S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

Archive for the tag “flight”

Review – Someone Is Hiding Something: What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

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Four Stars

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has disappeared—vanished completely. The Boeing 777 Extended Range aircraft departed Kuala Lumpur airport early in the morning of 8 March 2014 outbound for Beijing. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah sent a routine radio message about thirty-eight minutes later to Malaysia air traffic control (ATC). The aircraft was then over the South China Sea. Shortly, all transmissions from Flight 370 ceased, and its image failed to appear on ATC radar screens.

This book is the most comprehensive and objective narrative that I’ve read regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It’s a clinically precise exploration of the evidence extant about Flight 370. The authors have integrated these facts into various scenarios that posit the fate of Flight 370.

Unfortunately, the organization of the narrative is a hodgepodge of unrelated facts/evidence and explanations of their consequences. Accordingly, I found this lack of coherence militates against a comprehensive understanding of what happened to Flight 370. For example, the discussions of catastrophic failure are spread throughout the book. If all the text regarding catastrophic failure were presented in one chapter, we might know that it was responsible for the fate of Flight 370.  It would explain the immediate failure of all communications from the flight and its disappearance from Malaysian and Vietnamese radars. On the other hand, we would know that a catastrophic failure could not be responsible because there was no debris field on land or water—an essential element of a catastrophic failure—and because reconnaissance satellites tracked Flight 370 for seven and one-half hours after the communication cessation and the plane’s absence from radars.

The lack of a debris field is key to this mystery. An airliner falling into the ocean is the same as it hitting a brick wall. It would explode into thousands of pieces. The Boeing model 777 aircraft has approximately three million parts—many of which float.  Additionally, luggage and body parts float. It is inconceivable that an aircraft would crash on terra firma or the sea and not leave a large debris field several miles wide.

Lack of coherence also applies to the discussions of missile shoot-down, skyjacking, remote control attack, sabotage, pilot suicide, weather, aliens, etc.

The authors pooh-pooh the investigation: it was sabotaged, some things are hidden. Pundits aver that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knows what happened to Flight 370 and won’t tell. Ditto for the National Security Agency (NSA). “It’s not possible that NSA does not know where Flight 370 is.” NSA says nothing.

Flight 370 is missing, and its location is a mystery. Though not stated directly, the subtext of this narrative is that Flight 370 was diverted to an airstrip somewhere in Central Asia and is being prepared for some evil deed.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Flight 370 simply vanished in some way that we do not understand.” This is nonsense. Airplanes just don’t disappear. Satellites track everything. Airplanes want to be seen. They just do not disappear.

There is much more information—too much to repeat in this review. I heartily recommend this book.

FIN

N.B. To date, I’ve posted 20 comments on the mystery of Malaysia Flight 370 on my blog (sheltoncomm.com). The day that Flight 370 was reported missing, I formed a scenario about the cause of the mystery. For the first time, here is my supposition. One or more of the crew took control of the aircraft anddiverted it to a remote airstrip in Sinkiang (Wade-Giles spelling) Province in Western China for the dissidents among the Uighur to use for an attack on some city in China.

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Review – Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Why It Disappeared—and Why It’s Only a Matter of Time Before This Happens Again

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Five Stars

Soucie’s goal in this narrative was to explore the mystery of the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. He writes in an easy professional style for a knowledgeable audience. With deft skills he details the facts known about the disappearance of Flight 370. He tackles this task with concise reasoning coupled with statistical analysis of the facts of this flight and their inferences. He does not offer conjectures. He relies on the facts in developing the narrative and he challenges the readers “…to make an informed judgement about the fate of Flight 370. The facts speak for themselves.”

Here is what we know (as of 2015, the year of this book’s copyright). Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur Airport at 0041, 8 March 2014, outbound to Beijing, China. On board were 227 passengers and twelve crew members. The captain was Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53 years old, who had 18,000 flight-time hours. The copilot was Abdel Hamid, 27 years old, with 2,700 flight-time hours.

The aircraft was a Boeing 777-ER (Extended Range). It had last been maintained on 23 February 2014. Its range was about 8,000 nautical miles, and its cruising speed was Mach 0.48 (640 mph). The Boeing 777 aircraft have had an excellent safety record.

After liftoff, Flight 370 progressed routinely. At 0119, Lumpur Radar transmitted, “Ma- laysian three seven zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one two zero decimal nine. Good night.”

Captain Shah responded, “Good night. Malaysian three seven zero.”

This was the last voice transmission from Flight 370. At 0121, Kuala Lumpur Area Traffic Control Center radar observed Flight 370. Five seconds later, the Model S-Enhanced transponder on Flight 370 ceased transmitting to air traffic control radar and disappeared from the screen. No May Days, no distress transmission, nothing. This model transponder transmits in- formation regarding aircraft identification, altitude, roll, track, ground speed, air speed, magnetic heading, and rate of climb/descent, concurrently. Flight 370’s radar glyph vanished from the ra- dar at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, ACC. Immediately afterwards, the aircraft appeared to have changed course—it was now heading west.

Regarding “why” Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared, the author posits two assumptions:

  1. “Either the aircraft was commandeered by one of the pilots or an assailant, or
  2. there was a fire in the cockpit or in the equipment and electronic compartment.…”

No need to relay the details of Soucie’s investigation. It’s compelling, chronological, and cogent. I was particularly impressed with his posting in Chapter 26 a comprehensive timeline from the transponder failure on 8 March to 18 June 2014, when an Australian research vessel joined the search in the Indian Ocean.

Soucie’s recurring theme in his narrative is, “Aircraft want to be seen. They do not just disappear.” Civilian and military radar and satellites track aircraft.

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Amelia Earhart Died on Saipan Scenario Fiction

The airways and television were abuzz about the “new” photograph that purports to show Earhart and Noonan on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands in Japanese custody. At 8:00 PM, Sunday, 9 July 2017, the History Channel broadcasted a two-hour show claiming that this photograph solves the mysterious disappearance of the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

As a longtime aficionado of the Earhart mystery, I can categorically assert that Earhart and Noonan are not in this picture.Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 5.41.01 PM.png

The following comments are courtesy of TIGHAR.

  • If the flyers were in Japanese custody, where are the Japanese soldiers? Where are the weapons?
    • No one is guarding anyone.
  • Earhart’s hair was much shorter than the hair of the person sitting on the dock who is purportedly Earhart.
  • On the around-the-world flight, Earhart wore a dark, long-sleeved shirt.
    • The woman on the dock is wearing a white shirt.
  • Noonan wore dark trousers and a dark shirt.
    • The man purported to be Noonan wears a wears a white outfit.
  • The man purported to be Noonan has a receding hairline on the right side of his face.
    • Noonan’s receding hairline was on his left side.

***

There is no concrete evidence that Amelia Earhart landed in the Marshal Islands, was captured by the Japanese, taken to Saipan, and died there. NONE. The apocryphal evidence is not enough to make a convincing, provable argument.

The Japanese capture theory is that Earhart crash-landed on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, some 767 nautical miles NNW of Howland Island—her destination. She and Noonan were picked up by natives. The Japanese found them, took them prisoner as spies found within their very tightly controlled “Bamboo Curtain,” a vast area in the central Pacific that included the Marianas, Marshalls, Carolines, and other islands (taken from the Germans in WWI). The Japanese took the flyers to Jaluit Island on a Japanese ship towing the Electra on a barge. A few days later, the flyers were on Saipan and imprisoned. Noonan was executed (he was a Navy Reserve lieutenant commander). Earhart died of some disease. It’s a great tale. Until some undisputable evidence is proffered, the Saipan scenario remains a fable.

There are no Japanese records. No USA records. No Marshall Island records. No documents. No photographs. No bones that would pass a DNA test. No verifiable parts of her Electra. No eyewitness testimony that’s credible (taken under oath and in the proper setting). Several islanders had averred that they saw Earhart and Noonan in the islands. The islanders tended to tell the questioners what they believed the questioners wanted to hear. Several American G.I.s told researchers about their experiences related to Earhart and Noonan on Saipan. However, not one produced concrete evidence. Accordingly, there is no irrefutable evidence that Earhart died on Saipan while in Japanese custody. None whatsoever. Not even a smidgen.

Actual facts about Amelia Earhart’s flight from Lae, New Guinea, en route to Howland Island:

  • On 2 July 1937, at 1000 hours, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed Lae, New Guinea, with 1,100 standard US gallons of fuel on board.
    • Destination was Howland Island—2,223 nautical miles to the east.
    • Anchored off Howland Island was her guard ship, the USCG Itasca.
    • On average, the twin-engine Electra consumed about 38 US gallons per hour, including takeoff, the climb to altitude, descent, etc.
  • I’ve computed (all factors considered) that her ground speed was about 117 knots from Lae to near Howland.
  • 0720 hours, 2 July, Amelia Earhart transmitted, “We must be on you, but we cannot see you but gas is running low….” (She had crossed the International Date Line.)
    • Her radio transmitter had only 50 watts of power.
    • On board the USCG Itasca the signal strength of the 0720 message was #5, the highest level: loud and clear.
  • Chief Petty Officer Radioman Leo Bellart, USN, senior radio operator on board the Itasca, estimated that the Electra was about 100 nm to 150 nm from Howland.
  • Her flight time from Lae to near Howland was about 19.6 hours.
  • Earhart’s fuel reserve would have been about 88 gallons if she had arrived at Howland Island. That is about 2.3 hours flight time, or 264 nautical miles.

It was physically impossible for Amelia Earhart to fly to Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands—767 nm distant.

The following is a simple Monte Carlo Simulation regarding the fuel needed for an Earhart flight from near Howland to Mili Atoll. All numbers are within 10% to 15% error.

  • Continuing with Earhart’s standard fuel consumption rate (38 gal/hr), it would take her 6.6 hours flight time to reach Mili Atoll. (767 nm ÷ 117 knots = 6.6 hours)
  • Such a flight requires 250 gallons of fuel. (6.6 hours x 38 gal per hour)
  • Fuel remaining in the Electra when near Howland would be 88 gal

Amelia Earhart did not have enough fuel to reach Mili Atoll.

Also, I wonder if she were physically and mentally able to complete a flight of an additional 6.6 hours to Mili Atoll—a total of 25.6 continuous hours in flight. When close to Howland, she had been flying for about 19 hours. On this around-the-world flight, Earhart had been flying off and on for forty-four exhausting days, covering 21,000 nautical miles by the time she had arrived at Lae, New Guinea.

I’m working on an extensive, opinion-neutral monograph that explores the five most publicized scenarios that purport to explain Earhart’s mysterious disappearance, and that evaluates dispassionately their credibility.

For background, I’ve attached the Bamboo Curtain scenario that’s in my monograph.

The Japanese Mandated Islands

Background. To understand the keen interest in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, it’s essential to set the world’s political stage, including the festering issues that would lead to World War II in the Pacific in December 1941.

World War I began 28 July 1914 in Europe, the Mideast, China, and the Pacific islands. Japan declared war on Germany and captured the German Treaty Ports in China: Tsingtao, Hankow, and Tientsin, for example. The Imperial Japanese Navy pursued the German East Asiatic Squadron into the German Pacific Island Colonies—the Marshall Islands, Carolines, Marianas, Solomon, New Britain, and many other island groups. The Japanese Admiralty chose not to pursue the German fleet further. Rather, the Japanese navy occupied these islands. These former German colonies are a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls lying about two thousand miles astride the Central Pacific, from Saipan to Guadalcanal.

In 1920, the League of Nations mandated these former German Pacific Colonies to the Empire of Japan with the proviso that Japan would not annex or militarize them, would keep shipping lanes open for all maritime traffic, and would “administer these territories as a sacred trust to develop them for the benefit of the native peoples.”

In February 1933, Japan left the League of Nations and sealed this vast area of the Central and Southern Pacific within the “Bamboo Curtain,” protecting it from all intrusions. The Imperial Japanese Navy began construction of airfields, fortifications, ports, and other military projects in preparation for the upcoming war with the Occidentals.

The United States Navy knew to a near certainty that a Pacific war with the Empire of Japan was inevitable. Officials were seriously concerned by their lack of intelligence from inside the Bamboo Curtain.

FIN

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 6.06.00 PMPlease visit my website to see information about my book titled Aviators, Adventurers, and AssassinsThe lead novella is Amelia. It is the log of a naval intelligence officer researching the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan (navigator), and her Lockheed Electra model 10E aeroplane. His findings change the history of World War II.

Book Review- Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last: Second Edition

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Rating – Three Stars

For the aficionado of the Amelia Earhart disappearance, Campbell’s book is a must-read. He has assiduously reviewed the relevant literature regarding her last flight and, with keen ingenuity, he has compiled a compelling account that purports to unmask the enduring enigma of that flight. From the pertinent publications, he has excerpted eyewitness accounts (and second- and third-hand narratives), relevant documents, and technical details, and has assembled this substantial information into a coherent chronology.

Background: On 21 May 1937, in Oakland, California, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, started an around-the-world flight in her customized Lockheed Electra model 10E. At 1030 hours on 2 June 1939, they departed Lae, New Guinea, bound on a nonstop flight to Howland Island—2,333 nautical miles distant. They vanished. And the mystery has endured.

With deductive reasoning, Campbell concludes that Amelia Earhart landed her Lockheed Electra model 10E on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. There is no credible data to explain Earhart’s decision to fly into the Marshall—a dangerous action. Under a 1920 League of Nations mandate, the Japanese controlled the Marshall Islands—the Carolines and the Marianas. Japan sealed off this vast area of the Central Pacific within the Bamboo Curtain. In secret, during the 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Navy began construction of airfields, fortifications, ports, and other military projects in preparation for the upcoming war with the Occidentals.

Members of the Japanese Navy captured Earhart and Noonan, and took them to Saipan, the Japanese Navy Headquarters in the Pacific. The pair were interrogated, and imprisoned as spies. Eventually, a Japanese officer beheaded Noonan, and Amelia Earhart was either killed or died of disease. Their bodies were buried in unmarked graves.

The rebuttal to this scenario is that there are no artifacts, no photographs, and no written documents—we have nothing tangible. This lack of hard evidence is especially curious. The Japanese were obsessively driven to keep meticulous documentation and to keep Military Headquarters in Tokyo well informed of any out-of-ordinary activities. The capture of the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart would certainly have engendered a flurry of message traffic and entries into the diaries of senior officers. To date, no credible records exist. The Japanese were avid photographers, and many Saipan witnesses averred that they saw photographs of Earhart displayed by Japanese soldiers—yet no such photograph survives.

Notwithstanding the excellence with which Campbell has penned this exposé, I’m chagrined at his arrogant dismissal of all other scenarios that explain Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. In one instance, Campbell gives short shrift to Commander Warner K. Thompson’s 106-page report that was highly critical of Earhart’s piloting skills and decried her radio-technique ineptness. Forthrightly, Commander Thompson, captain of the USS Itasca, blames Amelia Earhart’s serial incompetence for her demise. Also, Campbell tends to reject evidence that counters his rock-solid dogma. Simply put, his singlemindedness in castigating the apostates with scandalous rhetoric and schoolboy name-calling denigrates in large measure his professional standing.

Campbell conducted only marginal original research. Rather, he has relied on secondary sources. He acknowledges missives and oral commentary from Bill Prymak, Thomas Devine, and Jim Golden. His three key publication sources were:

  • Fred Goerner, The Search for Amelia Earhart
  • Thomas E. Devine, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident
  • Vincent V. Loomis, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story

 As the thorough author Campbell is, he includes numerous photographs; Fred Goerner’s “Island Witness List”; a declassified COMNAVMARIANAS radio message to CNO, Subject: Amelia Earhart; a Selected Bibliography including reports and other documents, magazine, newspaper, and blog articles; and an Index.

Campbell writes with deft skills and unbridled passion in this seminal work. His narrative is infectious—a page-turner par excellence. His coherent assembly of the relevant material reflects incredible organizational skills and true dedication to his conviction.

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