Most readers of this blog will recall last July’s imbroglio over the History Channel’s bogus claims about the ONI photo found at the NARA Archives by researcher Les Kinney several years ago. If you don’t recall this or you’re here for the first time, here is my review of the History Channel’s July 9, 2017 abomination: History’s “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence”: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.
Clearly, Les Kinney and I have had serious disagreements — and not only about the photo — over important, sensitive issues in the Earhart case. Thus I was a bit surprised this morning (March 9), to receive an email from Les, asking if I would post his essay addressing TIGHAR’s latest claim on this blog — sort of a “guest column” so to speak.
I’m sure Les hasn’t changed his position about the ONI photo, but in this case, I have no problem setting aside our differences and working together against the TIGHAR plague, which has done more damage to the truth in the Earhart case than anyone in the past 30 years. The degree to which their outrageous and transparently false claims have dominated the corrupt and complaint mainstream media Earhart coverage cannot be overstated, and it’s been a constant irritant for all who pursue the Earhart saga without monetary consideration of any kind.
More on my personal TIGHAR complaints later. Now, for those few who aren’t up to speed on the latest mega-media TIGHAR blitz, on March 7, The Washington Post covered the story thusly: “Bones discovered on an island are hers, a new analysis shows.”
Without further delay, here’s Les Kinney’s rebuttal of the latest TIGHAR crapola. All boldface is mine except headlines and subheads.
TIGHAR PRESS RELEASE
“New Evidence in the Amelia Earhart Mystery!”
Bones Found in South Pacific Likely Amelia Earhart . . . “This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99% of individuals in a large reference sample.” — Richard L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Hold on a minute!
For those of you not familiar with TIGHAR, the acronym stands for The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery. Its executive director, a fellow named Ric Gillespie founded TIGHAR in 1985. It’s a non-profit organization funded by donors and sponsors. Gillespie has taken a salary to support the ideals of TIGHAR. Those ideals, according to TIGHAR’s website is the promotion of responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. Don’t let that fool you. TIGHAR devotes 99 percent of its substantial resources hoodwinking the public into believing Amelia Earhart landed at Nikumaroro, a three-mile sliver of land in the Phoenix Island(s) Group. So that you don’t have to pull out a world atlas, Nikumaroro is close to the equator and smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
On March 8, FOX News, and a fair amount of other media outlets including USA Today splashed a tale taken from a TIGHAR press release. “It is with 99 per cent certainty, bones found in 1940 on Nikumaroro are that of the famous missing aviator.”
It all started in April of 1940 when bones, a skull, and bottle were found on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) by some unknown native colonist. Near the spot of this find was evidence of a camp site. Natives also found an old sextant box and a sole of a shoe – about an English size 10. This same hand-painted sextant box was described by experts as likely originating from the 1800’s. It did not appear “under any circumstances to have been for a sextant used in modern trans Pacific aviation.” It was concluded that quite possibly this unknown castaway used the box to keep his possessions.
A little history of Gardner/Nikumaroro is in order, and for good reason.
There is limited information about who visited Gardner Island from the 1700s to the early 1900s. The island was first named in 1825. So, at least we know of one ship that visited the island when John Quincy Adams was President of the United States. No doubt the island had been visited many times in the 1800s simply because man’s curiosity gets the best of him. There is also a possibility, though never confirmed, that Gardner Island had been temporarily settled in the 1890s and abandoned shortly thereafter.
In November 1929, the British freighter HMS Norwich City departed Melbourne, Australia bound for Vancouver, B.C. The 397-foot freighter ran aground on the reef at Gardner Island. Eleven men were killed. Four bodies were buried by survivors after washing ashore. Seven other men were missing and never found. The rusted and broken hulk of the Norwich City still rests on Nikumaroro’s beach.
In October 1937, a British survey team headed by Harry Maude and Eric Bevington, along with 18 Gilbertese men “thoroughly explored” Gardner Island for several days.
From November 30, 1938, and for the next several weeks, a 16-man New Zealand Survey team explored Gardner Island from an aviation viewpoint.
In December 1938, while the New Zealand team was still on Gardner, at least 80 colonists from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands under British sponsorship settled on the island. At the time of their arrival, it was noted at least 200 coconut trees existed on the island. The island also had an abundance of very large coconut crabs resembling King Crabs in size, a pesky rat population, sea turtles, and the inner reef and lagoon swarmed with fish.
On November 5, 1939, crew members from the USS Bushnell, a Navy Survey ship landed at Gardner Island. The ship discharged 25 sailors and technicians. The Bushnell crew was intent on constructing a tower on the island. The Bushnell surveying team noted in its journal, the island was being occupied by 80 settlers. The Bushnell team stayed on the island for two days.
In June of 1944, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived on Gardner island and began construction of a Loran Station. The station was up and running on December 16, 1944 and manned by 25 Coast Guard personnel. Because of changing technology and the end of the war, the station was deactivated on May 15, 1946. The “Coasties” co-existed with the Gilbertese settlers who finally gave up on the island in 1963.
Don’t you get the idea that a lot of people trampled around Gardner for many years? One Coastie remarked it was boring and all they did in their free time was explore. Can you imagine the amount of trash on that island?
How the Nikumaroro “Bones” got TIGHAR’s attention
In the late 1980s along comes Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR. During Gillespie’s second or third mission to Gardner, having heard a tale from a Coast Guardsman who served on the island in the 1940s, that early colonists buried Earhart’s bones, Ric and his crew began poking and digging around an area TIGHAR has coined the “Seven Site.” They found human remains alright, but it was of an infant.
While they were figuring out their next move, one of TIGHAR’s explorers found the sole and heel of a shoe nearby. It was about the size of a 9 or 10 and stamped on the bottom was the famous American trademark, “Cat’s Paw.”
Fast forward a few years. One of TIGHAR’s Kiwi members was leafing through research material in the Kiribati National Archives in Tarawa. He noticed a file talking about a skeleton and human remains discovered on Gardner Island in 1940. Gillespie’s team jumped on this information.
The Kiribati archive report documented the finding of Gerald Gallagher, Gardner Island’s colonial administrator. After Gallagher arrived on Gardner in 1940, he was told by natives that human bones had been found on the southeastern part of the island. The natives also told Gallagher they found a human skull, but it was reburied. Gallagher’s working party searched the area, collected 13 bones and found the skull. Nearby, they also found an old-fashioned sextant box, part of a sole, possibly from two shoes, and a bottle. Gallagher’s examined the sole carefully and said it was about an English size 10. Writing back to Fiji headquarters in Suva, Gallagher said there was a “very slight chance” the bones might be of Amelia Earhart, although to his untrained eye, the bones appeared to be “older than four years.”
Gallagher went on to tell his superiors the area was then searched for rings, money, and keys with no results. His message also explained he examined the skull. The “dental condition appears to have been good,” he said, “but only five teeth remain.” Gallagher makes no mention of fillings. He goes on to emphasize that in his opinion, “am quite certain they are not less than four years old and probably much older.”
The bones were eventually shipped to the High Commissioner’s Office in Suva. An initial report was completed by the Acting Senior Medical Officer. The medical examiner concluded “they are part of a skeleton of elderly male of Polynesian race, bones having been probably in sheltered position for upwards of 20 years possibly much longer.”
The bones were then brought to the Central Medical School and examined by Dr. D. W. Hoodless. Hoodless took careful measurements of the bones and skull. He noted the remains only included one half of the pelvic bone. Hoodless obviously took into consideration the pelvic bone is symmetrical and said that in his professional opinion, the bones were that of a skeleton of “total height of 5 feet 5 and ½ inches approximately.” Hoodless went on to write “it may be definitely stated that the skeleton is that of a [MALE.”] Hoodless emphasis. Hoodless added, “he was not less than 45 and more probably older.”
Dr. Hoodless again emphasized the bones were male and probably a male of undetermined cultural origins, possibly of mixed descent. The skull had five teeth and Dr. Hoodless noted the right zygoma and malar bones broken off.
The bones, the bones, where are the bones?
TIGHAR has tried hard to find the bones but they haven’t been seen since 1941. It hasn’t deterred Gillespie. Early on, he called on one of his members, the late Dr. Karen Burns, an anthropologist to review the Hoodless findings. Burns had previously traveled to the South Pacific and Gardner courtesy of TIGHAR.
Dr. Burns’ analysis indicated the Nikumaroro bones could have indeed been Earhart. But her findings are biased. After all, she was on TIGHAR’s Board of Directors. It would be like Eli Lily telling the public their new drug was 100 percent effective based upon a study by a pharmacologist who happened to be on Lily’s Board of Directors.
It wasn’t long after Karen Burns issued her findings when an independent study of the Nikumaroro bones was completed by Cross and Wright (2015): “The ‘Nikumaroro Bones’ are not those of lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart,” stated Pamela J. Cross and Richard Wright. Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, this new analysis is a welcome redress to the reputation of Dr. D.W. Hoodless (the medical official first responsible for the evaluation of the bones) and raises serious questions for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), an Amelia Earhart-focused nonprofit investigatory group and the top proponents of the ‘Gardner Island Theory.’ ”
Not one to easily give up, Gillespie tried a different tack. First though, TIGHAR needed to make the Hoodless calculations a little more palatable. It’s well known that Earhart was at least 5 feet eight inches tall or taller. Amelia’s pilot’s license says 5’ 8″. Dozens of personal recollections and photographs describe and show a tall woman. Amelia tended to fib. Maybe she was even taller. Compared to the known height of many of those she is photographed alongside – there is no doubt Amelia is tall – certainly taller than 5’7″.
Since TIGHAR needed to reduce the measurements necessary to obviate the discrepancies with Dr. Hoodless measurements, TIGHAR now says maybe Earhart was five-seven based upon a driver’s license they found from Massachusetts. Even at five-seven, it’s a stretch the bones found on Gardner fit the computer analysis done by TIGHAR’s latest anthropologist. It is difficult to explain how Dr. Jantz’s computer model concluded “with 99 percent certainty” the bones found on Nikumaroro are Amelia’s based upon measurements taken by Dr. Hoodless.
Can Dr. Jantz’s Nikumaroro bones analysis be considered plausible? Highly unlikely.
Dr. Jantz didn’t know all the facts. First, he hadn’t any bones. Second, his analysis makes no mention of the skull. To duplicate what he believes are the physical dimensions of Amelia Earhart, Dr. Jantz uses clothing held in the George P. Putnam Collection at Purdue University for comparison. Noting the inseam length and waist measurement of a pair of trousers worn by Amelia and told to him by a Purdue staffer, Dr. Jantz makes the incredible assumption those measurements would suffice for his scientific analysis.
Dr. Jantz might not have known what TIGHAR had been told years ago. Amelia Earhart had a painful operation called a Caldwell-Luc procedure done. On June 26, 1935, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Dr. Joseph Goldstein performed the surgery. The operation was meant to alleviate a chronic sinus problem plaguing Amelia since 1918 when she was a young nursing assistant in Toronto, Ontario. Goldstein’s procedure called for drilling a hole in the cavity of Amelia’s mouth going through the bone above the second molar to open the maxillary sinus. It was meant to be a new channel for sinus drainage. (ouch) If the procedure was done on both sides it was called a bi-lateral Caldwell-Luc. According to Muriel Morrissey, Amelia’s sister, Amelia had this procedure done previously on the opposite side. Following the operation in 1935, Amelia was quite sick for a week and in fact developed pleurisy before recovering.
A forensic examination of a skull having a Caldwell-Luc procedure within the previous five to ten years would have been observed by a five-year-old. TIGHAR fails to explain how Dr. Hoodless, Gallagher, or the Chief Medical Officer failed to see a dime size hole extending from the jaw through the bone into the cranium. TIGHAR argues maybe the procedure was not apparent because of the missing zygoma and malar bones. However, the zygoma/malar bones are really one area of the cheek and would not interfere in a forensic analysis of this part of the skull. One of TIGHAR team members, a medical doctor, admitted that it would be hard pressed for anyone not to have seen evidence of such a procedure.
Not long before her final flight, Amelia bragged to Muriel that she just had a $1,000 worth of dental work done. In today’s dollars that’s about $18,900 bucks. It seems the five teeth examined by Gallagher, the Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Hoodless would have shown evidence of some dental work — a filling at least.
Let’s review some of the known Nikumaroro facts.
Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan failed to arrive at Howland Island on their flight from Lae, New Guinea on July 2, 1937. TIGHAR believes post-loss radio messages from the pair skipped off the ionosphere and originated from Nikumaroro. TIGHAR has tramped to Nikumaroro at least 12 times over the years scouring the island for the missing aviators.
Some of the apocryphal TIGHAR discoveries include: 1) a bone from Earhart’s fingers — which turned out to be from a turtle; 2) a small glass jar that TIGHAR says could have contained freckle cream, and since Earhart had freckles, the jar would be evidence that Earhart was on Nikumaroro. Never mind the jar was mass-produced for years by a variety of manufacturers, not just for freckle cream; 3) the sole of a size 9 shoe even though it is well documented from two pairs of Amelia’s shoes that still exist that Amelia had small feet and wore a size six and a half; 4) a piece of aluminum shelving that TIGHAR insisted came from the Electra even though it has been determined to be a manufactured piece and standard equipment on WWII era Navy PBY Flying Boats; 5) a piece of aluminum sheathing found on Nikumaroro’s sandy beach by TIGHAR in 1991 that TIGHAR insists came from a metal patch installed over the rear window of Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Electra in Miami, disregarding the fact the aluminum is stamped with war years aluminum markings, and not withstanding how the aluminum piece remained in plain view on the beach after 55 years, while the plane is nowhere to be found; 6) a jackknife found near TIGHAR’s “Seven Site” might have come from Earhart’s plane because a jackknife was listed as being on the Electra’s inventory. TIGHAR apparently is not aware that most men in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s would have never been without a jackknife in the wilderness.
But why did they die?
TIGHAR theorizes Earhart and Noonan died very early during their stay on Nikumaroro. Maybe as little as a week or two after they arrived. Certainly, before October 1937, when the first group of explorers arrived. Could this have happened? Quite unlikely.
Coconut water from at least 200 coconut palms was plentiful. Each coconut can contain as much as six ounces of coconut water. Fish teamed in the hulk of a freighter washed up on the beach and in the lagoon. Maude, one of the early scientists visiting the island in October 1937, later wrote that you could catch the fish with your hands. Turtles were easy prey and large coconut crabs scampering about everywhere are considered a delicacy by natives. Earhart and Noonan could have survived on Gardner Island indefinitely.
TIGHAR claims it’s possible Earhart and Noonan might not have had the “know how” or stamina to survive as castaways. That argument seems impossible. The will to survive is strong and Earhart and Noonan were no slouches. Noonan was worldly and had sailed around the world on nine windjammers. Hardly the life of a wimp. Earhart was athletic, had no hesitation to crawl under cars in need of repairs, shot rats in barns, played golf, tennis, rode horses, and earlier in life, played basketball. In college, she explored the dark catacombs below Columbia and crawled several times to the precarious top of its library dome. She had no fear. More importantly, she was an accomplished swimmer.
Didn’t the U.S. Navy look for Earhart and Noonan at Gardner Island? They sure did.
A week after Earhart disappeared, three Vought O3U-3 Corsair float planes from the Battleship USS Colorado flew over Gardner Island for 30 minutes. They roared back and forth, and up and down the length of the island at a leisurely 80 mph. Lieutenant John Lambrecht, the team leader, said they flew at an altitude of 50 to 500 feet. Each plane carried a pilot and observer. It would have been enough time for the six set of eyes to view the island close-up for at least four passes over the length of this small island. TIGHAR says the “glare” probably prevented the crew from seeing Earhart and Noonan. Or, TIGHAR surmises, maybe Earhart and Noonan were deep in the jungle.
Guess what, nowhere on the island is the center of the jungle more than 200 yards from the beach — plenty of time for the castaways to break out into the open.
Why would they be deep in the jungle anyway? (End of Les Kinney commentary.)
Les Kinney’s comprehensive history of Gardner Island-Nikumaroro provides clear perspective on the credibility and veracity of the latest TIGHAR offerings. Of course, there’s plenty that Les couldn’t get to, and that we can’t cover in one blog post. Frankly, I purposely did not expend much space in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last discussing TIGHAR’s vapid disputations, preferring to cover other threads of far more substance. I did write a section titled “The Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Recycled Snake Oil,” that dealt with some of the more salient matters, including the fact that the Nikumaroro hypothesis itself is a third-hand version of Fred Hooven’s original McKean-Gardner Island landing theory, presented by Goerner at the 1982 Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Amelia Earhart Symposium. The theory was soon disavowed by Hooven, once he realized how ridiculous it actually was — and still is. (See pages 300-304 Truth at Last.) Several revealing posts relating to TIGHAR can easily be found via a simple search of this blog.
Les Kinney’s foregoing presentation was far more civil, cordial and even-keeled than anything I write about these miscreants, but we each have our own style. On March 9, the Pacific Regional News echoed the latest TIGHAR bombast with its own story, which appeared in the Marianas Variety, Saipan’s major paper and the site of the recent announcement about the planned Earhart Memorial Monument at the Saipan International Airport. The story, “Bones found on remote island may belong to Amelia Earhart, study says,” is followed by comments, and because the Marianas Variety is a fair and unbiased publication, my comment was allowed to stand:
The claim that Amelia Earhart’s bones were found on Nikumaroro has been long discredited and exposed as fraudulent; this idea is nothing but more hype and fake news from TIGHAR and their media toadies across the mainstream media. Further, this latest media blitz has surely been coordinated by those in Washington who do not want to see an Earhart memorial on Saipan, and such is their anger that they have activated more than the usual handful of media organizations to spread the latest TIGHAR manure across the land. The timing is too coincidental to be anything else. This new installment of the “lost bones” lie is nothing more than a thinly veiled response to the recent announcement about the plans to build the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument.
Weasel words like “could have,” “likely” and “99 percent probability” season the latest recycled TIGHAR trash, but at bottom, it’s nothing but smoke, mirrors and lies, as usual, from TIGHAR and those in the media who aid and abet their phony schemes. I ask those who believe in real science — not discredited fantasies like “remote viewing” — to study the facts that Earhart researchers have complied for nearly 60 years, and you cannot come to any other conclusion than Amelia and Fred Noonan’s tragic and unnecessary deaths on Saipan.
Murderers are sent to their executions daily on the smallest fraction of the evidence presented in several books since Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart” solidly established the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan following their loss in July 1937, and inspired thousands of Americans to demand action from Congress to reveal the truth, which was thoroughly ignored. The additional mountain of evidence I present in “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” and here in my blog, www.EarhartTruth.com to support the Marshalls and Saipan truth brings together Goerner’s work and that of several other fine researchers and leaves no other conclusion than Saipan. If TIGHAR had the tiniest molecule of similar evidence to support their false claims, the Earhart “mystery,” would have been declared “solved” decades ago.
The major problem with the Earhart story is that the American public has been told unceasingly for 80 years that her disappearance is a “great aviation mystery,” to the point that this canard has become part of our cultural furniture, blindly accepted without question by nearly everyone. In fact, the U.S. government knows exactly what happened to the fliers and simply refuses to admit it. I will not expand on this basic truth here, however, as anyone unafraid to learn the truth can easily find it. Although the truth about the Earhart disappearance is a sacred cow in Washington, it’s also an open secret, available to anyone who desires to find, learn and understand. (End of Campbell comment.)
In a different situation I would end this post by saying, “We rest our case,” but the fact is that no case has been made by TIGHAR for any of its unceasingly empty and baseless claims. So at this time, I’ll simply say, “Case closed.” Until, of course, the next round of mass-media propaganda and lies descends on the unwary.
In closing, again I ask for your kind donations in any amount to the Earhart Memorial on Saipan — a eminently worthy cause that is long overdue. Please make your check out to: Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc., and send to AEMMI, c/o Marie S. Castro, P.O. Box 500213, Saipan MP 96950. Thank you.