Paul Rafford’s “Howland Island Fly-By”: Phase II

We continue with Phase II, the conclusion of Paul Rafford Jr.’s response to questions about his unique theory, in this case a true “conspiracy theory in the Earhart disappearance, the “Howland Island Fly-By.”  Rafford’s thesis appeared in the March 1992 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Bill Prymak, AES founder and president is designated as “AES” throughout; Rafford’s answers are seen simply as “A.”  (Boldface emphasis is mine throughout.)

PHASE II – THE MYSTERIOUS RADIO CALLS

AES – You believe that the mysterious voice transmissions heard for three days after Earhart’s disappearance were also pre-recorded?

A – Yes.  These were interspersed with some very poorly transmitted radio code to simulate what listeners might expect Earhart’s sending to sound like.

AES – But, today we know that she had left her radio key back in Miami, right?

A – Yes.  It was located in a locker at Pan Am weeks later.

Paul Rafford Jr. at 95, the elder statesman of Earhart researchers, who passed away in December 2016 at 97. As a Pan Am radio flight officer from 1940 to 1946, Rafford was uniquely qualified as an expert in Earhart-era radio capabilities, and his Earhart disappearance theories are perhaps the most unique and compelling in the entire Earhart pantheon.

AES – What would have been the purpose of these radio calls?

A – They would have lent credence to the theory that Earhart had survived and was calling for help.  This in turn would justify the Navy’s vast search.  I remember the public clamor to find her.

AES – Where was the transmitter that sent out the calls?

A – Our best evidence indicates that it was on Gardner Island in the Phoenix group.  It is now called Nikumaroro.  When plotted, bearings taken on the station by the Pan Am direction finding stations bracket the island.  I illustrate the details on my chart, THE MYSTERIOUS RADIO CALLS.  A search plane sent to investigate reported signs of recent habitation but saw no one on the island.  However, this information was not released to the public at the time.

AES – Do you believe the same type transmitter was used for both the PBY and Gardner transmissions?

A – No.  Radioman [2nd Class Frank] Cipriani, who handled the direction finder on Howland, reported the plane’s transmissions to be stable and on frequency.  In contrast, the Gardner transmitter was slightly off frequency and very unstable.  Also, to cover the Pacific as it did, higher power was required.  My computer analysis puts the power at 100 watts or more.

AES – What sort of transmitter do you believe was set up on Gardner?

A – When Karl Pierson recently described what the signal sounded like, I was immediately reminded of the transmitter we flew to Liberia right after Pearl Harbor to support South Atlantic aeronautical communication.  It was a 100 watt model that Pan Am used at outlying stations in the 1930’s.  We powered it with a one-cylinder gasoline generator that the operator had to kick start before going on the air.

Its stability was on a par with what Karl describes but it did not operate on radiotelephone.  However, a simple modification could have been made that would allow it to be modulated enough to produce the speech quality reported by the various listeners, that is, “highly distorted.”

Karl also reported that when the transmitter was sending voice he could hear what appeared to be a gasoline engine running in the background, — but not an airplane engine.

AES – Why do you believe  that recordings of Earhart’s voice were used instead of announcements by another woman, either live or recorded?

A – Because three different individuals who knew Earhart’s voice identified it when they heard the transmissions.  Two were reported aboard the Itasca when she supposedly flew by Howland.  The third was radio engineer Karl Pierson in Los Angeles who listened to the voice during the nights following her disappearance.  He and his colleagues had monitored her transmissions during her flight from Hawaii to San Francisco in 1935.

Of course, the Navy could have substituted sound alike woman and trained her to simulate Earhart’s manner of speaking.  But, the fewer people involved in a top-secret venture, the better.  Having Earhart do the recordings herself before the flight would have been the best way to ensure secrecy.

A view of Howland Island that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed.  The island, a property of the United States, remains uninhabited, but remains quite popular among the various wildlife that nest and forage there.

AES – You say Earhart’s last two-way conversation was when she signed off with Harry Balfour seven hours into the flight.  How can we be sure that all subsequent transmissions were not recordings?

A – We can’t be sure.  Every one of her transmissions from that time on is suspectHer contact with Balfour on 6210 khz advising that she was signing off with him and switching to 3105 may have been the last time Earhart was ever heard on a “live” radio.

AES – Why were certain transmissions clear while others were highly distorted?

A – It depended upon what the mission script called for at that particular time.  In those cases where the plane passed specific information to Lae, Nauru and Howland, they were clear.  Otherwise, they were weak or distorted.  I believe this was deliberately intended to confuse the listeners.

AES – You say information was passed to Nauru?

A – Yes. T.H. Cude, Director of Police on Nauru, claimed that he heard Earhart say on 3105 that she had the lights of the island in sight.  However, in the search report this is recorded as “lights in sight ahead.”  Later, various investigators read the report and then made their own interpretations.  Some concluded that the lights were those of the USS Ontario, on station midway between Lae and Howland waiting for her to over-fly.  Others concluded they were the SS Myrtlebank, southwest of Nauru and due to arrive the following morning.

AES – Do you believe Earhart sent her Nauru sighting messages liveor were they recordings transmitted by Naval Intelligence?

A – From the evidence we have I would hesitate to support either theory.

AES – But, you are suggesting that Earhart may never have come near Nauru?

A – Yes.  She may well have been following another route to an unknown destination after she signed off with Harry Balfour at Lae.

AES – Then what would have been the purpose of these messages?

A – They would establish for the record that Earhart was apparently passing Nauru on schedule even though she may not have been anywhere in the area.

AES – You mean that if the Japanese were intercepting her radio transmissions this bit of disinformation — if it was disinformation — would lead them to believe that Earhart was actually following the flight plan that she had announced to the news media?

A – That’s as good a way of putting it as any.  Incidentally, with the exception of Cude’s intercept, listeners on Nauru reported that even though the plane’s signals became increasingly strong as it apparently approached the island, they were never able to understand the words.

Harry Balfour, circa 1937, the radio operator at Lae, New Guinea, the last person to carry on a two-way radio conversation with Amelia Earhart.

AES – On your chart, THE MYSTERIOUS RADIO CALLS, you show that twelve hours after the Itasca last heard the plane, listeners on Nauru heard a woman’s voice on 6210.  But, again they could not understand what she said.  What is your comment about this?

A – They also reported that although the voice sounded the same as the night before, this time they could hear “no hum of engines in the background.”  I believe this transmission was the first in a series of covert signals that lasted three nights.  However, Nauru was the only station to hear this transmission.  This leads me to believe that other covert transmitters besides Gardner were involved in the operation after Earhart disappeared.  They may have been located on planes, submarines or even uninhabited islands like Gardner.

AES – What was the purpose of these calls?

A – They were designed to convince listeners that Earhart was safely down somewhere.  But, because they could not understand her words, the search team would not know where to look.  As a result, they had no choice but to search the whole Central Pacific — exactly what the mission planners had intended to happen.

AES – Who in government do you believe knew about the secret nature of Earhart’s flight?

A – No doubt the President knew the details because she was a frequent guest at the White House.  I suspect the plan originated with him.

Others who knew would be the Naval Intelligence team assigned to carry out the mission plans plus top people in the Department of the Interior that administered our Pacific Islands.  I doubt that anyone in the Coast Guard knew.

AES – Why do you believe that the President had anything to do with the Earhart mission?

Coast Guard Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts led the radio team aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca during the final flight of Amelia Earhart.  Bellarts told researchers that Earhart’s radio signal “was so loud that I ran up to the bridge expecting to see her coming in for a landing,” 

A – Because of her remark to Mark Walker, Pan Am pilot and Naval Reserve officer.  Mark had been assigned to work with Earhart and Noonan on the Pacific phase of their flight.  When he warned her of the dangers she replied that she had not proposed it.  Someone high in government had personally asked her to undertake the mission.

AES – You mention that [Itasca Radioman 3rd Class] Bill Galten had his doubts about what was going on after his many calls to the plane were ignored.  Why were he and others involved in the search not more outspoken about their doubts?

A – Because the Navy classified the logs and records.

AES – Why were they classified?

A – There were several reasons.  Classifying them would not only keep the public from reviewing them and asking sensitive questions, but it would prevent those in the services who might have answers from revealing what they knew.  World War II was imminent and we needed all the information about the Pacific islands that we could gather.  But, of course, we could not reveal our information gathering activities to a potential enemy. 

Next, where Earhart was concerned it was imperative for political reasons not to allow the public to suspect that their heroine might have lost her life while serving on a top secret government mission.  Not only might this have cost Roosevelt the next election but it could have provided powerful anti-war factions in the United States with enough ammunition to seriously delay our preparations for the world wide conflict that was about to break out.

As incredible as it now seems in the light of history, over 50 percent of those polled in a national survey just before Pearl Harbor refused to believe America was in any danger of an attack from Japan!

AES – The Itasca’s logs and the Navy’s records were not declassified until twenty-five years later, right?

A – Yes, but the classification was only at the CONFIDENTIAL level.  We have never been able to determine if there were any with a higher classification.  But if there were I doubt that they exist today.

AES – Why do you say this?

A – Because, as a friend of mine with former Naval Intelligence connections puts it, “Poor Ollie North, his downfall came about because he had to keep records!”

AES – So, where do you believe Earhart finally landed?

A – I can only refer you to the host of theories that have been advanced through the years.  They vary all the way from Earhart and Noonan simply getting lost and running out of gas near Howland to landing on a Japanese held island where they were taken prisoner.

But, one thing seems certain.  Wherever they finally ended up it was not where the mission planners intended.

I doubt we will ever know for sure! (End of Rafford interview.)

Rafford’s comparison of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North’s ill-advised record-keeping during the Iran–Contra affair, a political scandal of the late 1980s, to the Earhart case is pure speculation and not a reliable assessment about the existence or non-existence of top-secret files on the Earhart disappearance. 

We have strong evidence that suggests top-secret Earhart files still existed in the early 1960s, when the Kennedy administration actually allowed Fred Goerner and Ross Game to view them clandestinely.  See my Dec. 20, 2019 post,Game letter suggests possible Earhart burial sitefor a discussion, or Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (2nd Edition), pages 271, 272.

20 responses

  1. To put it bluntly, this is all so much hogwash!

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    1. Thanks Les, your opinion is always appreciated here. Paul Rafford’s ideas do strain credulity at times, though you can’t fault him for a lack of imagination. But as a great writer once said in responding to a name-calling attack, “Specify, don’t characterize.”

      Mike

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      1. Mike, you are absolutely correct. I’ll try to get a more informative opinion out in a day or two.

        Les

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  2. This doesn’t seem so far fetched to me and quite believable, provided with all the this information. What better way to dupe the Japanese and get away with it. After all isn’t that what espionage is? I mean seriously, asking Amelia Earhart to just fly over these Mandated Islands and be careful about it, was risky & dangerous business. I think Naval Intelligence had this *clever plan but the Japanese had a better mouse trap.

    Doug

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  3. if true, an amazingly elaborate plot. THIGAR must at least be happy their outlandish theory gets a mention as the location of one the transmitters. Seems pretty far-fetched.

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  4. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    Paul Rafford certainly got one thing right when he said, “But, the fewer people involved in a top-secret venture, the better.” To my mind, his Howland Island Fly-By theory involves too many people, has too many moving parts, and has too many single points of failure. Simplicity always works best.

    All best,

    William

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  5. So she left her key in Miami`? Took me a minute to f`igure out “what that meant. I think it means left her telegraph key In miami. Why did she have a telegraph key if she didn’t know Morse Code? Maybe she did know, but if she communicated by Norse code that would not deceive the Japs at all. Because anybody could be` sending Morse Code. Since `the Japs listening to her were initially placated by the sound of her voice coming from where it should have, they didn’t go on high alert, did not send out any interceptors to go find her.

    Next thing they knew, a plane like hers is spotted over Truk. The Japs were puzzled. At the time, the Japs were not prepared for this, they were lulled into complacency. If Amelia was flying a souped up plane with more powerful engines, the Japs simply didn’t have anything to catch her with. The seaplane base at Wotje wasn’t constructed until 1939 I believe. Amelia should have had clear sailing. It’s possible the only IJN chase planes were at Truk. Now from Truk to Howland is almost a straight line. Maybe she deviated a smidgeon to fly over the Marshalls and Mili because she could, not because she was supposed to. Maybe the Japs got their act together and managed to chase her with planes from the Akagi. Or something like that. She probably had an emergency radio to keep contact with the Navy the whole flight.

    They knew she was forced down at Mili. So now the Navy had to play dumb. They suddenly didn’t even know Amelia. So the distress messages from her went flying fast and furious. Some of them came from Gardner. When Lambrecht overflew Gardner the tents or a shack from the bogus transmitter were still there. Maybe the Navy didn’t even bother to pick them up. The Nikumaroro deception was born, to be carried on by Gillespie and his henchmen. Even to the extent of sending Ballard to find nothing. So what could the Americans do about Amelia? Not much without starting the war too early.

    The American public would never have stood for it. What was needed was a “sneak attack” which was years away. To me, the Amelia voice recordings make perfect sense. Maybe the Japs at first thought she got lost. That she flew near Howland and then not finding it, made a dumb decision and flew NW to Mili. But the Japs figured it out. Of course they were not ready for war, either. Probably there were negotiations and FDR said you can keep her. That would not look good at the 1940 election at all. I do believe the whole Gardner Island deception was long planned, just in case. Just like her spy flight was.

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    1. William H. Trail | Reply

      David,

      Akagi was undergoing a major refit at Sasebo Naval Arsenal in Japan from 24 October 1935 until 31 August 1938. Amelia Earhart couldn’t possibly have been chased down over the Marshall Islands by aircraft launched from Akagi.

      Development of the Wotje Seaplane Base began in late 1939. Please see the attached link for more info.

      http://marshall.csu.edu.au/Marshalls/html/WWII/Wotje.html

      All best,

      William

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      1. William,
        I read your comment yesterday while mountain climbing (very often there is some cell service on our White Mtns.) And the thinner air led to improved insights,. Without bothering to look the story up, didn’t some pilot from the Akagi claim he shot down Amelia? There didn’t seem to be a lot of detail in that story and the rebuttal was always that the Akagi was nowhere near Mili Atoll at the time, in fact, as you say, she was in a shipyard in Japan.

        But I don’t recall him saying he took off from the Akagi. What I am getting at is What happened to the planes of the Akagi while she was being refitted? Surely they didn’t just leave them on/with the ship while refiited? Why not take the planes off and put them somewhere useful? Maybe station them in the Marshalls where the pilots could train with them and stay on the lookout for unwanted intrusions? It seems that there was no airbase for land based (THat is not seaplanes) fighter planes on the Marshalls in 1937, but so what? Weren’t those types of planes quite capable of taking off from a grass airfield?

        All it would take is for one or two to be put in the air somewhere near Mili and if they caught Amelia it would take only a few bursts of gunfire to convince Amelia to decide “better safe than sorry.” I bet Amelia was in contact with the Navy on a separate radio during her foray over Marshalls, but even if not the Navy would soon learn what happened. So, isn’t this a plausible possibility? I can’t come up with any sensible reason she would just suddenly decide to ditch the plane at Mili Atoll. I can’t recall exactly how “Jormon” described her landing there. Did he indicate she was out of gas? Engines not running? Yes, I should refer to my copy of TTAL. I will.

        All Best,
        David

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      2. William H. Trail

        David,

        The story of the alleged Japanese pilot who claimed to have shot down Amelia Earhart is covered in detail in TTAL (2016) 2nd Ed., page158.

        In his book, “Witness To The Execution The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart” (1988), author and researcher T.C. Buddy Brennan recounts a story told to him by Manny Muna on Saipan in which someone named Fujie Firmosa regaled Muna with a tale of how he (Firmosa) “as a young flight lieutenant” launched from the Akagi while it was on a training cruise near the Marshall Islands, intercepted, and shot down Amelia Earhart. Please see page 117 of “Witness To The Execution” for more detail.

        Of course, Fujie Firmosa’s story is easily shown as false through a multitude of solid documentation showing that Akagi was, and had been undergoing a major refit at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal for 618 days on 2 July 1937. Akagi would remain at Sasebo for an additional 426 days to complete of refit.

        Provided for your convenience is a link to the IJN Akagi: Tabular Record of Movement. This chronicles Akagi’s history and movement from her keel-laying to scuttling as a result of damage suffered during the Battle of Midway.

        http://www.combinedfleet.com/Akagi.htm

        You are absolutely correct in your assertion that Akagi’s air groups (aircraft and personnel) would not have remained with her at Sasebo during the 2 years, 10 months, and 8 days of her refit. Remember, the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 and the resulting Great Depression affected the entire world — including Imperial Japan. Akagi’s refit took so long because of budget restraints. During this prolonged period, Akagi’s air groups no doubt would have undergone training, operational assignment to other aircraft carriers, and deployment to the ongoing war in China to gain actual combat experience. Some officers would have been sent to higher level staff schools and enlisted personnel to various technical training. Japan did not possess unlimited resources. I seriously doubt if any of Akagi’s aircraft or personnel would have been deployed to the Marshall Islands as it was not an area of operational focus.

        I do agree that the Mitsubishi A5M (Allied codename: Claude), Japan’s front-line fighter at the time, could have operated from unimproved airfields. However, just because an aircraft is capable of operating from a rough, unimproved airfield does not necessarily mean that it did. Even a rudimentary infrastructure would have been required to support air operations. Again, China was where the action and attention was, not the Marshall Islands.

        The Japanese had 11 Radio Direction Finding (RDF) stations in the Marshall Islands and throughout the Mandates. If AE had a separate radio with which to remain in contact with the Navy, the Japanese would have been able to pinpoint her position very quickly.

        “Jormon?” I believe you mean Jororo, who along with his friend Lijon were the two Marshallese fishermen who witnessed the Electra come down on Barre Island, Mili Atoll. They told their story to Vincent V. Loomis. Unfortunately, Jororo and Lijon didn’t specify to Loomis whether the Electra’s engines were running or not. Again, it’s all in TTAL 2nd Ed., page 136.

        All best,

        William

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  6. David –

    Amelia sealed her fate, as we all know, when she landed in the Marshalls. FDR didn’t want egg all over his face. Instead of intervening on Amelia’s behalf, he did nothing until it was too late. He should have admitted to the Japanese, he wanted Amelia to do some aerial surveillance and by doing so was in the wrong.

    The pretense of not knowing what happened to her, that continues to this day, is a glorified HOAX. Our government officials need to put this right, for future generations to understand it’s errors, whether they were Amelia’s, the Japanese or the U.S. Intelligence’s doings. Until then this HOAX continues and well into the future. Shame on those who deliberately concealed the facts and lied to the American public.

    Doug

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  7. I have always been suspicious of Paul Rafford’s opinions relating to the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan. Rafford enjoyed the notoriety and his views changed like the wind. He assisted in the development of Donahue’s “The Earhart Disappearance, The British Connection” a hodgepodge of nonsensical half-truths. Lending support to that project lessened his credibility. He also worked with Vincent Loomis. I’m sure, Vince would have wondered how Rafford’s ideas changed so radically.

    Rafford joined Pan Am three years after the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. His claim to fame was he knew people who knew Earhart and Noonan. By the time he was hired, radio equipment, and radio protocol had changed dramatically from 1937. I have pretty much every book and piece of literature written about the early days of Pan American Airways, and I don’t find his name mentioned. Not that he didn’t work for Pan Am as a radio operator. No doubt, he was technically proficient at radio communications but that doesn’t give him a license to make outrageous claims.

    In the early 1980’s he traveled around Florida speaking with Vincent Loomis at various gatherings completely sold on Earhart and Noonan going down at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In 1985, he claims he “solved the Earhart case.” At that time, he “scoffed at theories that she was a spy,” and said she was lost north of Howland Island but had discarded the Marshall Island theory. By 1992, he flipped flopped again; now Earhart and Noonan were part of an elaborate attempt by Roosevelt to spy on Japan by using fake messages and pre-recorded taped transmissions from all places, Nikumaroro. It looks like Rafford might have seen a late-night re-run of “Flight for Freedom and added more spice to the screenplay.

    Rafford quoted “his friend Bill Galten,” a radio operator aboard the Itasca, that Earhart never intended to land at Howland. If Rafford had read Goerner’s, “The Search for Amelia Earhart” carefully, he would have known Galten (the least experienced of the Itasca’s three radio operators) had disavowed his remark and changed his views after viewing the Itasca’s radio logs.

    Rafford’s theory is so full of holes, it hardly is worth discussing; something like explaining the merits of the latest “Oak Island” adventure. For Rafford’s elaborate scheme to work, he says a PBY was sent to Canton Island, in the Phoenix Group, and the Navy set up a transmission station broadcasting pre-recorded deliberately weak messages from Earhart, then, the plane took off and broadcast from the air, and finally touched down at Nikumaroro to broadcast Earhart’s post-loss radio messages. Whew!

    To rationalize this farfetched theory Rafford mentions a scientific team had been brought to Canton a month earlier by the Navy to observe a solar eclipse and could have left behind supplies. That’s true, but there were dozens of scientists there, as well as groups from New Zealand and private parties. To pull this off, Navy sailors from the minesweeper Avocet, in front of a couple of dozen scientists, would have had to transport dozens of barrels of aviation gasoline and transmission equipment by small launch through rough surf to the island without raising suspicion. That would have been an almost impossible and dangerous task.

    Rafford being a part of clipper crews, should have known how difficult it would be to refuel a PBY at Canton. There is no way the crew would chance landing the flying boat in the small shallow lagoon. It would have had to come down outside the reefs. Either way, because of the logistics, it would have been impossible for the crew to refuel from loaded barrels of gasoline stored on that island.

    To synchronize and coordinate transmissions of pre-recorded messages that could reach the Itasca from Canton required a generator, a large radio transmitter, and antenna system tall enough for the signals to reach the Itasca. Why wasn’t this antenna equipment found at Canton later? Earhart’s signal strength fluctuated from 1 to 5? It would have remained steady if transmitted from Canton. Why did the signals fade out at Nauru and elsewhere in the Pacific?

    Rafford then says the phantom PBY crew somehow loaded the equipment aboard the PBY and took off transmitting from the air. Preposterous!

    Then, somehow, according to Rafford, the PBY crew took the transmission equipment to Nikumaroro where the post loss radio messages were sent. Had they broken down the antenna from Canton? It would have been an impossible feat. For starters, how was this equipment transported to shore over the treacherous reefs of Nikumaroro? As a side note, those barrels of gas they loaded at Canton wouldn’t get them back to Honolulu.

    Every one of Rafford’s ridiculous scenarios could be dissected and ripped apart – there are too many to elaborate. I’m not sure how he explained his theories to Prymak with a straight face. Prymak too is culpable for not calling him out. Then again, Prymak never called out his friend, Joe Gervais’ basket of lies.

    At the end of the interview, Prymak did ask Rafford where he thought Earhart and Noonan landed. Here, Rafford fades away to mumblings and speculates Earhart and Noonan just decided to run out of gas near Howland or maybe they landed on a Japanese controlled Island.

    What nonsense! Earhart and Noonan knew after leaving Lae New Guinea there was only one place in the Pacific Ocean they could land, that was Howland Island. There were no other landing strips available in 1937, unless they back tracked to Rabaul.

    To believe Earhart and Noonan were willing to sacrifice their lives so the Navy could map the area, is believing pigs can fly.

    Les Kinney

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Les,

      Thanks for taking the time to express your informed opinion, we appreciate it. I think I get your drift now, and must assume that you will not be among those who will agree with my placement of Paul Rafford Jr. on my forthcoming “Earhart Page of Honor,” which I’ll publish sometime next week. Neither will I be surprised if you have problems with some of the others I’ve put there. But if never being wrong was a qualification for nomination to my little Earhart researchers fantasy-land, nobody would make it.

      Till next time, thanks again.
      Mike

      Liked by 2 people

  8. William,

    Thanks for pointing me to the relevant pages in TTAL. I expected to be “taken out to the woodshed”, but didn’t happen. In fact it lends credence to my theory. In and around pg 158 I think there are 3 references to “shot down” and only one “ran out of gas”. See page 158, 2nd paragraph, last sentence. It says “assigned to the AKAGI ON A TRAINING MISSION in the Marshall Islands”. Nowhere does it say he took off from the Akagi, in fact it sounds like at the time he had no relationship with the Akagi at all except being assigned to it.

    I think it’s certainly possible that he did not become unassigned just because it was undergoing a long refit. The IJN didn’t work like that. My point was everybody assumes he took off from the Akagi which wasn’t possible, therefore his story is debunked. He never said any such thing. I do believe it’s more than likely that AE was given bad intelligence, that the USN did not understand that the airmen of the Akagi had been sent to the Marshalls with their fighter `planes and were this colossal goof by the USN to be revealed heads would roll.

    I also believe that AE could have contacted the Navy, just using some subterfuge like “This is Captain Fred reporting skies are clear at Gardner Island, wind calm” to mean they were being attacked, yada yada…..you get the picture. Maybe they weren’t supposed to overfly the Marshalls, who knows, but I believe more than ever they were shot down.

    I rest my case.

    All Best,
    David

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    1. William H. Trail | Reply

      David,

      If you do not own a copy of Buddy Brennan’s, “Witness To The Execution” purchase or borrow a copy, and please read pages 117 and 118.

      All best,

      William

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    2. Where do you think these fighter came from? There were no fixed wing bases in the Marshall Islands in 1937.

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      1. I should have said land based planes in the Marshall Islands in 1937.

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      2. Les,
        I have no idea where they came from, of course. I also asked myself that question. I understood there was no base. But that doesn’t completely rule out them being there (the LBP), the islands are pretty flat, I think, any little grass runway or straight stretch of road would work for takeoff, I would think.

        Assuming she did fly over the Marshalls some which way, somebody might have tipped off the Japs what she was going to do. perhaps somebody or some contingent who would benefit from some kind of international “incident.” There has to be more to the story than that it was some misguided espionage attempt or spy flight. That’s what I think.

        All Best,

        Dave

        Like

  9. I had another point to make re financing Japan in the War. Who did finance them? DID THE japs run up m astronomical debt that had to be paid off after the War? And who did they owe it to? I am not a student of the Russo-Japanese war but I found it very curious that the Japs were financed by Jacob Schiff and the NY banks and that’s how they won the war, otherwise it was game over for the Japs. Did Schiff do it because he was a nice guy and “everybody loved the underdog Japanese” at the time? A war opposing Russian expansionism?

    I have always suspected that it was more likely the purpose was to bring down The Czar and install Lenin who was supposedly much more amenable to American interests at the time. It worked well. Maybe the Japs succeeded in some plunder of gold in places like the Phillipines which probably very much annoyed some wealthy Americans, but this was not likely enough to finance a war. Just curious.
    All Best,
    David

    Like

  10. Read W.C. Jameson recent book about the last flight and get a confirmation of the truth.

    Like

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