Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interview with Elgen Long "Mystery Solved"

Elgen Long on the Friendship and the Vega

Question 1. The Friendship Fokker VII. Was the radio fore or aft?

Answer: Aft.

( 20 hrs. 40 mins., page 185: "I was kneeling beside the chart table, which was in front of the window on the port side. Through it I looked northward. It was at this time I took several photographs.
On the starboard side of the plane was another window. The table itself, a folding device, was Bill's chart table on which he made his calculations. Close by was the radio.")

Wilmer "Bill" Stultz was the only one on the plane that operated the radio.
( 20 hrs. 40 mins., page 106: "With the radio, we were particularly fortunate because Stultz is a skillful operator. It is unusual to find a man who is a great pilot, an instrument flyer, navigator, and a really good radio operator all in one." - and on page 190: "I wish I knew radio. I could help a lot.")

FYI - Miscellaneous remarks about the radio: It was a Morse code - dots and dashes using a radio key - operating on the ship's calling frequency of 500 Kilocycles. No microphone could be used for voice transmissions. When Mr. Stultz received a call from a ship or shore station, he would give the call sign to Amelia and she would look up in the radio call sign book (pages 175 and 180) the actual name of the ship Stultz had contacted.

The Fokker that Admiral Byrd actually flew to the North pole in 1926, I believe, is still on display at the "Ford Museum" in Dearborn, Michigan.

Question 2. The Vega 5B. During the 1932 trip she (Amelia) mentions that the manifold seal broke or separated, so flames were shooting out of the engine. Where could she see those from?

Answer: Immediately in front of her through the cockpit window.

(THE FUN OF IT, Page 216: "About four hours out of Newfoundland, I noticed that the flames were coming through a broken weld in the manifold ring. I knew it would grow worse as the night wore on. However, the metal was very heavy and I hoped it would last until I reached land. I was indeed sorry that I had looked at the break at all because the flames appeared so much worse at night than they did in the daytime.")

(Last Flight, first edition, Page 17: "Looking back, there are less cheering recollections of that night over the Atlantic. Of seeing, for instance, the flames lick through the exhaust collector ring and wondering, in a detached way, whether one would prefer drowning to incineration.")

The Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine on Earhart's Vega 5B was covered with an engine cowling that completely encircled the engine. The air would come in through the opening in the nose section, then pass over the engine cylinders and exhaust collector ring to cool them, before exiting out through a encircling narrow opening at the rear. The pilots' windshield was only a few inches behind the engine cowlings rear opening, and Amelia could look through the opening and see the exhaust collector ring (exhaust manifold) inside. If there were any flames leaking from the manifold in front of her she would see them through the windshield.

Last Flight, first edition, the picture opposite page 31, shows Amelia standing in the cockpit seat of the Vega she flew from Honolulu to Oakland, California in 1935. The Pacific Vega's engine was identical to the Atlantic Vega's engine. The opening at the rear of the encircling engine cowling, just in front of the cockpit windshield, is shown very clearly in this illustration.

The actual Vega Amelia flew across the Atlantic, I believe, is still on display at the "Smithsonian Air and Space Museum" in Washington, D.C.

Elgen Long

Author "Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved"
Consultant, Amelia

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