Did Earhart switch planes during world flight?

Most observers of the Amelia Earhart saga are well aware of the longstanding speculation that a plane change gone wrong during one of Amelia’s many stops along the route of her 1937 world-flight attempt might have contributed to the fliers’ doom, or in some way unlocks some key aspect of the so-called “Earhart Mystery.”  If only we could locate at least one of these planes, the thinking goes, the rest of the puzzle might just fall into place.

The scenarios range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and I won’t include examples of the latter that can be found in a few of the books that exemplify Fred Goerner’s lunatic fringein this post.  Among the serious, well-researched theories, we have Paul Rafford Jr.’s The Case for the Earhart Miami Plane Change,” posted here on Nov. 14, 2014 and Dec. 5, 2016, and I’ve continued to wonder about the possibilities inherent in David Billings’ still viable New Britain theory.

Please understand that I’m not taking a pro or con position relative to whether Amelia might have changed planes at some point during her world flight.  I simply don’t know, and so I present the ideas of researchers with definite, more finely honed and better-educated opinions.  We’ve already seen the ideas of Paul Rafford Jr., who strongly believed a plane change happened in Miami.

Next we’ll examine the evidence presented by Bill Prymak, who strongly disagreed with Rafford.  One of them was wrong, of course.  The following is the first of two provocative pieces that appeared in Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, this in the November 1998 edition.

By Bill Prymak

Several serious researchers over the years have bandied about the possibility that AE, for some secretive covert reason, switched planessomewhere along the route.”  Strong anecdotal evidence backs these folks, but I have recently come across another way to identify her airplane as it flew some 22,000 miles from Oakland to Lae, New Guinea.  I call it a “signature.”

Undated, rare photo of Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E with painted cowlings.  Note also “R” registration, meaning “Restricted,” without the “N” which denotes country of origin, in this case, the United States.  (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

Aluminum aircraft skin production in the mid 1930s was a new, burgeoning science, and the process produced various different tones and shades, even from sheet-to-sheet off the same lot.  So, each tone or shade becomes a unique signature, and if we study the rear half of the left vertical rudder below the horizontal stabilizer as illustrated on the blow-up below you will find that the same dark shade consistently repeats itself on every photo I have ever seen as the plane wends its way around the world.

I have only included in this NEWSLETTER five photos showing this unique signature, and I would certainly like to expand my file on this issue.  If anybody out there has a photo of AE’s airplane with the above signature clearly shown, please send a clear copy to me, it’ll be deeply appreciated.

Amelia with brand-new Electra, July 1936. Note “dark signature” in rear half of the left vertical rudder.  (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

Lockheed Aircraft Company photo taken July 28, 1936.  Prymak’s comment: “P.R. photo before second flight.  Note bar in window, no DF (direction finder) loops, light colored logo and Prymak signature.  Further note solid cabin door.” (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

Caripito, Venezuela, June 3, 1937.  Amelia wrote, “Rain clouds hung thick about Caripito as we left on the morning of June third.  We flew over jungles to the coast, and then played hide-and-seek with showers until I decided I had better forgo the scenery, such as it was, and climb up through the clouds into fair weather.  An altitude of 5,000 feet topped all but the highest woolly pinnacles. . . . Soon we saw the river Surinam, a silver streak meandering to the coast, a wide tidal stream full of floating green islands of small trees and water plants, and bordered with vast stretches of mud. Twelve miles from its mouth is Paramaribo, capital of Dutch Guiana, and twenty-five miles further inland the airport. . . . No makeshift airport this, but one of the best natural landing areas I have ever seen.”  (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

In the March 2000 edition of the AES Newsletters, we find a more extensive photo essay by Bill Prymak, with plenty of information that was lacking in his first piece.  Thus, a few photos are repeated to avoid confusion.  (Caps and underline emphasis Prymak’s.)


The feeding frenzy continues to this day . . . rumors, stories, swear-accounts, and positive documentation that Earhart flew more than one airplane on her final flight.  Some of the “documentation” pointing to multiple airplanes is pretty darned good, suggesting government involvement with cloak-and-dagger overtones, spy missions, a second Electra 10 being shipped to Australia, all making great reading for the conspiracy-hungry American public, but sadly, the true-grit hard copy proof still remains elusive.

This analysis is presented after searching through Lockheed Documents, Purdue Library SPECIAL COLLECTIONS papers and CAA documents, which together give an accurate and objective perspective of the events of May 1936 thru July 2nd 1937 re: the acquisition and registration of her airplane, plus an in-depth study of the timing and implantation of the various modifications, alterations and additions done to her ship during the above period.  The author bears no pre-conceived opinion re: the multi-plane theory.  Let the chips (and the facts), fall as they may.


May 16, 1936: George Putnam telegraphs Bob Gross, President of the LOCKHEED CORPORATION, directing him to proceed with the construction of Amelia’s LOCKHEED ELECTRA 10E, but, for confidentiality reasons, GP orders Gross to temporarily name CLARA LIVINGSTON as purchaser until the aircraft is delivered to Earhart on July 24 with the assigned registration number of 16020.  It’s appropriate at this time to discuss the Lockheed Electra 12A discovered on Mount Tierfort, Bicycle Lake Calif., in 1961 by Joe Gervais, bearing the same registration number, N16020.  With the serial number 1243, and delivered 12 May 1937, this airplane acquired a strange twist of fate when it was later purchased by PAUL MANTZ, technical advisor to Earhart on her final flight.  In June of 1957 Mantz requested and obtained a change from the aircraft’s existing registration N 60775 to N 16020 (the number on Amelia’s lost aircraft, but lacking the “R”), and the 12A still had that number when it crashed in 1961.


Earhart’s airplane, delivered to her on July 24, 1936, had a single window at each side, but by the end of the year it had been extensively modified with six cabin fuel tanks, four filler ports instead of the original two, and two windows added: one in the entrance door and another opposite in the fuselage for a total of four.  These two added windows were larger than normal and were optically flat, for accurate celestial navigational purposes.  Later, just before her second attempt, the starboard large window was removed and the fuselage skinned over.  This appears as a bright shiny patch easily seen on photographs taken at Miami, circa June 1, 1937.

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TheR designation, plus the Hooven-faired DF housing on top of the fuselage, plus the solid door, plus the shiny new metal all-around, dates the above photograph pre-November, 1936.  Also note the light-coloredlogo on the right rudder.  Further note the horizontal bar in the side window, the purpose of which still baffles researchers.

P.S. Note the dark “Prymak” signature, the vertical left bottom rudder rear section that seems to ubiquitously find its way right up to Lae New Guinea.

After July 1936, Amelia’s aircraft adorned the registration number of X 16020 as seen in the photo below (Xdesignated factory test work).

R 16020 was seen on the aircraft when she entered the BENDIX AIR RACE in September 1936, at which time the engine cowlings were painted in a New Zealand motif.  The R designation was requested Aug. 6 and approved the next day.  On Sept. 21, 1936 the Bureau of Air Commerce finally approved NR 16020, but the aircraft continued to display R 16020 well into the end of 1936.

Prymak’s comment: “Note the protruding top of the wing navigation) light, and the horizontal bar in the window, plus the dark logo.” (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

This photo of AE on same day as previous photo.  Note two-filler-hole
fuel fill system, but this seven-tank fuel system was removed shortly thereafter and only six tanks went back in, and the two-fill tube manifold system was dropped in favor of each tank having its own filler neck.  This resulted in the four (plus one blank ) filler-hole system, as seen on all photos taken thereafter right up to Lae, NG.  (Courtesy Bill Prymak.)

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The photo below taken late October 1936 shows the FRED HOOVEN DF dome, solid door, dark-colored logo, bar in window and bottom protruding wing navigation light.  Trailing antenna fairlead is also clearly shown at rear of airplane.

The photo below shows the post-crash mess at Luke Field, Hawaii.  Note the door has built-in window.

Photo below, arriving back in the states, shows ADF loop, larger rear starboard window, and large dark fuselage panel, just above right wing.  This dark panel can also serve as asignature for photos in other locations.

Photo below shows well-documented Miami June 1 takeoff.  Note the shiny new patch over rear window, our side fuselage dark panel over the wing, the dark long skinny panel over the two windows, visible in both photos, and it becomes apparent that both photos show the same airplane.

The Electra taxis for take-off on Amelia’s all-fated round-the-world flight Miami, Fla., June 1, 1937.

The Lockheed drawing below shows the configuration of the aircraft just before her May 20 departure on the second attempt.  As noted on the drawing, the flush navigation lights appear, probably because the new right wing installed after the crash had the flush design already incorporated into the wing, necessitating the left wing to be similarly configured.  Note 4+1 filler ports, window in door, and dark logo.


Prymak’s comment: “Quite a crowd at Assab, Eritrea, Africa, June 15.  Note window in door, dark logo and dark right rudder.”

Karachi, Pakistan, June 17. “Again, window in door, dark logo and the ‘Prymak’ dark lower fin,” Prymak wrote.  In her book, Last Flight, Amelia wrote, “In Karachi I was told that a non-stop flight from the Red Sea to India had not previously been made.  Certainly with or without stops it is no hackneyed route.  For me, who had never flown outside of North America (excepting a couple of oceans) this bit of far-away air adventuring was a deeply interesting experience.” 

And finally, conspiracy buffs get all cranked up over a photo like this, claiming all kinds of sinister things like positive proof-another airplane,but this most likely was just another PR stunt (for which AE was famous) with the letter E painted or taped on the right side. E for what? EXLAX?


What can we deduce from the previous photos?

1.  The cabin door was certainly windowed around January 1937.  I have found no work orders to confirm actual date of installation.

2.  The bar in the window vanishes before the first round-the-world-attempt March 15 — clothes rack for Fred?

3.  Right side second large window [was] skinned over and shown as “new, shiny aluminum” before AE left for Miami.  But why would they cover an oversized window fitted with optically perfect glass for Fred’s navigational work?

4.  The mystery of the 4+1 fuel ports pretty well explained on previous pages.

5.  The navigation lights were installed when the new right wing was installed during the factory repair days, March 30 to May 20, 1937.

6.  The airplane sports the Hooven domed DF antenna housing in the fall of 1936, then it falls out of favor to the loop antenna, which remains on the airplane until the very end, Lae, New Guinea.  However, we still cannot explain Paul Rafford’s close friend Bob Thibert stating that at Miami he was instructed to install an open DF loop on NR 16020, where he found only VIRGIN SKIN ABOVE THE CABIN.  Should we invoke the faded memory clause at this time as one possible answer?  (End of “HOW MANY DIFFERENT AIRPLANES DID SHE REALLY FLY?”)

Your comments are of course welcomed.

37 responses

  1. I agree with *Mike, that there was no plane change. As he points out, it’s more than obvious, it’s the same plane. I thought the reason behind, this around the world flight, was to prove that a single plane, could be flown around the world. For them to have switched to another plane, half way or three quarters through this journey, would have contradicted the whole reason for doing so. I can certainly see, adjustments to the aircraft, with the weight, fueling and antenna receptions, but not with an entirely identical aircraft.



  2. Frankly, I think the whole idea of switching Electras in Miami or anywhere else is a blind alley and a huge distraction. The first questions in my mind are “Why?” and “To what purpose?” So far, I’ve seen no plausible reason to switch aircraft; only unsupported speculation. Additionally, the logistics of secretly switching Electras and keeping it all quiet would be a risky and very difficult if not impossible task requiring perfect timing and coordination to execute. It violates the rule of simplicity.

    If a switch of aircraft was to be made at all, the time and place to do it was during the post-accident repair and rebuild at Lockheed in Burbank. And, even in that controlled environment with limited access, it still would have required much careful planning and attention to detail — especially as it pertains to the extensive paper trail of aircraft maintenance and repair logs, parts and sub-component inventories, etc. — to keep things quiet and not arouse undue curiosity and suspicions.

    All best,



  3. I was not aware that such a thorough investigation had been done by Prymak. It certainly proves that she had the same plane all the way to Lae, and there is no way I can think of she could have changed planes after that. The plane might have had some improvements after the crash, but it certainly doesn’t look like they could have given her a whole new plane as Randall Brink asserts.
    I noticed today on Facebook that there is or was a group looking for her plane in New Britain, couldn’t find any further info on that. That might be something David Billings started. At the best he might find that the engine with C/N 1055 tagged onto it was taken from her original plane and installed on another 10E or the whole thing is a hoax, although I don’t know what purpose that would serve. I give up on the plane switch theory.


  4. I read “THE CASE FOR THE AMELIA EARHART MIAMI PLANE CHANGE” by Paul Rafford; he says Bob Thibert was told to install a new radio loop the morning before her departure (May 31?), yet AE arrived in Miami with a DF Loop already installed. I came across an AP article entitled “Earhart at Miami On Test Flight of Rebuilt Airplane” (Miami, May 23,1937) and the last paragraph states “Pan-American Airways loaned her two technicians to install in her plane a radio direction finder similar to those used by the airline on its ships in South American and Pacific flights”. I know the “Daily Express” didn’t have a loop installed. Something seems to be off with regard to the DF.


    1. Thanks Tom. Your find tends to support Paul Rafford’s belief, and the Miami DF installation becomes more of a substantiated incident.
      Photos of the Electra during the flight show the same Bendix DF loop. So what are we to think?



    2. Tom,

      It sounds to me like the DF loop antenna installed by Paul Mantz was replaced with yet another by the PAA technicians in Miami. And, to what purpose? Very confusing!

      Is there a link to the 23 May 1937 AP article? I’d sure like read it.

      All best,



      1. Thomas L Williams

        AE arrived in Miami on May 23rd, and the Daily Express on May 24th; Paul Rafford wrote “The two airplanes were secretly swapped and the Daily Express was turned over to Pan Am’s mechanics. They then prepared it for the world flight, never suspecting they were not working on Earhart’s original Electra”.

        The trailing antenna was removed from AE’s plane and Rafford said “Although Earhart could dispense with the trailing antenna, she did need a loop and a more efficient fixed antenna. This is where Pan Am came into the picture. Radio mechanic Lynn Michaelfeller would lengthen the fixed antenna and Bob Thiebert would install a loop”. At this point then (per Rafford), there were 2 Pan Am mechanics working on the Daily Express. As Mike pointed out, the article tends to support Paul Rafford’s belief. I think the article implies the installation was done soon after arrival, but Bob Thiebert said he installed the new loop on May 31st, so there’s that also.

        In 1992 Rafford asked Bob Thiebert “during the installation had he seen any evidence of where previous loops might have been mounted? He said, “No,” and was quite surprised when I told him that at one time or another there had been at least two other loops mounted on Earhart’s plane. Bob had found only virgin skin where loops are mounted”.

        Even if the new loop was mounted on the Daily Express, it seems the other evidence including the aircraft skin “signatures” still shows AE flew the original to (and took off from) Lae. As far as the Daily Express is concerned, who knows?

        I found the article on newspapers.com (it was carried by the Tampa Tribune on May 24,1937). I was unable to find a way to provide a link (I have a subscription).


  5. William H. Trail | Reply


    Many thanks for the information about the newspaper article. It’s much appreciated.

    The whole scenario of multiple changes of DF loop antennas, possibly switched out Electras, differing fuselage windows and varying shades of aluminum skin is mind boggling. Who knows, indeed? My take is that AE and FN took off from Miami in the original Electra, Serial #1055 and flew it all the way to Barre Island, Mili Atoll.

    All best,


  6. I was going to give up on this subject, I thought, what difference would it make if she did switch planes? Even if she flew a souped-up L12 as Brink claims (which seems impossible) then, so what? Her original plane seemed perfectly capable of flying to Howland or Mili. I should re-read TTAL to see why Devine was certain it was her plane at Aslito field and I don’t remember exactly the story about someone stealing a slip of paper out of his pants pocket. Does this have something to do with her apparently being on some kind of a spy mission? There is not enough info available to me to even speculate.

    But the reason I write today is that I was reading this week’s story from Ric Gillespie that for some reason pop up on my Google News on my phone. Google must have some kind of system where they spy on everyone and when they find an interest in AE they send out these press releases to confuse their presumably simpleton readers about AE. Kind of creepy. So anyway, Ric says he has come across some old forgotten movie film of her appearance and take-off at Lae. This will presumably prove in some way the existence of an aluminum patch on her plane which turned up on Gardner Island.

    I thought this idea was long disproved. So there are some tiny pictures on my phone which supposedly show the patch on the right side of her plane, but he is awaiting the restoration of the brittle old film so I don’t know where the pictures shown came from. It would be interesting if he does find pictures at Lae showing the right side of her plane and the signature section of aluminum in the middle of the plane does not show up. The suspense is killing me.


  7. I just discovered a new video about AE that may or may not present some new facts or theories. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP-tFBdRLcQ

    He says instruments from her plane were found at Aslito Field in 1991 or in the nineties? I never heard that. Is that true? One of the comments states that the Japanese didn’t use Truk as a military base until 1939? Is that wrong? Why then would she fly over it in 1937? Then I thought, (never mind the Akagi and the Zeros) what if it dawned on the Japs that she had just flown over their secret base on Truk and they sent some fighter planes in pursuit. Could they have possibly forced her to fly to the Marshalls? Told her over the radio to keep quiet or they would shoot her down? Sounds outlandish, but so does every other explanation. Could the radio reports from the Itasca have been completely falsified? I guess anything is possible. Just saying.


    1. Nothing from her plane was found at Aslito Field, period, end of story.

      From “The War in the Pacific”

      World War II in Chuuk

      Japan took control of Micronesia from 1914 and under a veil of secrecy developed the region to its liking. Following on with its war with China which began in 1931, Japan initiated a war with the USA in the Pacific and as part of this war, they established major bases in Micronesia, one of them being Truk Lagoon. It became the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Fourth Fleet base from November 1939 and the Combined Japanese Navy Fleet were based there from July 1942 to February 1944. Truk Lagoon was regarded by the USA during World War II as the strongest naval base in the Pacific with the exception of Pearl Harbor. Over 37,000 Japanese lived and worked in Truk Lagoon, dominating the 9,000 Chuukese until the end of the war in September 1945.

      The veil of secrecy that Japan surrounded the whole of Micronesia helped fuel American suspicion on whether Japan was establishing military bases in the region. The speed with which Japan struck Pearl Harbor and then captured bases such as Guam, the Philippines and Rabaul was facilitated by the ships and aircraft based in Micronesia and at Truk Lagoon.

      Five airstrips and seaplane bases were built in Truk Lagoon, some initially as civilian facilities, and they were quickly converted to military use. As the war progressed, only minimal repair facilities, fortifications and defences were established and when the Japanese Army arrived en masse in January 1944, they considered the base was poorly equipped to defend itself. The army established numerous coastal defence and anti-aircraft guns, pillboxes, bunkers, and caves in preparation for an amphibious invasion but this was of little use against the 18 month period aerial bombardment which began in February 1944. Truk Lagoon was also greatly hampered by American submarines which reduced the number of ships, equipment and personnel getting to and from the base. They sunk over 1000 large merchant vessels and about 300 Navy vessels during World War II.
      (End of Cited Material)

      Key phrase is “It became the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Fourth Fleet base from November 1939 and the Combined Japanese Navy Fleet were based there from July 1942 to February 1944.”

      It didn’t happen overnight. Truk was berthing plenty of warships in 1937, you can bet on that, and we didn’t have much good intel on everything going on there.


  8. Reading, Writing, Rhythm & Blues | Reply

    Did anyone ever wonder if maybe, for some reason unknown as yet, by AE “disobeying orders”, the “powers that be” felt they had the right to stop the whole thing at the last minute. What if the fliers were shot at and it hit the left wing, she managed to land it anyway yet nobody showed up for a week. Why a week. If Japs did it, they would have been right there picking them up. The Marshalls were building up their war industry in 1937. Posturing was already in progress in this area. There was a rogue group of Kempeitai and Navy officers already there, picking up stragglers. Also an active CIA training facility. Much earlier than anyone thinks.


    1. Reading et al,
      Not sure what you’re getting at. First of all the CIA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Intelligence_Agency) wasn’t created until September 1947. Please provide a source for this “CIA training facility” in 1937.

      If the Japs didn’t shoot the flyers down, who did?

      I’m not following.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Reading, Writing, Rhythm & Blues

        It was not called CIA, but was a fore runner of it. This is one article showing the progression, but even before that was U.S. presence and intelligence training facility on that island.file:///Users/JudyA/Documents/Stories/AE/CIA%20Website%20FOIA/History%20of%20the%20CIA%20—%20Central%20Intelligence%20Agency.webarchive


      2. Reading and Writing,

        Please be clear and say what you mean. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed in 1942, dissolved in 1945.

        Before OSS it was the Coordinator of Information, an intelligence and propaganda agency of the United States Government, founded on July 11, 1941, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, prior to U.S. involvement in the Second World War.

        Before Coordinator of Information, I know of no national agency for this function. So who was running this “training facility” in 1937? Was it the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the infamous author of the 1960 ONI Report, which I have written so much about? ONI was formed in 1882, but where is any evidence they were running a spy school in the Marshalls?

        The Naval Technical Training Unit (NTTU) on Saipan began circa 1950. (http://www.pacificworlds.com/cnmi/memories/memory3.cfm)

        So we have our agencies and terms straight now, but that’s about all.


        Liked by 1 person

  9. Reading, Writing, Rhythm & Blues | Reply

    Doesn’t it seem odd that nobody arrived to pick them up til a week later and it wasn’t our guys? I don’t know who would have shot them down. Not trying to be vague, just no proof. There was an intelligence or spy training in a rogue outpost on Saipan, with access to American newspapers and information. My old computer seized up a while back and lost a lot of data. Been trying to relocate it and will share with you asap.


    1. We still don’t know when the fliers were picked up, but the report of the fishing boat pickup appeared in The Japan Advertiser on July 13. (See pages 142, 143 TAL.)

      The Koshu arrived at Jaluit on July 13 and left Jaluit July 19. One researcher believes Koshu never left Jaluit during that time, and did not pick up the fliers. I simply don’t know when Koshu and the fliers were united, or if they ever were. We know Bilimon treated Noonan aboard a ship at Jaluit, and Koshu has always been assumed as the one. Its logs reflected a re-direction from Truk, or possibly Palau, to Saipan, which supports the nighttime unloading of the Electra on Saipan, according to Antonio Diaz’s account to Goerner. I’m not in the mood to look up the page number of The Search for Amelia Earhart at the moment!

      There was no “spy training in a rogue outpost on Saipan, with access to American newspapers and information” on Saipan in 1937. The Japanese were there and in total control, as only they could be.


      Liked by 1 person

  10. This blog article showed up in my inbox this week, not sure why. Or maybe it has been there since Feb. But since the point was mentioned that maybe the Koshu pictured in Jaluit harbor was not the ship that picked up the fliers and/or brought their plane to Saipan. Now that would put the famous picture in a different light.

    Les Kinney assumed the Koshu was sitting there in the harbor and let’s say, yes it was and that is a picture of it. Never mind for now whether that Koshu has the plane on a barge in tow. Probably doesn’t for the sake of argument. So very possibly that is Amelia and Fred on the dock. You might ask why would the Japs allow them to get off the Koshu and sit there? The answer is that they were never on the Koshu that is pictured. They are awaiting another ship. Now, back when this picture was being discussed, I pointed out that the picture of a ship on the stamp is most definitely NOT the picture of the Koshu in Jaluit Harbor.

    I spent an evening trying to research this and I really got bogged down and don’t want to try it again now that the story is not fresh in my mind. There were more than one Koshus and maybe a Koshu Maru was a different ship than the Koshu. The Koshu in the harbor was a German ship expropriated from the Germans after WW1. The Koshu on the stamp was a Japanese built vessel in 1909. I’m pretty sure of this (not 100% certain, of course) but maybe AE and Fred are waiting on the dock for the arrival of the Japanese Koshu which spent a few days picking up the plane while they had been transported very quickly to Jaluit way ahead of the boat now carrying their plane as on the stamp.

    Whether the 1909 Japanese built ship transported them and the plane to Saipan, I sure have no idea, but at least it would make it more plausible they could have been sitting on that dock while the KOshu pictured in the harbor had nothing to do with them at all. Last time I made this assertion I got pretty quickly dismissed. I know this adds a further degree of complexity that no one would really want to speculate on, and it matters very little except concerning the validity of the picture. Whew!


    1. Dave,

      I was wondering where you went, as we haven’t heard from you for a while. I see your imagination hasn’t dimmed over the months. You make a series of assumptions as well as false statements, all based on your acceptance of the claim that it’s Earhart and Noonan on the dock in the now infamous ONI photo. BTW, the History Channel fairly recently repeated its July 9, 2017 program, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” but this time they deleted the entire 13 minute-segment that promoted the idea that the ONI photo presented the doomed fliers, at least according to a good source.

      If indeed they did that, it seems the History Channel decision makers apparently came very late to the realization that the ONI photo and all the controversy that surrounded Les Kinney and Morningstar Entertainment’s claims were without merit, and so they decided to improve this program greatly by losing the ONI photo and sticking with the other presentations and witnesses, all of which were legitimate and supported the Marshalls-Saipan truth. Note that nobody else in the media has ever mentioned this change or followed up on any of the compelling accounts presented therein. They simply are not interested in Earhart on Saipan, preferring to keep the truth in their little shoebox marked “Fringe Conspiracy Theories” for the reasons I’ve constantly stressed here and in Truth at Last.

      The ship in the right background has been ID’d as the Koshu, and in this I have no problem. If Les wishes to re-discuss what he thinks about what this photo depicts, he is of course welcome.

      The best and most-often cited of the Marshalls eyewitnesses of course is Bilimon Amaron, who as 16-year-old hospital corpsman was called aboard a ship to treat a while man’s knee injury, while a white woman the crew called “Meelya, Meelya,” looked on. (See pages 145-149 TAL for Bilimon’s account to various researchers.) Never did Bilimon state to anyone that the white and woman he saw on the Japanese ship (no name given) ever left it.

      We also have a mountain of evidence that tells us of the presence of Amelia Earhart on Kwajalein, where a native woman named Mera Phillips actually cooked for her and where former Marine W.B. Jackson told Goerner that while he was on Namur Island in 1944, three Marines found a suitcase in a barracks room that was “fitted up for a woman, with a dresser in it.” The suitcase contained a woman’s clothing, newspaper articles about Earhart, and a “locked diary engraved 10-Year Diary of Amelia Earhart.” Jackson ordered the Marines to turn over the articles to intelligence and never heard about it again. See pages 130-132 and 150-155 TAL for far more.)

      Based on that and much more, it’s clear that the fliers did not arrive on Saipan via ship from Jaluit, but by plane from Kwajalein.



      1. David Atchason


        I haven’t replied to your last couple of posts mainly because of a sense of futility. All I am doing is speculating and even if my speculations were proved true, it doesn’t make much difference in the overall story. I will reread the pages you refer to today and see what I can learn. I still believe the photo is genuine although I wouldn’t bet my farm on it. Les Kinney’s reasoning makes sense to me. I had no idea that History Channel rebroadcast the program, I do not follow their schedule at all.

        Sometimes I suspect that HC has to go along with the government (deep state) line on some issues even though they well know they are presenting disinformation in order to be allowed to show some new revelation. I believe that HC was convinced by Kinney that the photo was probably genuine or they wouldn’t have featured it. So then came the very dubious debunk from the “Jap researcher.” Which looked like it was already concocted beforehand just waiting to be sprung. It got a lot of publicity, didn’t it? The message to the folks at HC was that this is the official Jap/CIA line and don’t contest it. Period. When the Marshalls debunked the “Jap debunk” with their official contention that the picture couldn’t have been taken in 1935 because the pier wasn’t built until 1936, the HC could hardly publicize that without getting into sending out a press release (a la Nikumaroro) which would look petty and they knew enough to just shut up and let the debunk go unchallenged. In other words,do not step on Japanese/American alliance toes. All the more reason for me to believe the picture was real.

        The repatriated German Koshu just happened to be there while AE and Fred were there. Now we know from the stamp that the Japanese Koshu carried their plane on its deck so the whatever that was behind the Koshu in the photo was not her plane. I doubt that they would tow the plane on a barge all the way to Saipan. Way too risky. As I said I have no idea if AE would make the voyage with her plane on board the Jap Koshu. Probably not, as she would be unavailable for interrogation for what? A week? She was far too important at that time and place to put her out of reach on what was already an old and obsolete ship. The “German ” Koshu was probably just about as old. They must have debarked from whatever boat Bilimon treated them on, possibly just some old interisland steamer.

        The theory that the Japs chased her and forced her to fly to Mili seems not impossible. They could have forced her to land on Truk and then had her take off again and fly to the Marshalls although that sounds outlandish. Was there an airfield in the Marshalls at that time where she could land? Maybe not. I could blather on but I think I’ll take a break for now.


      2. David,

        Nobody has said that the ONI photo wasn’t “real,” but this real ONI photo, found in unclassified archives by Les Kinney in 2012 or thereabouts, simply doesn’t depict anyone who can be identified as Earhart or Noonan. The person sitting on the deck of the dock can’t even be identified as male or female by an honest, objective observer. You are far too eager to buy this red herring, and this is where your analysis breaks down.

        The HC’s deletion of the 13-minutes they originally devoted to the sensational ONI photo claim strengthens their anti-establishment message in this program, and is really the only notable thing that has happened since July 2017 relative to this matter. If anything, they are now going against the deep state, rather than produce and broadcast disinformation as they did with the original program, which was preceded by the blockbuster NBC News announcement that drove interest through the roof. Don’t forget that aspect of this drill. They knew exactly what they were doing, and it was not to alert the public that a huge piece of evidence had been uncovered in the Earhart “mystery,” as they pretended. They knew the photo would be rejected because they weren’t blind, but happily engaged in pretending this was real so that the Saipan “theory” could be further discredited when the inevitable debunking ensued.

        Am I getting through to you yet? If not, at least I tried.



  11. David Atchason | Reply

    To be sure, it’s a long stretch to identify those two as AE and Fred, although the man does resemble Fred. My case is more circumstantial. That is, the photo was taken after 1936 and also at a time when the Koshu was there. So let’s say it was in July 1937. What non-Micronesian looking couple would be sitting on a dock while the Koshu was anchored there? I think the answer is there was no one on Jaluit that fit that description. Maybe there was a white missionary couple on Jaluit that could be them but I never saw a picture of them. Maybe if we did see such a couple we might say yes, there is a resemblance. Would any non-natives be allowed to move about freely and sit and watch a Jap Naval Vessel at that time? I don’t think so. That’s where my logic takes me.

    In the case of disinformation, don’t they take a true fact in a story and debunk it in order to discredit the rest of the story which is much less concrete? I thought this was a standard technique. Did HC fall for this trick? I guess they did.


    1. I know it’s been said that there couldn’t have been any Caucasians on Jaluit during this time frame, so these “white-looking” people on the dock had to be the fliers. I don’t buy this back-door kind of reductive reasoning at all. There’s absolutely no way to prove that no other white people could have been on Jaluit in 1937. I don’t care who says it or what their source is, which BTW I’ve never seen. These people on the dock, who can’t be identified to begin with, could have come from just about anywhere. Just take a look at the ships in the harbor!

      What is it about this photo that makes you want to believe the phony bill of goods that came with it so badly?



  12. David Atchason | Reply

    Whether it’s them or not, the more interesting part is how quickly an apparently phony debunker appeared. I wonder if it’s the same department that puts out the frequent Nikumaroro press releases and the aluminum panel stories which appear in the middle of my Google news stories where they appear to the general public as being perfectly legitimate claims?


    1. Yes indeed, isn’t it interesting? You’re asking the right questions now.



      1. I stumbled on this little you tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NoudN-u1wA I don’t know if you have seen it, maybe you have. A little interesting tidbit about some Lockheed engineer installing a giant spy camera in her plane. Sounds plausible. The part about her landing her plane on Saipan sounds kind of doubtful, though.

        However, that’s not of much significance. Let’s get back to THE PICTURE. Still obsessing. But not about who the people may be. I believe I am right about this next assertion. Did you know her plane is in the picture? I say it is. No, not behind that large ship. That’s not the Koshu even though Les Kinney seems to think it is, so don’t look there. I believe there is a reason for this picture to be important enough to be placed in an ONI file. It probably has nothing to do with the people sitting on the dock. But there is a good reason. It’s a bit of a riddle, you might say. You can go over the picture with a magnifying glass and you will not see the plane but it is there. Let me know if you want the answer. I may be making a fool of myself, but I can handle that.


      2. Art Crino is full of it, likely a disinformation agent spewing lies about cameras and landing on Saipan. His videos are not helpful to the cause of the truth. Please tell us the answer to your riddle! I think the plane is sitting on the stern of the Koshu, and while we’re at it, please tell us how you so sure the ship isn’t the Koshu.



  13. Just a minor correction as I’m still digging into this. A closer examination shows you CAN see the plane. Go find it. I don’t know why Les Kinney and History Channel missed it.


  14. I don’t know what the prominent ship in the foreground is, It could be the repatriated German ship the Japs apparently named the Koshu. That doesn’t matter.

    Take a look at the ship to the left in the background. You know what that ship is? It’s the Japanese Koshu built in Kobe in 1911 and sunk in 1945. It is the ship illustrated on the Marshallese stamp. No doubt about it in my mind. And what is on the forward deck? Clearly, there sits her plane as big as life and the dimension are correct. The Jap Koshu was 90.9 meters, 298 feet. Her plane was 38 feet. Get out a ruler and measure it. It’s a match. Bingo! I say.


  15. As you can see from your own picture of the Koshu above, it looks nothing like the prominent ship in the foreground, whatever it is even if Les says it’s the Koshu. The ship in the background of the picture is the one in your picture. Will the real Koshu please stand up? It is difficult to comprehend what kind of disinformation is going on with this episode. Maybe the Nikumaroro/disinfo people are not intelligent enough to see what really was important about this picture. Or maybe it is all an Alice in Wonderland tale. One must remember there was more than one Koshu perhaps several.


  16. Just a curiosity, but when I Googled Koshu months ago it was easy to find the info on the Jap Koshu. Now it’s completely gone, although the pictures are still on. I went to Bing to find the info on the 1911 Koshu. Hmmmm. I hope I don’t get a visit from The Men in Black.


  17. David Atchason | Reply

    The show, the discussion, the contrived identification of AE and Fred, the Japanese debunk, the whole shebang is what is called a “red herring.” IMHO Probably on purpose to discredit in general the true story.


    1. David,

      That much we can certainly agree on! A close look at the big ship in the left background does reveal something that might possible be a plane! I hadn’t seen it before, but you have indeed uncovered something that needs further investigation. I never went behind Les as far as identifying the ship in the right background, as I accepted his ID of the Koshu. I’m not going to put any words into his mouth at his point, but he did tell me something about the ship in the left background, something he hasn’t said yet in any of our discussions.

      It’s the bow of the ship where this possible plane is located, however, and Bilimon Amaron was consistent in saying the silver plane he saw was attached to the “stern” and “back of the ship.” Could he have really been that stupid, not to be able to tell the difference?

      Thanks for your diligence in staying with your instincts on this, we all appreciate new information and insights.



      1. When it first occurred to me that the background ship was the Koshu, I thought that the plane was obscured by that sail covering the stern area. Then I looked a little more and presto what did I see on the bow? I will admit that I am not the first to see a plane on the bow, but I am the one that realized the ship was the real Koshu. It always puzzled me where Les got the idea that the foreground ship was the Koshu.

        I tried to tell you there were at least 2 Koshus but you didn’t seem to understand what I was getting at. If the foreground ship was the German reparations Koshu that would be bizarre. On the stamp, and I am unsure where the artist got the info, it shows the plane hanging from the stern. I happen to think there is no way they are going to sail to Saipan with the plane swinging on cables. They must have transferred it to the bow, somehow, somewhere and Bilimon did not see that action.

        The Koshu might have been equipped to salvage planes and they would have had a technique to do that. I notice the bow mast seems to be missing, I don’t know if masts were removable we need a merchant marine sailor to tell us that. I wrote an email to Morningstar but fat chance they will respond. I read Dick Spink’s article in the college newspaper there are a few details I didn’t know and he refers to Riemer’s tale of an underground clinic where Fred was treated. Did you ever hear of this? Can you still contact Les Kinney?


      2. I think Les will respond to your new insights when he can. I never know where he is or what he’s doing. Of course I can contact him, but I’ll give him some time. Be patient!


      3. VERY interesting David; I didn’t think the image at the stern of the ship on the right was ANY kind of airplane, let alone the Electra; the image at the bow of the ship in the left background however could be an airplane for sure. There is smoke coming from the stack but who knows if the ship is underway.


  18. David Atchason | Reply

    For what it’s worth…….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htgvlP2hEUI&lc=z23expdquoqdifj1dacdp43b3xr2gagjqxipf4le30tw03c010c.1556465897482455&feature=em-comments This youtube post may have influenced my revelation, I can’t remember what my exact thought process was. If this theory of mine turns out to have any validity, maybe it was Amelia speaking through me (I like to think) After all her home town was named after David Atchison (our family used to spell our name that way, changed it around 1890. Or maybe I need my meds adjusted.


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