NatGeo’s “Expedition Amelia”: Dead on Arrival

With the Oct. 20 airing of the over-hyped and unnecessary National Geographic Channel’s two-hour special, “Expedition Amelia,” another Earhart media disinformation operation comes to a welcome close.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

The latest in a long line of bogus Earhart searches was born this past summer, with National Geographic’s July 23 announcement, Robert Ballard found the Titanic. Can he find Amelia Earhart’s airplane?subheaded, “Ocean explorer Robert Ballard will lead a major expedition to the remote Pacific in hopes of discovering the famed aviator’s fate.”

“It appears that after 13 fruitless trips to Nikumaroro by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR),” I wrote in my July 31 post, NatGeo, Ballard in new phony Earhart ‘search’,” the powers that be have finally decided to turn this tar baby over to someone who can bring real gravitas to the longstanding Earhart myths and lies.  Ric Gillespie is out, Robert Ballard is in, and we can all now rest assured that the ‘Earhart Mystery’ will be solved in short order.”

Robert Ballard, undated, from his Wikipedia page.

“Now Robert Ballard, the man who found the Titanic, is planning to search for signs of the missing aviators,” NatGeo’s On August 7, he’ll depart from Samoa for Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island that’s part of the Micronesian nation of Kiribati.  The expedition will be filmed by National Geographic for a two-hour documentary airing October 20.

Countless mainstream media outlets covered the story, so disturbingly familiar to those of us who have followed this absurd soap opera since it began in the late 1980s with TIGHAR’s initial outrageous claims.  The only difference was that a famous ocean explorer would be doing the honors, rather than the long-discredited Ric Gillespie.  I  wondered only why someone like Ballard would participate in such a transparent, dishonest charade, and what he thought he could gain.  I’m still wondering.

When I checked a month later, nothing could be found about Ballard’s ballyhooed foray to Earhartland.  As is always the case with these Nikumaroro debacles, one has to look hard to find any news about the latest failure.  Finally, on  Aug. 26, National Geographic was forced to come clean and admit that Ballard had come up empty, though its headline was as dishonest and misleading as its editors thought they could get away with. 

‘Tantalizing clue’ marks end of Amelia Earhart expedition,” NatGeo whispered, loath to admit the truth.  While the location of the aviator’s plane remains elusive, an artifact — discovered after 80 years may spark new avenues of inquiry, their subhead cunningly added.

In like a lion, out like a lamb,I wrote in my Aug. 27 post, Ballard’s Earhart search fails; anyone surprised?Thus ends yet another Nikumaroro-Amelia Earhart boondoggle.  This time the perp was the famed Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, but the result was the same as always, as predictable as death and taxes.  Nothing related to Earhart was found, but an old lie was resurrected to keep the scam viable for future paydays.”  For the rest of that post, please click here.

Next, in the run-up to the airing of “Expedition Amelia,” the New York Times,  America’s bastion of truth, was the only mainstream media outlet to bite the bullet and tell everyone they should watch the Oct. 20 NatGeo two-hour special.  In the Times story, The Amelia Earhart Mystery Stays Down in the Deep,” Julie Cohn wrote, “Robert Ballard’s expedition to a remote island in the South Pacific found no evidence of the vanished aviator’s plane, but the explorer and his crew haven’t given up.”  Of course not, especially when there’s more money to be made and ignorant sheeple to “educate” about the great Amelia Earhart “mystery.”

Aboard the research vessel Nautilus, the remotely operated robotic explorer  vehicle Hercules is launched in an operation similar to the one off Nikumaroro, where Robert Ballard and his crew searched in vain for any trace of Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E, which lies buried in rubble under Saipan International Airport.  Photo Courtesy Ocean Exploration Trust/Nautilus Live.

We’ve all seen these Central Pacific-Nikumaroro travelogues before, and whether it’s Ric Gillespie or the great Robert Ballard chit-chatting with his crew about Amelia with a huge tropical sunset in the background, I can’t watch any more of these canned spectacles produced only for money, ratings and confusion.  On the other hand, since we’ve covered the Ballard-NatGeo charade from the start, I suppose it’s pro forma to do a review of the thrilling climax to the current deceit.  I asked longtime readers David Atchason and William Trail if they would be interested in writing reviews of “Expedition Amelia,” and they’ve kindly agreed to do so. 

Longtime Truth at Last supporter David Atchason, 77, of Bartlett, New Hampshire is a retired truck driver and trucking company owner, now an accomplished old geezer mountain climber in the New Hampshire White Mountains and all over the world.”  David is a self-described connoisseur of conspiracy theories and promulgator of baseless and fevered speculations,and has agreed to share his thoughts on “Expedition Amelia.”

“BREAKING NEWS:  There is nothing new under the sun”
by David Atchason

I have to give credit to my late ex-wife for keeping me young at heart and my blood pressure elevated.  That’s my fountain of youth. 

I spent yesterday in anticipation of the Ballard program, checking the channel listings and my watch, waiting to start my assignment.  This was to be my first writing assignment in about 57 years.  Sure enough, at about  8:04, I noticed I was tuned to the wrong channel.  I quickly tuned in to Ballard just in time to hear him declare, “There are several theories of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, the Japanese capture, or the theory that she returned to the USA and lived as a New Jersey housewife, but now we have to turn our attention to the only two realistic theories.  She either crashed and sank or else wound up on Nikumaroro.

Wow! It was like getting hit by a spitball in the back of my head.  All in one fell swoop he discredited all sane theories and made sure to include the Irene Bolam theory, which even the most obtuse follower of the mystery would know was wacko.  I knew then I was in for a long two-hour viewing chore.

Now here comes Gillespie to spin his yarns.  He was looking good, I have to say, as he should at his big moment as the voice of reason, so to speak.  He explained how the radio messages from AE picked up at the Pan Am stations when triangulated pointed to Nikumaroro.  I had never heard this stated as a certainty before, but he said it was certain.  In fact, at the end of the program, Ballard indicated that you just can’t dispute that the messages came from Nikumaroro. 

A lot of the program was spent gushing praise for Amelia and her relevance to empowering the women of today — in a very politically correct manner, of course.  They obviously needed something to fill up the time, as there was nothing new in the program.  Bevington’sLoch Ness Monsterpicture had the plane’s landing gear superimposed on the object in the water it to show that  that had to be the wheel.   At some point it was shown that all the Fiji records had been sent to Tarawa and there was a large collection of bones stored at Tarawa.  As there might be; certainly thousands of soldiers were killed there in 1943.  It was never clear whether the bones came from Fiji, but one of the skulls was said to be a woman’s, and when they had the DNA tested the results were inconclusive, as the DNA was “degraded,” whatever that was supposed to mean. 

David Atchason pauses during one of his regular hikes in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

There was time spent on the new digs looking for bone fragments starring the ever popular Tom King, but nothing was found.  The metal aluminum flap was presented by Ric, the freckle cream jar, it just made me want to reach out to Ric to remind him of the shoe heel, the sextant box and a few other items.  It was like opening my old toy box after many years, kind of gave me a case of emotional nostalgia.

The underwater search, narrated by Ballard, might as well have been stock footage of any random underwater scene.  They found a piece or two of rubbish which didn’t belong to her plane.  He did say that he found the pieces from the [British freighter HMS] Norwich City shipwreck stopped at 1,300 feet, which meant her plane’s pieces would have to be above that level, so he didn’t search any farther down.  He finished by declaring that the radio signals clearly showed her plane had been there; you couldn’t dispute that, so he says.  Then he was off to Howland. 

By then my eyes were closing as I awaited the theme song to play, and Ballard listed a couple other possibilities without declaring them unrealistic at all.  One of them was, “Did she go on a spy mission and get captured by the Japanese”?  Maybe I am hallucinating, but that made me think: Yes, they do know.  Ballard knows, NatGeo knows, and it was like a big hint to those few of us who can think: “Yes, guys and girls, we know and you know the truth and we are not dumb.  But we have to do this program because Big Brother says so, and we are getting well paid for it and we all have to make a living same as you.  WE don’t believe any of this either.”  There you go.  (End of David Atchason review.)

William Trail is a retired U.S. Army Reserve major, federal civil servant and private pilot.  He’s a longtime reader of this blog and is among the best informed of those I consider to befriends of the truth.” 

“NatGeo Comes Up Empty”
by William Trail

All in all, National Geographic’s “Expedition Amelia” presented no new or conclusive evidence of any kind.  Japanese capture was fleetingly mentioned and immediately dismissed.  Despite finding nothing, Robert Ballard maintained that the radio evidence is compelling. . . . You can’t take that off the table.  In the end, it’s still the same old, tired, disappointing story.

Never a friend of the truth when it comes to the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, National Geographic has now enlisted world renowned oceanographer and NatGeo Explorer-at-Large, Robert Ballard Ph.D., who is most famous for locating the long lost wreck of RMS Titanic in 1985, to assist in driving this thing into the mind of the world.  Joining Dr. Ballard on the research vessel M/V Nautilus for the trip to Nikumaroro are archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Dr. Fredrik T. Hiebert; executive director, Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science; Erin H. Kimmerle, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida Department of Anthropology; and former TIGHAR archaeologist-in-residence and historical novelist Thomas F. King Ph.D.  Not on the actual expedition to Nikumaroro but appearing and commenting in “Expedition Amelia” are Ms. Candice Fleming, author of Amelia Lost; Tracey Jean Boisseau, Ph.D., associate professor of women’s studies at Purdue University; and last but not least Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR).

In the documentary, the  July 2, 1937 disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is referred to as a renowned mysteryand the greatest mystery of the 20th Century.”  I beg to differThere is no “mystery” — only a seeming unwillingness to acknowledge the truth, which is supported by a tsunami of painstakingly documented credible evidence and eyewitness testimony.  The truth, which is to say, Japanese Capture and Death on Saipan was stated by no less than Fleet Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, as well as Marine Generals Alexander Archer Vandegrift and Graves Blanchard Erskine.

The late Fred Hooven, noted engineer, inventor and creator of the McKean-Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) landing theory, was adamant that some of the post-loss transmissions originated from Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E.  He may have been right about that, but he later realized that Amelia never landed anywhere near Nikumaroro and abandoned his theory, which TIGHAR later commandeered to great effect for its own purposes.

However, Ballard comments,There are all sorts of theories,” and I like the Nikumaroro theory.”  The Nikumaroro theory, by the way, originated in a 1982 paper, “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight” by the late inventor and Earhart researcher Fred Hooven.   Also known asThe Hooven Report,” it is based upon the post-loss radio transmissions attributed to Earhart and was originally named the “McKean-Gardner Island landing theory” by Hooven, who later abandoned this theory.  Hooven is not mentioned once in the program, nor is he given credit for his abandoned theory, long taken up by TIGHAR as if it were the Holy Grail.

The two-hour documentary, which was narrated by Emmy and Academy Award winning actress Allison Janney, was basically a series of revolving segments.  That is to say, Ballard mapping and searching the underwater terrain around Nikumaroro for the Electra, which AE presumably landed on the island and which was subsequently washed out by the tides to sink in the depths just offshore; King and Hiebert digging on the island itself;  Kimmerle and Hiebert searching for the 13 Bones among the collections of Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Center, Tarawa, Republic of Kirabati; and historical and Earhart biographical commentary by Ms. Fleming and Boisseau.

Also providing commentary, including showing off his so-called artifacts — a zipper pull from a jacket, an ointment pot (presumably from Dr. Berry’s Freckle Cream), a woman’s compact with traces of rouge make-up, and the (infamous) aluminum skin patch — is Gillespie, who admits that there is no provable link to Earhart.

Among the bones and bone fragments from the Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Center is part of a human skull, which  Kimmerle examines.  Skeptical of Dr. David Hoodless’ findings,  Kimmerle’s research included computer-aided 3-D imaging of the partial skull, which was inconclusive.  The results of DNA testing were not available for inclusion in the documentary.

Ballard and the M/V Nautilus made five passes around Nikumaroro, visually searching, surveying and mapping the underwater terrain.  Nothing related to Earhart, and certainly no part of the Electra, was found.  However, a crewmember’s ball cap that was lost overboard was recovered.  Likewise, despite cadaver dogs alerting on the Ren tree dig site, King and his archaeological team found nothing.  (King has been digging on Nikumaroro since 1989.)

The story of the recent enhancement of the Bevington Photo (the object believed to be a main gear leg from the Electra sticking up out of the water near the wreck of the S.S. Norwich City on the northwest corner of the island), which allegedly prompted the call to Ballard and served as the genesis for “Expedition Amelia,” was presented briefly, but with a whole lot less detail than was previously reported.

Although there is some debate on the subject, the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” is generally attributed to Albert Einstein.  In reviewing German author Max Nordau’s 1895 book, Degeneration, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “I have read Max Nordau’s “Degeneration” at your request — two hundred and sixty thousand mortal words, saying the same thing over and over again.  That, as you know, is the way to drive a thing into the mind of the world.”  Indeed.

The same could be said of the whole so-called Nikumaroro theory, expeditions, writings, documentaries, press conferences, etc.  An insane attempt to drive a thing (Nikumaroro) into the mind of the world.  Now, The National Geographic Society has inflicted yet another mental assault on the susceptible, flogging the tired, worn out Nikumaroro theory on the world with this, their latest film documentary, “Expedition Amelia.”  (End William Trail review.)

Sincere thanks to David Atchason and William Trail for taking the time to share their unique perspectives, which are well taken and most appreciated.

A view of Nikumaroro that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed, but that never ceases to fascinate those who would exploit the current trendy Earhart “theory” for all they can.  How much longer will this fraud last?

The only questions now are when the next iteration of this unending, ridiculous campaign will ensue, and if Robert Ballard, National Geographic and the Nautilus, or Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR and whatever they can scrape up will be the next designated agents of propaganda, agitprop and lies.

Incredibly, Ballard is leaving the door open to a possible return to the endlessly picked over garbage dump of Nikumaroro, as Cohn explained:

For years, many Earhart historians have been skeptical of the Nikumaroro theory.  And Dr. Ballard, Ms. [Allison] Fundis [Nautilus chief operating officer] and their team’s return to the island will now depend on whether the archaeologists from the National Geographic Society came up with evidence that Earhart’s body was there.

“[E]vidence that Earhart’s body was there”? And just what kind of “evidence” would this be, and where would it come from, as if we don’t know.  Will it resemble the flotsam that Dr. Richard Jantz, director emeritus of the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, has already foisted on us?  You might recall Jantz, who, without ever seeing the bones discovered in 1940 on Nikumaroro, declared that Earhart’s bones were “more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 [percent] of individuals in a large reference sample.”  Jantz, a TIGHAR associate, knew better than the senior medical officer on Suva, who actually examined them and said they were part of a skeleton of elderly male of Polynesian race, bones having been probably in sheltered position for upwards of 20 years possibly much longer, and Dr. D.W. Hoodless, who pronounced the bones as coming from a male individual “not less than 45 and more probably older.“  For more, see Les Kinney joins “The Truth at Last” conversation, Shreds TIGHAR’s latest false Earhart claims.” 

In 2021, the Nautilus will be in the South Pacific fulfilling a contract to map underwater American territories,” Cohn wrote in her Oct. 14 story.  “That will bring the ship to the area around Howland Island, Earhart’s intended destination for refueling before her plane disappeared. Dr. Ballard and Ms. Fundis plan to make time to explore the alternate theory favored by some skeptics of the Nikumaroro hypothesis: that Earhart crashed at sea closer to Howland.” 

      The research vessel E/V Nautilus.

“Alternate theory“?  It is inconceivable that such an advanced, highly educated and accomplished individual as Robert Ballard is not fully aware of the mountains of evidence that attest to the truth about Amelia Earhart’s landing at Mili Atoll in the Marshalls, her subsequent pickup by the Japanese and her eventual wretched death on Saipan, along with Fred Noonan, of course.  He has to know that absolutely no evidence exists to support either of the two leading “theories“ that our establishment media constantly force feeds the public.

So with Ballard’s abject rejection of the Marshalls-Saipan truth, which has been lying in plain sight for well over 60 years, the great ocean explorer has placed himself firmly on the wrong side of the Earhart matter, and in my opinion, has lost all credibility.  Henceforth anything he utters publicly should be questioned by everyone with any knowledge of the truth.

This entire Robert Ballard-National Geographic travesty is a blatant insult to our intelligence and a brutal slap in the face to everyone that has trusted them to act with honesty, integrity and professionalism in their endeavors.  Both should henceforth be avoided, and we can justifiably ask what else National Geographic has been lying to us about.  I’ll grant you that the NatGeo’s ancient Egypt exploration and Drain the Ocean programs are interesting, but these are few compared to the endless glorification of the drug world, prisons everywhere and criminals of all stripes that now comprise so much of NatGeo’s programming, which regularly descends into the Pit to get ratings from viewers of similar proclivities.  

Tony Gochar, a researcher who lives on Guam and whose contributions to Truth at Last (see pages 263, 264) were timely, valuable and much appreciated, had his own unique experience with National Geographic:

I had an unpleasant personal involvement with National Geographic.  I was on a diplomatic assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Manila from 1986 until 1991.  In 1987 a journalist discovered a tribe, Tasaday, allegedly living out of contact with the modern world in the southern Philippines for over 500 years.  Totally bogus.  NatGeo got involved and the truth was left in the ditch. 

My local contacts instantly recognized the language the tribe was speaking as Manobo, which is the language of some tribes in the area.  Did the truth overcome the excitement of a “lost tribe”? No, NatGeo published the story with never a retraction.  [Former Philippines President Ferdinand] Marcos left in April, 1986, and I arrived in August.  The politics were in turmoil.  The Minister in charge of tribal relations was [Manuel MandaCadwallader] Elizalde, a Marcos holdover.  Elizalde took about $20 million and escaped to the States.  His relationship with NatGeo was based on money.  How much they got from him is not known.  No amount of complaints from the Embassy would sway the story.  They continue to be shameless purveyors of trash.

Tony gets no argument here, and I can’t say that I look forward to National Geographic’s next Earhart production, or anything else they do where the topic is fraught with political, cultural or religious overtones.  My first thought will always be that NatGeo is on the wrong side of anything sensitive or controversial.  Who could blame me after this?

19 responses

  1. It’s not even on life support!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank goodness for recorders. I watched this program after recording it first, to save myself the many minutes of mindless commercials and there were many. So what would we expect from Bob Ballard? He is an OCEAN explorer and wants government funding from NOAA to discover whatever flavor is in the OCEAN. His precious Nautilus can’t find anything on LAND. End of discussion…except that pesky scammer Gillespie. I got so tired seeing his salesman face. And those so-called “archeologists” were just there to have a good old time playing in the dirt. However, as a drone pilot myself, I did like those aerials and wished they would have chosen me for the mission. LOL. Like Mike Campbell stated, I just cannot believe Ballard would not know about the Saipan evidence. I guess he never saw the History Channel or read Mike’s book. Why can’t some bold group dig up around and under Saipan International Airport? Time for bold action, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What person of my generation could watch this extravaganza an not think of an earlier 2-hour TV program?

    “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults is a two-hour live American television special that was broadcast in syndication on April 21, 1986, and hosted by Geraldo Rivera. It centered on the live opening of a secret vault in the Lexington Hotel once owned by noted crime lord Al Capone, which turned out to be empty except for debris. Thirty million viewers watched, making it the ‘highest rated syndicated special’ in history. Rivera had inadvertently launched a ‘no-news’ form of news, where instead of reporting on news, entire programs were about possible and hypothetical news. Included in this was news channels counting down and hyping an upcoming news event, like a presidential briefing.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Mike for covering this. I thought you might not. Even though I did not have the patience to watch 2 hours of baloney from Nat Geo last weekend, I’m glad somebody did and then gave us a good description of it. It just goes to show you that there are a lot of well educated and smart people (the ones on the show) who are just clueless when it comes to the truth. In other words, they quickly dismiss the truth for no apparent reason, and then dash right away to some falsehood and spend tons on time on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ken,

      Thanks, but I have to disagree. I think it’s far more sinister and deceitful than being “clueless when it comes to the truth,” and so do many others. Of course the clueless will always be with us, but this is not rocket science. If you and I can see the truth, so can the famed ocean explorer Robert Ballard. In fact, this is so clearly a black and white issue, in my opinion, of course, that we should all be outraged at the chutzpah that everyone on this NatGeo disinformation team has displayed throughout, and doubtless will continue to display. Sadly, it is largely the fault of the incurious, apathetic American people that’s to blame for allowing this to happen without protest. See the close of David Atchason’s review, as I think he said it quite well. I could go on, but you get my drift.


      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes another Geraldo. So much progress has been made tracing them into the hands of the Japanese. Ric give it up. You should have spend those millions in Japan. What a waste.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks Mike for your continued effort to show the Truth! Shame on Nat Geo…..but then isn’t it really about “following the money?” Think it’s been the case since the very beginning and also the cover up for a President who never wanted any “Truth” to come out. He certainly succeeded, how sad for Amelia’s family.

    Thanks to the two gentlemen who actually watched the TV program! Never give up, the Truth will come out someday.

    Still following your progress, it is truly magnificent Mike!
    Bless your heart…… Amelia would be very proud of you.

    Toodie Marshall former Lake Tahoe 99.


    1. Thanks so much, Toodie, you’re very kind! So nice to hear from you!
      Best to you and your family,



  7. Mike,

    Another statement of appreciation, from one researcher to another, for the stellar work you have done again. Someday, the world of Aviation and History will recognize the accuracy and truthfulness of the Earhart research which you have conducted so faithfully and professionally.

    Followers of the Earhart Story are continually in your debt. This Blog is giving us a treasure trove of a history which would otherwise be lost or forgotten.

    Thanks for including the well-presented comments of 2 fellow-researchers.

    Reference was made to “The Hooven Report,” which is based upon radio transmissions heard after the touchdown on Barre Island in the Mili Atoll. To quote: “(This) was originally named the ‘McKean-Gardner Island landing theory’ by Hooven, WHO LATER ABANDONED THIS THEORY.” “Abandoned.” Note that.

    Before the baby is thrown out with the bath water, consider the following: The majority of the “post-crash” radio transmissions have probably been correctly discounted. But there were a couple which were heard by Wake, Midway, and Waipahu in Hawaii, and were reported along with their radio bearings.

    When these are plotted on a navigational chart, or Google earth, they each converge in the same direction, toward Mili Atoll. The one heard by Wake Island radio reported a bearing which, within a couple of degrees or so (~144 to 145), passed over or near Mili. Interesting.

    But more than interesting is the following: Within a couple of degrees or so, the bearing from Wake not only converged on the Mili Atoll less than 1000 miles away, but . . . when projected another 1000 miles or more SE, it also converged upon the hoax Island of Gardner, aka Nikumaroro, Ric Gillespie’s money-making fake-discovery.

    By beginning with the false agenda that Nikumaroro was where the Electra would be found, Hooven could have taken a legitimate radio signal which came FROM the Electra at Mili, and posited a faux-fact that a signal which came TOWARD the ghost island of Nikumaroro actually emanated FROM it. Possibly, when Hooven realized that he was using a reciprocal, he “later abandoned this theory.” No wonder.

    One can easily be of the opinion that at least 1 or more of the post-crash transmissions were legit, coming from a “damaged but not destroyed” Electra sitting with a broken gear and wing on the coral beach of Barre Island on the Mili Atoll. By flipping this information to its reciprocal, Hooven and Gillespie now had a radio signal coming FROM an island which the Electra had never seen.

    If this possibility had been pointed out to NatGeo, I wonder if they would at least have investigated it? Only if they wanted the truth, which doesn’t seem likely.

    Calvin Pitts


    1. Calvin,

      Thanks for your kind words, it always means more coming from you.

      I think you’re spot on regarding the post-loss situation, but I’ve never been real comfortable staking out any solid position in favor of any specific messages. I do think it’s more than likely that she sent, or tried to send, at least a few in the early hours of her loss. I have many letters from Fred Hooven to Fred Goerner in which they delve into the post-loss transmissions problem. You might be interested in looking at some of them, and I’ll likely post some of these letters, or parts of them, in the future. As I said, this is a very high-tech area and I’m just not the sharpest tool in the radio shed. Nonetheless, we’ll do what we can.



    2. Calvin,

      Interesting about the reciprocal theory. Regarding radio transmissions; if the Electra was down on either Nikumaroro or Barre Island and the radio was capable of transmitting, that means it was operating from the time of the last “known” transmission until they were down….why were there no further reports or distress calls? Bob, Ric…feel free to explain that. If AE knew they were in the mandated area (either by choice or by accident) that could explain why.


  8. Somewhere on the TIGHAR website there is probably an analysis of AE”s supposed radio transmissions. More than likely they show what Gillespie and Ballard say they show. Whether this analysis is true or not is questionable. Every clue taken by itself in this story seems to be questionable, even the Itasca’s radio logs. Quite a while ago I recalled my high school physics to calculate a 50 watt radio with a strong car battery would transmit about an hour before the battery went dead. A ballpark figure. So if the plane was not submerged when it landed and I can’t see how it would be then she should have been able to transmit in short messages for days.

    Assuming her battery(s) were about the same as today’s, probably they were stronger. Did the Japs pick her up within hours or was it days? Surely they were monitoring her radio signals and had no need of native eyewitnesses to determine where she was. They must have been somewhat baffled when they learned she was headed to Mili. There is the question of her messages being so short and non-existent in the last hour or two she was aloft might have thrown them off. I’d like to see the analysis that shows her location as Mili.

    In somewhat of a response to Calvin, I think those loop type RDFs gave a bearing which did not indicate whether the signal was coming from front or back, if I am not mistaken. If they used their loop type RDF to get the bearing on JAluit radio station they would not necessarily know on which side of it they were. I also think that somehow with their sextant they could determine their latitude during daylight. The TV program did give a clear explanation of their LOP which they would have determined right after sunrise which would have given them a rough idea of how far to Howland as long as they flew at 247 degree bearing. Also assuming they knew their latitude correctly. Which they should have, if anyone could do that, Fred could. Of course if he couldn’t do it due to overcast, why not get on the radio and say: We are having trouble plotting our position and would appreciate if Itasca could give us a bearing (by their RDF) which apparently they couldn’t do, but why not have a conversation about it?

    The only plausible explanation for their behavior is that they knew where they were, they were headed to Mili or nearby, and they did not want anyone to know that. I am rambling here. I must get to my map and formulate some more speculations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David (Atchason), for your interesting and valuable response. Let me think about what you have added. Mike’s suggestion to evaluate Hooven’s communications with Goerner is my next proposed step. We need to see what Hooven was thinking and saying. Let’s stay in touch after we have read what Mike has available.

      Do you have a background in HF/DF radio usage? When I read that Wake, Midway, and Hawaii each reported, with “bearings,” that they had received what they believed was probably AE trying to reach anyone who might hear their signal, my interest was triggered with questions.

      After I plotted the information provided by each station, I was blown away to see that they were each pointing in a direction which was toward the Mili Atoll. Without sophisticated equipment, I could only come up with what was guess work. With your help, perhaps we can put this “guess” to a test.

      Thanks for your comments.



      1. Calvin, thanks for taking me seriously. I have no background in radio or navigation or aviation. I was a physics major in college for two years before I dropped out and forgot most of what I learned but at least I am able to think about scientific subjects in a logical way. When I am motivated I can do rough calculations pertaining to her flight based on what I read. Which may not be the truth sometimes. I also get frustrated spending an hour or two putting together these calculations and realizing while I may be brilliantly perceptive I am still just speculating.
        It may be that AE used the primitive loop antenna for her DF and did not bother with coordinating with the Itasca because the loop would easily pick up the Jaluit station and that’s where they were headed all along. Not having the correct DF would make it appear that she was she was idiotically unprepared and no wonder she would get lost. That’s what she/they hoped the Japanese would think, but they were too smart. Something tipped them off. When you think about it, they knew that the recent wrecked ship crew was treated relatively well so why wouldn’t they be also?

        So Ballard claimed they reversed direction on 2nd flight because of changing weather patterns, but I don’t think that is true at all. Why doesn’t somebody familiar with weather just refute that? They didn’t use Rabaul airport which would have saved them 400 miles on last flight which is again stupid. The reason was if they were going to overfly Truk then the Lae takeoff only cost them 150 miles approx. As far as I know one of the Rabaul airstrips was open. But nobody ever addresses these issues and yet they are not rocket science.

        I don’t know if FDR disliked AE, she was a good buddy of his wife Eleanor and that may have played a part. If the report of his remark when he learned she had been captured is true, then he was somehow not distraught, just the opposite. He may have sent her on a suicide mission or maybe he/they thought her “spy” flight might actually work. Maybe he was happy she got captured, probably the Japs contacted him in some diplomatic way and he just rebuffed them, told them he didn’t know her, that the administration was “furious” with her for her stupid mistake. If that was the story and it got out he would have lost the election in 1940 and he had his war plans. Probably the Japs made him some kind of fair offer for her return and he did not take them up on it which , if known, would have made him appear heartless. The moral of the story is never trust presidents.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Tom (Williams), thanks for responding to my untested theory.

    Responding to your question and insights: Allowing for the possibility of “the Electra being down on Nikumaroro,” you are being much too fair and gracious. For me, after years of living with this story, and absorbing all the legit evidence Mike and others have put together, I have no room to give Gillespie an inch for his deliberate hoax. Not even a millimeter. The Electra was NOT down on Gardner/Nikumaroro.

    I have crossed the Rubicon, and have accepted the evidence that the Electra was down on the Mili Atoll. For me, the published evidence is persuasive enough to convince this hard-headed “old” skeptic. Gillespie’s faux-story is irrelevant.

    So, let’s begin there — The broken but still radio-usable Electra was on coral, not submerged in water. The importance of that “fact” has been explained by others.

    Yes, the radio was operable from 2013z (GMT) to at least 2330z (10:30 am local time). Why this comment? Nauru radio later reported that “at 10:30 am,” they heard a radio transmission saying, “Land in sight.” Without checking my notes, I believe Nauru added, “a woman’s voice.”

    In the Scenario I have put together, but not published, I posit the reasonable possibility that this was AE advising that they had spotted some unknown piece of land in the Marshall Islands.

    That gives us almost 3.5 hrs of “known” transmissions, if we accept the “theory” that “land in sight” is what I believe it to be. Within the next :30 to 1 hour, AE has spotted Barre Island, and the Electra has flown its last flight, unless the Japanese repaired it.

    The “post-lost,” or my phrase, “post-crash” radio transmissions is a separate and very debatable subject. It is, to me, inconceivable that if they still had battery power and an operative radio, that they would not have made as many transmissions as possible. I believe common sense, plus limited evidence, establishes that there were transmissions from AE.

    Finally, in my Scenario, I have established to my satisfaction that they not only “knew” they were in the Mandated Islands, but were actually flying a Jaluit radio beam to the Marshalls with an intent which I have addressed in my account.

    Will welcome any comment, negative or otherwise.

    Thanks for you insights.


    1. Oops, my bad……when I read my post (addressed to “Calvin”) I was afraid this would happen; the first sentence (alone) was directed to you Calvin; the rest was directed to Ballard and Gillespie (although I didn’t make that very clear). As far as Gillespie is concerned, he is a snake oil salesman and his theory is pure fantasy; in fact that was the point I was trying to make, that the lack of radio transmissions (while still airborne) is a strike against his theory, while at the same time, does support the Marshall Islands/Mili truth. Again, sorry for the confusion; I look forward to reading “My Earhart Scenario”.


  10. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    In his 23 October comment Calvin wrote the following:

    To quote: “(This) was originally named the ‘McKean-Gardner Island landing theory’ by Hooven, WHO LATER ABANDONED THIS THEORY.” “Abandoned.” Note that.

    Words are important. They have meaning. And, if Calvin, who doesn’t speak lightly, believes the word “Abandoned” should be noted here we would all be well advised to do just that, take note. I suspect something very important to follow.

    All best,



  11. Thanks for seeking the truth. AE and FN captured and killed. Peace. Mark


  12. Reading, Writing, Rhythm & Blues | Reply

    What if the plane went right into that lagoon, where it would not have been too damaged and could be hauled out of there. Surely there could be a few items at the bottom of that lagoon? Just a thought.


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