We continue with our list of significant developments that have shaped and defined the modern search for Amelia Earhart through the years. As I wrote in the opening of this timeline, this is but one man’s opinion, and I make no sweeping claims as to its comprehensiveness. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome and will be considered for inclusion.
November 1966: Retired Marine Gen. Graves B. Erskine, deputy commander of V Amphibious Corps during the Saipan invasion, visits the radio studios of KCBS in San Francisco for an interview with Fred Goerner. While waiting to go on the air, Erskine tells Jules Dundes, CBS West Coast vice president, and Dave McElhatton, a KCBS newsman, “It was established that Earhart was on Saipan. You’ll have to dig the rest out for yourselves.”
June 1967: The ONI Report is declassified and transferred from the Naval Investigative Service (formerly the ONI) to the U.S. Naval History Division. From the day of its declassification, this document has been Exhibit Number One on the evidence list that reveals the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan. Moreover, the ONI Report offers a clear glimpse into the actual workings of the U.S. government’s longstanding practice of denial and deceit in the Earhart disappearance. Despite the mendacity, half-truths and misdirection that flavor its pages, the ONI Report remains the only official government statement ever released that indicates its knowledge of Earhart and Noonan’s presence on Saipan. Thus far, it is the closest thing we have to a smoking gun in the Earhart search.
November 1967 to April 1968: Donald Kothera and his so-called “Cleveland Group” visit Saipan twice in search of evidence supporting Earhart and Noonan’s presence and death there. Kothera’s interview of native Anna Diaz Magofna, who claimed to have seen the beheading of a tall white man as a 7-year-old on Saipan in 1937, is among the most compelling of the Saipan witnesses’ accounts. Kothera excavated a site that some believe is the same one Griswold, Henson and Burks exhumed in 1944.
1969: Amelia Earhart Returns from Saipan (First Edition) by Joe Davidson, is published by Davidson Publishing Co., Canton, Ohio. Davidson’s book chronicles Don Kothera and the Cleveland Group’s activities in 1967-1968 on Saipan and their return to the states. The book, though often overlooked and poorly written, contains a wealth of important eyewitness material.
1970: Amelia Earhart Lives: A Trip Through Intrigue to Find America’s First Lady of Mystery, by Joe Klaas, is published by McGraw-Hill (New York). This is the notorious book that introduced the disastrous Amelia Earhart-as-Irene Bolam myth to the world. Irene Bolam, a New Jersey housewife mistaken for Amelia Earhart in 1965 by the delusional Joe Gervais, sued McGraw-Hill for defamation. A settlement was reached and the book was pulled from the shelves after seven weeks, but not before great damage was inflicted on all legitimate Earhart research
Nov. 12, 1970: Japanese citizen Michiko Sugita tells the Japan Times that military police shot Amelia Earhart as a spy on Saipan in 1937. Sugita was 11 years old in 1937, and her father, Mikio Suzuki, was a civilian police chief at Garapan, Saipan’s capital. She learned about the execution of the American woman from military police at a party given by her father.
Aug. 10, 1971: In a letter to Fred Goerner, Retired Marine Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, the 18th commandant of the Marine Corps, writes: “General Tommy Watson, who commanded the 2nd Marine Division during the assault on Saipan and stayed on that island after the fall of Okinawa, on one of my seven visits of inspection of his division told me that it had been substantiated that Miss Earhart met her death on Saipan.”
1978 to 1982: Former Air Force pilot Vincent V. Loomis made four trips to the Marshall Islands, two to Saipan and one to Tokyo in search of witnesses and Earhart-related evidence. Loomis interviews witnesses to the Electra’s crash-landing in the waters off Barre Island, and is generally credited with solidifying the Marshall Islands landing scenario.
September 1979: South African Oliver Knaggs is hired by a film producer to join Loomis in the Marshalls and chronicle his search. In Knaggs’ 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her last flight, Knaggs recounts his 1979 and ’81 investigations in the Marshalls and Saipan. Her last flight corroborates much of the witness testimony gathered by Goerner and Loomis, and is the first published book to present the eyewitness account of Bilimon Amaron, who tended to Fred Noonan’s knee wound at Jaluit in July 1937.
June 1982: After years of studying data from the Pan Am intercepts and other alleged radio receptions, famed inventor Fred Hooven presents his paper, Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, at the Amelia Earhart Symposium at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum. This was the genesis of the false “Nikumaroro Hypothesis,” which has so dominated public discussion since The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery’s (TIGHAR) first trip there in 1989. Later, Hooven reportedly changed his mind and fully embraced the Marshall Islands landing scenario, made famous by Vincent V. Loomis in his 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story after Fred Goerner laid its foundation in The Search for Amelia Earhart.
1983: Amelia Earhart: Her last flight, is published by a South African firm. A collector’s item, Knaggs’ book is worth the price for researchers interested in learning more about details of Vincent V. Loomis’ work in the Marshalls, and offers new evidence never revealed elsewhere.
June 1985: Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, by Vincent V. Loomis and Jeffrey Ethell, is published by Random House, a huge mainstream outfit, and recounts the aforementioned investigations by Vincent V. Loomis. The book’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 writes, “The mystery is a mystery no longer.” Neither the U.S. government or the entire establishment media got Hart’s memo.
April 1, 1987: Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, by Thomas E. Devine, is published by Renaissance House Publishers (Frederick, Colo.). Eyewitness is Devine’s first-person account of his Earhart-related experiences in the summer of 1944, which included his personal inspection of Electra NR 16020, Earhart’s plane discovered at Aslito Field and his return to Saipan in 1963 with Fred Goerner, when he located the gravesite of a white man and woman who had “come from the sky” before the war, according to an unidentified Okinawan’s account to him in 1945.
July 1988: Witness to the Execution: The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart, by T.C. “Buddy” Brennan is published by the same Renaissance House that released Eyewitness a year earlier. During three trips to the Marshalls and Saipan in the early 1980s, Houston real-estate executive Buddy Brennan interviews several Marshallese and Saipan natives with knowledge of the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan. One alleged eyewitness. Mrs. Nievas Cabrera Blas, claims to have seen a white woman shot and buried near her home just prior to the American invasion in 1944. Brennan’s excavation produces a rag that he claims is the blindfold worn by Amelia Earhart, an impossible-to-prove theory.
March 16, 1992: at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, announces that the Amelia Earhart mystery “is solved.” The “evidence” Gillespie presents includes a battered piece of aluminum, a weathered size 9 shoe sole labeled “Cat’s Paw Rubber Co., USA,” a small brass eyelet and another unlabeled heel the group found on Nikumaroro during TIGHAR’s highly publicized second trip there in October 1991. These items, elaborately displayed and labeled in a glass case, all came from Earhart or her Electra, according to Gillespie. All this material is later thoroughly and scientifically debunked, and nothing that Gillespie and TIGHAR have brought back from Nikumaroro in 11 trips has ever been forensically linked to the fliers.
1993 to present: Australian aircraft engineer David Billings, working in Papua New Guinea, has an interest in locating World War aircraft wrecks there. In 1993 he reads of the possibility that Earhart’s Electra aircraft might have been seen by some Australian army soldiers while on patrol in the jungle on New Britain Island in 1945. After contacting the actual veterans, he learns that they have a “patrol map” from their wartime patrol, during which they saw the aircraft wreck. In 1994, one of the veterans, Donald Angwin, preparing the map for Billings to view, finds some writing on the map which came into view after Angwin removed some old tape on the border.
Billings finds a reference written as “600 H/P S3H1 C/N1055” which together form identifiers for Earhart’s Electra aircraft by identifying the horsepower rating of the engines, the Pratt & Whitney designation for the engines she used and, last of all, the actual Electra aircraft serial number, expressed as a Construction Number: “1055.”
These letter and number codes matches Amelia Earhart’s Electra NR 16020. The letters and numbers given as a reference on the map border are believed to be the same “string of letters and numbers” seen by the patrol warrant officer on a small metal tag that he removed from the engine mount tubing of one engine at the crash site. This written evidence and the description of the wreckage given by the veterans gives rise to the New Britain theory, the theory that Earhart had carried out her contingency plan to return to the Gilbert Islands. The theory posits that on finding the Gilberts, Earhart took stock of her fuel remaining and then attempted to make Rabaul on New Britain. According to Billings, Amelia’s choice was simple: crash-land on the Gilberts or continue on with the possibility of safe landing or the same crash-landing later in the day. The wreck seen in 1945 is some 45 miles from Rabaul. (Courtesy of David Billings.) We will have much more on the New Britain theory in a forthcoming post.
Sept. 13, 1994: Fred Goerner dies at age 69 in San Francisco.
June 13, 1996: Vincent V. Loomis dies at age 75 in Pensacola, Fla.
May 2001: The infamous “Weishien Telegram” a speed letter sent from the liberated Japanese internment camp at Weishien, China, on Aug. 28, 1945, once believed to have been sent from Amelia Earhart to George Putnam, is proven to have originated with Turkish author and world traveler Ahmad Kamal by researcher Ron Bright. Putnam had agreed to look after Kamal’s aging mother when Kamal left for China, thus the “Love to Mother” close that, misunderstood as coming from Amelia, created sensational speculation. Bright’s findings are initially published in the May 2001 edition of TIGHAR Tracks newsletter.
Sept. 1, 2002: With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, by Mike Campbell with Thomas E. Devine, is published by a small Ohio company. With Our Own Eyes presents the eyewitness accounts of the 26 former GIs who served during the Saipan Invasion, and came forward to advise Thomas Devine of their own experiences on Saipan that indicated the presence and death of Amelia and Fred on the Japanese-controlled island in the prewar years.
Sept. 16, 2003: Thomas E. Devine dies at age 88 in West Haven, Conn.
April 2005: Legerdemain: Deceit, Misdirection and Political Sleight of Hand in the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by David K. Bowman is published by AuthorHouse. Legerdemain is notable in that it brings together, for the first time, many of the strangest and most obscure Earhart tales, clearly demonstrating the extent to which the Earhart case has been stigmatized by fantasists since its earliest days. Legerdemain is republished in June 2007 by Saga Books of Canada, and in e-book format by Vaga Books in March 2014.
2011 to January 2015: Dick Spink, of Bow, Washington, travels five times to Mili Atoll’s Barre Island area, where many believe Earhart crash-landed her plane on July 2, 1937. Working with Australian Martin Daly and groups of locals armed with metal detectors on the tiny Endriken (Marshallese for “little”) Islands, about a mile east of Barre, the group’s discoveries included a small aluminum plate and a circular metal dust cover from a landing-gear airwheel assembly that appeared to be consistent with an Electra 10E. According to Spink, Daly found both the plate and the circular metal dust cover in the same area during different searches. The artifacts have no serial numbers, thus they cannot be attached solely to the Earhart Electra.
Summer 2012: TIGHAR’s Ric Gillespie meets and is photographed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prior to embarking on trip number 10 to Nikumaroro. Discerning observers know this photo is compelling evidence that the U.S. government continues to be actively engaged in the business of disinformation in the Earhart case, and at this point was dropping all pretense that the “official” Navy-Coast Guard 1937 verdict has any validity whatsoever.
June 2012: Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, by Mike Campbell, is published by Sunbury Press (Mechanicsburg, Penn.). Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last presents many new findings, eyewitness accounts and analysis, and never-before-published revelations from many unimpeachable sources including famed U.S. generals and iconic newsman and Earhart researcher Fred Goerner’s files that reveal the truth about her death on Saipan, as well as the sacred cow status of this matter within the American establishment. The book is blacked out by the mainstream media.
April 2013: The Earhart Enigma: Retracing Amelia’s Last Flight, by Dave Horner, is published by Pelican Publishing Co., Gretna, La. The Earhart Enigma presents another comprehensive and compelling case for the Marshalls-Saipan scenarios in a different literary style than Truth at Last, and is an important addition to the small but growing collection of works that present aspects of the truth about Amelia’s tragic loss.
March 2016: Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, Second Edition, is published by Sunbury Press. The new edition adds two chapters, a new foreword, rarely seen photos, and the most recent discoveries and analysis to the mountain of overwhelming witness testimony and documentation presented in the first edition.
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.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 29, June 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.
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.’
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 angle, why 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.
Earhart researchers Dick Spink and Les Kinney, who led a search team sponsored by Parker Aerospace, returned from Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands Jan. 30 after spending five days combing the tiny Endriken Islands near Barre Island with high-tech equipment including ground-penetrating radar and metal detectors.
Although no one has made any more claims that “concrete proof” or a “Holy Grail” has been found, they didn’t return empty-handed, either, and some of the artifacts appear to have serious potential.
“Wow, what a trip!” Spink wrote in an email Feb. 3. “Two of the pieces we found are very consistent with what I found on my first couple expeditions to Mili. One piece in particular is some type of identification plate that is consistent in size with that of a Lockheed airframe tag. There is no way of knowing this until we get it to the lab, but you can tell it was some type of ID tag.
“Something important to note,” Spink continued, “is that all of the aluminum pieces we found were in a direct line between where [I believe] the [Earhart] plane came to rest and the location of where the plane was loaded onto the shallow draft barge. Very interesting indeed, and the foundation of this story is becoming more solid.”
Readers unfamiliar with the full background on this story and the new search at Mili for parts of Amelia Earhart’s Electra can find details in my three earlier posts, Yahoo! News announces new search for Electra parts, “Recent find on Mili Atoll called “Concrete proof” and “Update to Recent find on Mili story.”
“We found six small artifacts that could or could not have come from the Electra,” Kinney wrote in a Jan. 29 email. “We also found a couple of small unidentified pieces of aluminum, and a round one inch diameter rusted magnet. Most of this stuff was buried — all except one piece were found by metal detectors.”
Kinney urged caution about making any premature announcements until thorough testing can be done. He will coordinate the tests, financed by Parker Aerospace and conducted as soon as possible. None of the tests will likely provide absolute proof that an artifact came from the Earhart plane, but Kinney, Spink and antique aircraft Jim Hayton all believe the aluminum plate and airwheel dust cover found by Spink in previous trips to the Endrikens were probably from the Electra.
Kinney also interviewed some native Marshallese he called “knowledgeable locals” in the Mili Atoll area, and says he “confirmed there were no aircraft wrecks on any of the nearby islands stretching out for at least ten miles” during or before the war years, with only one exception. This supports his earlier research, and makes the possibilities even stronger that one or more of the artifacts’ came from the Earhart plane.
“We also got some Japanese aircraft samples we picked up on Mili Island to compare the aluminum we got from our island,” Kinney wrote, adding that “everything has been cleared by the Marshallese government. I wrote up a release and the President signed it as well as the Historic Preservation Office Manager. Everything is legal.”
As is usually been the case when Earhart searches are undertaken by TIGHAR, Nauticos and others, the media has enthusiastically informed the public about the great adventure. These same news agencies have almost invariably failed to publish follow-ups when the searches fail to deliver. Much the same is the case here, though on a far smaller scale; nothing about the search has been published to date by Yahoo! News or any other media outlet, though Spink says he will be talking to a local newspaper soon, and other possible media exposure may be forthcoming.
Readers of this blog can be sure that this reporter will do all that he can to keep them informed about any news in what might be properly called “the postmodern” search for Amelia Earhart.
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.