Most readers of this blog will recall last July’s imbroglio over the History Channel’s bogus claims about the ONI photo found at the NARA Archives by researcher Les Kinney several years ago. If you don’t recall this or you’re here for the first time, here is my review of the History Channel’s July 9, 2017 abomination: History’s “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence”: Underhanded attack on the Marshalls-Saipan truth.
Clearly, Les Kinney and I have had serious disagreements — and not only about the photo — over important, sensitive issues in the Earhart case. Thus I was a bit surprised this morning (March 9), to receive an email from Les, asking if I would post his essay addressing TIGHAR’s latest claim on this blog — sort of a “guest column,” so to speak.
I’m sure Les hasn’t changed his position about the ONI photo, but in this case, I have no problem setting aside our differences and working together against the TIGHAR plague, which has done more damage to the truth in the Earhart case than anyone in the past 30 years. The degree to which their outrageous and transparently false claims have dominated the corrupt and complaint mainstream media Earhart coverage cannot be overstated, and it’s been a constant irritant for all who pursue the Earhart saga without monetary consideration of any kind.
More on my personal TIGHAR complaints later. Now, for those few who aren’t up to speed on the latest mega-media TIGHAR blitz, on March 7, The Washington Post covered the story thusly: “Bones discovered on an island are hers, a new analysis shows.”
Without further delay, here’s Les Kinney’s rebuttal of the latest TIGHAR crapola. All boldface is mine except headlines and subheads.
TIGHAR PRESS RELEASE
New Evidence in the Amelia Earhart Mystery!
Bones Found in South Pacific Likely Amelia Earhart … “This analysis reveals that Earhart is more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99% of individuals in a large reference sample.” — Richard L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Hold on a minute!
For those of you not familiar with TIGHAR, the acronym stands for The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery. Its executive director, a fellow named Ric Gillespie founded TIGHAR in 1985. It’s a non-profit organization funded by donors and sponsors. Gillespie has taken a salary to support the ideals of TIGHAR. Those ideals, according to TIGHAR’s website is the promotion of responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. Don’t let that fool you. TIGHAR devotes 99 percent of its substantial resources hoodwinking the public into believing Amelia Earhart landed at Nikumaroro, a three-mile sliver of land in the Phoenix Island(s) Group. So that you don’t have to pull out a world atlas, Nikumaroro is close to the equator and smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
On March 8, FOX News, and a fair amount of other media outlets including USA Today splashed a tale taken from a TIGHAR press release. “It is with 99 per cent certainty, bones found in 1940 on Nikumaroro are that of the famous missing aviator.”
It all started in April of 1940 when bones, a skull, and bottle were found on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) by some unknown native colonist. Near the spot of this find was evidence of a camp site. Natives also found an old sextant box and a sole of a shoe – about an English size 10. This same hand painted sextant box was described by experts as likely originating from the 1800’s. It did not appear “under any circumstances have been for a sextant used in modern trans Pacific aviation.” It was concluded that quite possibly this unknown castaway used the box to keep his possessions.
A little history of Gardner/Nikumaroro is in order, and for good reason.
There is limited information who visited Gardner Island from the 1700s to the early 1900s. The island was first named in 1825. So, at least we know of one ship that visited the island when John Quincy Adams was President of the United States. No doubt the island had been visited many times in the 1800s simply because man’s curiosity gets the best of him. There is also a possibility, though never confirmed, that Gardner Island had been temporarily settled in the 1890s and abandoned shortly thereafter.
In November 1929, the British freighter HMS Norwich City departed Melbourne Australia bound for Vancouver, B.C. The 397-foot freighter ran aground on the reef at Gardner Island. Eleven men were killed. Four bodies were buried by survivors after washing ashore. Seven other men were missing and never found. The rusted and broken hulk of the Norwich City still rests on Nikumaroro’s beach.
In October 1937, a British survey team headed by Harry Maude and Eric Bevington, along with 18 Gilbertese men “thoroughly explored” Gardner Island for several days.
From November 30, 1938, and for the next several weeks, a 16-man New Zealand Survey team explored Gardner Island from an aviation viewpoint.
In December 1938, while the New Zealand team was still on Gardner, at least 80 colonists from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands under British sponsorship settled on the island. At the time of their arrival, it was noted at least 200 coconut trees existed on the island. The island also had an abundance of very large coconut crabs resembling King Crabs in size, a pesky rat population, sea turtles, and the inner reef and lagoon swarmed with fish.
On November 5, 1939, crew members from the USS Bushnell, a Navy Survey ship landed at Gardner Island. The ship discharged 25 sailors and technicians. The Bushnell crew was intent on constructing a tower on the island. The Bushnell surveying team noted in its journal, the island was being occupied by 80 settlers. The Bushnell team stayed on the island for two days.
In June of 1944, the U.S. Coast Guard arrived on Gardner island and began construction of a Loran Station. The station was up and running on December 16, 1944 and manned by 25 Coast Guard personnel. Because of changing technology and the end of the war, the station was deactivated on May 15, 1946. The “Coasties” co-existed with the Gilbertese settlers who finally gave up on the island in 1963.
Don’t you get the idea that lot of people trampled around Gardner for many years? One Coastie remarked it was boring and all they did in their free time was explore. Can you imagine the amount of trash on that island?
How the Nikumaroro “Bones” got TIGHAR’s attention
In the late 1980s along comes Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR. During Gillespie’s second or third mission to Gardner, having heard a tale from a Coast Guardsman who served on the island in the 1940s, that early colonists buried Earhart’s bones, Ric and his crew began poking and digging around an area TIGHAR has coined the “Seven Site.” They found human remains alright, but it was of an infant.
While they were figuring out their next move, one of TIGHAR’s explorers found the sole and heel of a shoe nearby. It was about the size of a 9 or 10 and stamped on the bottom was the famous American trademark, “Cat’s Paw.”
Fast forward a few years. One of TIGHAR’s Kiwi members was leafing through research material in the Kiribati National Archives in Tarawa. He noticed a file talking about a skeleton and human remains discovered on Gardner Island in 1940. Gillespie’s team jumped on this information.
The Kiribati archive report documented the finding of Gerald Gallagher, Gardner Island’s colonial administrator. After Gallagher arrived on Gardner in 1940, he was told by native’s human bones had been found on the southeastern part of the island. The natives also told Gallagher they found a human skull, but it was reburied. Gallagher’s working party searched the area, collected 13 bones and found the skull. Nearby, they also found an old-fashioned sextant box, part of a sole, possibly from two shoes, and a bottle. Gallagher’s examined the sole carefully and said it was about an English size 10. Writing back to Fiji headquarters in Suva, Gallagher said there was a “very slight chance” the bones might be of Amelia Earhart, although to his untrained eye, the bones appeared to be “older than four years.”
Gallagher went on to tell his superiors the area was then searched for rings, money, and keys with no results. His message also explained he examined the skull. The “dental condition appears to have been good,” he said, “but only five teeth remain.” Gallagher makes no mention of fillings. He goes on to emphasize that in his opinion, “am quite certain they are not less than four years old and probably much older.”
The bones were eventually shipped to the High Commissioner’s Office in Suva. An initial report was completed by the Acting Senior Medical Officer. The medical examiner concluded “they are part of a skeleton of elderly male of Polynesian race, bones having been probably in sheltered position for upwards of 20 years possibly much longer.”
The bones were then brought to the Central Medical School and examined by Dr. D. W. Hoodless. Hoodless took careful measurements of the bones and skull. He noted the remains only included one half of the pelvic bone. Hoodless obviously took into consideration the pelvic bone is symmetrical and said that in his professional opinion, the bones were that of a skeleton of “total height of 5 feet 5 and ½ inches approximately.” Hoodless went on to write “it may be definitely stated that the skeleton is that of a [MALE.”] Hoodless emphasis. Hoodless added, “he was not less than 45 and more probably older.“
Dr. Hoodless again emphasized the bones were male and probably a male of undetermined cultural origins, possibly of mixed descent. The skull had five teeth and Dr. Hoodless noted the right zygoma and malar bones broken off.
The bones, the bones, where are the bones?
TIGHAR has tried hard to find the bones but they haven’t been seen since 1941. It hasn’t deterred Gillespie. Early on, he called on one of his members, the late Dr. Karen Burns, an anthropologist to review the Hoodless findings. Burns had previously traveled to the South Pacific and Gardner courtesy of TIGHAR.
Dr. Burns analysis indicated the Nikumaroro bones could have indeed been Earhart. But her findings are biased. After all, she was on TIGHAR’s Board of Directors. It would be like Eli Lily telling the public their new drug was 100 percent effective based upon a study by a pharmacologist who happened to be on Lily’s Board of Directors.
It wasn’t long after Karen Burns issued her findings when an independent study of the Nikumaroro bones was completed by Cross and Wright (2015): “The “Nikumaroro Bones’ are not those of lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart,” stated Pamela J. Cross and Richard Wright. Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, this new analysis is a welcome redress to the reputation of Dr. D.W. Hoodless (the medical official first responsible for the evaluation of the bones) and raises serious questions for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), an Amelia Earhart-focused nonprofit investigatory group and the top proponents of the ‘Gardner Island Theory.’ ”
Not one to easily give up, Gillespie tried a different tack. First though, TIGHAR needed to make the Hoodless calculations a little more palatable. It’s well known that Earhart was at least 5 feet eight inches tall or taller. Amelia’s pilot’s license says 5’ 8.” Dozens of personal recollections and photographs describe and show a tall woman. Amelia tended to fib. Maybe she was even taller. Compared to the known height of many of those she is photographed alongside – there is no doubt Amelia is tall – certainly taller than 5’7″.
Since TIGHAR needed to reduce the measurements necessary to obviate the discrepancies with Dr. Hoodless measurements, TIGHAR now says maybe Earhart was five-seven based upon a driver’s license they found from Massachusetts. Even at five-seven, it’s a stretch the bones found on Gardner fit the computer analysis done by TIGHAR’s latest anthropologist. It is difficult to explain how Dr. Jantz’s computer model concluded “with 99 percent certainty” the bones found on Nikumaroro are Amelia’s based upon measurements taken by Dr. Hoodless.
Can Dr. Jantz’s Nikumaroro bones analysis be considered plausible? Highly unlikely.
Dr. Jantz didn’t know all the facts. First, he hadn’t any bones. Second, his analysis makes no mention of the skull. To duplicate what he believes are the physical dimensions of Amelia Earhart, Dr. Jantz uses clothing held in the George P. Putnam Collection at Purdue University for comparison. Noting the inseam length and waist measurement of a pair of trousers worn by Amelia and told to him by a Purdue staffer, Dr, Jantz makes the incredible assumption those measurements would suffice for his scientific analysis.
Dr. Jantz might not have known what TIGHAR had been told years ago. Amelia Earhart had a painful operation called a Caldwell-Luc procedure done. On June 26, 1935, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Dr. Joseph Goldstein performed the surgery. The operation was meant to alleviate a chronic sinus problem plaguing Amelia since 1918 when she was a young nursing assistant in Toronto, Ontario. Goldstein’s procedure called for drilling a hole in the cavity of Amelia’s mouth going through the bone above the second molar to open the maxillary sinus. It was meant to be a new channel for sinus drainage. (ouch) If the procedure was done on both sides it was called a bi-lateral Caldwell-Luc. According to Muriel Morrissey, Amelia’s sister, Amelia had this procedure done previously on the opposite side. Following the operation in 1935, Amelia was quite sick for a week and in fact developed pleurisy before recovering.
A forensic examination of a skull having a Caldwell-Luc procedure within the previous five to ten years would have been observed by a five-year-old. TIGHAR fails to explain how Dr. Hoodless, Gallagher, or the Chief Medical Officer failed to see a dime size hole extending from the jaw through the bone into the cranium. TIGHAR argues maybe the procedure was not apparent because of the missing zygoma and malar bones. However, the zygoma/malar bones are really one area of the cheek and would not interfere in a forensic analysis of this part of the skull. One of TIGHAR team members, a medical doctor, admitted that it would be hard pressed for anyone not to have seen evidence of such a procedure.
Not long before her final flight, Amelia bragged to Muriel that she just had a $1000 worth of dental work done. In today’s dollars that’s about $18,900 bucks. I t seems the five teeth examined by Gallagher, the Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Hoodless would have shown evidence of some dental work – a filling at least.
Let’s review some of the known Nikumaroro facts.
Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan failed to arrive at Howland Island on their flight from Lae New Guinea on July 2, 1937. TIGHAR believes post loss radio messages from the pair skipped off the ionosphere and originated from Nikumaroro. TIGHAR has tramped to Nikumaroro at least 12 times over the years scouring the island for the missing aviators.
Some of the apocryphal TIGHAR discoveries include: 1) a bone from Earhart’s fingers – which turned out to be from a turtle; 2) a small glass jar that TIGHAR says could have contained freckle cream, and since Earhart had freckles, the jar would be evidence that Earhart was on Nikumaroro. Never mind the jar was mass-produced for years by a variety of manufacturers, not just for freckle cream; 3) the sole of a size 9 shoe even though it is well documented from two pairs of Amelia’s shoes that still exist that Amelia had small feet and wore a size six and a half; 4) a piece of aluminum shelving that TIGHAR insisted came from the Electra even though it has been determined to be a manufactured piece and standard equipment on WWII era Navy PBY Flying Boats; 5) a piece of aluminum sheathing found on Nikumaroro’s sandy beach by TIGHAR in 1991 that TIGHAR insists came from a metal patch installed over the rear window of Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Electra in Miami, disregarding the fact the aluminum is stamped with war years aluminum markings, and not withstanding how the aluminum piece remained in plain view on the beach after 55 years, while the plane is nowhere to be found; 6) a jackknife found near TIGHAR’s “Seven Site” might have come from Earhart’s plane because a jackknife was listed as being on the Electra’s inventory. TIGHAR apparently is not aware that most men in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s would have never been without a jackknife in the wilderness.
But why did they die?
TIGHAR theorizes Earhart and Noonan died very early during their stay on Nikumaroro. Maybe as little as a week or two after they arrived. Certainly, before October 1937, when the first group of explorers arrived. Could this have happened? Quite unlikely.
Coconut water from at least 200 coconut palms was plentiful. Each coconut can contain as much as six ounces of coconut water. Fish teamed in the hulk of a freighter washed up on the beach and in the lagoon. Maude, one of the early scientists visiting the island in October 1937, later wrote that you could catch the fish with your hands. Turtles were easy prey and large coconut crabs scampering about everywhere are considered a delicacy by natives. Earhart and Noonan could have survived on Gardner Island indefinitely.
TIGHAR claims it’s possible Earhart and Noonan might not have had the “know how” or stamina to survive as castaways. That argument seems impossible. The will to survive is strong and Earhart and Noonan were no slouches. Noonan was worldly and had sailed around the world on nine windjammers. Hardly the life of a wimp. Earhart was athletic, had no hesitation to crawl under cars in need of repairs, shot rats in barns, played golf, tennis, rode horses, and earlier in life, played basketball. In college, she explored the dark catacombs below Columbia and crawled several times to the precarious top of its library dome. She had no fear. More importantly, she was an accomplished swimmer.
Didn’t the U.S. Navy look for Earhart and Noonan at Gardner Island? They sure did.
A week after Earhart disappeared, three Vought O3U-3 Corsair float planes from the Battleship USS Colorado flew over Gardner Island for 30 minutes. They roared back and forth, and up and down the length of the island at a leisurely 80 mph. Lieutenant John Lambrecht, the team leader, said they flew at an altitude of 50 to 500 feet. Each plane carried a pilot and observer. It would have been enough time for the six set of eyes to view the island close-up for at least four passes over the length of this small island. TIGHAR says the “glare” probably prevented the crew from seeing Earhart and Noonan. Or, TIGHAR surmises, maybe Earhart and Noonan were deep in the jungle.
Guess what, nowhere on the island is the center of the jungle more than 200 yards from the beach – plenty of time for the castaways to break out into the open.
Why would they be deep in the jungle anyway? (End of Les Kinney commentary.)
Les Kinney’s comprehensive history of Gardner Island-Nikumaroro provides clear perspective on the credibility and veracity of the latest TIGHAR offerings. Of course, there’s plenty that Les couldn’t get to, and that we can’t cover in one blog post. Frankly, I purposely did not expend much space in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last discussing TIGHAR’s vapid disputations, preferring to cover other threads of far more substance. I did write a section titled “The Nikumaroro Hypothesis: Recycled Snake Oil,” that dealt with some of the more salient matters, including the fact that the Nikumaroro hypothesis itself is a third-hand version of Fred Hooven’s original McKean-Gardner Island landing theory, presented by Goerner at the 1982 Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Amelia Earhart Symposium. The theory was soon disavowed by Hooven, once he realized how ridiculous it actually was — and still is. (See pages 300-304 Truth at Last.) Several revealing posts relating to TIGHAR can easily be found via a simple search of this blog.
Les Kinney’s foregoing presentation was far more civil, cordial and even-keeled than anything I write about these miscreants, but we each have our own style. On March 9, the Pacific Regional News echoed the latest TIGHAR bombast with its own story, which appeared in the Marianas Variety, Saipan’s major paper and the site of the recent announcement about the planned Earhart Memorial Monument at the Saipan International Airport. The story, “Bones found on remote island may belong to Amelia Earhart, study says,“ is followed by comments, and because the Marianas Variety is a fair and unbiased publication, my comment was allowed to stand:
The claim that Amelia Earhart’s bones were found on Nikumaroro has been long discredited and exposed as fraudulent; this idea is nothing but more hype and fake news from TIGHAR and their media toadies across the mainstream media. Further, this latest media blitz has surely been coordinated by those in Washington who do not want to see an Earhart memorial on Saipan, and such is their anger that they have activated more than the usual handful of media organizations to spread the latest TIGHAR manure across the land. The timing is too coincidental to be anything else. This new installment of the “lost bones” lie is nothing more than a thinly veiled response to the recent announcement about the plans to build the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument.
Weasel words like “could have,” “likely” and “99 percent probability” season the latest recycled TIGHAR trash, but at bottom, it’s nothing but smoke, mirrors and lies, as usual, from TIGHAR and those in the media who aid and abet their phony schemes. I ask those who believe in real science — not discredited fantasies like “remote viewing” — to study the facts that Earhart researchers have complied for nearly 60 years, and you cannot come to any other conclusion than Amelia and Fred Noonan’s tragic and unnecessary deaths on Saipan.
Murderers are sent to their executions daily on the smallest fraction of the evidence presented in several books since Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller “The Search for Amelia Earhart” solidly established the presence and deaths of Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan following their loss in July 1937, and inspired thousands of Americans to demand action from Congress to reveal the truth, which was thoroughly ignored. The additional mountain of evidence I present in “Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last” and in my blog, www.EarhartTruth.com to support the Marshalls and Saipan truth brings together Goerner’s work and that of several other fine researchers and leaves no other conclusion than Saipan. If TIGHAR had the tiniest molecule of this evidence to support their false claims, the Earhart “mystery,” would have been declared “solved” decades ago.
The major problem with the Earhart story is that the American public has been told unceasingly for 80 years that her disappearance is a “great aviation mystery,” to the point that this canard has become part of our cultural furniture, blindly accepted without question by nearly everyone. In fact, the U.S. government knows exactly what happened to the fliers and simply refuses to admit it. I will not expand on this basic truth here, however, as anyone unafraid to learn the truth can easily find it. Although the truth about the Earhart disappearance is a sacred cow in Washington, it’s also an open secret, available to anyone who desires to find, learn and understand. (End of Campbell comment.)
In a different situation I would end this post by saying, “We rest our case,” but the fact is that no case has been made by TIGHAR for any of its unceasingly empty and baseless claims. So at this time, I’ll simply say, “Case closed.” Until, of course, the next round of mass-media propaganda and lies descends on the unwary.
In closing, again I ask for your kind donations in any amount to the Earhart Memorial on Saipan — a eminently worthy cause that is long overdue. Please make your check out to: Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument, Inc., and send to AEMMI, c/o Marie S. Castro, P.O. Box 500213, Saipan MP 96950. Thank you.
Frederick J. Hooven, famed for his engineering inventions, was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1905, met Orville Wright as a child and by age 15 was a regular visitor to the Wrights’ Dayton laboratory. After graduating from MIT in 1927, Hooven was hired by General Motors, and rose to vice president and chief engineer of the Radio Products Division of Bendix Aviation Corporation by 1935. His Hooven Radio Compass, which he later sold to the Bendix Company, is now known as the Automatic Direction Finder or ADF, was installed in Amelia Earhart’s Electra in 1936, but was later replaced by an earlier, lighter unit.
When he died in 1985, Hooven held a total of 38 American patents, as well as many foreign patents in fields such as avionics, bomb sights, automotive ignition and suspension systems, photographic typesetting and medical technology. His inventions include 17 radio and aviation navigation and landing instrument systems, bomb-release systems, six automotive ignition systems, three medical instruments, six photographic type compositions and seven other automotive inventions (axles, brakes, springs, suspensions, plus a complete engine, the 1966 Olds Toronado).
In his 1966 letter of introduction to Goerner, below, the first of many from Hooven to his soon-to-be friend and Earhart research associate, he discusses his radio compass, his meeting with Amelia and what he believed was the fatal decision to remove his invention from the Electra. Many more would follow through the years. (Bold emphasis mine throughout.)
December 5, 1966
Mr. Frederick Goerner
277 Park Avenue
New York City, N.Y. 10017
Dear Mr. Goerner:
I just finished reading your book on Amelia Earhart. I started the book with a good deal of skepticism, but now that I have finished it I find that I share your conviction that this whole matter must be clarified and honor rendered to those to whom it is due. I can add a small and perhaps interesting sidelight to the Amelia Earhart story. My contribution does nothing either to strengthen or weaken your conclusions, but I believe if my story had been different, Miss Earhart would not have been lost .
I installed on Miss Earhart’s Lockheed one of the first prototypes of the modern aircraft radio direction-finder. Before she embarked on her flight, however, this was removed, and installed in its place was the old-fashioned null-type direction-finder that she carried with her. The modern instrument would have given her a heading on the transmitter of the cutter Itasca at Howland Island even under poor reception conditions and it would have shown her without ambiguity that her destination was still ahead.
The modern direction finder that I invented in 1935 had some important points of superiority over the old simple null-type that had been used ever since before 1920. We called it a radio compass then. It is always called the ADF today. It uses a conventional antenna in addition to the directional loop, the result being that it is possible to listen to the station at the same time a bearing is being taken. It is so much more sensitive that it is possible to use a much smaller loop, contained in the familiar streamlined cigar-shaped housing that is still to be seen on all but the very latest models of commercial and military aircraft.
Most importantly, by using the signal from the non-directional antenna as a point of reference, the modern instrument is able to indicate the true direction of the transmitter from the receiver whereas the null-type indicator could do no more than tell that the transmitting station was somewhere along a line that passed through the center of the loop-antenna. Obviously, to obtain a useable null with the old system the signal must be several times louder than the background noise. With the radio compass, a useable bearing may be taken on a station that is not readable through the noise. All of these things combine to convince me that Miss Earhart would have reached Howland Island if the radio compass had still been installed in her airplane.
We built six of these prototypes. I was at that time vice president and chief engineer of the Radio Products Division of Bendix Aviation, which was one of the small companies later combined into Bendix Radio. Vincent Bendix had retained Harry Bruno as his personal public relations counsel and he distributed these prototypes where he thought they were most likely to get his name into the papers. One of them went to Dick Merrill and Harry Richman, and we installed it on the Northrup Alpha they flew across the Atlantic and landed in Ireland. They both told me they owed their lives to the radio compass.
Harry had broadcast to his public over their 50 watt transmitter until the airplane ‘s battery was flat, so when they reached England they were able to use only their receiving equipment. It was foggy and they flew around for 24 hours before they found a hole they could get down through. They said they surely would have been back over the ocean if they had not had the radio compass on board. Just to bear out your contention about the transmitting range of the 50 watt transmitter I listened to Harry on my receiver in Dayton, Ohio on 3100 kilocycles until he was about halfway across the Atlantic.
Another prototype was turned over to the United States Army Air Corps at Wright Field. We installed it in a B-10 and connected the output to the directional control of the automatic pilot. I rode in this airplane on a nonstop flight from Dayton to Dallas, Texas and back. During the entire flight the pilot never touched the controls of the airplane. It was guided over the entire distance by the radio compass, which was tuned in to local broadcast stations and radio beacons along the way.
The pilot of that airplane was a very close friend of mine, George Holloman, who lost his life in the South Pacific during the war and who gave his name to Holloman Field . Later on, the same radio compass was installed in an ancient Fokker C-151 which made the first completely automatic takeoff and landing at Wright Field in 1937. Later the same year at Muroc Air Force Base, that airplane made the first completely automatic unmanned takeoff and landing. Another of these prototypes went to the Department of Commerce and one I personally installed for American Airlines on the first DC-3 to go into commercial passenger service.
Miss Earhart brought her airplane to Wright Field in Dayton where I made the installation of our equipment. I spent most of the day with her and I concur with your description of her. She was attractive, charming, gracious — a real lady. She had with her a pretty young girl straight from the sticks, named Jacqueline Cochrane. We had lunch together in the cafeteria at the Field. So far as I know Miss Cochrane is still living and should be able to verify this part of the story.
I don’t remember when I learned that the radio compass had been removed from Miss Earhart ‘s plane before she took off on her world flight. The Radio Research Company of Washington, D.C. was another Bendix division. Its vice president was Laurence A. Hyland, who is now, or was until very recently, vice president and general manager of Hughes Aircraft. Hyland had been a Navy man and his company manufactured the standard Navy aircraft direction finder. As I understood it, Hyland convinced Miss Earhart that she should not trust such a new fangled device as my radio compass and that she would be much safer with the good old reliable instead. From what you say about the Navy’s involvement in the affair, it could well have been that the Navy persuaded her to take out this piece of equipment that had been developed in connection with the Army Air Corps.
You can see why I read your book with more than casual interest and would like to see such a grand lady take her proper place in history.
Frederick J. Hooven
Hooven’s contention that if Amelia had used his radio compass she “would have reached Howland Island” was, of course, based on the assumption that she was actually trying to locate and land at Howland, and was not embarked on a far different and possibly covert flight plan. Many factors that have been presented and discussed in earlier posts argue for that, but we simply don’t know for sure.
After years of studying data from the Pan Am intercepts and other alleged radio receptions, Hooven presented his paper, Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight, which became known as The Hooven Report, at the Amelia Earhart Symposium at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum in June 1982. Citing the bearings on the signals reported by the three Pan Am radio stations and the Howland Island high-frequency direction finder supplied by the Navy, Hooven asserted it was “undeniable” that the transmissions had originated from the downed fliers.
“Five bearings were taken on the weak, wavering signal reported on the frequency used by the Earhart plane,” Hooven wrote, “and four of them, plus the 157-337 position line of the last message all intersected in the general area of the Phoenix Group. This constitutes positive evidence of the presence of a transmitter in that area which could only have been that of the downed plane. No hypothesis purporting to explain the events of the last flight can be credited that does not offer a plausible explanation of these signals, and why they originated along the plane’s announced position line at the only location, except for Baker and Howland, where there was land.”
According to several knowledgeable researchers, Hooven later abandoned the Gardner Island idea after Goerner convinced him that regardless of the location of the source of questionable radio signals that inspired it, too many people had lived on Gardner for too many years without any trace of the Earhart Electra ever seen on the island. I’ve tried without success to locate any documents that reflect Hooven’s alleged reversal, which I believe actually occurred.
Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight established Hooven as the creator of the Gardner Island (Nikumaroro) landing theory, not the executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), Ric Gillespie, who has yet to credit Hooven publicly, at least to this writer’s knowledge. If he has finally done so, I expect to be corrected quite loudly and quickly, and will report it here. Lacking any other plausible alternative to the Marshalls-Saipan reality, our establishment media continues to deny the truth and force feeds this rubbish, this long-debunked “Nikumaroro hypothesis,” to an incurious, gullible public, and to mislead all who remain willfully ignorant.
This is a project long overdue, but better late than never. I don’t claim that this timeline is comprehensive or complete; indeed, some knowledgeable observers might disagree with certain of my decisions to exclude or include incidents or events in this timeline. If so, please let me know in the comments section or via direct email.
The reason for this Earhart timeline is simple: I want to make it as easy as possible for readers to understand the Earhart saga in real terms by offering them a guide to the true history of Earhart research, not the fabricated crap that TIGHAR, Elgen Long and all the rest of the despicable establishment protectorate have shoved down our throats for so long, distorting the facts and misleading all but the well informed.
Without further delay, we begin this two-part timeline with Amelia Earhart’s last message to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca:
July 2, 1937, 8:44 a.m. Howland Island Time: Amelia Earhart transmits her last official message: WE ARE ON THE LINE 157-337, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KCS. WAIT LISTENING ON 6210 KCS.” After about a minute’s pause, she adds, “WE ARE RUNNING ON LINE NORTH AND SOUTH.” The message was received on 3105 at signal strength 5. “She was so loud that I ran up to the bridge expecting to see her coming in for a landing,” former Itasca Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts tells author Elgen Long in 1973.
July 2-7, 1937: So-called “post-loss” radio signals, possibly originating from the Earhart Electra, begin about 6 p.m., July 2, Howland Island Time, and continue intermittently. The signals are heard by Navy, Coast Guard, Pan American Airlines, ships, amateurs and professional hams on the West Coast and as far away as Florida. These signals lead many to believe that Amelia survived on land (transmission unlikely from water) within the fuel range of her Electra. Nevertheless, the Coast Guard discounts the signals as “hoaxes” and none are ever accorded official approbation. We may never know if any were legitimate.
July 3, 1937: As reported by Vincent V. Loomis in Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, sometime in the afternoon, native Marshallese eyewitnesses Mrs. Clement and Jororo watch Amelia Earhart crash-land her twin-engine Electra on the shallow reef a few hundred yards offshore Barre Island, located in the northwest part of Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands.
July 7, 1937: The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy search for the lost fliers in the central Pacific. On July 7 the battleship USS Colorado arrives and searches the Phoenix Islands, 350 miles southeast of Howland. On July 9, three Vought O3U-3 Corsair float planes are launched from the battleship’s three catapult rails to make an aerial inspection of three locations: McKean Island, Gardner Island (now the infamous Nikumaroro), and Carondelet Reef. Nothing unusual is seen during the flyovers of these islands; neither Amelia Earhart nor her Electra was ever on Nikumaroro, contrary to the incessant propaganda efforts by our establishment media.
July 11, 1937: The carrier USS Lexington and three ships of Destroyer Squadron Two take charge. Lexington, with 63 aircraft, begins a week of air operations covering 150,000 square miles, finding nothing. In Lexington Group Commander J.S. Dowell’s “Report of Earhart Search,” filed July 20, 1937, Dowell writes that “the plane landed on water or an uncharted reef within 120 miles of the most probable landing point, 23 miles northwest of Howland Island.”
July 13, 1937: Several American newspapers publish an International News Service (INS) story with headlines similar to this one, found on Page 1 of the Bethlehem (Penn.) Globe- Times: “Tokio Hears Jap Fishing Boat Picked up Amelia.” The story cites “vague and unconfirmed” rumors that the fliers had “been rescued by a Japanese fishing boat without a radio,” is never followed up, and is squelched in Japan with a later retraction.July 13-14, 1937: The Japanese survey ship Koshu arrives at Jaluit on July 13 and departs on July 14 for the island of Mili Mili, where it picks up Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
Between July 15-18, 1937: Sixteen-year-old Japanese-born medical corpsman Bilimon Amaron is called aboard Koshu to treat an American man accompanied by a white female pilot for minor head and knee wounds. A twin-engine silver airplane with a broken wing is attached to the stern of the ship. Amaron later identifies photos of Earhart and Noonan as the fliers he treated.
July 19, 1937: Koshu departs Jaluit, probably for Saipan, with unknown possible stops in transit, on the same day the Japanese government officially ceased its search for Earhart. Earhart and Noonan are flown to Kwajalein, and later to Saipan.
July 19, 1937: The U.S. Navy-Coast Guard ocean search for Amelia Earhart ends. Besides more than 167,000 square miles covered by the planes launched from Lexington and Colorado, the Itasca, Swan, and surface vessels of DESRON 2—the destroyers Lamson, Drayton, and Cushing – as well as Lexington herself, searched nearly 95,000 square miles of ocean. The grand total for all ships, 262,281 square miles, is the equivalent of a 500-mile square. Not a trace of an oil slick or a particle of debris is found.
Summer 1937, Tanapag Harbor, Saipan: Josephine Blanco Akiyama, 11, witnesses a twin-engine silver airplane “belly land” in the waters off the closed Japanese military area of Tanapag. She later sees two American fliers, a man and a woman, and the woman is dressed as a man, with her hair cut short. Josephine later identifies the photos as those of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
October 16, 1937: An article in the Australian newspaper Smith’s Weekly, “U.S.A. Does Australia a Secret Service,” suggests that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her Electra provided the U.S. military the opportunity to search the Marshall and Phoenix Islands for a suspected Japanese military buildup. Some later point to this as the genesis of the Earhart “spy mission” theory.
April 1943: RKO Motion Pictures releases the feature film, Flight For Freedom, starring Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray. The film is often blamed for inspiring the “conspiracy theory” that the fliers were taken to Saipan or landed there as part of a U.S. government plot. The facts, as attested to dozens of native and GI eyewitnesses, tell us that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were indeed on Saipan, where they met their tragic deaths. But Flight for Freedom has no relationship to actual events, and it seems obvious that this film is produced for disinformation purposes.
January 1944: Marshalls Islands native Elieu Jibambam, a schoolteacher with a reputation for integrity, tells Navy personnel on Majuro that a Japanese trader named “Ajima” told him a remarkable story. A “white woman” flier who ran out of gas and landed between Jaluit and Ailinglapalap Atolls, was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat and taken to Jaluit or Majuro, and later to Kwajalein or Saipan, Ajima told Elieu. Associated Press reporter Eugene Burns writes a story about Elieu’s revelations that appears in newspapers across America in March 1944. Other GIs find artifacts and other information from natives suggesting an Earhart connection in the Marshalls. Thus the Marshall Islands landing scenario, more commonly known as the Marshall Islands landing theory, is born.
July 6-9, 1944, Saipan: Sgt. Thomas E. Devine, of the 244th Army Postal Unit, views Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E on three occasions, the final time in flames, torched by American forces at the off-limits Aslito Field. Several other U.S. military personnel also see the plane before and after its burning.
July 6-9, 1944, Saipan: Marine Pfc. Earskin J. Nabers, a 20-year-old code clerk in the H&S Communication Platoon of the 8th Marines (2nd Marine Division) on Saipan, receives and decodes three messages relating to the discovery, plans to fly and plans to destroy Amelia Earhart’s Electra at Aslito Field. Nabers, as well as other U.S. military personnel, witnesses the burning of NR 16020 at Aslito Field.
July 1944, Saipan: Marine Pfc. Robert E. Wallack, 18, a machine gunner with the independent 29th Marine Regiment, finds Amelia Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe in Garapan. Wallack describes the contents as “official-looking papers all concerning Amelia Earhart: maps, permits and reports apparently pertaining to her around-the-world flight.” Wallack turns over the briefcase to a “naval officer on the beach,” and never sees it again. Wallack is interviewed by Connie Chung on CBS’s Eye to Eye in 1994 and appears in the 2007 National Geographic production, Undercover History: Amelia Earhart.
Late July-early August, 1944, Saipan: Privates Billy Burks and Everett Henson Jr., under orders from Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold, excavate and remove skeletal remains of two individuals from a gravesite outside a native Chamorro cemetery south of Garapan that may have been the remains of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. The disposition of the remains is unknown.
August 1945: Days before Sgt. Thomas E. Devine left Saipan to return to the states and his discharge from the Army, an Okinawan woman shows him the gravesite of a “white man and woman who had come from the sky” and were killed by the Japanese. Devine goes to his own grave believing this is the true Earhart-Noonan gravesite.
July 24, 1949: In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Amy Otis Earhart, Amelia’s mother, says: “I am sure there was a Government mission involved in the flight, because Amelia explained there were some things she could not tell me. I am equally sure she did not make a forced landing at sea. She landed on a tiny atoll – one of many in that general area of the Pacific – and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat that took her to the Marshall islands, under Japanese control.”
Early 1960: Daughter of the Sky: The Story of Amelia Earhart, by Paul Briand Jr., is published by Duell, Sloan and Pearce (New York). The final chapter presents the account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama, 11 years old in 1937, as told to Navy dentist Casimir R. Sheft on Saipan in the 1946, when Josephine was his dental assistant. Josephine’s account is the spark that ignites the modern search for Amelia Earhart.
June 15, 1960: KCBS radio newsman Fred Goerner arrives at Saipan for the first of four visits to investigate Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s eyewitness account. With the help of the islands three Catholic priests, he interviews about 200 native witnesses and identifies 13 who strongly corroborated the account of Josephine Blanco Akiyama.
July 1, 1960: Chronicling Goerner’s interviews, San Mateo (Calif.) Times reporter Linwood Day’s series of stories reaches a climax as the Times runs, in a 100-point headline, “Amelia Earhart Mystery is Solved.” Day’s story, “Famed Aviatrix Died on Saipan,” is ignored by all major newspapers in American, though a number of smaller newspapers did run it.
October 1960: ONI Special Agent Thomas M. Blake visits Devine at his West Haven, Connecticut home, a few months after Devine told the story of his 1945 gravesite experience to the New Haven Register. Devine cooperates with Blake, and gives the ONI all he can to help the agency locate the gravesite the Okinawan woman revealed to him.
December 8-22, 1960: The Office of Naval Intelligence conducts an investigation into Thomas Devine’s Saipan gravesite information. The original document, henceforth the ONI Report, is dated December 23, 1960; ONI Special Agent Joseph M. Patton was its official author.
January 1963: Devine is summoned to the ONI’s Hartford, Connecticut office to read the classified ONI Report’s disturbing verdict: “The information advanced by DEVINE . . . is inaccurate and cannot be supported by this investigation.” Devine describes the findings as “neither favorable nor fair . . . incredible and negative about my information,” and devotes a chapter in Eyewitness, “An Incredible Report,” to a comprehensive rebuttal of the ONI’s findings.
December 1963: Thomas E. Devine returns to Saipan with Fred Goerner and locates the gravesite shown to him by an unidentified Okinawan woman in August 1945. Unfortunately for Devine and history, he decides not reveal its location to Goerner because he didn’t trust him. For various reasons, not least of which was the overwhelming official resistance to his many letters requesting permission to dig, Devine never again sets foot on Saipan, an outcome he never dreamed might happen in 1963.
March 1965: According to Fred Goerner, a week before his meeting with Gen. Wallace M. Greene at Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington, Va., Nimitz tells him in a phone conversation, “Now that you’re going to Washington, Fred, I want to tell you Earhart and her navigator did go down in the Marshalls and were picked up by the Japanese.” The admiral’s revelation appeared to be monumental breakthrough for the determined newsman and became well known to most observers of the Earhart case.
Spring 1966: The Search for Amelia Earhart, by Fred Goerner, is published by Doubleday and Co. (New York), sells 400,000 copies and stays on the New York Times bestseller list for several months. Search, which chronicles Goerner’s four Saipan visits and other investigative activities from 1960 to 1965, is the only bestseller ever published that presents aspects of the truth in the Earhart disappearance.
Sept. 16, 1966: Time magazine pans The Search for Amelia Earhart in a scathing, unbylined review it titles “Sinister Conspiracy?” Time calls Search a book that “barely hangs together,” and the review signals the government’s longstanding position relative to the Earhart case – one of absolute denial of the facts that reveal the fliers’ presence and deaths on Saipan. From that day until now, the truth in the Earhart disappearance remains a sacred cow in Washington, and by extension, the entire U.S. government-media establishment. The few books that present credible accounts of the Earhart disappearance are suppressed by the mainstream media, including Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.
To be continued in our next post.
In my Oct. 26 post, we saw Fred Goerner’s rather moderately toned March 1, 1990 letter to TIGHAR’s Ric Gillespie, in which he gently warned the TIGHAR boss that the media would not long tolerate his false claims about Amelia Earhart’s alleged July 1937 landing on Gardner Island (now Nikumaroro). Of course Goerner, who died in 1994, couldn’t imagine the depths that our media would eventually plumb in their enthusiasm and commitment to disseminating anything that continues to keep the public stupid about the Earhart disappearance.
Fourteen years after Time magazine ripped The Search for Amelia Earhart as a book that “barely hangs together” and urged its readers not to waste their time on “conspiracy” theories about Japan’s pre-war atrocities, Goerner still didn’t fully comprehend the media’s deceitful Earhart agenda. But in his letter to Life magazine’s Ed Barnes, he adamantly insisted that Life should table any notions they had about promoting Gillespie’s Nikumaroro fantasies.
The below letter is most instructive, especially for those unfamiliar with the true history of Earhart research, and clearly illuminates the salient details of the Nikumaroro fallacy. The fact that Goerner was ignored by Life leaves no doubt about how far the media, in this case one of the pre-eminent news magazines of the day, will go to support the bogus over the true in the Earhart case. Whatever Barnes thought of Goerner’s letter — and I’ve seen nothing hinting at that — Life published Gillespie’s self-aggrandizing propaganda piece in its April 1992 edition, countering the TIGHAR falsehoods only with a small, easily overlooked boxed insert that quoted a few experts who exposed Gillespie’s claims as pure kaka. Here’s Goerner’s letter, as relevant today as it was in 1991:
FREDERICK ALLAN GOERNER
Twenty-four Presidio Terrace
San Francisco, California 94118
October 11, 1991
Mr. Ed Barnes
New York, N.Y. 10020
Dear Mr. Barnes,
It is with some trepidation that I provide this information to you.
I stand behind the evidence I am presenting to you herewith, but I make it clear that I prefer not to be brought into what I consider to be the bogus claims of Dr. [sic] Gillespie, Ms. Thrasher and the organization known as TIGHAR: The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery.
You may use my name only if it is absolutely needed for verisimilitude.
First, I believe it is important for you to know that the McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro) Islands theory is not the property of or the result of the work of Gillespie and TIGHAR [all bolded emphasis mine, capitalization emphasis Goerner’s throughout].
The work is the result of the efforts of Professor Frederick Hooven of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Hooven conducted a series of computer studies on the Earhart matter at Dartmouth, and I urged him in 1982 to write a paper regarding his conclusions that I might present to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., at the time I was participating in an Earhart symposium at NASM in 1982.
Professor Hooven did so prepare the paper, and I presented it to Ms . Claudia Oakes, who was then Associate cuator at NASM and who had arranged the symposium. A copy of Hooven ‘s work is herewith attached.
I should here inform you that Frederick Hooven, among many, many impressive accomplishments, was the inventor of a low frequency air direction finder that was used for several decades aboard commercial and military aircraft. Hooven and the then U.S. Army Air Corps allowed one of those (then new) direction finders to be installed aboard Earhart’s plane, and Hooven met directly with Amelia Earhart. Because of pressures from her friend, Eugene Vidal, and a division of Bendix Radio, Earhart removed the Hooven device and replaced it with an older null-type, high frequency direction finding device then used by the U.S. Navy.
As you will note, Professor Hooven’s 1982 conclusions have been taken without attribution by TIGHAR. The very odd thing is that Hooven reached a conclusion before his death in 1985 (see attached obit) that NEITHER Gardner (Nikumaroro) or McKean could have been the landing places of the Earhart plane. His thinking was based upon a thorough research we conducted regarding the histories of both of these islands.
The initial Hooven research (represented by the paper presented to NASM) reached Gillespie and TIGHAR in this manner.
A gentleman named Hardon McDonald Wade, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia became deeply interested in the Earhart mystery. He contacted me and learned about the Hooven paper. I wrote to Claudia Oakes at NASM on his behalf, and he was given a copy of Hooven’s work. Shortly thereafter Mr. Wade began to try to raise funds for an expedition to McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro ) Islands. He, too, presented the Hooven material without attribution.
Mr. Wade formed a partnership with a Mr. Thomas Willi of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the two of them continued to attempt to raise funds. Finally, it was announced in the press (see attached item) that Wade and Willi had failed in their efforts to raise sufficient funds for the venture.
There was acrimony between Wade and Willi. According to Wade, he, Wade, “Kicked Willi out of the nest because he was trying to claim my work as his own.” This despite the fact the material belonged to Hooven.
Mr. Willi then formed a relationship with a gentleman named Thomas Gannon and they took the Hooven material without attribution to Dr. Gillespie and TIGHAR.
Dr. Gillespie telephoned to me in the spring of 1989 and told me of plans for a soon to be accomplished visit to both McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro) Islands.
I in turn told him it was NOT ethical to use Hooven’s material without attribution, and I also told Gillespie that Hooven and I had long since reached the conclusion that McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro ) could not have been a landing place for the Earhart plane. I explained in detail the facts we had learned about both of the islands.
Mr. Gillespie admitted that he was aware of Hooven’s connection to the material, but he did not explain why he was not crediting Hooven other than to say that he, Gillespie, and TIGHAR had conducted additional research which firmed the conjecture about McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro).
I further pointed out to Gillespie that the chart in TIGHAR ‘s prospectus which showed the Pan Am direction finder bearings intersecting in the vicinity of McKean and Gardner Islands were identical to those of Hooven with the exception that one 201 degrees bearing from Wake Island and the 157 degrees bearing from Howland Island had been erased. He stated this was done because the material “was not relevant to the McKean/Gardner Island scenario. “
I told Gillespie that it was TOTALLY relevant because high frequency direction finder bearings circa 1937 were not considered to be accurate to within five degrees. The 201 degrees bearing showed that inaccuracy and the 157 dgrees bearing taken from Howland Island showed the direction finder operator could not tell from which side of the loop he was receiving the signal. It could be 157 and it could be 337. It was unethical of TIGHAR not to make that clear.
I detailed the following information Professor Hooven and I had developed to Gillespie in 1989 both by telephone and letter.
We had personally contacted the three pilots from U.S.S. COLORADO who had overflown McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island in July, 1937, one week after the Earhart disappearance.
No sign of life or wreckage was seen on either of the tiny islands (McKean is less than 1 mile long and 1 mile wide. Gardner (Nikumaroro) is only 3.8 miles long and 1.1 miles wide at its broadest end.
Captain John Lambrecht, USN (Ret.), (who was the senior Navy aviator aboard COLORADO in 1937 and overflew both McKean and Gardner (Nikumaroro) one week after the disappearance, sent me his reports and they indicated “signs of recent habitation” had been observed on Gardner (Nikumaroro). Captain Lambrecht told me the “signs of recent habitation” were the crumbling walls of what appeared to have been buildings.
Gillespie and TIGHAR have chosen to interpret “signs of recent habitation” (despite Lambrecht’s explanation) as “an Earhart survival camp.”
In October, 1937 (see Maude statement and pages from OF ISLANDS AND MEN), three months after the Earhart disappearance, Henry E. Maude and a team of British surveyors landed on Gardner (Nikumaroro) and conducted a full investigation of the island and lagoon. Nothing was found that would link Earhart and Noonan to the island. The same was true at McKean Island.
In 1938, a joint New Zealand and British team (known as NZPAS, New Zealand Pacific Air Survey), headed by E.A. Gibson, M.W. Hay, R.A. Wimbish, Jim Henderon and Jack Faton, landed on Gardner (Nikumaroro) conducted a full survey. They surveyed for an airfield, and they cleared obstructions in the lagoon.
The survey, the brainchild of sir Ralph Cochrane and E.A. Gibson, had twin purposes: To prepare the islands for defense purposes in the event of a Pacific War. To claim the islands for Britain for possible later use for trans-Pacific commercial aviation [sic]. I obtained the information from the New Zealand National Archives and from Mr. Ian Driscoll the author of the book AIRLINE published in New Zealand.
The 1938 NZPAS survey found nothing that would indicate Earhart and Noonan had ever been on Gardner (Nikumaroro).
In 1939 Henry Maude returned to Gardner (Nikumaroro) with the first contingent of Gilbert Islands settlers. Gardner was then continually inhabited until 1964. A village was built on the island on the area which had been surveyed for the airfield. Thousands of coconut palms were planted. Even a post office was established. During all of this activity, nothing that would connect Earhart and Noonan to the island was found and nothing was reported.
In 1939, the U.S. Navy ship U.S.S. BUSHNELL surveyed Gardner Island for U.S. defense purposes. This survey also included aerial photos and mosaics of the island. Nothing concerning Earhart or Noonan was found or reported.
In 1943, the U.S. Coast Guard built a Loran navigation station on Gardner. Vehicles, construction equipment and building materials were brought ashore. This facility operated until well after the end of World War II. It is unclear the exact date the Coast Guard departed, but it appears to have been in 1947. Nothing concerning Earhart and Noonan was found. Coast Guard personnel, who served on Gardner during that period, report that every inch of the island was explored agin and again because there was little else to do save the evening movie. Nothing concerning Earhart and Noonan was found or reported.
Though Gardner was abandoned by its Gilbert Islands settlers in 1964, the island was surveyed in the 1960s and again in the 1970s with respect to the operation of the Pacific Missile Testing Range and NASA operations. Gardner has also been visited by a Smithsonian Institution expedition interested in the bird population of the island. Gardner has also been visited by private yachts from time to time, including visitors who sailed down from Canton Island to the north.
It is because of the information listed above that Professor Hooven and I reached the conclusion that Gardner (Nikumaroro) could not have been the Earhart/Noonan landing place.
Despite knowing all of this, Dr. Gillespie and TIGHAR spent more than $200,000 (by Gillespie’s statements to the media) on the 1989 visit to Gardner (Nikumaroro), and according to reports is spending more than $400,000 of contributors’ money on the current endeavor.
One may legitimately ask WHY and also ask can Gillespie and TIGHAR afford to come back empty handed?
After the 1989 trip, Gillespie tried to tell the media that a “battery” he had found COULD have come from the Earhart plane. Mary DeWitt, who was a member of the 1989 group, says there were old batteries all over the island. No surprise given the number of vehicles on the island over the years and the long occupation. Gillespie ceased to push the “battery.”
Then Mr. Gillespie attempted to convince the media that a cigarette lighter he had found on the beach belonged to Fred Noonan because Noonan was a smoker. When it was pointed out that hundreds of thousands of U.S. service personnel carried such lighters during World War II, Gillespie ceased to push the “Noonan cigarette lighter.”
Then Mr. [sic] Gillespie attempted to float a bit of metal (with a serial number) as part of Earhart’s radio equipment. I have no idea what happened to that gambit other than Gillespie no longer mentioned it to the media.
Finally, last year Gillespie began to trumpet a piece of metal as having come from a navigation bookcase or cabinet aboard the Earhart plane. According to Ms. DeWitt, the bit of metal was found in the first hour ashore in 1989, and it was part of a catchment for rain in one of the buildings. It was not found by Gillespie but by the representative of the Kiribati government, who placed no significance upon it whatsoever.
It is clear to me that no one currently in the media has the background or possesses the information to challenge the incredible offerings of Gillespie and TIGHAR. There is a great lure to the Earhart mystery, and without either the information or the time to investigate, most reporters have simply reported Gillespie’s offerings because they make a good story.
Gillespie has hung most of his speculations upon a story which AP reported in 1961. It concerns one Floyd Kilts of San Diego, who stipulated he served briefly with the Coast Guard on Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island. (See attached original AP offering.)
Because we (CBS) were involved in the Earhart investigation in 1961, we dug into Kilts ‘ contentions. Bill Dorais, one of our reporters, learned it was fourth- or fifth-hand hearsay. Kilts could not remember exactly who had told him or who had told the person who told him. It could not even be given the dignity of naming it a rumor. A motion picture had been screened at the Coast Guard facility (it was undoubtedly FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM which was thinly disguised Earhart fiction) which alleged Earhart might have gone down near Gardner. The FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM plot has Earhart heading for “Gull Island.” There is a Hull Island in the vicinity of Gardner (Nikumaroro), and that had begun conjecture about the Phoenix Islands.
Subsequent investigation indicated that NO FEMALE SKELETON wearing WOMEN’S SHOES was ever found on the beach at Gardner. The man stated by Kilts as the “white planter” was actually a gentleman named G.B. Gallagher (see Maude material) who directed the settlement and who died on Gardner Island (and is buried there) in 1941.
The Suva, Fiji governmental history archivist replied that NO skeleton was ever reported found on a Gardner Island beach, and in 1968, while filming the documentary THE BATTLE FOR TARAWA, I spoke with the Deputy Director of the Gilbert, Ellice and Phoenix Islands government at Tarawa, Mr. P.G. Roberts. He said there was a legend among the Gilbert Islands people that the skeleton of a Polynesian man was found at Gardner, but this was definitely pre-1937.
The TIGHAR claim that the woman’s skeleton had women’s shoes of “Amelia Earhart’s size” is total fiction (see Maude letter.) Such a find would have been broadcast throughout the Pacific. It would have been a sensation.
You should ask Gillepie and TIGHAR where the evidence is that shoes of Earhart’s size were found. The truth is Earhart DID NOT WEAR WOMEN’S SHOE WHEN SHE WAS FLYING. She wore men’s low-heel brogans, see photos taken the morning before the final takeoff from Lae, New Guinea July 2, 1937.
We at CBS dismissed Kilts ‘ story in 1961, and I mentioned it derisively in my 1966 book THE SEARCH FOR AMELIA EARHART. For Gillespie and TIGHAR to spend such large amounts of tax-free donated funds upon such evidence beggars the wildest kind of fiction.
I am herewith attaching copies of letters from Henry Made to Dr. [sic] Gillespie and to me. I am also sending a copy of a letter from me to Maude in whch the specific questions are asked.
Professor Maude is a former Fellow at the Pacific History Center at the Australia National University at Canberra. He and his wife, Honor, are the leading scholars in the world with respect to the Central Pacific Islands and in particular Gardner (Nikumaroro) Island. It was Professor Maude who led the expedition there in October 1937.
I do not know what Gillespie will do when he does not find the plane at Gardner on the current visit there. Will he dig up some pitiful remains? There are plenty there: Polynesians, Gilbertese, Gallagher are buried there and maybe more. He does not have permission to invade those graves, but he must bring something back. Knowing what I do about the past gambits of Gillespie and TIGHAR, I would not put ANYTHING past him. Certainly he will come back with more bits of metal or perhaps the soles of some shoes which “may have belonged to Noonan.” It is not beyond my belief that Gillespie will attempt to salt the mine in some way.
I am going to reserve the information concerning Earhart’s and Noonan’s dental charts until I see what develops. I will not be a party to any chicanery or attempts to prolong this nonsense.
It should be obvious to you that I have no vested interest in any of this. My book THE SEARCH FOR AMELIA EARHART has been out of print since 1970, and I have not attempted to insinuate my name into the media where this subject is concerned since that time. I have answered questions posed to me by members of the media, and I will continue to do so. For instance, I am providing this same material to my friend, Bill German, who is Executive Editor of the San Francisco CHRONICLE newspaper.
It is possible that I will one day write another book which details the incredible array of characters who have struggled to make capital of the Earhart disappearance in the last twenty years, including the yo-yos who have tried to claim that she was until 1984 alive and well and living in New Jersey. Wow! Barnum lives.
By the way, the recent claim of a photo showing Earhart and Noonan in Japanese custody is baloney as well. I immediately recognized the photo as one taken in Honolulu in March, 1937, at the time Earhart cracked up her plane on the first attempted flight around-the-world. I am also herewith enclosing the story from Florida about how and when the photo was taken. By the way, Joseph Gervais and Rollin Reineck, who attempted to float the “in captivity” photo are the same gentlemen who claim Earhart was living in New Jersey until 1984 under the name Irene Bolam. Irene Bolam, by the way, sued Gervais in 1970 and collected an out-of-court settlement.
I have been informed that Gervais and Reineck have tried to counter TIGHAR publicity with the bogus photograph because they are trying to sell an Earhart script in Hollywood. It’s one batch of crap battling another pile of same.
Beware, Mr. Barnes, this is a real journalistic tar baby.
As Professor Maude puts it, “In Australia, we call it bull.”
Goerner was not a racist, but he was a bit of an old-school reporter, so if you’re not real clear on what he meant by calling the Earhart story “a real journalistic tar baby” in closing his letter to Barnes, it’s understandable. Webster’s New World defines the term “tar baby” as “a difficult, abstract problem that worsens as one attempts to handle it,” which certainly captures the essence of the Earhart story.
Goerner’s letter, written in good faith with the best of intentions, was obviously ignored en masse by Life magazine’s decision makers, if not by Barnes himself. The Gillespie-penned piece published by Life did much to launch Gillespie to international recognition as the world’s most visible Earhart “expert,” despite the fact that he’s never found anything that would justify such a claim. The charade and pretense continue to this day. This and many other incidents offer us clear evidence that the government-media establishment was and continues to be actively involved in misinforming the American public about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. No other conclusion is possible.