Tag Archives: Fred Noonan

Earhart’s “Disappearing Footprints,” Part III

Today we move along to Part III of Capt. Calvin Pitts’ “Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY,” his studied analysis of Amelia Earhart’s final flight.  We left Part II with Calvin’s description of the communication failures between the Navy tug USS Ontario and the ill-fated fliers.

“What neither of them knew at that time was the agonizing fact that the Electra was not equipped for low-frequency broadcast,” Calvin wrote, “and the Ontario was not equipped for high-frequency. . . . After changing frequencies to one that the Ontario could not receive, it is safe to assume that Amelia made several voice calls.  Morse code, of course, was already out of the picture.” 

We’re honored that Calvin has so embraced the truth in the Earhart disappearance that he’s spent countless hours working to explain the apparently inexplicable — how and why Amelia Earhart reached and landed at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937.  Here’s Part III, with even more to follow. 

Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY, Part III
By Capt. Calvin Pitts

Although Amelia was obviously trying to make contact with the Ontario by radio, Lt. Blakeslee did not know that.  By the same token, Amelia had to wonder why he would not answer.

USS Ontario (AT-13), was a Navy tug servicing the Samoa area, but assigned to the Earhart flight twice as a mid-point weather and radio station for assistance.

This failure to communicate, however, worked into Amelia’s new plan.  Since she had no way of letting the Ontario know they were en route, being without Morse code and having frequencies which were not compatible, now that he had been plying those waters for 10 days along her flight path, she knew it was useless to try to find and to overfly the unknown position of the Ontario in the thick darkness of a Pacific night.

Therefore, it now made even more sense to continue on to Nauru whose people had been alerted by Balfour that the Electra was probably coming.  Although that had begun as a suggestion, no one yet knew that it had now become a decision.  She needed to let the Ontario know — but how?

She had lost contact with Balfour, couldn’t make contact with the Ontario, and the Itasca had not yet entered the picture.  Nauru, it was later learned, had a similar problem as the Ontario, and Tarawa had not broadcast anything.  Amelia was good at making last-minute decisions. “Let’s press on to Nauru,” she might have said.  “It’s a small diversion, and a great gain in getting a solid land-fix.  I’ll explain later.”

The local chief of Nauru Island, or someone in authority, already had a long string of powerful spot lights set up for local mining purposes. He would turn them on with such brightness, 5,000 candlepower, that they could be seen for more than 34 miles at sea level, even more at altitude.

Finding a well-lit island was a sure thing.  Finding a small ship in the dark ocean, which had no ETA for them, was doubtful.  Further, as was later learned from the Ontario logs, the winds from the E-NE were blowing cumulus clouds into their area, which, by 1:00 a.m., were overcast with rain squalls.  It is possible that earlier, a darkening sky to the east would have been further assurance that deviating slightly over Nauru was the right decision.

As the Electra approached the dark island now lit with bright lights, Nauru radio received a message at 10:36 p.m. from Amelia that said, “We see a ship (lights) ahead.”

Others have interpreted this as evidence that Amelia was still on course for the Ontario, and was saying that she had seen its lights.  The conflict here is that Amelia flew close enough to Nauru for ground observers to state they had heard and seen the plane.  How could Amelia see Nauru at the same time she saw the Ontario more than 100 miles away?

Amelia may have wondered if Noonan and Balfour were wrong about Nauru.  But they weren’t.  According to the log from a different ship coming from New Zealand south of them, they were en route to Nauru for mining business.Those shipmates of the MV Myrtlebank, a 5,150 ton freighter owned by a large shipping conglomerate, under the British flag, recorded their position as southwest of Nauru at about 10:30 pm on that date.  The story of the Mrytlebank fits in well to resolve this confusion.   It was undoubtedly this New Zealand ship, not the Ontario, that Amelia had seen.

MV Myrtlebank, a freighter owned by Bank Line Ltd., was chartered to a British Phosphate Commission at Nauru.  As recorded later, around 10:30 p.m., third mate Syd Dowdeswell was “surprised to hear the sound of an aircraft approaching and lasting about a minute.  He reported the incident to the captain who received it ‘with some skepticism’ because aircraft were virtually unknown in that part of the Pacific at that time.  Neither Dowdeswell nor the captain knew about Earhart’s flight.”

Source: State Department telegram from Sydney, Australia dated July 3, 1937:Amalgamated Wireless state information received that report fromNauru was sent to Bolinas Radioat . . . 6.54 PM Sydney time today on (6210 kHz), fairly strong signals, speech not intelligible, no hum of plane in background but voice similar that emitted from plane in flight last night between 4.30 and 9.30 P.M.  Message from plane when at least 60 miles south of Nauru received 8.30 p.m., Sydney time, July 2 sayingA ship in sight ahead.’  Since identified as steamer Myrtle Bank (sic) which arrived Nauru daybreak today.

Unless Mr. T.H. Cude produced the actual radio log for that night, the contemporary written record (the State Dept. telegram) trumps his 20-plus-year-old recollection.

The MV MYRTLEBANK of the BANK LINE Limited was about 60 nautical miles southwest of Nauru Island when it entered the pages of history.  Amelia Earhart said, “See ship (lights) ahead.” This was most likely that ship since the Ontario would have been 80 to 100 miles away.  Nauru, the destination of this ship, was lit with powerful mining lights.  At Nauru Island, the Electra would be eight-plus hours from “Area 13,” or 2013z (8:43 am) 150-plus miles from Howland Island.

This was most likely the ship about which Amelia Earhart said: See ship (lights) ahead.  Most researchers state that she had spotted the USS Ontario, which had been ordered by the Navy to be stationed halfway between Lae and Howland for weather information via radio.  No radio contact was ever made between Amelia’s Lockheed Electra 10E and the Ontario.

While it is possible that Amelia flew only close enough to Nauru to see the bright mining lights, it is more likely that a navigator like Noonan would want a firm land fix on time and exact location.

For this reason, in a re-creation of the flight path on Google Earth, which we have done, we posit the belief, in view of the silence from the Ontario, that having a known fix prior to heading out into the dark waters, overcast skies and rain squalls of the last half of the 2,556-mile (now 2,650-mile) trip to small Howland, it was the better part of wisdom to overfly Nauru.

Weather and radio issues were the motive behind Harry Balfour’s suggestion to use Nauru as an intermediate point rather than a small ship in a dark ocean.  Thus, the Myrtlebank unwittingly became part of the history of a great world event.

Now, with the land mass of Nauru under them, Fred could begin the next eight hours from a known position.  Balfour’s suggestion and Fred and Amelia’s decision was not a bad call, with apologies to the crew of the Ontario.  Unfortunately, it was not until after the fact that the Ontario was notified of this.  They headed back to Samoa with barely enough coal to make it home.  Lt. Blakeslee said they were scraping the bottom for coal by the time they returned.

The details of the eight-hour flight from Nauru are contained in the Itasca log.  In my own case, the Amelia story was interesting, but not compelling.  However, it was not until I began to study in minute detail the Itasca logs of those last hours of the Electra’s flight, hour by hour, and visualizing it by means of Google Earth, that the interest turned to a passion.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?  DO WE HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO KNOW?  IS THERE REALLY NO ANSWER TO WHAT HAS BEEN CONCEALED AS A “MYSTERY”?

In the reliving of what was once a mystery, things began to make sense, piece by piece.  It was like being a detective who knew there were hidden pieces, but what were they, and where did they fit?  For me, as the puzzle began to come together, the interest grew.  There is really more to this story, much more, than appeared during the first reading.

Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts and three other Coast Guard radiomen worked in vain to bring Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan and the Electra to a safe landing at Howland Island.  Photo courtesy Dave Bellarts.

The radio room positions and pages being logged contained valuable information.  Reading the details created a picture in the imagination at one level, but with more and more evidence piling up, a different level began to emerge. 

Can this story really be true?  Credulity was giving way to the reality of evidence.

If you will follow the highlights of the Itasca logs, you may find yourself captivated, as I was.  One thing that is not spoken at first, but becomes a message loud and clear, is the not-so-hidden narrative in those repeated, unanswered Morse code transmissions.

The radiomen thought they were helping Amelia and Fred, but with each unanswered Code message, they were really just talking to themselves.  As they get more desperate, you keep wondering: Surely the Electra crew can at least hear the clicks and clacks, the dits and dahs, even if they don’t fully understand them.

Why don’t they at least acknowledge they hear even though understanding appears to be absent?  Why the silence, the long silence into the dark night, the silence which leaves the Itasca crew bewildered, even “screaming,” as they later said, “into the mike?”

The Coast Guard Cutter Itasca was anchored off Howland Island on July 2, 1937 to help Amelia Earhart find the island and land safely at the airstrip that had been prepared there for her Lockheed Electra 10E.

The position of the Electra, an area, not a fix, is our primary destination now because Howland was never seen.  This makes Howland secondary for this exercise, mostly because that was not the position from which Amelia made her final and fatal decision.

There were at least two extremely dangerous elements involving Howland, and one strategic matter.  Dangerous:  10,000 nesting and flying birds waiting to greet Mama big bird, and the extremely limited landing area of a 30 city-block by 10-block sand mass.

We delay our discussion about strategic since it deals with the government hijacking of a civilian plane, something controversial but which is worth waiting for.  Stand by.

For now, we join Amelia and Fred for some details of their flight to Area 13.  The purpose here is to locate, as best we can, that area from which Amelia made her final navigation decision.

That area encompasses a portion of ocean 200 miles by 200 miles.  South to north, it begins about 100 miles north of Howland to at least 300 miles north.  East to west, it begins with a NW line of 337 degrees and continues west parallel to that line for at least 200 miles.

There is a mountain of calculation behind that conclusion, but those details are for another venue.  For now, for those interested in re-creating that historic flight, especially if you have Google Earth, follow the Itasca log in order to see Google Truth.

We designate this 200 by 200 miles as “Area 13” for the simple reason that their last known transmission not within sight of land which can be confirmed was at 2013z (GMT) (the famous 8:43 am call).  Following this was nothing but silence for those on the ground.

After their long night of calling, waiting and consuming coffee, for the crew of Itasca and Howland Island, 8:43 a.m. was a special time.  But 2013 GMT (8:43 a.m.) was also the 20-hour mark for the fliers, after their own, even more stressful all-nighter.  Sadly, the two in the Electra, at 13 past 20 hours, were entirely on their own at 2013 — and here that sinister number “13” appears again.

 

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 professionally 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.”

The following routing and times are a compilation from several sources —

(1) Itasca  Logs from the log-positions on the ship, a copy of which can be provided;
(2) Notes from Harry Balfour, local weather and radioman on site at Lae;
(3) Notes from  L.G. Bellarts, Chief Radio operator, USS Itasca;
(4) The Search for Amelia Earhart, by Fred Goerner;
(5) Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last, by Mike Campbell;
(6) David Billings, Australian flight engineer (numbers questionable),  Earhart Lockheed Electra Search Project;
(7) Thomas E. Devine, Vincent V. Loomis, and various other writings.

The intended course for the Electra was a direct line from Lae to Howland covering 2,556 statute miles.  The actual track, however, was changed due to weather, in the first instance, and due to a change of decision in the second instance.  Such contact never took place.  Neither the Electra nor the Ontario saw nor heard from the other, for reasons which could have been avoided if each had known the frequencies and limitations of the other.  This basic lack of communication plagued almost every radio and key which tried to communicate with the Electra.   

If one has access to Google Earth, it is interesting to pin and to follow this flight by the hour.  The average speeds and winds were derived from multiple sources, including weather forecasts and reports. 

To generalize, the average ground speed going east was probably not above 150 mph, with a reported headwind of some 20 mph, which began at about 135-140 mph when the plane was heavy and struggling to climb.

In the beginning, with input from Lockheed engineers, Amelia made a slow (about 30 feet per minute) climb to 7,000 feet (contrary to the plan laid out by Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson), then to 10,000 feet (which should have been step-climbing to 4,000 to 7,000 to 10,000 feet toward the Solomons mountain), then descending to 8,000 feet depending upon winds, then to 10,000 feet reported, with various changes en route.

The remaining contingency fuel at 8:43 a.m. Howland time, to get the Electra back to the Gilbert Islands, as planned out carefully with the help of Gene Vidal (experienced aviator) and Kelly Johnson (experienced Lockheed engineer), has often been, in our opinion, mischaracterized and miscalculated.  By all reasonable calculations, the Electra had about 20 hours of fuel PLUS at least four-plus hours of contingency fuel.

July 2, 1937:  Amelia Earhart, leaving Lae, New Guinea, frustrated and fatigued from a month of pressure, problems, and critical decisions on a long world flight, and unprepared for the Radio issues ahead, unprepared, that is, unless there was a bigger plan in play.

Then why did Amelia say she was almost out of fuel when making one of her last calls at 1912z (7:42 am)?Obviously, she was not because she made another call an hour later about the “157-337 (sun) line” at 2013z. Put yourself in that cockpit, totally fatigued after 20 hours of battling wind and weather and loss of sleep, compounded by 30 previous difficult days.  It is easy to see four hours of fuel, after such exhaustion, being described as “running low.”

With the desperation of wanting to be on the ground, it would be quite normal to say “gas is running low” just to get someone’s attention.  If one is a pilot, and has ever been “at wit’s end” in a tense situation, they have no problem not being a “literalist” with this statement.  The subsequent facts, of course, substantiate this.

A view of Howland Island that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed. Note the runway outline many years later, a destination which became a ghost.  In the far distance to the left, under thick clouds at 8:13 a.m. local time, was “Area 13.” 

Wherever the Electra ended up, and we have a volume of evidence for that in a future posting, IT WAS NOT IN THE OCEAN NEAR HOWLAND.  That was a government finding as accurate and as competent as the government’s success was against the Wright Brothers attempt to make the first fight.

For this leg of the Electra’s flight to its destination, our starting data point was Lae, New Guinea, and our terminal data point is not the elusive bird-infested Howland Island, but rather the area where they were often said to be lost, a place we have designated as Area 13.  (A more detailed flight, by the hour with data from the Itasca logs, is available. Enjoy the trip.

Summary of track from Lae to Area 13 then to Mili Atoll (times are approximate):

(1) LAE to  CHOISEUL, Solomon Islands – Total Miles: 670 / Total Time: 05:15 hours
(2) CHOISEUL to  NUKUMANU Islands – Total Miles:  933 / Total Time: 07:18 hours
(3) NUKUMANU  to  NAURU Island – Total Miles: 1,515 / Total Time: 11:30 hours
(4) NAURU  to 1745z (6:15 a.m.
Howland) – Total Miles: 2,440 / Total Time: 17:45 hours
(5) 1745z  to  1912z  (7:12 a.m.
Howland) – Total Miles: 2,635 / Total Time: 19:12 hours
(6) 1912z to 20
13z  (8:43 a.m. Howland) – Total Miles: 2.750 / Total Time: 20:13 hours 

LAE  to AREA 13: Total Miles : 2,750 (Including approaches) Time:  About 20:13 hours

Fuel Remaining: About 4.5 to 5 hours

Distance from 2013z to Mili Atoll Marshall Islands = About 750 miles
Ground speed = 160 (true air speed) plus 15 mph (tailwind) = 175 mph
Time en route = About 4.3 hours

ETA at Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands = Noon to 12:30; Fuel remaining: 13 drops

NOTE that from a spot about 200 mi NW of Howland (Area 13) to the Gilberts is not the same heading as to the Marshall’s Mili Atoll. The Gilberts are the three small islands below Mili Atoll.  The “Contingency Plan” was to return to the Gilberts and land on a beach among friendly people.  Instead, they made an “intentional” decision to pick up a different heading toward the Marshalls whose strong Japanese radio at Jaluit they could hear.  Compare the two different headings from Area 13 to the Gilberts and to the Marshalls.  The difference is about 30 degrees.  THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.  Did they make an honest mistake, or an intentional decision?

The heading to the Gilberts would not have taken them to the Marshall Islands, with a heading difference of about 30 degrees.  The decision to give up on Howland, and utilize the remaining contingency fuel was “intentional,” not merely intentional to turn back, but to turn toward the Marshalls where there was a strong radio beam, a runway, fuel — and Japanese soldiers who may or may not be impressed with the most famous female aviator in the world.  Amelia and her exploits were known to be popular in Japan at that time.  Although their mind was on war with China, maybe this charming pilot could tame them.

Unfortunately, we know THE END of the Amelia story, and it was not pretty.  When she crossed into enemy territory, she apparently lost her charm with the war lords, and eventually her life. (End of Part III.)

Next up: Part IV of “Amelia Earhart: Disappearing Footprints in the Sky.”  As always, your comments are welcome. 

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Amelia Earhart’s “Disappearing Footprints,” Part II

Today we return to Capt. Calvin Pitts and his comprehensive analysis of Amelia Earhart’s last flight.  We concluded Part I with clue No. 7:  Position, which included Calvin’s observation that “At 8:43 a.m. (2013z), with the last transmission (was it?) from Amelia as shown on the Itasca log, it had been 20-plus hours since their takeoff from Lae at 10 a.m. local Lae time (0000z).”

Among his many achievements over a lifetime of aviation excellence, Calvin Pitts has become the first significant establishment figure to publicly embrace the truth in the Earhart disappearance, and we’re honored that he brought his considerable experience and talents to this blog and shared it with us.  Without further delay, here’s Part II of Calvin’s analysis.

Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY 
By Capt. Calvin Pitts, Part II

8.  Contingency Plan:  HERE IS WHERE we zero in on the WHY of this so-called mystery, which is actually only a mass of confusion.  The next couple of clues have to do with Amelia’s relationship with a top government bureaucrat, Eugene L. “Gene” Vidal (father of Gore Vidal), and the flight made to the area where she was forced to make a fatal decision.  We call it “Area 13,” and when we get there, you’ll see why.

The answers to the following questions hold additional clues:

(1) Why was the failure in Honolulu of flight No. 1 so critical to the final outcome?
(2) After the Hawaii crack-up, did a military issue change the entire course of the flight?
(3) What caused the decision to reverse the direction of Flight No. 2 from west-toward-Howland to east-toward-Area 13?  There is more here, it seems, than meets the eye.
4) From Area 13, why was the Contingency Plan ignored after being so carefully prepared in favor of an intentional heading toward another destination?

Gene Vidal was a standout individual in America in the 1930s.  He was a respected graduate of West Point, a star athlete in various sports, the quarterback of their football team, and he was recognized as an outstanding aviator.   He was a star in the heady world of Washington, the head of a new, growing department, the Bureau of Air Commerce (BAC).  He was a friend of the president and he innovated new programs for aviation’s growth.  He was also handsome and his picture was featured on TIME magazineOn top of those 12 outstanding attributes, Gene Vidal was deeply respected by the most famous woman in AmericaThat’s No. 13, and that’s good luck, isn’t it?

Eugene L. “Gene” Vidal, Time magazine, Dec. 18, 1933.  Vidal was President Franklin Roosevelt’s top civil aviation director from 1933 to 1937, and from September 1933 to March 1937 he was Director of the Bureau of Air Commerce, a predecessor of the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, where he organized and expanded the government’s civil aeronautics program. 

Amelia also had great respect for George Putnam and his accomplishments. He supported her in everything she did. He was her fan as well as her husband.  They were good partners in things they did together. They complimented the needs of each other, even though, at first, she reluctantly married him.

Amelia had captured the heart of America, or at least its attention.  What lady wouldn’t be proud of that in those times?  As friends, Amelia and Gene worked together in aviation pursuits.  As mates, Amelia and George worked together in achieving her dreams. 

George Putnam was a promoter and publisher, his company having published WE,” by Charles Lindbergh.  When Amelia needed personal help, including with her career, she turned to him.

Gene Vidal was a bureaucrat, aviator and director of the Bureau of Air Commerce, Washington, D.C., with political influence.  When Amelia needed guidance and help in aviation matters, she went to Gene.  All three of them were friends.

In preparation for Amelia’s world adventure, she and Gene spent much time with charts spread out on the floor, meticulously planning every detail of the world flight.  One of those critical details was a Contingency Plan.” Just. In. Case!  “What happens, Amelia, IF you can’t find Howland?”  (The words of their conversations are supplied by the author.  The content of their work is supplied by the actors.)

As a Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), later Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) top government bureaucrat in the BAC, under Daniel Roper’s Department  of Commerce (DOC), Eugene Vidal was extremely knowledgeable — West Point graduate, sports superstar, one of the best pilots in the country, TIME magazine feature personality — and a handy government man to have around.

Not only was Vidal West Point’s star, he was also the government’s star and a luminary, at least in his own mind.  But he did not get along with major figures with whom he worked, and got crossed with his office partner, J. Carroll Cone, as well as his immediate boss, Daniel Roper, DOC secretary.  And most significant of all, he got crossed with his ultimate boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the heart and soul of the government.  That, of course, takes talent, or at least a massive sense of self-importance.

But Vidal knew aviation.  And he knew that a dear friend needed guidance in so great a challenge as a successful flight around the world, especially on that long leg across the open waters of the Pacific.  What should Amelia do if she was unable to locate that postage-stamp-bird-infested–land-mass called Howland?

A look at the teeming wildlife on Howland Island, so overpopulated with “10,000 frigates, 8,000 boobies (albatrosses), and 14,000 terns,” according to Army Lt. Daniel A. Cooper, writing in July 1937, that many doubted that Amelia Earhart really intended to land there when she disappeared on July 2, 1937.

HOWLAND?  What was it about this piece of land that was so strategic?

That decision, however, of locating a dot in the sea would never have been necessary if flight plan No. 1 had not failed.  But it did, and the circumstances which followed determined the details which led to a sad tragedy.  That needs to be explored.

However, because flight No. 2 is the flight which is known best, and is discussed most, we’ll follow it to “Area 13,” at which point we’ll pause and ask: What happened?  What went wrong?  Why did a flight conceived in innocence get hijacked and become so complicated as to become a flight into hell.

In the beginning, we could take things at face value.  But afterward, the face was not what it seemed.  More often than not, it was a false face.  The government face, hidden for so long, left a long shadow, and was far uglier than the public was led to believe.

The leg of Flight No. 2 that was the most dangerous and most challenging was the one from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island.  It was full of challenges, decisions, changes and surprises — a surprise that held a double-surprise.

This is what’s left of the Howland Island runway.

The leg into and out of Australia was the site of a major radio problem with an easy solution.  A fuse for the direction- finder receiver had blown, and needed to be fixed at Lae.  It was a small thing, but it had major significance.  If it blew again, the Electra would have the same problem going into Howland — namely, a DF steer that was essential would no longer be available

However, the Electra’s crew was already unable to receive Morse code messages from the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca at Howland, and the Navy’s USS Ontario tug which had been placed halfway between Lae and Howland.

One source says that both Amelia and Noonan were able to understand code, which is only partly true if the speed in sending means that the one receiving hears sounds but cannot interpret them.

Fred Noonan had a second-class radio license, and he had been communicating slowly in code en route from Darwin to Lae, according to Alan Vagg, the radio operator at Bulolo, 40 miles southwest of Lae.  But Amelia did not really know Morse code, although she had been advised earlier by a close friend to spend time learning it.

This raises two difficult questions: (1) Why did they remove the Morse code key at the beginning of the flight, making it difficult if not impossible for Noonan to communicate by code, unless he had his own personal key?  What was the purpose in removing it? (2) Why were the Ontario at sea and the Itasca at Howland totally uninformed that the multitude of Morse code messages they sent would go unanswered, because Fred could only understand code if it were keyed very slowly, and Amelia’s knowledge consisted of only a few letters?  This was a critical issue.

When can beauty be hell? When you can’t find a place to land.

“Upon enquiry Earhart and Noonan advised that they entirely depended on radio telephone reception as neither of them were able to read Morse at normal speed but could recognize an individual letter sent several times,” wrote Eric Chater, general manager of Guinea Airways Limited in a July 25, 1937 report.  “This point was again mentioned by both of them later when two different sets at Lae were used for listening in for time signals.

Two different sets of keys?”  How many knew that?  Two?  For what purpose?

Compounding this radio issue was a profound misunderstanding between Amelia and the Itasca regarding the important intricacies of frequency incompatibility and DF usage.  That was a radio disconnection, to be sure.

Another issue that surfaced at Lae were telephone calls and telegraph messages between Amelia and both Gene and George.  A telegram she sent from Lae, which delayed the departure by one day, contained the following message:

“Radio misunderstanding and Personnel Unfitness (stop) Probably will hold one day (stop)  Have asked Black for Forecast for tomorrow  (stop) You check meteorologist on job as FN (Noonan) must have star sights.”

When asked about the meaning of personnel unfitness,”  Gore Vidal, son of Gene Vidal said: Well, just the night before the final flight, she reported in and they had a code phrase, personnel problems, which meant Noonan was back drinking.  And my father said, Just stop it right now and come home,and G.P. agreed and said, Come back, abort the flight, forget it, come home.’  And then she said, Oh, no, and she said, I think it’ll be all right, something like that. So you may put that down to invincible optimism or it may have been huge pessimism.

When the Electra left on the morning of July 2 at 10:00 am local time, they were ill-equipped for the radio challenges ahead.  On flight No. 1, Amelia had Harry Manning, a seagoing captain on vacation for purposes of helping that flight that ended in Honolulu.  He was well-versed in radio usage and intricacies, but he bailed after the crack-up at Luke Field.

The greatest area of confusion for the observer is the neglect in getting the radio frequencies and usage clear in one’s understanding, as well as clearly communicating to other personnel such as those on the Itasca, the Ontario, Lae radio, Nauru radio, Tarawa radio in the Gilbert Islands, and Hawaii radio.  Why were all these facilities not properly notified?  What was the big secret?  Why were they not in the communication loop?

The second area of confusion was the casual and strange way in which the radio calls and position reports were made, and the technique of using the radio properly for getting bearings.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the track of flight No. 2 as it relates to the Pacific crossing, noting the changes made due to weather and necessity.  Two diversions to the initial plan added more than 100 miles to the flight, but it kept the fliers out of serious thunderstorms and it gave them a positive land fix at Nauru.

Lae is our point of origin.  Howland is our destination.  Unfortunately, Howland doesn‟t remain our destination, for reasons that need to be explored.

But even at Lae, things did not go as planned.  With a heavy fuel-load, the Electra had no place to go but into the water of Huon Gulf if the takeoff had to be aborted.  As it was, the Electra used up 97 percent of the dirt strip they called a runway, lifting a few inches before beginning to settle beyond the cliff.

As they rolled down the 3,000 feet of rough dirt at more than 35 percent over gross weight, they watched the performance of Lockheed’s modern design of what became a classic airplane.  It has two great Pratt & Whitney Wasp 550 horsepower/600 horsepower (at takeoff) engines, but the wheels are still not leaving the ground as they neared the end of the 3,000 feet available.  The fuel-heavy plane with 1,100-1,150 gallons flies into the air off the cliff above the Huon Gulf, and begins to settle, settle, settle until it was just a few feet above the water.

An incoming plane later describes what he sees. By the time the Electra stops its descent and settles into a slight climb of 30 feet per minute, the Electra is leaving behind a spray of water from the prop-wash of the spinning lifeline.

Amelia set up a rate of climb of 30 feet per minute, predetermined from the manual with input from Kelly Johnson, Lockheed’s later designer of the 9D Orion, the model 18 Lodestar, the PV-1 Ventura, the PV-2 Neptune, the PV-2V Harpoon (which I’ve flown to airshows), the P-38 Lightning, the TWA Constellation, the P-80 Shooting Star (my first Jet to witness at age 12), the F-104 Starfighter, the C-130 Hercules, the U-2, the SR-71 (which I’ve visited at Beale AFB), and the Electra 10 (which I’ve also flown), 40 in all.

Such a cruise climb was the most efficient.  By 0115z (GMT) (11:15 a.m.), an hour later, Amelia let local radio operator Harry Balfour know she was still “climbing to 7,000 feet,” not the plan Kelly Johnson of Lockheed had laid out for her.

Due to severe thunderstorms resting above the original planned course, Noonan, with help from Balfour, decided to fly due east to the Solomon Islands.  At Choiseul’s Mount Maetambe, weather permitting, they would turn northeast toward Nukumanu Atoll, sitting very near their original course.  So not even the first leg was going as planned.

For the first seven hours, Harry Balfour was Amelia’s lifeline.  He was the last to have two-way radio contact with the Electra.  He also helped Amelia and Fred make a decision to go slightly north, a little out of their way, to use Nauru as a land-fix before the long eight-hour night flight to Howland from a known position.

Balfour and the mechanics had served the Electra crew well.  But after Nukumanu at 0718z (5:18 p.m. Lae time), when Amelia changed frequencies from day (6210 kilocycles) to night (3105 kc), he never heard from her again.  Balfour requested that she stay on a frequency where she was being heard, but he received no reply.

Harry Balfour, circa 1937, the radio operator at Lae, New Guinea, the last person to carry on a two-way radio conversation with Amelia Earhart.

One can assume that with darkness coming on within an hour or so (it was now about 5:30 p.m.), she was changing the frequency early in order to establish contact with the USS Ontario, commanded by Navy Lt. Blakeslee.  If they were diverting slightly north in order to get a land-fix over or near Nauru, she certainly wanted to inform him of that.

The Navy had sent this tug, now being used for minor assignments in Samoa, to serve as a floating radio and weather station for the Electra at a midpoint of that leg.

Unfortunately, what neither of them knew at that time was the agonizing fact that the Electra was not equipped for low-frequency broadcast, and the Ontario was not equipped for high-frequency.

The Ontario had stated that it would broadcast on 400 kc.  The Electra was not equipped for this low frequency.  Why didn’t they know about this incompatibility?  Who was in charge of communication arrangements?  They didn’t know for the same reason, perhaps, that the Itasca personnel were not aware of other frequency anomalies and DF limitations.  Who went to sleep on those details?

Commander Thomson of the Itasca was not the only one who later blamed George Putnam for overlooking such details.  But where was Vidal, or Noonan, or even Amelia?  Somebody dropped the ball, and it fell with a fatal blow — unless there was already a bigger event in play.

After changing frequencies to one that the Ontario could not receive, it is safe to assume that Amelia made several voice calls.  Morse code, of course, was already out of the picture.

(End of “Amelia Earhart: DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS IN THE SKY,” Part II   ) 

We’ll conclude Calvin Pitts’ fascinating analysis in our next post.  Once again, the opinions presented in this piece are Calvin’s, and are not necessarily shared by the editor.  As always, your comments are welcome.

Goerner’s December 1961 letter to Leo Bellarts: “Earhart and Noonan were on Saipan”

Today we return to the early 1960s correspondence between KCBS radio newsman Fred Goerner and retired Coast Guard Lt. Leo Bellarts, who as the chief radioman aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, was on hand to hear Amelia Earhart’s last official messages on the morning of July 2, 1937, concluding with her last transmission at 8:43 a.m. Howland Island time.  For Bellarts’ Nov. 28, 1961 letter to Goerner, posted Feb. 6, 2017, as well as the author’s reply, please click hereBellarts Dec. 15, 1961 response to Goerner, posted April 24, 2017, can be seen here.

Many of Goerner’s questions are still relevant today, especially since the American public has been fed a steady diet of disinformation for many decades by a U.S. media that hasn’t shown the slightest interest in learning the facts since Time magazine panned The Search for Amelia Earhart as a book that “barely hangs together” in its 1966 review that signaled the establishment’s aversion to the truth the KCBS newsman found on SaipanGoerner died in 1994 at age 69, Bellarts in May 1974 at 66.  (Boldface mine throughout.)

KCBS
CBS Radio – A Division of Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.
SHERATON – PALACE, SAN FRANCISCO 5, CALIFORNIA – YUKON 2-7000
                                                                                                               December 20, 1961

Mr. Leo G. Bellarts
1920 State Street
Everett, Washington

Dear Mr. Bellarts,

Thank you very much for your letter with enclosures of the 15th.  It was received with a good deal of interest by all of us who have been working on the Earhart story.

I’m sorry if I took on the proportions of a “quizmaster” to you.  I think it must be the reportorial instinct. I learned long ago that if you don’t ask the questions, you very seldom get the answers.

First, let me answer several of your questions.  As far as I know, there is absolutely no connection between CBS and Mrs. Studer; in fact, I have never met her, and I found the article you mentioned slightly on the irritating side.  That article was the first time I was even aware of her existence.

Yet another look at Fred Goerner during his mid-1960s heydays at KCBS Radio in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Merla Zellerbach.)

Yet another look at Fred Goerner during his mid-1960s heyday at KCBS Radio in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Merla Zellerbach.)

As to George Palmer Putnam, I never had the opportunity to meet him.  He died in January, 1950.

The only members of Amelia’s family I know personally are her mother and sister who live in West Medford, Massachusetts.  The mother [Amy Otis Earhart] is now in her nineties, and her sister [Muriel Earhart Morrissey] teaches high school in West Medford.

I was glad to receive the information that Galten was a bona fide member of the Itasca’s crew; however, it leaves me even more at a loss to explain his remarks to the press to the effect that the Earhart [plane] was incapable was transmitting radio signals more than 50 to 75 miles, and that the seas were eight feet with fifteen feet between crests the day of the disappearance.  The Itasca Log indicates as you have that the sea was calm and smooth.

You might be interested in Galten’s address: 50 Solano Street, Brisbane, California.  

Galten has also stated that he actually copies the message, “30 minutes of gas remaining”; yet, your record of the messages and the July 5 transcript sent by the Itasca to ComFranDiv, San Francisco, indicates “but running low on gas.”

As you probably well know, there is a vast difference between 30 minutes of gas remaining and gas running low.  Every pilot who has flown the Pacific Area will tell you if you are unsure of your position, are having difficulty in contacting your homing station and are down to four or five hours of gas — the gas indeed is “running low.”

We know as a positive fact that the Lockheed had sufficient gas for twenty-four to twenty-six hours aloft.  The take-off time from Lae, New Guinea, was 10:30 a.m. at Lae, 12:30 p.m. at Howland.  It was possible for the plane to have stayed aloft until 2:30 p.m. Howland time the following day.  The July 2 transmission from the Itasca to San Francisco estimates 1200 maximum time [i.e. noon local time] aloft.

Why then the supposition that Earhart “went in” right after her last message at 0843?

It just isn’t true that Earhart and Noonan began their flight from Lae to Howland with just enough fuel to reach Howland and no more.  They were fully aware of the navigational hazards of the flight. The planning for that 2,556-mile flight is contained in Amelia’s notes which were shipped back to the United States from Lae.  She planned her ETA at Howland just after daybreak.  Daylight was absolutely necessary to locate that tiny speck.  She had figured her fuel consumption to give her at least six additional hours to make a landfall if Noonan’s navigational abilities did not bring the plane dead center to Howland.

The Lockheed Electra 10E, an all-metal, twin-engine, low-wing monoplane with retract-able landing gear, designed as a small, medium-range airliner, and powered by twin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp S3H1, 600-horsepower engines. The plane was 38 feet, seven inches long with a wingspan of fifty-five feet and a height of about ten feet. The Electra had an empty weight of 7,100 pounds, with a total fuel capacity of 1,151 gallons in ten tanks in the wings and fuselage.

The Lockheed Electra 10E, an all-metal (aluminum), twin-engine, low-wing monoplane with retract-able landing gear, designed as a small, medium-range airliner, and powered by twin Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp S3H1, 600-horsepower engines. The plane was 38 feet, seven inches long with a wingspan of 55 feet and a height of about ten feet. The Electra had an empty weight of 7,100 pounds, with a total fuel capacity of 1,151 gallons in ten tanks in the wings and fuselage.

Is the supposition based on the fact that her voice sounded frantic when she radioed the last message, “We are 157-337, running north and south.  Wait listening on 6210”?  If she were “going in” at that time, why would she ask the ITASCA to wait on 6210? (Caps Goerner’s throughout.)

Your comment that she simply forgot to include the reference point in the final message seems to be negated by the fact the she included “running north and south.”  If Noonan had been able to give her a reference point, there would have been no reason for running north and south courses.  They would have known their exact position and in which direction to fly.

The variance in the two groups of messages sent to San Francisco by the ITASCA is not the result of “faulty press reports.” I’m going to have my copies of the Coast Guard Log photostated and sent along to you.  The amazing discrepancies are clear and incontestable.

Your quotes from TIME magazine are “faulty press reports.”  TIME is wrong that no position reports were received after Earhart’s departure from Lae. The Coast Guard Log indicated a check-in 785 miles out from Lae with a full position report.  TIME was also mistaken in the number of messages received by the ITASCA from the plane.  It varies from your own list.

Yes, I was aware that the COLORADO refueled the ITASCA.  This is indicated in the Navy’s official report of the search.  The Navy report indicates that the COLORADO, on a naval training cruise in the Honolulu vicinity with a group of reservists and University Presidents [sic] in observance when it was ordered to assist in the search and refuel [of] the ITASCA and the SWAN.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to resort to another list of questions.  There is so much that appears to be unanswered in this entire vacation.  I think you are as interested in this as I am, or I wouldn’t bother you.

Was the signal strength of Earhart A3 S5 on all the messages from the 0615 “About two hundred miles out” to the final 0843 message? In your list A3 S5 is not listed for 0615,0645, 0742 and 0800.

Many radio operators have told us that in the South Pacific, particularly near the equator, a voice signal will come in from any distance so strongly that the person appears to be in the next room, then, a few minutes later, it cannot be raised at all even when the transmission station is only a few miles away.  Was this your experience while in the South Pacific?

Amelia’s official flight route from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island totaled 2,556 statute miles and had never been attempted before.  (Map courtesy Thomas E. Devine.)

Did the ITASCA make any contact with Lae, New Guinea to set up radio frequencies before her final take-off?

Did the ITASCA contact Lae to determine the actual time of the take-off?

Was the ITASCA aware of the gas capacity and range of the plane?

If the ITASCA arranged frequencies with Earhart at Lae, or at least firmed them up, why didn’t the ITASCA know that Noonan could not use cw [sic, i.e., Morse Code] on 500 kcs because of a lack of a trailing antenna?

The “Organization of Radio Personnel” Photostat indicates that in the event of a casualty the ITASCA was to block out any other station attempting to communicate information.  What other station was near the ITASCA that might transmit information contrary to fact?  When the plane was lost, did the ITASCA block out any other transmission of information?

Do you know of the whereabouts of [RM2 Frank] Ciprianti [sic, Cipriani is correct], [RM3 Thomas] O’Hare, [RM3 Gilbert E.] Thompson, Lt. Cmdr. F.T. Kenner, Lt. (j.g.) W.I. Stanston or Ensign R.L. Mellen?

This is aside from the Earhart matter, but is certainly of interest.  What was the eventual fate of the ITASCA, ONTARIO, and SWAN?

In closing, Mr. Bellarts, let me say that we sincerely appreciate the opportunity the [sic] with you.  Let me assure you that we will keep your confidence, and will in no way quote you without your permission.

I, personally, have been working on this investigation for nearly two years.  It has nothing to do with any stamp that might be issued with her image, or some nebulous entry into a hall of fame.  This is a news story, and we intend to pursue every possible lead until a satisfactory conclusion is reached.  I [sic] happy to say we have the blessings of both Amelia’s mother and sister.  They have suspected for many years that the disappearance was not as cut and dried as portions of our military have indicated, but no one, including that military, has ever put together a concerted effort to tie together the loose ends.

I believe with all my heart that Earhart and Noonan were on Saipan.  I saw the testimony gathered by the Monsignor and the Fathers.  I know the witnesses were telling the truth.  There was no reason for them to lie, and such a story could never have been invented by simple natives without the appearance of serious discrepancies.

However, I believe with you that Earhart and Noonan never flew their plane to Saipan.  They must have been brought to the island by the Japanese.

The search for Earhart has been a joke for years.  I think that’s because the military has dogmatically maintained that the pair went down close to Howland; yet, that contention appears to be based solely on the belief that the strength of signals before the last received transmission indicated the ship was probably within two hundred miles of the ITASCA.  Where did they fly on the four to five hours of gas we know remained?

A view of Howland Island that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed. The island, a property of the United States, remains uninhabited, but is quite poplar among various wildlife that nests and forages there.

A view of Howland Island that Amelia Earhart never enjoyed. The island, a property of the United States, remains uninhabited, but is popular among various wildlife that nest and forage there, especially goony birds and terns.  Note the outline of the original airstrip that was cleared in anticipation of Amelia’s landing.

Mr. Bellarts, if you know anything that has not been made public that will shed more light on this enigma, please give us the information. If not to CBS, to Amelia’s sister:

Mrs. Albert Morrissey
1 Vernon Street
West Medford. Mass.

No one, certainly not CBS, has the idea of castigating individuals, the Coast Guard, the Navy or the Air Force or even Japan for something that happened so long ago.  The important thing is to settle this matter once and for all, and bring a modicum of peace to the individuals involved.

Earhart and Noonan fought their battle against the elements.  If they later lost their lives to the aggrandizing philosophy of a nation bent on the conquest of the Pacific, the great victory is still theirs.  Their story should be told, and they should receive their nation’s gratitude and a decent burial.

Would you ask less for your own?

Best wishes for a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

I’ll be looking forward to your next communication.

Sincerely,

Fred Goerner
CBS News
KCBS RADIO
San Francisco 5,
California (End of Goerner letter.)

I have more of the fascinating correspondence between Fred Goerner and Leo Bellarts, two of the most interesting people in the entire Earhart saga, and will post more at a future date.

Recent Earhart stories aim to confuse and deceive

Ten days ago, an annoying, unserious story about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, Chamorro man shares Earhart theory that she was a prisoner on Saipan,” appeared in the Pacific Daily News, headquartered on Guam and now “part of the USA Today Network,” which only means its editorial policies will ape the corrupt U.S. establishment line more than ever.  This particular piece leaves no doubt about that.

As I will demonstrate by dissecting this disingenuous mix of misinformation and muddled rhetoric by Pacific Daily News reporter Jerick Sablan, this article was not produced with any intention of supporting or corroborating the facts in the Earhart case.  When the story is read by the uninformed, which is nearly everyone, only confusion will result, which is its goal. 

Garapan Prison 5

The smaller of the two Garapan prison cell blocks, often reserved for “special” prisoners and females, according to some reports, where several witnesses reported that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were held after their arrival on Saipan in July 1937. (Courtesy Tony Gochar.)

Soon after the story’s Nov. 25 publication, USA Today ran a dressed-up version with a slightly more cynical title, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were prisoners on Saipan and killed, according to uncle’s tale.”  I shouldn’t need to tell anyone of the negative connotations inherent in any account that’s described as a “tale” in a headline.  This is an immediate “tell” from USA Today that you don’t need to take this story seriously, because they certainly don’t.

The article follows a typical template for Earhart propaganda, created not to educate, but to confuse and deceive the ignorant into believing that the Earhart disappearance remains among the pantheon of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries, an eternal enigma that will never be solved.  Sadly, most fail to grasp the fact that this is the purpose of virtually every Earhart-disappearance story in the American media, and every other information organization in the modern world, for that matter.  Only here can you be confident you’re getting the truth, from someone who’s devoted 30 years to the Earhart saga, who recognizes this ubiquitous propaganda as well as the precious truth when he sees it.

In the Pacific Daily News story, Jerick Sablan writes that William “Bill” Sablan (relationship not clear) said his uncle, “Tun Akin Tuho, worked at the prison [Garapan] where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan.”  What jumps out immediately is that Tun Akin Tuho has never been mentioned in any known Earhart literature before now.  Why not?

Why doesn’t Jerick make any reference to the many known and documented Saipan witnesses, so that Bill Sablan’s uncle might have a historical leg to stand on, so to speak?  He could have named people like Jesús Bacha Salas, who saw Amelia in Garapan prison for a few hours; Josépa Reyes Sablan, of Chalan Kanoa, who saw two white people taken into the military police headquarters in Garapan; Dr. Manual Aldan, the Saipanese dentist who was told by Japanese officers the name of the American woman flier in custody, “EARHARTO!”; José Rios Camacho, who saw the fliers shortly after their arrival at Saipan’s Tanapag Harbor; or any of the rest of Fred Goerner’s original 13 witnesses — and these are just those Goerner identified during the first of his four investigations on Saipan before The Search for Amelia Earhart was published in 1966. 

Father Sylvan Conover with eyewitness Jesús Bacha Salas, a Chamorro farmer who was held at Garapan Prison between 1937 and 1944 for fighting with a Japanese soldier. Fred Goerner reported that “sometime during 1937 a white woman was placed in the next cell [beside Salas], but kept there only a few hours. He saw the woman only once but gave a description of her that fitted those given by the other witnesses. The guards told him the woman was an American pilot the Japanese had captured.” (Photo by Fred Goerner, Courtesy Lance Goerner.)

Jerick does none of that, but grudgingly writes, “According to news files, in 1960 a CBS radio man, Fred Goerner, spoke with at least a dozen reliable witnesses from Saipan, who shared that before the war, two white people arrived on Saipan — described as ‘fliers’ or ‘spies’ — and they were held in the Japanese jail.”  Could a reporter assigned to write a story about the Earhart case really be this uninformed, especially one based in Guam, a stone’s throw away from Saipan, where the presence and death of Amelia Earhart in the pre-war years has become a part of the culture, an accepted historical fact among its elder Chamorros?

Fred Goerner was far more than a CBS radio man; he was the author of The Search for Amelia Earhart, the only bestseller in the history of Earhart disappearance literature, and is generally recognized among those without agendas as history’s greatest Earhart researcher, which Jerick also neglects to mention.  I’d ask Jerick why he gives such short shrift to Goerner, if I didn’t already know the answer. 

In fact, Goerner claimed he identified 39 eyewitnesses to Earhart’s presence on Saipan; all independently picked her photo out of a selection of about 10 similar-looking women.  But in acknowledging Goerner, if only in a minimal way, Jerick departs from the worst of the false Earhart paradigms, such as the hundreds, if not thousands of insufferable TIGHAR infomercials posing as news stories we’ve been subjected to for 30 years.  In these, any mention of Earhart in the Marshalls or Saipan is immediately branded “folklore” or “conspiracy theory,” shoved into the circular file and never mentioned again.

Jerick seems in a great hurry to direct readers to his main point, the July 9 abomination that the History Channel perpetrated on the public in a transparent attempt to discredit the truth.  “The History Channel shared the theory that the two were taken prisoner in a recent TV special called “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” Jerick tells us, signaling that his story is little more than a weak attempt to keep the History Channel’s lies about the phony ONI photo viable enough to qualify for a few more advertising dollars in reruns. 

The amorphous figure (left), we are told by History Channel and the fanatics who actually believe this drivel, is actually Amelia Earhart, right.  This ridiculous comparison is most illustrative of the insanity that has prevailed in the recent Earhart propaganda exercise, which some in the media and others refuse to let go.

“According to USA Today,” Jerick continues, bringing in the Pacific Daily News parent company without explanation, “the theory shared by History’s TV special says Earhart was captured and executed on Saipan by the Empire of Japan.  The U.S. government and military knew it (and even found and exhumed her body).  And both governments have been lying about it ever since.”

That’s it in a nutshell, but instead of recognizing or at least supporting the truth by respecting it as a likely scenario based on the huge amount of accumulated evidence, or something similar, Jerick reverts to the age-old establishment default position and defines the truth as a mere theory.  He then compounds this misnomer by attributing this theory to USA Today and the History Channel, as if they just discovered the Earhart story.  If the truth must be referenced as theory, why doesn’t he cite any of the host of investigations and books that have advanced this theory, in order that this theory might have more substance and relevance?  As always, even when an aspect of the truth is presented in the media, it comes wrapped in so much flotsam and jetsam that its effect becomes minimized and obscured, which is the goal from the jump.

Soon after learning about the July 5 NBC News promotion of the forthcoming History Channel special, as glaring an example of “fake news” as you will ever see, its premise predicated upon and completely tied to the false claims about the ONI photo, I was the first to denounce it the same day with this post: July 9 Earhart special to feature bogus photo claims.

After watching “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” I concluded that it possessed many of the hallmarks of a classic disinformation operation.  “’The Lost Evidence’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” I wrote, “a masterpiece of deceit, cleverly designed to discredit the long-established facts that reveal the truth about Earhart and Fred Noonan’s landing at Mili Atoll and deaths on Saipan at the hands of the prewar Japanese. . . . The onslaught of activity from the leaders of our fake news brigade that preceded the July 9 airing is all we need to tell us that a massive propaganda operation was under way, and remains so.”

For the entire review, posted July 12, please see  History’s ‘Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence’: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.

David Martin at the grave of James V. Forrestal, our first secretary of defense,  at Arlington, Va.  No one has done more to prove that Forrestal was murdered by unknown killers on May 22, 1949.  See DCDave.com for an extensive anthology of news commentary in the true history of many of this nation’s sacred cows. (Courtesy David Martin.)

I wasn’t alone in my assessment of the History Channel’s propaganda drillLongtime news analyst David Martin (www.DCDave.com), author of the definitive work in the James V. Forrestal murder case (“Who Killed James Forrestal?”), and countless other commentaries that the mainstream media despise and will never acknowledge, soon joined the fray.

“For three-quarters of a century America’s press and its court historians have studiously ignored the voluminous evidence that aviation adventurer Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were captured by the Japanese and did not just mysteriously crash into the Pacific Ocean on her round-the-world venture,” Martin wrote in his July 7 commentary, Press Touts Dubious Earhart Photo.  “Now, across the board, from NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN, to The Washington Post and the Associated Press, they all seem to have made a 180-degree turn based upon the supposed discovery of one very ambiguous photograph in the National Archives.  What, we have to wonder, is going on?

The New York Times, jumping the gun with its more skeptical approach, gives us a very big clue,” Martin went on.  “The headline says it all, ‘Did Amelia Earhart Survive? A Found Photo Offers a Theory, but No Proof.’ Already, The Times is beginning to cast doubt upon the significance, if not the authenticity, of this photograph.”  For the rest of Martin’s July 7 analysis, please click here.

Soon the shaky edifice built by the History Channel’s mendacity began to crumble, as the foundation of the entire production, the undated ONI photo of Jaluit Harbor, came under assault.  The British publication, The Guardian, reported that a Japanese blogger had found the exact same photo in what was described as “an old Japanese travel book” that was published in 1935 — two years before the ONI photo of History Channel infamy was said to have been snapped.

“See the sleight of hand?” Martin wrote in his July 13 commentary, Earhart photo story apparently debunked.  The debunking of this photo does nothing whatsoever to undermine the little bit of good evidence that the History Channel presented for the flyers having been captured by the Japanese, much less the cornucopia of evidence that Mike Campbell has assembled in his book Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.  That evidence remains as strong as it was before the program—with its big press build-up—ever aired.”  I posted my agreement, As usual, Dave Martin sees the truth in Earhart story,” later that same day. 

A rarely seen photo of Amelia Earhart after her landing at Calcutta, India, on June 17, 1937, during her doomed world flight.  The next day, Amelia and Fred Noonan departed Calcutta en route to Rangoon, Burma. After a fuel stop at Akyab, Burma, she and Fred Noonan continued on their way, but monsoon rains forced them to return to Akyab.

Indeed, Jerick Sablan writes that the “History TV special theory rests on an ambiguous photograph, said to have been taken in 1937, that might show Earhart and Noonan alive on a dock in the Marshall Islands.  At the time the islands were controlled by Japan.”  But History’s special theory had no staying power, because, According to USA Today,Jerick tells us,a Japanese military history blogger Kota Yamano undermined a new theory that Amelia Earhart survived a crash in the Pacific Ocean during her historic attempted around-the-world flight in 1937.”  New theory?

Jerick’s description of the ONI photo as “ambiguous” is a blatant euphemism, a weasel way of saying the photo is worthless, as anyone not affiliated with a politicized media organization can see.  It also developed  that this Kota Yamano blogger person doesn’t appear to exist except as a convenient prop, as neither he nor his blog shows up in any online search as discrete entities.  Regardless, the entire media herd happily jumped on the bandwagon immediately after The Guardian story broke, as if they were waiting for the green light to publish anything that would taint and discredit, simply by association, the hated Marshalls-Saipan scenario promoted by the “The Lost Evidence” in several segments it presented that were unrelated to the ONI photo.

If that weren’t enough, four days after The Guardian’s July 11 report  on the Japanese blogger’s alleged findings that seemingly debunked the History Channel’s claims, the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a statement though its ministry of foreign affairs that appeared to “debunk the debunker.”  According to the Marshallese government, the Jabor Dock, which it confirmed was the location of the photo, was built in 1936, not 1935, as the mysterious blogger Kota Yamano asserted Further compounding the mess, the Marshallese statement did not specify when the photo was taken, which left the door open to the possibility that the American fliers could be in it, at least in the minds the extremely credulous and anyone associated with the History Channel.

The Marshallese release changed nothing about the ONI photo itself, which remains what it always has been, a reflection of Jaluit harbor and the Jabor Dock at some unspecified time, with the Koshu in the right background and a small group of unidentifiable people standing around  — nothing more, nothing less. What was notable about the Marshallese statement was that nobody in the media paid any attention to it, which tells those of us who can discern the obvious what we already knew — the media does not want the photo to represent the presence of Earhart and Noonan at Jaluitfor reasons that I’ve explained ad nauseam.

This is the undated ONI photo seen in the July 9, 2017 History Channel presentation, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Files,” upon which some in the media have recently attempted to re-focus our attention.  The ship in the right background is said to be the Japanese survey ship Koshu; neither Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan nor anyone else of note is remotely identifiable.

I didn’t learn about the Marshalls statement until a few weeks later, when an interested reader, having found it on Rich Martini’s website, sent it to me.  I posted my take on what had become little more than a tedious soap opera on July 28:  Marshalls release is latest twist in photo travesty,”

Getting back to Jerick Sablan’s Pacific Daily News story: If you had any doubts about the real reason it was written, his closing statement, or “telling point” as it was called at the military journalism school I attended in 1978, should clear up any misconceptions.  “The mystery surrounding her disappearance continues to keep her memory alive and remains one of history’s greatest mysteries,” Jerick is compelled to remind us, as if we might overlook his tawdry story’s raison d’être.  Question for Jerick: What is the point of presenting Bill Sablan’s uncle Tun Akin Tuho, who “worked at the prison where Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were taken prisoner in Saipan,” if the fate of Amelia Earhart is going to remain such an irresolvable mystery? 

I wrote an email to Jerick, welcoming him to the Earhart story, telling him a bit about my own 30 years of study and work on the subject.  Just as the truth in the Earhart matter is NO mystery,” I wrote, “there are also no “THEORIES” about her fate. We have the truth that Earhart and Fred Noonan died on Saipan sometime after crash-landing at Mili Atoll on July 2, 1937, and we have two major LIES — that she crashed and sank, or the ridiculous Nikumaroro “hypothesis,” which have been promoted to the status of theories and perpetuated as such in order to protect the obvious truth that anyone can discover for themselves by reading Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last or the handful of books that preceded it and presented various aspects of the truth, including The Search for Amelia Earhart, Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller. . . . The U.S. government has known since 1937 exactly what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and continues to go to great lengths though its media toadies to deny and obfuscate the truth, which is available to anyone who seeks it in the few places where it’s available, which sadly do not include the PDN or USA Today.”

Jerick did not reply to my message, so he’s clearly part of the problem, not the solution in the Earhart matter, as are virtually all of his media counterparts. 

The day after the Pacific Daily News-USA Today story hit the streets, the UK’s Daily Mail ran its own, fancied-up version, replete with several large, blown-up photos in UK tabloid style with three reporters’ bylines.  The Nov. 26 story, “Amelia Earhart ‘was executed by the Japanese’: New ‘witness’ account claims aviation pioneer was held in Saipan before being killed – and the US military collected her body and covered it up,” surpasses its progenitors, if only because it features a photo of the original Saipan eyewitness, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, and a passing reference to Fred Goerner’s work.

Josephine Blanco, far right, Saipan, circa 1946. It was Josephine’s childhood memory of seeing Amelia Earhart’s arrival at Tanapag Harbor as told to Dr. Casimir Sheft, left, when she worked for the Navy dentist on Saipan that ignited the true modern search for Amelia Earhart.  (Photo courtesy Josephine Blanco Akiyama.)

The Daily Mail is no stranger to the Earhart story.  Its recent coverage has not been as deceptive or negative in its approach to the truth as its overseas counterparts, and it seems more unconcerned with protecting the American establishment’s sacred cows.  In 2015 the Daily Mail published three pieces about Dick Spink’s Mili Atoll investigations, on May 29, June 26 and July 9.

Those are the positive aspects of the Daily Mail’s Earhart work, but this bunch suffers from some serious shortcomings too, and the rest of the story isn’t so pretty.  In my July 17, 2015 commentary, Daily Mail sets new ‘standard’ in Earhart reporting,” I pointed out 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! . . .  [T]he way the Daily Mail has presented these stories is too disturbing for me take much satisfaction.”

In its  Nov. 26 story, the Daily Mail, continuing its policy of non-attribution, refused to ascribe Josephine’s original account to Goerner, Paul Briand Jr., and Linwood Day of the San Mateo Times, foremost among those in the early 1960s who brought Josephine’s account to the world, and implied, though did not outright state, that NBC News had just discovered her story:  “And in July, Josephine Blanco Akiyama, who grew up on Saipan but now lives in California, said she saw the pair as a child,” the Daily Mail reported. “ ‘I didn’t even know it’s a woman, I thought it’s a man, Akiyama told NBC’s Today that month.

In its favor, the Daily Mail quoted me for the first time ever, writing that “another recognized Earhart investigator, Mike Campbell, has lashed out at what he described as ‘bogus photo claims,’ ” but they wouldn’t call me a blogger or an author, or name Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, fearing they might lose a few readers who might actually leave their page and seek more details elsewhere.  At least the Daily Mail had the decency to spare us the “one of history’s greatest mysteries” closing line.  You can read the story and judge for yourself what the Daily Mail’s real agenda is by clicking here.

Much of media’s newly feigned interest in Amelia Earhart’s Marshalls and Saipan presence can be traced to the July 9 History Channel’s residual influence; after all, some legitimate witness accounts were presented, though none in any depth.  Some in the media are becoming more aware that the hated truth is being sought by more people than ever — though we’re decades away from any popular uprising that would force government disclosure, if it ever happens at all.   Thus these dishonest practitioners of deception are trying harder than ever to discredit the truth by planting phony stories and then undermining them, using two of Dave Martin’s Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression,Knock down straw men” and “Come half clean.”  They’re playing with fire.

(Editor’s note: Some readers may not agree with the views expressed in this commentary.  If so, you are invited to send your comments, as is everyone. The moderator reserves the right to decide whether incoherent or hostile messages will be posted.)

July 9 Earhart special to feature bogus photo claims

On Wednesday morning, July 5, I awoke to the long-anticipated news that an unclassified photo found at the National Archives in College Park, Md., by researcher Les Kinney that reflected Jaluit Harbor in the Marshall Islands, date possibly late 1930s but not known, would indeed be the centerpiece of the History Channel’s July 9 special, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence.” NBC News apparently had the TV network news exclusive on this story, but others were soon also breathlessly touting the photo, as if it were truly the Holy Grail in the Earhart case. To see the initial NBC video and story, please click here.

This would be great news if the claim that Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan and the Earhart Electra are in the photo were true, because we know that the doomed fliers were in the Marshalls, were taken to Jaluit and later to Kwajalein and Saipan, where they died in Japanese hands.  Several researchers and authors, whose work can be easily found on this site, have presented mountains of evidence to this effect. But this photo isn’t “evidence” of anything except that Koshu was at Jaluit Harbor (large ship in right background) when it was taken, and might have had an unidentifiable airplane on its stern.  Interesting, but hardly what our “experts” are telling us. In fact, this photo does little except discredit the truth, which, in my view, is the goal of this current exercise, along with ratings and making money, of course.

This is the photo of Jaluit Harbor, possibly circa 1930s, put forward by Les Kinney, Morningstar Entertainment, the History Channel and their confederates as the smoking gun in the Earhart case. It is noteworthy only in that these claims are among the most ridiculous in the history of Earhart research, even surpassing some of the incredible whoppers we’ve heard from Ric Gillespie of TIGHAR.  The question we should ask is why this photo, and why now? Stay tuned to this space for answers to these and other small “mysteries” in the Earhart case. 

Earhart and Noonan are absolutely not in the photo, and it’s incredible that anyone could believe they are. Zoom in and you can see the upper half of a white man with black hair on the far left of the group on the dock. Kinney and an “expert” say it’s Noonan, but the features, the nose, the hairline are all wrong, and any intelligent analysis rules him out. The so-called experts are either incompetent or lying, and we all know that some paid experts will say anything.  Nobody in the photo remotely resembles Earhart, inasmuch as anyone’s facial features can be determined at all.

Furthermore, where are the Japanese military personnel who would have been close and in control of the American spies after their pickup at Mili Atoll? Where is the tension one would expect in such a photo? It simply doesn’t exist; the group on the dock appears to be out for a Sunday stroll, or awaiting someone’s arrival from one of the ships in the harbor.  None of it computes, unless one understands what the real game is here, and even this olfactorily challenged writer can smell a rat when it stinks this badly.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; this photo offers none and fails completely. Does anyone except Les Kinney really think that Earhart and Noonan are in this photo? This photo will be totally rejected by virtually everyone who knows what Amelia and Fred Noonan looked like, and its use on this program will do nothing except to discredit the truth as we know it. Our ideological enemies — and we all know who they are — will label its proponents as delusional fanatics.

I will have much more to say about the odious claims being made about this photo, as well as other irresponsible assertions that will also be advanced by the History Channel on July 9. I’ll post my review following the airing of “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence.”

 

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