Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Discussion about wrecks and losses as well as historic sites in the Pacific.

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Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell »

The SOI research vessel Falkor has a HQ60 UAV on board. It can be launched from the ship's deck. I wrote to the SOI and suggested the HQ60 be used to take photos at the Electra location: W 172.1575 S 04.4986 in the Orona lagoon. With good surface conditions, a bettor image might be obtained. The Falkor will be doing biological research and not marine archaeology. But SOI might share that confirmation if they get a good image. That would be a feather in the cap of SOI and L3 Technologies- the UAV manufacturer. They haven't answered back. The ship is approaching Honolulu and will begin the Phoenix Islands 2021 expedition in June.
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Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

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The SOI research vessel Falkor has departed Honolulu to start the Phoenix Islands expedition.
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

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SOI Falkor is at work with biological survey at depth about five hundred miles north of Orona. Interested viewers can follow the Falkor and the ROV dives with live video https://schmidtocean.org/rv-falkor/stat ... avigation/. The location map is annotated with the 157 line that is noted in the last radio transmission from the missing flyers. It will be interesting to see if Falkor follows along the 157 line in the course of the biological survey.
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

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The SOI ship Falkor has been at work with the biological survey in and around Howland and Baker islands and the shallower seamounts south and west of that location. Looks like they may work their way south to look at the western most of the Phoenix group, Nikumaroro. Just a guess. The blog that various members of the exploratory team post will be the best guide to the deployment of the HQ60 UAV. If the ship does numerous circles around Orona as they did in the 2017 expedition, that could indicate deployment for a picture taking event.
OET Nautilus and SOI Falkor have mutual information sharing agreements so another "good" picture at the lagoon location would help convince the Nautilus crew to look at the Orona location. Even if only a bad picture- one that doesn't reveal the aircraft- I think the Nautilus will still look there. Interestingly, the Nautilus 2021 crew roster includes six (6) engineer/scientists dedicated to the ASV BEN operation. This is several more people than in 2017 and indicates to me that close in island searches are planned using the autonomous surface vessel.
None of the activities listed for the 2021 expedition specifically lists the airplane search as an objective. But several untitled persons in the roster, I speculate, could be SCUBA diver/photographers. Plus a Coast Guard Lt. Commander of considerable experience is on board. It all points to a search for the airplane at Orona.

Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

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SOI Falkor continues the biological survey and research north of the Phoenix Islands.

The OET EV Nautilus has left the San Pedro/LA port to start the 2021 explorations. The ship will hug the West Coast of North America from British Columbia to Baja California for a variety of explorations before heading out to the blue Pacific in October. No planned exploration given for the AE aircraft on the Nautilus website. Hopefully, that will be announced so we can follow the voyage. Follow the ship here. https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/de ... l:NAUTILUS

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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell »

SOI Falkor seems to be returning to Honolulu. Maybe equipment trouble.
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell »

I am always too optimistic. Falkor is headed back to mainland US. The "Phoenix Islands" expedition is over and turned out to be not a remake of the 2017 expedition but a limited Howland/Baker Island expedition only. Not gonna get that bettor picture.
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Also reading closer at OET Nautilus site, I've learned that Nautilus is going to home port in Hawaii for several years. That might mean Dr. Ballard will not continue the search for the airplane until 2022 or later. Bummer. My apology for letting on like the airplane search would soon commence.

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