Reconsidering the Earhart “Truk overfly” theory

I received an email from Guam researcher Tony Gochar (see p. 263-264 Truth at Last) recently that I wasn’t expecting, about something that’s been sitting in plain sight for so long without being addressed that I had taken if for granted.  (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Most readers of this blog are familiar with the so-called “Truk overflight” theory, by which Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, instead of flying east toward Howland Island, first headed north to Truk Lagoon, now part of Chuuk State within the Federated States of Micronesia.  During World War II, Truk was Japan’s main base in the South Pacific theater, a heavily fortified base for Japanese operations against Allied forces in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, serving as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet.

The long-theorized Truk overflight, was initially described by Fred Goerner in the final chapter of The Search for Amelia Earhart:

When Amelia and Fred took off from Lae, New Guinea, they did not fly directly toward Howland Island.  They headed north to Truk in the Central Carolines.  Their mission was unofficial but vital to the U.S. military: observe the number of airfields and extent of Japan’s fleet servicing facilities in the Truk complex, and prove the advantages of fields for land planes on U.S. held islands on the equator.

Flight strategy had been carefully developed during the around-the-world trip.  A point-to-point speed of not more than 150 miles per hour had been maintained throughout.

This graphic appeared in the September 1966 issue of True magazine’s condensation of Fred Goerner’s recently published The Search for Amelia Earhart, with this cutline: “Double line shows Earhart’s announced course to Howland Island.  Author believes she flew first to Truk instead to study secret Japanese base, then got lost and landed in Mili Atoll.  Captured by the Japanese, she was taken along dotted line to other bases.  Ship below Howland is U.S. Coast Guard’s Itasca, Earhart’s assigned contact.

In 1937, U.S. intelligence would have been extremely interested in the status of this naval base, once known to Allied forces as Japan’s “Gibraltar of the Pacific,” and Amelia might have been asked to observe and possibly even take some photos with her small, hand-held Kodak camera.  The Electra would have arrived over Truk at about 7 p.m. local time, with plenty of daylight left, or so I believed the basic theory held.  Of course, we have no proof that Amelia attempted to perform such a mission, but her actions during the final flight suggest something very strange was afoot, and she had two meetings with top U.S. officials during April 1937, according to Margot DeCarie, her personal secretary. (See Truth at Last for more.)

For more background on the Truk overfly theory, please see my post from Dec. 14, 2015,Bill Prymak analyzes Earhart-as-spy theories and Jan. 2, 2019, Art Kennedy’s sensational Earhart claims persist: Was Amelia on mission to overfly Truk?

Tony Gochar’s recent message, which he began with, “Just a few thoughts about the Richards Memo,” went immediately to an entirely different subject:

One of the basic thoughts I had about Earhart going to Truk to take pictures was daylight.  Google Earth Pro has a feature called sunlight slider.  You can locate where you are interested in daylight –Truk, pick a date (the year should not make a difference), and slide a scale which will give a time of day and the amount of sunlight at the location. 

This part of the world does not have those long summer days.  At 7:00 p.m. you can see almost total darkness at Truk on July 2.  The other concern I had was weather.  The best I could come up with is the attached Monthly Weather Review.  It doesn’t cover the area of Truk, but it would if a big storm was heading across the Western Pacific.  For Earhart to go to Truk is not something I take seriously.

For the other comments about Japanese radio intelligence I have a few sources.  They had the capability to RDF (radio direction finding) her flight.  They had the capability to listen to her broadcasts.  Since I did that very kind of work in the USAF I am very certain they followed her track.  I can’t describe the details of what I did, but I would have certainly listened for her.  The U.S. radio direction finding stations in the Pacific followed her.  I will provide details in a later email.

As we have discussed many times some of these documents are still classified and who knows when they will be declassified. 

I’ve doubted little, if anything, that the experienced, detail-oriented Gochar has told me, but as a non-tech type, I found the Google Earth Pro “Sunlight Slider” a bit user-unfriendly.  But William Trail, a retired Army officer, aviator and longtime contributor to this blog, soon found and sent the Sunrise and sunset times in Puluwat Atoll, Chuuk, Micronesia, which confirmed Gochar’s claim that the Sunset Slider revealed darkness at Truk on July 2 at 7 p.m.  

Sunrise, sunset and twilight end, on July 2 at Puluwat Atoll, Chuuk, among other readings on the site, are 5:50:52 a.m., 6:23:31 p.m., and 6:46:14 p.m. respectively, which makes it dark indeed at 7 p.m. on July 2 of any year.  Further, the World Time Zone Map shows that Lae, New Guinea and Chuuk Lagoon, formerly Truk Atoll and now part of Chuuk State within the Federated States of Micronesia, are in the same time zone.

As seen in the map above, found on the now-defunct Mystery of Amelia Earhart website, created by William H. Stewart, a career military-historical cartographer and foreign-service officer in the U.S. State Department and former senior economist for the Northern Marianas, the distance from Lae to Truk is 888 nautical miles, or 1,022 statute miles, (another source says it’s 1,620 kilometers, 1,006 miles per a-kilometers-to-miles converter), but who’s quibbling?  The total distance from Lae to Truck to Howland Island is 3,250 statute miles, compared with 2,556 miles when flying direct from Lae, and indeed pushes the range limits of the Electra, said to be 4,000 miles in the absence of headwinds, though that was certainly possible.

After receiving Gochar’s message, the Truk overfly theory, as I had conceived it, was suddenly on its deathbed, at least in my own mind.  But before administering Last Rights, I decided to check a few more numbers, just to be sure.  I was surprised to see that for a flight leaving Lae at 10 am, it would have to average 114 mph for a nine-hour trip that arrives at 7 p.m.  Why had this 7 p.m. arrival time been stuck in my mind in such a sacrosanct way?  I don’t know, perhaps many online conversations on the Amelia Earhart Society forum had implanted it, but I can’t find a solid reference for it, and I no longer have access to the AES website, which has been all but defunct for years.

Far more likely, the Earhart Electra would have been maintained at an average speed of 135 mph, or even 150 mph, over the trip to Truk, a speed that had been common throughout its world flight.  An average of 135 mph would have covered the 1,022 miles in 7.57 hours, and put the plane over the Japanese held atoll about 5:30 p.m., with enough light to do whatever she might have been “asked” to do.  A higher average speed, of course, would have brought Earhart and Fred Noonan over Truk even earlier in the day. 

Daylight saving time regions: Northern hemisphere summer (blue); Southern hemisphere summer (orange); Formerly used daylight saving (light grey); Never used daylight saving (dark grey).  As the map indicates, daylight savings time has never been used in Papua New Guinea (dark grey area just above eastern tip of Australia.

Like Gochar, William Trail doesn’t put much stock in Fred Goerner’s 1966 theory.  I understand that it must remain a possibility until it can absolutely, positively be ruled out, but no, I’m not an advocate of the Truk overflight theory,Trail wrote in an Oct. 1 email.  Flying from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island by way of Truk for the purpose of taking aerial photos would have been a very long flight that would have taxed the capabilities of crew and aircraft to the max.  The potential for failure, and disaster, was great.  The odds for pulling it off and getting away with it were short.  There was very little room for any error, or anything to go wrong, and we know that “Murphy” always tags along on the manifest.  In my opinion, there was too just much risk for too little potential reward.”

19 responses

  1. Flight planning aspects relating to a possible Earhart spy flight

    Now that we are talking about Earhart’s role in gathering intelligence about Japan’s actions in the Mandated Islands, I decided to look at this from a piloting and aircraft performance point of view. It turns out that there are actually two different theories. One, that she was a spy herself, flying over the Japanese held Islands and taking pictures of their installations with cameras hidden in her airplane. A second theory is that she was not taking pictures herself but that she would stage a disappearance to give the U.S. Navy the excuse to search the Mandated Islands so that the Navy could take pictures of Japanese installations. We need to look at these two different theories separately.

    The islands we are interested in were claimed by Spain based on discovery. These islands were sold to Germany in 1899. They were occupied by Japan in October 1914, shortly after the start of WW 1. After the war the League Of Nations recognized Japan’s fait accompli and granted Japan a mandate to administer the islands, thus the name the “Japanese Mandated Islands.” In spite of the maps that you may have seen with lines outlining the area covered by the Mandate, which include vast areas of open sea, it is important to keep in mind that these lines were drawn for the convenience of the map maker and do not mean that Japan had any claim to these ocean areas. What the lines actually denote is that any island found within the lines (except Guam and Wake) are subject to the mandate given to Japan. All that was transferred to Japan by the League of Nations Mandate were the original rights that had belonged to Germany to control the islands and the territorial seas surrounding the islands. Japan could not be given any more rights than Germany had held. By international law, the territorial seas extended only three nautical miles from the nearest shoreline,(this was changed to twelve nautical miles by international agreement in 1982.) Beyond the territorial seas (three nautical miles then, twelve nautical miles now) are International Waters where ships of any nation can sail. This includes naval vessels of every country which are also free to conduct flight operations over International Waters. The U.S. Navy had the right to operate its aircraft as close as three nautical miles from each of the Mandated Islands and could have obtained much information by taking photos from these locations. The U.S. Navy routinely conducts “Freedom Of Navigation” operations to assert these rights, an example of which resulted in the Gulf of Sidra Incident in 1981. Some believe, that in spite of international law, that Japan might have attacked or protested if the U.S. Navy had conducted operations in International Waters near the Mandated Islands but it is obvious that Japan was not ready to pick a fight with the U.S. in 1937. This is clear from the USS_Panay_incident. On December 12, 1937 Japanese planes sank the U.S. Navy gunboat Panay in the Yangtze river, killing 3 and wounding 42. Japan promptly apologized and “paid an indemnity of $2,214,007.36 to the United States on April 22, 1938.” For more information about these islands see:

    World War 2 Pacific Island Guide

    The island groups are the Carolines, the Marshalls and the Marianas. The islands of most interest were Palau, Saipan, Truk, Ponape and Jaluit. They are north of the line that stretches from Palau in the west to Mili in the east. However Guam remained an American possession and it is at the southern end of the Marianas chain, 130 SM south of Saipan. ( I will use statute miles in this discussion since our prior discussions about airplane performance also used statue miles and statute miles per hour instead of nautical miles and knots.) Wake Island, to the northeast, was also in American hands. See map 1 and map 2 and Google Earth image 3 and image 4. Image 5 shows the relationship of the Mandated Islands to Lae and Howland. Image 6 shows the route from Lae to Howland which is 2560 SM long. ( I have rounded the mileages off to 10 SM which are sufficiently precise enough for this discussion.)

    The distance from Lae to Palau is 1300 SM; Lae to Truk, 1030 SM; Lae to Ponape, 1220 SM; and Lae to Jaluit, 1790 SM. From Palau to Truk is 1180 SM, Truk to Ponape is 440 SM, Ponape to Jaluit 780 SM and from Jaluit to Howland is 1020 SM. If Earhart flew to Palau first she could have overflown the other islands on the way to Howland and this route would be only 130 SM longer than flying directly from Palau to Howland. If, instead of going to Palau, her first destination was Truk, then overflying the other islands on the way to Howland would add only 20 SM so there would be no reason to not take advantage of the orientation of the islands by flying directly to Howland. See image 7.

    Let’s look at the possibilities, first the route to Palau and then overflying the other islands. They took off from Lae at ten a.m. which was 0000 Z July 2, 1937. (We will use GMT for all the times, Zulu time.) Flying at 150 mph it would take 8 hours and 40 minutes to fly the 1300 SM to Palau so they would arrive at 0840 Z. Then 7 hours and 52 minutes to Truk, arriving at 1632 Z. Then 2 hours and 56 minutes to Ponape, arriving at 1928 Z. Then 5 hours and 12 minutes to Jaluit, arriving at 0040 Z, July 3, 1937. Then the final leg to Howland would take 6 hours and 48 minutes finally arriving at Howland at 0728 Z July 3, 1937. The total distance for this route would have been 4,720 SM and the total time en route 31 hours and 28 minutes. If she just went to Palau and then directly to Howland the distance would have been 4,590 SM taking 30 hours and 36 minutes and arriving at Howland at 0636 Z July 3rd. This is for a no wind condition. If we assume a 25 mph wind out of the east then the times become 0725 Z at Palau; 1652 Z at Truk; 2023 Z at Ponape; 0138 Z July 3rd at Jaluit and 1047 Z July 3rd at Howland for a total time 34 hours and 47 minutes.

    There are a number of problems with this proposed route. First, she didn’t have enough gas to fly for 34 hours and 47 minutes. Second, the 25 mph east wind added 498 statute air miles to the route making the route cover 5,218 statute air miles which is much greater than any range claimed by Lockheed and also much greater than the range calculated in our prior discussions. Third, Earhart reported at 1912 Z July 2nd that she thought she was at Howland which was fully 15 hours and 35 minutes earlier than she would have arrived if she had overflown Palau. If she had flown this route then she would have been about 2100 SM away from Howland at the time of this radio report. Everybody in the radio room on Itasca at 1912 Z agreed that they believed Earhart was very close at that time, including the two independent wire service reporters. I have shown previously that she couldn’t fly faster without burning fuel at a much higher rate which would have reduced the range still further. If she had flown at full continuous power of 1100 hp she would have run out of gas at 0913 Z while still on the leg between Palau and Truk. Fifth, sunset at Truk on July 2nd was 0805 Z meaning that she would be over Truk in the middle of the night when it would have been impossible to take any photographs. (Sunset at Palau was 0920 Z so she would have been able to take pictures there.) For all of these reasons we can dismiss Palau from Earhart’s plans.

    Next let’s consider a route directly to Truk and then overflying Ponape and Jaluit on the way to Howland. See image 8 and image 9. (We will assume the same 25 mph east wind.) She would have arrived over Truk at 0719 Z which is 46 minutes prior to sunset. She would then overfly Ponape at 1050 Z which is 2 hours and 50 minutes after the sun went down at Ponape. She would arrive over Jaluit at 1704 Z 1 hour and 31 minutes prior to sunrise at Jaluit. She would get to Howland at 0109 Z July 3rd.

    There are also problems with this route. First, she would arrive 5 hours and 57 minutes after the time she reported being near Howland and the plane would still have been about 750 SM away from Howland. Second, this route would cover 3,772 statute air miles and take a total of 25 hours and 9 minutes. Although various calculations show that she might have been able to fly this far and stay aloft for this period of time, a route this long would have left little or no reserve and it is unlikely that she would have embarked on such a risky route. Third, if she were willing to fly with no reserve it would have made much more sense for her to take off two and a half hours earlier so that she could have photographed both Truk and Ponape during daylight hours. She did not seem to be in a hurry to depart Lae and she had planned to leave even later in the day according to her earlier radiograms. Why would she miss the opportunity to photograph two Japanese bases when all she had to do was get out of bed just a few hours earlier?

    Next we look at a flight directly to Ponape then on to Jaluit and Howland. Since it is 1220 SM from Lae, Earhart would have arrived over Ponape at 0923 Z, 1 hour and 38 minutes after sunset. Then over Jaluit at 1537 Z, which was the middle of the night. Then to Howland at 2342 Z. The total time would be 23 hours and 42 minutes and the distance covered 3,555 statute air miles. Since this route saves 217 statute air miles and 1 hour and 27 minutes off the previous route it is more doable but there are still problems. First, nothing would have been accomplished since she would not be able to get any pictures from any of the islands. If she was planning this route she would have taken off earlier so as to arrive over Ponape during daylight. Second, the fuel reserve would still be minimal and not a comfortable level for the crew. Third, they would arrive 4 hours and 30 minutes after the time they reported being near Howland and this report would have been made when the plane was still about 570 SM away from Howland. See image 10.

    The last route to consider is direct to Jaluit, then on to Howland. It is 1790 SM to Jaluit which would take 14 hours and 1 minutes so arriving in the middle of the night at 1401 Z which is 4 hours and 34 minutes prior to sunrise at Jaluit so nothing could have been accomplished by flying this route. Then on to Howland, arriving there at 2206 Z covering a total distance of 3315 statute air miles and arriving 2 hours and 54 minutes after she reported being at Howland and this report would have been made when the plane was still 370 SM away from Howland. Even though this is the shortest route, since no photos could be taken, it wouldn’t have made any sense to make this flight. See image 11.

    So my conclusion is, that from the flight planning aspects, is doesn’t appear to me that she was attempting to fly over Japanese held islands in order to take photos and to gather intelligence for the U.S. Government.


    1. Gary,

      You are re-posting your thesis of several years that those of us who are really interested have seen on your site. And with all the possible scenarios you cover, you don’t address the route we’re considering in my post — from Lae to Truk to Howland. The total distance from Lae to Truck to Howland Island is 3,250 statute miles, compared with 2,556 miles when flying direct from Lae, and indeed pushes the range limits of the Electra, said to be 4,000 miles in the absence of headwinds, though that was certainly possible. That’s all that’s necessary here for that aspect of the discussion, but thanks anyway.



  2. The US Army Air was planning an “accidental” overflight a month before the war started, from Wake towards the SW Pacific over the mandates for a look see.


    1. William H. Trail | Reply


      That’s an interesting bit of history that I’d like to learn more about. Please cite your source(s). Thanks.

      All best,



  3. Does this eliminate the theory that she may have been persuaded to look at the Marshalls?


  4. In regard to this theory or any others concerning spy missions, would not the government have known that the Japanese would have had the capability to track Earhart & Noonan’s flight, and stop them when required? Also, did she not have a special spy camera installed at one point.. she wold not have needed her own personal camera. Obviously, something was up due to her hush hush meetings with government representatives prior to the flight-but what exactly? So frustrating not to know for sure and that the answers lie in some stashed government files somewhere. And finally (I think I posed this question before) was Fred Noonan in on all this? is it possible he could have been left in the dark concerning their alternative “real” mission, and notified during the flight?


    1. Dave,

      Bill Prymak was vehement, and had a Lockheed employee who was a sworn source, that there were no special cameras installed. “There are only six inches between the floorboards and the belly skin,” Prymak wrote in the AES Newsletter of February 2011. “No surveillance cameras circa 1937 existed to fit those dimensions. Besides, a camera-control panel would of necessity be in the cockpit or on Fred’s table — pretty obvious to customs or mechanics working the aircraft.”



  5. In all these calculations, by me or others much more qualified, there just doesn’t seem to be a logical conclusion to be reached. Us conspiracy theorists are drawn to the spy flight option like moths to a flame, it does give us our conspiracy theory fix. But the fix is wearing off, it appears more like the spy flight idea was dangerous, not realistic, and probably pointless almost 5 years before the projected war started. Mike’s point that her late starting time at 1000 AM made the spy flight not even practical I had not thought of, maybe she forgot to wind up her alarm clock before retiring for the night.

    It would be interesting to establish a definite time that she arrived at her Mili Atoll for her crash stipulating that this is an indisputable fact and work backwards from there. Did she have time to do Truk and then fly directly over the Marshalls (in the dark) and arrive at Mili when she did? Or was too much time? Or could she have been “on” Howland I. but could not see it at 0843 and then flown all the way to Mili in the allotted time? Or were her Howland vicinity messages just recordings? Could she have been at Howland at 0843 and then flown all the way to Mili to crash there by mid or even late morning ? I would say NO. It’s a 5.7 hour trip and even with the time difference I don’t think it could be done.

    So what conclusion can we reach from these speculations above? As usual, no conclusion. It’s getting like the Oak Island treasure hunt. But something quite important must have been going on or why would 80 years later we still get inundated with monthly sometimes expensive disinformations about her?
    Stay Tuned,


    It would be


    1. Dave,
      You misunderstand my point about the 10 am start time. The whole point was to show that instead of arriving at 7 pm, when it was dark and as I had assumed was a basic part of the theory, that she would have arrived well before it was dark if she flew at average speeds. So the theory remains alive, if only on life support.



  6. I’ve never put much stock in the idea that Amelia was sent to overfly Truk. Aside from the fact that they would have to push to get there in order to take any meaningful pictures, the fuel load was probably insufficient. We know that the fuel load carried during the world flight was never anywhere near capacity and there is good evidence that the flight from Lae was no exception (Australian press and U.K. records). Little by little we are obtaining a clearer picture of what happened: i.e. she wasn’t on a secret spy mission and she certainly didn’t end up on Nikumaroro.

    The truth will out and I firmly believe that she ended up in Japanese hands.


  7. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    Is it me, or does the Truk overflight flight route depicted in the graphic map from the September 1966 issue of True magazine seem illogical? The graphic depicts a no-wind, straight-line course of approximately 105 degrees direct from Truk to Howland Island which slices through the northern Gilbert Islands between Makin and Butaritari Islands to the north of the indicated flight path, and Marakei and Abaiang Islands to the south of it. That’s fine so far as it goes. However, after passing east of the northern Gilberts, the depicted flight path indicates a left turn through 225 degrees to a new course of approximately 330 degrees toward Mili Atoll.

    Now, if AE rolled the Electra into a left bank for a 2 minute Standard Rate Turn (3 degrees per second) it would have taken 1 minute and 15 seconds to turn through 225 degrees to bring the Electra’s nose around and roll wings level on the new course of 330 degrees — northwest toward Mili. The angle of bank required to achieve standard rate changes with true airspeed (TAS). The higher the TAS, the greater the bank angle needed to achieve a standard rate turn. I mention all the technical stuff about the turn only to illustrate that such a significant course change could not have been an accident due to compass error, or because of winds. It also could not have been gradual, or gone unnoticed. If such a turn was made, it was pilot induced. And that brings us to why?

    Why after passing through the northern Gilberts when at a point approximately 500 to 600 miles give or take from landing on Howland Island would AE and FN suddenly make a 225 degree turn away from Howland, or safe refuge in the British-controlled Gilberts just to their rear, to fly straight into the teeth of the tiger — the Japanese Mandates — a hostile, denied area to land on Mili Atoll? The answer is, there is no answer. There is no plausible, sensible reason for AE and FN to do such a thing, especially if they’d just overflown Truk and taken photos with a hand-held camera.

    Bottom line: This never happened. AE and FN landed on Mili Atol for sure, but it wasn’t because they became lost flying from Truk to Howland.

    All best,



    1. William,

      That turn you are describing to head back toward Mili was taken from True magazine? It is the same as the flight path given in “Lost Star” by Randall Brink. Is it possible the True magazine article was taken from his book or vice versa? In his book I don’t think he gives any particular reason for her U-turn near Howland. I don’t think her flight happened that way. He has many curious events in his book that others don’t. He also is especially fond of her being given a new, much more advanced plane by Lockheed and he demonstrates this noting the records of her earlier flights and the remarkably fast times she made them in, certainly far faster than her old L10 could do. I think he has a strong point there.

      Here’s a possible scenario: As Mike was pointing out, I think, that 7:30 PM arrival at Truk comes out of nowhere. Yes, it’s dark by then, but with her souped up plane she is easily able to arrive far earlier, say at 6:00 PM plenty of daylight left for photos. So then she heads off through the Marshalls. What on earth could she be looking for in the dark across those islands? Was there nothing to see? Maybe not. What was going on at Maloelap? There is Taroa. The books say the airfield was not built until 1939. But there’s this article. Maybe as the article hints, there was activity even as early as when she flew over it. Maybe that’s what she was specifically looking for.

      Maybe there were already fighter planes there and this is where they came from that “forced her down.” Possibly there were some planes from the Akagi already there at the time. After all, no one knew that the airfield was active in a rudimentary way until she spied on it. Perhaps the Navy did not realize the progress that had been made there because no American had ever actually seen it, but the Navy suspected activity there. So I say she could have seen Truk in the daylight, then slowed down until daybreak over Taroa.

      She almost made her escape but unfortunately the Japs caught her over Mili. To me, this is plausible. Of course there was no reason for her to view Mili, nothing there. Also no reason for her to land there unless she were forced down. But not only had the Japs started construction of the airfield in July 1937, they aready had some planes there. She was caught red handed. The Americans couldn’t object to the Taroa construction because they learned about it through breaking the code. Maybe Amelia’s observation was going to provide the basis for an, but that’s far-fetched. American objection to the obvious military construction by the Japs. So the voice of Amelia right on top of the Itasca was a recording, meant to fool the Japs. They were able to get a fix on the recordings because they were so loud and strong. She was never anywhere near there. Yes, this was the predecessor to the U2 spy plane. That is all.

      Over and out.


      1. William H. Trail


        Yes, the graphic appeared in True magazine’s September 1966 issue, which featured a condensation of Fred Goerner’s recently published book, “The Search for Amelia Earhart.” However, essentially the same graphic also appears Randall Brink’s book, “Lost Star” (1994) 1st Ed. up front between the Contents page and Acknowledgments.

        To put it gently, I would not rely on Brink for facts. For example, on pages 148 and 149 of his book Brink writes, “It is no exaggeration to say that Amelia flew into the midst of a major Japanese naval exercise then underway in the southeastern Marshalls, made up of at least three destroyers, one battleship, one seaplane tender, and the super carrier Akagi.” Really? As we have discussed at length, and firmly established as fact, Akagi was at Sasebo Naval Arsenal undergoing a major refit at the time. Brink additionally fails to give a proper account of IJN vessels engaged in this alleged “naval exercise,” does not state exactly how many destroyers participated, and does not provide the name of the battleship, or even the seaplane tender (Kamoi?). At least he doesn’t name the seaplane tender on page 149. Why? These are important details. Brink’s vagueness, to say nothing of his egregious error about Akagi, does not inspire confidence in his research or scholarship.

        On page 149, Brink attributes the turn to AE and FN “having flown within 200 miles of Howland” and, “when they did not immediately see the island,” following “logical, standard practice and turning to an alternate landfall.”

        For all the many reasons we have already discussed ad nauseum, I don’t believe that AE and FN were engaged in a photographic intelligence overflight (a la Sidney Cotton) over Truk Atoll, or anywhere else. For more about Cotton, please see Jeffrey Watson’s, “Last Plane Out of Berlin” (2002).

        All best,



      2. While it’s fresh in my mind, I just read Art Kennedy’s interview with Bill Prymak. At the end Art states that at her last radio communication with the Itasca she had at least 5 hours of fuel left. That’s about the time it would take to fly from near Howland back to Mili Atoll, I believe. At that point she WOULD be out of gas and she would then have to ditch the plane there as is described by the native witnesses. All supposedly without a word of distress on the radio, even though after she landed she somehow made several or many detailed distress calls which were picked up by various receivers. Art thinks she was ordered to do something like this. I just know I could cogitate about this for the rest of my life and never maken any sense of it. But it could have happened that way.
        All Best,



      3. I’ve just completed some research in which a warship of the New Zealand Squadron of the Royal Navy, HMS Achilles, reported overhearing Amelia state that she was: “Quite down, but radio still working”.

        Where they were down it does not say, however, this would seem to be evidence that she did make it to land and did not crash into the sea.

        I’m not sure I buy the Truk overflight theory, but I can believe an operation to fake an emergency landing so that the US Navy could gather intelligence.

        As with all her messages no position is given, and so one does wonder if this was deliberate in that whoever was in on the mission would know exactly where she was, or at least where she was supposed to be without her having to say it.


      4. This is first time I’ve heard that Achilles received such an alleged message from the Earhart Electra. Please direct us to your source, or if unavailable online, perhaps copy and past it here.



        Liked by 1 person

      5. The reference comes from the 23 July 1937 edition of Pacific Islands Monthly

        I’ve managed to obtain a copy of Achilles log for 1937, which confirms her movements, however, the radio logs were destroyed some time ago. It is unclear what the source is for the article, but since it’s a direct quote it may have come from the original logs at the time.

        I’ve seen copies of the messages relayed to the US Navy and the Itasca from HMS Achilles but it is possible that the full details were not relayed. I have found no evidence that the message “Quite down, but radio still working” was relayed to the Americans.

        I’m also trying to obtain copies of the radio log for the New Zealand Star, an ocean liner of the Blue Star Line that also reported hearing some of Earhart’s transmissions.


      6. Thanks so much! This is very interesting, first time I’ve seen this report. For those who want to see it, it’s on p. 7 of the linked issue of Pacific Islands Monthly. It’s too bad the radio logs of Achilles are gone, but it’s quite likely that the logs are the source for the report.
        Very nice find!


        Liked by 1 person

  8. So, I turned to page 149 of Lost Star which describes AE’s turn back to the Marshalls where she came from…… This makes no sense, Brink’s version describes an overflight of the Marshalls, very dangerous to try, she got away with it and now she is supposedly heading back there to save herself? Back to certain capture by the Japs and a very dim outlook for her and Fred? Did Goerner think she did this U-turn?

    But, reading further, Brink tells of her radio messages of her capture certainly by the Japs and these messages were picked up by Hawaii and McMenamy and others. I thought her messages were regarded as fakes or at least doubtful. Then, supposedly FDR and the US government could not reveal they knew she was captured because that would tip off the Japs that their code had been broken? Why not confront the Japs with the reports from several operators that they heard her describe herself being captured by the Japs at some island controlled by the Japs? Maybe nobody at the time knew exactly which one, but didn’t McMenamy and other listening stations publicly announce they heard her describe her own capture? This is news to me. Or is Brink wrong?

    Brink doesn’t mention Taroa, but my last comment shows my take on her predicament and right now, I think my Taroa overflight idea makes sense.

    In my link there is a comment by Woody Peard about the Taroans taking pieces off the wrecks and selling them for scrap metal? They are risking their lives supposedly negotiating unexploded bombs for a few bucks? Maybe they are, but didn’t Woody or anyone ever search for the one wing plane that might be hers? The aerial photo shows where it is in relation to the runways so it should have been easy to find. I have never heard the possible identity of said one wing plane which must be still right there. I emailed Woody a couple years ago but got no reply.

    All Best,


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