937, the sun azimuth from true north was 050.35 degrees, and its elevation above the horizon was +40.81 degrees. AE writes
    that “…they can hardly believe the sun is north of them.…” Their true course to Dakar was approximately 038 degrees. The sun would have been slightly to
    the right of their heading, south of their course, if they were on course. If they were heading in a more easterly direction, the sun would indeed appear north of
    them. From AE’s logs we know that AE was north of course at some point in the crossing. It is possible that these observations of the “…sun…north of them…”
    were made after a heading correction to rejoin their original track to Dakar. This heading correction would place the sun to their left, possibly appearing as
    if it was “north” of them."

    First, no navigator would give the azimuth to one-hundredth of a degree nor would he give the altitude in decimal degrees. This note was made six hours and twenty-eight minutes after takeoff and the plane was at 4° 30' north latitude. The sun was 22°38' north declination (latitude) so it WAS north of them no matter what their heading happened to be.  The azimuth was actually 42° degrees not "050.35" and the altitude was actually 64° 31' not "+40.81."

    Page 54-55

    compares the coordinates for Howland that Williams had used with the current charted coordinates. The were given only to the nearest minute, and accuracy of one nautical mile. Then is uses a Google Earth coordinate for the island and says the spot Noonan was aiming for was "5.92 NM" in error, a precision of one-hundredth of a nautical mile, 60 feet, on a bearing of  "095.17 degrees." Some problems with this. Since the charted positions were only given to the nearest whole nautical mile it is silly to then compute distances to a precision of a hundredth of a mile. And it depends on what spot of the island they put the Google Earth pointer on. And the distance that they calculated Noonan would have missed the island by was computed from the center of the island when the near shoreline would have been the appropriate spot to use, cutting the distance by a half mile. And it is also silly to give a bearing to one-hundredth of a degree. They apparently computed this value with their calculator and don't have any idea of what the numbers actually signify, GIGO. It is also quite likely that Noonan had the correct coordinates for the island because Itasca had determined them after Williams completed his work but before AE departed on the second attempt. I don't think AE's student, Elanor Roosevelt would have kept that information from Earhart. Plus they ignore the glaring fact that Itasca was making smoke that drifted past the imagined wrong coordinates which would have been visible from the plane.

    Page 59

    Makes the ridiculous statement that "Celestial fixes are much more accurate than a sun fix." This again shows a lack on knowledge of celestial navigation since the sun is a celestial body and fixes derived from shooting the sun are as accurate as any other celestial fix.

    Page states:

    Noonan sun line error exceeded "the standard 15-­‐30nm  accuracy of 1937 celestial  navigation." I have no idea where they come up with such low accuracy unless it was on purpose to discredit the method. All navigational textbooks of the era consider the accuracy of celestial fixes to be approximately 10 NM and this level is also a requirement of the Federal Aviation Regulations. See the excerpts from "Weems" especially pages 422 to 425 which reprints a letter from Noonan himself stating his accuracy is 10 NM! This is available on my website at:


    I could go on and on with additional examples but it should be obvious by now that I have serious doubts about the value of the Waitt report.


    --- On Mon, 4/25/11, Gary LaPook <glapook---.net> wrote:

    From: Gary LaPook <glapook---.net>
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Earhart's Plane - Search For?
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Date: Monday, April 25, 2011, 6:39 PM

    My further comments on the Waitt report:


    My further review of the Waitt report. This is not complete, just pointing out the glaring problems.

    Page 8
    mixes and matches statute miles and nautical miles.

    Page 9
    for support for its statements about celestial navigation (n1 and n2) it cites the TIGHAR report written by the guy I already mentioned who invented the term "look angle."

    Page 11

    the report states it used as a source "the celestial Almanac Pub 249 used for celestial navigation." There is no document named "celestial Almanac." There are two American published almanacs used for celestial navigation, the Nautical Almanac and the Air Almanac, each published by the U.S. Naval Observatory. These contain the positions of celestial bodies for each second of the year which is needed for calculating celestial fixes. There is a completely separate three volume document entitled Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation, U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office Publication H.O. 249 which is used for the actual computation starting with the data already retrieved from one of the almanacs. H.O. 249 and the Air Almanac were not published until years after AE's flight so were not used by Noonan. Noonan used the Nautical Almanac and H.O. 208 which is a set of trig tables used for similar computations as H.O 249.

    Page 14

    states "Indicated airspeed is roughly equivalent to ground speed at low altitudes" which is wrong. Indicated airspeed is roughly equivalent to "True Airspeed" at low altitudes. You must correct your indicated airspeed to obtain true airspeed and then allow for the wind to find ground speed. So if you indicated airspeed is 130 knots at one thousand feet your true airspeed will be about 133 knots but if you have a 25 knot headwind the ground speed will only be 108 knots, nowhere near the indicated airspeed.

    Page 20

    states the "EON" point A is an overshoot, meaning the plane went past Howland but the use of his octant by Noonan with the sun almost directly in front of them would keep this form happening.

    Page 21

    states that with reduced winds the EON C ended up short of Howland. Reduced winds, since they were headwinds, would result in an overshoot, not an undershoot.

    Page 21

    It also states that Noonan improperly applying the refraction correction and the dip correction to his octant observation of the "sunrise celestial calculation" could have caused up to a 70 nm error. First, Noonan couldn't take a"sunrise" observation because the correction table he had in his Nautical Almanac and in H.O 208 only has corrections for angles above the horizontal that are greater that six degrees. Refraction becomes much greater vary fast below this altitude. The refraction correction for 6 degrees is 8 minutes of arc but at zero altitude it is 34 minutes of arc. A sunrise observed from 10,000 feet is actually at 1 degree and 37 minutes below horizontal. The refraction correction for such a negative observation is 50 minutes of arc but Noonan would not have known this because a refraction correction table covering negative altitudes was not available until 1952. Noonan would have to wait about 25 minutes after the sun rose to allow it to climb above 6 degrees covered by his refraction correction table. Noonan knew this so would not have relied on observing sunrise.



    see my prior post at:


    When using a marine sextant you must allow for "dip." When using this type of sextant you use the visible horizon as your horizontal reference but unless you eye was exactly at sea level you are actually looking down towards the visible horizon so that the angle measured by the sextant will be too big. This is the reason for dip correction and is based on your height above the sea. This is applied by sailors. For example from a ship's bridge 25 feet above the sea the correction is 5 minutes of arc but the correction for an altitude of 10,000 feet would be 1 degree and 37 minutes. But this is only used with a marine sextant, not with the type of octant that Noonan was using. His octant utilizes a bubble for its horizontal reference, not the visible horizon, so there is no dip error and so no dip correction is applied.

    The myth of the "sunrise observation" was created by people who know "a little bit" about celestial navigation. The 337°-157° sunline line of position (LOP) was derived by an observation of the sun when the sun's azimuth (not "look angle") was 67° true since the LOP is at right angles to the azimuth to the celestial body. When the sun rose in the vicinity of Howland on July 2, 1937 its azimuth was 67° true. Those with "a little bit" of knowledge fastened on this fact to claim that Noonan took a sunrise observation and used only it in planning the approach to Howland. (They apparently believe that Noonan then opened the door and dropped his octant into the sea.) But what these people didn't understand is that the sun's azimuth stayed at 67° until 1847 Z, an hour after sunrise! This means that Noonan would have computed the same 337°-157° LOP from any sight taken during this one hour period and we have already seen that he would have had to wait until the sun was above 6° before taking the sight leaving about a half hour period for taking sights. He would have taken several sights as he approached the LOP then more after the interception to ensure staying on it. See attached Air Force navigator's document about this procedure.

    Page 23

    I already pointed out the ridiculous level of precision to which they state the coordinates of the "EON" points.

    Page 25-26

    states that the route was chosen to facilitate "an afternoon setting-sun celestial fix." A number of problems with this. First, you can't get a fix from observing one celestial body, it takes at least two and preferably three. Noonan would have waited till it got dark and then taken two or three stars for a proper fix. The only reason they were using a sun line LOP for finding Howland was that no stars were available during the day. Second you can't take a sunset observation for the same reasons that you can't take a sunrise observation as discussed above. Third we know that Noonan was able to take observations of bodies almost directly behind the plane on the flight to Hawaii so no advantage to this route.

    ....To be continued........

    --- On Mon, 4/25/11, Gary LaPook <glapook---.net> wrote:

    From: Gary LaPook <glapook---.net>
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Earhart's Plane - Search For?
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Date: Monday, April 25, 2011, 6:29 PM

    If you read from a book:

    "First place a metal container filled with a liquid heat-transfer-medium onto a source of heat energy. Add energy to the system until the liquid heat-transfer-medium reaches a temperature of 373 degrees Kelvin. Next breach the outer surface of an avian ovum and carefully pour the contents of it into the liquid heat transfer medium..."

    You might be able to figure out that this is a recipe for poaching an egg, but one thing you will know for sure is that the guy who wrote these words is not a cook! You know this because cooks use a standard terminology for their instructions while this guy was searching for words to describe the process, words that a cook would never use. The same is true for navigators who also use standard terminology.

    We discussed the Waitt research on another forum and I have some criticisms of it.

    I went to this website and read the whole hundred page report and ran into lots of non standard words used to describe the navigation which tells me that it was not written or reviewed  by a person who has knowledge about navigation. I ran into this same thing with TIGHAR's supposed navigation "experts." One example that sticks in my mind was when one of TIGHAR's "experts" was analyzing Noonan's navigation of the leg to Hawaii. He described the direction that Noonan was pointing his sextant to take observations of the stars as the "look angle!" Anybody who knows anything about navigation knows the standard word for this is "azimuth." It is the universal word for this and is the same word in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Greek,  Spanish, and  probably every other language since this word was of Arabic origin and was translated into all of these languages. Yet, TIGHAR's navigation "expert" had never heard of it. There are the same kind of problems with Waitts research.

    Here is an example. The report states the coordinates for three possible "end of navigation" (EON) points, a term you will not find in any navigation text.  It gives the coordinates for EON C as  N00° 40' 51.7 W177° 16' 41.1 which is also not a standard format for latitude and longitude. The proper format would be 0° 40' 51.7" N, 177° 16' 41.1" W. ( 0 degrees, 40 minutes, 51.7 seconds North, 177 degrees, 16 minutes 41.1 seconds West.) Notice the Waitt report left off the double quote marks which denote seconds of latitude and longitude. But even more funny is that a navigator would never use seconds but would use only minutes to give the location since seconds are a very small unit. And to make it even more ridiculous it gives the position to a precision of one-tenth of a second. A degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles. (A nautical mile is 6076 feet, 1852 meters, approximately 6000 feet.) Since there are 60 minutes in a degree one minute is one nautical mile, approximately 6000 feet. Since there are also 60 seconds in a minute this means that one second is 100 feet and a tenth of a second is only 10 feet! so Waitt is claiming to know the location to a precision of 10 feet, ridiculous! Also, since the plane was flying at about 150 mph (130 knots) so it was covering about 200 feet per second of time meaning that Waitt must also be claiming to know the time of arrival to one-twentieth of a second of time!

    As you can see, I have some problems with their methodology. I will examine it more fully in a future post.

    Ian wrote that we can eliminate the "crash and sank" theory because Waitt had searched the ocean bottom and found no plane, well not so fast. The bottom line is they did not search the most likely area.


    --- On Mon, 4/25/11, Gary LaPook <glapook---.net> wrote:

    From: Gary LaPook <glapook---.net>
    Subject: [NavList] Re: Earhart's Plane - Search For?
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Date: Monday, April 25, 2011, 5:58 PM



    their report is here:




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