The Pelletier Sea Serpent Photo (1936; Strait Of Hormuz)

maximus otter

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I looked at that photo and thought: "Wrong!", so I decided to do some research.

The aeroplane depicted in the side view photo seems to be a Latécoère 28, which is entirely appropriate for the date, purpose and location of the alleged incident. So far, so good.

Page 3 of the article in Indochine magazine, reproduced in the article, states that the sighting took place at about 0810hrs on Thursday 1st October 1936. M. Pelletier states that they took off from "...the modest runway in the town of Djask, in what is today Iran." The town of Bandar-e-Jask still exists, and still has a runway.

M. Pelletier states that the location was "...over the island of Hormuz...quite far from the coast - at a distance that I could not appreciate..."

Here is the probable flight path of the aircraft:



The cruising speed of the type was 120mph; the maximum service ceiling was 17,100 feet. Let's assume that it was flying at a typical-for-the-Thirties altitude of 10,000'. This suggests that the 'plane took off from Jask at about 0645-0700hrs, climbed to cruising altitude and headed 320° NW towards Hormuz, taking a little over an hour to get there. All fine so far.

At 0810hrs - the time of the sighting - the Sun would be at an altitude of 38.39° above the horizon, at an azimuth of 118°, i.e. roughly at a passenger's 5 o'clock position:



From PlanetCalc

So, to sum up: We estimate that the plane is at about 10,000', heading roughly NW, with the Sun having risen at 0526hrs:



... and quite close to directly aft of the 'plane. M. Pelletier emphasises that "No one on the plane was paying attention to me or what I was looking at...", so the aircraft captain wasn't manoeuvring to get a better look at the whateveritis.

A scale drawing I just produced suggests to me that the shadow of the plane - such as it would have been, attenuated by distance - would have been 12,350' or 2.34 miles ahead of the aircraft.



My questions:

1. How did M. Pelletier manage to take a photo of the object out of a 1930s aeroplane, from apparently nearly 90° above the object?

2. Why does the shadow not resemble very closely the shape of the type? (Ignore the version with floats).



2. Most importantly: How did he manage to capture a photo of both the object and his aeroplane's shadow, when I estimate that the shadow should have been over 2 miles ahead of the aircraft?

:bs:

maximus otter
 
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EnolaGaia

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Here's the quick 'n dirty translation of the linked webpage's text (from Google Translate).
A "sea monster" photographed in 1936

This story is first and foremost that of Mr. Laurent Pelletier, as it is related in this article in the West Flash on Sunday, December 13, 1936.

This engineer from the Bridges and Roads Department left France a few years earlier for Saigon. There, he managed several plantations, in addition to his work for the colonial administration. Mr. Pelletier cannot return to France every year, it is too far away, but now there is this newly created airline, Air France, which offers an air link. He does the math quickly, these countless flea jumps in the air (the number of stopovers is indecent), all the same save him ... 3 weeks compared to a sea trip!

On October 1, 1936, there was still a long way to go from France, when he took his seat in this small plane that took off from the modest runway in the town of Djask, in what is now Iran. In the aircraft, there are two other passengers, and there are the two crew members. 5 people in total. The cockpit is very close, and it is not separated from the rest of the plane. Laurent Pelletier attentively follows the maneuvers performed by the pilots, then he gazes at the sumptuous landscape offered by his porthole.

The journey will be long and boring he thinks, then he sees Hormuz looming. This island was already an important trade hub 500 years ago, and it is home to many historical remains. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to take a snapshot of these ruins, he digs through some cardboard box suspended above his seat by a net, and grabs his camera. Because Mr. Pelletier, we can give him infinite grace for that, is a photography enthusiast. As proof, at the end of his journey, he will have impressed around forty films!

The plane now flies over the island of Ormuz and Mr. Pelletier is captivated by this bright ocher coast, dotted with white veins, these piles of rock salt in the hollow of the ravines. With his eye in the camera's viewfinder, his right hand on the focus ring, Mr. Pelletier is about to capture this moment. But something stops him, and calls out to him. Now let him tell us about his observation in his own words:

"It was then that the most exceptional event I have ever witnessed in my life occurred!

I saw it first, quite far from the coast - at a distance I could not appreciate - a long bubbling foam, surprising the dead calm in the middle. This eddy moved from west to east, in a wide arc.

My Contax still in hand, I followed this inexplicable curve with my eyes. When at a certain distance from her, I saw a dark, very long wavy shape slip by then disappear, something that moved… meandering, something much larger than the largest cetaceans that we can meet in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

From this distance, such a disproportionate appearance testified to a monstrous reality!

No one on the plane was paying attention to me or what I was looking at… (…)… I didn't want to stop staring at the sea where that white swirl still seemed to be. Even, I was ready to trigger my lens and I waited passionately for the phenomenon to happen again.

My hope was not in vain ... for the second time I saw a sort of snake emerge from the bubbling, this time very black, although submerged. You know that from an airplane you can clearly see what escapes ordinary observation, up to several tens of meters below the surface of the sea. The beast was soon fully visible. I quickly took two photos.

I could make out a small bulge, the head no doubt, a very long neck, then a more pot-bellied ring -exactly like these photos of a boa digesting a sheep- finally a very long tail, much longer than the neck, almost equal even to the length of it plus what I call the belly. I cannot tell if the ripples in the step were horizontal or vertical, due to the sharpness of my visual angle, but the monster was progressing steadily in ripples.

A small stream of foam followed the anterior end for a moment, probably the beast stuck its head out of the water at that moment. "

Mr. Pelletier is convinced that what he saw is the same type of creature as the Lochness monster, (born just 3 years before) in which he had hardly believed until then. According to the newspaper, Mr. Pelletier provided the original photograph which technicians and photographers meticulously inspected and enlarged. They are formal, there is no trace of deception or rigging. This photograph is real. Its interpretation is necessarily open to debate, but it is astonishing that this document has gone completely unnoticed for nearly a century.

Because, we can agree, the supposed photos of sea monsters are very, very rare. This is far from anonymous, and accompanied by a testimony from someone curious and educated. There is even a certain precision made as to the location of the shooting location: 56 degrees east longitude, 27 degrees north latitude.

The only trace that I have found, subsequent to the publication of 1936, is in an article on the appearances of sea snakes which appeared in the review Indochine, in 1943. Mr. Pelletier's observation is baptized "Le serpent de mer de the Air France plane ”. Then it looks like the Ormuz sea monster has completely disappeared from radar.
 

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I seriously doubt this photo was taken from as high an altitude as 10,000 feet, because I seriously doubt an unpressurized 1930s-era passenger aircraft was flying that high in relatively remote peacetime airspace with no other air traffic to worry about. The plane's speed was low, and it was following the coastline from Jask to Bushire (Bushehr).* In those days there was no need to fly all that high - especially when allowing the passengers to watch the scenery helped them to pass the time.

By following the shoreline and flying over water there was no need to maintain any significant altitude, at least not during the time the flight was passing over or by Hormuz Island.

My guess is that the airliner was flying about as high as a private aircraft operating under VFR - i.e., something more like 5,000 feet or perhaps even less.

* NOTE: Here's the Air France Far East route, excerpted from a 1930s poster.

air-france-europe-orient-extreme-orient-31771-air-france-vintage-poster.jpg.960x0_q85_upscale.jpg
 

EnolaGaia

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1. How did M. Pelletier manage to take a photo of the object out of a 1930s aeroplane, from apparently nearly 90° above the object?
According to his published account he was admiring the scenery from his window. Given the time of day, sun position and heading the photo indicates he was on the port side of the airplane.

Compare the photo with his description of the sighting and picture-taking (in the translation above). He was already prepared to take photos on Hormuz Island when he first glimpsed an arc-shaped disturbance on the sea surface some distance away / offshore. This distracted him from photographing the island, he waited to see if the disturbance would occur again, and he took the photo when it did. It would seem pretty apparent this second occurrence occurred as the plane's progress brought him closer to the location of the first disturbance.

The published photo is captioned as an enlargement of Pelletier's original photo. IMHO it's probably an excerpt cropped from the original photo. Given this presumption, I strongly suspect the entire original photo showed some expanse of the sea surface broader than what appears in the cropped excerpt, and it didn't give so much an impression of having been taken from directly overhead.
 

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2. Why does the shadow not resemble very closely the shape of the type? (Ignore the version with floats). ...
First and foremost - I'm not sure what type of airplane it was in which Mr. Pelletier was riding.

The Latécoère 28 is a good guess. It was known to have been used on Air France's Far East route. However ...
EDIT: Further research rules out the Latécoère 28. See later post for more details.

As of 1936 Air France was introducing larger monoplanes on their Far East route. As of October 1936 the bigger twin-engine Potez 62 was already in use. The trimotor Dewoitine D.338 was just beginning to arrive in late 1936, but I somehow doubt it had been pressed into Far East service at the time of Pelletier's flight. It would become the primary aircraft on the Far East route by 1938. For more about the Far East route in the mid- to late-1930s see:

https://www.wondersofworldaviation.com/air_france.html

Shadows can only be a sharply defined as lighting conditions, atmospheric conditions, distance of projection and projection surface permit. In this case the shadow is cast from an orthogonal angle onto a sea surface that is anything but placid (note the whitecaps). If anything, I'm impressed at how distinct it is.

Still, it's not distinct enough to tell much about the aircraft type. It might well be the single-engine Latécoère. IMHO it's fuzzy enough to also be a Potez 62 whose twin engines (close in to the fuselage, and largely tucked beneath the wing) aren't evident in the shadow.

The Dewoitine had a longer, thinner profile with an elongated nose, so I don't think that was the aircraft involved here.
 
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EnolaGaia

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3. Most importantly: How did he manage to capture a photo of both the object and his aeroplane's shadow, when I estimate that the shadow should have been over 2 miles ahead of the aircraft? ...
Based on what I've noted earlier:

(a) I believe the photo is an enlargement cropped out of a larger original photo, and this gives a distorted impression of perspective / distance.

(b) The 2 mile estimate is based on an altitude of 10,000 feet, and I don't believe this flight was flying anywhere near that high.
 

maximus otter

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Based on what I've noted earlier:

(a) I believe the photo is an enlargement cropped out of a larger original photo, and this gives a distorted impression of perspective / distance.

(b) The 2 mile estimate is based on an altitude of 10,000 feet, and I don't believe this flight was flying anywhere near that high.
I can't have explained myself properly. Issues regarding the route, the type of plane, etc. are moot: My central point is that Pelletier could not have taken the picture as described.

Here's a roughly-to-scale plan of the incident based on the sun altitude and my suggestion of Pelletier's altitude (10,000'):



As we can see, for the shadow of Pelletier's aircraft to appear next to the object with the Sun 39° above the horizon, the aircraft would have had to have been 2.34 miles away from the object. How did Pelletier - with what is depicted as a 1930s happy-snapper 35mm camera - manage to take a sharp image which appears to have been taken from directly above the object, and which shows the aircraft's shadow?

If we proceed on your suggestion of the aircraft's altitude as 5,000', it merely halves the "shadow-to-serpent" distance to ~1.17 miles:



http://www.trianglecalculator.net/

The photo, as reproduced, is impossible. It's fake.

maximus otter
 

EnolaGaia

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... Issues regarding the route, the type of plane, etc. are moot: My central point is that Pelletier could not have taken the picture as described. ...
There is definitely something 'off' about the photo in comparison with Pelletier's account of how, where and when he took it. However, the grounds for claiming it's suspicious also definitely pertain to the route, the aircraft, etc., making these contextual issues quite relevant.

Let's start with the overall context of that day's travel and Pelletier's account of the sighting.

The most detailed version of Pelletier's own account appeared in this newspaper publication:

L'Ouest-Eclair Dimanche
13 December 1936, No. 37
Pages 3 - 4.

The article was composed by a journalist, but the bulk of the text is a transcription of Pelletier's own words.

Both pages are accessible via the French National Library as large JPG images:

PAGE 3:
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6623702c/f3.item

PAGE 4:
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6623702c/f4.item

(Enable Zoom in the control palette below to activate zooming.)
 

EnolaGaia

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Now let's consider the geographic context ...

The December 1936 article containing Pelletier's account of the sighting includes an illustrative map. I've taken the map image from the article and annotated it to illustrate the basic facts of that day's journey.

Map-3612.jpg

That day's leg of the long-haul multi-day trip from Saigon to Paris took off from Djask. The destination was Bushire / Bushehr. The blue dotted line illustrates a hypothetical direct flight path from Djask to Bushire.

This hypothetical direct path was not the airliner's route that day, and I'll discuss why it couldn't have been in more detail later. For now the most general relevant point is that if the plane were on a direct path toward Bushire it would not have passed any closer to the designated sighting location (cf. the map) than approximately 40 statute miles. This approximate distance was derived from online geo-mapping and geo-database sources.

Even with the best available Zeiss telephoto lens for his high-quality Contax camera, Pelletier wouldn't have been able to take the published photo from that distance.

The most significant point in this overview is that there's no way the airliner was following a direct path from Djask to Bushire if Pelletier indeed took the photo in the vicinity of Hormuz Island.
 

EnolaGaia

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RE: Pelletier's Camera

Pelletier was using a Zeiss Contax 35mm camera. The Contax, introduced in 1932, was 'state of the art' for the time, and it was used by professional field photographers and photojournalists. As of 1936 the second-generation Contax II and III had been introduced. It's unclear which of these sub-models Pelletier owned.

The Contax series had the significant advantage of using Zeiss lenses, which could be obtained in a variety of types that could be quickly interchanged. It's not clear what lens Pelletier was using when he took his photos.

The bottom line is that Pelletier was using a world-class camera of the day - one which could have been equipped with a telescopic lens. There's nothing about the serpent photos that would have been impossible for even a more modest Zeiss lens, especially considering the fact the published photo is an admitted enlargement.
 

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RE: The Aircraft: What It Was NOT

The aircraft in which Pelletier was riding was definitely not a Latécoère 28. This single-engined passenger plane was never used [*] on the Far East routes by Air Orient (which was merged with other French airlines to form Air France in 1933).

[*] This is contrary to what I posted 5 days ago. Subsequent research has demonstrated the Latécoère 28 was not used on the Far East routes, at least not during 1936.

Air Orient had used two different types of seaplanes / flying boats for their Far East service - the CAMS 53 and the SPCA Météore 63. Both had been retired no later than 1935.

The Dewoitine D.338 would eventually be used on the Far East routes. However, this trimotor airliner didn't initially fly until 1936, and there's no evidence it was used on the Far East routes prior to 1937 or 1938.

In any case, both the Latécoère and the Dewoitine can be ruled out because Pelletier specifically referred to the monotonous drone of the airliner's two engines in the December 1936 article.

The CAMS 53 seaplane had two engines, but (as noted above) it had been retired as of 1935.
 
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EnolaGaia

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RE: The Aircraft: The Potez 62

The available evidence overwhelmingly points to the twin-engined Potez 62 as the aircraft upon which Pelletier was riding in October 1936. Among other things:
  • The Potez 62 was replacing older legacy aircraft for long-haul usage throughout the Air France network at the time.
  • The Potez 62 is specifically cited as the mainstay Air France airliner on the Far East routes during the late 1930s.
  • The Potez began entering the Air France fleet in very late 1935, and it was ubiquitous as of mid-1936.
  • The Potez 62 was the only two-engined airliner Air France was actively using as of 1936.
  • Pelletier's descriptions of the cabin layout match the Potez 62, but not any of the alternatives.
  • Pelletier's description of the crew (1 pilot; 1 radio operator) matches the Potez 62 (but not the alternatives).
  • Pelletier mentions the crew / cockpit area was a separate compartment with a door (unlike some of the alternatives).
  • Air France Far East advertising posters were illustrated with the Potez 62 as of 1936.
  • No other plane afforded Pelletier a bulkhead near his seat against which to lean when taking his photos (as mentioned in the article).
The Potez 62 was a twin-engine high-wing monoplane with the engines mounted close in (to the fuselage) underneath the wings.

Potez62_afh.jpg

The interior layout and configuration of the Potez 62 is illustrated in this attached image ...
(Click on the linked text to open the full image if necessary.)

potez_08.jpg
 
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EnolaGaia

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The details of the aircraft's external and interior layouts are relevant to evaluating what Pelletier could see and photograph while in flight.

Passengers on a Potez 62 boarded via the rear door (on the port side). The forward door (starboard side) was a service door. Both doors commonly had inset windows, but I've found photos in which one or both were windowless.

The passenger cabin was subdivided by a bulkhead into two sections. The forward section had 6 armchair-style seats, 3 on each side of the aisle. The rear section had 5 of the same type seats plus two more modest seats.

Pelletier was accompanied by 3 other passengers - a uniformed naval lieutenant and two older persons.

Pelletier said he sat in the third seat "on the right" (i.e., the starboard side), with the lieutenant in the first seat on the same side and the two other passengers occupying the equivalent (1st and 3rd) seats on the left (i.e., the port side). He explicitly mentioned the 4 passengers were symmetrically seated in the same section.

This indicates the 4 passengers were seated in the forward passenger section. If they'd been seated in the rear section one of the two older persons on the left / port side would have been seated in the modest rearmost seat beside the boarding door.

Furthermore, if they'd been seated in the rear section Pelletier wouldn't have had a bulkhead adjacent to his seat against which he could lean when he took the photos (as mentioned in the article).

Additionally, Pelletier couldn't have looked through the open door of the cockpit unless he was seated on the starboard side in the forward passenger section.

Finally, it simply makes sense that the passengers were encouraged to sit in the forward section for weight balancing purposes.

Here are photos of a Potez 62 interior, looking toward the rear of the passenger compartment.

23-5.jpg

Interior-Seats-A.jpg

Take a closer look at the second photo - specifically the window on the extreme right. Immediately outside the window is the low-slung port engine. The passenger in the third seat (beside the second side window) would have the tapered rear portion of the engine nacelle partially obscuring his / her view. This engine obscuration factor is one of the problematic issues in evaluating what Pelletier could see from his seat.

In summary ... Here's a cutaway illustration of the forward portion of a Potez 62. I believe Pelletier was seated where the lady in the pink dress and hat is shown in this illustration.

Potex62-FWD-Cutaway.jpg
 
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EnolaGaia

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RE: Time

There are multiple issues involving time and timing. These are relevant because the photo's validity is dependent on sun / shadow positions, which in turn depend on the time of day.

According to the December 1936 article Pelletier didn't take the photo at 0810. 0810 is the time when he said he first noticed the eddy or disturbance on the sea surface that drew his attention.

He doesn't specify a precise time at which he made his second sighting and - having gotten and readied his camera - took the photos. The only clue given for this second timepoint is the title of the article section within which the picture-taking is described, which translates as:

Thursday, the 1st of October, 1936, 8:20

There's another - possibly more important - issue with the time. This is the issue of which time zone's time was Pelletier using / following in his report. He had been traveling across multiple time zones for days, and there's no mention of how his watch (and / or any other available clock) was set on 1 October. Was he calibrating his time citations to local time (at either or both the day's departure and destination points), his ultimate destination (Paris) time, or GMT as the aircrew would have done?

To complicate matters even further ...

Both the departure and destination points were within Iran, and Iran observed a single time zone as of 1936. However, this time zone was peculiar to Iran alone. As of 1936 Iran strictly observed Tehran Mean Time (TMT) as the nationwide standard. TMT was defined with strict regard to the meridian at Tehran, resulting in TMT being GMT plus 3 hours, 25 minutes and 44 seconds.
 

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Moving on to the sighting and the story of the sighting ... Here are the two photographs which accompany the December 1936 article, along with English translations of their captions.. The photos have been de-saturated to grayscale.

Pelletier-Photo.jpg

Mr. Laurent PELLETIER tells us the story of his sensational adventure

MonsterPhoto-3612.jpg

The enlargement of the photograph taken by Mr. Laurent Pelletier. We clearly show the shadow of the Air-France plane, the powerful eddies and the dark form that our narrator identified with the mysterious animal.

(Photo exclusive Ouest-Eclair-Dimanche)​
 

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Next ... Let's return to the topic of the flight path / routing on the day of the sighting.

As previously discussed, the generally estimated azimuth (sun's direction), airplane orientation, and a direct flight path from Djask / Jask (JSK) to Bushire / Bushehr (BUZ) don't seem to correlate in a manner that supports acceptance of hte photo as genuine.

There are two factors that could make a huge difference in resolving the incongruities - the precise time at which the photo was taken and the orientation of the airplane at that moment. The orientation issue depends upon the flight routing that day.

Here is another map illustrating the geographical context as well as the most direct paths from Djask / Jask to Bushire / Bushehr by air and by land (driving on available roads). The direct flight path is shown in red, and the land / driving route is shown in blue.

The overland / driving option is shown to provide a very crude maximal approximation for the distance if one were to more or less follow the coastline all the way.

JSK-BUZ-Map.jpg

SOURCE: https://www.airmilescalculator.com

Here are the distance specifications for both routes illustrated on the map ...

JASK - BUSHEHR DISTANCES

DIRECT FLIGHT PATH
484 statute miles / 780 km / 421 nautical miles

DRIVING ON CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ROADS
667 statute miles / 1073 km

Next, here are the range and cruising specifications for a Potez 62 ...

Range:
1000 km / 620 statute miles / 540 nautical miles

Cruise Parameters:
280 km/h / 170 mph / 150 knots
... @ 2000 m (6562 ft)

The direct flight path affords a sizable fuel safety margin (780 km distance versus 1000 km rated range).

The modern / maximal land distance exceeds the rated range (1067 versus 1000 km).

However, the driving route follows crooked roads, some of which lie well inland around the Strait of Hormuz, and hence probably overestimates the equivalent mileage for flying parallel to the coast as part or all the flight path on that day in 1936.

As mentioned earlier, Hormuz Island lies on the order of 40 statute miles north of the hypothetical direct flight path - a distance too great to permit capturing Pelletier's photo image if the object was in the immediate vicinity of Hormuz Island.

I suspect the flight more or less followed the centerline / channel of the strait and gulf, meaning it diverted somewhat northward to avoid overflying the foreign territory of the Masandam (aka Musandam) Peninsula on the southern shore of the strait. Such an evasive diversion wouldn't have added enough mileage to the flight route to affect the fuel safety margin (whatever it may have been).

This would also explain why Pelletier expected to get near enough to Hormuz Island to take photos of its ruins as well as his description of the island's characteristic red colors resulting from its famous ochre deposits.

Around 8:10 am, appeared on the horizon the small island of Hormuz and the southern extremity of the island of Kichm or Tawilah, the long island. Two or three tiny sails seemed motionless before Hormuz.

I took out of a box which contained a few clothes - the box placed above me in the baggage net - my camera to capture on a film what remained of the ruins of Hormuz ... The island already appeared, ocher red, with veins of dry leaves, veins miraculously white and shiny, those woven at the bottom of the roots by deposits of rock salt from elsewhere exploited: one more photo to add to the forty films impressed since my departure from Saigon!
December 1936 article, p. 3.
 
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I take my hat off to @maximus otter and @EnolaGaia for their illuminated forensic and historical analysis of this mystery.
And thank them on behalf of the rest of the forum here, they have turned an otherwise overlooked curiosity into a fascinating investigation.

I have no knowledge of such, but something which strikes me as worthy of a mention is the wake.
It is in an arc, and at a distance of about a fifth the total length of the "creature".

Does a wake usually arc?

Would it be at a distance from, or normally contiguous to, the animal or boat causing it?
 

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In case one or both of us might be confused by my post above ...

The 'wake' to which I alluded is at least as long as the dark 'creature'. In other words, it's the white-ish lower half (?) of the extended arc.

An object in calm water will leave a transient wake along its path of movement. If the object is moving along a curved path the wake will be curved.

Pelletier's own description of the sighting at the time he took the two pictures is as follows (per Google Translate, FWIW) ...

I saw at first, quite far from the coast - at a distance that I could not appreciate - a long bubbling foam, surprising in the middle of this dead calm. This (swirl; eddy) moved from west to east, describing a small arc.

My Contax still in hand, I was following this inexplicable curve with my eyes when at a certain distance from it I saw a dark, very long, wavy shape slip away and disappear, something that moved ... by meandering, something like much larger than the larger cetaceans that could be found in the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Sea. At this distance, such an oversized appearance testified to a monstrous reality!

No one on the plane paid attention to me or what I was looking at ... I wanted to alert someone, but I didn't want to stop staring at the sea where the white eddy always seemed to be. Yet, I was ready to target my lens and waited passionately for the phenomenon to happen again.

My hope was not in vain ...

For the second time, I saw a sort of snake coming out of the bubbling, this time very black, although submerged. You know that from an airplane one can perfectly distinguish what escapes the ordinary observer, up to several tens of meters below the surface of the sea. The beast was completely visible. I quickly took two photos. I could make out a small bulge, the head no doubt, a very long neck, then a more pot-bellied ring - exactly like those pictures of boas eating a sheep - well a very long tail, much longer than the neck, almost equal even. has the full length of it, plus what I call the tummy. I can't tell if the walking undulations are vertical or horizontal, due to the sharpness of my visual angle, but the monster was surely progressing in undulations. A small stream of foam followed for a moment the anterior extremity: no doubt the beast came out at that moment with its head out of the water ...
December 1936 article, p. 3

Note that Pelletier seemed to believe he'd seen the creature submerged during this second round. He doesn't mention the long trailing (white-ish) wake that seems to be following the creature's main body. He only mentions a minor such trailing wake on the front (anterior) end as if it represented the path of a head temporarily breaking the surface.
 

EnolaGaia

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I take my hat off to @maximus otter and @EnolaGaia for their illuminated forensic and historical analysis of this mystery.
And thank them on behalf of the rest of the forum here, they have turned an otherwise overlooked curiosity into a fascinating investigation. ...
Thanks ... :hoff:

There's still more to come ...
 

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RE: The Aircraft: The Potez 62
The available evidence overwhelmingly points to the twin-engined Potez 62 as the aircraft upon which Pelletier was riding in October 1936.
I've finally located absolute confirmation for this - an April 1936 Air France Far East Timetable that shows a photo of the Potez 62 and states this aircraft is employed on the Far East route between Syria and Indochina.

http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/af36or.htm
 

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NOTE:
The day of the sighting was Thursday, 1 October.

According to the April 1936 timetable cited above, the Thursday leg of the westward route proceeded from Djask to Bushire / Bouchir and then on to Baghdad in a single day. The timetable lists the cumulative distance traveled to date at the end of each day. The cumulative distance traveled westward is stated to increase by 1,860 km upon conclusion of the Thursday leg.

This 1936 figure exceeds the distance covered if traversing these same 3 airfields via direct / straight flight paths.

BUSHEHR - BAGHDAD DISTANCES

DIRECT FLIGHT PATH
491 statute miles / 791 km / 427 nautical miles

TOTAL DJASK - BAGHDAD DISTANCES VIA DIRECT FLIGHT PATHS
976 statute miles / 1570 km / 848 nautical miles

SOURCE: https://www.airmilescalculator.com/distance3/jsk-to-buz-bgw/

This means the 1936 flight planning was based on traveling circa 290 km farther than would have been required for strictly straight-line flight paths. Even allowing for 2 climb-outs and a reasonable fuel margin the planned routing could have readily accommodated a crooked path following the waterway through the Strait of Hormuz (and hence taking the aircraft nearer Hormuz Island).
 

maximus otter

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I've finally located absolute confirmation for this - an April 1936 Air France Far East Timetable that shows a photo of the Potez 62 and states this aircraft is employed on the Far East route between Syria and Indochina.

http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages/af36or.htm
A complete tangent: The timetable you’ve dug up depicts an Air France float plane, and shows that it was used on the Mediterranean leg of the journey from London to parts East. lt also shows that the route involved a stopoff at Corfu.

l remember from my many readings of the wonderful My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell that his tutor, Mr. Kralefski, would always break off their lessons to watch a seaplane land in Corfu Town harbour. Does the photo in the timetable depict the very plane that provided Gerry Durrell with a welcome break from his lessons?

BTW, if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t read MFAOA, stop what you’re doing immediately and order a copy. Thank me later.

maximus otter
 

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BTW, if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t read MFAOA, stop what you’re doing immediately and order a copy. Thank me later.
Excellent advice, which can only be improved upon by mentioning that Durrell actually wrote three books about his time on Corfu. The consequent Corfu Trilogy - of which the aforementioned MFAOA is the first volume - is indeed more worthy of your time than anything else you may be doing right now.

That's a tremendous bit of plane-spotting, Max, bravo!
 

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Does a wake usually arc?
I do lots of boating.

A wake is a wave created by a boat (or other object) moving through the water. The water initially piles up in front of whatever is moving, then the pile of water falls away in each directing making a V shaped wake.

Once the two arms of the V are created, they remain straight and march away to each side of the boat.

A wake only breaks (making the white foam/bubbles shown) if the wave is collapsing. This might be caused by the object moving very fast through the water so that the water cannot flow smoothly away. It might also be caused by the wave moving into shallower water and turning into surf.

Any wave may curve or bend with diffraction. In the case of a wake, this could happen if it passes through a narrow entrance, or part of the wave passes over a shallower bottom than the other part. This does not appear to have happened in the picture.

If the picture is genuine and unedited, then that curved line could be explained as a long curved object moving sideways through the water: something like the creature's tail, perhaps.

I do not know what the picture shows. I do not see enough there to convince me it is a sea serpent or other large unknown creature. I find the shadow of the plane too distinct and too convenient. It looks like a hoax to me, but I could be wrong.

Back to the diffraction of waves in water: it is fascinating to see this at Lulworth Cove in Dorset. Straight waves approach from the sea, pass through the narrow entrance to the cove and fan out. In the right conditions, you can see a series of curved waves advancing towards the beach, and when they are breaking, the surf hits the curved beach all along its length at the same time. I do not have my own photo of it, and the attached is the best I could find on a quick Google search.
 

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A wake only breaks (making the white foam/bubbles shown) if the wave is collapsing. This might be caused by the object moving very fast through the water so that the water cannot flow smoothly away. It might also be caused by the wave moving into shallower water and turning into surf. ...
This prompts me to temporarily jump ahead in the exposition to an alternate explanation for what the photo may be depicting.

Although Pelletier refers to the sea below as dead calm more than once, the surface doesn't appear all that 'dead calm' (i.e., smooth; un-rippled) to me. I see scattered whitecaps in all directions from the focal arc shape.

I'm unable to convince myself the visible oddity can't possibly represent waves breaking over a shallow shoal or reef.

I'm not claiming that's what we're seeing in Pelletier's photo. I'm only saying I can't rule it out.
 

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I see scattered whitecaps in all directions from the focal arc shape.

I'm unable to convince myself the visible oddity can't possibly represent waves breaking over a shallow shoal or reef.

I'm not claiming that's what we're seeing in Pelletier's photo. I'm only saying I can't rule it out.
This was one of the first things I considered, but I can't see that as a likely configuration of waves over a shoal.

At first glance, the dark shape to the top of the picture looks very like a plesiosaur, and the white "wake" looks like the splash its tail might make.

But how very convenient that the shadow of the aeroplane is so close to it, to "prove" it was taken from an aeroplane. It's like the opposite of taking a selfie in the woods and later noticing Bigoot in the background — and about as likely.

However the shadow of the plane is the best evidence against the object being a sea creature. The shape of the shadow looks "about right" implying that it is not drastically foreshortened in either direction. The wingspan of a Potez 62 was 22.45 metres (73'8"). By rough comparison, that makes the "body" I can see 20 metres long and the tail a similar length, and the neck slightly less. So let's say a creature around 50 metres long, or 164 feet. I would go down to 40 metres to be on the conservative side.

For comparison: the blue whale reaches around 33 metres; the diplodocus reached around 24 metres; the largest species of plesiosaurs reached a maximum of 15 metres (although most were far smaller); the whale shark can reach 18 metres or so; a mosasaurus is estimated to have grown to 17 or 18 metres; and a titanoboa is estimated to have grown to 12.8 metres. There is, however, no known maximum length for Pinocchio's nose...

Also, based on the picture quality of monochrome newsprint, it could as easily be a close up of a roughly rendered cottage wall, with the outline of an aeroplane touched in during developing.
 

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Concerning the shadow of the airplane ...

The big problem with the shadow is that its relevance to evaluating the photo depends on multiple factors - most of which are not specified with any precision in Pelletier's own account of the incident. These include:

- The plane's direction of flight at the time the photo was taken;
- The time at which the photo was taken; and
- The sun's position at whatever the time was.

None of these are specified in Pelletier's account. Among these the factor seemingly most precisely insinuated is the time, but there remains the issue of which time standard / zone it was against which this time was correlated.

The photo we see probably cannot be the entire original photo. It's explicitly stated to be an enlargement of or from the original photo image. This strongly suggests it's an excerpt cropped from what would have been a larger enlarged image. The extent to which it's anomalous is difficult to judge without seeing the context of the entire original image.

An excerpt from a larger image might also be rotated or reversed so as to misrepresent the observer's orientation to what appears in the photo. Unless one knows the actual orientation relative to the photographer (and the other factors) there's no clear basis for evaluating the shadow's viability.

Here's another possible complication ... What if the airplane's silhouette in the photo is its reflection on the sea's surface rather than its shadow? If conditions permitted a visible discrete reflection on the water's surface it wouldn't necessarily overlap, intersect or otherwise match up with the plane's shadow.
 
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