Did Kenyon own last piece of Earhart Electra?

In my Oct. 31, 2020 post, we saw the July 1998 letter from former Lockheed specialist David Kenyon to Amelia Earhart Society President Bill Prymak.  In his letter, Kenyon suggests that the Earhart Electra was not outfitted with the spy cameras, souped-up engines or other special features that would have enabled it to operate at a faster, more efficient level while conducting a secret, covert mission, one that nonetheless wasn’t good enough to prevent her landing at Mili Atoll, where she was soon grabbed up by the Japanese military and taken to Saipan.  

Today we open the pages of the July 5, 1995 issue of the The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., for another story about David Kenyon that reveals he might have been the last person to own a piece of Amelia’s original Electra 10E.  I’ve taken the original story, as it was seen in The Register-Guard, and presented it below, for added realism. 

 David Kenyon

As Kenyon told reporter Paul Neville of The Register-Guard in 1995, he believed the TIGHAR-Nikumaroro theory, which would continue to be the establishment media’s favorite Earhart canard for the next 25 years, to be “bunk.”  He cited Almon Gray’s radio analysis that indicated the fliers landed in the “southeastern part of the Marshall Islands” as compelling, and said he was also “intrigued by reports from natives of the Marshall Islands who say they saw a man and woman matching the description of Earhart and her navigator [Fred Noonan] being escorted by Japanese troops and a plane resembling the Electra being moved on a Japanese navy barge.” 

David H. Kenyon passed away in January 2011 at age 92. 

Thanks to Saipan veteran Thomas E. Devine and his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, we know that Earhart’s Electra 10E, NR 16020, has been resting under somewhere under the Saipan International Airport since it was bulldozed into rubble by American forces in 1944 after being burned beyond recognition shortly after the island was secured.  It will never be recovered.

Thus Register-Guard writer Paul Neville’s 1995 suggestion that the metal fragment removed by Dave Kenyon from the Burbank Lockheed factory in 1937 is the last known piece of the Earhart Electra known to existmay be true, albeit with reservations. 

Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident (1987) joined the ranks of Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller The Search for Amelia Earhart, Paul Briand Jr.’s Daughter of the Sky (1960) and Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985) as one of the most important works on the Earhart disappearance the moment it was published in 1987 by a small Colorado publisher.

Following publication of Eyewitness, 26 veterans of the Saipan campaign contacted Devine to share their own eyewitness experiences that revealed and supported the presence of the Earhart bird, as well as the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.

32 responses

  1. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    David Kenyon’s story of retrieving a small piece of sheet aluminum skin from the scrap bin that had previously been a part of AE’s NR-16020 sounds totally credible to me. I wonder where that piece of aluminum is today?

    All best,

    William

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Stuart Raymond Brownstein | Reply

    Once again, Mr. Mike Campbell has done a fabulous job, stating all the truth and facts about our friends, Amelia and Fred ! Reporting it to the people who want to stay in the know about this case ! There is no one better !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Stuart, you are much too kind!
      MC

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just like the JFK Jr crash, the gov’t is not going to tell us what they know about AE’s disappearance. We need guys like Mike to fill in the blanks. Good job, Mike on this one.

    Like

    1. William H. Trail | Reply

      Ken,

      With the coming of darkness, and visual loss of the horizon over the water as he approached Martha’s Vineyard, JFK, Jr. who was not an FAA Instrument-qualified pilot essentially flew into Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), lost control of the aircraft, and crashed due to suffering Spatial Disorientation. Simple and straight forward. There’s no mystery there. What is curious, however, is the massive search and recovery effort, followed by perfunctory autopsies conducted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the almost immediate cremation of the remains afterward thus precluding any independent toxicology, and the expedited burial at sea of non-veterans (when there’s a wait list and backlog of deserving, qualified vets) by the Navy.

      All best,

      William

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      1. What NTSB said was that when they brought the plane up out of the water, the fuel valve was in the off position. Does not sound like spacial disorientation to me.

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      2. Ken,

        The fact that the fuel valve was in the off position is meaningless; the value was ripped loose and mangled from the impact (with fuel in the sump).

        “The fuel selector valve was recovered, and the bottom of the valve was missing. All three fuel line connections were broken off. The valve had separated from the fuselage attach points. The selector valve linkage was deformed, and the valve was found in the OFF position. A liquid that had a similar color, odor, and texture as 100 low-lead aviation gasoline was found in the fuel selector valve sump”.

        All of the facts and data indicate spatial disorientation, without question.

        Like

      3. William H. Trail

        Tom,

        Absolutely correct about the position of the fuel selector being meaningless. Analysis indicates that JFK, Jr.’s Saratoga had a rate of decent in excess of 4700 fpm and stuck the surface in a nose down attitude.

        All best,

        William

        Like

  4. David Atchason | Reply

    I can’t think of any intelligent comment to make here at this time. Almon Gray’s story caught my eye and I went to the link of Part One. THat was in 2016! My views have coalesced in 5 years and I was eager to read Parts 2 and 3 but the links don’t seem to work. I’m not sure I read Almon Gray at that time but now I find him more than just informative. His mention of a possible recording by Amelia being played certainly has occurred to me, also.

    Funny Ken mentions the JFK Jr. crash, a couple of years ago I watched one or two very informative videos on You Tube about that incident, probably removed or hidden by now, which just by reporting the facts of that case, leads one (me) to become convincd his plane was sabotaged. There were powerful forces that did not want him running for president, HRC comes to mind, but I digress. Apparently some of the Kennedy’s were “good guys” despite their glaring faults.
    Enough for now, maybe I have a comment after I reread Almon Gray, if possible.
    David

    Like

    1. I read an ebook about the case a few years ago. It said there were eyewitnesses on the ground who saw\heard an explosion. This was picked up by the local papers, but not by the national press. An interesting case.

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      1. It was also interesting that the quakes IFR rated pilot who was supposed to accompany him from NJ did not show up, no train given

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      2. I don’t remember hearing about the explosion, or that her hit the water nose down, rather fits with the sabotage story which is my persuasion. The video I saw was very persuasive.

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  5. Ric Gillespie is a fraud, when it comes to his fictitious FANTASIES of Amelia Earhart being stranded & dying on some God forsaken island called Nikumaroro. How anyone could take this guy serious, is beyond explanation? The definition of charlatan should show his name………….
    As for the media and it’s corporate control, they don’t want to take RISKS and tell the *TRUTH, for FEAR of upsetting the apple cart………….

    Doug

    Like

  6. A lot of good pilots have died from spstial disorientation accidents. I wonder if that had something to do with why AE came down in the Marshals?

    Like

    1. Interesting you should mention that Ken; early last evening there was a fatal crash of a Mooney M20M in Victoria MN (about 12 miles from my house). Weather conditions were marginal with a 1000′ ceiling and the pilot was not on an IFR flight plan. There is a video of the crash and if you freeze it at 17:40 06 there is a clear view of the aircraft immediately before impact (less than 5′ above the ground); it is in a nose high attitude, and the wings have failed at the root with both folded up vertically. Spatial disorientation leading to over stressing the airplane? That remains to be determined.

      https://www.fox9.com/video/964171

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      1. I heard about the Mooney crash–too bad. I guess airplanes are just inherently dangerous.

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      2. William H. Trail

        Ken,

        “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”

        Attributed to Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group.

        All best,

        William

        Like

    2. William H. Trail | Reply

      Ken,

      Thought you might find this of interest.

      Click to access SA17_Spatial_Disorientation.pdf

      All best,

      William

      Like

      1. We can attribute the Kobe Bryant crash to spatial disorientation. The pilot thought he was ascending and he was descending in a hard left turn. The ground is unforgiving when you hit it at that speed. In the case of the recent Mooney crash in MN, the wing tips were missing before it hit the dirt. Had AE crashed and sunk, it all would have been over in a second or so. Hitting the water at high speed is like hitting a wall. In the JFK Jr case, since there were no black boxes on the plane, we are only guessing about what actually happened.

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      2. William H. Trail

        Ken,

        You are absolutely correct about Spatial Disorientation being the cause of the 20 January 2020 crash of the Sikorsky S-76B that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others on a flight from Los Angeles to John Wayne Airport. The NTSB report attributes the crash to the pilot’s poor decision to continue VFR flight into IMC resulting in Spatial Disorientation and subsequent loss of control resulting in uncontrolled flight into terrain.
        .
        Now, as for the JFK, Jr. crash, you are correct in that there was no “black box” flight recorder on the Piper Saratoga as are installed as standard operating equipment on airliners. However, the Saratoga was equipped with a recorder that recorded the last 5 minutes of any radio transmissions. Although it was found and recovered from the wreckage, it was totally destroyed in the crash and useless.

        Where you are absolutely wrong in regard to the JFK, Jr. crash is where you say, “…we are only guessing about what actually happened.” Not so. The NTSB does not engage in “guessing,” or wild, unsubstantiated speculation. They had access to FAA’s recordings of the radar plots showing the flight path of Kennedy’s Saratoga and it’s spiral dive all the way down until it went below radar coverage. Given all the many factors involved, and NTSB’s meticulous examination of the evidence, as well as experience with similar incidents, their conclusions as to the cause of the crash are hardly a “guess.”

        All best,

        William

        Like

  7. As I fretted a day or two ago, I had trouble reading to completion the entire account by Almon Gray. The links just don’t seem to work. One thing he said was “She never achieved a two way conversation with the Itasca.” I’m paraphrasing. It did seem, from what I have read, that this was curiously true. It was as if she didn’t hear the Itasca.

    What I attempted to do one day, quite a whie ago was to figure at what time she arrived at Mili Atoll. The first instance was if she had overflown Truk. The second was if she went directly there from Lae and the third was her nearing Howland and then turning around and heading for Mili. A question was, when exactly did she arrive at Mili? I thought mid morning, but it’s hard to come by the info. Of course there is a 2? hour time difference. I think my conclusion was that assuming we stipulate she actually did land on Mili, then as she was heard complaining about not being able to sight Howland or the Itasca, she was actually at that time landing on or being shot down on Mili.

    Also, of course having her one way conversation with the Itasca where she was strangely not directly responding to what the Itasca was saying to her. I wasn’t sure if Almon was saying she wasn’t switching between receive/transmit on her fixed antenna or using the loop antenna, but as Mike said he couldn’t follow what Almon was getting at and neither could I even though I had taken some college physics/engineering courses and feel like I had some technical knowledge. I don’t feel like doing the whole exercise again because all it would show was that the AE story doesn’t “add up” but only in a different manner than it doesn’t “add up” already. I haven’t seen anybody else do this analysis, I wish domebody knowledgeable in aviation like Almon would do it, but I’m not holding my breath.
    A.B.
    David

    Like

    1. Dave,

      Please contact me via personal email and let me know which link(s) you have trouble with, and I will see what I can do about fixing them.

      Second, when you say you “haven’t seen anybody else do this analysis, I wish somebody knowledgeable in aviation like Almon would do it, but I’m not holding my breath,” are you telling us that you have completely digested Calvin Pitts “Disappearing Footprints” series of posts, or that our most esteemed pilot never considered the problem or situation you describe in all he wrote? I find that hard to believe.

      Mike

      Like

  8. David Atchason | Reply

    Mike,
    I started following the first Gray link you supplied with the original Kenyon post. It wouldn’t play Part 2. I tried again later and it played that but there was a third part I believe and that wouldn’t play. I would have to start all over again with this and then try to give you a definitive answer Which I will do. I was interested because I thought Almon was going to conclude with his definitive answer, but I couldn’t find it. I will send personal email.

    As for Calvin Pitts account, I don’t recall reading something like that. But your blog has been going on for more than 5 years and I have not been diligent enough to ensure I read everything. In fact, I sometimes stumble on some old info of yours and wonder why I never noticed that before. I don’t keep notes and I admit the AE story is not crucial to my life, sometimes I have to give it a rest even though I am an avid follower.

    What I’m searching for is this: Was her arrival in Howland vicinity in a time frame that was very plausible? Probably yes, or someone would have noticed a discrepancy by now. If she overflew Truk, could she have made it to Howland at the time she apparently did? Or would it have been substantially later? Her time frame to Mili by way of Truk compared to the actual time a (her) plane was sighted by Joromon? landing on Barre Island. This time still seems unclear or maybe I missed something.

    I have never seen such an analysis by somebody with first hand knowledge of the capabilities of her Electra. I also found it interesting that Gray spoke of someone witnessing Noonan “closing the bar” the night before the flight from Lae. It is a slight possibility that Fred was not only hung over but indulged in a little “hair of the dog” and was slightly incapacitated for his tasks. Maybe TIGHAR has done something like this analysis I crave, but I haven’t followed that since before TAL came out. I believe Ric was strictly opposed to Truk theory.

    In answer to Ken McGhee I have never thought of how a scenario like spatial disorientation would fit in, have you? How would such a thing work? She was flying in clear daylight.
    A.B.
    David

    Like

    1. Dave,

      The distance from Lae to Truk to Howland is 3,250 statute miles, compared with 2,556 miles when flying direct from Lae. So naturally it would have taken her longer to reach Howland, which of she never did. Her last message at 0843 local Howland time was strong, but nobody knows where she was when it was sent.

      Gray never supported the idea that Noonan was drunk or hung over the day of the final flight. Check your reference again, you’ll find Gray disagreeing with the idea that Noonan was anything but fit and ready to go.

      MIke

      Liked by 1 person

    2. William H. Trail | Reply

      David,

      You may wish to review The Chater Report and The Collopy Letter regarding Fred Noonan’s fitness for duty prior to take off from Lae. Both are available on TIGHAR’s website, and neither makes any direct, or implied negative comment regarding FN’s fitness to fly, or perform his duties. In fact, James A. Collopy commented that FN expressed “confidence” in his ability to find Howland Island.

      All best,

      William

      Like

    3. The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that Howland is any kind of suitable place for airplanes. Since most Americans have never seen it or been there, it is an unknown to them. The Pacific just has so few safe havens.

      Like

      1. From reading Calvin Pitts and descriptions of planning the Howland airstrip supplied by Ric Gillespie’s Forum my take is that it was possible to land on Howland while taking off from there was marginal, but certainly not impossible. Maybe Howland was as far as she was supposed to fly and her films and pictures of the Japanese Mandates would be off loaded there.
        I couldn’t find out if the Japanese had radar in 1937, possibly, but not likely, especially in the Marshalls. If she didn’t intend to land on Howland, then where else would she land?
        I found this article online, it certainly makes the case that Pearl Harbor attack was a total suprise, but the official story is that it was, so I am skeptical. If they did suspect the attack was coming, and I think they did, this article is a good cover-up.
        https://www.usni.org/magazines/naval-history-magazine/2009/december/how-japanese-did-it.
        My thinking is, that almost all the IJN ships were in “home waters” and so any attack would have to come from Japan itself, not the mandates, so having Amelia spy on them wouldn’t have much value. I have read that somebody in USN thought they might stage the IJN fleet in the Marshalls to be ready for the attack, and FDR might want to know this, but that’s farfetched. I guess I haven’t solved the AE mystery yet.
        A.B.
        David

        Like

      2. William Trail sent these links regarding Japanese radar, which they apparently didn’t have in 1937.

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

        Japanese radar development prior to 1945: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/180636

        Approach by the Kido Butai by way of the southern route via the Marshall Islands was seriously considered in the planning for Operation Hawaii.

        But it wasn’t radar that they would have used to track Earhart, but Radio High Frequency Direction Finding, which Japan did have in 1937.

        Radar was a war-winning advantage for the Allies in the Pacific. Though not unknown to the Japanese, the Allies were far ahead in both theory and practice and remained so throughout the war. Here’s a link with much more: http://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/R/a/Radar.htm

        MC

        Like

      3. Before I read the suggested links, I found that Wikipedia made it sound like the Japanese didn’t have real radar in 1937. If they did, wouldn’t they have used it in the mandates? Did they possibly track AE on radar?
        A.B.
        David

        Like

      4. Not radar! Radio direction finding!

        Like

  9. David Atchason | Reply

    As I foretold, I’m going to spew my Grand Unified Theory as soon as I can locate my tinfoil hat. Of course I happen to believe it. (My theory) OK, I will stipulate Fred was “fit as a fiddle” it doesn’t matter much whether he was or wasn’t.

    Someone just asked whether the AE and JFK Jr. cases were related, I contend, yes they were. Not by spatial disorientation, though.
    In the case of JFK Jr. I will elaborate. Jr was well aware who was the prinipal facilitator of his father’s demise. His magazine, named “George” was a strong hint. What was going to happen was, when Jr. was elected president, he would be able to get his revenge by revealing H.W.s role in the assassination. The power elite, (nixon, LBJ, the Bushes and various other high ranking personages also with dirty hands) could not let this stand. They had already disempowered Teddy K. by means of the Chappaquidick setup. Which was easy to do as Teddy’s distasteful antics had left him wide open. Probably the slightly naive Jr. never saw it coming. This was still in the era when most everybody (including me) believed what the MSM had to say. It worked perfectly . Fortunately there were or are some skeptical voices who saw through the cover story that he was disoriented and got the word out to a few skeptical and perceptive people. (Like me).

    In the case of AE, I will rehash my previously thoroughly shot down hypothesis. AE found herself as a pet in the FDR household. She and Eleanor “hit it off” big time. But dark clouds gathered. Eleanor and Franklin were not that chummy, so am I told. Franklin kind of resented the closeness of Amelia and Eleanor. Soon, Amelia came to learn of FDR’s devious plans to get the USA into WW2. Probably many other of his sinister plots. Amelia, being her upstanding self, was offended by what she had learned. With such a heroine as Amelia threatening to blow the whistle on his schemes, FDR formulated a plan. He would send her on a suicide mission. In Hawaii, on her first attempt, her plane was sabotaged. She was supposed to croak then and there but miraculously, all survived. Manning, however, was tipped off what was going to happen and he implausibly bailed out to save his skin.

    Why she was sent in the opposite direction on second attempt may have something to do with her planned demise. Most likely, she was sent off on her final flight from Lae when the aircraft carrier Kaga lurked. Most likely the IJN learned of her suicidal plans through a tip or deliberate slip by the USN. They forced her down at Mili, and when FDR lerned she was captured by Japanese he was delighted and satisfied his maneuver had worked to perfection as we saw when the page recounted his reaction upon learning of her fate. He would have clicked his heels, but alas, he was crippled.

    She was out of his hair at last! Now, the Japanese may have treated her well and maybe to those of their military “in the know” she was a clandestine heroine. It’s not out of the question she was held at Sasebo and perhaps did volunteer for or was forced to do a few Tokyo Rose broadcasts to while away her time. What to do with her when the war ended was a delicate question. I can’t say at this time. My crystal ball is on the fritz today.
    Footnotes have been deleted to protect the innocent.
    Just sayin’
    David

    Like

    1. Sorry, in my excitement I neglected to send that message to you yesterday. It still applies. As for Calvin Pitts, I think I read most of what he was saying on your blog or wherever he wrote it. I can’t criticize it on the basis of my aviation knowledge. Hisposition was that the runway at Howland was unsuitable for her landing/takeoff there. He would know a lot better than me.

      However, TIGHAR printed a copy of the supposed conference among the planners where logical possibilities were discussed and the reasoned conclusion of whoever (Black?) built the runways was that the runways were practical although possibly sketchy in certain conditions. So Pitts describes a scenario where she flies to Howland vicinity. Why? If she was not going to land there, why do that, it’s very dangerous. Then he resorts to pure speculation. He assumes that she was actually in Howland vicinity. He assumes Fred knows where they are. He says (I think) Fred could copy the Jaluit radio station (and that would give him a much better idea of where they were, of course). He indicates they put their emergency plan into action and while the Gilberts were “due west” they decide to head off 20 degrees north of due west which heads them to Mili.

      He says maybe they think landing on a known Japanese outpost would be safer than some godforsaken atoll in the Gilberts. At this point his speculation is losing me, it doesn’t “add up.” He even says they thought the Japs would perhaps “welcome them.” While his time frame of arrival at Howland vicinity seems right (I never checked it myself) and if they headed to Mili the time they would arrive seems to agree with their purported landing time there which seems very vague to me. I haven’t checked that either, but I would be just using my best guesses. Now, he is concluding (even though they are already lost, that they would find Mili no problema) this is preposterous. If they flew “due west”to the Gilberts the distance between the atolls in the Gilbert chain would allow them (she hopes) to sight some island because the target is so big(THe Gilberts) they can’t miss.

      This is probably true, at least on paper. But to find Knox (tiny) and then Mili (small) coming from the east something like 750 miles and low on gas, “Give me a break.” Never happen even though Calvin makes it sound as easy as pie. I believe the only way they arrive at Mili is if it was intentional from the start. It would not be hard to follow the Marshalls if coming from the West (Truk) so I say. So, with all due respect to Calvin, it sounds like he is using his comprehensive aviation knowledge to do some “authoritative” speculation that makes Amelia sound sensible. But for me, it doesn’t work. Nobody has or can do it, so far, or we would have had our answer decades ago.

      As I think over the possibility of recordings of Amelia being played from perhaps the little station on Howland or from some seaplane as some guessed, this seems to me most plausible. Of course it would be impossible to have a 2 way conversation with the Itasca, and that’s exactly what happened. It gets explained away by fixed or loop antenna, discarded antenna on reel, send/receive relay bad, blah blah none of it making any sense at all. This is pure propaganda technique, explaining away the impossible because the sheeple want to believe fervently that the impossible IS possible. No wonder Prymak is beyond frustrated, but he can’t accept that he is simply being hoodwinked.

      A.B.
      Dav

      Like

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