New Mili search uncovers more potential evidence

Earhart researchers Dick Spink and Les Kinney, who led a search team sponsored by Parker Aerospace, returned from Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands Jan. 30 after spending five days combing the tiny Endriken Islands near Barre Island with high-tech equipment including ground-penetrating radar and metal detectors.

Although no one has made any more claims that “concrete proof or a Holy Grail has been found, the pair didn’t return empty-handed either, and some of the artifacts appear to have serious potential.

“Wow, what a trip!” Spink wrote in an email Feb. 3.  “Two of the pieces we found are very consistent with what I found on my first couple expeditions to Mili.  One piece in particular is some type of identification plate that is consistent in size with that of a Lockheed airframe tag.  There is no way of knowing this until we get it to the lab, but you can tell it was some type of ID tag.

Dick Spink stands at what he believes was the exact spot that Amelia Earhart landed her Electra on July 2, 1937. Spink and a search team returned to the area for a five-day search of the tiny Endriken Islands in late January.

Dick Spink stands at what he believes is the spot where Amelia Earhart landed her Electra on July 2, 1937.  Spink, Les Kinney and a search team returned to the area for a five-day search of the tiny Endriken Islands in late January.

Something important to note, Spink continued, is that all of the aluminum pieces we found were in a direct line between where [I believe] the [Earhart] plane came to rest and the location of where the plane was loaded onto the shallow draft barge.  Very interesting indeed, and the foundation of this story is becoming more solid.

Readers unfamiliar with the full background on this story and the new search at Mili for parts of Amelia Earhart’s Electra can find details in my three earlier posts, Yahoo! News announces new search for Electra parts, Recent find on Mili Atoll called “Concrete proof and Update to Recent find on Mili story.”

“We found six small artifacts that could or could not have come from the Electra,” Kinney wrote in a Jan. 29 email.  “We also found a couple of small unidentified pieces of aluminum, and a round one inch diameter rusted magnet.  Most of this stuff was buried — all except one piece were found by metal detectors.” 

Kinney urged caution about making any premature announcements until thorough testing can be done.  He will coordinate the tests, financed by Parker Aerospace and conducted as soon as possible.  None of the tests will likely provide absolute proof that an artifact came from the Earhart plane, but Kinney, Spink and antique aircraft expert Jim Hayton all believe the aluminum plate and airwheel dust cover found by Spink in previous trips to the Endrikens were probably from the Electra.

Kinney also interviewed some native Marshallese he called “knowledgeable locals” in the Mili Atoll area, and says he “confirmed there were no aircraft wrecks on any of the nearby islands stretching out for at least ten miles” during or before the war years, with only one exception.  This supports his earlier research, and makes the possibilities even stronger that one or more of the artifacts’ came from the Earhart plane.

We also got some Japanese aircraft samples we picked up on Mili Island to compare the aluminum we got from our island, Kinney wrote, adding thateverything has been cleared by the Marshallese government.  I wrote up a release and the President signed it as well as the Historic Preservation Office Manager.  Everything is legal.

As has usually been the case when Earhart searches are undertaken by TIGHAR, Nauticos and others, the media has enthusiastically informed the public about the great adventure.  These same news agencies have invariably failed to publish follow-ups when the searches fail to deliver.  Much the same is the case here, though on a far smaller scale; nothing about the search has been published to date by Yahoo! News or any other media outlet, though Spink says he will be talking to a local newspaper soon, and other possible media exposure may be forthcoming.

Readers of this blog can be sure that this reporter will do all that he can to keep them informed about any news in what might be properly called the postmodern search for Amelia Earhart.  

6 responses

  1. Is this the West side of the lagoon they are searching? I hope they are looking inside the lagoon for artifacts, as well.


  2. *Great work Dick Spink, Les Kinney, Jim Hayton, Parker Aerospace/Aviation, Mike Harris, Marshall Islands President and others involved in this research. You’s have laid the foundation of evidence & facts to Amelia’s landing the Electra on *Barre Island. It does make sense these pieces would have come off from the landing and later moving of the Electra to the shallow draft barge.

    As Dick has stated, smaller loose p i e c e s, strip, magnet and the fact they were burried is even more convincing. 75 years of rain, wind, sand accumulation would equal nature’s coverage of time.

    You would think DiStUrBaNcE of the ground rocks in this area would lead to closer examination. Rocks moved out of their natural bedding. Black & white photography/imaging by ground & air could reveal more clues.

    This island will yield more important data as we have already seen.



    1. Just a word to say that St. John Naftel, the old Marine who was shown two graves on Tinian, has passed away at his home in Pike Road, Alabama. After many return searches over the past 11 years sadly nothing was found to substantiate what he saw in 1945. He will be missed.


  3. This is the most promising evidence yet produced, by anyone. If, indeed, this is remains of Amelia’s plane it will certainly prove that she was taken to Saipan, as Fred Goerner tried to also prove. I look forward to future results after artifacts have been studied.


  4. Thanks to *Les Kinney & his research on Barre Island. From what Les & Dick have unearthed recently and the pieces found a couple years earlier; we can see these parts were moved inland. This makes me wonder, if these parts were found & buried by a native, after the plane was barged away to Saipan. Is it possible, a native buried them for fear of reprisal by the Japanese, just for having them in their position?
    You wouldn’t think a Japanese soldier would bury them, when they could easily have picked up and set inside the plane during removal.
    I don’t see Amelia or Fred burying these pieces and why would they?
    We know the two, young teenagers Jororo & Lijion seen the Electra splash down, two people disembark from the aircraft, climb into a yellow boat that grows, paddled to shore and bury a silver container by some tree.
    So the question is who burried the pieces & why?


  5. The metal container held film and buried by Amelia and Fred as the only way to hide it in case the wrong group picked them up first.


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