Tag Archives: Barre Island

Doug Mills’ Earhart sketches, balsa plane available

Doug Mills initially contacted me in March 2010 via email, full of questions and enthusiasm for the Earhart story, having read my 2002 book written with Thomas E. Devine, the little-known With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart.  

Doug, 55, lives in small-town Bellaire, in northern Michigan, works as a manager at the spectacular Shanty Creek Resort and regularly paddles his kayak on nearby Torch Lake, not far from Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan.  He’s also an artist, and I think some of his Earhart-related work is worthy of posting here, in case anyone might be interested in purchasing any or all of these one-of-a-kind pieces at a very inexpensive price.  They’re all framed in my office.

Doug Mills can reached at douglasmills@frontier.com, and will work with anyone interested.  I won’t list prices here, but these pieces are far below what would be considered “market price” for such sketches.  In other words, they are dirt cheap!  He’s not set up for credit cards, but your check will be much appreciated.  The sketches and plane below speak for themselves, are great conversation pieces and are worthy of your attention.

Doug Mills, 55, of Bellaire, Michigan, Amelia Earhart artist and longtime contributor to the Truth at Last Blog.

 

 

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Marshalls stamps reflect fact of Amelia Earhart’s Mili Atoll landing

Anyone familiar with the Earhart saga knows that in 1987 the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a set of four commemorative stamps and envelope covers in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Amelia’s crash-landing off Barre Island, in the northwest section of Mili Atoll, on July 2, 1937.

The story depicted in the stamps is based largely on the narrative in Vincent V. Loomis’ 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, though not all of it can be considered accurate. For example, no evidence exists to support the idea presented by the authors of the one-page information sheet issued with the stamps that the fliers were taken from Jaluit to Truk, and then to Saipan. On the contrary, we have plenty of witness testimony that Earhart and Noonan were taken from Jaluit to Kwajalein, and then to Saipan. 

Likewise, the statement that Earhart and Noonan, once realizing they were lost, “implemented their contingency plan and turned into a WNW course for the Gilberts,” and eventually found themselves at Mili Atoll, is speculation and not a known fact. Though this could have happened, we simply do not know precisely how or why Earhart and Noonan landed off Barre Island, only that they did indeed do so.

Marshall Islands 1987 stamp

Shortly after publication of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, in the summer of 2012, Frank Benjamin, an Earhart researcher and educator who was teaching at Anne Arundal Community College, in Arnold, Md., sent me the syllabus for his course, “Mysteries of History and Science.”

The Earhart disappearance was the featured event in “Mysteries of History and Science,” and Truth at Last was the only textbook named in the syllabus.  To my knowledge, this was the first and only time this book has been the textbook for a college course, thanks to Benjamin.

Among the materials Frank sent me was the original information sheet that described the creation of the 1987 Marshall Islands stamps and covers, issued by the Marshall Islands Philatelic Bureau. Below, for both the discerning collector and the slightly interested, is the contents of the sheet’s contents, and some of the covers and stamps that it described. Marshalls Stamps masthead

The disappearance of American aviatrix Amelia Earhart during her around-the-world flight attempt in 1937 has been one of aviation’s great unsolved mysteries. Recent investigations by Vincent Looms and David Kabua (son of Marshalls President Amata Kabua) have led to eyewitness accounts of what happened to Earhart and her navigator Frederick Noonan. This issue is based on those accounts.

The Amelia Earhart commemorative is the Marshall Islands CAPEX ’87 issue, released concurrently at Majuro, capital of the Marshalls, and Toronto, Canada. Earhart tended wounded soldiers in a Toronto hospital during World War I, and her first brush with the excitement of aviation came at the Toronto Aero Club Fete of 1918.

Her associations with Canada continued: her 1928 flight, in which she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic, went from Boston, MA, Halifax, NS, and Trepassey, NWF to Carmarthen Bay, Wales; her flight of 1932, when she became the first woman to solo the Atlantic, was routed from Teterboro, NJ to St. John, NB, to harbor Grace, NWF and on to Culmore, Ireland.

This set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's last flight. The stamps (clockwise from top left) are titled: "Takeoff, Lae, New Guinea, July 2, 1937; USCG Itasca at Howland Island Awaiting Earhart; Crash Landing at Mili Atoll, July 2, 1937; and Recovery of Electra by the Koshu." Frank Benjamin elarged and mounted these stamps, and they are an impressive part of his unique Earhart display.

This set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight. The stamps (clockwise from top left) are titled: “Takeoff, Lae, New Guinea, July 2, 1937; USCG Itasca at Howland Island Awaiting Earhart; Crash Landing at Mili Atoll, July 2, 1937; and Recovery of Electra by the Koshu.” Frank Benjamin enlarged and mounted these stamps, and they are an impressive part of his unique Earhart display.

At 10 a.m. on July 2, 1937, Earhart’s Electra took off from the Cliffside runway at Lae, New Guinea bound for Howland Island, via the Nikumanus and Nauru; if she reached it all right, the remaining legs to Hawaii and California would be easy. A Guinea Airways pilot [probably Jim Collopy], who saw her takeoff, commented that the craft was so overloaded that it dropped off the end of the runway and wet its props in the Gulf of Huon before Earhart could get to flying speed.

Awaiting her on Howland Island, 2500 [actually 2,556] miles away, was the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, equipped with the latest navigation and communication devices. Commander Warner K. Thompson had search lights aimed skyward all night as a beacon; with the dawn, the Itasca began burning bunker oil, which put out a black plume visible for thirty miles around. An experimental Navy direction-finding unit (DF) was set on Howland itself, and officers also scanned the skies with binoculars.

One of four covers issued in June 1987 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Amelia Earhart's landing off Barre Island, Mili Atoll, in the Marshall Islands.

One of four covers issued in June 1987 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s landing off Barre Island, Mili Atoll, in the Marshall Islands.

All through the night and the next morning, radio operators struggled to establish two-way communications with the Electra. Earhart’s transmissions would drift in and out, but she seemed unable to understand messages the Coast Guardsmen were sending, and she never stayed on the air long enough for them to fix her position. Each succeeding broadcast seemed more desperate and confused, until, two hours after sunrise locally, her last message: “We are on the line of position 157-337. We are running north and south.” Then, fifty years of silence.

Thinking they were south of Howland Island, but unable to find it, Earhart and Noonan implemented their contingency plan and turned into a WNW course for the Gilberts. However, since they were north of Howland, their new course carried them directly over Mili Atoll, most southeasterly of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.

Two Mili fishermen on Barre Island, Lijon and Jororo Alibar, saw a silver plane approach and crash-land on the nearby reef, breaking off part of its right wing. The two Marshallese hid in the underbrush and watched as two white people exited the wreck and came ashore in a yellow raft. A little while later Japanese soldiers arrived to take hold of the fliers. When the shorter flier screamed, the Marshallese realized one was a woman. They remained hidden until long after the captives were taken away.

Another of the four covers issued in Jun2 1987. this one depicting a native Marshallese, probably Lijon, a Japanese officer and the Japanese survey ship Koshu, which some believe loaded the damaged Electra on its stern and eventually took it to Saipan.

Another of the four covers issued in Jun2 1987. this one depicting a native Marshallese, probably Lijon, a Japanese officer and the Japanese survey ship Koshu, which some believe loaded the damaged Electra on its stern and eventually took it to Saipan.

The Japanese Navy Survey Ship Koshu was sent from Ponape to Barre Island to pick up Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. The canvas sling the Koshu normally used for plucking Japanese seaplanes from the water was still around the big silver bird when the ship returned to Jaluit on July 19, where Japanese Medical Corpsman Bilimon Amaran [sic], who treated Noonan’s crash injuries, boarded the ship and saw Earhart.

The Koshu then sailed immediately for Truk, where Earhart and Noonan were taken aboard a flying boat to Saipan, the Japanese military headquarters in the Pacific. Saipanese Josephine Blanco witnesses the Japanese plane land in Tanapag Harbor, and she was taken by her brother-in-law, a Japanese working at the base, to see the Americans.

Earhart and Noonan were considered spies by the Japanese and so were held on Saipan for questioning. Their fate remains unknown.

This stamp [sic] is based in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, by Vincent Loomis. It was designed by William R. Hansen, Lunar Artist-Apollo 16, who also designed the CPAEX cancel and cachet and wrote this panel. The House of Questa printed the issue to the standard commemorative specifications.

Marshalls Stamps Info Postmark

I should not have to mention that Loomis was not alone in his findings that revealed the presence of the lost fliers at Mili Atoll in early July 1937. The investigations of other authors and researchers, including Fred Goerner, Oliver Knaggs, Bill Prymak, and most recently Dick Spink and Les Kinney have strongly corroborated the truth depicted in the 1987 commemorative stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Islands. But what has always been accepted as fact by the Marshallese people continues to be denied by the U.S. government and falsely labeled a “mystery,” while virtually nobody ever questions or challenges one of the greatest lies in American history.

Daily Mail sets new “standard” in Earhart reporting

Now that we’ve spent a few weeks at Garapan Prison in search of disembodied spirits, discarnate entities and other manifestations of the paranormal, it’s time we get back to the business of the disappearance and search for Amelia Earhart.

Some readers might be aware of the recent series of three stories, replete with huge photo layouts, published in the well-known United Kingdom tabloid, the Daily Mail presenting the Mili Atoll-Endriken Islands discoveries that Dick Spink, of Bow, Washington and his associates have made during several searches of the remote location over the past four years. 

I published the first of three pieces focusing on Spink’s finds here on Nov. 25, 2014, on the heels of the Oct. 31 Kansas City Star story, Has the key to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in the Pacific been found in Kansas?”  For those who might have missed those postings, they’re linked here,Recent find on Mili Atoll called “Concrete proof”, here,  “Update to ‘Recent find on Mili’ story and here, New Mili search uncovers more potential evidence.

Now that you’re up to speed on my support for Spink’s work on this blog, I’ll continue with my comments about what would normally be a positive development, i.e., a major publication offering aspects of the Earhart truth to a massive audience — unheard of in U.S. media– but the way the Daily Mail has presented these stories is too disturbing for me take much satisfaction.

These artifacts were found on the Endriken Islands at Mili Atoll by Dick Spink and his search groups in recent years.  Spink says the long piece of metal on the left side is the most likely to have come from an Electra 10E.  Asked where these pieces could have come from if not the Earhart Electra, Spink said, “The only other explanation could be that they were pieces of aluminum that could have been possibly torn off of something like fishing gear or something else that floated up on the island. I guess I really don’t know where the pieces came from if they weren’t from her [Earhart’s] aircraft.” Testing of the artifacts is ongoing.  (Courtesy Dick Spink.)

These artifacts were found on the Endriken Islands at Mili Atoll by Dick Spink and his search groups in recent years. Spink says the long piece of metal on the left side is the most likely to have come from an Electra 10E. Asked where these pieces could have come from if not the Earhart Electra, Spink said, “The only other explanation could be that they were pieces of aluminum that could have been possibly torn off of something like fishing gear or something else that floated up on the island. I guess I really don’t know where the pieces came from if they weren’t from her [Earhart’s] aircraft.” Testing of the artifacts is ongoing. (Courtesy Dick Spink.)

If you haven’t seen the Daily Mail stories yet, here they are for your review, linked by date of publication in the Daily Mail, or MailOnline as they like to call themselves: May 29June 26 and July 9.

If you’ve read any or all of these very similar pieces, you may have noticed the glaring lack of references to any previous investigative work on the Earhart disappearance as related to Mili Atoll. To the low-information reader, it appears as if the Daily Mail discovered this story all by itself, and is presenting it to the world for the first time! 

For those not inclined to click on the linked above, here’s a flavor of what I’m referring to, from the June 26 Daily Mail article, headlined, “EXCLUSIVE: Are these bits of metal proof that Amelia Earhart died after being captured by the Japanese on remote Pacific atoll – and the U.S. government KNEW but covered it up?”

Compelling new evidence found among the jagged coral of a tiny North Pacific island could be the key to finally unraveling the mystery of exactly what happened to U.S. aviator Amelia Earhart after she disappeared almost 80 years ago.

The corroding pieces of metal, discovered on the Mili atoll in the Marshall Islands, are currently being analysed [sic] to find out if they are the wheel well trim and dust cover from Amelia’s Lockheed Electra plane, which disappeared over the Pacific in 1937, while she and her navigator Fred Noonan were attempting to fly around the globe.

The two men behind the find believe that they are in possession of another piece of tantalizing [sic] evidence that they claim proves she and her companion were captured by the Japanese and died while in their hands. 

The circular metal dust cover from a landing-gear wheel assembly found by DIck Spinks' friend Martin Daly on Mili Atoll recently. “It is a dust cover off one of these Goodyear wheels,” aircraft analyst Jim Hayton said. “Since I had the other two wheels, I’m very familiar with this dust cover. I know exactly what it is."

The circular metal dust cover from a landing-gear wheel assembly found by Dick Spinks’ friend Martin Daly on Mili Atoll recently. “It is a dust cover off one of these Goodyear wheels,” aircraft analyst Jim Hayton said. “Since I had the other two wheels, I’m very familiar with this dust cover. I know exactly what it is.”

Naturally I don’t appreciate this bunch ignoring Truth at Last, would you? But this isn’t a case of a personal problem between the Daily Mail and myself or Sunbury Press, the book’s publisher. The Daily Mail editors also failed to name Oliver Knaggs’ 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her final flight and Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985), works that presented the major Marshalls eyewitness, Bilimon Amaron and several others to the world for the first time.   

That’s just for starters. The MailOnline also refused to acknowledge the vital contributions of other researchers and authors who fought and bled to dig out the truth in this story, failing to mention — while at the same time pulling much information critical to their stories The Search for Amelia Earhart by Fred Goerner, the 1966 bestseller and the most important of all Earhart disappearance books, and Thomas Devine’s 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident

Others have also made significant contributions to the Mili Atoll landing scenario, including the late Bill Prymak, who located and interviewed several new witnesses for the first time during his three trips to the Marshalls, many years before the recent finds. Their accounts are chronicled in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. Are you seeing a pattern yet?

The point is that if you read the Daily Mail stories, it’s as if no investigations have ever been done at Mili before Spink and his search groups showed up there a few years ago. Hyperbole is one thing, outright deceit by omission is quite another.  This is not to take anything away from Dick Spink’s potentially blockbuster discoveries, which in themselves are the best news in years for the truth in the Earhart case.

To ensure its clueless readers don’t get the impression that they came up with these stories out of thin air, however, the Daily Mail editors quoted two obscure witnesses, one an American who claims he was a good friend of Bilimon Amaron but otherwise has no ties to the story. The clear and quite dishonest implication is that these witnesses are sharing revelations about the Earhart disappearance that the world is hearing for the first time.

Amram’s friend Charles Domnick, 73, told MailOnline: ‘He told me he saw both of them on the Japanese vessel and spoke to Noonan. They were both sitting on the deck. He had no doubt about that.’

 Domnick said he went to Amram’s warehouse in the late 1960s, where his friend swore that he had accompanied a Japanese doctor to the Koshu Maru to look after an injured American.

. . . Jerry Kramer, a U.S. businessman who has lived on Majuro since the 1960s, told MailOnline he had been a good friend of Amram and could ‘absolutely confirm the story that he told about helping to treat the navigator and seeing Amelia Earhart.’

A satellite view of Mili Atoll from space, with Barre Island to the north, where Amelia Earhart landed on July 2, 1937.

A satellite view of Mili Atoll from space, with Barre Island to the north, where Amelia Earhart landed on July 2, 1937.

The Daily Mail’s motivation for employing such a shabby editorial policy is obvious: They don’t want readers going anywhere else for their Earhart information, and if they want to learn more they’ll just have to wait for the next Daily Mail story, unless, of course they decide to do some online research of their own, a highly unlikely but not unheard-of practice among today’s mostly incurious masses.  

Dick Spink assured me that he urged Karen Earnshaw, named as the writer of at least two of the  stories, that she include a reference to Truth at Last, so clearly it was the Daily Mail editors who butchered these stories for their own selfish, shortsighted reasons.  

Who do they think they’re serving by shortchanging their readership in such a tawdry way? How many readers in the UK actually care about the Earhart story anyway? Very few, I would guess, so what is their anglewhy is the Daily Mail suddenly so “keen,” as they say in England, on the Earhart story? And why can’t they tell it correctly, instead of twisting themselves into literary pretzels in their ridiculous attempt to claim “exclusive rights” to a story that was told over 50 years ago by real journalists?

I sent cordial emails to Karen Earnshaw and Richard Shears, named as a co-author in two of the stories, to ask if they could explain why the Daily Mail has taken such an interest in the Earhart case, when nobody else in the media has changed their total blackout policy regarding any stories that present the Marshalls and Saipan pieces of the Earhart saga.

Neither Earnshaw, who lives in the Marshall Islands, nor Shears replied to my query, which typifies the rudeness, arrogance and lack of professionalism all too often found today in people who call themselves journalists, and which especially flavors the media’s attitude toward the Earhart story, apparently even when it’s offering pieces of the truth. We constantly hear about how the media has no standards anymore, and this is just another example. 

The Daily Mail obviously fashions itself a credible publication, so it has a responsibility to be honest with its readers, to cite its sources and to provide accurate background information in its stories. None of these basic requirements can be found in the recent Daily Mail Earhart-at-Mili Atoll series.

If the Daily Mail were a student taking journalism 101 at the local community college, these stories would have been returned with a big, fat “F” in large red ink, with a few choice comments from a slightly miffed professor to the moron who wasn’t listening to a damn thing he said. 

Update to “Recent find on Mili” story of Nov. 25

Mili Wheels 4

Researcher Les Kinney recently forwarded the above photo, provided by Dick Spink, of two very old, rusted steel wheels attached to axels that were found by Spink on the same Endriken Island where he found the plate and the dust cover (see Nov. 25 post). The axels, according to Kinney, are about 4 to 4.5 feet long, and the wheel diameters are about 20 inches. Nothing more specific or detailed about these wheels is currently available, and they are now believed to be in the possession of the Marshallese government.

Of course we wonder what these artifacts were doing on such a remote, otherwise unsettled spit of land in the Marshalls, but at this time we’ll leave any speculation for later.  Anyone who has any ideas about the origin, provenance or function of these axels and wheels is encouraged to contact us.

It appears that the story of Dick Spink’s fascinating discoveries on the tiny Endriken Islands in the Marshalls has only just begun. 

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