Forest of Friendship rejects Earhart truth

Until recently I’d never given the International Forest of Friendship (IFF) in Atchison, Kansas much thought, although I’ve long suspected that they’re no friends of the truth in the Earhart disappearance.  The fact that Fred Goerner was never inducted into a membership that numbers nearly 1,700 probably says something about what this collection of disparate types believes about the fate of Amelia Earhart.  A look at the list of IFF members brings one word immediately to my mind — establishment. 

Still, I didn’t expect to receive a one-wordunsubscribemessage on Nov. 2 in reply to my latest email notifying select recipients of the publication of my latest blog post, Amelia Earhart and the French Connectionfrom the office manager of the International Forest of Friendship, an addressee on my mailing list for several years.  Her name is unimportant, but her attitude and actions are, and appear to represent the thinking of many at the IFF. 

By way of introduction to the IFF, on its home page we find:

Welcome

The Forest was established as a bicentennial project by the City of Atchison and The Ninety-Nines Inc., an international organization of women pilots. Each September, new honorees are inducted into the Forest with plaques embedded in the walkway that winds through trees representing all 50 states and over 35 countries.

At the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison. Kansas, Amelia Earhart surveys the landscape as a group of young admirers pay their respects and grace the camera.

On the Virtual Tour of the Forest video page, we have this:

A life-size bronze statue of Amelia Earhart gazes over the International Forest of Friendship, which is a living, growing memorial to those who have been involved in aviation and space exploration. . . . Each June, new honorees are inducted into the forest with plaques embedded in the walkway that winds through trees representing all 50 states and over 35 countries in which forest honorees reside.  Several special trees include the Moon Tree,which was grown from a seed taken to the moon aboard Apollo 14.  It is encircled by the Astronaut’s Memorial, which honors ten astronauts who lost their lives in space exploration.

From the IFF’s Wikipedia entry, we see: A trail through the forest contains granite plaques with the names of over 1,200 aviation notables, including Charles LindberghJeana YeagerRajiv Gandhi, the Wright BrothersSally RideChuck YeagerBeryl Markham, General Jimmy Doolittle, President George H. W. Bush, General Colin Powell, and Lt. Col. Eileen M. Collins, Capt. Lynn Rippelm.” 

Has even one of the above luminaries ever spoken on behalf of the facts in the Earhart matter, or even hinted at the age-old lie that has relegated the truth to sacred-cow status?  

Now that you’re familiar enough with the IFF to understand why I might not be pleased when one of its public representatives deigns to tell me she no longer wants to receive this blog, here is my response to her unsubscribe request:

Why?  Are you not interested in the truth about Amelia Earhart, or do you already know everything you need to know?  If anyone should care, it’s supposed to be you.  You should be the last ones to unsubscribe. 

My good friend and mentor Bill Prymak was inducted in 1994 into the IFF, and he approved of everything I wrote about this travesty.  My book Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Lasthas been among the top Earhart books on Amazon since its first edition was published in 2012.  What do you have against the truth?

Joe Gervais (left) and Bill Prymak in an undated photo at The International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, Kansas.  The forest was started in 1976 by the city of Atchison and the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots.  Fay Gillis Wells is credited as founder and original co-chairman.  Prymak, a savvy networker who founded the Amelia Earhart Society in 1990, was inducted in 1994 and his good friend Gervais in 2005, but nearly every other author and researcher who has written on behalf of the Marshalls-Saipan truth has been ignored.

If you insist on unsubscribing, I would consider that to be newsworthy enough that I would have to inform our readers.  This is reminiscent of my experience with the Admiral Nimitz Library in Texas, which went over to the dark side several years ago when they took down the famous quotation from Nimitz to Fred Goerner and refused to stock Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last in their book shop.  Have you also sold out to our corrupt establishment?  Are you now full-fledged members of the Earhart disinformation bureau?

As always, I want to be fair and accurate about this matter.  Please provide your name and any statement you wish to make to justify your request to be unsubscribed from this blog.  Perhaps you can explain precisely why you are no longer interested in the truth about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  Nobody else out here is doing this work any more.  They are all dead now, and I’m among their last voices.

Mike Campbell
Jacksonville, Fla.

My above message received no reply, so as a pro forma gesture, I sent the IFF operative this message on the morning of Nov. 3:

I didn’t initially see your name at the bottom of your unsubscribe response, but did so after sending you the below.  Although I’m nearly certain you did receive the message I sent you yesterday, I’m re-sending it to ensure you have it.  I’m now working on a blog post about your decision to reject this blog, and will publish it in about a week.

I assume you were speaking for Forest of Friendship leadership when you chose to cancel future receipt of this blog, but you might want to check with others to make sure.  Of course if I hear nothing more from you, which would be quite rude, I’ll proceed to publish my post about the IFF’s lack of concern about the Earhart matter.

This message also received no reply.  Talk about rude and cold!  To purposely ignore the two good-faith messages I sent the IFF requires a degree of hostility that I’ve rarely encountered in similar circumstances, and the office manager’s abject silence in the face of these appeals screams volumes about how she and her confreres feel about the truth.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by this development, however, given the IFF’s symbiotic relationship with the Ninety-Nines, which along with the City of Atchison established the IFF in 1976.  I’ve had a few unpleasant exchanges with the so-called leadershipof the Ninety-Nines, who almost exclusively parrot the phony establishment line in the Earhart matter and are no friends of the truth.  The rare exception was the Kansas Chapter, represented by Kay Alley, who invited me to Wichita, Kansas in 2014 to do a presentation that was well received and among the most memorable moments of my Earhart work. 

As always, the truth in the Earhart case is an orphan, despised and ignored whenever possible by virtually everyone who could do something to improve the status of this great 20th century lie, which has never been a mysteryto the Deep State — and inform others about this great American myth, this sacred cow that our establishment refuses to stop protecting.  

As far as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is concerned, the Forest of Friendship has now shown that it’s joined the rest of the cowards and sellouts in the mainstream establishment, and is no friend of the truth, if it ever was. 

Nov. 23 Update: Apparently one or more members of the Greater Kansas City 99s, North Central Section, have taken exception to the contents of this blog and today sent their own “unsubscribe” request, which of course will be immediately honored.  I never go where I’m not wanted.  I wasn’t exaggerating when I described my past problems with the Ninety-Nines, co-founded by Amelia herself, who, as we can see, are choosing the dark but comforting lies of the establishment rather than the light of truth in ever greater numbers. 

Earhart and the French Connection, conclusion

Today we conclude the strange and compelling tale of the “Bottle Message” found on a beach in France in October 1938 by a French woman named Genevieve Barrat, a story that has been completely ignored by our esteemed media over the decades. 

There’s no doubt that if the bottle message indicated the writer saw or knew of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Nikumaroro or some other non-Japanese held island or territory, the message would be known worldwide to anyone even slightly curious about Amelia Earhart.  The Nikumaroro lie has thus prospered, along with the original Earhart falsehood, the crashed and sankcanard.  But since the cryptic message pointed to the fliers’ captivity by the prewar Japanese on Jaluit, which we know to be true, it too became another verboten incident in the long history of censorship of the truth. 

Eric de Bisschop (1891-1958) was a French navigator, known for his sea voyages from Honolulu to Cannes on the Kaimiloa (1937–’38) and from Papeete to Chile on the Tahiti-Nui raft (1956–’58).  He spent much of his adult life in the Pacific, particularly in Honolulu (1935–’37 and 1941–’47), in French Polynesia (1947–’56) and in Chile in the last year of his life.

We return to Rollin C. Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection,” which appeared in the March 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters:

The Assistant Naval Attaché at the American Embassy in Paris, Lt. Cmdr. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, interviewed Eric de’ Bisschop on 7 Jan. 1939. 

[Editor’s note: Hillenkoetter (1897-1982) went on to become the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency created by the National Security Act of 1947, and was privy to virtually all the secrets of the time, including the UFO cover-up that began at Roswell, and we can be justifiably skeptical of anything associated with him.]

There was little additional information to give, since Mr. de Bisschop had visited Honolulu in 1937, and been debriefed by Admiral Harry E. Yarnell and Cmdr. Kilpatrick as to what he had seen of Japanese defense works in the Marshalls.  The Japanese had been dredging the harbors and entrance channels, and had completed new charts for Jaluit and other atolls, but were holding their charts confidential. 

During his visit, Mr. de Bisschop had to be piloted by an official motor boat when he was sailing in and out of there.  He did notice an airplane ramp for hauling out seaplanes, along with an airplane hanger and other repair shops and storehouses.  It was mentioned to him that construction on a concrete dock was to begin shortly.  They also had radio transmitting and receiving sets on each of the smaller islands that were not shown on any official list of radio stations, except Jaluit.

The building and dredging work on Mili Atoll was so secretive that even Japanese
merchant ships were not allowed to visit there.  Coal, munitions, dynamite and other supplies were brought to Jaluit by regular Japanese merchant vessels.  From there they were transhipped to Mili on small navy vessels manned by regular officers and men of the Japanese Navy.

As far as the story about Miss Earhart and other people kept prisoners on Jaluit is concerned, Mr. de Bisschop said that while possible, he did not believe it.  He said it was much easier to find someone accidentally drowned than to keep them prisoners.  The natives told him of an incident before he arrived, where a white man who had visited Jaluit was found drowned one day, but with indication that he had been struck over the head first.  He was rumored to have been a spy. 

After arrival of this report at the State Department, it was dispatched to the Department of
the Navy on 25 Jan. ’39. The accompanying memo reads as follows:

In reply refer to
Eu 800.7961 Putnam, Amelia Earhart/211
CONFIDENTIAL

Enclosures:
1. From Embassy, Paris, no. 3590, January 4, 1939
2. From Embassy, Paris, no. 3605, January 8, 1939

In the past, many attempts have been made to obtain reformation from the State Department concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.  Their stock answer has always been that there are no records in the State Dept. as they have forwarded all their files concerning Amelia Earhart to the National Archives.

A brief mention of the bottle incident was made by Fred Goerner in his book, The Search for Amelia Earhart.  He states that in April of 1964, he found the Soulac-sur-Mer report in a classified file in the State Dept.  It should be noted that report was still classified some 26 years after the bottle was found off the coast of France.

Photo of “RECTO” of bottle message found by Genevieve Barrat at Soulac-sur-Mer, France.  (Courtesy of National Archives and The Earhart Enigma.)

Another researcher, Oliver Knaggs, in his book, Amelia Earhart, Her Last Flight, also makes mention of the Soulac-sur-Mer report.  This time in 1984, the papers were unclassified and found in the National Archives.  Mr. Knaggs made an effort to find the lock of hair allegedly contained in the bottle, but had no success.

Stamped at the top of the Department of Navy memo is the classification:

GROUP 4
Down grade at three year
intervals; declassified
after 12 years.

No one can explain why so much of the information related to Amelia Earhart’s final flight was classified.  Why should the government not want the American public to know about these papers?  The reader must draw his own conclusion as to the truth of the enclosures in the bottle found off Soulac-sur-Mer.  There was never any additional evidence found in the way of another bottle, or the identity of the author.  However, the State Department felt the information should bear a security classification in order to protect the security of the United States, as well as keep the information from the public.

Pros:

1. The message in the bottle could only have been written by a person with intimate knowledge of the Marshall Islands.  He knew the tiny and little known atolls of Mili and Jaluit and knew, too, that the Japanese were building up fortifications there.  How many people had heard of the Marshalls, let alone those obscure outer atolls?  And of those few, how many would have guessed that the Japanese were erecting military installations?  The media were giving a lot of attention to Japan at the time, but this was almost exclusively concerned with the war in China.  Again, of the handful who might have known all this, none would waste their time concocting a stupid hoax.

2. The writer included a lock of hair he claimed was Amelia’s and the wording of his note indicated his conviction that this would prove he had met her.  True, the hair was described as chestnut coloured, but this was not the description of the writer of the letter, merely an opinion of, possibly Henri Hoppenot, the sous-director d’Europeat the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who informed Edwin Wilson about the Mlle. Barrat’s discovery.

3. The writer spelled out the fact that Amelia was an aviatrix.  Why?  Virtually the whole world knew what she was.  Her name had been in headlines for months!  But a man who had been out of circulation, a prisoner and a yachtsman sailing around the Marshalls, would not have realized how famous she had become, worldwide.

4. He refers to Noonan as her mechanic (a man).”  Again, Noonan was her navigator and the whole world knew he was a man, so why spell it out unless he felt no one would have heard of the man.  I didn’t credit any hoaxer with the sheer brain-power required to include such subtleties into a message.

Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter (1897-1982) was the first director of the Central Intelligence Agency created by the National Security Act of 1947.  He also served as Director of Central Intelligence from May 1, 1947, to October 7, 1950, after his retirement from the United States Navy.  Hillenkoetter interviewed Eric de’ Bisschop in January 1939, but learned little additional information since Mr. de Bisschop had visited Honolulu in 1937, and been debriefed by Admiral Harry E. Yarnell as to what he had seen of Japanese defense works in the Marshalls.  Hillenkoetter was privy to virtually all the secrets of the time, including the UFO cover-up that began at Roswell, and we can be justifiably skeptical of anything that was associated with him.

5. He states he was arrested because he disembarked on Mili.  How on earth could anyone have made such a statement unless he had been there?  With the scant knowledge then current about Japanese activity in those islands, this is fat more than an inspired guess, as Eric de’ Bisschop’s statement proves

6. He refers to being on the Nippon Nom (?) – sic.  The Nippon Maru was operating in the area.  Maybe I was stretching it a little to include this because a shipping clerk, for instance, might have known this.  Why not then, I argued, come right out with the name?  It was possible that a prisoner marched aboard would only have obtained a brief glimpse of the full name.

CONS:

1. The writer did not give his name.  One must always be wary of people who wish to remain anonymous.  However. in fairness, he might have feared that the message would fall into the wrong hands, another factor that waters down this point somewhat, is that a hoaxer would be more likely to give a false name than no name at all.  But I like to see names so I regarded this as a con.

2. The message being washed up, in a sealed bottle, on a beach is, let’s face it, hard to take seriously.   Or rather, I can appreciate the skepticism with which the message was received in the police station at Soulac-sur-Mer.  But what other method of sending a message was open to a genuine prisoner, falsely accused?

3. The lock of hair, quoted as chestnut-coloured, could not have come from Amelia’s head.  I included this as a “con” as well as a “pro” because it can be argued either way.  (End of Rollin C. Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection.”)

As we saw in my Nov. 7 update, William Trail found the Air Classics magazine’s December 2000 edition, which published Rollin C. Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection,” and sent the cover that’s displayed at the bottom of the post.  He also said he would photocopy and send the article to me, and if it’s different enough from what we have here, taken from the AES Newsletter version, I will post that here as well. 

Amelia Earhart and the French Connection

This is a fascinating, complex (for me, at least) story that at least three Earhart researchers have researched and written about in their own unique styles.  Retired Air Force Col. Rollin C. Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection” appeared in the March 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters

Clearly the best, most exhaustively researched version of the bottle messagestory was written by AES member Dave Horner, who, in his fine 2013 book, The Earhart Enigma, presented  a lengthy subsection, Genevieve’s Discovery,” in which Bill Prymak concluded thatthe message in the bottle is genuine.”  In 2001, Daryll Bolinger, another AES figure, wrote “Two If By Air, Two If By Sea,” also longer and more detailed than Reineck’s, and presented it on the AES Forum.  Last but maybe far from least, Polish author and publisher Sławomir M. Kozak is completing his Requiem for Amelia Earhart; he plans to release it soon, and tells me Requiem will include a chapter on the bottle message.

Retired Air Force Col. Rollin C. Reineck, circa 2003.

But for the purposes and format of this blog, I think Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection” is the best fit, though it’s far from the most exhaustive or accurate rendition of this story, which remains a strange and nearly inscrutable chapter in the Earhart saga.  Today I present the first of two parts.  Boldface emphasis mine throughout.

“AMELIA EARHART AND THE FRENCH CONNECTION”
by Rollin C. Reineck

(Bill Prymak note: This is an abbreviated account of Colonel Reineck’s story.  Col. Reineck has complete copies of all reports, original letters, and memorandum from the French and U.S. Government.  You may all plan to read the complete version in the Air Classics magazine.)

[Truth at Last editor’s note: I don’t have the unidentified Air Classics issue referenced by Prymak, have searched diligently for it and have been unable to even pinpoint its specific month and year.  Anyone who might have it, please contact me via email or comment to this blog.] *See update below Part I.*

In October 1938, the search for Amelia Earhart was over, without success.  Her name was no longer a headline, and her adoring public was gradually putting her out of their mindsBut suddenly, evidence of her survival surfaced off the coast of France!  Were the American people told this exciting news?  NO — the U.S. State Dept. immediately classified it “Confidential” to protect the security of the United States.  Without taking any action, the State Department sent it to the Navy Depsrtment, but without giving any orders or guidance concerning an investigation.  The accompanying message read, “TAKE SUCH ACTION, IF ANY, AS YOU MAY DEEM DESIRABLE.”  The Navy deemed only to keep the information classified from the public for 12 years.  Were they trying to hide something?  Does this action suggest a cover-up?  Follow this story, and you decide . . . .

Almost 60 years ago in a small residential community along the French coast, a 37-year old housewife was walking along the beach, and spotted a sealed bottle floating on the waves close to shore.  The lady’s name was Genevieve Barrat, place was Soulac-sur-Mer, France, and the date was 30 October 1938.  Genevieve picked up the bottle, removed the wrapping that covered the cork, and opened the bottle. Inside were three sheets of paper, and a lock of hair.  The writing on the paper was in both longhand and shorthand.  Genevieve read the writing, which among other things directed the finder to turn the contents over to the police without delay.  She did exactly that.

The beach at Soulac-sur-Mer, France, where Ms. Genevieve Barrat found one of the most provocative bottle messages of the 20th century in late October 1938.

The French Gendarme made a complete report, and forwarded it on 18 Nov. 1938, to the District Attorney at the Prefect of Gironde.  (Original reports in French were translated later at the American Embassy in Paris.)  They first reiterated Genevieve’s story and her actions.  They described the bottle (10 centilitres; bottom of the glass marked V.B.2.; closed with a cork and covered with wax).  They described the hair found in the bottle as light brown.  The inscriptions on the documents were:

1.  Further proof: a lock of hair.
2.  “May God guide this bottle. I entrust to it my life and that of my companions in misery.”
3.  In ordinary handwriting:

RECTO: Have been prisoner of Jalint (Jaluit, Marshall) of Japanese in a prison at Jalint.  Have seen Amelia Earhart (aviatrix) and in another prison her mechanic (man), as well as other prisoners held for so-called espionage of the gigantic fortifications which are built at Atoll. 

Earhart and her companion were picked up by a Japanese seaplane and will be
held as hostage, say the Japanese.  I was a prisoner because I debarked at Mili Atoll. My yachtViveo sunk, crew massacred (3 Maoris), the boat (26T) (sailing boat) was supplied with wireless.

VERSO: Having remained a long time at Jalint (Jaluit) as prisoner, was enrolled
by forces as bunker-hand, simple fed, on boardNippon NOM? going to Europe. Shall escape as soon as the boat is near the coast.  Take this message immediately to the Gendarmerie in order to be saved. This message was probably thrown off Santander, and will surely arrive at the Vendee towards September or at the latest in October 1938, remainder in the bottle tied to this one, Message No. 6.”

In Shorthand:

In order to have more chance at freeing Miss Amelia Earhart and her companion, as well as the other prisoners, it would be preferable that policemen should arrive incognito at Jalint?  I shall be with JO . . . . . eux [sic] and if I succeed in escaping . . . . . for if the Japanese are asked to free the prisoners they will say that they have no prisoners at Jalint.  It will therefore be necessary to be crafty in order to send further messages to save the prisoners at Jalint.  At the risk of my life, I shall send further messages.

Photo of “RECTO” of bottle message found by Genevieve Barrat at Soulac-sur-Mer, France in October 1938. (Courtesy of National Archives and The Earhart Enigma.)

This bottle serves as a float to a second bottle containing the story of my life and . . . . . . empty, and a few objects having belonged to Amelia Earhart.  These documents prove the truth of the story in ordinary writing and shorthand and that I have approached Amelia Earhart . . . . . believed to be dead.

The second bottle doesn’t matter.

I am writing on my knees for I have very little paper, for finger prints taken by
police.  Another with thumb.

Message written on cargo boat No. 6.

The report by the Gendarme at Soulac-sur-Mer was sent to the District Attorney at the Prefect of Gironde in Bordeaux on 18 Nov. 1938.  From there it was sent to the Minister of the Interior in Paris.

In Paris. on 2 Dec. 1938, the Minister of the Interior sent the file to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  However, they added a note concerning a lecture given on 25 Nov.’38, by a well known navigator, Mr. Eric de Bisschop, at the Geographical Society.  Mr. de Bisschop’s lecture was titled, “Six Years of Adventure in a Chinese Junk and a Polynesian Canoe.”  In it, he told of his voyage taking him through the Marshall Islands.  (The fact that his visit there was approximately a month after the bottle washed ashore in France, is probably coincidental.)

When Mr. de Bisschop stopped off in the Marshalls, he was very cordially received by
the local Japanese authorities, until he mentioned passing Mili Atoll.  They then became distinctly hostile toward him.  He was suspected of spying, and endured very close questioning, and his boat was subjected to a particularly severe inspection.  When nothing was discovered, he was released.

The next day, Mr. de Bisschop received a beautiful basket of fruit from the Japanese
authorities.  Being wary of Greeks bearing gifts, he did not touch the fruit, even though he could have used some fresh food after his tong voyage.  A day later, suspicious brown spots appeared on the fruit, so he threw it all into the sea.

It appears the Japanese at that time were up to more than just increasing commerce with the Marshallese.  It is difficult not to connect Mr. de Bisschop’s incident, and the details contained in the note in the bottle thrown overboard by an unknown sailor.  A note that gives information concerning the disappearance of the American aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and her mechanic.  Mr. de Bisschop did allude, in his lecture, to the passage of Amelia in the vicinity of the Marshall Islands during her attempted round-the-world flight.

[Editor’s Note: From Wikipedia, which cites Eric de Bisschop’s 1940 book, Voyage of the Kaimiloa, we learn that de Bisschop built a Chinese junk, the Fou Po and from 1932 to 1935 sailed with Joseph Tatibouet in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.  Fou Po was destroyed in a hurricane on Formosa (modern day Taiwan), but de Bisschop quickly built a new, smaller junk, Fou Po II in 1933.  In July 1935, they were detained for two weeks by the Japanese in Jaluit, under suspicion of being spies, and barely escaped, fleeing toward Hawaii.  (Italic emphasis mine.)  On Oct. 25, they reached, half starving, Molokai Island and were rescued at the Kalaupapa hospital.  On the 27th, the Fou Po II was destroyed by a storm, along with all the scientific work done during these years of seafaring.  After a while, they flew to Honolulu.]

Edwin C. Wilson, circa 1943, American diplomat, acting chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Paris in 1939, who served as U.S. Minister to Uruguay from 1939-1941, U.S. Ambassador to Panama from 1941-1943 and U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1945-1948. (Associated Press photo.)

On Jan. 3, 1939, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs handed all the documents to
Edwin C. Wilson, acting chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy in Paris.  Mr. Wilson immediately classified the reportConfidential, and dispatched it on Jan. 4, 1939, to the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.  The cover letter noted there were only two pages of notes, whereas the police at Lesparre said the bottle contained three pages of notes. There was also no mention of the lock of hair that allegedly belonged to Amelia Earhart.  (End of Reineck’s “AMELIA EARHART AND THE FRENCH CONNECTION” Part I.)

In The Earhart Enigma, Dave Horner notes that the top line of the RECTOmessage contains a series of numbers, 942 9652 9077 V 10 135 815613114 X 6 / 75 2865, that appears to be a code of some kind.  If you look closely at the photo on this page, you can see small traces of this series of numbers, though it’s not easy to make out.

Horner looked deeply into this possible code, consulting with cipher specialist General Ribadeau-Dumas, then 93, former chief of the Cipher Section of the Deuxième Bureau of the [French] War Department, who Horner described as having aclear mind and good memory.”  Though the general believed the bottle message could be authentic, he couldn’t help with the string of numbers at the top of the message.

Later, French intelligence sources told Horner the code was “Marine Code RD,” widely used from 1937 to 1939.  In spite of an intense search, Horner wrote, “no dictionary for Marine Code RD cold be found.  The absolute rule of incineration had been accomplished,” and the code remains a mystery.

*Update Nov. 7: Longtime reader William Trail has found the original issue of Air Classic Magazine, its December 2000 edition, that published Rollin C. Reineck’s “Amelia Earhart and the French Connection,” and sent the cover, below.  Thanks William!

Electra 12 mystery photo raises perplexing questions

The below photos and brief narrative appeared in the February 1994 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, with little explanation as to the provenance of the plane photo other than its discovery by researcher Joe Gervais, and the headline, “COVERUP . . . part of a larger scheme?”  Otherwise, readers are left with little else but bewildered questions.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

The following caption is taken verbatim from the original AES Newsletter presentation: “Amelia Earhart escaped injury in this pile-up off the end of Lockheed’s runway at Burbank, Calif.  Shortly after this photo was made, Earhart and Noonan disappeared on their Round the World flight in the mid-Pacific May 20 – July 3, 1937.”

JOE Gervais comes up with the darndest stuff sometimes, to wit the intriguing photograph from the Lockheed Archives shown above, a model 12 Electra mournfully laying in a ditch at the end of the runway at Burbank, date of accident established [sic] as May 7 or 8, 1937, about two weeks before AE’s departure on her second attempt around the world. 

QUESTIONS: Who stonewalled the press, with such an incident certain to raise nationwide attention?  Why was this accident not reported to the CAA?  All incidents sustaining major structural damage such as seen above were mandated by law to be reported to the federal aviation authorities.  No report was filed.

Compare photo below to person(s) standing in front of the Electra . . .  sure looks like George and part of a bell bottom trouser, such as seen on AE.  

[TAL Editor’s note: I don’t see any part of a bell bottom trouserin the photo above.] 

The aircraft had a checkered history, passing through at least six ownerships, at one time showing the experimental registration X 17342 [sic].  Strangely, official CAA documents show Las Vegas Gas Co. as the owner of X-17342 for a period of time, and yet Joe, one to never leave any stone unturned, could not find, even in spite of dogged research, such ownership in any of the records of the Las Vegas Gas Co.

WHO would stand to gain the most from this cover-up?  George Putnam?  Lockheed?  The U.S. government?  Certainly Amelia dodged a fusillade of bad press, which couldn’t have come at a worse time in her career had this crash been splashed across the national newspapers.

In his February 1994 newsletter, the late Amelia Earhart Society president and founder Bill Prymak offered his limited membership yet another puzzling entry, and now I’m passing this strange item to the readers of the Truth at Last blog, with the hope that this little mystery can be solved.  Can anyone tell us more about this photo and the story behind it?

******Oct. 23 Update******

Reader Blake K. Baxter has sent in a comment with information that partially clarifies our little mystery, albeit taken from a February 1995 edition of TIGHAR Tracks.

All interested readers should click on the link to the TIGHAR Story, found on page 8 of
https://tighar.org/Publications/TTracks/1995Vol_11/1101.pdf

Once again it appears that we have a case of Joe Gervais rushing to speculate and make another sensational claim before finding the available information.

Bill Prymak is also culpable for writing that the date of accident established [sic] as May 7 or 8, 1937, about two weeks before AE’s departure on her second attempt around the world.  Where did he get that date, and what made him so sure?  The Feb. 28, 1995 TIGHAR Tracks story doesn’t have all the answers, but it appears to have more than Bill Prymak had when he posted this photo in February 1994.

 

Almon Gray: “Earhart landed in the Marshalls”

Almon A. Gray was a pioneer in aeronautical communications, a Navy Reserve captain, flew with Fred Noonan in the 1930s and was an important figure in the development of the Marshall Islands landing scenario.  

Upon expiration of his Navy enlistment he signed on with Pan American Airways, in 1935 Gray helped build the bases to support the first trans-Pacific air service, and was first officer-in-charge of the PAA radio station on Wake Island.  After the San Francisco-Hong Kong air route was opened in late 1935, he was a radio officer in the China Clipper and her sister flying boats.  Later he was assistant superintendent of communications for PAA’s Pacific Division.  

The following letter, to confirmed crashed-and-sank researcher Cameron A. Warren, appeared in the February 1999 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society NewslettersIt was written on Sept. 1, 1994, just over three weeks before Gray’s death at 84 on Sept. 26, 1994 at his home in Blue Hill, Maine.  Boldface emphasis mine throughout.

Almon Gray at his Blue Harbor, Maine, home shortly before his death in late September 1994.  Gray, a Navy Reserve captain and Pan American Airways China Clipper flight officer, flew with Fred Noonan in the 1930s and was an important figure in the development of the Marshall Islands landing scenario.  Bill Prymak, Amelia Earhart Society founder and president, called Gray’s analysis of Earhart’s radio problems during her last flight “one of the finest pieces of work ever presented on this subject.”

[Editor’s comment] From a man who flew with Fred Noonan and who was considered to be one of the top radio men in his day.

HC 64 Box 270-207
Parker Ridge
Blue Hill, ME 04514

Sept. 1, 1994

Cameron A. Warren
P.O. Box 10588
Reno, NV 59510

Dear Mr. Warren,

I greatly appreciate your letter of Aug. 20th and certainly agree that in naming Keats Reef as the theoretical point of Earhart’s touch down I made a poor selection.  As I mentioned in the article, I was unable to obtain any significant information about the reef.  I believe however that the basic theory is sound.  Briefly, I envisage that Earhart was homing with the DF in a general westerly direction on the signals from the broadcast radio station at Jaluit.  Her gas tanks were virtually empty.  She sighted land close to her track and made an emergency landing on it.  Beyond reasonable doubt the land was in the Marshall Islands.

This section of the “Sketch Survey” of Mili Atoll taken from U.S. and Japanese charts focuses on the northwest quadrant of Mili Atoll, where Barre Island is clearly noted.  Witnesses saw the Electra come down off Barre, and Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were seen embarking the Electra and seeking shelter in the Endriken Islands, which are so small that they’re not named on the map. 

The landing was made about mid-afternoon of July 2, 1937, Howland date.  The Radio equipment in the aircraft was started up later in the afternoon and was used intermittently for at least three days without molestation.  Many radio listeners at numerous sites reported hearing distress signals from the plane but were not taken seriously.  (In retrospect I believe that most of them were genuine.)  The quality of the transmissions was very poor and virtually no useful information was passed in all that time.  However the peculiar characteristics which made the transmitted voice signals unintelligible, were unique and served to identify the signals as coming from the Earhart plane whenever they were heard.

With what I have here plus what I consider as very good bearings from the PAA Adcock RDFs at Wake and Midway, I feel quite comfortable in believing that Earhart landed in the Marshalls.  The homing track to the Jaluit Radio Station makes me believe that the most likely locale would be the very northern part of Mili Atoll.

I had hoped that during my lifetime we would know precisely what happened to the Earhart flight and where.  I now would be delighted to merely get general acceptance of the notion that Amelia and Fred were alive and reasonably well in the Marshalls as late as a week after they disappeared.

Again, thanks for your letter!

Sincerely,

Almon A. Gray

copy: Bill Prymak

For a comprehensive review of all that’s been presented on this blog about Almon Gray, please click here.

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