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, Wash., 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 stories 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 Daily Mail also refused to acknowledge the vital contributions of other reseachers 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 potentially 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, the pair 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 expert 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 has 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 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.
Researcher Les Kinney recently forwarded the above photo, provided by Dick Spink, of two very old, rusted steel wheels attached to axles that were found by Spink on the same Endriken Island where he found the plate and the dust cover (see Nov. 25 post). The axles, 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 axles 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.
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. (Boldface and italic emphasis mine throughout.)
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.