Atchison Daily Globe, July 3, 1937


Distress Signal Buoys Hopes for Ultimate Rescue of Aviatrix


Former Atchison Girl and Companion Forced Down When Fuel Is Exhausted On Perilous Flight

Honolulu, July 3 -- Reports that the voice of tousle-haired Amelia Earhart had been picked up, calling "SOS" from the mystery spot where she is lost in mid-Pacific, buoyed hopes for her ultimate rescue today as the U.S. navy ordered a battleship into the search.

Two Los Angeles amateur radio operators as late as 7 a.m. Pacific Time (9 a.m. C.S.T.) said they distinctly heard her sound her call letters, KHAQQ, after thrice saying "SOS" some 20 minutes earlier.

At San Francisco, however, a coast guard station reported at noon Eastern Standard time it had received no word whatever although radio reception was unusually good.

Earlier the Los Angeles operator, Walter McMenamy and Carl Pierson, interpreted radio signals as placing the plane adrift near the equator between Gilbert islands and Howland Island, the latter Miss Earhart's destination when her fuel was exhausted more than 20 hours before.

At Washington, the navy department ordered the battleship Colorado with three planes aboard, to begin a search from Honolulu, where it arrived yesterday.

"I recognized Miss Earhart's voice from conversations I have had with her, although I never heard her on air before," said Pierson concerning his 7 a.m. reception.

"Walter recognized her because he maintained wireless contact with her plane on her flight from Oakland to Hawaii this spring."

Their reports were added to an increasing number of others, all believed coming from the missing plane and prompting coast guardsmen to express belief that Miss Earhart and her navigator would be rescued.

Hear Carrier Wave

The operators said that in between Miss Earhart's code and voice signals they would hear "carrier wave" a steady whistle from which her locations could be determined by means of a radio compass.

As searchers took hope from their knowledge that Miss Earhart and her companion carried a rubber raft intended to keep afloat, the weather bureau at Washington reported clouds and some wind near Howland Island.

Pan American Airways radio stations also were tuned to the frequency of Miss Earhart's plane but officials ...

Stepmother Optimistic

Throughout the night, the Itasca, stationed at Howland originally to assist the aviatrix and Noonan, secured the weathers within a 100 miles radius of the island, watching for distress flares.

In the glare of the rising sun, officers of the Itasca said, Miss Earhart apparently overshot the island, a mere sand spit a mile and a half long and but two feet above the water, and was forced down a short time later.

Exactly where she alighted, no one could say, and just how long the twin-motored ship could stay afloat was a disputed point.

One of her last messages indicated the plane was within 100 miles of Howland island.

At Los Angeles, Mrs. E.S. Earhart, her stepmother, said resolutely: "I am sure Amelia will come through.

"Amelia believes in preparedness," she said. "If she is in trouble -- and somehow I feel she is not -- she'll find her way out. I know that she carried a collapsible rubber boat for use in case of a forced landing."

Putnam Confident

Paul Mantz, technical adviser to the aviatrix, who twice crossed the Atlantic, said in Burbank, Calif., the plane's six gas tanks would give it buoyancy to stay afloat "indefinitely."

George Palmer Putnam, husband of the missing flier, was in constant communication with coast guard headquarters at San Francisco. He expressed belief his wife and her companion would be found safe.

"The plane should float, but I couldn't estimate how long because a Lockheed plane has never been forced down at sea before."

The plane had a two-man rubber lifeboat, life belts, flares, a signal kite and emergency food and water rations.

The Itasca began its search as soon as officers determined the ship must have been forced down.

The minesweep Swan was ordered south from its position last night, but was not expected to reach the Howland Island area for some time.

Headwinds and static combined to plague the fliers almost from the time they left Lae. They were unable to communicate with the Itasca because of the static and the adverse winds cut speed and increased fuel consumption.

"We have had no position, speed of courses from Earhart's plane," the Itasca radioed headquarters in San Francisco.

"We believe it passed north and west of the island and missed in the glare of the rising sun, although we were smoking heavily at that time. Judge she came down within 100 miles of island."

Within that 100 miles of shark-infested waters, however, there are no regular shipping lanes, and tramp freighters seldom course through it because it is barren of inhabited islands or ports.

The nearest land is tiny Baker Island, 40 miles south but there is no other for hundreds of miles.

Naval officials here declared it would be useless to start surface vessels out to search for the missing couple, because it would take nearly five days to reach the area.