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MGAdriver

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 #61 
Searchmaster,

What led the "radioguys" to think the check in at Snag was via Gibson Girl. I was comm guy back in AF in 1960's. Memory not what it used to be,  but I am pretty sure Gibson Girl could only transmit on 500 kHZ? No receiver.

I would think Snag would have to wonder why they got what was supposed to be a routine position check from an aircraft on emergency frequency? 




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 #62 
MGAdriver,
Good question. The Gibson Girl(GG) could transmit on 500kc or 8280 kc and had a Morse key as well as an automated SOS setting. We don't have any other info other than Espe's statement. My guess is that they received a check in message keyed in Morse and perhaps the cranking necessary to operate the GG produced noise or artifacts in the signal recognizable to a radio man who had heard it before. Espe's claim was a first person account  given to Canadian Press newsman Graham Trotter. A radio man stationed there at the time mentioned in an interview with me that at the time AF 2469 went by Snag, he was out with another guy looking for a tree down in the wires between the radio bldg and the antenna farm. In a letter to his wife he mentions the 'poor husband of the woman and child on the plane' arriving around lunch on the RCAF admin/supply C-47 that Saturday.

In a few spots in the crash report the Snag check in is referred to as  "checked in at 2309Z, report read at 2314Z". No one including my radio man from Snag can tell me if there was a teletype connected to the radios which could have recorded this 'check in'. Perhaps someone jotted down this Morse check in while the regular radio guys were out looking for the source of the problem in the wires, tree or otherwise.

To me, the claim of GG usage,  the PFM issue mentioned earlier in this thread and witnesses seeing the plane following the road at low altitude are good indicators of a loss of the panel radios.

Edit-
Re-reading my post it occurred to me that the frequency itself must have been the tipoff that a GG was in use. I do not know what the check in frequencies for Snag were but they wouldn't have been either of those. Later models of the GG upped the second frequency to 8364 mhz.

I might never have made that now obvious connection...I've only been staring at this info for nigh on 20 years now...how embarrassing...you have earned yourself a mention in dispatches, MGAdriver. When the next series of AF 2469 related T shirts comes out I will PM you for an address.
MGAdriver

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 #63 
Searchmaster,,

Glad you appreciated my point about GG only transmitting on E frequencies. Hard to tell what ground station had as a "guard" frequency. There are some old CAA documents on-line and maybe it is buried in there. (NOTAMS?) Thanks for the shout out and yes I would love to have a T shirt. I have been following this story since it was first posted in 2007, but didn't have anything to contribute till now.

I am trying to reason out how the crew would have deployed the antenna from GG. I can't see just opening cockpit window and paying it out.  I believe antenna would have to be very thin stranded copper wire and not insulated, since it was supposed to be raised aloft by small balloon.  So if airframe was ground, signal in antenna would just shunt to ground as it was whipped around by slipstream and hit the fuselage.  ie, No output.

I am also wondering why crew didn't use GG for check-in at next ground station, since you have pretty compelling evidence that plane made is close to US border.

Food for thought?

MGADriver



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 #64 
MGAdriver,

The basic manual for the C-54 has an illustration of the radio compartment which has a flare port in the floor but it also shows an antenna relay box near the ceiling and antenna switching equipment on the desk. I have a GG I got off of eBay. It has a clip you use to attach the radio to the antenna wire spool and a grounding weight meant to be submerged in water, apparently over water operation was thought to be the most common use.

At AFRHA we found a document telling of the use of a GG radio by the radioman aboard a stricken B-17 while in flight. He was lauded for thinking outside the box but since he was moving it threw off attempts to triangulate his position. Rescue a/c followed the moving target and finally located the crew when they saw flares near a raft in the water. The signal reportedly was strong, it just wouldn't hold still.

In the Fairbanks newspaper mention was made of AF 2469 checking in at Whitehorse; like a lot of other pertinent info it is not mentioned in the crash report. Recall that the weather circuit was down for four hours at that time and radio people may have been distracted enough by that to miss an unusual attempt to check in with a Morse key on an emergency channel.

533062_145956295533527_114874765_n.jpg 
My research indicates this crew was sent at the last minute to take over for a crew with a C-54 down for an engine change due to failure, a very common occurrence  for the SS Squadrons at that time. 2469 went from Biggs to Great Falls and picked up freight and passengers bound for Anchorage and places north. They arrived at Anch. the 22nd. McMichael was newly married and he knew that if he put down in Canada for repairs he would be there for a week. My reading on the subject indicates the a/c commander has the prerogative to decide to continue on route if mech problems were managable. Plus the fields that weren't just emergency strips off the road system had problematic weather that precluded just showing up out of the overcast to land with no radio contact. They didn't re-brief on weather after the delay and left Anchorage in soup so they couldn't risk swapping ends to go back to that very busy place and just hope not to meet another plane in the scud since they could not receive transmissions(my theory). So when they got to within 50 miles of Ft Nelson, it looked socked in. Off their right wing was the Rocky Mtn Trench,  a two part gash in the terrain visible from the ISS it is so pronounced. They would have known that it led pretty much straight to Flathead Lake Montana and was the lowest ground around. The Trench was Route B when the decision on routing the Alaska Highway/lend Lease route was being made. But what a risk; if an issue arose that put the plane down, the first 400 miles of the Trench had two or three very isolated communities of around 10-20 people each, and no landing strips. If there wasn't a huge post crash fire or some very talented GG radio use, who would know to look for you out there?

McMichael had an incident in his past the could have made him very leery of being caught out in the dark where there were no lights at night, and he may have chosen the Trench not just because the weather was clear, on the eastern side of the Rockies there is a lot more air traffic he could not communicate with. Great Falls back then was a busy place and just showing up unannounced could be risky. They may have set their sights on Kalispell, so they would at least be setting down in the US. Terrain similarities between the approach to Kalispell and the area around Gold Mountain may have had influence on their decisions.



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 #65 
I decided to see what was up at the Operation Mike FaceBook page and there is quite a piece on the development of the movie by Andrew Gregg called 'Skymaster Down'. Looks like Andy got himself a part in the movie. 


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 #66 
There is an event concerning this movie being held at the Yukon Archives in Whitehorse this coming Sunday....I might just drive on down and crash this party.
SiskiyouJ3Kid

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 #67 
Searchmaster
  You seem to know the area around Burwash Landing.  What would be the best time this year to fly over Mount Hoge, when it has the least snow?
  
Searchmaster

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 #68 
Siskiyou,

You can't really go wrong with the second and third weeks of July. I don't recall the altitude at your anomaly but the higher you go, the narrower the window on snow melt/snowfall. After around 7/21 you start to lose  noticeable daylight and the snow line can start to head downhill. Anything on a north facing slope may not see much melt off.

Charles Eikland Sr. lives right on the Highway 10 miles s/se of Burwash. He has a welding shop/tire service business next to the lodge his family owns. He's been there forever and has decades of experience with the weather around Kluane. His # from his business card is: 867-841-5326. He's a busy guy so calling him after work hours might be a good idea. As I said earlier he is familiar with the story and if you mention you got his # from the guy with the missing plane T shirts he may be able to fine tune your weather knowledge for the area. Ask him how Joe liked the Bunny boots I dropped off....

Also, Dion Parker of Trans North Helicopters of Haines Junction traded me some hats for a few T shirts and knows a little about AF 2469 and a bunch about flying in this area. His # is: 867-634-2242 but I haven't talked to him in a few years.


SiskiyouJ3Kid

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 #69 
Searchmaster
  I own a Cessna 210 and I can be in Burwash Landing in 8 to 9 hours of flying, depending on winds. Basing out of Whitehorse might be a better idea.  My father, the WW2 pilot, was air sea rescue off of Guam and Tinian. He flew search and rescue, for decades, for the Civil Air Patrol and thought a Piper Cub was the perfect search aircraft.  That said, my object is large and I know the location, so the 210 should work.  If C-54D 42-72469 is not found prior.  I will try to be there late July or first of August.
Searchmaster

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 #70 
Siskiyou,

Keep us posted on your progress on this project. 
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