In the entire history of reviews of the handful of books that present aspects of the truth in the Earhart disappearance, only two are memorable. The first was the Sept. 16, 1966 Time magazine unbylined attack against Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart, titled “Sinister Conspiracy?” and still available online, though you have to subscribe to the source to see it now. My commentary about Time’s hit piece, “The Search for Amelia Earhart”: Setting the stage for 50 years of media deceit,” was posted June 21, 2016; you can read it by clicking here. Goerner, a KCBS radio personality in San Francisco, was the only real newsman to ever seriously investigate the Earhart case.
The only other significant review of an Earhart disappearance work was Jeffrey Hart’s examination of Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, which appeared in William F. Buckley’s National Review in the Oct. 18, 1985 issue, but is no longer available online.
Hart wasn’t an Earhart researcher, and his belief about the reason Earhart reached Mili is the same pure speculation that Loomis advanced. But Hart was a well-known establishment pundit, critic and columnist, and wrote for National Review for more than three decades, where he was senior editor. He wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan while he was governor of California, and for Richard Nixon. Now 88, Jeffrey Hart is professor emeritus of English at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. No one of similar stature has ever written a review of an Earhart disappearance book.
I’ll have a bit more to say, but here is Jeffrey Hart’s review of Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, originally titled “The Rest of the Story.” Boldface is mine throughout.
AS A BOY I was thrilled with horror when Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere out over the Pacific during the summer of 1937. She had been the first woman to fly the Atlantic, and now she and her navigator were trying to circle the globe at the equator. She rather disliked being called “Lady Lindy” by the press, because she wanted her own independent identity, but the odd thing was that she looked a little like Lindbergh: thin, with short hair and a wide grin, somehow quintessentially American.
On her last flight she and her navigator Fred Noonan, flew an advanced-model twin-engine aluminum Electra specially designed for the trip. It was known to the press as the “Flying Laboratory.” On July 2, 1937, all contact with the plane was lost, and searches by U.S. ships and planes failed to turn up any trace of Miss Earhart, Noonan, or the plane. As far as anyone at the time knew, they had simply disappeared into that vast blueness, like Hart Crane off the Orizzaba.
It turns out that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were the first casualties of the coming Pacific war with the Japanese. Vincent Loomis, a former USAF pilot with extensive Pacific experience, became fascinated with the Earhart mystery and made it his business to solve it, which he had done. lt is a remarkable, enormously romantic, and heartbreaking story. Loomis went to the Pacific, traveled around the relevant islands, and found natives who had seen the plane crash and had seen Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. He interviewed the surviving Japanese who were involved, and he photographed the hitherto unknown Japanese military and diplomatic documents. The mystery is a mystery no longer.
For all her frame and accomplishments, Amelia Earhart was an innocent flying out over the Pacific. She and Noonan were also incompetent navigators and did not know how to work their state-of-the-art equipment. They were thus more than a hundred miles off course flying right into the middle of the secret war plans of the Japanese empire* when they ran out of fuel and had to ditch the Electra. (Editor’s note: Amelia never claimed to be a navigator at all, but Noonan was recognized as among the best in the world at the time of the final flight.)
By 1937 the Japanese had long since concluded that war with the United States for control of the western Pacific was inevitable. They were hatching plans with Hitler to divide up the British, French, and Dutch possessions that would be vulnerable as a result of the coming European war. The projected Japanese empire, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, would have its large mainland anchor in a China the Japanese were attempting to conquer, and The Pacific islands would be the first line of defense against the U.S. Navy. The Japanese knew that the United States was unlikely to tolerate their geopolitical plans and would be decidedly hostile to any monopolistic co-prosperity sphere run from Tokyo.
The Japanese had acquired control of the key Pacific islands at the end of World War I under a League of Nations mandate. In violation of international law, they were pouring military resources into them. All Japanese military personnel worked in civilian clothes. Newly paved airstrips were marked as “farms” on the maps. Foreign visitors were absolutely excluded. If the local natives obeyed the Japanese rules they were treated fairly, and the Japanese even married some of them. An infraction, however, could mean instant death.
On July 2, 1937, bewildered and lost, Amelia Earhart crash-landed in the middle of all this, putting the Electra down and running into an atoll near Mili Mili a principal military position in the Japanese Marshall Island chain. The Japanese took her and Noonan prisoner and tried to figure out what to do with them. They could hardly release them, not knowing what they had seen. Perhaps the American fliers could blow the whistle on the whole secret operation. They might even be spies. Actually, they had seen nothing.
The two Americans were shipped to Japanese military headquarters on Saipan and jailed. The conditions were miserable, but not unusual for that time and place. The jail was not set up to serve food to the prisoners, mostly natives, whose meals were brought to them by relatives. But the jailers did provide the two Americans with soup, fish, and so forth, though of very poor quality, and with medical treatment. When an exasperated Fred Noonan threw a foul bowl of soup at a Japanese jailer, he was forced to dig his own grave and was immediately beheaded. Japanese culture was not especially permissive in 1937.
After a while, Miss Earhart was allowed a limited amount of freedom and made friends with native families, some of whom Loomis interviewed. She was permitted visits to these friends, and her diet and spirits improved. In mid-1938, however, life in the tropics proved too much for her and she came down with a severe case of dysentery, weakened rapidly, and died there on Saipan. She does not seem to have grasped the significance of what she had stumbled upon and witnessed; ironically enough, she was a philosophical pacifist. The Japanese military asked the natives to provide a wreath for her, and she was buried with Noonan.
One curious footnote to the story is that the present Japanese government, democratic and pro-Western as it supposedly is, has been covering the whole thing up. Today’s Tokyo will not admit, in the face of absurdly obvious proof, that the imperial government was violating the terms of its mandate by militarizing the islands, claiming that everything the islands, claiming that everything going on had to do with “culture” and fishing — no one here but us Japanese Margaret Meads and a few fishing boats. Nor will today’s Tokyo admit that the imperial government lied fifty years ago when it covered up the Amelia Earhart matter. Of course no U.S. Navy search vessels were allowed anywhere near the Marshall Islands. The Japanese claimed that they themselves were doing all the necessary searching. Loomis shows that the “search ships” were in Tokyo Bay at the time. It is odd that the present government cannot admit to the demonstrable facts; it must represent some sort of face-saving. But Tokyo has run out of luck on this one. Vincent Loomis has the documents, the testimony of the Pacific islanders, local Catholic nuns, Japanese medics and seamen.
It is all very poignant. One sees that the Japanese military among whom Amelia Earhart lived for about a year could not begin to comprehend her, this woman pilot, this . . . American. But the evidence is that the Japanese who knew her, if from a very great cultural distance, nevertheless bemusedly admired her. (End of Hart review.)
Hart wrote an accurate, unbiased review of The Final Story, but neither the U.S. government or anyone else in the media got his memo that “the mystery is a mystery no longer.” Not only did they disagree, and still do, but Hart’s review has been expunged from the Internet, where the hard copy I have is taken from Encyclopedia.com in 2007. I don’t know when the review was removed, but there’s no doubt about why it’s gone, and I’m not going to repeat here how sacred cows get even better with age.
Within the past year, plugging the name Amelia Earhart into the Amazon.com search engine has resulted in over 1,500 results for books; recently, for some unknown reason, that number has fallen to “over 1,000” in the same category. Nevertheless, many books have been penned about our ageless American heroine, but of these thousand or so, only about 10 actually present aspects of the truth about the Earhart case. The rest, 99.9 percent, are biographies, novels, children’s books (the biggest sellers) and assorted fantasies — all except the good biographies only muddle the picture and further obscure the truth.
The indisputable fact that this phenomenon exists tells us something is very wrong with the media’s relationship to the Earhart story. For the most recent example of media propaganda and malfeasance, we need only turn to our trusted Fox News and its June 27 non-news piece, “Amelia Earhart signed document discovered in attic box.” Moreover, Fox News has never allowed my name or the title of Truth at Last to stand in the comments section of any of its Earhart stories, to my knowledge.
As I wrote at the top of this post, Fred Goerner was the only newsman to ever publicly advocate for the Saipan-Marshall Islands truth in the Earhart disappearance. When you consider the few important books written about the so-called “Earhart mystery,” consider also the authors of these works. Obscure non-journalists such as Thomas E. Devine, Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, Joe Davidson and T.C. “Buddy” Brennan produced the important tomes about the Earhart matter. Paul Briand Jr., who authored the seminal work of the genre, Daughter of the Sky, in 1960, was an English professor at the Air Force Academy. Bill Prymak, an engineer by trade, was not an author, but his assemblage of Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters is as important as any but a few of the books, though the newsletters are unavailable to the public.
Why hasn’t any newsperson, author or journalist except Fred Goerner ever investigated the Earhart story? The question is rhetorical, of course, as the few who read this blog know, but its answer reveals the real problem.
This is a project long overdue, but better late than never. I don’t claim that this timeline is comprehensive or complete; indeed, some knowledgeable observers might disagree with certain of my decisions to exclude or include incidents or events in this timeline. If so, please let me know in the comments section or via direct email.
The reason for this Earhart timeline is simple: I want to make it as easy as possible for readers to understand the Earhart saga in real terms by offering them a guide to the true history of Earhart research, not the fabricated crap that TIGHAR, Elgen Long and all the rest of the despicable establishment protectorate have shoved down our throats for so long, distorting the facts and misleading all but the well informed.
Without further delay, we begin this two-part timeline with Amelia Earhart’s last message to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca:
July 2, 1937, 8:44 a.m. Howland Island Time: Amelia Earhart transmits her last official message: WE ARE ON THE LINE 157-337, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KCS. WAIT LISTENING ON 6210 KCS.” After about a minute’s pause, she adds, “WE ARE RUNNING ON LINE NORTH AND SOUTH.” The message was received on 3105 at signal strength 5. “She was so loud that I ran up to the bridge expecting to see her coming in for a landing,” former Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts tells author Elgen Long in 1973.
July 2-7, 1937: So-called “post-loss” radio signals, possibly originating from the Earhart Electra, begin about 6 p.m., July 2, Howland Island Time, and continue intermittently. The signals are heard by Navy, Coast Guard, Pan American Airlines, ships, amateurs and professional hams on the West Coast and as far away as Florida. These signals lead many to believe that Amelia survived on land (transmission unlikely from water) within the fuel range of her Electra. Nevertheless, the Coast Guard discounts the signals as “hoaxes” and none are ever accorded official approbation. We may never know if any were legitimate.
July 3, 1937: As reported by Vincent V. Loomis in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, sometime in the afternoon, native Marshallese eyewitnesses Mrs. Clement and Jororo watch Amelia Earhart crash-land her twin-engine Electra on the shallow reef a few hundred yards offshore Barre Island, located in the northwest part of Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands.
July 7, 1937: The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search for the lost fliers in the central Pacific. On July 7 the battleship USS Colorado arrives and searches the Phoenix Islands, 350 miles southeast of Howland. On July 9, three Vought O3U-3 Corsair float planes are launched from the battleship’s three catapult rails to make an aerial inspection of three locations: McKean Island, Gardner Island (now the infamous Nikumaroro), and Carondelet Reef. Nothing unusual is seen during the flyovers of these islands; neither Amelia Earhart nor her Electra was ever on Nikumaroro, contrary to the incessant propaganda efforts by our establishment media.
July 11, 1937: The carrier USS Lexington and three ships of Destroyer Squadron Two take charge. Lexington, with 63 aircraft, begins a week of air operations covering 150,000 square miles, finding nothing. In Lexington Group Commander J.S. Dowell’s “Report of Earhart Search,” filed July 20, 1937, Dowell writes that “the plane landed on water or an uncharted reef within 120 miles of the most probable landing point, 23 miles northwest of Howland Island.”
July 13, 1937: Several American newspapers publish an International News Service (INS) story with headlines similar to this one, found on Page 1 of the Bethlehem (Penn.) Globe- Times: “Tokio Hears Jap Fishing Boat Picked up Amelia.” The story cites “vague and unconfirmed” rumors that the fliers had “been rescued by a Japanese fishing boat without a radio,” is never followed up, and is squelched in Japan with a later retraction.July 13-14, 1937: The Japanese survey ship Koshu arrives at Jaluit on July 13 and departs on July 14 for the island of Mili Mili, where it picks up Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
Between July 15-18, 1937: Sixteen-year-old Japanese-born medical corpsman Bilimon Amaron is called aboard Koshu to treat an American man accompanied by a white female pilot for minor head and knee wounds. A twin-engine silver airplane with a broken wing is attached to the stern of the ship. Amaron later identifies photos of Earhart and Noonan as the fliers he treated.
July 19, 1937: Koshu departs Jaluit, probably for Saipan, with unknown possible stops in transit, on the same day the Japanese government officially ceased its search for Earhart. Earhart and Noonan are flown to Kwajalein, and later to Saipan.
July 19, 1937: The U.S. Navy-Coast Guard ocean search for Amelia Earhart ends. Besides more than 167,000 square miles covered by the planes launched from Lexington and Colorado, the Itasca, Swan, and surface vessels of DESRON 2—the destroyers Lamson, Drayton, and Cushing – as well as Lexington herself, searched nearly 95,000 square miles of ocean. The grand total for all ships, 262,281 square miles, is the equivalent of a 500-mile square. Not a trace of an oil slick or a particle of debris is found.
Summer 1937, Tanapag Harbor, Saipan: Josephine Blanco Akiyama, 11, witnesses a twin-engine silver airplane “belly land” in the waters off the closed Japanese military area of Tanapag. She later sees two American fliers, a man and a woman, and the woman is dressed as a man, with her hair cut short. Josephine later identifies the photos as those of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
October 16, 1937: An article in the Australian newspaper Smith’s Weekly, “U.S.A. Does Australia a Secret Service,” suggests that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her Electra provided the U.S. military the opportunity to search the Marshall and Phoenix Islands for a suspected Japanese military buildup. Some later point to this as the genesis of the Earhart “spy mission” theory.
April 1943: RKO Motion Pictures releases the feature film, Flight For Freedom, starring Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray. The film is often blamed for inspiring the “conspiracy theory” that the fliers were taken to Saipan or landed there as part of a U.S. government plot. The facts, as attested to dozens of native and GI eyewitnesses, tell us that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were indeed on Saipan, where they met their tragic deaths. But Flight for Freedom has no relationship to actual events, and it seems obvious that this film is produced for disinformation purposes.
January 1944: Marshalls Islands native Elieu Jibambam, a schoolteacher with a reputation for integrity, tells Navy personnel on Majuro that a Japanese trader named “Ajima” told him a remarkable story. A “white woman” flier who ran out of gas and landed between Jaluit and Ailinglapalap Atolls, was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and taken to Jaluit or Majuro, and later to Kwajalein or Saipan, Ajima told Elieu. Associated Press reporter Eugene Burns writes a story about Elieu’s revelations that appears in newspapers across America in March 1944. Other GIs find artifacts and other information from natives suggesting an Earhart connection in the Marshalls. Thus the Marshall Islands landing scenario, more commonly known as the Marshall Islands landing theory, is born.
July 6-9, 1944, Saipan: Sgt. Thomas E. Devine, of the 244th Army Postal Unit, views Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E on three occasions, the final time in flames, torched by American forces at the off-limits Aslito Field. Several other U.S. military personnel also see the plane before and after its burning.
July 6-9, 1944, Saipan: Marine Pfc. Earskin J. Nabers, a 20-year-old code clerk in the H&S Communication Platoon of the 8th Marines (2nd Marine Division) on Saipan, receives and decodes three messages relating to the discovery, plans to fly and plans to destroy Amelia Earhart’s Electra at Aslito Field. Nabers, as well as other U.S. military personnel, witnesses the burning of NR 16020 at Aslito Field.
July 1944, Saipan: Marine Pfc. Robert E. Wallack, 18, a machine gunner with the independent 29th Marine Regiment, finds Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe in Garapan. Wallack describes the contents as “official-looking papers all concerning Amelia Earhart: maps, permits and reports apparently pertaining to her around-the-world flight.” Wallack turns over the briefcase to a “naval officer on the beach,” and never sees it again. Wallack is interviewed by Connie Chung on CBS’s Eye to Eye in 1994 and appears in the 2007 National Geographic production, Undercover History: Amelia Earhart.
Late July-early August, 1944, Saipan: Privates Billy Burks and Everett Henson Jr., under orders from Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold, excavate and remove skeletal remains of two individuals from a gravesite outside a native Chamorro cemetery south of Garapan that may have been the remains of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. The disposition of the remains is unknown.
August 1945: Days before Sgt. Thomas E. Devine left Saipan to return to the states and his discharge from the Army, an Okinawan woman shows him the gravesite of a “white man and woman who had come from the sky” and were killed by the Japanese. Devine goes to his own grave believing this is the true Earhart-Noonan gravesite.
July 24, 1949: In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, says: “I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me. I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing at sea. She landed on a tiny atoll – one of many in that general area of the Pacific – and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall islands, under Japanese control.”
Early 1960: Daughter of the Sky: The Story of Amelia Earhart, by Paul Briand Jr., is published by Duell, Sloan and Pearce (New York). The final chapter presents the account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, 11 years old in 1937, as told to Navy dentist Casimir R. Sheft on Saipan in the 1946, when Josephine was his dental assistant. Josephine’s account is the spark that ignites the modern search for Amelia Earhart.
June 15, 1960: KCBS radio newsman Fred Goerner arrives at Saipan for the first of four visits to investigate Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s eyewitness account. With the help of the islands three Catholic priests, he interviews about 200 native witnesses and identifies 13 who strongly corroborated the account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama.
July 1, 1960: Chronicling Goerner’s interviews, San Mateo (Calif.) Times reporter Linwood Day’s series of stories reaches a climax as the Times runs, in a 100-point headline, “Amelia Earhart Mystery is Solved.” Day’s story, “Famed Aviatrix Died on Saipan,” is ignored by all major newspapers in American, though a number of smaller newspapers did run it.
October 1960: ONI Special Agent Thomas M. Blake visits Devine at his West Haven, Connecticut home, a few months after Devine told the story of his 1945 gravesite experience to the New Haven Register. Devine cooperates with Blake, and gives the ONI all he can to help the agency locate the gravesite the Okinawan woman revealed to him.
December 8-22, 1960: The Office of Naval Intelligence conducts an investigation into Thomas Devine’s Saipan gravesite information. The original document, henceforth the ONI Report, is dated December 23, 1960; ONI Special Agent Joseph M. Patton was its official author.
January 1963: Devine is summoned to the ONI’s Hartford, Connecticut office to read the classified ONI Report’s disturbing verdict: “The information advanced by DEVINE . . . is inaccurate and cannot be supported by this investigation.” Devine describes the findings as “neither favorable nor fair . . . incredible and negative about my information,” and devotes a chapter in Eyewitness, “An Incredible Report,” to a comprehensive rebuttal of the ONI’s findings.
December 1963: Thomas E. Devine returns to Saipan with Fred Goerner and locates the gravesite shown to him by an unidentified Okinawan woman in August 1945. Unfortunately for Devine and history, he decides not reveal its location to Goerner because he didn’t trust him. For various reasons, not least of which was the overwhelming official resistance to his many letters requesting permission to dig, Devine never again sets foot on Saipan, an outcome he never dreamed might happen in 1963.
March 1965: According to Fred Goerner, a week before his meeting with Gen. Wallace M. Greene at Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington, Va., Nimitz tells him in a phone conversation, “Now that you’re going to Washington, Fred, I want to tell you Earhart and her navigator did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese.” The admiral’s revelation appeared to be monumental breakthrough for the determined newsman and became well known to most observers of the Earhart case.
Spring 1966: The Search for Amelia Earhart, by Fred Goerner, is published by Doubleday and Co. (New York), sells 400,000 copies and stays on the New York Times bestseller list for several months. Search, which chronicles Goerner’s four Saipan visits and other investigative activities from 1960 to 1965, is the only bestseller ever published that presents aspects of the truth in the Earhart disappearance.
Sept. 16, 1966: Time magazine pans The Search for Amelia Earhart in a scathing, unbylined review it titles “Sinister Conspiracy?” Time calls Search a book that “barely hangs together,” and the review signals the government’s longstanding position relative to the Earhart case – one of absolute denial of the facts that reveal the fliers’ presence and deaths on Saipan. From that day until now, the truth in the Earhart disappearance remains a sacred cow in Washington, and by extension, the entire U.S. government-media establishment. The few books that present credible accounts of the Earhart disappearance are suppressed by the mainstream media, including Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.
To be continued in our next post.
With the recent finds of several small artifacts on one of Mili Atoll’s tiny Endriken Islands, any or all of which may have once been parts of Amelia Earhart’s Electra, as well as the emergence of a rare 1937 U.S. newspaper clipping, a new look at the origin and evolution of the “fishing boat pickup” story and how it fits into the Earhart saga might be instructive.
In the wake of the Battle of Kwajalein, fought from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 1944, on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, several discoveries were made relative to the presence of Amelia Earhart at different locations in the Marshall Islands, including Kwajalein in the years before the war. The below story appeared in the Benton Harbor (Mich.) News Palladium on March 21, 1944, under the headline “Clue Obtained To Mystery of Amelia Earhart,” by Eugene Burns, an Associated Press war correspondent posted at Majuro, the capital and largest city in the Marshalls:
MARSHALL ISLANDS, March 4 – (Delayed) (AP) The possibility that Amelia Earhart Putnam, world famed aviatrix, ran out of gas in the Marshall Islands and was taken to Japan has been revived by a remark of a mission trained native to Lieutenant T. Bogan, New York City.
Lieutenant Bogan, a representative of the Marshall Island military governor, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet, said Elieu, the 30-year-old native, limited himself to these statements and stuck to them: “A Jap trader named Ajima three and a half years ago on Rita island told me than an American woman pilot came down between Jaluit and Ailinglapalap atolls and that she was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and the trader Ajima heard that she was taken to Japan.”
Elieu insisted that he heard of no man being with the “American woman pilot.” Fred Noonan flew with Miss Putnam as navigator on her world-girdling trip in 1937.
Since the story was an Associated Press release, we can be reasonably sure that it appeared in a number of newspapers throughout the country, including the New York Daily News, the New York Sun and the Oakland Tribune, according to Bogan’s 1961 account to Fred Goerner in The Search for Amelia Earhart, but this story made very little impression on a nation still at war. Thanks to various investigations in the Marshalls over the past 65 years, we know that much of this story that Elieu passed to Burns was incorrect in many details, but its major thrust, that she landed in the area and was picked up by the Japanese, was certainly true.
In 1961, shortly after Goerner returned to San Francisco after his second trip to Saipan and an unsuccessful attempt to visit Kwajalein, he was called by John Mahan, a local realtor and former Navy yeoman stationed on Majuro in 1944. “Amelia Earhart crash-landed somewhere between Majuro, Jaluit, and Ailinglapalap in the Marshalls,” he told Goerner. “We knew it back in 1944.” Mahan said several Marshallese natives who served as interpreters, among them Joe and Rudolph Muller, told him the Japanese picked up two American fliers, “a man and woman, and brought them for a while into either Jaluit or Majuro, then took them to another island. They said it was 1937, and the Japs thought they were spies.”
Mahan referred Goerner to Eugene Bogan, his commanding officer on Majuro, who recalled that a Majuro native named Elieu, a schoolteacher with a reputation for integrity among the Marshallese, was the source of the Earhart information. Shortly after the Navy arrived on Majuro, Elieu overheard a conversation about the Japanese preoccupation with secrecy, Bogan continued, “and asked if they knew of the white woman flier who ran out of gas and landed between Jaluit and Ailinglapalap.”
Elieu wasn’t an eyewitness but had heard the story from a Japanese friend named Ajima, a trader with a company the Japanese used as front to cover military activities in the Mandated Islands. The woman was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and taken to either Jaluit or Majuro, Ajima told Elieu, and later to Kwajalein Atoll or Saipan. No man was mentioned in the story, “because the Japanese would have been greatly impressed by a woman pilot,” Bogan said.
This was Goerner’s introduction to the Marshall Islands landing scenario, the “front-end” of the Earhart disappearance story, so to speak, which he didn’t investigate quite as extensively as Amelia’s Saipan presence as revealed by the Chamorro witnesses, as well as the GIs who fought in the Battle of Saipan in the summer of 1944.
In Search, page 165 of the first edition, we have Bogan’s key statement to Goerner via Elieu’s story: “A Japanese fishing boat picked her up and brought her into either Jaluit or Majuro. Then she was taken presumably to Kwajalein or Saipan.”
Most Earhart enthusiasts are familiar with the famous July 1949 interview given by Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, to the Los Angeles Times. But many don’t realize that unless they’ve seen the original Times article, they probably missed some or all of the most revealing and provocative statements Amy made that day. The newspapers clips that I’ve seen edited Amy’s remarks to various degrees; I don’t know why this occurred, only that I’ve seen the entire interview only in the original Times version of the interview.Among Amy’s most interesting comments in the July 24, 1949 Times article are those where she repeats allegations she made in a May 1944 letter to Neta Snook. Virtually all newspapers included Amy’s statement that she believed Amelia landed on a “tiny atoll” in the Pacific, and “was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall Islands, then under Japanese control.” Eugene Burns’ March 1944 article could well have been the source of Amy’s statement about the fishing boat pickup, but her statements weren’t limited to this aspect of her daughter’s loss.
Amy also told the Times that Amelia “was permitted to broadcast to Washington from the Marshalls, because the officials on the island where she was taken — I can’t recall the name of it believed she was merely a transocean flier in distress. But Toyko had a different opinion of her significance in the area. She was ordered taken to Japan. There, I know, she met with an accident, an ‘arranged’ accident that ended her life.”
Five years earlier, in Amy’s May 6, 1944 letter to Neta Snook, she told Amelia’s first flight instructor that she had information brought to her “by a friend a few days after Amelia’s S.O.S [in July 1937] who was listening to a short-wave radio when a broadcast from Tokyo came in saying they were celebrating there, with parades, etc. because of Amelia’s rescue or pick up by a Japanese fisherman. That was before the war you know, and evidently the ordinary Jap had no knowledge of their military leaders’ plans so were proud of the rescue and expected the world to be. That young girl drove 27 miles at 11 o’clock at night, and through a horrid part of Los Angeles to tell me. It was too late when she arrived at my house in North Hollywood, but the next day I went with her to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles and asked him about it.”
Of course by the time Amy saw anyone at the consulate, nobody knew anything about the fishing boat story. But she never forgot it, and later in her letter to Snook, she wrote, “So the hope is only the finding out what happened after the Jap fishing boat picked her up from the small island where she had landed. One can face anything she knows is so, but unless she goes through the torture of not knowing, it is not possible to understand the agony connected with uncertainty, nor the loopholes it leaves for the imagination to get in its work.”
In my Dec. 9, 2014 post, “Amy Earhart’s stunning 1944 letter to Neta Snook,” I expressed doubts about the veracity of Amy’s claims that Amelia was allowed to broadcast for a few days from the Marshalls after being captured by the Japanese. I still have these doubts, because although many alleged post-loss messages were reported in the Pacific area as well as the United States in the days immediately following July 2, none of them contained anything that could have been construed to mean that Earhart and Noonan were in Japanese custody, much less taken to Tokyo. Most were incomprehensible snippets.
But what of Amy’s claim of the “short-wave radio … broadcast from Tokyo [that] came in saying they were celebrating there, with parades, etc. because of Amelia’s rescue or pick up by a Japanese fisherman” that Amy’s “young girl” friend (probably Margot DeCarie, Amelia’s secretery) in Los Angeles drove 27 miles to tell Amy that night in 1937? Could this have really happened as Amy was told? Can’t we assume the broadcast would have been in Japanese? Did Margot DeCarie speak Japanese, and if not, how did she understand its message?
On Majuro in 1979, Judge Kabua Kabua, the chief magistrate on Jaluit in 1937, told Vincent V. Loomis he heard about the “lady pilot” from the Japanese. “Part of the story, I heard, her plane ran out of gas and she came down near Mili,” the judge said. “The Japanese picked her up in a fishing boat and took her to Saipan, the Japanese headquarters.”
Through Loomis’ 1981 Tokyo investigation, we know that Koshu, which wasn’t a part of the 12th Squadron, was anchored in Ponape on July 2, 1937, and at 5 p.m., July 6, Lieutenant Yukinao Kozu, the ship’s radioman, logged the official order for the ship to depart Ponape for the Marshalls to join the Earhart search. Koshu was steaming for Jaluit on July 9, arriving there just after noon July 13. “That night she took on coal,” Loomis wrote. “One of those loading the fuel was Tomaki Mayazo, who heard the crew members excitedly mention they were on the way to pick up two American fliers and their aircraft, which had crashed at Mili. The next day the ship steamed out of Jaluit for Mili Mili, where it picked up both the Electra and its crew.”
If Koshu did pick up the fliers at Mili Mili, located in the southwest part of Mili Atoll at least 20 miles from Barre Island, in the northwest part of the atoll, it’s possible they were taken to Mili Mili by this alleged fishing boat. However, we have no accounts or evidence of their presence at Mili Mili besides Loomis’ statement.
When Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki visited Fred Goerner at his San Francisco home in June 1982, the fishing boat story was among the first topics he raised. “Did you know that on July 13, 1937, a Japanese newspaper reported that Amelia Earhart was rescued by Japanese fisherman?” Goerner asked the young woman who told Goerner that she wanted to help his cause, something she never came close to doing.
The claim that a Japanese paper published a story about Amelia’s pickup in the Marshalls was directly related to a “most urgent” message sent by Japanese foreign minister Koki Hirota to Japan’s British ambassador, Shigeru Yoshida, in London, also on July 13, 1937, and reported by Loomis in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story. “The Advertiser here [in Japan] reports that they received a London international news dispatch at 2:00 AM today to the effect that a Japanese fishing boat had rescued the Earhart plane,” Hirota wrote. “Please verify this and confirm by return.”
Panic descended upon “the small circle of Japanese officials who knew what was happening in the Marshalls,” Loomis wrote. “Had the truth leaked out from one of their classified sources – radio, a letter, a loose statement? Or even worse, had the secret diplomatic code been broken? Would the Americans press them for more details or would they accept this as rumor? A few tension-ridden days passed, and nothing more came of this coincidental near exposure of the truth.”
Aoki told Goerner that she would look into the fishing boat story, but her findings further confused the matter (see pages 147-148 of Truth at Last). Aoki wrote that “the Tokyo Asahi Shimbum [newspaper] dated July 15  reported, ‘The report of the rescue is without foundation,'” and so she concluded, “Goerner’s theory of the Japanese fishing boat rescue is extremely weak.”
Aoki was eager to dismiss the fishing boat story, but her report of the newspaper’s July 15 printed retraction of the article nonetheless proved the fishing boat pickup story had appeared two days earlier, as Goerner’s information indicated. But why did one newspaper retract a story that had appeared in another two days earlier?
I’ve never seen an original copy of the story that allegedly appeared in the Japan Advertiser newspaper on July 13, 1937, or the July 15 retraction of the story in Tokyo Asahi Shimbum. But thanks to Woody Peard, an enterprising researcher in Santa Maria, Calif., we’re now one step closer to the original Japanese story.
In December 2014, Woody, an avid Earhart collector who’s amassed hundreds of newspapers, magazines, scrapbooks, article cutouts, documents, philatelic covers and other memorabilia on Amelia and Fred Noonan since 1998, made an amazing find on eBay – an American newspaper that reported on the Japanese fishing boat pickup story’s Japanese origin.
The below story appeared at the top of page 1 in the July 13, 1937 edition of the Bethlehem (Penn.) Globe Times.
For those not able to easily read this clip, here’s the top three paragraphs:
Vague and unconfirmed rumors that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan have been rescued by a Japanese fishing boat without a radio, and therefore unable to make any report, found no verification here today, but plunged Tokio [sic] into a fever of excitement.
The Navy Department had no official word of any such rescue, but were striving to ascertain the position of the fishing boat rumored to have effected the rescue.
Tokio newspapers had a virtual field day. Stories speculating about the rumors were given a tremendous play, competing with developments in North China for the most prominent display.
The rest of the story, filed by Paul Brooke, an International News Service correspondent aboard the carrier USS Lexington, is an update on the carrier group’s ocean search for the Earhart plane, suspended July 19 after 262,000 square miles of ocean was searched by Navy and Coast Guard ships. Only one other researcher has ever told me he has a copy of this story in an American newspaper from July 1937; obviously very few U.S. newspapers ran it.
Woody has been focused on the Earhart saga since 1998, and has a fascinating family connection, beginning with his grandfather, a career Marine officer who graduated from the University of Kansas in 1909. “After serving with the 1st Marine Division in France during World War I, he took a year of international Law at the Sorbonne,” Woody wrote in an email. “He was also the Judge Advocate General for the Eastern Seaboard from 1916-1936, an ONI agent for his entire career and an aerial photo reconnaissance specialist. He was moved to Hawaii in early 1936 as the XO [executive officer] of the Marine Barracks at Pearl Harbor. Comments made by my father over the years, also a career marine, test pilot and accident investigator led me to believe my grandfather was transferred there to be in charge of security for Earhart’s flight. That was the beginning of my obsession with the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance.”
Like most ruled by logic, reason and respect for facts, Woody is convinced Amelia and Fred died on Saipan, but he believes the Earhart Electra is buried on Taroa, an island on Maloelap Atoll in the Marshalls about 185 miles from Mili Atoll, and the site of a major Japanese airfield during the war. He plans to return to Taroa for a fourth time after he raises the money he needs for a ground-penetrating-radar search, and is seeking a financial backer. Woody is on Facebook and invites comments. I wish him luck, but don’t believe the Electra is on Taroa. The sooner he crosses this idea off his list, however, the sooner he will come to fully support the Saipan truth.
The Japanese fishing boat pickup of Earhart and Noonan is a common thread in the Marshallese saga of the American fliers for a very good reason, but what transpired between the fliers’ July 2 landing and their pickup by the Japanese at an as yet unknown date is largely still unknown.
Through Vincent V. Loomis Tokyo 1981 research in Tokyo, which was later supported by Fukiko Aoki, we know that the Japanese survey ship Koshu was anchored in Ponape on July 2, 1937, was underway for Jaluit on July 9, arrived on July 13 and “the next day steamed out of Jaluit for Mili Mili, where it picked up both the Electra and its crew,” Loomis wrote. We also know that Koshu returned to Jaluit on July 19 (see pages 157-158 of Truth at Last.)
Marshallese eyewitnesses John Heine and Tokyo have told investigators about seeing a silver airplane on a barge in different locations, and many others knew of it. In 1997 the elderly Robert Reimers, then 88 and the most powerful man in the Marshalls, told Bill Prymak, “It was widely known throughout the islands by both Japanese and Marshallese that a Japanese fishing boat first found them and their airplane near Mili.” (see Truth at Last pages 173-174).
Thus it seems clear that the July 13 reports of the “fishing boat pickup” of Earhart and Noonan involve another, unnamed and unidentified vessel, and that the Koshu could not have been the fishing boat alluded to in the July 13 stories. Unfortunately, we have no account from any eyewitness or even hearsay witness that indicates the identity of this vessel, what the fliers were doing or where precisely they were, between the time of their Mili landfall and the unknown time of their pickup.
Once again, even as it seems the big picture in the Earhart disappearance is coming into better focus, the process of actually “getting a visual,” so to speak, on what really happened continues to elude us, as many nagging smaller mysteries present themselves without hinting at easy or quick solution.
Recent find on Mili Atoll called “Concrete proof”: Chances artifacts not from Earhart Electra “remote”
Two small airplane parts discovered on Mili Atoll by Australian surfing legend Martin Daly and Earhart researcher Dick Spink, an aluminum boat kit manufacturer and high school teacher in Bow, Washington, should go a long way toward answering whether Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed on Mili Atoll after they went missing on July 2, 1937. Please note that I wrote, should go a long way, because the sad reality is that nothing at all will likely change, thanks to a media determined to ignore and suppress the truth.
If the headline of this story appears familiar, it should. Readers have been inundated with similar claims for the past 25 years, lies that trumpet the bogus “discoveries” of Ric Gillespie and his International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) in thousands of national and international media organizations, until it became no more than a ridiculous charade long ago.
But when a credible, legitimate find is made by a different group in a different location, one that supports the truth in the Earhart disappearance and doesn’t fit our media’s agenda, nobody will go anywhere near the story, with the exception of one solitary newspaper, the Kansas City Star. No, dear reader, not FOX News, not Rush, not Savage, not Levin, not Drudge — none of our trusted media gatekeepers, conservative or liberal, have ever wanted anything to do with the facts in the Earhart case. Will that change now? This observer has serious doubts.
The parts, a small aluminum cover plate for an auxiliary power unit (APU) and a circular dust cover from a landing-gear wheel assembly have been tied to the Earhart Electra in ways that should prove quite compelling to any objective analyst. The evidence, if it’s eventually fully authenticated, would confirm Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing scenario first introduced in Fred Goerner’s 1966 classic, The Search for Amelia Earhart, corroborated by many Marshallese witnesses over the years and presented by researchers and authors such as Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, T.C. “Buddy” Brennan and Bill Prymak, and which Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last discusses at length.
In a Nov. 23 story,“Scrap metal from Marshall Islands supports Amelia Earhart theory, group says,” the Kansas City Star and reporter Brian Burns part with the longstanding, nationwide media agenda and present information that runs counter to the worthless “Nikumaroro hypothesis” made infamous by Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR. The story announces the discovery of hard evidence that puts Earhart, Noonan and the Electra down on the reef off Barre Island, beyond what appears to be any reasonable doubt.
“… the chances of having another Lockheed on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands other than Amelia Earhart’s is pretty remote. So it’s pretty doggone concrete proof that there was a Lockheed 10 that landed there on that part of the island.” — Jim Hayton
Since 2011, Spink has made four trips to the Mili Atoll area around Barre Island, pictured in Loomis’ 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: the Final Story, as the general area where Amelia crash-landed her Electra on July 2, 1937 after failing to arrive at Howland Island, more than 800 miles to the south-southeast. Working with his friend Martin Daly and up to 30 native Marshallese armed with metal detectors on each of the three Endriken (Marshallese for “little”) Islands, about a mile east of Barre Island, Spink’s group recovered what appear to be pieces of the legendary lost Electra. In fact, Spink said Daly personally found both the APU cover plate and the circular metal dust cover in the same area during two different searches.
“To me, this is the Holy Grail,” said Jim Hayton, who’s been rebuilding and repairing old airplanes since he was a teen and owns North Sound Aviation in Sedro Wooley, Washington. Hayton said the dust cover was part of the Goodyear Airwheel assembly from the left-side landing gear on Earhart’s Electra. The Airwheel assembly included a “soft” tire manufactured especially for landing on rough terrain.
In a Nov. 24 interview, Spink who not only told the Kansas City Star that he “hasn’t made a penny on this,” the day before, told me that he’s spent $50,000 of his own money on his Earhart investigations. He said that after studying old tidal records for the area, he’s virtually “certain that Amelia made a wheels-down landing” on a rough, Endriken Island beach, very near the water.” This contrasts slightly with the account of Jororo that was related to Loomis by Ralph Middle (see p. 140 Truth at Last) that concerned the fliers entering a “yellow boat which grew” after landing “on the reef near Barre Island, about 200 feet offshore,” but certainly does not nullify his claims.
“It is a dust cover off one of these Goodyear wheels,” Hayton said in a videotaped analysis. “Since I had the other two wheels, I’m very familiar with this dust cover. I know exactly what it is. That’s why I was so excited when Dick brought this for me to look at because there’s so few airplanes in the world back in the 30s that had these type of wheels on them, and the chances of having another Lockheed on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands other than Amelia Earhart’s is pretty remote. So it’s pretty doggone concrete proof that there was a Lockheed 10 that landed there at that particular part of the island.”
Hayton has worked with the FAA and NTSB, and even testified before Congress. His bona fides are beyond reproach, and although further analysis of the artifacts undoubtedly needs to be done, this observer has little doubt that Hayton’s verdict will stand up to any scrutiny that the skeptics will throw at it.
As for the plate, Hayton said, “This plate appears to be a cover for an APU (auxiliary power unit) plug. … “After the crash at Honolulu, this area was extensively damaged on her airplane and so they moved the APU plug as they rebuilt the airplane to a little bit safer location, so that’ s why it ended up being tainted red instead of silver as it originally was. I think that this red APU plug cover is the first evidence we have that she did indeed land [at Mili]. There are lots of eyewitness reports and I think she landed at Mili Atoll and then was captured by the Japanese.”
“Red on the leading edges of the wings and the tail was the color scheme of Earhart’s Electra,” Spink added. “The red paint on the APU plate gives us a lead in establishing the fact that the electrical cover at Mili Atoll came from Earhart’s airplane. There were no known Lockheeds with red electrical covers except Amelia Earhart’s L-10. And to add more fuel to the fire, how many airplanes crashed at the Endriken Islands adjacent to Barre Island at Mili Atoll? The Marshallese people will tell you there was only one. It was Amelia Earhart’s airplane.”
“There’s no evidence of any U.S. or Japanese aircraft being shot down or disabled in that part of Mili Atoll,” Les Kinney, a researcher and former government investigator told Burns. “So where would this have come from? In all likelihood, it came off Earhart’s plane.”
I asked Kinney to elaborate on his statement to the Star, because if it can absolutely determined that no other aircraft came down in the area where Spink found the artifacts, pure deduction can tell us that the parts came from the Earhart plane.
“There were 26 U.S. aircraft down over Mili Atoll (that does not mean all from gunfire),” ” Kinney told me in an email. “There were 11 documented Japanese planes shot down over Mili Atoll. Most Japanese planes were destroyed or damaged on the ground at Mili Island. . . . Natives, according to Spink, said there were no plane wrecks in that area [near Barre Island]. Knaggs reports a woman [the guide Dominick’s wife] who said she recalled a wreck in that area of the atoll. However, Knaggs specifically looked for a plane wreck on the islands adjacent to Barre and said there were none (from the book as I recall). Any remnants of wrecks would still be there.
“So, I think it would be very difficult to find from archival records exactly where each plane was specifically lost over Mili,” Kinney continued. “It would be better if Spink analyzed the aluminum by comparing it to aluminum used by Lockheed from planes built during that time. If they were from the same production runs, it would be easy to say the aluminum found on Mili matched the production runs of known planes built by Lockheed during that same period. Spink also needs to make a 3D copy of that wheel hub, then look for a Model 10 with the same Goodyear wheels and see if they are an exact match.”
Thus, for the for first time since 1981, when South African author and investigator Oliver Knaggs found the remains of a tin case buried on one of these small Endriken Islands (actually islets) by Fred Noonan soon after he and Amelia’s rough landing, in which Noonan injured his knee and head, we have solid evidence that confirms the Mili Atoll landing of the lost American fliers.
In informing the public about Spink’s findings on Mili, the Kansas City Star has been virtually alone in doing a job that all would do in a better world, so for that the newspaper should be commended. Otherwise the piece is quite underwhelming. The story’s lead sentence, “One person’s scrap is another person’s Holy Grail,” reflects the abjectly relativistic attitude that has permeated the Earhart case throughout its history, and which makes this story so maddening for those of us who’ve studied the Earhart case so long, and who are so convinced of the truth of their Mili landing.
Burns presented Spink and Hayton’s findings and analysis, but he then dragged in Gillespie and Long for their obligatory misleading statements, to provide what he believes is the requisite “balance” in his story. But the uninformed reader, instead of being enlightened, now has three “theories” to contemplate instead of two. Many decades of successful government and media propaganda have thus achieved their desired effect: It’s simply an accepted truism, part of our cultural inheritance, that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is an irresolvable mystery.
Here the real problem is on vivid display: Even the rare media outlet that’s willing to be “fair” in its coverage of the Earhart disappearance and present evidence to the public for the first time, such as this one in the Star, suffers from this preordained misconception. All stories must be shoehorned into the false template that all theories in the Earhart “mystery” are equal, and as a result, the public remains confused and ignorant.
After reading the Star story, an astute observer told me, “I was not impressed by the article. Really did not say anything … encourage further reading, etc. Pointless.” And as I told Burns in an email, “All theories are not equal, and there’s only one truth.” Actually, I should have written, “All theories are equally worthless; there can only be one truth, one reality, and it’s the Mili-to-Saipan scenario.” Sadly, this story from the Kansas City Star will not make a ripple in the nation’s perception of the Earhart case, and two days after its publication, not a single newspaper has picked up the story, a state of affairs that recalls the media blackout that accompanied the publication of Truth at Last two years ago and which continues unabated.
I’m also fully aware that by publishing this post, even on a relatively obscure blog like this one, I might be considered “too extreme” in my views to be considered for comments on future Earhart stories by the Star, and other media organizations as well. If that’s the case, so be it. To quote the great Barry Goldwater: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Simply insert “truth” for liberty above, and you have perfectly described the situation in the Earhart matter.
If we lived in a just world, Dick Spink’s discoveries would soon put Ric Gillespie out of the Earhart business forever, his nearly three decades of damage to the truth in the Earhart case finally, mercifully ended once and for all. But the history of this entire phenomenon has never been about “solving the Earhart mystery,” as our nation of incurious, apathetic lemmings has been led to believe for so long – not at all.
The Earhart disappearance has always been about politics – the politics of deceit and the politics of protecting the reputation of a dishonest, feckless president. Nothing found at Mili is going to change that, but that won’t stop those of us who care from continuing to tell the true story of Amelia Earhart’s sad fate.
“No hard evidence” in Earhart case? Knaggs’ find on Mili refutes skeptics’ claim (First of two parts)
Even casual observers of the Earhart case know that the major weapon used by skeptics and critics of the truth, the blind crash-and-sankers, the Nikumaroro morons and the rest who refuse to accept the obvious about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s Mili Atoll landing and deaths on Saipan is their never-ending cry, “Where is the physical evidence? No hard evidence has even been found!”
Forget the many dozens of witness accounts from natives, Saipan veterans and other sources that so clearly points to the truth. Only when the Electra is finally discovered, they say, will the Earhart puzzle be solved. Until then, all theories are acceptable – except the hated Saipan truth, of course, which is a “paranoid conspiracy theory” and is far too “extremist” to have any validity. These bozos are quite happy to keep Amelia and Fred in cold storage for eternity, floating out there in the unfathomable ether where the world’s great mysteries abide.
They’re wrong, as usual; hard evidence has been found and analyzed, and it tells us a compelling story. Most of the doubters are unaware of this evidence, but it makes little difference. Even if the Earhart plane was somehow miraculously found underneath the Saipan International Airport’s tarmac amid hundreds of tons of wartime refuse, where, as Thomas E. Devine has told us, the plane has been since it was bulldozed into a deep hole several months after it’s torching in the summer of 1944, the naysayers wouldn’t accept it. And our corrupt media, which has been so invested for so long in perpetuating the big lie that Amelia’s fate remains a mystery, would take all pains to thoroughly ignore and suppress news of the discovery, as they always have.
But that’s for another time. This post is the first of two that will present and discuss the hard evidence that was found at Mili Atoll, evidence that all but proves the reality of our heroes’ presence at Mili Atoll in July 1937. So that readers can best understand the sequence of events that led to the discovery of this artifact, a bit of background is in order.
Amelia Earhart: The Final Story among best ever penned
Former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis and his wife, Georgette, traveled to the Marshalls in 1978 hoping to find the wreck of an unidentified plane Loomis saw on an uninhabited island near Ujae Atoll in 1952. Loomis never located the wreck, which he fervently dreamed was the lost Earhart plane, but in four trips to the Marshalls he obtained considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there. Loomis’ 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, was praised by some at a time when big media’s rejection of information supporting Earhart’s survival and death on Saipan had yet to reach its virtual blackout of the past two decades, and is among the most important Earhart disappearance books ever written.
The Final Story’s most glowing review came from Jeffrey Hart, writing in William F. Buckley’s National Review. After gushing that Loomis “interviewed the surviving Japanese who were involved and he photographed the hitherto unknown Japanese military and diplomatic documents,” Hart flatly stated, “The mystery is a mystery no longer.” Of course, the U.S. government disagreed completely, and continued its abject silence on all things Earhart.
On his first flight to Majuro, Loomis met Senator Amata Kabua and Tony DeBrum, commission officials seeking Marshallese independence from the United States. Kabua, a descendent of the first king of the Marshalls, Kabua the Great, said Earhart had come down in the islands and that her plane was still there. DeBrum told Loomis, “We all know about this woman who was reported to have come down on Mili southeast of Majuro, was captured by the Japanese and taken off to Jaluit. Remember, the stories were being told long before you Americans began asking questions.”
Among the witnesses Loomis interviewed at Mili Mili, the main island at Mili Atoll, was Mrs. Clement (Loomis provided no first name), the wife of the boat operator Loomis had hired. Mrs. Clement said her husband knew nothing, but she recalled that she had seen “this airplane and the woman pilot and the Japanese taking the woman and the man with her away.” She pointed out the area – “Over there … next to Barre Island” – as the spot where the plane had landed, but she offered no other information.
Loomis next sought out Jororo Alibar and Anibar Eine on Ejowa Island, hoping to confirm the story he heard from Ralph Middle on Majuro. Middle’s story was that two local fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, told him that before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre island, about 200 feet offshore. “When ‘two men’ emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,’ climbed aboard it and paddled for shore,” Loomis wrote. “Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do.” Shortly after the men reached the island, the fishermen saw them bury a silver container, but the Japanese soon arrived and began to question, and then slap the two fliers, Middle said. When one screamed, Jororo and Lijon realized it was a woman. The pair continued to hide, watching in silence, because “they knew the Japanese would have killed them for what they had witnessed.”
The natives’ description of “the yellow boat which grew” is especially compelling for its realism, as it reflects their relatively primitive understanding of what only could have been an inflatable life boat produced by Earhart and Noonan after the Electra crash-landed, possibly on a reef. No inventory of the plane’s contents during the world flight is known to exist, but several sources support the common-sense idea that the fliers would not have departed Lae without such a vital piece of emergency equipment.
Amelia, My Courageous Sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey and Carol L. Osborne’s 1987 biography, contains a photocopied story from the March 7, 1937 New York Herald Tribune, “Complete Navigation Room Ready to Guide Miss Earhart.” Discussing emergency items the Electra would carry on the first world flight, the unnamed reporter wrote, “In the fuselage will be a two-man rubber lifeboat, instantly inflatable from capsules of carbon dioxide.” In the July 20, 1937 search report of the Lexington Group commander, under “Probabilities Arising from Rumor or Reasonable Assumptions,” Number 3 states, “That the color of the lifeboat was yellow.”
In September 1979, South African writer Oliver Knaggs was hired by a film company to join Loomis in the Marshalls and chronicle his search. The Knaggs-Loomis connection is well known among Earhart buffs, but neither Loomis, in The Final Story, nor Knaggs, in his little-known 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her last flight (Howard Timmins, Cape Town, S.A), mentioned the other by name. In Her last flight, a collector’s item known mainly to researchers, Knaggs recounts his 1979 and ’81 investigations in the Marshalls and Saipan.
Knaggs wasn’t with Loomis when Ralph Middle told him about Lijon and Jororo at Majuro in 1979, and wasn’t there when Loomis interviewed Jororo. Knaggs wrote that “our leader [Loomis]” had told him of Lijon’s story, which he didn’t believe initially, but later, when a village elder repeated it, Knaggs became interested. Knaggs returned to Mili in 1981 without Loomis but armed with a metal detector in hopes of locating Lijon’s silver container, and establishing his own claim to fame in the search for Amelia Earhart.
In part two of this post, we’ll look at what Knaggs found, what the experts said about it and what it means in the continuing search for Amelia Earhart.