Another July has nearly passed, a month when, for decades, two things have been certain. Many will flock to Atchison, Kansas for the annual Amelia Earhart Festival love-in on her July 24 birthday, and a new dose of recycled snake oil purporting to solve the so-called “Earhart Mystery” as dictated to media stenographers by Ric Gillespie of TIGHAR, the only “internationally recognized expert” to whom anyone should listen, will be injected into a culture sodden with lies about Amelia’s fate. We’ve been watching this revolting circus of endless deceit for 30 years now, with no relief in sight.
Last year Gillespie brought cadaver dogs to Nikumaroro to search for the remains of the lost fliers. Words fail to express how utterly ridiculous this idea was, once one understands how many people lived and died there since the late 1930s, none of them Earhart or Fred Noonan! Even more ludicrous, the U.S. and world media reported this absurd spectacle as if it were a serious attempt to find the lost fliers, while an ignorant, incurious public looked on without a word of protest against this attack on all common sense.
(Editor’s note: Soon after this post was published, TIGHAR’s Tom King Ph.D. wrote to inform us that “Ric didn’t take the forensic dogs to Nikumaroro; he opposed our taking them. You can blame National Geographic and me for that outrage.”)
We can fairly wonder why our esteemed media gatekeepers never asked TIGHAR’s boss why he would be looking for Earhart’s bones on Nikumaroro, when the bones found there in 1940 were long gone, and according to University of Tennessee professor Richard L. Jantz, were almost certainly Earhart’s? On March 7, 2018, The Washington Post covered the story thusly: “Bones discovered on an island are hers, a new analysis shows.”
This July, Gillespie didn’t ask the credulous to believe that a jar of freckle cream, discarded pieces of aluminum, an old shoe sole, a zipper, a woman’s compact or even long disappeared human bones are proof that Earhart and Fred Noonan landed on Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands and died of starvation a week later on an island overflowing with food and water sources.
Gillespie has taken a more subtle approach this year, perhaps realizing that nearly everyone except the truly brain dead have had their fill of the annual hysteria and phony hype about the imminent “solution to the Earhart mystery” that he and his minions will soon produce. These disinformation drills are always followed by absolutely nothing, as another worthless claim is debunked and falls by the wayside, relegated to the garbage pile of the assorted flotsam and jetsam that Gillespie and his cronies have scraped and dug out of Nikumaroro, where hundreds of native settlers and even U.S. Coast Guardsmen lived from the late 1930s to the ’60s.
In a lengthy paper titled “The Post-loss Radio Signals” he authored with Robert Brandenburg, Gillespie brings out his trademark bells, whistles, colorized graphs and charts that have long dazzled and bamboozled the unwary and made him infamous among the literate to proclaim: “As with Dr. Jantz’s findings, the patterns and relationships emerging from the data show that TIGHAR has answered the 81-year-old question: what really happened to Amelia Earhart?” None of this is new, and nothing Gillespie conjures up will ever place the lost fliers on Nikumaroro, because they were never there, as a mountain of legitimate evidence tells all who bother to take their eyes off the shiny objects TIGHAR is constantly waving at them.
The Washington Post, long a stalwart in the TIGHAR water-carrying brigade, led the way in this season’s current propaganda blitz with its July 25 story, “Amelia Earhart’s last calls: Research suggests dozens heard radioed cries for help.” Here’s the key excerpt from the Post story we will focus on forthwith:
On July 3, for example, Nina Paxton, an Ashland, Ky., woman, said she heard Earhart say “KHAQQ calling,” and say she was “on or near little island at a point near” . . . “then she said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing.”
“Will have to get out of here,” she says at one point. “We can’t stay here long.”
Note that the Washington Post says nothing about where the radio signals came from that Paxton claims she heard, despite the fact that Paxton named that location in some of her letters. Of course not, because the Marshall Islands are nowhere near Nikumaroro, where Gillespie and TIGHAR’s cash cow lives.
Fox News, along with the rest of the usual suspects, followed the Post story with its own version of the same agitprop, and three comments with my name and Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last were expunged shortly after they appeared on the Fox News site. This was reported to me by staunch supporter William Trail, who notices such things. When it comes to the Earhart story, Fox News is far worse than the hated Washington Post, which Fox demeans as being too liberal. Can you blame me for despising this “fair and balanced” news Gestapo?
At least the Post briefly mentioned Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last in its new article, and even provided a link to its July 11, 2017 story, which gave me a few paragraphs to vent, thanks to Amy B. Wang, the story’s co-author who took the time to briefly interview me. Pigs will fly before Fox News or any of the other mainline media would even consider doing such a thing.
Longtime researcher Les Kinney has plenty more to say about Paxton’s claims, and he doesn’t file his stories with Fox News, the Washington Post or any other news organizations, for obvious reasons. Occasionally he brings his work here, where the truth is always welcome and most appreciated, especially when it sheds new light on nagging questions.
The last time we heard from Kinney was his March 9 dismantling of the aforementioned TIGHAR-Richard Jantz-bones fantasies. Although we still differ over his belief about the identity of the figure sitting on the dock in the Jaluit-ONI photo of History Channel infamy, as far as I can discern, we agree on virtually everything else of significance.
Without further delay, here’s some real Earhart news, courtesy of an Earhart researcher whose findings, with one well-known exception, will not be found in our corrupt media. (All boldface mine.)
The Nina Paxton Papers
By Les Kinney
At about 2:20 in the afternoon of July 3, 1937, Nina Paxton was fiddling with the tuner on her Philco radio in Ashland, Kentucky. Suddenly, she heard Amelia Earhart “In a very clear strong voice.” For a few seconds, Nina attended to the needs of her five-year old son thinking Miss Earhart must be on a training flight. When she then realized Amelia was crying for help, she listened and took a few notes. A few minutes later, Earhart was gone.
Until her death on Christmas Day, 1970, Nina Paxton told anyone who would listen that Earhart had crash landed in the Marshall Islands. She tried to remember everything she heard that day. She began standing vigil over her radio listening to the short wave band hoping to hear Amelia again. A few years later, Nina wrote to Rand McNally looking for information on the Marshall Islands. She developed a guilt complex and believed she hadn’t done enough to save Earhart’s life. She searched for new memories, words or phrases Amelia might have said on that early July afternoon that might have previously escaped her. No one seemed to believe her. In the mid-1940s, she wrote to the Office of Naval Intelligence, Walter Winchell, and the FBI. Toward the end of her life she corresponded with Fred Goerner, the bestselling author of The Search for Amelia Earhart. Nina’s letters always carried the same general message: Amelia Earhart landed in the Marshall Islands.
Skeptics said Nina could have gotten her information from newspapers, radio, and seeing the 1943 movie Flight for Freedom. The fact that Nina waited a full week to tell her local newspaper didn’t help her credibility. On July 9, 1937, the following brief article appeared in the Ashland Daily Independent. It differs from Nina’s notes from July and August 1937. Nina had more to say than the local reporter sent to print:
Mrs. C.B. Paxton, 3024 Bath Avenue, told the Independent she heard the distress message of Amelia Earhart noted American woman flyer lost in the Pacific ocean last Saturday afternoon at two o’clock. Miss Earhart and her navigator Frederick J. Noonan, last were heard from in the air at 2:12 EST last Friday when they said they had only a supply of gas good for thirty minutes.
“The message came in on my short wave set very plain,” Mrs. Paxton said, “and Miss Earhart talked for some time. I turned the radio down one time to talk to my little child and then turned it back up to catch the last part of the message.
“I didn’t understand everything Miss Earhart had said,” Mrs. Paxton told the Independent,“ because there was some noise. She gave the following message as she understood it:
“Down in ocean,” then Miss Earhart either said ‘on,’ ‘or’ [sic] near little island at a point near. . . .” After that Mrs. Paxton understood her to say something about “directly northeast,” although she was not sure about that part. “Our plane about out of gas. Water all around very dark.” Then she said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing. ‘Will have to get out of here,’ she said. “We can’t stay here long.”
The message was preceded by Miss Earhart’s call letters, “KHAQQ calling, KHAQQ calling.”
Because Nina’s letters in the 1940s were so passionate, I suspected what she had to say was true. Why would she lie? Nina was educated, married, a registered nurse, and had no bone to pick. When I started investigating her background, I found out she died a widow in Ashland, Ky., Christmas Day in 1970. She left no family. Her husband passed away in 1954. Her son got into one scrape after another until he ended up in prison.
It took me three years and quite a bit of luck to locate the Paxton papers. Eventually, I discovered Nina’s Earhart files at tiny Mars Hills University in the mountains of western North Carolina. They were donated to the university by a wife of a doctor that had worked with Nina in the 1950s. The Paxton box had been collecting dust in a library storeroom since 1975.
I planned to report the Paxton findings in the book I am writing on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Recent events caused me to change my mind. TIGHAR just released a new Post Loss Radio Study touting the claims of Betty Klenck in 1937 as a 15-year-old claimed to have heard Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on her home radio for several days. None of the post-loss radio messages collected by TIGHAR give a location where Amelia and Fred went down. The Paxton papers tell us Earhart and Noonan went down in the Marshall Islands. Mars Hills University recently put a few of Nina Paxton’s letters on the internet: http://southernappalachianarchives.org/ /show/4. It is time to share my findings.
There are over a hundred letters, some notes, and a few newspaper and magazine clippings making up the Paxton material. I copied them all. The first letter is dated July 14, 1937. Nina continued to write and offer insight into the Earhart disappearance until close to her death. After reviewing all the files, it appears there might be a few writings and reference notes missing.
At about 2 p.m. on July 3, 1937, local time, Nina Paxton heard Amelia Earhart’s distressed voice announce she had gone down in the Marshall Islands. Nina had no idea where the Marshall Islands were located. Nor did she know the call sign for Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra wasn’t KHABQ. After hearing Earhart on her radio, Nina went to the Ashland Police Department and then to a nearby Coast Guard Station to report what she had heard. They laughed at her and said the call sign for Earhart’s Electra was KHAQQ. It was for this reason that Nina didn’t tell the local press of Earhart’s distress message until July 9, 1937. Nina had no idea the call sign for Earhart’s previous plane, a Lockheed Vega, was KHABQ. A tired, exhausted, worried and emotionally drained Amelia Earhart blurted out her old call sign the day Nina heard the distress message on July 3, 1937. It would have been an easy thing to do.
Nina Paxton heard the only post-loss radio report giving a specific location where Amelia and Fred landed. During the two months following Earhart’s disappearance, Nina enclosed her rough notes in the letters she sent to Mrs. Noonan, George Palmer Putnam, Walter Winchell and Congressman Fred M. Vinson. Nina typed the rough notes out twice and tried not to embellish what she had heard. She created spaces where she was unsure of a word or phrase. The first rough note is without a heading. The second one is titled, “Call of a Courageous Lady.” She didn’t like that either and scratched it out.
In some of her later notes, which aren’t on Mars Hill’s web site, Nina wonders why Amelia used the time of her arrival as 2:20. She possibly thought Earhart might have converted the time to Eastern Standard Time and makes that point in later letters. Nina puts this confusion in parentheses. Nina’s two rough notes held by Mars Hill University seem to be a cumulative compilation she completed sometime in August 1937. Nina says “the plane was damaged in landing near a part of Marshall Islands.” Amelia says Noonan was injured, and that he “doesn’t walk very well, and that he (Noonan) bruised his leg badly when landing.”
(Editor’s note: This detail about Noonan’s leg injury is directly reflected by eyewitness Bilimon Amaron’s account to several researchers, including Vincent V. Loomis. See pages 107-108 in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story.)
In a letter to George Putnam dated Aug. 5, 1937, Nina writes she found a piece of scratch paper she had written while listening to Earhart. “Miss Earhart mentioned three little islands. The little one (perhaps a reef) they were on, north of Howland Island at a point very near an island she called “Marshall.” (Sadly, this little piece of scratch paper is missing from the Mars Hill holdings.) Rather naively, Nina tells George Putnam in a letter dated Aug. 5, 1937, “If there is an island known by the name of Marshall and it can be contacted, I believe it well worthwhile to do so at once as I am sure Miss Earhart, and Captain Noonan will be found in this area.”
Early researchers Vincent Loomis and Oliver Knaggs in the late 1970s and early 1980s focused their attention on the middle of three islands at Mili Atoll. On my recent trips to Mili Atoll, we discovered airplane artifacts in the middle of three small islands. Nina’s rough notes indicate she heard Earhart say, “Directly north-east of a part of Marshall Islands, 90 ****173 longitude and 5 latitude. We missed our course yesterday and came up here.”
No one knows whether Fred Noonan carried sectional maps for the Marshall Islands. The U.S. Navy hadn’t the opportunity to map the area since the Japanese took control in 1914. It wasn’t on their planned route and its likely Fred had to rely on an old British map of the Pacific from his seafaring days. There is a picture of Amelia and Fred on the internet standing next to the tail of the Electra looking over such a map. If they relied on that map, Fred would have only had a general idea where he and Amelia had gone down.
When Nina heard Amelia Earhart on the afternoon of July 3, 1937, she scratched down a few words where Amelia said they had landed. “90 ******173 longitude and 5 latitude.“ If you look on a map, 5 degrees North latitude and 173 East longitude is not far from Mili Atoll. (End of “Nina Paxton Papers.” )
I devoted nine pages of Chapter III, “The Search and the Radio Signals,” in Truth at Last, a section titled “The ‘Post-Loss’ Radio Messages,” (pages 40-49 TAL 2nd Ed.) to an examination of most of the significant alleged receptions from Amelia, but omitted Nina Paxton’s claims because at the time I wasn’t enthusiastic about them and hadn’t properly researched the Paxton claims to write about them intelligently. Thanks to Les Kinney, we’re now much smarter about Nina Paxton.
So what are we to believe? Did Amelia Earhart send radio messages from her downed Electra, transmissions that were heard by Nina Paxton in Ashland, Ky., by Pan American Airways, U.S. Navy stations in the central Pacific and numerous amateur radio operators in the continental United States? I’m not technically smart enough to claim any special insights, but I’ve presented the educated verdicts of several experts in radio propagation and reception capabilities of the day in several posts. For what its worth, I think Nina Paxton’s account could be the most compelling of all these alleged messages, and should be taken seriously at the very least.
You can find an extensive discussion of the significant post-loss messages in the three posts I wrote on this subject in 2014:
Earhart’s “post-loss messages”: Real or fantasy?“ published April 30, 2014, followed by “Experts weigh in on Earhart’s ‘post-loss’ messages“ two weeks later, and finally “Amelia Earhart’s alleged ‘Land in sight’ message remains a curiosity, if not a mystery | Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last“ on May 27, 2014.