Talk:Lincoln Ellsworth

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Is Lincoln Ellsworth related to Oliver Ellsworth, the 3rd Chief Justice of the United States? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 17:32, 29 September 2005

I would guess Ellsworth Air Force Base (Rapid City SD) is named after him? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 14:36, 14 December 2005

About Lincoln Ellsworth[edit]

Excerpts from a letter reply dated July 26th 1970's from Mary Louise Ellsworth (Lincoln Ellsworth's widow - I met her personally in the late 1980's in New York at the Carlyle Hotel - Mary Louise Ellsworth is now deceased -- 06:10, 7 January 2006 (UTC) (Sally Douglas)

... To answer your question about President Abraham Lincoln - The first officer killed in our Civil War was Ellsworth. (Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth who was only a distant relative of Lincoln Ellsworth). In Alexandria Virginia at a hotel a man tore down the flying flag. He (Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth) went up to put it up and was shot. A very old fashioned picture I have shows this most dramatically. He was a close friend of Mr Lincoln's and was buried from the White House. I have the original letter the President sent to his family. It is typical of Mr Lincoln in the lovely way it was written...
...Yes Lincoln had Wyatt Earp's Wedding ring - his very used cartridge belt and his gun. Mr Earp was not living but Lincoln saw Mrs Earp quite a few times. She gave him these things and photographs... As you I am sure have heard he (Lincoln Ellsworth) was a very simple man - this I feel is the essence of greatness...

— Mary Louise Ellsworth

Correction of these comments above - Elmer Ephrain Ellsworth was a distant relative to Lincoln Ellsworth and not a direct ancestor - but he was part or Lincoln's broad Ellsworth family. By the way Mary Louise (Ulmer) Ellsworth was a pilot. (Beckysharp (talk) 10:37, 11 June 2011 (UTC))

Little America[edit]

The Search For Lincoln Ellsworth[edit]

At 8AM on the 22nd November 1935, the American Explorer Lincoln Ellsworth and his Canadian Pilot Hollick Kenyon took off in their single engine NORTHROP low wing monoplane "Polar Star" from Dundee Island, 500 miles south of Cape Horn on the east coast of the Antarctic Archipelago for a trans Continental Antarctic flight to the Bay of Whales, Ross Sea, a distance of 2200 miles with most of it to be across unknown regions.

Eight hours after their departure their wireless signals ceased and the worst was feared for their safety as it was estimated that they had covered only 1000 miles of their journey should the cessation of wireless signals be due to them being forced down through engine failure or bad weather.

On board Ellsworth's Ship "Wyatt Earp" at Dundee Island was Sir Hubert Wilkins, second in Command of the Expedition. Sir Hubert contacted Washington U.S.A. by radio and requested that the British Government be asked to help in locating Lincoln Ellsworth and Kenyon by making a search in the Ross Ice Barrier area while he Sir Hubert in the "Wyatt Earp" proceeded to Chile in South America to take on a relief aeroplane in readiness for a search in the area of Charcot Land situated between the Bellinghause and the Ross Seas on the east side of the Antarctic Archipelago.

At this time the British Antarctic Research Ship "Discovery 2" was in Antarctic waters south of Cape Town conducting part of a oceanographical survey and at the mutual agreement between the British Government and the Commonwealth Government of Australia, the "Discovery 2" was directed to proceed to Melbourne, Australia with all haste to take on board several aeroplanes and a party of RAAF Airmen with the purpose of proceeding to the Bay of Whales, Ross Sea to commence a search for the missing crew of the "Polar Star".

I was appointed by the Minister for Defence Sir William Glasgow to lead a Royal Australian Air Force party in the proposed aerial search and to this end I made preparations.

Two aeroplanes were to be taken, one a De Havilland "Moth" seaplane for scouting work and a Westland "Wapiti" provided with floats and ski undercarriages for fitment as may be required, to be used for the main search. The R.A.A.F. party consisted on myself, Flying Officer Murdoch, 2nd Pilot, Sergeant Pilot Spooner, relief Pilot, Sergeants Easterbrook and Reddrop, Corporal Cottee and Aircraftsman Gibbs.

The Royal Research Ship "Discovery 2" arrived at Williamstown Port Phillip Bay, in the second week of December and after extensive alterations were made to her after structure to permit the carrying of the Wapiti aeroplane, our Aircraft and stores were loaded and the Ship made ready for departure. My final briefing was given by Captain John King Davis, Director of Commonwealth Navigation who had considerable experience and knowledge of Antarctic conditions and operations. We said farewell on the morning of 23rd December but did not clear the Port Phillip heads until the next day as it was necessary for the ship to carry out Directional finding calibrations to its radio equipment. We made good progress through Bass Strait and after several days most of us had gained our "sea legs". We maintained an average of 220 miles per day and on the morning of 31st December we sighted the mountainous coast of southern New Zealand where after steaming up the coast we entered Port Chalmers and steamed up the narrow water way to the town of Dunedin.

The purpose of calling at Dunedin was to top up the Ships fuel tank to give as great a steaming range as possible without detracting very much from a direct route to the Ross Sea as our Captain intended to enter the pack ice at the head of the Ross Sea in longitude 180 degrees east. We spent several pleasant hours ashore but were unable to spend much time on sightseeing as the RAAF party took the opportunity to complete the preparations to the aircraft in readiness for the forthcoming flying.

We departed early on the 2nd January 1936 and steamed south at full speed and within several days were in the region of sleet and snow. By Tuesday 7th January we were over 1000 miles south of New Zealand and then crossed the 180th Meridian of longitude to the east and thus picked up a (date) day, giving us two Tuesdays. During this day we crossed the Antarctic Circle (66 33 South) and entered loose pack ice.

The pack ice increased but we still had made good progress and by Thursday 9th January we had penetrated over 100 miles into the pack ice which normally is at least 300 miles deep at the head of the Ross Sea and which must be navigated before reaching the blue waters of the Ross Sea. This belt of pack ice is a feature of this locality, it is caused by the prevailing south east winds driving the hummocky pack ice from the region of the Bellinghause Sea to the west across to Cape Adare at the North western tip of the Ross Sea.

On the 10th January our progress came to an end due to very heavy ice which now loomed ahead of us. Later in the day we made a few additional miles but our progress was unsatisfactory and it was obvious that a reconnaissance flight must be made to assist the ship in its ice navigation and progress.

At about 8AM on the morning of the 12th January the Ship managed to enter an isolated pool of water which I considered would be safe from which to make a solo flight. At about 10AM I was lowered overboard in the Moth seaplane and after a bit of taxying to ensure that no ice existed in my proposed take off path, I opened up, took off and climbed up to a cloud layer at 1200 feet altitude and flew away to the south. I observed that better ice conditions existed about 30 miles from the Ship. After a flight of about 40 minutes I returned to the vicinity of the Ship and alighted in the water pool which had closed up considerably since I had taken off. I had to twist and turn the Moth to avoid the ice, however all went well and I was hoisted onboard without damage to the aeroplane.

During the next day conditions remained much the same, low clouds with occasional snow squalls and heavy pack ice, some of which was over 20 feet thick. Captain Hill was particularly anxious that a second flight be made if at all possible as the ice navigation of the Ship had now become most difficult. We managed to break into another pool of water and at 12.30PM I was lowered overboard in the Moth with F/O Murdoch as my companion. We had some difficulty in getting off but made it with about 100 yards of water to spare and then climbed up to the cloud layer at 1200 feet. We flew south for a distance of about 20 miles and observed that clear sky and water existed about 50 miles south of the Ship.

Upon our return I noticed that the Ship was steaming slowly in the pool but had the prevailing wind on its wrong side for our plane to be hoisted onboard. I flew over the ship and indicated to the Captain to turn the Ship about which he did. We alighted close to the Ship and made an attempt to hook on to the lifting hook but failed. F/O Murdoch then transferred to the motor boat standing by and I took off solo and alighted in a more favourable position for coming onboard. The observations made on this flight were most valuable as it was apparent that the ice conditions would become easier after several miles of pack and this gave encouragement to the Captain of the Discovery. Later in the afternoon the Ship was able to increase speed in more open pack and at 3AM on the 14th January we broke clear of the ice into the Ross Sea after traversing 380 miles of pack ice.

We were now about 400 miles from the barrier face of the famous Ross Ice barrier. Except for isolated Ice bergs we were now in a glorious blue sea and able to continue at full speed. Early on the morning of 15th January we saw the ice glare of the Barrier which was observed as a bright white glare over the southern horizon. At about 3PM the barrier face came into view and by 4PM we were close to the ice cliffs and steaming parallel to them to the east towards the Bay of Whales. At this time there was a terrific glare over the ice Barrier, the height of which appeared to be about 100 feet, it was a weird sight. The air temperature had dropped from freezing to 18 degrees Fahrenheit due to the cold outflow of air from the Barrier. This was also noticeable by the formation of sea smoke over the sea caused by the cold air striking the relatively warm water. At 8PM we reached the Bay of Whales and steamed south until we arrived at the edge of the frozen bay ice. The width of the bay appeared to be about 8 miles.

At 8.20PM the Ships Officers reported that they could see two orange coloured flags fluttering in the breeze on top of the Barrier face to the east. I had a look through the binoculars and agreed with the observation made. We knew that Ellsworth carried orange coloured signal strips in his plane, several signal rockets were then fired from the Ship, they exploded with tremendous noise at a height of about 1000 feet over the Ship. As no movement was seen on the Barrier ice it was presumed that the missing aviators were either dead or possibly at "Little America" 6 miles due south of the flags.

Despite the lateness of the evening it was decided to carry out a reconnaissance flight in over the Barrier ice as far as "Little America" to see whether there was any indication of life before commencing the search with our Wapiti aeroplane.

At about 7PM Flying Officer Murdoch and myself were lowered overboard in the Moth and towed clear of the Ship. Due to the low temperature (8 F) the sea spray when flying froze on the floats and undersurfaces of the lower wing and it was obvious that we must get off quickly to stop the icing up otherwise the aeroplane would have to be hoisted onboard to clear the ice with hot water.

After a long run I managed to get the plane into the air and then climbed slowly to 1000 feet. When we levelled out it was surmised that water in the floats had run aft in the climb and then frozen. I turned towards the Barrier and set a course for the locality of "Little America" which we knew would be distinguishable by several tall masts or poles rising out of the snow and ice.

As we progressed in over the Barrier the flying conditions became extremely bad and it was all I could do to keep a steady course. This was due to the snow blind light which we were now experiencing, no horizon to the south was visible due to the extreme glare from the Barrier ice merging with the reflected glare from a layer of light clouds and we could see nothing ahead of us except a yellowish glare.

Some minutes later Murdoch observed what appeared to be black cracks in the ice below and to our surprise as we both looked the cracks appeared to "stand up", we then realised they were poles running out of the snow and ice and that we were over "Little America". I carefully circled the area and we then noticed orange coloured strips near the poles.

Suddenly we saw the figure of a man appear out of a hole and he started to wave his arms. This caused great excitement between us as we realised it must be either Ellsworth or Kenyon. I continued to circle and after a few minutes we threw overboard a small bag attached to a letter from the Captain of the Discovery congratulating Ellsworth and Kenyon on their achievement and asking them that if they were well enough, to start out on the seven mile hike to the Barrier face where they would be met by a land party from the Discovery.

We observed the figure pick up the parachute and wave. I then turned to the east to look at an object which appeared to be the wing of an aeroplane. Sure enough it was a wing projecting out of the snow and as we had heard that Admiral Byrd had taken home with him all his aircraft we came to the conclusion that this was the wreckage of Ellsworth's aeroplane "Polar Star".

I then headed away to the Ross Sea and steered towards an arc of water sky which appeared black against the glare of the Barrier and in a few minutes we could pick out the Ship. We turned along the Barrier face looking for a suitable place for a land party to climb to the Barrier from the frozen sea. I then flew back to the Ship and made an alighting close by. We shut off our engine and shouted out the startling news to the anxiously awaiting Captain and all other members who down to the Ships cook had gathered on the poop.

After the plane was hoisted onboard congratulations were passed all round and all hands joined in the toast to the happy occasion. Within ten minutes after our arrival the news was flashed to Australia.

Word processed by Sally Douglas - from the notes - hand written by Eric Douglas – Royal Australian Air Force
-- 06:09, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Introduction To And Speech By Flight Lieut. Douglas - search for Lincoln Ellsworth[edit]

Hal: 3UZ relaying to 2GB Sydney.

The time is just 7.15, and from 3UZ we have great pleasure in introducing Flight Lieut. Douglas of the Royal Australian Air Force who was in charge of the plane which left Discovery 2 and flew over the wastes of the Antarctic to discover Lincoln Ellsworth and his co-explorer Mr Kenyon.

This very interesting talk is being relayed to 2GB, Sydney, and we greet the listeners to this station. 3UZ desires to acknowledge with gratefulness the co-operation of “The Star” newspaper in connection with this matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to present to you Flight Lieut. Douglas. Flight Lieut. Douglas’ Speech

How do you do, everybody! I have been asked by the management of 3UZ to give you a brief description of our trip in Discovery 2 to attempt the rescue of the two fliers Mr Ellsworth and Mr Kenyon.

We left Melbourne on the 23rd December and proceeded to Dunedin. The reason for this was that Dunedin is 700 miles nearer to the Bay of Whales than Melbourne, and this meant that we were able to replenish our fuel, food and water supplies and thereby have a greater stock of each should any emergency arise. Actually, my only interest, apart from a desire to see the city, was the fact that I was anxious to replenish my supplies of pemmican, which is a highly concentrated from of food considered very handy when the chance of being without food of a normal kind, is present. Leaving Dunedin on 2nd January we set a course for the Bay of Whales. Steaming at 11 knots we had an uneventful trip south to the ice pack. The seas were moderately calm and as we got further south, were practically without any life. After 150 miles in open pack, it became heavier, closer together and the progress of the ship became slower. After two and a half days of this the pack became so heavy that we were practically brought to a standstill. On the trip south we worked constantly getting the machines, stores and plans in faultless order. Any emergency, as you can understand, had to be prepared for, and, for this reason, not the slightest thing was left to chance. A sledge had to be carried on the Wapiti should that be used, and this was attended to, and food of no bulk but with plenty of nourishment was allotted by the doctor to both myself and Flying Officer Murdoch, who made every flight but one with me. As well as Flying Officer Murdoch, who at times acted as navigator, the actual complement of the Flying Crew consisted of:

  • Sgt. Spooner - emergency pilot, who was to stand by the Moth in the event of the Wapiti being disabled.
  • Sgt. Easterbrook and Cpl. Cottee - two metal riggers.
  • Air Craftsman Gibbs - and Sgt. Reddrop.

The first opportunity to fly the moth, which was equipped on this occasion with floats in place of its usual wheels, came when we left some heavy pack and came into a pool of water. On this occasion I flew to a height of 2000 feet and covered some miles observing the trend of the pack which I found was to the south. Several days later another flight was necessary so Flying Officer Murdoch and I took off in the moth. This particular flight was of importance to the Commander of the ship because he had reached a point where he was a little bit at a loss. He admitted that it gave him quite an easy mind when we discovered it would be easy going.

A day and a half later we broke through into open water which was open as far as the eye could see, and we quickly steamed the remaining 450 miles to the Bay of Whales.

Steaming south in the open water you see the ice glare. This is just a very bright or whitish light above the horizon. Upon approaching closer you see a long table of ice. The edge of the barrier extended as far as the eye could see in either direction, approximately 100 feet high. Approaching the mouth of the Bay of Whales, the ship’s officers observed, through glasses, what appeared to be a small dark coloured tent with a pole erected on either side of the tent from which floated orange streamers some 15 feet in length. The Captain surmised from this that, as Ellsworth was carrying ground strips of this colour he would not be very far away. The ship then fired off about half a dozen maroon rockets which exploded with tremendous noise at the height of about 1000 feet.

As no movement was seen on the barrier it was presumed that they were either dead or at “Little America”. Of course, the quickest way to find out was to fly the aeroplane.

We lowered the moth overboard and Murdoch and I proceeded to reconnoitre and eventually reached “Little America”, which lay about six miles due south from the tent. We flew over the barrier at a height, according to our instruments of 1000 feet. I say, according to our instruments, because, owing to the very deceptive nature of the atmosphere, it was difficult, with ordinary sight, to tell whether we were 100 feet or 5000 feet above the ice. There was a peculiar shimmer which is quite unusual to anything I have previously experienced. We eventually discovered it to be “Little America” by the 35 foot tripod masts which had been erected for wireless purposes by Byrd on one of his previous expeditions.

After circling undecidedly for a few minutes, we were immediately delighted to see a figure emerge from what appeared to be a burrow in the snow.

The figure waved in a particularly casual manner and seemed not the slightest bit concerned at our arrival. We dropped a small parachute containing food, cigarettes and a letter from the Captain of the Discovery 2, congratulating the party on its achievement, and asking them, at the same time, if they felt fit enough to pull on the 6 mile walk to the Bay of Whales coastline. The figure in question proved to be Mr Kenyon, although at the time we did not know whether it where he or Lincoln Ellsworth. That Mr Kenyon is casual was borne out by Ellsworth, who said that never, at any time, had he struck so delightful and easy-going a man. As I said before, we were more than delighted to realise that at least one of the fliers was safe and so, with this knowledge, we turned the plane round and headed on what might be called a zig-zag course back to the ship. On our way back we searched for both faults in the ice which would endanger our land party and also a suitable ramp or ice slope up which they might climb to the barrier.

We eventually lighted alongside the ship and shouted the glad tidings to the anxiously awaiting Captain and crew who, even down to the cook, had gathered on the poop. After the plane was hauled on board congratulations were passed all round and, naturally we had a couple of toasts to celebrate the occasion. The wireless operator was of course, immediately busy on the job sending the news to the outside world which we knew was also waiting. Replies of congratulation were received and we felt that our task which appeared so hopeless in an area of this size had been successfully accomplished.

After an hour or so we returned to the deck, a rapidly moving and violently swaying figure appeared on the skyline. This, on later investigation, appeared to be the casual Kenyon. Kenyon, after having seen us flying over his depot, had slid down his ice ramp into the hut where Lincoln Ellsworth was lying suffering from a slight chill. He broke the news to Ellsworth that he guessed a plane had passed over a while ago and dropped a message. Ellsworth, delighted at the sudden turn of events, thought that it was a relief party from the “Wyatt Earp” and was surprised to find that it was an Australian boat and rescue party which had come on the scene. Kenyon, however, was not the slightest perturbed, and thought it would be a good idea to stroll across and see the boat. Picking up only a razor, his pipe and matches, and bidding Ellsworth a cheery goodbye, he climbed out of the underground hut, put on his snow shoes, and plodded away to the coast at the Bay of Whales.

This figure of Kenyon on the skyline was what the watchers on the boat picked out, and a party set out in a launch and landed on the ice. Kenyon greeted them with the remark that it was “jolly decent of them to drop in on us like this”. Kenyon and the party returned to the ship and made arrangements next day to revisit “Little America” and enquire into the well-being of Mr Ellsworth. This was done, the party going ashore next morning, if there were such a thing as morning or night in this part of the world, because the sun was shining for 24 hours a day.

Half a mile from “Little America”, which is actually only a depot, and not, as many people think, a complete continent, we came across Mr Ellsworth plodding through the snow.

Due to the bracing atmosphere the men developed ravenous appetites and, as Lincoln Ellsworth puts it, they immediately set to “Eat him out of house and home”. After lunch Mr Ellsworth packed on a small sledge all his essential gear, and the party then returned over the snow to the launch awaiting in the Bay of Whales. Our venture having been successfully accomplished, we look back with a certain amount of happiness and gratitude on the work which had previously been put in by everyone connected with the search. This helped to a tremendous extent in making the actual rescue one which went without a hitch. It was due in no small measure to the work done in Australia, the organising and wonderfully efficient method with which everything was thought of and carried out that the whole trip from start to finish was as successful, as we are glad to say it was.

Although we did our part to the best of our ability, it would have been of no use had not the people behind the scenes done such wonderful ground work both here in Melbourne, in Dunedin and later aboard the Discovery 2.

It was a pleasure to me to see the quickness with which the Australian Government grasped the situation and the thoroughness with which they went into preparations for the rescue and it was certainly these same preparations that made the task of Flying Officer Murdoch and myself so much easier. It is fitting for me to close this chat by saying that it was with the greatest sorrow that we on board learned of the death of His Majesty King George 5th. The ceremony observed was simple, being just the lowering of the flag to half mast and observing of the two minutes’ silence. Goodnight everybody, and thank you Mr Percy.

Word processed by Sally Douglas in 2002 - from the typed speech by Eric Douglas
Beckysharp (talk) 01:38, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Ellsworth Relief Expedition - Antarctic Flying Times & Remarks - Jan 1936 - Flight Lt G E Douglas[edit]

Moth Seaplane A7-55 12/1/36 Self Solo - 30 mins Engine Satisfactory in Air, oil pressure normal, lacks revs for take off. Air temperature 30 F, clouds 1200 feet Position Lat 71 45 S Long 178 W Observations General pack and isolated bergs. Some open water to S. 13/1/36 Self & F/o Murdoch - 1.00 hour Engine Take off revs 1700. Satisfactory in air. Air temperature (sea level) 26 F. Aircraft Satisfactory except controls somewhat stiff, clouds 1300 feet Position Lat 73 S Long 178 W. Wind 20 M.P.H. 80 degrees TRUE Observations Heavy pack to east, open water 30 miles to S.W. 15/1/36 Self & F/o Murdoch - 1.00 hour Eng take off revs 1710. Satisfactory in air. Aircraft Due to low air temperature 4 F, sea spray froze to floats and underside of fuselage and wings. Pos Bay of Whales Lat 78 30 S Long 164 W. Ross ice barrier to Little America 7 miles south TRUE Obs One man seen at Little America. Food & letter dropped by parachute. Flying conditions difficult due to snow blind light. 28/1/36 Self & F/o Murdoch - 1.00 hour (take off time 1000 hrs) Eng Take off revs 1725 (This due mainly to better warming) Pos Lat 73 20 S Long 175 E Obs Light broken clouds 1500 feet. Large ice berg 16 by 4 miles, open water to N.W. - 15 miles distant. Otherwise general pack. 28/1/36 Self & F/o Murdoch - 1.05 (take off time 1835 hrs) Eng Very satisfactory Air temp 30 F Pos Lat 73 S Long 174 50 E Obs General pack in all directions, easiest conditions appeared to be to the north east.

Word processed by Sally Douglas in 2002 - from notes - hand written by Eric Douglas
--Beckysharp (talk) 22:26, 6 May 2008 (UTC)


(1) Polar Extremes - The World of Lincoln Ellsworth - Beekman H Pool - University of Alaska Press 2002 - 919.804'092_dc21 & ISBN 1-889963-43-7 & ISBN 1-889963-44-5.
(2) South Latitude - F D Ommanney - Longmann, Green & Co Ltd - First Published 1838 - Reissued 1965
(3) Discovery 2 in the Antarctic - The Story of British Research in the Southern Seas - John Coleman-Cooke - Forward by Dr G E R Deacon - Director of the National Institute of Oceanography - Odhams Press Ltd - First Published in 1963 -- 00:24, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Questionable passage[edit]

  • The Boy Scout's Book of True Adventure, Fourteen Honorary Scouts, with Foreward By Theodore Roosevelt and Biographical Notes By James E. West. Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York (1931) -- Essays include: "The First Crossing of the Polar Sea" by Lincoln Ellsworth, "In the Arctic" by Lincoln Ellsworth, "Scouting Against the Apache" by Frederick R. Burnham, "How I Learned to Fly" by Orville Wright, "Adventurous Hunting" by Kermit Roosevelt, "An Arctic Mirage" by Donald B. MacMillan, "A Tobacco Trade" by George Bird Grinnell, "The Black Ghosts of the Tana River" by James L. Clark, "My Flight Over the Atlantic" by Richard E. Byrd, "In the Jungles of Cochin-China" by Theodore Roosevelt, "Shipwreck" by Robert A. Bartlett, "Written in the Air" by Charles A. Lindbergh, "Tiger! Tiger!" by Merian C. Cooper, "Bandits" by Clifford H. Pope, and "Adventure" by Stewart Edward White. All 13 photo plates of the honorary Scouts are present; both Roosevelts in the same photo.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Kpjas (talkcontribs) 04:59, 1 September 2006

External links modified[edit]

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