Earhart and Noonan by the Lockheed L10 Electra at Darwin, Australia on June 28, 1937 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark (AE2EA), who shares the following video presentation by the Antique Wireless Association:
Radios and the the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan
Today, when GPS provides astounding levels of absolute position accuracy, it can be hard to appreciate the navigational challenges that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan experienced on their around the world flight in 1937. Radio played an important part in in their success, and possibly in their failure. AWA member Brian Harrison, KN4R, takes a deep dive into the role of radio in Earhart’s last flight, it’s possible role in her disappearance and how a group of dedicated researchers are recreating Earhart’s and Noonan’s original transmissions using the same type equipment to help solve the mystery of their disappearance, and possibly locate their Lockheed Electra 10E.
Here’s an opportunity for both ham radio operators and SWLs to log this special event air mobile station throughout June and July. Based on WB6RQN’s flight path, almost everyone should have an opportunity to put WB6RQN in the logs!
Brian Lloyd has a powerful radio system aboard the Spirit. The radio communicates on High Frequency (HF) shortwave using Single Sideband (SSB), and anyone can tune in to these transmissions who has the proper type of radio receiver. Listen for WB6RQN, that’s Brian’s Ham radio callsign. Ham radio operators around the world are invited to communicate with Brian while he is on the air in international airspace using the Ham bands. HF radio is dependent on ionospheric conditions to be heard over long distances, and it may change rapidly with the space weather or other factors.
Ham Radio Technical Information
Ham Radio Callsign: WB6RQN Operator Name: Brian QSL Via:eqsl.cc Electronic QSL system HF Radio: Mobat model Micom 3, commercial HF transceiver HF Power: Maximum power 125 Watts, 2-30 MHz HF Antenna: Tapered Towel Rack type Belly Wire, with Automatic Tuning Unit (ATU) HF Modes of Operation: SSB Voice or ALE Ham Callsign Phonetics: Whisky Bravo Six Romeo Quebec November , Listen:
Schedule of Possible Upcoming HF Radio Operation in 2017
31 May: Texas to Miami 01 June: Depart Miami. Embark on Round-the-World flight 02 June: Caribbean Sea area 03 June: South America area, Atlantic Ocean 05-06 June: South America, Atlantic Ocean, Brazilian Coast 07 June: Atlantic Ocean 08-09 June: Western Africa area 10 June: Eastern Africa area, Red Sea 11 June: Arabian Peninsula, Arabian Sea 12-15 June: South Asia, Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean 16-18 June: SouthEast Asia, Adaman Sea, Indian Ocean 19-23 June: SouthEast Asia, Gulf of Thailand, Java Sea 24 June: Timor Sea area to Australia area 30 June – 4 July: Australia area, Tasman Sea, to New Zealand 14 July: New Zealand to Fiji, South Pacific Ocean 15 July: Fiji to Howland Island overflight, Pacific Ocean 16 July: Hawaii, Pacific Ocean 17-18 July: Hawaii to California, Pacific Ocean 19-21 July: California area 22-23 July: Western USA to Kansas area 24-28 July: Oshkosh Wisconsin USA for AirVenture 29 July: Oshkosh to Texas
Note: All dates and flight locations are approximate and tentative. Please see the Live Tracking Map for actual locations and flight movements.
Ham Radio Frequencies of Operation for Spirit Flights
HF Frequencies for Ham Radio SSB Voice QSOs and DX:
Ham QSO activity may occur at any time while the airplane is in International airspace, USA, or some other areas.
Ham operation may happen while Brian is not busy with flight operations
There may be unexpected interruptions during a QSO
Please be especially courteous and patient, because his first priority is to pilot the plane.
Simplex or Split? Most of the time, WB6RQN will use simplex, listening and transmitting on the same HF frequency. But, sometimes Brian may ask calling stations to transmit “UP 5” split. When using UP 5 split, your transmit frequency must be exactly 5 kHz above WB6RQN. The plane’s HF radio is channelized, and it does not have an S-meter.
Brian said, “During the actual flight I can talk on ham radio when I’m not using the HF radio to make position and status reports to Air Traffic Control. I will probably get 10 to 15 minute windows when I will be able to work ham stations on the HF bands occasionally. I have never been a contester, so my QSO rate will probably be lower than most ham operators would like.”
HF Channel Frequencies for Ham Radio ALE Activity:
Activity using common Amateur Radio standard 2G-ALEAutomatic Link Establishment may occur on the following scanned channels when Brian is not busy with flight operations.
ALE activity may occur at any time while the airplane is in International airspace, USA, or some other areas.
Whenever the ALE soundings of WB6RQN are heard, operators are invited to call on any one of these channels using an ALE Individual Call and link with WB6RQN.
When linked on an ALE Voice channel, the preferred QSO method is Upper Sideband Voice.
If a text is to be sent, use AMD and include the AMD text within the initial Individual Call.
Do not expect a wordy text reply, because there is usually no QWERTY keyboard connected to the ALE radio in the cockpit.
Anyone copying soundings, calling, or other types of reports is encouraged to post ALE reception logs on the HFLINK.NET website.
For SWLs (Shortwave Listeners) or UTEs (Utility Monitors), it is possible to listen to Spirit on the Air Traffic Control (ATC) HF Aeronautical frequencies with an SSB (Single Sideband) receiver. More information about listening to Spirit on HF Aero, click here.
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E. During its modification, the aircraft had most of the cabin windows blanked out and had specially fitted fuselage fuel tanks. (Source: Wikipedia)
I’ve been sent this message from a number of sources. I hope it’s true as it’s a fascinating concept:
Hi, my name is Les Kinney and I am a retired federal agent and historical researcher. I am part of a group that will be traveling to a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands in mid-December. Our research concerns the theory that Amelia Earhart ran out of gas and landed wheels down next to a small island at Mili Atoll. There were three local natives who witnessed this landing during the late morning of July 3, 1937. We have found aircraft artifacts on this small island which we believe may have come from Earhart’s Lockheed 10E.
We also believe Earhart broadcast distress messages that were heard for the next several days. These voice transmissions were heard by the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, three Pan Am listening stations and several radio listeners in the United States, Canada, Nauru, and Australia.
Unfortunately, because of atmospheric conditions, most likely caused by thunder storms, most of the messages were garbled and unreadable. Several radio listeners believed they heard Earhart speaking. Most heard a word or two; some a sentence or more. Some thought they heard partial latitude and longitude coordinates. None heard Earhart report she was at a specific geographic location except one. That person was Nina Paxton, a registered nurse from Ashland Kentucky. Nina had a new Philco console radio and said she heard Earhart around 2 pm Eastern Standard Time on Saturday July 3rd, 1937. Nina reported Earhart saying they were down on a little island at Mili Atoll. Amelia mentioned her navigator, Fred Noonan, was hurt, they were almost out of gas and warned they couldn’t stay there long.
Earhart’s Lockheed Electra was equipped with a 50 watt Western Electric model 13C transmitter. Earhart would have had to have one engine running to transmit. For a variety of technical reasons, she would have likely been transmitting on 6210 kilocycles high on the AM band which was her day time frequency. There is a remote chance she was broadcasting on 3105 kilocycles her night time radio frequency.
We would like everyone’s help. We are going to attempt to duplicate that 1937 transmission from this remote island. We will use Earhart’s identifying call sign of KHAQQ to begin the broadcast. We will broadcast twice: at 12:30 pm or 1230 hours Eastern Standard Time (EST) and again at 1:00 pm EST or 1300 hours on two successive days, December 15, and 16th, 2016. The first broadcast will be on 6210 kilocycles and will last for one minute. We will repeat the message twice, two minutes apart. After the third transmission on 6210 kilocycles, there will be a three minute pause and we will then broadcast the same message on 3105 kilocycles for one minute, three times, with a two minute delay after each message.
We know this is a long shot. We can’t duplicate the atmospheric conditions from July 1937 and there is so much more RF interference in 2016. But it is worth a try. We are asking everyone having a receiver capable of listening to this broadcast to tune in on these frequencies.
Whether you have an old 1930’s radio, or a modern radio with short wave capabilities, keep your cell phone cameras and video cameras ready to capture the moment. Flash the camera on your set and then to yourself while you record our broadcast. If you’re lucky enough to pick up the transmission, you will likely get five seconds of fame on a future TV documentary.
If you do receive our Earhart recreated broadcast and capture the message on your cell phone camera or camcorder, call us on site in the Marshall Islands via satellite phone. That number is: 011-881-651-463- 951.
Please pass this message on to any other radio groups, forums, or interested friends. Schedule: December 15, and 16, 2016 6210 Kilocycles: 12:30 pm – 12:32 pm – 12:34 pm (All times EST) +5 for GMT 3105 Kilocycles: 12:37 pm – 12:39 pm – 12:41 pm 6210 Kilocycles: 1:00 pm – 1:02 pm – 1:04 pm 3105 Kilocycles: 1:07 pm – 1:09 pm – 1:11 pm Les Kinney [email protected]