Tag Archives: Amelia Earhart

85th Anniversary of Last Flight arrives quietly

On July 2, 1937, 85 years ago today, Amelia Earhart and her intrepid navigator Fred Noonan rolled down the unpaved runway at Lae, New Guinea at 10 a.m. in Amelia’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E, NR 16020, officially headed for Howland Island, a tiny speck 2,556 miles to the east-northeast, about 1,900 miles southwest of Honolulu and 200 miles east of the International Dateline.  They would be crossing two time zones and the International Dateline, flying into yesterday, so to speak, scheduled to arrive July 2 at Howland several hours before the time they departed Lae on the same date. 

Perhaps the last photo taken before the flyers’ July 2 takeoff from Lae, New Guinea. Mr. F.C. Jacobs of the New Guinea Gold Mining Company stands between Amelia and Fred. Note that Fred looks chipper and ready to go, not hung over from a night of drinking, as has been alleged.

At 0844 Howland time, 20 hours, 14 minutes after departing Lae, Earhart sent her infamous last 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 added, “WE ARE RUNNING ON LINE NORTH AND SOUTH.”  The message was received on 3105 at signal strength 5 of 5.  “She was so loud that I ran up to the bridge expecting to see her coming in for a landing,” Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts told Elgen Long in 1973.

As we all know, the fliers were never heard from again — officially, that is.  Instead of reaching their intended South Pacific landfall en route to a world aviation record, Earhart and Noonan allegedly vanished into legend, myth and haunting immortality — a special status reserved for rare sacred cows that continues to this day, thanks to the deceitful machinations of a government-media establishment determined to deny the truth about the fliers’ wretched deaths at the hands of the pre-war Japanese on Saipan from a world that’s long since moved on to more trendy “mysteries.” 

This July the media atmosphere is substantially thinner than in past years; for some reason we’re not being subjected to another big media disinformation campaign, which has been nearly always the case.  Among the most memorable of recent deception operations, of course, was the July 2017 History Channel travesty, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which premiered July 9, 2017 on History, better known as the History Channel.

Robert Ballard’s search for Amelia Earhart off Nikumaroro was far less successful than his triumphant Titanic endeavor.  (Courtesy Encyclopedia Britannica.)

We’ve also seen the ballyhooed summer 2019 Robert Ballard-National Geographic search, yet another transparent pretense meant to distract the public and get the surprisingly attention-starved Ballard another payday and more publicity.  After the search, one would have been hard pressed to find any news announcing its failure, as is always the case with these Earhart boondoggles. 

Also as always, I ensured that readers here were informed, doing so with my Aug. 27, 2019 post, Ballard’s Earhart search fails; anyone surprised?

The obvious question was why someone with Ballard’s impressive resume and fame would be so willing to join the long list of fraudsters selling the putrid can of worms that the “search for Amelia Earhart” became long ago. 

The Ballard hoopla was reminiscent of the clatter attached to the similarly hyped 2017 Nauticos search for the Earhart plane in the waters off Howland Island.  Here’s how I began my March 27, 2017 post on that time waster:

One of the better-known definitions of insanity has been attributed to Albert Einstein, who described it as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I wonder how many times it would take Nauticos, or the rest of clueless crashed-and-sankers to search the Pacific floor without finding the Earhart Electra before they admitted they might be wrong about what happened to Amelia and her plane.  Based on past performances, the answer is, sadly, Never.

Guinea Airways employee Alan Board is credited with this photo of the Electra just before leaving the ground on its takeoff from Lae, New Guinea on the morning of July 2, 1937.  This is the last known photo of the Earhart Electra.

. . . What is really going on here, one might ask.  Can these otherwise well-educated, highly skilled men be so stupid as to actually believe their own press releases about the Electra lying on the bottom of the ocean?  Not likely.  As I wrote in Truth at Last (page 304 Second Edition), Is it coincidence that the majority of Nauticos’ lucrative contracts accrue from the largess of the Navy, whose original Earhart search report remains the official, if rarely stated position of the U.S. government?  Here we see yet another establishment effort to maintain and perpetuate the myth that Earhart and Noonan ‘landed on the sea to the northwest of Howland Island’ on July 2, 1937.”

No discussion about Amelia Earhart and media treatment of her disappearance is complete without mentioning The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (which has never recovered an aircraft, historic or otherwise, to my knowledge), better known as TIGHAR, and its executive director Ric Gillespie.

TIGHAR has been fairly inert for the past few years, possibly because even a corrupt, compliant media deeply in the tank for the big scam might have its limits.  In TIGHAR’s case, for more than 30 years our corporate media has pushed a credulous, gullible public to buy the most ridiculous assortment of dredged-up garbage imaginable as “evidence” that Earhart and Noonan landed on the central Pacific island of Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island, and died there of starvation within a relatively short time, despite abundant food and water sources. 

The most perilous leg of Amelia Earhart’s world-flight attempt was the 2,556-mile stretch from Lae, New Guinea to tiny Howland Island, a daunting journey over the vast Central Pacific that had never been attempted.  Note distances from Howland to Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and from Lae to Saipan, key locations in the Earhart saga. (Courtesy Linda D. Pendleton.)   

This is not the time to get into details about the countless TIGHAR forays to Nikumaroro or re-examine the garage full of so-called evidencethat Gillespie and his minions have dragged back to continue their Earhart investigations.”  Here’s how I began my brief view of the TIGHAR phenomenon in a subsection titled “The Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Recycled Snake Oil” in Chapter 15: The Establishment’s Contempt for the Truth in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last:

No one in the history of Earhart investigations has made so much from so little as Ric Gillespie. Since the bleak day in March 1992 when Gillespie baldly announced to a worldwide CNN audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the Earhart mystery is solved, he’s been universally hailed as the world’s leading expert on the Earhart disappearance.  The real mystery is why, after eleven fruitless excursions to Nikumaroro, the media continue to treat Gillespie as if he’s the sole repository of knowledge in the Earhart matter?  How has he gained such worldwide acclaim without producing a scintilla of evidence to support a fourth-hand theory rejected decades ago by researchers whose financial well-being didn’t depend on raising small fortunes for their next trip to Nikumaroro?

And here’s the closing paragraphs of the same subsection:

. . . The TIGHAR website contains an impressive collection of research, but for all its bells and whistles, not one of its documents offers the slightest trace of evidence that ties Amelia Earhart to Nikumaroro—and not one legitimate eyewitness is presented, because none exist.  Ironically, [Fred] Hooven’s 1982 research paper, “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, also known as the “Hooven Report,” was added to TIGHAR’s archives in November 2002.  “Last Flight strongly supported the Saipan truth, ridiculed by Gillespie as a festival of folklore, but otherwise a subject assiduously avoided by the TIGHAR chief.

Contrary to his arrogant dismissal of the fliers’ Saipan demise as conspiratorial claptrap, the most ridiculous folk story to infect the Earhart search is that the erroneous ideas promoted by Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR have any relationship to the truth.  But TIGHAR’s unending Nikumaroro searches have managed to reveal one undeniable fact: Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and NR 16020 were never there.

I wrote above that the Earhart media atmosphere isthinnerthis year, but it’s not completely empty, null and void, either.  On Sunday, June 26, longtime reader and photographer Phil Broda sent me a vile, studiously deceitful piece of Earhart disinformation from the left-leaning The Daily Beast, titled,The Amelia Earhart Kimono That Spikes a Racist Legend,by one Laurie Gwen Shapiro, who we learn is also writing an Earhart biography, one I will surely never read. 

There’s no point in responding directly to Shapiro or The Daily Beast, as nothing would change, and they might even get a sick sense of satisfaction, that is, if they know anything at all about what honest researchers — few as we are — are doing these days.  This despicable screed, among the most dishonest and twisted I’ve seen, shamelessly slings the old leftist standby, racism, as a weapon at the truth of the fliers’ Saipan deaths and the researchers who discovered it, actually naming and flatly dismissing the seminal work of Paul Briand Jr. and Fred Goerner, while extolling the serial lies of the crashed-and-sank poster boy Elgen Long.  This perverse descent into an especially evil historical revisionism starkly illustrates the cold reality that the U.S. establishment continues to hate and deny the truth in the Earhart matter, perhaps now more than ever.   

I will not quote from or reproduce anything from this contemptable hit piece, but if you want to see for yourself the depths to which some will descend to advance Earhart propaganda and mendacity, you can click on the link above, and tell me where I’m wrong.  A warning: After a few free looks, The Daily Beast will shut you out and try to force you into subscribing before you can view this atrocity again. 

As I told Calvin Pitts when I sent him The Daily Beast story, “It’s not much, but it’s not nothing either.”  It’s just enough to remind us, on this the 85th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight, that the enemies of the truth are always out there, plotting and scheming ways to take advantage of the great lady’s name for their own selfish, nefarious purposes.  

Rollin Reineck’s July 3, 1998 letter to ABC News: Calls “48 Hours” promoting TIGHAR “pure trash”

We continue our excursion into the world of the late Earhart researcher Rollin Reineck, who made his share of noise during his days as a member of Bill Prymak’s elite corps of theorists and truth-tellers in the Amelia Earhart Society.

This letter appeared in the July 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, and gives us a taste of the reception that Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR’s ideas received from serious researchers who didn’t buy everything TIGHAR and the American media were shoveling down the throats of a gullible public about the fate of Amelia Earhart.  I’ve screened the original article and present it here.  By left clicking on each item, you can enlarge it for easy reading.

Rollin C. Reineck, circa 1945, served as a B-29 navigator in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Bronze Star.  A true patriot in every sense of the word, Reineck passed away in 2007, but left some very controversial writings about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart Society President Bill Prymak’s brief comment in the editor’s note above is a small sample of the insightful, low-key statements that Prymak was known for during the 1990s when TIGHAR was all the rage in the “search” for Amelia.

You might recall a few of TIGHAR’s vapid claims our esteemed media dragged up to present to the nation, always in ridiculous, self-aggrandizing proclamations issuing in never-ending torrents from the yaps of Gillespie and his minions: 

WE DID IT!

THE CONCLUSION IS INESCAPABLE: THIS IS A PIECE OF AMELIA EARHART’S AIRPLANE!

THERE IS ONLY ONE POSSIBLE CONCLUSION: WE FOUND A PIECE OF AMELIA EARHART’S AIRPLANE!

 THERE IS NO CONFLICTING EVIDENCE: THE CASE IS CLOSED.

And so forth, ad nauseum.  For now, we’ll conclude our brief visit with AES icons Rollin Reineck and Bill Prymak, as well as their favorite media darling TIGHAR chief Ric Gillespie, but there’s plenty more where that came from.   

Conclusion of Reineck’s 1993 Air Classics story

We continue with the conclusion of Rollin C. Reineck’s “Inside the Earhart Flight: Government Conspiracy?” which appeared in the October 1993 issue of Air Classics magazine. 

Please understand that this and all other articles and “news stories” that are taken from other sources and presented on this blog do not necessarily reflect the truth, the facts as they were later discovered or the opinions of the editor of this blog.  Where appropriate, I try to emphasize and clarify any differences that might lead to serious confusion about my beliefs.  As always, the posts on this blog are presented for the information and entertainment of readers who are interested in learning more about the history of research into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

To bring more realism to the article, I’ve scanned the original pages.  Some may be hard to read, but if you left click on each page, it will enlarge and you can easily read it. 

Editor’s note:  Reineck was among the most avid promoters of the notorious Weihsien Telegram, or Weihsien Speedletter, discovered in U.S. State Department archives in 1987.  The unsigned telegram reads, “Camp liberated — all well — volumes to tell — love to mother.”  Sent from Weihsien, north China, and dated Aug. 28, 1945, this document created a huge buzz among researchers who speculated it could have been sent by Amelia herself.  In 2001, this hot potato was relegated to the dustbin of dead-end myth, when AES researcher Ron Bright conclusively disproved the idea that Amelia Earhart had been confined at the Weihsien, China civilian internment camp during World War II.  

Rollin Reineck passed away at age 87 on Oct. 9, 2007 in Castle Medical Center, Kailua, Hawaii.  For much more on Reineck’s contributions to Earhart research, please click here.

Jim Golden tells Tribune Earhart fate “covered up”

In a March 2, 2015 post titled Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga,” I introduced the late Jim Golden, a close friend of Fred Goerner and, in the day, a near-legendary figure in Earhart research circles.  Golden remarkable career included eight years as a Secret Service agent in the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration, two years as Howard Hughes’ chief of security in Las Vegas, and several years as a top U.S. Justice Department official, from where he tried to help Goerner search for the elusive top-secret Earhart files that President John F. Kennedy had allowed Goerner and California newspaperman Ross Game to view briefly in 1963, just before JFK’s assassination in Dallas.  

Among the Earhart-related information Golden shared with Goerner was the revelation that Earhart and Fred Noonan were brought to the islands of Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll by air from Jaluit Atoll by the Japanese in 1937, a fact he learned from Marine Intelligence officers during the American invasion of Kwajalein in January 1944.

The below story appeared in the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Tribune, on Oct. 4, 1977.  

“Prober says Amelia Earhart death covered up”
By Richard Williams, Tribune Sun Writer

A high-level Washington official claims the disappearance 40 years ago of famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart and the mystery shrouding the matter may have been President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s own Watergate.” 

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, James Golden, director of the Enforcement Division of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), said his years of study of the Earhart case led him to believe Roosevelt knew of her whereabouts and did nothing about it on purpose.

Golden, in Albuquerque to watch city police make arrests in connection with an LEAA-funded storefront operation Friday and Saturday, said all evidence points to Miss Earhart’s being held captive for a year and a half by the Japanese on the South Pacific Island of Saipan.

And the Japanese reportedly executed her copilot, Fred Noonan, by chopping off his head,Golden said.  Miss Earhart died the following day of dysentery, the Japanese said, even though she was seen by Saipan natives walking in a compound the day before.” 

Golden, who was a Marine intelligence officer when he landed with the fourth wave of Marines in the Marshall Islands in January 1944, said he personally read native accounts of Miss Earhart’s and Noonan’s presence in the islands.  [Ed. note: Golden was not an officer, but an enlisted Marine combat photographer assigned to independent duty with the intelligence section of the 4th Marine Division in 1944.)

Private First Class James O. Golden, circa 1944.
As a photographer assigned to independent duty in
Marine Intelligence on Kwajalein in January 1944,
Golden read a report by officers of the 24th Marine
Intelligence Unit about a native on Roi-Namur who
told them of two white people, a man and a woman, brought by Japanese airplane to Roi, the man with a white bandage on his head and the woman with short-cut hair wearing men’s pants.

Miss Earhart, a world-famous pilot, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on a flight from Lea, New Guinea, to Howland Island in the South Pacific.  Golden said the subsequent years of his interest in the case and talks with other intelligence officers closely involved with the islands during and after their capture from the Japanese have indicated that Miss Earhart may have been on a spying mission for the U.S. government.

Golden said he used to be an employee of Lockheed Aircraft, which built Miss Earhart’s plane and outfitted it for the flight on which she disappeared. [Ed. note: Golden told me that this was absolutely false.  He had never worked for Lockheed.]

I learned that the aircraft’s regular engines, capable of cruising at 160 miles an hour, were replaced with engines which gave the plane capability of cruising at 220 miles an hour,” Golden said.  [Ed. note: To my knowledge, we have no evidence to support this.]

He said that although Miss Earhart’s flight path was originally to avoid islands such as Saipan and Tinian, held by the Japanese since World War I, the greater flying speed could allow her to have made a photographic sweep over the heavily fortified area and still arrive at Howland in the same time it would have taken her to fly direct at the lower speed.

“What really bothers me about the whole thing is that if Miss Earhart was on such a mission and was a prisoner of the Japanese, as she seems to have been, why won’t the government acknowledge the facts and give her the hero’s treatment she deserves?” Golden said.

The reason, Golden has determined, is that Roosevelt hid the truth about Miss Earhart and Noonan, fearing public reaction to the death of a heroine and voter reaction at the polls.

Golden said he bases his feelings on his own knowledge of the affair and the subsequent revelations dug up by Fred Goerner, a freelance investigative reporter from San Francisco, in years of interviews.

As he related the actions of high-level military and government officers in the time around Miss Earhart’s disappearance, it sounded like a cloak-and-dagger story of the first magnitude.

Jim Golden’s no-nonsense comments about FDR’s role in the cover-up of the truth in the Earhart disappearance were the subject of this story in the Jan. 3, 1978 Midnight Globe.  Headlined “FDR’s Amelia Earhart ‘Watergate,’” the tabloid story was sloppy with the details, but got the basic story right, thanks to the straight-shooting, politically incorrect Jim Golden’s love for the truth.

Two Marines [Privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks] ordered to dig up the remains of two persons near a hotel in Garapan, a town on Saipan, there remains placed in yellow containers and sent back to the U.S.

A Marine general who personally pulled an airplane from a Japanese hangar on one of the islands and set it afire in the middle of the night after the island was captured from the Japanese.  An extensive file, of which Golden read a part, which contained Japanese accounts of the Earhart capture — a file which has floated through several government agencies and “gets thinner every year” and the whereabouts of which are unknown at the moment, Golden said.

And how about the fact that two of the men who donated $25,000 to Purdue University to fund Miss Earhart’s flight were members of Roosevelt’s National Security Council?” Golden asked.  And how about the fact that the last person to walk Miss Earhart to her plane before the flight was a Navy intelligence officer?

Golden said his information is that Miss Earhart over-flew Howland and was forced to crash-land on an uninhabited dot of land far from her target. “Apparently, the Japanese had homing devices better than ours, and they captured her and Noonan and the airplane before we could find her,” Golden said.

Golden said he personally read translated native accounts from the island of Roi-Namur in the Marshalls which said the natives recalled a woman dressed like a man with her short blond hair cut like a man’s and a man with a bandaged head being held prisoner there for a short time by the Japanese.

 The natives said the two were placed on a Japanese freighter and sent away later, apparently to Saipan, Golden recounted.

The natives said the Japanese referred to the two prisoners as ‘American flier-spies,'” Golden said.  Golden said he cannot understand why the government would continue to hide the facts behind the disappearances.  I just hope that someday justice is done, and the woman receives the honor due her for her service to her country, Golden said.  [End of Albuquerque Tribune story.]

Golden passed away suddenly at his home on March 7, 2011 at age 85, though he had encouraged me to hasten my efforts to publish the first edition of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (2012), because he felt his time was coming soon.  As I wrote in closing Jim Golden’s legacy of honor in the Earhart saga, in 2015, We’ll never see the likes of Jim Golden again, and I hope someday we’ll meet in a much better place.

More on Jim Golden’s amazing life and contributions to the Earhart saga can be found in the pages of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. 

Rafford and Horner on the bogus Howland log

Today we take a look at the Howland Island radio log through the eyes of two of history’s most accomplished and respected Earhart researchers, Paul Rafford Jr. and Dave Horner.  The questions raised by the multiple discrepancies between the two sets of radio logs associated with the Earhart flight, the radio room of the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca and the one kept on Howland Island, are disturbing to say the least, and open doors to a wide range of justifiable speculation about what was really going on during those critical hours in the morning of July 2, 1937.  

The following article appeared in the March 1998 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Boldface and italic emphasis mine unless noted. 

“The Cipriani/Howland Island Radio Log: Fact or Fiction?”
by Paul Rafford Jr., Jan. 25, 1998

In 1994, while looking for a friend’s address in the Radio Amateur Call Book, former Naval Officer and retired radio engineer John P. Riley suddenly caught sight of a familiar name, Yau Fai Lum.  This had been the name of the radio operator on Howland Island during Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated flight.  Could the Yau Fai Lum listed in the call book be the same one? — He was!  And as a result, John’s discovery set in motion an exchange of correspondence with Lum that now challenges the credibility of the Coast Guard’s Earhart files.

Howland was one of the Pacific islands occupied by the United States during the 1930s using civilian personnel under contract to the Department of Interior.  In addition to sustaining America’s claim to the islands, the colonists collected weather information and radioed it to Honolulu.  In order to keep expenses to a minimum, the Department used adventurous young amateur radio operators and their equipment to man the weather network, rather than professionals.

Yau Fai Lum, undated.  Courtesy of Paul Rafford Jr.

By chance, three of these radio operators were on Howland at the time Earhart was to arrive.  Yau Fai Lum was the operator assigned to Howland, while Ah Kin Leong and Henry Lau were traveling aboard the Itasca, en route either to or from their assignments on Baker and Jarvis.  They were sent ashore to help prepare for Earhart’s arrival.  [Coast Guard] Radioman [2nd Class] Frank Cipriani, ashore from the Itasca, was assigned to operate the high frequency direction finder.

According to the Itasca’s report and radio logs, after the ship departed in search of Earhart, Cipriani, Leong, and Lau remained on the island with Lum.  Under Cipriani’s direction, they would maintain a watch on her frequencies and use the direction finder to obtain bearings, if possible.  Except during periods of battery charging, contact would be made with the Itasca every few hours.

Copies of the Howland radio log, allegedly kept by Cipriani and the Interior Department radio operators, can be found in the National Archives.  The entries reflect bona fide activities that would be expected to occur, such as watch changes, battery charging periods, attempts at direction finding, and exchanges of communication with the Itasca.  However, there is one obvious error.  Items that we know happened on July 2 carried a July 3 dateline.

After locating Lum, Riley exchanged correspondence with him for several months. Although suffering from the infirmities of old age, Lum’s mind was clear and memory good.  But, to Riley’s amazement, he completely denied having taken any part in keeping radio watches for Cipriani.  In fact, Lum denied ever having met him.

When Riley pointed out his difficulty in believing that the two men could have lived together on Howland for two weeks without meeting, Lum emphatically declared that Cipriani had not been on the island during that period.  But he did not deny that Cipriani could have been on the island for brief periods before Earhart’s disappearance.  He pointed out that any work Cipriani did would have been in the Coast Guard’s own radio shack, some distance from Lum’s station at Government House.  He writes, “I did not interfere with their duties and stayed out of the way.”

A close-up look at the Howland Island camp, taken Jan. 23, 1937, that was equipped with a shower for Amelia Earhart that she never enjoyed.  The Coast Guard built an outdoor shower with water supplied by a 50 gallon drum mounted on top of a 10-foot-high platform.  (National Archives.)

Henry Lau was now deceased, but Lum was able to put Riley in touch with Leong. He verified what Lum had claimed, and wrote the following:

Sept. 4, 1994
“No idea who wrote the false log.  I stand no radio watch on Howland IslandCipriani, Henry Lau and me were on the Coast Guard cutter Itasca when it left Howland Island looking for Earhart.”

By law, radio operators must sign their names when going on and off watch. However, Lum’s first name, Yau, is repeatedly misspelled ’Yat’.  His comment is, “If I really wrote that log, how come I misspelled my own name?”

If, as it appears, the Howland log is a fraud, then what about the authenticity of the Itasca’s log?  In order to check it, those entries in the Howland log referring to contacts with the Itasca were compared with the Itasca’s log entries.  In nearly all cases where the Howland log indicates a contact with the Itasca, there is a corresponding entry in the Itasca’s log.  So, if the Howland log is a forgery, then at least some of the entries in the Itasca’s log are forgeries.

Sixty years later, which are we to believe: the word of two old gentlemen who have no reason to bear false witness: — or our Government’s questionable records?  I prefer to believe the two elderly gentlemen.

But, we must question, if the log is false why would our Government have engaged in such a surreptitious effort to make it appear that Earhart’s frequency was monitored with a direction finder on Howland for ten days after her disappearance?  But if true, why classify it for 25 years?  (End of Rafford’s comments.  Rafford passed away in December 2016 at 97.)

Even more comprehensively than Rafford, Dave Horner, and author and former AES member who’s still with us, examines this complex situation and devotes his entire Chapter 6, “The Howland Direction Finder,” in his fine 2013 book, The Earhart Enigma (Pelican Publishing Co.), to a comprehensive look at the Howland Island direction finder, the personnel assigned to Howland Island and the serious questions the phony Howland Island radio log raised and continues to raise about Earhart’s final flight.  

“Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection: What did FDR’s treasury secretary really know?”  Radio room of USCG Cutter Tahoe, sister ship to Itasca, circa 1937.  Three radio logs were maintained during the flight, at positions 1 and 2 in the Itasca radio room, and one on Howland Island, where the Navy’s high-frequency direction finder had been set up.  Aboard Itasca, Chief Radioman Leo G. Bellarts supervised Gilbert E. Thompson, Thomas J. O’Hare and William L. Galten, all third-class radiomen, (meaning they were qualified and “rated” to perform their jobs).  Many years later, Galten told Paul Rafford Jr., a former Pan Am Radio flight officer, “That woman never intended to land on Howland Island.”

In his wide-ranging chapter, Horner expands on the information Rafford referenced in his AES Newsletters story from radio propagation expert John P. Riley Jr.’s 2000 story, The Earhart Tragedy: Old Mystery, New Hypothesis,which appeared in the August 2000 issue of Naval History Magazine (available by subscription only).  Other sources Horner cites are 1994 and 1995 letters from Yau Fai Lum to John Riley, and Rafford himself.  None of it puts Cmdr. Warner Thompson in a favorable light.

Horner begins this lengthy, complex chapter by stating that the “July 29 [actually July 19] 1937 report “Earhart Flight” [Radio transcripts, Earhart flight] by Cmdr. Warner K. Thompson, Itasca’s commanding officer “raised more questions than it answered.” 

This is a huge understatement, and the confusing situation among personnel on Howland Island, as well as the capabilities of the direction finder placed there to assist in helping Earhart find a safe landing on Howland, doesn’t easily lend itself to a complete treatment here, given the limitations of this blog and its editor, who has never possessed or claimed any significant degree of technical acumen. 

Unlike some, Horner held Rafford in some esteem, calling the former NASA specialist “always a gentleman,” and drew from his work throughout Chapter 6 of The Earhart Enigma.

This whole affair of the Howland DF log didn’t get messy until Yau Fai Lum claimed years later that Cipriani did not remain on Howland but returned to the ship,”  Horner wrote.  All of this surfaced in the early 1990s, when Lum told Earhart researcher and author Paul Rafford and John Riley, both contemporary radio experts, that he had never even met Cipriani.”  Horner continued:

Rafford was stunned.  “Never met Cipriani?  According to the log of the Itasca you were on that flyspeck of an island for over two weeks with him.  How could you possibly not have met him in all of that time?”

Lum responded directly and to the point.  Cipriani was only on Howland Island the evening before and early morning of Earhart’s anticipated arrival.

. . . Rafford continued his questions of Lum:  There are daily direction finding reports written until the search was over.  Your name is there, along with Cipriani’s. [Ah Kin] Leong, and [Henry] Lau.  You all stood FD watches.  Your name is right there in black and white!  How can you deny this?

Coast Guard Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts led the radio team aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca during the final flight of Amelia Earhart.  He has said that “One or two things should never be published as long as anyone on the Itasca remains alive.”  

Lum illustrated this disparity with one immeasurable comment: If I signed or typed the log, how could I misspell my own name?  Yat instead of Yau [Italics Horner’s.]  Our names as well as our call signs are typed, not signed by us.  It is a counterfeit!”

Horner called the above an almost unbelievable development.  The Itasca report from Commander Thompson placed Ah Kin Leong and Henry Lau ashore on Howland Island in order to assist Cipriani staff the high-frequency DF.  But Lum asserted, ‘That is a false report, full of –.’ ”  Lum explained that neither he nor any of the radio operators on Howland were trained or capable of operating the high frequency direction finder — Cipriani was the only one there who was trained to operative the HF/DF. 

All this should be disturbing to anyone who has put any faith in the official Itasca Radio Logs, Itasca Cruise Report or “Radio transcripts, Earhart flight,all of which were produced by or under the auspices and responsibility of Cmdr. Thompson.  

Big questions have never been answered, to wit: Who tampered with the Itasca and Howland Island logs, and why?  Just as disturbingly, what other changes were made to the Itasca and Howland logs — what might have been added, subtracted or in any way made to misrepresent the truth about Earhart’s final flight and the hours immediately after her last message at 0843 Howland Island time?

See my March 31, 2015 post, Amelia Earhart and the Morgenthau Connection: What did FDR’s treasury secretary really know?as you further consider what really occurred in the final hours of the Earhart flight, as well as how and why these strange, irregular occurrences have affected the entire official face of the Earhart disappearance. 

In a 1973 interview with crashed-and-sank author Elgen Long, former Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts said, “One or two things should never be published as long as anyone on the Itasca remains alive.”  What could Bellarts have meant?

For anyone who’s interested in further studying the Howland Island direction finder and all that it entailed, I strongly recommend The Earhart Enigma, available in used, inexpensive copies on Amazon, as well as new. 

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