Today we rejoin Calvin Pitts for Part IV of his fascinating and instructive analysis of the final flight of Amelia Earhart.
As Part III ended, Amelia had made her decision to turn northwest, not to the Gilberts but to the Marshall Islands, “and Japanese soldiers who may or may not be impressed with the most famous female aviator in the world,” Calvin wrote. “When she crossed into enemy territory, she apparently lost her charm with the war lords, and eventually her life.” We continue with Part IV of Calvin’s analysis.
“Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY, Part IV”
By Capt. Calvin Pitts
When we arrived at Area 13, unbeknownst to the casual observer, the entire narrative changed. Something different, something major happened.
The Itasca crew didn’t know. In their confusion, according to their log, they kept calling and trying to make contact for two hours. The radioman calling from Nauru didn’t know. Balfour from Lae didn’t know. Tarawa radio didn’t know. Husband George didn’t know. Hawaii radio didn’t know. But somebody from somewhere must have known. Who was it?
First, before we ask questions, we need to look at THE END in order to establish the ending of the so-called “disappearance.” It has been a mystery to those on the outside, but not to those who studied and embraced the evidence. Nor was it a mystery to Franklin D. Roosevelt– especially the president..
This, knowing THE END, and only this will enable us to make sense of what was happening during those early moments in Area 13: 2030z, 2100z, 2200z, 2300z, 2400z, or the local morning hours of 9 a.m., 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, noon and thereafter.
THE END produces, first, three stone pillars: Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, Gen. Graves Erskine and Adm. Chester W. Nimitz. What do such preeminent World War II men of honor have to do with this story, and what do they know that is so critical for what we will learn in the process? Three quotes will answer for us:
Gen. Vandergrift: “Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan.” (TAL p.257) Gen. Erskine: “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan. You’ll have to dig the rest out for yourselves.” (TAL p.260)
Admiral Nimitz to Fred Goerner: “Earhart and her navigator did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese [and taken to Saipan].” (TAL p. 132). “You’re onto something that will stagger your imagination.” (Nimitz to Fred Goerner through Navy Cmdr. John Pillsbury) (TAL p. 178).
Those were Men who had honor, who would not lie;
Men who could stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries
They were tall men, sun-crowned, who lived above the fog in public duty, and
in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds, their large professions
and their little deeds, mingled in selfish strife,
LO! Freedom wept, Wrong ruled the land, and waiting Justice slept.
GOD, give us more Men like these where the times demand
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands;
Men whom the lust for office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will; Men who have honor … who will not lie.
— Josiah Gilbert Holland (modified)
They did not lie. These were three men, three impeccable sources, three individual answers, none of which were given in the presence of the other, at different times, with the same conclusion: Amelia had been on Saipan.
Earhart and Noonan were not in the Phoenix Islands; they did not die at sea. Noonan, the best navigator in the world, who had flown the Pacific often with Pan Am, was not lost. Earhart, prepared to execute the contingency plan so carefully worked out with Gene Vidal, did not turn back to the Gilbert Islands. Earhart and Noonan were taken to Saipan.
“You’ll have to dig the rest out for yourselves,” Gen. Graves Earskin said. And professional, competent people have been doing just that for 80 years.
What’s the staggering news here? One part is this: We know THE END of the story. Following the silence after Area 13, we have about a five-hour window or less of flying and survival time. Something unusual happened back in the states while the Electra was being repaired, the truth of which was being played out during those final hours after Amelia’s last official transmission at 2013z.
We know essentially the area in which they were last known to be alive in the Electra. Later, after the war, and the incredible leadership of three of our top warriors, we know where the doomed pair ended up. Therefore, if we want to unlock this so-called mystery, we need know not only where they were, but why and how they got there.
Here’s the point of establishing THE END. We have three pillar posts of evidence that cannot be doubted. They are anchors to which the end of this story is tied. But there are those who say this was only a temporary end, that a China scenario followed. Since there are so few researchers who accept this, we will leave that “conclusion” for another time. For now, we tie the end of the chain of this story to the Saipan anchor.
From Saipan, we can backtrack 1,700 miles to the Marshall Islands, thanks to several incredible and determined writers and investigators, among them Fred Goerner, Vincent Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, Bill Prymak and others.
The eyewitnesses they found and interviewed are convincing. The Electra was seen on Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands. The crew and the plane were taken to the Japanese military headquarters on Jaluit Atoll. From there, all the evidence we have tells us they were taken by plane to Kwajalein, and then to Saipan by the Japanese. They were on Saipan, as the three flag officers told Goerner.
To that, we can add that Bill Prymak was one who could see the obvious when others missed it. Later, we want to visit the content of OVERLOOKING the OBVIOUS. Prymak observed the following: An eyewitness in the Marshalls described a man-like woman with short hair in pants, and a tall man with blue eyes who had a bandage on his head, who were together.
Yet, over 1,700 miles away on Saipan, in 1937 when travel between the two cultures was limited to small boats, Saipan natives described, during the same time-period, a man-like woman with short hair in pants, and a tall man with blue eyes who had a bandage on his head, who were together.
Does something not strike us as unusual? From two different cultures, with 1,700 miles of water between them, in only a very short time, native eyewitnesses in the Marshalls and in Saipan are telling the same story. How was that possible, unless they were both telling the truth?
Did they make up an identical tale without knowing what the other was saying? Two cultures, many miles apart, in a short time, were describing the same people to interviewers. Was this a coincidence? Obviously, not likely.
Where does this evidence leave us? With the Generals, we have three cornerstones, three reliable pillars, impeccable witnesses, impressive leaders, unassailable warriors separately telling the same truth. They spoke what they knew, although they did not want to embarrass the government they served, hence were restrained with their words.
What little they said was enough to establish the truth — Earhart had been on Saipan.
That buries the “sink and drown” [crashed and sank] theory. It also buries the Nikumaroro castaways “hypothesis,” the fake media’s favorite mother load of deception, embraced by the establishment’s Smithsonian, National Geographic and media outlets everywhere. Without them, the truth would have gained traction much earlier, but it’s the establishment world in which we are forced to live, which makes finding truth in the swamp infinitely more difficult.
Added to those three stellar voices who had no skin in the game were two separate cultures miles apart but saying the same thing — the American lady with short hair and the white man with a white head-bandage had been in the Marshalls and on Saipan at about the same time.
A cornerstone and a foundation, eyewitnesses giving interviewers the same story, which is the evidence upon which this truth is built. Even scripture says: “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” We didn’t see it, but those who saw the evidence — Vandergrift, Erskine, Nimitz, Marshallese eyewitnesses, Saipanese eyewitnesses — gave us the truth to believe, accept and investigate even further.
I. With a tedious analysis of the records, times, speeds, radio calls and Itasca logs, we tracked the lady and the man to “Area 13” at 2013z. This is Data Point No. 1.
II. Data Point No. 2. Switch to the other side, 1,000 and 2,000 miles away. Three cultures converge, the Marshalls, Saipan and the Americans, where the eyewitnesses and the greatest military leaders provide the END for the same story.
III. The Gap. We are then left with a four- to five-hour gap that we must bring together if we wish to change supposition into knowledge, or mystery into history.
The factual and documented information on both sides of the Gap tells us WHAT. But we still wrestle with the WHY behind the WHAT. How do we answer the obvious things which have so often been overlooked?
How? By refusing to overlook them any longer.
During the four- to five-hour gap while we search, an amazing thing happens: an awakening. Consider two data points of that evidence:
(1) The Electra is flying an imaginary “157-337 degree (sun) line,” now merely a heading, at 2013z / 8:43 a.m. “looking” (?) for the Itasca. At about four hours remaining, they hit “Bingo” fuel. It’s time to go into action with the contingency plan: “If and when you come to your contingency fuel, turn back to the Gilbert Islands toward friendly people. Land on a good beach, and they’ll find you. Tarawa has a radio. We’ll find a way to get to you.”
Were those their words? No, but it was their plan that Vidal had designed. Even Noonan’s sister had said: “Remember to turn back if you can’t find Howland.”
A 160 mph true air speed, plus a 15 or more mph tailwind for four hours would get them to the Gilberts. But with what heading? “Heading, Fred. What heading?”
From a 2013z position of about 150 to 200 miles northwest of Howland, they needed a heading of about 260 degrees or less to hit the midpoint of the 500-mile north-south string of the Gilbert Islands.
However, based upon the END of the story, where they actually ended up, they needed a heading of some 290 degrees or more. That would get them to where the evidence said they were, the Marshall Islands, with a free trip to Saipan, courtesy of the Japanese.
Focus on the evidence. Heading 260 degrees or less to Gilbert’s midpoint. Heading 290 degrees or more to get to Mili Atoll where they actually landed on a coral beach — 290 degrees versus 260 degrees?
From a position at 2013z, to the Marshalls with a 260 degree heading? That didn’t happen. To the Marshalls with a 290 degree heading? THAT DID HAPPEN, and was no accident. Once this truth clearly dawned — the heading was not accidental — a missing, critical ingredient was added.
What’s the significance of this ingredient? Epiphany. That heading and that destination were intentional. INTENT. In that moment after consideration, we knew then what we didn’t know at 2013z, namely, they intended to go somewhere on purpose. A heading to the Gilberts would not — repeat, NOT — have taken them to the Marshalls.
With intent aforethought: For eyeball proof, open Google Earth and try it. They would need a hurricane-force crosswind to blow them from the Gilberts to the Marshalls with a Gilbert heading. Fortunately for them, but unfortunately for the skeptic, they had a tailwind from the east.
We now have intent, the first moment of realization. They not only went to the Marshalls, they intended to. Something was driving them.
(2) Ironically, shortly after that epiphany, we read a comment by researcher Bill Prymak. It went something like this: “Why was AE so casual and so scarce with her radio calls? If it had been me in such an emergency, desperately trying to make contact and find Howland, I would not have waited :30, :45, 1 hour, 2:30 hours between calls. I would have been all over that radio:
Itasca, this is AE. Please answer. How do I home in on your frequency? I’ll hold the switch down for a full minute. No more occasional calls. Help me out . . . now. Are you there? I’ll stay on 3105 while you broadcast now on 3105, then 6210, then 7500, then 500. I’ll also listen to Morse code. Fred will understand your message, or key A.A.A. repeatedly, then key N.N.N. That will let me know you’re hearing me. Forget protocol. Talk to me. This is getting desperate.”
Not even one MAY-DAY CALL. Why so casual? No declaration of an emergency. Why so incredibly stingy with words? At 2:45 am? OK. But at 8:00 a.m.? May-Day, MAY-DAY!
2:45 a.m. – “??” unreadable (1 hour difference)
3:45 a.m. – “will listen” (2:30 hour difference)
6:15 am. – wants bearing – “about 200 miles out” (:30 difference)
6:45 a.m. – “take bearing – about 100 miles out” (almost 1 hour difference)
7:42 a.m. – “on you, can’t see you” (:16 difference)
7:58 a.m. – “circling (?), can’t hear you” (:02 difference)
8:00 a.m. – “received signals, take bearing” (:43 difference)
8:43 a.m. – “on line 157-337, will repeat” — S.I.L.E.N.C.E.
Not one call, not one, indicated an emergency. Perhaps the tone of her voice was tense, or even indicated “panic,” as Bellarts later stated, but not one hint of an emergency. Much too casual. Words cost nothing. What does the silence tell us?
If she doesn’t find Howland, it’s back to the Gilberts and the abandoning of the Electra on a beach. Amelia knows that. Consistently, she made very brief calls which lasted mere seconds, then she was silent for long periods. What is that telling us? That it is not normal behavior in an emergency. It is much too casual for a person facing fuel exhaustion and death. It is not rational.
Strangely, it may be telling us that she has no intention of landing here. If not, why? Don’t know yet, but how did Bill see that? Because if she wanted to land, there would have been desperation. She was cool and casual because she had another place in mind.
Amelia’s sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey, said afterward: “Amelia had no intention of landing at Howland. It was a distraction.” (Amelia, My Courageous Sister (1987); “Amelia Earhart: What Really Happened to Her?” (D.A. Chadwick’s Blog).
Paul Rafford Jr., in his book, Amelia Earhart’s Radio, tells us: “Bill Galten also told me that although Earhart might have been able to land on Howland, he didn’t see how she could take off. His reason was the same as that offered by Itasca’s Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts, who told Fred Goerner that he felt that if she could land, she could not have been able to take off again.” So here are two of the original radio crew on Itasca agreeing about the serious dangers Howland posed to the Earhart Electra and its crew. We then did some investigation of our own.
These are only two of the many items which come under the category of OVERLOOKING THE OBVIOUS. The latest is THE HOWLAND RUNWAY scenario. When exploring the details and a comparison with the Lae takeoff, was the Howland runway even safe from which to take off in an Electra with a heavy load of fuel? Based upon details which we have been able to uncover, the answer may be obvious. She’ll know once she begins the takeoff, but then it will too late.
Let’s do some reasoning here. When Amelia took off at Lae, she had 3,000 feet of dirt runway. At the end, there was a 25-foot cliff dropping off to the Huon Gulf. The Electra’s takeoff run for about 2,900 feet broke ground, sank slightly, then more or less leveled, then at the end where the cliff dropped off, it descended about 20 feet toward the water where the props were creating an observed spray from the ocean.
That reality is in Amelia’s mind. She sees a picture. It is now behind her, but an even bigger challenge awaits her at Howland. How long is that coral-gravel runway? The flat part of the Island is 1.5 miles long by one-half-mile wide. If the longer N/S runway is just half that, since it is on the east side, rather than in the elongated middle, then we have about 4,000 feet, as later measured, but which the workers already knew.
There is also a gravel E/W runway about 2,400 feet at the south end of the N/S runway for the prevailing daily east winds. We now have a match waiting for some gasoline. Lae’s runway was hard dirt. Howland’s is crushed coral recently plowed and graded, and looser than hard dirt. Lea’s temperature was less than 85 degrees. Howland’s is often 100 degrees or more.
Lae’s had a safety net of a 25-foot drop to the Gulf beyond the cliff at the end of the runway. Howland at sea level has mere inches for descent after takeoff from sand’s edge to the water. Unlike Lae, at Howland, there is no safety net.
Going through the mind of any pilot facing this would be: Under these conditions, with these differences, can a takeoff with a load of fuel be made successfully at Howland? It was successful at Lae apparently because of the “safety net” of clear space underneath beyond the cliff. Amelia, like any pilot, might wonder.
Nor has she forgotten the ground loop at Honolulu under much better conditions. If a wheel of the Electra were to hit a soft spot, and veer slightly as it did in Honolulu, will she follow her habit of trying to maintain directional control with the throttles rather than the rudders? Honolulu all over again, just waiting.
If, when the plane breaks ground at Howland, but settles 20 feet as at Lae, there will be a ditching in the water with gear down, not a pretty thought. If density altitude were to work against her due to hotter temperature, what then? If even one of those 10,000 gooney birds were to get in the way of a prop on takeoff, hello water. The “WHAT IF’S” are endless.
Nearing Howland, Amelia may be thinking that the chances of taking off are not so good. Turn back to the Gilberts? There are many smooth sandy beaches there for a safe landing, but once on the soft sand, how will the Electra get airborne again?
Then there’s the option of the Marshalls. The inner debate continues, and a major decision is looming. What to do? How long is the runway? How safe is it?
With an East wind of 15 to 20 mph, this is obviously a crosswind which is not acceptable for a heavy plane on such a runway. Even the men on the ground who prepared it had recorded, in essence, in their log — impossible to take off on N/S runway with that crosswind. And the E/W runway is too short; at 2,250 feet between markers, plus the narrow 300-foot addition, plus the flagged off 200 feet, a total of 2,750 feet is available for takeoff.
Before we awaken Amelia from her intense concentration, let’s slip in another bit of “obvious” factual history which has often been overlooked. It concerns FDR himself and the government, especially Naval records generated by the former secretary of the Navy.
First, we have the official Navy-Coast Guard reports of their searches for the Earhart Electra that lasted from July 2 to July 19, and were filed beginning July 20. (see TAL pages 53-57). We also have information on file as “Report of Amelia Earhart as Prisoner in Marshall Islands,” dated Jan. 7, 1939. (Reference: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 38, Entry 81, General Correspondence, 1929-1942, File A4-3/Earhart, Box No. 70). (See above image of the top of page 1 of this report.) This unclassified document has long been available to Earhart researchers through a simple request.
This, and additional information shows that as early as 1.5 years after the disappearance, Jan. 7, 1939, it was reported under then-classified documents that “Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands.” Since the U.S. had already broken the Japanese Code, it is more than mere speculation that FDR and Co. knew that Amelia and Fred were in Japanese hands.
(Editor’s note: Here Calvin is referring to the strange, little-known “Bottle Message” found near Bordeaux, France on Oct. 30, 1938 by a 37-year-old French woman. The message’s unidentified writer stated, in part: “I have been a prisoner at Jaluit (Marshalls) by the Japanese; in the prison there, I have seen Amelia Earhart (aviatrix) and in another cell her mechanic [sic], a man, as well as several other European prisoners; held on charges of alleged spying on large fortifications erected on the atoll.” I have not yet written about this message on the Truth at Last Blog for several reasons, but others have attempted to verify its provenance, without success. See * below for more on this.)
The classified proof in Navy files was declassified in 1967 and has been available to the public since then. Anyone can read it. Possessing a personal copy, one can show that the government knew the whereabouts of Amelia and Fred at least as early as 1939 or before. (Later, we’ll raise the issue of knowledge through having broken the Japanese code.)
That being the case, something so totally “obvious” to government authorities in 1939, and then obvious to the public through researchers in 1967, has lain hidden under a pile of dust while speculators and get-rich charlatans have invented stories about dying at sea or crashing on an uninhabited island leaving a size 9 piece of shoe as proof that a size 6 lady named Earhart had worn it. Such is a crime against the history of humanity.
While the obvious lies at our feet, we applaud phony pictures of a ship at Jaluit in 1937 under a Smithsonian caption of “Earhart and Noonan,” but which was proven to be false. And we support establishment money being spent to divert the public’s attention to a fake story on a Phoenix Island while we allow the government to keep promoting those distractions. This is the typical disinformation-distraction ploy. Although the establishment can distract from the truth, it cannot change it.
Something is obviously wrong with this picture. The public is more tolerant than they are observant. We cry “mystery” while holding the file of facts in our hands.
Time: 2013z / 8:43 a.m.:
Amelia awakens from her decision-dilemma. To the Itasca: “We’re on a line 157-337 degrees . . . Will repeat this message.” To Fred Noonan she may have said: “I’ve thought about the Howland runway compared to what we faced at Lae. It’s too dangerous. The Gilberts are out. Not going to sacrifice this plane. We’re going to the Marshalls. Give me a heading, and there’s no time to discuss it. If we land here, I probably won’t be able to get airborne again. Heading, please.” (End of “Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY,” Part IV.)
Next up will be the Conclusion of Calvin Pitts’ “Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY.” Your comments are welcome.
* (Editor’s note continued: Far more revealing among the Navy documents declassified in 1967 is the notorious 1960 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) Report (below), ostensibly undertaken to investigate Thomas E. Devine’s 1960 statements to ONI Special Agent Thomas M. Blake in October 1960. Devine, at home in West Haven, Conn., having seen the reports of Fred Goerner’s first Saipan visit, decided to tell the ONI about his 1945 experience on Saipan with the unidentified Okinawan woman who showed him the gravesite of a “white man and woman who had come from the sky,“ before the war. Devine believed this site was the common grave of Earhart and Noonan.
The ONI found nothing to support Devine’s gravesite claims, which wasn’t surprising, but its unstated goal was to discredit all information that placed Earhart and Noonan on Saipan. In this it actually failed miserably, though no one in the media has ever even alluded to the document’s existence, and it remains completely unknown to the general public despite its declassification. The story of the ONI Report in itself is another amazing travesty in the saga of the Earhart disappearance, in that it virtually establishes the Marshalls landing and Saipan presence of the fliers while attempting to debunk both ideas. For an extended discussion of this obscure but vastly important document, see pages 95-100 in Truth at Last.
Having not found Howland Island where she expected it to be then their navigation had them lost, they did not know where they were. They only thing they did know was their in bound track they had flown. The most plausible action would be to reverse their track until they could reach a known place on the map that could reconcile or confirm their location at that known place. Once they knew their location for certain then they could then plan a flight track to another place. Simply, if you do not know where you are you cannot plan a flight to another place.
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Wow!!…this Part IV really gets to me…….Calvin Pitts sure lays it out in black and white for all to read and understand. It is obvious that AE had no intentions of landing at Howland; too many factors going against her….and if her flight tragically ended at Howland, that would put an abrupt end to her round the world flight and fame. She probably felt she had a better chance of surviving if she landed in the Marshalls, naively thinking Japan would welcome her, but not really understanding the politics of the day and the looming war with the Japanese. She may have been a fan of the Japanese people, but unfortunately for her and Noonan, it was the brutal Japanese military that called the shots in the Marshall Islands during that time. It is also sad to think that FDR’s cronies suggested to her some sort of patriotism by overflying the Marshalls willingly.
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That’s interesting, Calvin just about completely rules out taking off from Howland. Where was she supposed to be going when she was taking off from Hawaii first time? To Howland? Did she crash deliberately to avoid going to Howland? If Howland was never a realistic option then it leads me to this conjecture. Or maybe it’s a speculation. She then reverses the direction of her flight to fly west to east. There is no plausible reason to do this it defies common sense to fly against the wind across the Pacific. Now she takes off from Lae instead of Rabaul. Why? Rabaul is 400 miles closer to Howland. But they are not going to Howland if that’s merely a distraction. And yes, even though David Billings tried to convince me different, I believe it was possible for her to take off from Rabaul.
However, the distance to Truk is only 100 miles difference from Lae compared to Rabaul. (more or less). Also there is a large American contingent at Lae where cameras can be installed or whatever other chicanery needed can be accomplished. Then they fly over Truk where the question of would it be dark or not has been settled in favor of it would be daylight. They easily get away with it, and the confusion of her radio messages to Nauru, etc. are purposely established.
I believe at no time were they anywhere near Howland, much less lost. Her messages were all pre-recorded to be played at the right time from a sub in the area, or more likely from Howland where at one point they sound so close as to be flying overhead. Then they head to the Marshalls which must have been their final destination. She should have had plenty of fuel at that point so the story of her being shot down seems somewhat likely. If they didn’t land there where were they going to go? Possibly the plan. if their Marshalls flyover was successful, they would then head for Gilberts and pretend they had been unable to find Howland. They easily would have had enough gas to do that. But the Japs forced them down unexpectedly after their success on Truk and I bet the Japs were at their crash site in few hours at most, caught them red-handed trying to bury the Truk films on the beach. So there you have it.
Why has the light NOT come on with you so called experts after all has been documented over the past 80 years.
AE was on a spy mission on the direction on The President. How else could her mission have been funded? When she left PNG she had one mission, by direction, to fly over Saipan to confirm the presence of the entire Japanese fleet in Saipan Harbor!
So on her way to south she ran out of fuel! The rest is history recorded, taken off the Atol by fishing boat, the Japs knew she was heading south east after seeing her fly over? So, they followed her, saw her plane on the Atol, sent the barge to retrieve it back to Saipan, where she n Fred ultimately died.
So what about her plane, we believe when the Yanks arrived, they found her plane, repaired it, then ultimately ditched her in the jungle in PNG. See David Billings theory, of the Australian military finding a shiny reflection which on inspection spelt out the actual engine / numbers of the AE aircraft! Furthermore, had the possible film she took had got to Howland, maybe Pearl Harbour may never have happened?
Why may you ask, am I so interested, because We own her last tangible asset, AE’s 1935 Packard Super 8 x3 window Coupe, we believe was especially built and donated to AE by The President of The Packard motor Company in Feb . 1935. This was the car she used whilst in Dallas TX and garaged at DFW airport!
You could not possibly have ever read a single legitimate book about the Earhart disappearance. If you have, then you obviously failed to comprehend a single sentence. Seldom if ever have I seen such an amazing presentation of abject ignorance and absurd ideas in the space of a few short paragraphs. You say FDR directed Amelia “to fly over Saipan to confirm the presence of the entire Japanese fleet in Saipan Harbor”! You have now outdone Tom Devine for the most ridiculous flight plan ever proposed for Amelia Earhart! That’s for starters, I’ll let readers pick the bones off the rest, if they so desire.
I won’t waste much more time on this reply, but I will post it so that readers who are feeling down might at least see this, as it’s guaranteed for a few laughs. If you’re trying to sell AE’s 1935 Packard, sending samples of your underwhelming ignorance about Amelia Earhart’s final days does not seem an intelligent strategy.
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How did the engine and remains from the plane with the engine and body identification tag confirming it was Earhart’s plane end up in the jungle of New Britain if she was captured by the Japanese and executed in Saipan? Billings is right. Ross Marshall’s theory is as good as if not better than all the “legitimate” books that have failed to produce any part of the plane.
Let it not be said that I don’t suffer morons on this blog. Another illiterate checks in. Well Jim, you might try reading what I’ve written about that on this blog, for starters.
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Thanks for taking the time to comment. Would you like a serious response to what appears to be a not-so-serious posting? Or would it be more agreeable to simply ignore it?
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Yes Calvin, I would appreciate a serious response to what appears to be a not-so-serious posting. What I am doing is raising some issues I feel are worth responding to and combining them into a perhaps wildly speculative scenario. I like to hear what others make of some of these points, but generally nobody pays any attention. I was especially intrigued by your description of the runways at Howland and the virtual impossibility of her taking off from there. Everyone else that writes about AE seems to assume that nothing could have been easier than her landing and taking off from there as if it was a realistic goal for her to get there.
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Do you have a copy of the POH for the Lockheed Electra 10E Special? I can’t find anything on-line except for one associated with some computer flight simulator and I sure wouldn’t trust that for accuracy. The Smithsonian’s NASM holdings of technical documents is currently unavailable while they move the collection from downtown to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles.
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Two things I know and also seeing her Santa Monica take off on my Dads shoulders.I had a friend ,Bob Boysen CB who landed by sub launch to destroy Radio tower on Saipan . They found “White Womens” clothing and got it back to the sub which sent a message to Pearl and Pearl directed them to forsake Macan[sp} and head full speed to Pearl.
Also around the early 80’s on the first Sunday of the month along with the Rebecca’s hold a breakfast in the C.Hall in Groveland. During a break my wife and I sat down with a lonesome stranger who later gave his name and age [about a year or so older than me] and he worked in Frisco and was on his way to Yosemite. He worked in Frisco and since he left Saipan on his own he was not allowed back. Their home was taken over by the Japs on Saipan and they had to live under in a Coral cutout basement. To be on beckon call to the Japs. His mother did the laundry with others and told her son of the white women’s clothes and the injured white man, he said he only remembers saying the woman wore mans clothes and had short hair and that is all I know and I am sure of the above.
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I ordered an on-line Manual for an Electra A, which was the only thing available. It’s interesting, but useless when trying to find legitimate numbers. Were there specific numbers you were looking for? Let me know if you ever succeed with NASM. Seems like they’ve been moving everything useful to Dulles for years. They were doing that in 1981 when my office was at NASA Hdqs, during my ’81 RTW flight. Perhaps the Paul Garber facility in Silver Hill / Suitland, MD (aka Silver Springs) may have something. They once had good stuff like Blueprints there. Maybe they have Manuals, also.
Many thanks, Sir! My immediate interest in obtaining a copy of the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) for AE’s Lockheed Electra 10E Special was to take the specific performance data worked out by Lockheed for that particular aircraft, as well as the known, recorded meteorological data for Howland Island on 2 July 1937 and apply the “whiz-wheels” to work out out what would have been required for a successful take off. Figuring a 1 hr reserve, how much fuel would actually be required to reach Honolulu? Best power setting for fuel economy? Could the Electra have gotten off Howland successfully with that amount of fuel?
I don’t know if any aircraft manuals contain performance data based on the aircraft loaded that much above the design gross weight; maybe you could estimate takeoff distance using some type of progression analysis using the data published; the real wild card though would be the runway condition.
You’re right about that, my friend. There are an awful lot of things to consider right down to figuring the optimum air pressure in the tires!
Hi David Atchason,
Thanks for your comments which I’ll take seriously. My judgment may differ from yours, but here’s that scenario through my eyes. My intent was not to rule out a landing at Howland, but rather to illustrate the need for good judgment if planning a takeoff from there.
As a lifelong pilot, with many of those hours in large aircraft, I simply am doing what any responsible pilot would do, namely, evaluating the hand which weather and circumstances deal you.
Whether Amelia would have landed and tried to take off is a moot point. We don’t know. But based upon one pilot’s judgment, I think it would have been a death-wish to have tried to take off from Howland under those circumstances.
But note that in discussing this, we have the benefit of time to study the circumstances, which is a bit different from making quick, split-second decisions.
As was sometimes the case with Amelia, flying could be filled with surprises. That’s the very nature of what professional pilots face twice a year in their simulator check rides — dealing with emergencies which often catch us by surprise. It would appear that Amelia faced some of her own when she actually faced the reality of the limitations of the Howland runways.
Barry Schiff, TWA captain and prolific writer, and I used to practice such things as engine failure after takeoff in uncontrolled airspace at sufficient altitude. He wrote several interesting articles about some of our flight experiments. How much altitude was needed after takeoff to make a 180 turn back to the runway vs. flying straight ahead, etc. etc? What we discovered was worth its weight in the coffee we drank afterwards as we evaluated the results? (Just kidding, Barry. Those were the best of days.)
Before there was such a thing as simulator training with emergencies, there were a few people like Lindbergh who designed his own training technique. He described what he often did with his flying time en route between landings. He played what he called, “the WHAT-IF game.” He would design a possible emergency, then ask himself, “What if that happened? What would I do?” Then he would go through his possible responses. That was his own personal simulator training. (I once wrote several “What If” scenarios for Richard Taylor’s Pilot Audio Update in the ‘80’s.)
What was Amelia’s technique? Don’t know. But since she did most of her Electra training under the expert hands of Paul Mantz, he probably raised several issues with her. How she received the training is for others to say.
Practicing emergency “surprises” is a way of defanging emergency “consequences.” As I would often say to my students: “Good judgment is often the result of experience gained from the consequences of bad judgment … if your bad judgment doesn’t kill you.”
You asked “where was she supposed to go after taking off from Honolulu the first time?” Then you suggest the option of “a deliberate crack-up.” I’ll leave that one for another time.
Then you suggest that Howland might never have been a realistic option. Actually, that might have been the case. Did Amelia spend time after taking off from Lae thinking about things she might face at Howland? Did she see any possible dangers from Lae which might apply to Howland?
How would she know, and how would we know without analyzing . . .
(1) the length of the longest runway;
(2) the strength (20 mph) and direction (east) of the prevailing wind;
(3) the surface of the runway, i.e. looser shell-gravel vs. hard dirt;
(4) the reported “soft spots” referenced in the worker’s Log;
(5) the hotter temperature;
(6) the very real prospects of a big-bird strike from a natural rookery;
(7) all combined with a heavy load of fuel creating an over-gross takeoff.
If she did consider those circumstances, and decided to land at Howland anyway, the next takeoff, in my judgment, would have ended the flight right there. We’ll never know, because she didn’t try . . . for reasons that are coming up in a later posting, MY EARHART SCENARIO, along with WHY HOWLAND? A response to those particulars now would give away some insights which I’ll share later.
If you’re a pilot, share your analysis with me of a takeoff under those circumstances. Would you risk it for a first-time attempt, where the overrun in the event of misjudgment is water-with-gear-down, and no simulator button for a re-try?
In your options of scenarios, you lose me. IF you’re serious about the following . . . “overflying Truck” . . . “installed cameras” . . . “chicanery” . . . “nowhere near Howland” . . . “pre-recorded messages,” . . . “shot down” . . . “Marshalls flyover” . . . “Japs forced them down unexpectedly,” . . . or “Truk films,” . . . THEN we’re in two different universes.
After I have a chance to present what I believe to be a more realistic answer, if you still see your above scenarios as believable, then we can talk then.
For the time being, I’ll simply say that I do not embrace even one of those scenarios you propose. Those are the things of “007 Spy Movies.” And I gave those things up for serious research when I became a young man. But then again, who knows?
Thanks for being interested enough to talk,
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Calvin I appreciate your taking me seriously enough to reply to me without simply “declaring” I’m wrong and going about your own theory because you are “serious” and I am not. I’m not the only one who has considered my idea as a possibility maybe even wrote a book about it. On this forum it’s more politically correct to dismiss the “way out” ideas like the spying scenario.
So now I’m going to shoot down my idea in a way. You say that she barely was able to take off at Lae therefore she likely could not take off from Howland. To me it’s not quite that simple. Now if I was to do what she attempted, I might say let’s pick the worst condition and see if the plane will take off in the distance of the Lae runway. I’ll go to somewhere warm, like Miami with a longer runway and load up my plane with 1100 gallons of gas and pick a day with temp of 75 F. similar to Lae at 1000 hours. Now I will see if the plane is capable of doing it, picking likely wind speed and direction. Did she do this? I kind of doubt it, but I might try. So by the way, why did she only take 1100 gallons or am I wrong when Capacity was 1200?
Why did she wait until 1000 when it would have been cooler at 0500? Was she just dumb or did they ascertain it would have made little difference? Maybe the gas was not top shelf. Maybe the tank was out in the sun, not in a shelter from the sun.So now being smart, she knows they can get by with 800 gallons on the Hawaii leg or maybe 700, because the distance is only 72% as far so we try that at 85 F. like on Howland, she finds that now the plane only needs the 4.000 ft. like on Howland and at 0500 the temp could be also 75 or 80, but cooler.
The boys on Howland determine that if they set off a few grenades the birds will fly away for 15 minutes or so. So, to me, the concept that they could not take off from Howland is not quite the slam dunk we both thought. I also have considered why not Rabaul airport? Maybe the reason they didn’t use it was because it had an even shorter and rougher runway or maybe it didn’t. Or maybe, like I said it was no advantage because they were heading for Truk to take some pictures and the difference in distance was not that much. So why do you think they reversed direction on 2nd flight? Why did they not use Rabaul? (Others have wondered the same thing but I have never seen a convincing reason why they didn’t.)
So I’ll leave it at that, tell me where I am wrong.
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If you’re accusing me of political correctness, it’s a cheap shot and you’re way off base. Give me one specific example where I have condemned the spy theory out of hand and without any qualifications. I’ll save you the effort — you can’t. Enough said.
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I wasn’t thinking of you specifically, Calvin. I just meant that my take is that most of the participants on this forum regard the spy theory as a little fringy. I’d rather hear your views on her flight than debate about whether my comment was inappropriate or not, if it was I apologize and it was certainly not directed at you. To clarify I am not now and never have been a pilot. So what little I know about flying in general is what I have learned as a result of my keen interest in the Amelia Earhart loss and other assorted flying mysteries.. I did take an introductory flying lesson and I didn’t crash the plane so I am not a hopeless case.
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Sorry Mike, I was thinking it was Calvin replying and it was you. I had on my mind that Calvin was telling me my theory was like a 007 spy movie, well it may be, but why can’t we address the specific issues I was promoting and if an expert pilot can show me where I am wrong, that’s fine. I might even learn something. I’m leaving on a hiking trip Fri and Sat so I won’t be on the blog for a couple days after tonight.
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OK David, I’ll let you slide this time! I’m anything but a PC kind of guy, and when you think of it, the very existence and premise of this blog, in today’s hyper-politicized media culture, is the very definition of political Incorrectness.
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There’s a big difference between being “politically correct” and being “circumspect” in one’s commentaries.
Now, was there some sort of clandestine, U.S. Government involvement in AE’s round-the-world flight? Who knows? I certainly don’t. However, there are enough of what I’d call “anomalies” and “red-flags,” that is to say things that just don’t seem quite right, that merit further scrutiny. For example, one nagging question that has always bothered me is, when the country was still in the firm grip of the Great Depression, the era of “Brother, can you spare a dime?” and when their students were living in attics, why would Purdue University’s Purdue Research Foundation spend $80,000.00 ($1,450,000.00 in today’s money) to buy AE an airplane in the first place? Why, after the Luke Field “takeoff fiasco” in which the Electra was absolutely trashed on 2 March 1937, wasn’t AE more upset or at least saying, “Well, I guess that’s that”? Instead, NR16020 was dismantled with U.S. Army Air Corps assistance, boxed up, shipped from Honolulu to California on the Matson Line’s S.S. Lurline and restored to as good if not better than new condition by Lockheed in Burbank in just short of two months time. By the way, those repairs cost $30,000.00 ($524,997.08 in today’s money.) Where did all that money come from? Somehow I don’t believe that a “mortgaged future” or Putnam “going hat-in-hand to friends” is a good enough answer. Yes, I’m sure someone (I’m picturing Redford as J. Gatsby) said, “Good grief, George! Amelia cracked up the plane? Oh well. No problem, old boy! Here’s more money. Take what you need. Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty!!!” I also find Treasury Secretary and FDR confidant Henry Morgenthau, Jr.’s 13 May 1938 telephonic outburst to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s secretary, Malvina “Tommy” Scheider in which he said, ‘…. Amelia Earhart absolutely disregarded all orders….” Very, VERY intriguing. Bottom line: I’m keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out. The only absolute, unshakable certainties for me are, AE and FN landed on Barre Island, Mili Atoll and died badly on Saipan as prisoners of the Japanese. THAT is non-negotiable.
Now, as for the possibility of a photo reconnaissance flight over Truk Atol, I personally doubt it, and here’s why, my friend: If it were feasible at all, it would have been at the very limits of the aircraft’s and, dare I say, the crew’s performance envelope. Also, would all the time, money, effort and risk have been worth the potential reward? What would any potential photos have revealed? Could a random, passing cumulus cloud have thwarted the entire mission? What if AE and FN were captured by the Japanese with a camera-laden Electra? The political and diplomatic blowback would have been off the chart! Then, consider a handful of strange, quiet Americans with a pile of steamer trunks (full of camera gear and tools) just showing up out of the blue in the small, tight-knit community of Caucasians at Lae to “service” the Electra prior to “the mission.” It would have raised too many questions and caused much too much undue attention.
Another big reason I don’t regard diverting to Truk to conduct a photo reconnaissance mission as viable is that such an operation is complicated and violates what I call the Rule of Simplicity. In short, there were just too many “moving parts,” too much to go wrong. Whether you are planning the parish picnic or the invasion of Panama, simplicity is key. Remember: “Murphy” always tags along on the manifest and what ever can go wrong will go wrong and will do so at the absolute worst possible moment, guaranteed. Therefore, “Keep it simple, Soldier.”
The list of reasons why a photo reconnaissance of Truk by AE and FN was NOT a wise, reasonable endeavor of acceptable risk goes on and on. Even so, do NOT feel like the Lone Ranger, David. I assure you, you are not. Back in 2012, I watched a program on C-SPAN entitled, “75th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart.” It consisted of a lecture by a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and rated (pilot) Flight Surgeon who went on at length about how he fervently believed AE and FN were on a photo reconnaissance mission over Truk! If you are interested in seeing it you might contact C-SPAN and request # 307184-1-DVD.
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Lockheed Report 487 says the range of the Electra owned by Earhart was:
The complete performance has been computed conservatively based on actual flight test results on Model 10E*. Fuel consumption data is based on results which have been obtained in flight with careful mixture control. To get a range of 4500 miles it will be necessary to calibrate the Cambridge Analyzer so that the fuel consumption curve shown on page 13 can be obtained.
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*Great article Mike and many THANKS to Calvin Pitt’s insight and analysis – *SUPER WORK.
What I don’t quite understand, is Amelia’s naive nature with the Japanese. She must have know about the fuel embargo, the U.S. government placed upon Japan. The tensions between the two countries. Did she really believe, her popularity wouldn’t be affected by this tension? We know what the outcome was, tit for tat.
Both the United States as well as Japan, should be ashamed of the secrecy, that has surrounded Amelia all these years. Why has it taken men, like Mike Campbell and Calvin Pitts and the few others who have shined the light the *TRUTH, why’ll our government has kept it all under raps? SHAME on our leaders, SHAME on their lack of consciences and SHAME on our MEDIA for pretending not to know!
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DAVID, WILLIAM, IAN, DOUG:
Your comment, David, about “politically correct” is very INCORRECT. You’ll find few people more opposed to PC than Mike, with whom I identify 110%. One of the worst insults you could direct at me is to use the label PC. So, in future discussions, if you want to shut them down, just accuse me of being PC.
RE: the “SPY scenario,” I haven’t put enough in writing for you to know my position. At first, when Amelia was just a name with no research involved, I totally dismissed the idea. It was absurd. Then, after untold hours of research, one would have to be brain-dead not to see government intrusion in every Earhart event.
That made the MILITARY CONNECTION more than just a little obvious. But the issue for me was, “to what extent?”
Was our military stupid enough to select a neophyte with absolutely no training, to be a “SPY”? And the same goes for “aerial surveillance”? What did she know about things which required very specialized training? That would be tantamount to asking her to fly a Boeing 747.
Is there anyone other than certain politicians really that dumb? There are, and some of them are my friends. So when I use the word “dumb,” I’m saying it with tongue-in-cheek and with a smile. Believe me, no one came be dumber than me at times.
So that left me with the tension of a quandary. It was easy to see the fingerprints of the military all over the place, but was I willing to sell my brain for a cockamamie story? Not in this life. So what was the resolution? I wrestled with it, because once being an active pilot, and now an active researcher, I wanted to know only one thing — the truth.
Through many years of experience, I found myself always going back to a principle I adopted when friends were launching into orbit with Superman scenarios. Mine were always less colorful, theirs more interesting . . . but it didn’t change what I was coming to believe.
That belief is very simple … maybe even simpleminded. But it comprises one of my beliefs. Because we are all guilty of constantly “overlooking the obvious,” an issue I wrote about years ago on another subject, I found myself falling back to this question: Look again, and again. What are you overlooking?
I illustrated that in a previous posting. By using Google Earth, I repeatedly calculated the approximate heading the Electra would need to fly to the Gilberts …VS… a heading to the Marshalls. I was not able to get a heading to the Gilberts which would also get me to the Marshalls unless, of course, there was a hurricane-force crosswind, which there was not. They had a tailwind, based upon 1937 published weather maps.
Once I saw such a simple thing come to life, something I had previously overlooked, then a greater point became obvious — the Electra did not get to the Marshalls on its own. A decision, a deliberate choice, a mind with the INTENT of going to the Marshalls was guiding the plane there.
At that point, I knew that the flight to the Marshalls was intentional. It was obvious when I saw such a simple oversight.
THAT illustrates the concept of looking for the simple solution to ragged, complex questions.
With regard to the MILITARY CONNECTION, what was I overlooking? Keep it simple, stupid (KISS).
And then it hit me. The government DID want something out of Amelia, but not turning her into something for which she was totally unqualified. What was that something? That, my friend, is the entire subject of my still unpublished MY EARHART SCENARIO.
But before I publish, perhaps you can spot it. It’s so simple that it has, in my opinion, been overlooked because of its very simplicity.
I’ll stop there. If interested, I’ll respond to other things in yours and the other postings. But for now, this is long enough. There’s much more, but I’ll leave it to you and others whether or not this discussion continues.
Continuing it, however, is my pleasure. At 84, I don’t have too many friends left who really care about resolving the Amelia Quandary.
Fortunately, Mike is one of those to whom we owe a great debt for keeping this Blog alive. He is, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable on this subject of anyone I’ve ever met. When he and I disagree, I am quick to go back to the records in order to see what I’ve overlooked. Generally, it’s pretty obvious. But that’s the price one pays for being dumb.
For the truth,
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If the government did truly want to gather intelligence, and AE would have been deemed unqualified to do that, the “simplest” thing to do might have been advising her to get “lost” and give the Navy an excuse to embark on a very large search in the Mandated area, which of course Japan would not allow…..my 2 cent shot in the dark (wink!).
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Exactly the plot of 1943’s “Flight for Freedom” with Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray.
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Thanks William, I’ve searched for that on my cable system before without luck; found it on Amazon….I look forward to it.
Thanks so much for your kind words and vote of confidence. We’re honored to have you fully on board here, and your ongoing analysis has been a great addition to the blog. Your natural humility — which I lack — compels you to self-deprecation, but you are anything except “dumb” about the Earhart matter. You’ve shown yourself to be one of the most intelligent and informed people in the Earhart community, and I hope you will continue to contribute to the good cause for many years to come.
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Just a follow-up to my own previous comments regarding the C-SPAN DVD I mentioned entitled, “75th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart.” The lecture was presented on 21 July 2012 in Warrenton, VA as part of the Fauqier Heritage Institute lecture series. The speaker was Dr. White Wallenborn.
I talked to and corresponded with Dr. Wallenborn in 2012, because his was the first and only CPSPAN, establishment presentation that was favorable to Fred Goerner’s work, though he wasn’t nearly as vehement about the truth as I would have liked. On the other hand, his program was an honest, straightforward discussion of the facts as he saw them, unlike the History Channel’s deceitful propaganda drill. A good guy, he’s now 89, and I haven’t heard from him for quite a while.
I checked with my father-in-law to see if he knew Dr. Wallenborn when he was flying B-47’s with SAC. He did not.
If anyone’s interested, Dr. Wallenborn’s “75th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart” lecture may be seen at the following site:
By the way, nice words about Calvin. He is the real deal and part of a breed that is, sadly, becoming fewer and fewer; an “old school” gentleman and an aviator of the type whom Ernest K. Gann used to write.
Thank you, Calvin, for sharing your thoughts, research and insights with the rest of us on Mike’s blog. I can honestly say, I have been hanging on every word and can see all of this with better understanding.
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I was at a presentation last night here in NH about the grand old hotels in the White Mtns. and the presenter was talking about the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton woods and he oddly believed that the peace treaty for the Russo-Japanese war was signed there. It was actually the Bretton Woods world monetary agreement that was worked out in 1944 at Bretton Woods. But someone said that peace treaty was signed in Portsmouth NH. What? I thought.
But it’s true it was signed at the shipyard in Kittery Maine. Now I have read that the reason the Japanese won the war was because they were financed by U.S. banks and interests. Similar to Hitler being financed by wealthy U.S. people. So why would the US want the Japs to become a world power as opposed to Russia? Which that war accomplished. Who thought it was a great idea that Japan got the mandated islands? I don’t remember that Japan was instrumental in the Allies victory in WW1.
Only 32 years before her flight. (By the way I just read the oil embargo was July 1941) Was there a grand plan that Forrestal was apparently involved in to keep the Japs as the dominant power in the Pacific? Was AE’s flight to the Marshalls not quite a spy mission? Now consider that the outcome of the war with Japan was never in doubt but a lot of money was made by the Military Industrial Complex. Did her flight actually serve the long range designs of some powerful people or factions? Am I complicating this too much? There are a multitude of strange unexplained discrepancies in her loss.
Maybe the first flight was real, just Putnam trying to make some money. But to me the 2nd flight was definitely a government operation. Somebody on this blog suggested there were 3 copies of C/N 1055 built by Lockheed and I don’t happen to think that they just patched up her wrecked plane and sent her off on a very dangerous itinerary for her day. David Billings fervently believes that Lockheed was honest in their listing of the 10Es built and they are all accounted for except hers. I doubt that Lockheed was so honest especially while they were vying for government contracts for the upcoming war. I think what I am saying in this rambling post was the USA/Japanese war was not as black & white as the pre-war propagandists would have you believe.