Regular readers of this blog are familiar with the erudite writings and analysis of Calvin Pitts, now 88, a remarkable gentleman, probably the last of the “Old School” aviators and this blog’s best friend and advocate. We’re always honored when he gifts us with his formidable knowledge and experience.
Best known for his 1981 world flight, when he and two co-pilots commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Wiley Post-Harold Gatty World Flight in 1931, Calvin’s brilliant, five-part analysis of Earhart’s last flight, “CLUES: Amelia Earhart’s Disappearing Footprints in the Sky,” first published on Aug. 10, 2018, is among the finest pieces of work to grace this blog since its inception in 2012.
Like most of us, Calvin hadn’t known about Elgen Long’s death in late January of this year, but once he saw my last post, he realized he had plenty to say, especially about Long’s long-running circus act, in which he presumed to be America’s semi-official mouthpiece and self-proclaimed expert on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
Here’s Calvin’s educational and entertaining essay on the passing of Elgen Long.
The latest posting of yours sent me back to Elgen Long’s dust-covered book, “The
LONGest Yarn,” err, I mean, The Mystery Solved, giving us the Long-awaited
questions to the answers our government wanted us to believe.
Diversion is a masterful tool when evidence points toward uncomfortable, but meaningful truth.
I made this trip back to The Mystery Solved to remind me of the reasons why I had
rejected LONG’s Faux Final Solution about Amelia in the first place.
Now that I remember, I’ve got to get this off my chest so I can close my notebook
on Amelia’s Mystery Moguls who are more mysterious and vacuous than even her
Capt. Long, the Master of Minutia . . . but not of Truth, called it a “mystery.” But the real mystery is: How could he swim in an ocean of minutia and miss the truth?
For example: (1) On p.15, instead of using a generalized “less than 10 seconds,” he
must nail down gear retraction to exactly “7 seconds.” Fine. That came directly
from the Lockheed Electra Handbook, a “specific” detail. Accepted.
OK, that now becomes our standard. No inaccuracy where such important details as
raising the gear is concerned. Fine. But if we are going to be that nit-picking here,
then “picking is as picking does.” You’ll see. Details are of equal importance, as author LONG was painfully unable to prove.
So, let’s pick our own Blackberries from his thorn bush of sticky inaccuracies.
(2). After takeoff, while still barely above the water of Huon Gulf, AE turned to
exactly “073 degrees direct to Howland,” he said, Long now had her headed directly for jungle and trees while barely above the water. Really? But his factoid was
considerably in error for their new flight plan which had been changed.
“In error?” First is that little detail of a strong crosswind, both forecast and experienced. With a “strong crosswind,” an exact heading of 073 degrees might have taken them directly to the Marshall Islands instead of Howland. But just a small detail.
In fact, the “wind” which LONG labeled “headwind” was actually a “crosswind.” But
not to worry. A mere detail of little consequence.
Since AE and Fred had determined to circumnavigate a massive area of T’storms in
a low-pressure system of very bad weather sitting on their originally planned course,
they elected to fly south directly toward the Solomon Islands, Choiseul to be exact (an important detail), where rested a large volcano, Mount Maetambe (an interesting detail), to still be exact, but not according to Long’s flawed research concerning the new weather. report (a very significant detail).
By contrast, Fred’s new heading toward Choiseul would keep them over water during
those precarious first moments while they were trying to keep a heavy plane in the
air which was perhaps 35 percent over-gross weight (Long guessed 50 percent). Mere detail.
Having been there, some of us know the stress of that first hour of a minimum rate of climb while carrying a maximum load of fuel. A sobering detail.
(3). Long next gives us a groundspeed, not airspeed, of 120.7 kts (i.e., “142 mph
ground speed”). Being low over nothing but water, how did AE determine the
Electra’s ground “speed” without “ground” reference? What wave-tops did she use
for fixes? But his is a “specific” detail, and specific is important, even when inaccurate.
(4). On this first leg of the flight, LONG made much to do about “stronger headwinds
than anticipated” (p.17). With nothing but “crosswinds” forecast for them, and later
reported, he needs to calculate for AE the headwind “component.”
How did he do that? From Lae to Choiseul, according to the latest weather reports,
it was not a “direct” crosswind with a “partial” headwind.
However, from the Solomons to Nukumanu Island, it was almost a “direct” crosswind (he supposed), forecast to be about 25 kts. That would make it 28.75 mph. Long tells us it was “26.5 mph” (p.18), which would make it 22.53 kts. Important details (sic), but not verifiable, of course.
Since we derive those numbers from LONG’s calculations, we will assume he is correct, although he has no way of determining this without input from Fred. And since when did forecast winds remain steady and consistent so that they will remain steady at those half-mile or half-knot increments?
However, it’s easy to overlook one small detail in this search for accuracy. LONG refers to this as a headwind, albeit the weather reports do not show this. Instead, the reports provide the position of the low-pressure areas with arrows indicating forecast winds and speeds.
Since the winds from a low-pressure system flow counterclockwise, and since that reported low was west of the Electra, the winds for that leg flying south to north could have been partial tail-winds instead. Not likely, but possible. What information did Fred give AE about their ground-speed? LONG could have told us.
Further, for his calculations did he change the headwind component for this two-hour leg which included a change of heading at Choiseul from East to NE? Not according to his record, he didn’t.
(5). There’s another prickly detail which is very interesting, relating to Long’s charge that Fred made a “1-hour” mistake in reporting their position at Nukumanu Island. The details border on humorous, but the error was not Fred’s. We’ll leave that for later. It concerns the famous 0718 GMT report, 7-plus hours into the flight.
(6). But enough of picky. Here’s the BIG ONE which really catches our attention. Long
quotes AE giving their position as: “150.7 E. Longitude” (p. 17). OR DID SHE?
Without any adequate explanation, in fact, omit “adequate,” without an explanation of such a significant error, Long merely says: “. . . this was not their position at 0519 GCT” (3:19 pm local). How did he know, and by what means did he determine this?
OK, for the devil-of-details, this is major detail inaccuracy. What really is the explanation? What is it? Long offered none, although inconveniently there is one.
What was reported was not “150.7”. . . BUT rather, “157.” How do we know? Balfour, a Lae weatherman, recorded “150.7” in the log. Long, without analysis, accepted the detail of that report without question. As a professional navigator, why didn’t he correct such a massive mistake of details?
Actually, what was reported from Noonan to Earhart, and what was reported from Earhart to Balfour was NOT “150.7 East,” but rather “157 East.” How do we know?
Because, diverting for the massive T’storms sitting on their original routing, they were flying south of the storms heading directly toward Choiseul, Solomon Islands, and its highly visible smoking volcano, Mt. Maetambe.
That smoking mountain, ironically, sat right on the 157.0 East line of longitude. Does the light begin to come on? That was what they saw, and the position adjacent to it which they reported was the very reason they had to climb to 10,000, a detail about which Long was critical.
Fred was concerned about their position, and their altitude in relationship to the mountain, whereas Long was concerned about the detail of the effect of that higher altitude on their engine performance. No small detail, he must have reasoned.
Furthermore, if “150.7 East” longitude had been correct, then by looking at a map or chart, which a researcher should have done, one would see that the 150.7 East longitude is only about 255 statute miles from Lae . . . (get this) after 5 hours and 19 minutes (0519 GCT) of flight time. Now that is s.l.o.w. Consider:
According to LONG’s “stronger than planned headwind,” they were now flying at only 48.1 mph, using excessive fuel. Yes, that’s a significantly “stronger” headwind than planned, and yes, that would make them quite late in getting to Howland.
Minutia details trumped material details.
According to the Google Earth map, there is about a 430 statute mile difference between the two lines of Longitude. That’s more than 3 hours of flight time for the Electra. Another small detail!
So how did Noonan make such a navigational error? HE DIDN’T. What he relayed to AE was “157.” What she reported to Balfour was “15—7.” What Balfour heard was “150.7.”
Try saying those numbers to yourself: “One-Fifty—-Seven,” with a breath-pause.
Balfour misread the significance of the slight pause between “fifty and seven.”
No problem, except for the fact that, when the “devil is in the details,” the detail-man failed to explain such a critical misunderstanding. How could he let this go while making certain he records “speeds” down to a mere half-mile, as in 142.5 rather than 142 or 143?
Imagine: You catch the “7 seconds” for gear retraction, but you miss the “157
longitude” of a smoking volcano, a 400-plus mile error. Again, just a detail.
It’s no wonder that later, when Long’s agenda-driven government-goal is to place the
Electra in the ocean where no proof is available, that he enables the government to
bury the mystery in a watery grave without evidence, all while “missing” the real
eye-witness evidence which gets buried in denials and mystery.
Unconscionable, but understandable when one is driven by official agendas. The
officials and the government had too much to lose if the Electra was ever found.
Morgenthau and Roosevelt would have had the stain of blood on their reputations if
the Electra was ever found, so, they poisoned the Well of History with expressed
concern over Amelia’s reputation if it was ever discovered that she “disobeyed
government orders.” Another minor detail.
We digress, but out of a desire for honesty and truth in records of history. So,
back to Long and his obsession with goals, awards, truth, details . . . and agendas.
His account of the Earhart Story is more about “pre-supposition” (put the Electra
and its crew in the water under the veil of mystery) . . . rather than about the truth
of a multitude of witnesses who testified to the accident on Mili Atoll and imprisonment in a jail in Saipan, with many local witnesses and at least one Admiral
and three Generals.
Details seem to be important when the concern is about gear-retraction, headings,
groundspeeds, and the distinction between numbers like “161 rather than 160.”
Priorities, my dear Watson, priorities and agenda, but to hades with details when
they contradict a pre-known crash and sinking in the sea.
No amount of evidence and detail can spoil a previously known narrative if the
government’s agenda is ocean water and glorious mystery. Put that expendable
woman and man in the ocean, and let the evidence sink with them.
Unfortunately, the evidence remained with the witnesses, many of whom were actually interviewed, with unwanted details which were then published.
We could fill a book with Long’s other faux factoids, but the government would not
be pleased, and the Awards and Grants might not then be forthcoming.
Elgen Long was a professional pilot with impressive achievements. His solo RTW
navigation over the poles is stunning. Any round-the-world pilot could bow at his feet
over such accomplishments as his. It would be an honor.
But there are men in history, good men like Jacob’s son, Esau, who will sell their
inheritance for a mess of pottage. No one knows what they will do when approval,
acceptance, and awards by the mainstream power-brokers make it clear what is
desired for an end result. Awards, acclaim, and public acceptance are sometimes
more powerful than money.
Look, for example, at a current dynamic, where a former President of the United States will align himself with a Leftist power-structure which he once strongly opposed, just to defeat another ex-President in an election. Or consider Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War, or Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Atomic secrets to the Communists in the 1950’s.
Small or large, it is shameful, if not for us, at least for the historical record.
And regarding the Life of Amelia Earhart, why, pray tell, will the very hometown of her life, Atchison, Kansas, drink the same Kool-Aid? The AE Museum will not even communicate about the details of historical evidence related to her. We know. We tried. Their silence in the face of monumental evidence is an even greater lie than Long’s conclusions about Amelia’s death-at-sea.
Perhaps that mountain of evidence will prevail in the end. Here’s to the Truth. This
is but a small sampling of a much larger issue in this Book of Solutions.
Thanks for your posting, and the delusion it illustrates. (End of Calvin Pitts’ commentary.)
We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to Calvin for his thoughtful essay on Elgen Long, an aviation icon for whom record-setting feats and public adulation weren’t enough, and who, for his own selfish reasons, sold his legacy and reputation to the Deep State so that the American public, and thus the world, could be better kept clueless about the sad fates of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
Some might not appreciate the two pieces Calvin and I have written about Elgen Long, who’s no longer around to defend himself. But if he were, his response would doubtless be no different than it always was — to completely ignore those who present the truth. Regardless, it would be worse if we didn’t acknowledge the event of Long’s passing. His influence was too far reaching, and it would not reflect well on us if we didn’t acknowledge his death.
Someone needs to do this, to get it right for future generations who might actually want to know the long-lost Earhart truth, so despised by today’s establishment historians. If not us, then who? As I wrote to Calvin, “Some might think we’re ‘ganging up’ on Long, but did he ever care about the poor fliers and their unfairly tattered legacies? Not a chance. He was an egomaniac who played the American public for suckers half his life. We’ll do our due diligence in this Long matter, you and I, and then shake the dust off our feet and move on.”
For much more of Calvin’s generous and important contributions to this blog, and to our knowledge and appreciation of our aviation heritage, please click here.