Klaas tracks lost fliers in “Next Stop Kwajalein”

Joe Klaas, who passed away earlier this year, is best known for his authorship of the notorious Amelia Earhart Lives: A trip through intrigue to find America’s first lady of mystery, the 1970 book that introduced Irene Bolam as Amelia Earhart.  Amelia Earhart Lives forever cast a shadow on the credibility of all Earhart research, further driving the truth into the tiny corner it now inhabits, largely ignored, if not ridiculed by the mainstream media, entrenched in its longtime refusal to acknowledge the truth in the Earhart disappearance.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

But Klaas didn’t create the Irene Bolam travesty.  His fellow Air Force officer and friend, Joe Gervais, wove the Bolam fiction out of whole cloth and his Earhart-addled imagination.  Klaas, the author of 11 other books, served mainly as Gervais’ personal stenographer during the creation of Amelia Earhart Lives, though he might have questioned Gervais’ absurd Bolam claim a bit more assiduously before he wrote a book and exposed himself to ridicule from nearly every corner of the Earhart research community, as well as much of the reading public.

None of that is relevant to the following essay, however, written by Klaas in 2001 and posted on the website of the Amelia Earhart Society.  In “Next Stop Kwajalein, Klaas takes the available eyewitness and witness testimony and crafts a plausible version of the events surrounding the delivery of Amelia and Fred Noonan by the Japanese, from stops at Jaluit and Kwajalein, to their final destination at Saipan. 

Several aspects of the scenarios laid out by Klaas, such as his belief, based on statements made by Mrs. Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, that Amelia was allowed to broadcast by captors or that the fliers may have been taken to Japan, are clearly false or highly doubtful, and are not endorsed by this writer, but have not been edited out of Klaas’ narrative, which I present for your entertainment and discernment.

“Next Stop Kwajalein”
by Joe Klaas with Joe Gervais

Four years prior to the three weeks of media frenzy triggered by the 1970 suggestion in Amelia Earhart Lives that the supposedly dead flying heroine might be alive in New Jersey, Fred Goerner, whose The Search for Amelia Earhart deduced she had died of dysentery or was executed on Saipan, wrote to her sister, Muriel Morrissey, in West Medford, Massachusetts.      

Joe Klaas, circa 2004, who survived a death march across Germany in 1945 and wrote Amelia Earhart Lives, passed away on Feb. 25, 2016.

Joe Klaas, circa 2004, who survived a death march across Germany in 1945 and wrote the 1970 book Amelia Earhart Lives, passed away in February 2016 at 95. 

“I want you to know that I decided to go ahead with the book last December at the advice of the late Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz who had become my friend and helped me with the investigation for several years,” Goerner told Earhart’s sibling on Aug. 31, 1966.  He said, It (the book) may help produce the justice Earhart and Noonan deserve.’  The Admiral told me without equivocation that Amelia and Fred had gone down in the Marshalls and were taken by the Japanese and that his knowledge was documented in Washington.  He also said several departments of government have strong reasons for not wanting the information to be made public.

What strong reasons for not wanting the information made publicshort of their being assassinated by our own government would motivate the endless cover-up of the fact that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were still alive after July 2, 1937?   

Even when we investigators join together in The Amelia Earhart Society of Researchers, and The [Yahoo!] Earhart Group on the internet, those who’ve been out here spend so much energy picking each other’s evidence apart,I said to Joe Gervais aboard a 95-foot boat anchored off a bomb-dented concrete relic of a seaplane ramp in Imiej harbor at Jaluit,we look only at how one another’s interviews with islanders don’t agree.  

It was Joe’s seventeenth trip to Pacific islands in search of Amelia Earhart.  Ten of us aboard the 1997 AES expedition led by Bill Prymak disagreed 10 different ways.     

To hell with the differences!I complained.  Why don’t we focus on only those details which match?    

I told Joe that when we got home I would follow five decades of conflicting interviews from dot-to-dot to determine only the ways they agree on Amelia Earhart’s after death journey from across the 1937 pre-war Pacific until now.   

To hell with inconsistencies that lead nowhere! I griped.  Let’s see only where we all match will take us. 

1937 residents of Jaluit and Majuro atolls said they heard the white woman pilot named “Meel-ya” and her flying companion with knee and head injuries were taken by Japanese ship to Saipan in the Mariana Islands where the Emperor’s South Sea Islands military governor was in command. Others said they took her first to Kwajalein, and then to Saipan.   

After I treated the man’s knee with paraply,Bilimon Amaron told Joe Gervais and Bill Prymak,I overheard Japanese nearby say the ship was going to leave Jaluit to go to Kwajalein.  I remembered that because I had relatives on Kwajalein.  From there it would maybe go to Truk and on to Saipan.    

Majuro Attorney John Heine, who clearly remembered seeing the flyers in custody at Jaluit after their prematurely reported deaths, also believed that “after the ship left Jaluit, it went to Kwajalein, then on to Truk and Saipan.”  From there, according to what he was told by his missionary parents, whom the Japanese at Jaluit later beheaded as spies, he thought the ship would later go to Japan.   

Heine told Joe and Bill a simultaneous event at his school enabled him to place the crash and departure for Kwajalein in the middle of July 1937.

Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais pause with the iconic Earhart eyewitness Bilimon Amaron at Amaron's Majuro home in 1991.

Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais pause with the iconic Earhart eyewitness Bilimon Amaron at his Majuro home in 1991.

Marshall Islanders Tomaki Mayazo and Lotan Jack told Fred Goerner in the 60s that the woman flyer and her companion “were taken to Kwajalein on their way to Saipan.”  In The Search for Amelia Earhart, Goerner reported that four Likiep Island residents of Kwajalein, Edward and Bonjo Capelli, and two men known only as Jajock and Biki told Navy Chief Petty Officer J.F. Kelleher, stationed on Kwajalein in 1946, that a man and a woman who crashed a plane in the Marshalls were brought to Kwajalein.

Ted Burris, a 1965 government employee on Kwajalein, volunteered as neighborhood commissioner for the Aloha Council, Boy Scouts of America.  He set out to establish Scouting three islands-north of Kwajalein on Ebeye [Island].  In January 1997 he informed members of the AES that while waiting for a boat back to his workplace one night his interpreter, Onisimum Cappelle, introduced him to an old man who had met two Americans there five years before the wareven though the Japanese had closed the Marshall Islands to foreigners in the late 20s.     

The war reached the Marshalls in 1942, so five years beforemeant 1937, when Earhart and Noonan vanished. 

How did you meet the Americans before the war?Burris asked the old man.      

Well, I didn’t exactly meet them, he said.  “But I did bring them in.    

Bring them in?  I don’t understand.  What happened?

A plane landed on the water,” he said.  “A big plane.”


Come.  I show you.

They walked to the south end of the perimeter road where there were two A-frame houses with a line of coconut trees.    

You see those trees?the old man asked.  The plane was exactly in line with them.   

How far out?     

About a hundred yards from the land.    

What happened then?    

“Two people got out.  A man and a woman.  The Captain made me take my boat out and pick them up. I didn’t talk to them.”      

The Captain?     

“The boss.  The Japanese officer.  The Captain took them away.  I never saw them again.  He said they were spies.”  

Arrival of the boat to take Burris to nearby Kwajalein ended the conversation.

All who heard the story, including Burris, jumped to the conclusion that the plane was Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10E, not a very “big plane” in comparison to Japanese flying boats that occasionally landed there.  They assumed that was where she had actually crashed.      

Lotan Jack, who worked as a mess steward for the Japanese in 1937, told researcher T.C. "Buddy" Brennan in 1983 that he was told by a "Japanese Naval Officer" that Amelia Earhart was "shot down between Jaluit and Mili" and that she was "spying at that time -- for the American people."

Lotan Jack, who worked as a mess steward for the Japanese in 1937, told researcher T.C. “Buddy” Brennan in 1983 that he was told by a “Japanese Naval Officer” that Amelia Earhart was “shot down between Jaluit and Mili” and that she was “spying at that time — for the American people.”

But what the old man precisely said was: A plane landed on the water.”  He didn’t say it crashed there. Aircraft with landing gear are seldom said to have “landed on the water.”  They would normally have been said to have “crashed into the water” or “ditched in the water.”  Not that they had “landed on the water.”   

One simple question, Did the plane land or crash?might have cleared that up, but apparently assumption overcame curiosity, and that question was never asked.

Jaluit and Kwajalein had something in common.  In 1936 a concrete seaplane ramp was built at Kwajalein in addition to its already existing airstrip for land planes.  Land planes and seaplanes used two different Kwajalein facilities.  

A year later in 1937 at Saipan, a concrete seaplane ramp was under construction to augment an air strip already used only by land planes.  Had a flying boat ever before made a water landing at Saipan?  It’s a good question.   

Isn’t it more likely that, unbeknown to the Marshallese at Jaluit, instead of taking Earhart and Noonan to Kwajalein aboard ship on the Koshu, they changed plans and flew them there in a flying boat which would match the old man’s memory of  “a big plane” which “landed on the water”?

To understand what an eyewitness meant, might it not be a good idea to take what they said literally?  Going a step further, would it not be possible that natives of Saipan, who might only have previously seen planes touch down on their one airstrip, might mistakenly think a flying boat landing in Garapan Harbor was a land plane crashing into water off-shore?     

How would the Japanese Captain be able to tell the old man they were spies if they hadn’t arrived from Jaluit already accused of espionage?         

None of this registered with me in particular until a couple of years later when I had moved to another assignment on Roi Namur (also in the Kwajalein group), Burris said.  The Island Manager there was Frank Serafini.  I mentioned the story the old man had told me.        

Let me tell you a few things.”  Frank went to his desk and took out a letter from a Navy Commander, whose name Burris couldn’t remember after thirty years.  He was with Navy Intelligence during the war, and was attached to the 4th Marines when they invaded Roi-Namur.  He went in with the first wave on Roi.  His specific task was to look for evidence that Amelia Earhart or her navigator, Fred Noonan, had been there!”         

Why here?Burris asked.         

“Because Roi had the only airfield on the atoll at that time,” Frank said. “If the Japs were going to take them anyplace from Kwajalein Atoll, they had to come through here!”         

Did he find anything?       

Here, read this letter.”  He pointed to a place on its second page: I was rummaging through a pile of debris in a corner of the burned-out main hanger,the writer said,when I came across a blue leatherette map case.  It was empty.  But it had the letters AE embossed on it in gold.  They were here all right!

 What did the Commander do with the map case?Burris asked.         

Frank H. Serafini. circa 1970.Atoll. (Photo courtesy Frank B. Serafini.)

Frank H. Serafini, circa 1970, at his office on Kwajalein Atoll.  (Photo courtesy Frank B. Serafini.)

“He said he turned it over to Naval Intelligence.  He doesn’t know what happened to it after that.”  

Does anybody know about this?asked Burris.  Why would they keep such a thing secret?        

Because even now the Navy doesn’t want to admit they had anything to do with spying against the Japanese before the war.

When Burris heard about a plane with two American spies aboard landing 100-yards off-shore at Kwajalein, he naturally assumed it was Earhart’s land plane.     

It wasn’t.     

But couldn’t a twin-engine Japanese seaplane have “landed in the water” at Kwajalein, from which they were then flown to Saipan where the Japanese pilot landed alongside the beach?     

As reported in both Goerner’s book and mine, Josephine Akiyama watched a silver two-engined plane belly-landin shallow water at Saipan andsaw the American woman who looked like a man and the tall man with her . . .  led away by the Japanese soldiers.   

At first, those who heard her story assumed it was Amelia Earhart’s plane.  

It wasn’t.     

All of us who heard eyewitness reports from Kwajalein or Saipan made the same mistake.  We all wanted so hard to find the Earhart plane, we assumed any aircraft that came down with her aboard was hers.  At both Saipan and Kwajalein we were wrong.  She and Noonan were aboard all right in both places, not as pilot and navigator, but as captured spies!     

Wouldn’t it be more logical to deduce from eyewitness reports that Earhart and Noonan were flown from Kwajalein Atoll in a seaplane which made no attempt to land on Saipan’s completed airstrip, but instead belly landed along a beach in Garapan Harbor?     

None of it can be true!objected a radio engineer at a 1998 gathering in Aspen, Colorado. Those islanders made it all up!    

What makes you think that?I gasped.   

Because it’s all predicated from the start on her originally ditching into the water at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937 and then sending out a bunch of so-called radio signals for three days.  That could never have happened.    

“Why not?  

Because if she went down in the water, she couldn’t have broadcast at all.  Her transmitter was incapable of broadcasting from the water.      

No one thought to ask a radio engineer how he would have made a radio work if he crashed in the water off a strange island in the middle of the Pacific.  In such a matter of life and death, wouldn’t a radio engineer figure out some way to make a transmitter broadcast from a downed airplane still afloat in salt water?

An udated photo of Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia's mother, and sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey.

An undated photo of Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, and sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey.

Absolutely impossible!  Without a bigger source of power than the battery aboard that Lockheed 10E aircraft, I was assured by three other experts I consulted, there was no way it could happen! Without the extra power provided by the engines operating, she could not have broadcast from in the water!   

And yet the messages existed, logged by professional radio operators all across the Pacific so they can be read to this day. AES President Bill Prymak sent me a copy of actual loggings of her radio calls for help.  Remember, she was supposed to have died the morning of July 2,1937.  

(Editor’s note: For a lengthy discussion of the alleged “post-loss messages,” please see  Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, Chapter III, “The Search and the Radio Signals.”)

Here were 30 distress call broadcasts recorded on paper as actually heard by experienced operators at twelve different radio stations from one side of the Pacific to the other. . . . Beginning on July 3, 1937, 12 experienced operators at official radio stations thousands of miles apart across the vast Pacific heard and logged 30 distress messages they identified as Earhart’s for three days after she supposedly crashed and drowned on July 2, 1937.   

Since these 30 distress signals were obviously heard as logged by 12 of the most highly trained and experienced radio operators across the Pacific, how could she have sent them if her radio transmitter could not possibly operate from her plane sitting in the water at Mili Atoll?   

Could Amelia Earhart’s mother, Amy Otis Earhart, give us a simple clue as to how her daughter managed to transmit these impossiblebroadcasts?  Was Mother Earhart, from sources of information peculiarly available to her, in possession of knowledge withheld from the public that would explain how her daughter was able to send all these messages for help?         

“I know she was permitted to broadcast to Washington from the Marshalls,” Amelia’s mother told the Los Angeles Times on July 25, 1949, and then does she give us the answer? . . .  “because the officials on the island where she was taken — I can’t remember the name of it — believed she was merely a trans-ocean flier in distress.  But Tokyo had a different opinion of her significance in the area.  She was taken to Japan.”         

Is it not rather clear from Mother Earhart’s inside information that Amelia Earhart was rescued as a celebrity by the Japanese on Mili Atoll?  Wouldn’t the Japanese on that island permit the famous American flyers to use their island transmitter to call for help for three days?     

Isn’t it obvious that if it were impossible for her to transmit messages from the water, she must have done so from the land?  And wasn’t a Japanese transmitter the only way that could have been done?  And wouldn’t the messages suddenly stop when Tokyo ordered the Mili Atoll Japanese outpost, through channels, to quit sending her distress broadcasts and arrest Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan for espionage?

“I am certain that Amelia’s voice was recognized in the radio broadcast from the Marshalls to the capitol,” Earhart’s mother told The Los Angeles Times and later repeated in a letter to Earhart’s flying instructor, Neta Snook.         

I have kept quiet through the years, but certainly this could hurt no one now.    

That’s quite a stretch,Joe Gervais said in awe when I explained how all of us had mistaken Japanese planes for hers, and seaplanes landing on the water for her land plane crashing at sea.  It may seem a stretch to those who want to believe Earhart and Noonan drowned at sea near Howland Island on July 2, 1937.     

All Earhart hunters have been so busy challenging differences in eyewitness reports each of us gathered,I sighed,we became blind to all the many points we agree on, where the truth may finally be found.”  Well,” Joe exhaled slowly.  If we’re gonna quit sneering at one another’s versions of what happened, and connect dot-to-dot to what’ll crack one of the biggest cover-ups in American history, we’d best not be afraid to stretch!

Next stop for prisoners Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan was by land plane or flying boat to Saipan, it makes small difference which.  There on Saipan, more witnesses than were talked to on all other islands combined remembered seeing them alive.     

They were in custody as spies!  

(End of “Next Stop Kwajalein.”)

The Hiro H4H1 Navy Type 91 Flying Boat, a twin-engine monoplane in limited production since 1933, that might have been mistaken by the native witnesses for a land-based plane crashing in the water. “It was not exactly like the Electra, of course,” Mandel wrote in an e-mail: It was a two-motor, all-metal (aluminum, usually non-painted!) monoplane with two radial engines over the wing, also with a twin tail, and the size and dimensions of the plane were similar to the Electra. It was used by the Japanese Navy, but not extensively, so its visit to Saipan could be a rare event, possibly the first such event between the bases in Japan and Japanese Mandated Islands. From a distance, the Hiro could look pretty much like a landplane for any unaware witnesses, as it was a flying boat, not a float plane—i.e., it didn’t have a large obvious float under the fuselage as other seaplanes had, and its quite little under-wing floats were not obvious from a distance.

The Hiro H4H1 Navy Type 91 Flying Boat, a twin-engine monoplane in limited production since 1933, that might have been seen by a native witness landing on the water off Kwajalein, and later mistaken for a land-based plane crashing in the waters of Tanapag Harbor off Saipan.  “It was not exactly like the Electra, of course,” researcher Alex Mandel wrote.  “It was a two-motor, all-metal (aluminum, usually non-painted) monoplane with two radial engines over the wing, also with a twin tail, and the size and dimensions of the plane were similar to the Electra. It was used by the Japanese Navy, but not extensively, so its visit to Saipan could be a rare event, possibly the first such event between the bases in Japan and Japanese Mandated Islands.  From a distance, the Hiro could look pretty much like a land plane for any unaware witnesses, as it was a flying boat, not a float plane—i.e., it didn’t have a large obvious float under the fuselage as other seaplanes had, and its quite little under-wing floats were not obvious from a distance.”

Two years before Klaas and Gervais collaborated on “Next Stop Kwajalein,” Klaas advanced a scenario that differed from the seaplane-landing-on-Saipan situation they proposed in 2001. In a 1999 e-mail to Rollin Reineck, Bill Prymak and others, Klaas reviewed the Ted Burris account and insisted it wasn’t a seaplane that landed in Tanapag Harbor:

This incident has too long been thought to be a false report that Earhart’s Lockheed 10E crashed off Kwajalein.  But what the old man precisely said was: A plane landed on the water.”  He didn’t say it crashed there or ditched there.  Planes with landing gear don’t land on the water.”  What landed Earhart and Noonan on the wateroff Kwajalein was obviously a seaplane from Jaluit. . . . Nobody ever said there was a crash at Kwajalein.

Earhart and Noonan were then flown by land plane from Kwajalein to Saipan, where its pilot got into trouble.  [Italics mine.]  Josephine Akiyama, the very first witness in the Earhart mystery, watched a silver two-engined plane belly-land in shallow water along a beach.  Shesaw the American woman who looked like a man, and the tall man with her, led away by the Japanese soldiers.

We must never assume every twin-engined aircraft in the Pacific had to be the Earhart Plane to be significant.  We don’t need Darwin to find the missing link from Howland to Mili to Kwajalein to Saipan. Keep it simple and follow facts in sequence to the truth.  Above all, let’s start believing our witnesses. Why would they lie?

I asked Klaas if he could explain his differing visions of Earhart’s arrival at Saipan, suggesting that a land-based aircraft might indeed be most likely in the Tanapag Harbor-landing scenario.  Very well could be, Klaas told me in a September 2007 email.

However, I do believe it was a seaplane that landed in the water at Kwajalein, according to the man who picked her up there and rowed her ashore,” Klaas wrote.  “There was a landing field there at that time.  A lot of people jumped to the conclusion that she had crashed into the water there, according to witnesses.  However that was only because the native who picked her up said the plane had landed in the water, obviously flown there from Majuro.  She could very well have been transferred to a land plane there [at Kwajalein] after that and have been flown in it on to Saipan, where a lot of us at first mistook as she and Noonan crashing on the beach in her own plane.  It was obviously a Japanese aircraft, however.” 

So despite the many witnesses who reported that they saw a woman flier who could only have been Amelia Earhart in the Marshalls and later on Saipan, how she reached Saipan from Kwajalein is a major question that lingers.  Was it a land plane or a seaplane that took the doomed fliers to their final destination?

20 responses

  1. Very interesting reading, Mike – He almost redeems himself from collaborating on the Bolam fairy tale book!


  2. Mike, this blog installment is a great topic. I am surprised how ex flyers and military guys turned researchers could not have figured some of this out. Gervais did some excellent early work but later lost it. As he said later in life regarding the Irene Bolam affair, “I didn’t believe it; but in my heart I wanted to believe it.”

    Here are a few comments:

    1) ““After I treated the man’s knee with paraply,” Bilimon Amaron told Joe Gervais and Bill Prymak, “I overheard Japanese nearby say the ship was going to leave Jaluit to go to Kwajalein. I remembered that because I had relatives on Kwajalein. From there it would maybe go to Truk and on to Saipan.”

    Amaron never mentioned anything about Kwajalein to Goerner, Loomis, or Jimm Crowder. Not that it might have been true and later recall. Personally, I don’t believe Earhart and Noonan were on board the Koshu when the ship left Jaluit.

    2) “Majuro Attorney John Heine, who clearly remembered seeing the flyers in custody at Jaluit after their prematurely reported deaths, also believed that “after the ship left Jaluit, it went to Kwajalein, then on to Truk and Saipan.” From there, according to what he was told by his missionary parents, whom the Japanese at Jaluit later beheaded as spies, “he thought the ship would later go to Japan.”

    Heine was only about 12 or 13 at the time he saw the ship arrive at Jaluit towing a barge with a plane on it. He never told earlier researchers that the ship was going on to Japan. Again, not that he didn’t later here that account, but that ship we now know was the “Koshu,” didn’t go on to Japan. By the way, those missionary parents were actually his grandparents.

    3) Ted Burris’s accounts, and the account told by Frank Serrafini, have credibility.
    But Serrafini was wrong about the airfield. The airfield at Roi Namur was not constructed until several years later. Therefore, Earhart and Noonan were taken from Kwajalein by ship or seaplane.

    4) ““I know she was permitted to broadcast to Washington from the Marshalls,” Amelia’s mother told the Los Angeles Times on July 25, 1949, and then does she give us the answer? . .”

    This statement by Amy Earhart is so intriguing. I’ve done a ton of research on Amy during the last couple of years. I don’t believe for a minute she was briefed by government officials as to her daughters fate. But I am leaning toward the possibility Earhart was allowed to broadcast from the Marshall Islands prior to Japanese military intervention. How did Amy Otis got wind of this rumor? I’m not sure but I have a couple of ideas.

    5) “Earhart and Noonan were then flown by land plane from Kwajalein to Saipan, where its pilot got into trouble. [Italics mine.] Josephine Akiyama, the very first witness in the Earhart mystery, watched “a silver two-engine plane belly-land” in shallow water along a beach. She “saw the American woman who looked like a man, and the tall man with her, led away by the Japanese soldiers.”

    This might be what happened – just substitute land plane for sea plane. Aslito Field was under construction in 1937 but not completed. I can’t seem to find Japanese records when Aslito began receiving flights. However, its a moot point because a land plane could not have originated from Jaluit, or Kwajalein, or Mili because those airstrips were not in existence in 1937.

    6) “So despite the many witnesses who reported that they saw a woman flier who could only have been Amelia Earhart in the Marshalls and later on Saipan, how she reached Saipan from Kwajalein is a major question that lingers. Was it a land plane or a seaplane that took the doomed fliers to their final destination?”

    Nice ending and its true. At the moment know one knows how Earhart and Noonan arrived at Saipan. I tend to believe it was by seaplane, that for some reason crashed north of the Seaplane base at Tanapag.

    Les Kinney


    1. Thanks for your comments, Les. I didn’t begin to get into the various conflicting witness accounts of the arrival of the American woman flier in 1937, found in “The Saipan Witnesses” chapter of Truth at Last, though the word “crash” was fairly ubiquitous among all these accounts. Why would so many say the plane “crashed” if it was a seaplane, which had been in service for at least a few years by that time?


      1. Mike, I just got around to seeing your question.

        So many Saipan witnesses from long ago said a plane coming into Saipan crashed. So, we can easily assume a plane did crash. Not at all an unlikely event in the 1930’s – unless all these witnesses are lying. My thoughts are a Japanese seaplane making a landing at the seaplane base crashed just north of the Navy compound sometime in the late thirties and skidded into the jungle. According to the witnesses, coming out of this wreckage was a white man and woman. Was this seaplane carrying Earhart and Noonan from Kwajalein? Did Earhart receive burns on her cheeks as a result of this crash?



      2. I seem to remember a comment by the young lady or girl who was seeing Amelia when she was being held somewhere on Saipan that she had burns on her arms, she thought the Japanese hurt her, maybe the burns on her arm(s) were from a plane crash, not Japanese torture as one might suspect? If we assume an actual seaplane crash at Saipan, what happened to Fred? remember some statement that the Japanese jail guard broke Fred’s arm because of disrespect? Could he have actually broken his arm in a plane crash? Poor Fred, he sure got banged up a lot.

        The sad part is that somewhere, I believe, are the complete Japanese records of everything that happened to Amelia and Fred. The Americans supposedly had this info when Japan surrendered, right? Probably still stored in a vault maybe at Carswell AFB where they hold prisoners who have violated the Patriot Act.


  3. Mike –

    This piece was *GREAT to read, along with the rare photos. You would think, somebody who studies Japanese aircraft history of the late 1930’s, could PIN *POINT the exact *aircraft which was used, in that area of July ’37?

    Amy Otis Earhart knew alot more, than she was pretending not to………………………..

    *Bill Prymak is the REAL HERO with all his *intelligence gathering on Amelia & Fred in the Marshall Islands & Saipan. He advanced the Earhart studies and spoke with some of the most important *witnesses. GOD BLESS *Bill’s illuminating LIGHT of *TRUTH


  4. Philip Van Zandt | Reply

    Yes the Japanese had sea-planes in the islands since 1935; not many, but there were places only such could land without incurring long boat trips. Most believe that the R. wing was off but the gear stayed down on the Endriken reef, allowing the R. engine to run… the small battery by the aft port door probably got wet during high tide, but they may have been able to move it to the space behind the removable nose-cone before that The engine start batteries must have remained above water in all but the highest weekly tide and that, or no fuel ended their transmissions! No mention was heard of their being shot down probably for secrecy reasons, and the broadcasts kept short so Japanese could not triangulate on the wreck.

    There are two other unknowns, one tweaked a bit in latest U-tube account – that of the IJNAF “captain” ordered to shoot them down… most likely Minuro Genda since he was aboard the Akaga where the order was given (he’s the guy who made the ZERO, developed wood drop-off fins for torpedos to run shallow, formed the final plans for Pearl Harbor attack, probably responsible for the later hi-jacking of the HI Clipper (for which Fred Noonan was a possible, ‘under torture’ supplier of routes, stops info) and a Genda was a man with a few other ‘dirty tricks’… one the USA later gave a medal to!

    The second is that the Japanese had an almost exact copy of AE’s Electra 10 they purchased from Lockheed (varied only in port configuration, inner fuel capacity, red trim and numbering) – so was this possibly the aircraft American Marines saw in July 1944, or did the Japanese really restore Amelia’s aircraft and if so why?
    More theories abound than answers, but Milli Atoll’s reef is the most definite crash-landing site! Did AE & FN dump aerial cameras in the lagoon by raft at night? Noonan’s leg got infected, and they had to get picked up by the 5th. day, or Amron’s ‘cure’ might not have saved Fred when aboard the ship with Electra in aft rigging. Take what you want from it all… Jaliut by ship, seaplane to Kwajelein, etc….


    1. Phil,
      It wasn’t Akaga, but Akagi, and she was in the Navy Yard in Sasebo, Japan, from 1935 to 1938, which takes that carrier completely out of the picture. See the rest of the story on p. 158 of Truth at Last.

      Thanks for your comments.


  5. Rafford claims she could have used her radio for a while with only battery power. He does give a mileage range for the 3 frequencies she used and with the aerials the plane was equipped they are fairly short. I haven’t bothered to compare his ranges with the alleged reception distances, but at first glance they seem not possible. I could be wrong. I never saw where the receptions were compared to Rafford’s tables.

    That the Japs captured her right away and made her send messages either on her radio or theirs seems unlikely from what I have read. Why would they do that? To see if the Americans would search the Marshalls for her? I agree with Rafford that her messages on July 2 were probably sent from a recording, maybe Cipriani was busy doing that, I believe he worked alone and the logs were falsified to make it look like the Hawaiian men were with him when they weren’t.

    So how could messages from her on Mili be received so easily? Was it more recordings played by another ship in the Mili vicinity? I don’t know where I am going with this because the possibilities are just too many. And, as I think I asked before, is it possible her plane was taken to Taroa? Did anybody ever thoroughly search? I believe Prymak declared her plane wasn’t there. How did he know that for sure? Why didn’t any other veteran of Saipan note AEs plane there?


  6. David,
    There are so many unanswered questions to those radio transmissions — who, when, where and why? I find it extremely difficult to make sense of them.

    On a different #Note, I keep going back to a Parade magazine article I read from the early 1970’s about Charles Lindbergh. How he was asked by Roosevelt, on his 1938 flight across Europe, to have a *look at the different countries air fields, planes, AIR STRENGTH?

    I must believe, FDR asked Amelia to peek out the window and see what Japan was up to, in the Pacific in 1937? Although most of her flight was at night and her & Fred unable to see much, until daylight. I would be more inclined to believe she had more pressing matters of *navigation & locating her landing spot, than to concern herself with spying.


  7. Douglas,

    Yes, I agree. It is hard to make sense of all those alleged radio transmissions from both during and after the flight, that is unless she was trying to conceal her position all along. Her transmissions when she was supposedly close to Howland and was coming in strong, did this give the Japanese the opportunity to locate her even though the Americans SAID they couldn’t? When in reality these were from a nearby source such as an American boat? I tend to suspect she was able to overfly Truk in daylight as I have seen some knowledgeable persons assert, and then she was able to fly direct to the Marshalls, although she could have made a detour to Howland vicinity in order to seem like she was nearby, then flew back to Mili.

    I try to picture myself as a soldier on Saipan at the time of the invasion. Wouldn’t there have been a rumor that the burned out plane that allegedly sat on the field at Aslito for “months” was AEs? Wouldn’t many have heard the rumor and been curious? Yet as far as I know no one ever confirmed Devine’s sighting that I can recall. If the plane was actually the Electra the Japanese bought, why would it have been blown up?


    1. Off the bat we have at least four GI eyewitnesses to the Electra on Saipan: Earskin J. Nabers, Jerrell H. Chatham, Arthur Nash and Robert C. Sosbe. I’m sure there were more. See the “Saipan Veterans Come Forward” Chapter of Truth at Last.



      1. Yes, I just read the chapter. It looks like it had to be Amelia”s plane even if very few other than the ones mentioned took any notice of it. I’ll go off on another tangent.

        Let’s stipulate that it really was Forrestal inspecting her plane on Saipan. What was he looking for? Did he find something on or in the plane that was an embarrassment or revealing of some hidden mission or motive? Or was it just the fact that her plane was there? Did he know something about the purpose of her flight that he was threatening to reveal? It is certain that he was killed by some government faction at the time. Could it be that she went off on a hare-brained “peace mission” of her own? Was she connected to some anti-FDR faction that wanted to warn Japan of his war plans?

        Perhaps Morgenthau was being truthful when he said that what she had done (meaning her personal choice) would have been shocking to the public and shown her to be a traitor to the cause of American Empire? What if she accepted government support and then double-crossed The Powers That Be and attempted to fly a clandestine mission of her own? Maybe she just knew too much. She knew that after the War that those Japanese who cooperated with The Grand Plan would be well taken of care of, and would thrive on the new alliance and share in the tons of gold secretly stored in China and the Phillipines. Is this fantasy? I think not. The Roosevelt regime was enraged at her actions, she was hardly a paid spy for them. But neither was she a simpleton, merely trying to make a buck doing her publicity stunt of a flight. There was definitely politics involved, in my view.


      2. You ask many good questions, David, most of which remain unanswerable at this point. I certainly agree with you that politics had to be involved — very BAD POLITICS, from Amelia and Fred’s points of view, since this incident resulted in their miserable, lonely deaths on Saipan.



      3. Continuing on my theme (tangent), a brief Google search turned up this tidbit. I don’t know anything about this source, but it’s an opinion piece that happens to agree with my thought process. Here is the link: http://www.stevequayle.com/index.php?s=96 . Then go to the SECTION titled “STRONG MOTIVES, PRIME SUSPECTS. Then read the paragraph beginning “One might argue……….” I would say, yes, Forrestal was involved with those opposed to FDR’s war plans. Somehow Earhart was knowledgeable about these plans through Eleanor, maybe. I have no idea if AE ever met Forrestal or was in contact with him. But if the US Navy was giving her support and Forrestal was the then or future Secretary of the Navy, there may have been a connection. So when she flew off to Japanese territory, clearly on purpose, whatever her real motive was, she was almost certainly carrying with her some very sensitive information or equipment.

        Perhaps the Japs saved the plane not for reverse engineering purposes or research, but as an exhibit for negotiation. Maybe the Japs left the documents or evidence on or with the plane. Forrestal was in a bind. He had to see what the plane contained. Devine was right. I think it would have been easy to falsify his log in Washington. It’s probably done all the time. When Amelia landed at Mili, the negotiations with Japan must have been stranger than fiction. FDR was not the least interested in rescuing her. On the contrary. He was most concerned with shutting her up. The Japanese obliged. I surmise that Amelia was trying to thwart FDR’s plans with her goodwill flight. Unfortunately she was naive as Forrestal turned out to be 12 years later. FDR/HST and the OSS was playing hardball.

        The embarrassment for the FDR regime was not that they didn’t rescue her or ransom her, that could be covered up by saying “We couldn’t go to war for her at that time” which a gullible public would certainly buy, but that she was trying to save the world from WW2 and FDR would not countenance that.

        Over and OUT


      4. The Forrestal piece on you reference on Steve Quayle’s site was written by David Martin, aka DCDave, whose work is cited in Truth at Last. Much of your speculation makes good sense and may have much in common with what really happened, except that Forrestal wasn’t on Saipan. A joint effort by Ron Bright and myself resulted in “The Forrestal Incident,” a report published on the Amelia Earhart Society site, and additional findings by myself that leave no doubt whatsoever that Devine was mistaken in his identification of Forrestal. Additional discussion can be found in Truth at Last.



      5. Into my fevered brain this morning appeared the case of Rudolf Hess. His peace efforts were not well received in Britain. I think the big money interests were determined to have their war. Think Henry Ford, Thyssen, General Electric, etc. In my reading I have learned that the top Navy brass in the years leading up to WW2 were appalled that FDR wanted to station the fleet at Pearl Harbor, and may have already been appalled at the time of Amelia’s flight. Of course this left the fleet vulnerable to Japanese attack for no logical reason. This information is not widely publicized to the masses, but the information is available in a very believable form if you look around.

        I speculate that there was no love lost between FDR and AE, she knew first hand what he was like from her friendship with Eleanor. So I envision two possibilities. Either FDR sent her on a mission where he knew he would be rid of her for good, or she took it upon herself to fly to The Marshalls to stir up a political storm. I lean toward the latter. At least Hess got to live, albeit in prison. Now I’ll go back to reading “The Forrestal Incident.”


      6. I have no doubt that FDR didn’t like Amelia, even though I know of no hard evidence that supports this feeling, besides the fact that he abandoned her on Saipan. There is some evidence that Amelia was asked to do a mission by FDR. Two individuals, Art Kennedy and Mark Walker, have allegedly reported that she shared information with them to this effect. Kennedy’s credibility is suspect, but does not rule out his claim. Walker’s is hearsay, but still credible, in my opinion.

        I refuse to believe that AE would have planned to land at Mili to “stir up a political storm.” She wasn’t known as a political animal (don’t mistake her original feminism as radical activism in any way), and landing at Mili resulted in her death. I think she was forced to land there by circumstances that we still can only speculate about.



  8. I am reading this post late in an effort to find any evidence in TAL or this blog, that shows the AE Electra flight path, after leaving Lae? Intelligence reports, eyewitnesses, etc. Did she turn north to photograph the Japanese build up at Truk Lagoon, 887 nautical miles away? Then to Jaluit Atoll, 1063 nautical miles from Truk? Then head to Howland, 887 nautical miles away? Total distance for this route is roughly 2,827 nautical miles.

    Compare this to the Lae to Howland direct route of approximately 2,227 nautical miles. Could she have been shot at while over Truk or Jaluit, forcing her to look for the best landing spot? She must have known about the Japanese military buildup at Truk and Jaluit. Surely, there was air reconnaissance photos of the build up prior to her Lae departure.

    While this post concerns what happened after she was taken to Kwajalein, I’m wondering about her flight path before she went down at Mili. Maybe no one cares. Just asking.


    1. Mike,
      The chapter in TAL on the last flight is the best I can do in this regard. We simply do not know the route by which they reached Mili, only that they did indeed land there. This is the real mystery in the Earhart disappearance, as simple as that.


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