Tag Archives: Truth at Last

LaPook destroys Gillespie’s latest false claim

In the opening sentence of my critique about Ric Gillespie and The International Group for Historic Recovery (TIGHAR) in the final chapter of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, I wrote the following: “Nobody in the history of Earhart investigations has made so much from so little as Ric Gillespie.”  With this new phony claim from the TIGHAR chief, Gillespie appears more determined than ever to prove the validity of that statement.

The 26-year assault against common sense, logic and worst of all, the truth, which has been the hallmark of Gillespie’s Earhart-Nikumaroro fundraising campaign since a USA Today headline screamed, “A piece for Earhart puzzle on Jan. 4, 1991, continued its seemingly unceasing refrain Oct. 28.  All of a sudden, we were knee deep into another super media-hype prelude to what Gillespie ostentatiously labels Niku VIII, but which is, more accurately, TIGHAR’s eleventh trip to the long-picked-over island of Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner, in the Central Pacific’s Phoenix Chain.

As a result, I’ve been derailed from my track of highlighting Paul Rafford Jr.’s estimable and controversial theories about Amelia Earhart’s last flight, and forced to confront the latest affront to the truth in the Earhart case by Gillespie, unarguably among the greatest obstacles to public enlightenment in the history of Earhart research, perhaps second only to the U.S. government itself, which has been actively suppressing the truth since 1937.

This new outrage, which Australian researcher David Billings warned me was coming, began with Discovery News’ mistitled story of Oct. 28,Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment Identifiedby way of Rossella Lorenzi’s mendacious pen.  “A fragment of Amelia Earhart’s lost aircraft has been identified to a high degree of certainty for the first time ever since her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937,” Lorenzi’s story began.  “According to researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last, fateful flight taken by Earhart 77 years ago, the aluminum sheet is a patch of metal installed on the Electra during the aviator’s eight-day stay in Miami, which was the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

This is he piece of aluminum Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR found on Nikumaroro during their 1991 trip to the island. Why did they wait till 2014 to say it came from Amelia Earhart's lost Electra?

This is the piece of aluminum Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR found on Nikumaroro during their 1991 trip to the island. In 1991, this same piece was the subject of this claim by Gillespie, which was later debunked by several aircraft experts: “Exhaustive research has established that a section of aluminum aircraft skin found on Nikumaroro could only have come from Earhart’s aircraft.”

I need not repeat all the sordid details of the current iteration of this charade, or the disgusting phenomenon itself.  Gillespie’s money-grubbing Nikumaroro boondoggles are well known to readers of this blog as well as anyone else with even a passing interest in the Earhart case.  They also know his brainchild, TIGHAR, is the most inaptly named organization in modern aviation investigative history, and has never recovered and restored any aircraft, at least to this writer’s knowledge.  For those few visitors who may be new and need more information to clarify all this, please seeJune 2: Gillespie and TIGHAR — Again and Rossella Lorenzi, TIGHAR’s best friend” (Oct. 24, 2013).  

Last year Gillespie was reported to be seeking $3 million to finance the high-tech submersible search operations off Nikumaroro, of which an unknown percentage goes to Gillespie’s non-profit organization and finances the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed.  But Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald reports that Gillespie’s new goal is a more modest $387,000 to take an underwater vessel to Nikumaroro to get a closer look at that anomaly.

(As an aside and something I shouldn’t have to say, neither I nor anyone else I respect who’s involved with Earhart research has ever been motivated by the remotest dreams of financial gain.  My love and devotion to the truth in the Earhart disappearance is well known to those who have read Truth at Last and frequent this site, which had been as popular as a toxic waste dump before we broke all-time page-visit records Oct. 30.  Clearly, many more discerning readers than usual, sick of reading Gillespie’s nonsense, went looking for an alternative – which, of course, would be the Marshall Islands, Saipan and the TRUTHI leave it to you, dear reader, to decide what you think motivates Ric Gillespie in his Earhart work.)

Lorenzi, along with the Miami Herald’s Garvin (see his Oct. 28 Piece of metal may offer clue to disappearance of Amelia Earhart’s plane for an example of just how truly bad the media adulation of Gillespie can get) has risen to threaten all time-supremacy of the media hacks who shill for Gillespie.  The AP’s Richard Pyle’s sendoff love letter to Gillespie in 2007 just before TIGHAR’s departure for NIKU V, “Search team hopes high tech will solve Amelia Earhart mystery” still ranks as the most oppressively biased of all the pro-TIGHAR propaganda in this writer’s memory.

But Lorenzi has been diligently practicing her agitprop, and she isn’t far behind Pyle.  Playing the faithful stenographer, deeper in her story she loyally reported the latest and most egregious Gillespie whopper, as she quoted him saying, “This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart” in touting his fourth-hand piece of old aluminum found in 1991 as the closest thing to aviation’s Holy Grail ever found.

Not yet content, Lorenzi gleefully rubbed salt in the wound by adding, In 10 archaeological expeditions to Nikumaroro, Gillespie and his team uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.”  The unwashed are expected to assume that Lorenzi’s so-called “castaway presence” is Amelia Earhart, but she declined to mention that none of the assorted crap dragged out of the Nikumaroro ground has ever been linked to Amelia or Fred Noonan. Lorenzi also conveniently forgot to mention the U.S. Coast Guard LORAN Station, with real, living Americans, that was operating on the island from 1944 to 1946, or the hundreds of Gilbertese settlers who also lived there from the late 1930s to the early 1960s.  Details, details, details.

The shiny patch covering the spot where the aft window used to be, which is said to have appeared after repairs were made in Miami in late May-early June 1937, is the same sheet of aluminum that Ric Gillespie now claims he found on Nikumaroro in 1991.

The shiny patch covering the spot where the aft window used to be, which is said to have appeared after repairs were made in Miami in late May-early June 1937, is the same sheet of aluminum that Ric Gillespie now claims he found on Nikumaroro in 1991.

Once Lorenzi’s story hit the wires, nearly everyone in the mainstream horde broke their necks jumping on the TIGHAR bandwagon, among them ABC, NBC and CBS News, CNN, the Associated Press and on down the line to the major websites and newspapers in cities big and small.  Even Joseph Farah’s normally conservative World Net Daily joined the party, which became a full-court press of TIGHAR propaganda worthy of the finest Joseph Goebbels production.   I even heard it on news breaks between The Savage Nation on my local Jacksonville AM station.  Everyone was gleefully announcing that a piece of the Earhart plane had been found, thanks to Ric Gillespie and TIGHAR, and we could all sleep better that night.  For a while it was like the Second Coming, and I simply couldn’t take it.

But, as it turned out, these arrogant media types had stepped in it big time, proving yet again that investigative journalism has long been a dead art, replaced by political operatives who pretend to be journalists and have no hangups about ethics or honesty.  Almost as quickly as Gillespie’s claim had been circulated throughout the media biosphere, one man stepped forward to pour ice water all over the TIGHAR parade.

Gary LaPook, an experienced celestial navigator, attorney, former airline pilot and member of the Stratus Project and Amelia Earhart Society, recalled this piece of aluminum from bygone days, and knew it possessed a characteristic that unequivocally rules it out as coming from the Earhart Electra.  On Oct. 29, a day after Lorenzi’s proclamations were published, LaPook sent the below report to the AES online forum:

Aluminum used in manufacturing aircraft is known as “Alclad” and has specification “24 ST” and the aluminum sheets are marked. You can see on the surface of Ric’s piece of aluminum the “D” in the word “ALCLAD.”  All the photos of Earhart’s plane and, other planes from 1937, show that the aluminum is marked “24 ST” and is was not marked “ALCLAD.”  We know that the marking was changed by World War 2 but Ric claims that it is uncertain when the changeover was made and that some 1937 aluminum might have had the “ALCLAD” marking instead of the “24 ST” marking. Obviously, if Ric were to admit that this marking only happened after 1937 then his new fund raising piece is a scam.  When confronted with all the photos of Earhart’s plane under construction showing “24 ST” he explains it away by saying the “patch” was applied in Miami and that Miami had a different batch of aluminum with the new marking.

O.K. Since Ric is proffering this aluminum as evidence of Earhart’s plane being on Nikumaro then he has the burden of proof that it was made in 1937 and not in WW2.  He always tries to turn this around and demands that others disprove that it was 1937 aluminum but it is his piece of evidence so he has the burden of authenticating it.  If 1937 aluminum was marked “ALCLAD” then why hasn’t Ric been able to come up with even one photo of it from 1937 to substantiate his claim? 

LaPook sent a web link to a site that discussed aluminum markings from the 1930s:  https://aluminummarkings.wordpress.com, as well the TIGHAR artifact that showed the “AD” of “ALCLAD,” adding that Gillespie even named the photo AD on skin.

“Before you send any money to TIGHAR ask Mr. Gillespie to produce a piece of 1937 aluminum bearing the markings “ALCLAD,” LaPook  wrote on TIGHAR’s Facebook Page.  “He claims that his “patch”  was installed on Earhart’s plane in 1937 but it clearly shows the “AD” in ALCLAD that wasn’t used until 1941. . . . Aluminum was not marked with the word “ALCLAD” until 1941 so the “AD” on Mr. Gillespie’s piece of aluminum disqualifies it as coming from Earhart’s plane.  It is Mr. Gillespie’s burden to prove that this marking was used in 1937 and he has never been able to find any such proof or to produce an authentic piece of 1937 aluminum with this marking on it.  Demand that he do so before you send him any of your money. LaPook said these posts were gone from the TIGHAR Facebook page the next morning.

LaPook told Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald and Bruce Burns of the Kansas City Star about this, and it forced Garvin to write another story, Investigators search for Amelia Earhart’s ghost in old Miami Herald Oct. 30, and its title did nothing to indicate the grave nature that message’s effect might have on Gillespie’s fund-raising efforts.  In his story, Garvin saved the most important fact – the money quote, so to speak, for the end of the story:

The most important evidence, however, is the linkage of Gillespie’s scrap to Earhart’s plane through study of the photo.  And it’s on that point that LaPook and other his other critics insist most adamantly he’s wrong. They says [sic] telltale evidence on Gillespie’s scrap of wreckage prove it wasn’t manufactured until several years after Earhart crashed. The scrap bears a visible stamp of an A and a letter D — probably part of the label 24ST Alclad, the type of aluminum its [sic] made from.

But, LaPook says, Alcoa Inc., the company that manufactured the aluminum, didn’t start stamping it with the 24ST Alclad designation until 1941. Before that, it used the abbreviation ALC. There are hundreds of photos of aluminum pieces stamped ALC, LaPook said. It’s just beyond doubt.

Ron Bright of the AES, a former TIGHAR member who knows Gillespie and keeps much closer tabs on developments at TIGHAR than this writer, shared some perspective on the origin of the object of this controversy, the rectangular piece of aluminum found on Nikumaroro in 1991.  This itself begs the question: Why did Gillespie wait 13 years to come out with his claims about the provenance of the aluminum sheet?

Gary LaPook, who laid out the facts to two major newspapers about the aluminum artifact that was the focus of TIGHAR's most recent false claim, perhaps sending Ric Gillespie back to the drawing board for yet another reason to return to Nilumaroro.

Gary LaPook, who laid out the facts to two major newspapers about the aluminum artifact that was the focus of TIGHAR’s most recent false claim, perhaps sending Ric Gillespie back to the drawing board for yet another reason to return to Nikumaroro.

“At this time in 1991, Ric claimed that the piece fit exactly the underbelly of the Electra that suffered the damage at the March 1937 ground loop,” Bright wrote in a Nov. 1 email.  “He said the airplane skin revealed that the type of aluminum, the thickness, and the size and style of the rivet ‘matched perfectly with an area on the underside of the Electra.’ The rivet pattern ‘was close,’ he wrote, and the repair at Burbank would account for the differences.  The manufacturer’s label on the artifact (D?) established that it was a grade of aluminum authorized only for repairs [see “News Alert” from TIGHAR, July 2007].

So in July 2007 this was the origin and analysis of the piece, Bright continued.  Then came along that pesky Miami patch that now he thinks fits the aluminum piece.  How it got on to Niku is another fascinating story.

Further confusing the matter, In TIGHAR Tracks of 2001, Bright wrote, he [Gillespie] indicated that the damage to the piece is consistent with being torn from the aircraft by powerful surf action. The piece has no finished edges and was literally blown out of a larger section of aluminum sheet from the inside out with such force the heads popped off the rivets. The artifact was found on the islands southwestern shore in the debris washed up by a violent storm.  You have to say that TIGHAR can spin the bottle many ways!

Woody Rogers, another AES member, was slightly more succinct in summarizing his views on the evolution of this particular piece of aluminum as it advanced through various stages of significance in TIGHAR’s collection of alleged Earhart artifacts.  “I have the photo series from 1991 showing the controversy about this piece of skin, including the retired Lockheed Engineer that said that piece didn’t come from anywhere on an Electra,” Rogers wrote in a Nov. 1 email.  “A few months later Ric moved the patch location to the rear of the bottom fuselage that had been extensively patched.  The engineer pointed out that the repair patches were drilled in the same location where the original holes in the stringers [a strip of wood or metal to which the skin of an aircraft is fastened] were drilled.

“Unfortunately,” Rogers continued, “I’m on the road in Pennsylvania and will be traveling for a few months so I don’t access to any of my research, so this is from memory.  So now we have three locations that this piece of aluminum supposedly can from.  IMO, it’s just another bottle of snake oil for public consumption so Ric can garner more donations to pay himself his outsized salary.  It’s beyond me why people financially support this guy.” 

There was another bit of good news for the home team during this latest episode of TIGHAR media mania.  The Kansas City Star contacted me and asked for my thoughts, a stunning surprise and the first time any establishment newspaper has asked my opinion since Donna McGuire, of the same Kansas City Star interviewed me over 11 years ago not long after With Our Own Eyes was published.  On Aug. 3, 2003 “Chasing Amelia,” McGuire’s six-page cover story for the Sunday Star Magazine discussed the ideas of the late Thomas E. Devine and David Billings, who believes Amelia turned around and landed in the jungle of New Britain, an island off the coast of Papua New, Guinea.

Brian Burns story, “Has the key to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in the Pacific been found in Kansas? was a far more even treatment of Gillespie’s ideas than the pro-TIGHAR puffery the Miami Herald pushed on its helpless readers.  Besides presenting Gary LaPook’s information in a way that laymen could quickly  understand, Burns talked to Lou Foudray, curator of the Earhart Birthplace Museum, who was quite kind to Gillespie, and myself, who, after watching this spectacle for 26 years now, was in no mood for such political niceties.

I vented to Burns as long as he could stand it – about 10 minutes — and in his story he tried to be fair, considering that his assignment was to feature Gillespie.  “Others, like Florida researcher Mike Campbell, denounced the latest news as one more example of the wide-eyed treatment Gillespie routinely has received from a media establishment eager to play up his Earhart disappearance scenarios at the expense of others,” Burns wrote.  “Every time he goes over there, he grabs whatever he can find and then tries to link it up to Earhart,” said Campbell, author of ‘Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last.’”

Later in his story, Burns returned to this writer, and gave the truth a rare public airing:

Gillespie’s fundraising efforts, meanwhile, bother Campbell, who believes that Earhart and Noonan never landed on Nikumaroro but died in Japanese captivity on Saipan after first landing in the Marshall Islands. President Franklin Roosevelt, upon learning of their imprisonment, declined to intervene, he said.

“Today the media establishment is still protecting Roosevelt,” he said.  If stories spread of Roosevelt’s refusal to help Earhart, Campbell said, “his legacy would be ashes.”

Burns promised that the title of Truth at Last, as well as my FDR quote would be in his story when it reached his editor’s desk, and so it was.  He even called me the next day to make sure my quotes were accurate, a gesture of professional courtesy I had never experienced from a newspaper.  I was amazed that this unnamed editor, who I later learned was Donna McGuire, who had interviewed me for a story in 2003 following publication of With Our Own Eyeslet my indictment of FDR stand, and thanked Burns for his efforts.  Although its coverage of the Earhart situation was greatly welcomed, this was an anomaly, a one-off phenomena that tells us only that the Kansas City Star does not share the establishment’s aversion to the truth in the Earhart disappearance, and will treat the story unencumbered by political considerations.  The sad, inescapable truth is that this  policy, once taken for granted, is so rarely found in today’s ultra-politicized news rooms.

Will any in the media print retractions or apologize for their massive, irresponsible blunder?  Of course not.  They’ve never admitted error in their coverage of the Earhart story; it’s rare enough when they print a retraction about anything else.  Where Earhart is concerned, nothing is off limits and the truth remains a sacred cow and an orphan.  But word will get around about this, and perhaps they won’t be quite as fast to pull the trigger when Gillespie issues his next grand proclamation. How many times must a TIGHAR cry wolf before he’s ignored?  Who knows, but why should we think the limit has been reached now?

They’ll be back as soon as Gillespie comes up with another sellable (note I didn’t say “plausible”) reason to go back to his ocean-bound piggy bank, telling us all once again to pay attention, the answers to the “Earhart Mystery” are within reach, just over the horizon.  If the TIGHAR boss can just get the funds he needs, he’ll soon find aviation’s Holy Grail.

Despite the recent revelations that exposed Gillespie’s aluminum sheet as a pretender, don’t be surprised if he continues to push the same story despite all evidence to the contrary.  The rest of the media, based on their past complicity in their shameless promotion of Gillespie’s agenda, may well simply ignore the facts and continue to push falsehoods down the throats of an ignorant, basically unconcerned public. Failing that, who knows what he might next come up?  With Gillespie, it’s always something.

 

“No hard evidence” in Earhart case? Knaggs’ find on Mili refutes skeptics’ claim (First of two parts)

Even casual observers of the Earhart case know that the major weapon used by skeptics and critics of the truth, the blind crash-and-sankers, the Nikumaroro morons and the rest who refuse to accept the obvious about Amelia and Fred Noonan’s Mili Atoll landing and deaths on Saipan is their never-ending cry, “Where is the physical evidence?  No hard evidence has even been found!” (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)

Forget the many dozens of witness accounts from natives, Saipan veterans and other sources that so clearly points to the truth.  Only when the Electra is finally discovered, they say, will the Earhart puzzle be solved.  Until then, all theories are acceptable – except the hated Saipan truth, of course, which is little more than a paranoid conspiracy theory,far too extremist to have any validity.  These bozos are quite happy to keep Amelia and Fred in cold storage for eternity, floating out there in the unfathomable ether where the world’s great mysteries abide.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979. In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers' presence there. His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

Vincent V. Loomis at Mili, 1979. In four trips to the Marshall Islands, Loomis collected considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there.  His 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, is among the most important ever in establishing the presence of Amelia and Fred Noonan at Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 2, 1937.

They’re wrong, as usual.  Hard evidence has been found and analyzed, and it tells us a compelling story.  Most of the doubters are unaware of this evidence, but it makes little difference.  Even if the Earhart plane was somehow miraculously found underneath the Saipan International Airport’s tarmac amid hundreds of tons of wartime refuse, where, as Thomas E. Devine has told us, the plane has been since it was bulldozed into a deep hole several months after it’s torching in the summer of 1944, the naysayers wouldn’t accept it.  And our corrupt media, which has been so invested for so long in perpetuating the government’s big lie that Amelia’s fate remains a mystery, would take all pains to thoroughly ignore and suppress news of the discovery.

But that’s for another time.  This post is the first of two that will present and discuss the hard evidence that was found at Mili Atoll, evidence that all but proves the reality of our heroes’ presence at Mili Atoll in July 1937.  So that readers can best understand the sequence of events that led to the discovery of this artifact, a bit of background is in order.

Amelia Earhart: The Final Story among best ever penned

Former Air Force C-47 pilot Vincent V. Loomis and his wife, Georgette, traveled to the Marshalls in 1978 hoping to find the wreck of an unidentified plane Loomis saw on an uninhabited island near Ujae Atoll in 1952.  Loomis never located the wreck, which he fervently dreamed was the lost Earhart plane, but in four trips to the Marshalls he obtained considerable witness testimony indicating the fliers’ presence there. Loomis’ 1985 book, Amelia Earhart: The Final Story, was praised by some at a time when big media’s rejection of information supporting Earhart’s survival and death on Saipan had yet to reach its virtual blackout of the past two decades, and is among the most important Earhart disappearance books ever written.

The Final Story’s most glowing review came from Jeffrey Hart, writing in William F. Buckley’s National Review.  After gushing that Loomis interviewed the surviving Japanese who were involved and he photographed the hitherto unknown Japanese military and diplomatic documents,Hart flatly stated, The mystery is a mystery no longer.”  Of course, the U.S. government didn’t get Hart’s memo, and continued its abject silence on all things Earhart.

Two Marshallese fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, claimed that sometime before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre island, about 200 feet offshore. "When ‘two men' emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,' climbed aboard it and paddled for shore. "Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do,“ Vincent V. Loomis wrote.

Two Marshallese fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, claimed that sometime before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre Island, about 200 feet offshore.  “When ‘two men’ emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,’ climbed aboard it and paddled for shore.  “Jororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do,“ Vincent V. Loomis wrote.  (Drawing courtesy of Doug Mills.)

On his first flight to Majuro, Loomis met Senator Amata Kabua and Tony DeBrum, commission officials seeking Marshallese independence from the United States.  Kabua, a descendant of the first king of the Marshalls, Kabua the Great, said Earhart had come down in the islands and that her plane was still there.  DeBrum told Loomis, We all know about this woman who was reported to have come down on Mili southeast of Majuro, was captured by the Japanese and taken off to Jaluit.  Remember, the stories were being told long before you Americans began asking questions.

Among the witnesses Loomis interviewed at Mili Mili, the main island at Mili Atoll, was Mrs. Clement (Loomis provided no first name), the wife of the boat operator Loomis had hired.  Mrs. Clement said her husband knew nothing, but she recalled that she had seen “this airplane and the woman pilot and the Japanese taking the woman and the man with her away.”  She pointed out the area – “Over there … next to Barre Island” – as the spot where the plane had landed, but she offered no other information.

Loomis next sought out Jororo Alibar and Anibar Eine on Ejowa Island, hoping to confirm the story he heard from Ralph Middle on Majuro.  Middle’s story was that two local fishermen, Jororo and Lijon, told him that before the war they saw an airplane land on the reef near Barre island, about 200 feet offshore. “When ‘two men’ emerged from the machine, they produced a ‘yellow boat which grew,’ climbed aboard it and paddled for shore,” Loomis wroteJororo and Lijon, only teenagers, were frightened, crouching in the tiriki, the dense undergrowth, not quite knowing what to do.”  Shortly after the men reached the island, the fishermen saw them bury a silver container, but the Japanese soon arrived and began to question, and then slap the two fliers, Middle said.  When one screamed, Jororo and Lijon realized it was a woman.  The pair continued to hide, watching in silence, becausethey knew the Japanese would have killed them for what they had witnessed.

The natives’ description of “the yellow boat which grew” is especially compelling for its realism, as it reflects their relatively primitive understanding of what only could have been an inflatable life boat produced by Earhart and Noonan after the Electra crash-landed, possibly on a reef.  No inventory of the plane’s contents during the world flight is known to exist, but several sources support the common-sense idea that the fliers would not have departed Lae without such a vital piece of emergency equipment. 

Author and Earhart researcher Oliver Knaggs, circa early 1980s.

Author and Earhart researcher Oliver Knaggs, circa early 1980s.

Amelia, My Courageous Sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey and Carol L. Osborne’s 1987 biography, contains a photocopied story from the March 7, 1937 New York Herald Tribune,Complete Navigation Room Ready to Guide Miss Earhart.  Discussing emergency items the Electra would carry on the first world flight, the unnamed reporter wrote, In the fuselage will be a two-man rubber lifeboat, instantly inflatable from capsules of carbon dioxide.”  In the July 20, 1937 search report of the Lexington Group commander, underProbabilities Arising from Rumor or Reasonable Assumptions,Number 3 states, That the color of the lifeboat was yellow. 

In September 1979, South African writer Oliver Knaggs was hired by a film company to join Loomis in the Marshalls and chronicle his search.  The Knaggs-Loomis connection is well known among Earhart buffs, but neither Loomis, in The Final Story, nor Knaggs, in his little-known 1983 book, Amelia Earhart: Her last flight (Howard Timmins, Cape Town,  S.A), mentioned the other by name.  In Her last flight, a collector’s item known mainly to researchers, Knaggs recounts his 1979 and ’81 investigations in the Marshalls and Saipan.

Knaggs wasn’t with Loomis when Ralph Middle told him about Lijon and Jororo at Majuro in 1979, and wasn’t there when Loomis interviewed Jororo. Knaggs wrote  that “our leader [Loomis]” had told him of Lijon’s story, which he didn’t believe initially, but later, when a village elder repeated it, Knaggs became interested.  Knaggs returned to Mili in 1981 without Loomis but armed with a metal detector in hopes of locating Lijon’s silver container, and establishing his own claim to fame in the search for Amelia Earhart.

In part two of this post, we’ll look at what Knaggs found, what the experts said about it and what it means in the continuing search for Amelia Earhart.

77th anniversary of Earhart’s last flight approaches; Sadly, nobody cares

We’re just a week out from July 2, the 77th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s fateful flight, but it’s safe to say that no one will mention it, especially anyone in the media, whether it’s the mainstream or the so-called alternative variety.

Since TIGHAR’s previously announced plans to visit and search Nikumaroro for the eleventh time in August 2014, at an announced cost of $3 million for an operation that will yield nothing except another nice payday, have apparently been derailed or postponed (please advise if you know differently), our stalwarts in the truth-seeking media have been silent, and they will likely stay that way on July 2.  The reason for this silence is quite simple: If they can’t broadcast falsehoods and propaganda about Amelia Earhart, they won’t do anything at all.  How do I know this? Twenty-six years on this story, and two books, have given me a perspective that few, if any, have on this topic.

For those few discerning souls who visit this blog regularly, I know this might sound like a broken record bordering on sour grapes, but please bear with me.  The overwhelming majority of media people are not interested in the Earhart disappearance, and the rest actually detest the truth.  (See “Frank Benjamin: ‘We are brothers in pain!’” Jan. 28, 2014, and “A look back at 2013,” Jan. 1, 2014, for more.)  Again, you might ask how I know this.  Since the publication of Truth at Last in June 2012, I’ve undertaken several massive emailing campaigns designed to inform the media and everyone else I can think of about Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last and the worthiness of the cause.

One of my favorite photos of Amelia, revealing her essential nature before she found fame. While visiting her sister Muriel at St. Margaret’s College in Tornonto in 1917, Amelia encountered three Canadian soldiers who had lost a leg, and decided, on the spot, to join the war effort. She enrolled in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and was assigned to the Spadina Military Hospital. “Sister Amelia soon became a favorite among the wounded and discouraged men,” Muriel wrote.

A unique photo of Amelia as a young woman, seeming to reveal her essence before she found fame.  While visiting her sister Muriel at St. Margaret’s College in Toronto in 1917, Amelia encountered three Canadian soldiers who had lost a leg, and decided, on the spot, to join the war effort. She enrolled in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and was assigned to the Spadina Military Hospital.  “Sister Amelia soon became a favorite among the wounded and discouraged men,” Muriel wrote.

It’s hard to estimate the number of people I’ve contacted, but it’s far more than enough to reflect how most Americans perceive the Earhart disappearance, and must be somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 email contacts.

Groups that I’ve targeted, wrongly believing that they might be more receptive to the message than average citizens, included but were not limited to every talk radio station and host in the United States; every major newspaper and many hundreds of smaller papers in the country; thousands of Navy veterans; history departments and libraries at higher learning centers including the Universities of Kansas, Maryland, Florida, North Florida, Alabama and Florida State; all or most public libraries in Kansas, Minnesota, Maryland, Texas and Florida; all seniors assisted living centers and community centers in the Jacksonville, Fla.,  Gainesville, Fla., and southern Georgia areas; every aviation museum bookstore in the country (about 180); every public and private high school in the Jacksonville area; and even the entire fac ulty of Gonzaga High School, in Washington, D.C., where I graduated in 1968 and which ignored me without a single exception.  Along the way, of course, were countless angry emails demanding to be taken off my mailing list, and worse.

Besides the radio and print outlets listed under my website’s Media Page, I can count the positive responses from the above list on two hands. Doing the math is unnecessary here, and it’s far too depressing.  I can’t think of another subject that Americans would be less interested in than the one to which I’ve devoted so much time and effort.  Such is the putrid state of interest in poor Amelia’s fate that even the minimal standard one-half of 1 percent return that marketers expect from any ad campaign is an impossible pipe dream when the topic is the Earhart case.  If this two-year, mass-mailing experiment has proven anything at all, it is that the media’s enthusiasm for the TIGHAR search is entirely synthetic and contrived, and doesn’t in any way reflect a public demand for information in the Earhart matter.

I’ve recently suspended the email campaign, having surpassed my tolerance threshold for rejection months ago.  As we approach July 2, I’m not booked on a single radio program, and not one newspaper, or even blogger, has accepted the below commentary for publication.  So rather than hide my light under a bushel, my July 2 commentary is herewith offered.  A much longer version, with the same title, “The truth in the Earhart ‘mystery’ is a sacred cow,” has been among the top 25 most read at Veterans News Now since mid-June of 2013.

The commentary’s success at VNN is a rare but illustrative anomaly, and demonstrates that a compelling presentation can attract discerning readers who are interested in the truth.  The other light shining in the distance is that of Kay Alley, the vice chair of the Kansas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, whose enthusiasm and advocacy in this cause has moved her committee members to approve my appearance at their sectional conference in Wichita, Kansas, at the end of September.  I’ll have two hours to change some hearts and minds, and will do my best.  (See “A point of light emerges,” March 8, 2014.)

The truth in the Earhart “mystery” is a sacred cow

July 2 is the 77th anniversary of the loss of Amelia Earhart, America’sFirst Lady of Flight, and Fred Noonan, her navigator, during their world-flight attempt in 1937.  No missing-persons case in history has been as misreported and misunderstood.  In fact, the popular myth that the Earhart disappearance remains among the 20th century’s greatest mysteries is a complete falsehood, the result of decades of government propaganda aimed at perpetuating public ignorance in the Earhart matter.

The ugly truth is that the flyers and their twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E crash-landed at Mili Atoll in the central Pacific’s Marshall Islands, were picked up by the Japanese and eventually taken to Saipan, where they suffered wretched deaths at the hands of their barbaric captors.  This unpleasant reality has been dismissed and repackaged by the American media so successfully that it now permanently resides in the dustbin of fringe conspiracy theory.  But in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the flyers’ landing and recovery by the Japanese survey ship Koshu are commonly accepted facts. In 1987, the Marshallese government issued four postage stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events.

San Francisco newsman Fred Goerner’s 1966 bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart, was the first of several books to reveal the truth.  Among Goerner’s witnesses was Manual Aldan, a Saipanese dentist who treated Japanese officers and spoke their language. “The name of the lady [flyer] I hear used,” Aldan told Goerner in 1960. “This is the name the Japanese officer said: ‘Earharto!’”  In 1965, retired Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz told Goerner, “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.”  Not a whisper about Nimitz’s revelation can be found in any mainstream media product in the past several decades.

In his 1987 classic, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident, former Army Sgt. Thomas E. Devine recounts his Saipan experiences that exposed the prewar presence of the American flyers.  In July 1944, Devine and other GIs watched as Earhart’s Electra was burned and later bulldozed into a pit with tons of war refuse, destroyed at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s direction after its discovery at Saipan’s Aslito Airfield.  Our nation was not prepared to confront Japan in 1937, and if Earhart’s abandonment on Saipan by the popular president became known, FDR’s political future would have turned to ashes.  Soon after FDR learned of the flyers’ capture, likely through Navy intercepts of Japanese radio communications, the Earhart matter became a sacred cow, the truth deeply hidden until Goerner revealed it to a fascinated nation whose outraged call for Congressional action was roundly ignored.

With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart (2002) presents the accounts of 26 Saipan veterans whose Earhart-related experiences corroborated Devine’s. Ten years later, Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, this writer’s expansive follow-up to Own Eyes, overwhelmingly confirmed the truth with many new findings, witness testimonies and documents.  Convicted murderers are regularly sent to their deaths based on the smallest fraction of the evidence Truth at Last offers that places Earhart and Noonan on Saipan — far exceeding any objective standard of proof

A mountain of evidence reveals the tragic fate of Amelia Earhart on Saipan, yet nothing the media tell us about the so-called Earhart mystery ever hints at the truth.  The recycled theories are transparently false, but the establishment’s goal of diverting Americans away from the facts never changes, nor does the continuing travesty of official denial.  Will this pathetic state of affairs ever end?

Earhart’s “post-loss messages”: Real or fantasy?

Among the most misunderstood themes surrounding the search for Amelia Earhart is that of the so-called “post-loss” messages that were allegedly received in the days following Amelia’s last official message on July 2 to the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca.  These messages, received both in voice and code by a variety of people, were heard mainly in the central Pacific Ocean area and the West Coast of the United States.  Practically since the day of her loss, inquiring minds have asked whether these messages sent by Amelia Earhart, were they the products of the overheated imaginations of earnest ham-radio operators, or were they outright hoaxes? 

While working on Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last between June 2007 and April 2010, I looked into this complex issue as best I could – as a most emphatically non-technical expert on the state of 1930s short-wave radio propagation equipment, capabilities and techniques.  The result of my ad hoc study was a lengthy, 11,000-plus word chapter, “The Search and the Radio Signals,” that later had to be cut out of the book because the manuscript was too long to present a publisher. 

Simply trying to read and understand the technical analysis that’s available is a nightmare for a layman not familiar with the scientific terminology that accompanies such discussions.  And though these posts will barely scratch the surface of this almost inscrutable subject and represent only an unschooled layman’s perspective, I feel it’s important to revisit these messages, if only for posterity and the scant few who might be interested.

Coast Guard Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts led the Itasca radio team during the last flight of Amelia Earhart.

Coast Guard Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts led the Itasca radio team during the last flight of Amelia Earhart.

I’ll try to present the most well-known of the post-loss messages, in some sort of timely order, so that readers can become familiar with some of the key people who were involved in this controversy.  Later, we’ll consider what several radio experts have to say about the validity of these messages.  No true unanimity or even consensus about whether any of the messages was legitimate has ever been reached among Earhart experts, but the sheer volume of these messages demands that they not be forgotten.

Twelve-and-a-half hours after Amelia’s last message to the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, a radio operator at Nauru, which had not been asked to assist in the Earhart flight, sent a “wire note” to KPH, an RCA short-wave station in San Francisco, requesting that it be sent to Itasca:

“VOICE HEARD FAIRLY STRONG SIGS STRENGTH TO S3 0843 0854 GMT 48.31 METERS (6210 KHz) SPEECH NOT INTERPRETED OWING BAD MODULATION OR SPEAKER SHOUTING INTO MICROPHONE BUT VOICE SIMILAR TO THAT EMITTED FROM PLANE IN FLIGHT LAST NIGHT WITH EXCEPTION NO HUM ON PLANE IN BACKGROUND.”

Commander Warner K. Thompson, Itasca skipper, included this message in his report without comment, but Almon Gray, a former Navy reserve captain and Pan Am Airways China Clipper flight officer, believed the signals, sent on 6210 kc and received at Nauru at 9:31, 9:43 and 9:54 p.m. July 2 (Howland time), merited “serious consideration,” for several reasons, beginning with the fact that 6210 was the correct frequency for the Earhart plane, and that “it was not a commonly used frequency in that area,” Gray wrote.

The McMenamy and Pierson reports

Just before midnight July 2 (Pacific time), the Associated Press reported that amateur radio operators Walter McMenamy and Carl Pierson, both of Los Angeles, claimed to have heard radio signals on frequencies known to have been used by Amelia:

Walter McMenamy said he picked up weak signals on 6210 kilocycles at 6 P.M. (10 P.M. eastern daylight time) and heard the letters “L-a-t” which he took to mean latitude.  The letters were followed by indecipherable figures. The signals continued for some time.  Mr. McMenamy expressed belief they came from a portable transmitter.  He received other signals from a Coast Guard boat, presumably the cutter Itasca, requesting listeners to “stand by and listen on all frequencies.”

At 8 P.M. (midnight Eastern daylight time), Carl Pierson, chief engineer of the Paterson Radio Corporation, picked up similarly weak signals on 3105 kilocycles, Miss Earhart’s daytime frequency.  He said they were erratic and indecipherable.

United Press reported that “the powerful Los Angeles amateur station had been hearing code S O S signals all night. This morning what appeared to be a radioed position of the plane was picked up.  ‘It was a 179 and what sounded like 1.6,’ said McMenamy.  “If that meant latitude and longitude, we calculate it would be somewhere 300 or 400 miles off the coast of Howland Island.”

McMenamy and Pierson reported hearing more signals on 3105 kc on the morning of July 6 that they believed came from Amelia, but could not make out the indistinct words.  The San Francisco Division forwarded McMenamy’s position in its message to Itasca as QUOTE 179 WITH 1 POINT SIX IN DOUBT UNQUOTE POSITION GIVEN AS QUOTE SOUTHWEST HOWLAND ISLAND. Since Itasca was erroneously told in an earlier message that the Electa “could probably use its emergency transmitter [in fact, it had no such equipment] on water, Thompson wrote that this information could not be ignored and proceeded to the westward of the report area and searched 2000 square miles on July 4 without result.

Both Pierson and McMenamy had met Amelia and monitored her messages during the 1935 flight from Honolulu to Oakland, thus their claims of recognizing her voice carried a degree of credibility. The pair had a new rig and tower at Santa Paula in Southern California where they thought reception was the best, wrote Fred Goerner, who interviewed them in the late 1960s.

Unfortunately, McMenamy appears to have fallen victim to the brief notoriety he enjoyed. following his alleged receptions.  “Walter McMenamy is a ding-a-ling,” Goerner told Fred Hooven in a 1971 letter. … “McMenamy claims AE flew directly to an island and landed on time.  They broadcast from the island for several days, and they were picked up by the U.S. Navy. Noonan, he says, ‘is probably still living.’  He says he saw Noonan in 1949 or 1950. That he had changed his name and was ‘still with Navy intelligence.’  AE, he adds was alive until November 6, 1945, when she was killed in a headon [sic] crash of a pair of Navy planes near Guadalcanal.  He said he got his info regarding AE from the FBI.”

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 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.

Karl Pierson was “an entirely different story,” Goerner continued.  “A quiet, brilliant former radio engineer, he is now in charge of several research projects at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute at La Jolla, California, and he lives in San Diego.  He says he is convinced the messages he and McMenamy received in 1937 in the days following the disappearance actually came from AE.  He apologized for McMenamy by saying that McMenamy has ‘gone around the bend.’ Pierson says what puzzles him to this day is the attitude of the Navy toward the messages they received.  He says he still feels the Navy did everything it could to discredit the amateur radio operators who reported possible Earhart messages. Pierson adds that he had a very close relationship with AE at the time of her 1935 Honolulu-Oakland flight, and that he monitored her radio transmissions during that entire flight with great success.

McMenamy and Pierson were soon joined by more amateur operators in the continental United States claiming they heard Amelia’s distress calls on their shortwave radios.  In Rock Springs, Wyoming, 16-year-old Dana Randolph had designed a new antenna to enhance long-distance reception and was listening during the morning of July 4 when he heard, “This is Amelia Earhart. Ship is on reef south of the equator.  Station KH9QQ.” [sic] The transmission quickly faded, but Randolph and his father were directed to a local Commerce Department radio operator, whose investigation revealed that the reception was made at about 16,000 kc, a harmonic of 3105.

In messages to Itasca about the Rock Springs report, the Coast Guard’s San Francisco Division said this information may be authentic as signals from midpacific [sic] and orient often heard inland when not audible on coast” and “investigation reveals signals heard near sixteen megacycles thought to be from khaqq.  Earlier on the morning of July 4, Ray Mahoney, of Cincinnati, claimed he heard a message similar to the one reported by Dana Randolph. “The signals were weak,” Mahoney told the Associated Press. About all I could make out were the call letters of plane and apparently it had hit a reef or was near a reef.  The AP report didn’t specify the frequency of Mahoney’s receptions.

George Angus, a Pan American Airways communications official in Hawaii, was notified about 2 a.m. on July 3 that the Earhart plane was missing, and he immediately set up watches at PAA’s radio stations on Midway Island, Mokapu (Honolulu) and Wake Island on 3105 kc and 6210 kc.  Angus also arranged a plan with Honolulu’s two commercial radio stations, KGU and KGMB, whereby they would interrupt regular programming to make special broadcasts to Amelia, asking her to respond if she heard them.  Immediately after KGU broke into its programming at July 3 at 10:30 p.m. local time, asking her to respond on 500, 3105 or 6210 kc, Mokapu station KNBF reported “a faint carrier on 3105 kc.” About four hours later, PAA station KNBI Wake Island, heard an “intermittent phone of rather wobbly characteristics” on 3105 kc, and Midway Island’s station KNBH reported hearing a “weak, wobbly signal which sounded like a phone” on 3105.

The following night, Angus was at the Mokapu station when KGMB broke into its programming at 8 p.m. local time, asking Amelia to send four long dashes on 3105.  Angus and K.C. Ambler, a PAA communications supervisor, immediately and distinctly heard four long dashes on 3105.  After Angus called KGMB and asked them to repeat their request to Amelia,only two dashes were heard and the second dash trailed off to a weak signal as though the power supply on the transmitter had failed, Angus wrote in his report.  The first four dashes were heard by the San Francisco Coast Guard station, Navy Radio Wailupe, KNBF (Mokapu), KNBH (Midway took bearing of 201, labeled approximate), Baker and Howland Islands, and the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45), soon to join the Earhart search. San Francisco heard the dashes on 3105 for the next six hours at twenty minute intervals, along with unintelligible voice. During the same time frame, Baker and Howland Islands heard a weak carrier NRUI [Itasca’s call letters] from KHAQQ.’”

 

The 281 Message

Early July 5, Itasca was notified by the Hawaiian Section of the latest possible reception from the Earhart plane:

8005 FOLLOWING COPIED NAVY RADIO WAILUPE 1130 TO 1230 GMT QUOTE 281 NORTH HOWLAND CALL KHAQQ BEYOND NORTH DON’T HOLD WITH US MUCH LONGER ABOVE WATER SHUT OFF UNQUOTE KEYED TRANSMISSION EXTREMELY POOR KEYING BEHIND CARRIER FRAGMENTARY PHRASES BUT COPIES BY THREE OPERATORS 0242

This was the notorious “281 message,” a continuing source of speculation among researchers who have assigned a variety of interpretations to the number 281 that differ from that taken by Thompson and the Coast Guard.  The message, sent in poorly keyed code on 3105 kc, was heard by three operators at the Navy’s HF/DF station at Wailupe and by the British steamer SS Moorby, 370 miles north of Howland Island, as well as in California by Charles Miguel of Oakland.  Miguel reported hearing 281 … north … Howland … Can’t hold out much longer … drifting … above water … motor sinking … on sand bank 225 miles from Howland.

Thompson believed it was probably a faked message originating in the Hawaiian Islands, and labeled the Oakland reception “clearly fraudulent.”  The Itasca was 200 miles west of Howland when it was informed of the message, “searching down the 4 authenticated amateur reports,” according to Thompson, who wrote that it contained “useless information but the report required immediate check up.”

The message was immediately interpreted to mean the Electra was 281 miles north of Howland.  Itasca arrived at the position by dusk, and as USS Swan and SS Moorby approached the area later that night, two Itasca lookouts and the officer of the deck saw a distinct flare to the northward. It came up from and settled down to the horizon, Thompson wrote.  Itasca headed toward the light and called Amelia, asking her to send up another flare.  Moorby had not seen the flares, but Swan reported lights and considered them meteors, and Howland Island, 280-miles distant, also reported flares to the northeast and burned three drums of gasoline.  The flares were a meteor shower, Thompson concluded, but commercial radio stations had apparently been monitoring Itasca, resulting in a deluge of commercial requests.  An irritated Thompson wrote that the whole incident illustrates the extent to which ITASCA was being monitored by commercial concerns desiring toscoop others.  There is a need to control such matters and the release of such traffic to the press by commercial stations is a violation of law, it is believed.

As Itasca steamed northward to investigate the 281 message, San Francisco Division sent information that changed the whole search problems and virtually eliminated all intercepted radio traffic ideas (unless the plane was on land), according to Thompson:

8005 OPINION OF TECHNICAL AIDES HERE THAT EARHART PLANE WILL BE FOUND ON ORIGINAL LINE OF POSITION WHICH INDICATED POSITION THROUGH HOWLAND ISLAND AND PHOENIX GROUP PERIOD RADIO TECHNICIANS FAMILIAR WITH RADIO EQUIPMENT ON PLANE ALL STATE DEFINITELY THAT PLANE RADIO COULD NOT FUNCTION NOW IF IN WATER AND ONLY IF MOTOR FOR POWER PERIOD NO FEARS FELT FOR SAFETY OF PLANE ON WATER PROVIDED TANKS HOLD AS LOCKHEED ENGINEERS CALCULATE 5000 POUNDS POSITIVE BUOYANCY WITH PLANE WEIGHT 800 1525

Until this time the Itasca had considered plane had emergency radio capable of transmitting on water, Thompson wrote.  Although this message corrected misinformation San Francisco provided Itasca on July 2 about the Electra’s radio capabilities – plane may attempt to use radio on water as radio supply was battery and antenna could be used on top of wing – it perpetuated the false idea that the plane might be still afloat after three days in the water.

Fred Goerner reported that Joe Gurr told him the Electra “was absolutely capable of putting out a radio signal whether on the surface of the water, or on a reef or island.  He says he installed an emergency battery in the cockpit, and as long as the top of the plane was above water, a signal could be sent through the antenna on the top of the plane.  He also says that it was possible that Earhart’s signals might have been heard in the U.S. and not heard by vessels in the immediate Pacific area because of skip characteristics.”

Most others disagree, and insist that once in the water, the Electra would have been incapable of transmitting for a very simple reason: Seawater would have short-circuited her electrical system, Paul Rafford Jr. wrote.

Fred Hooven, the brilliant engineer whose inventions included the modern aircraft radio direction finder, a short-range radar set for World War II bombers, and the first successful heart-lung machine, thoroughly analyzed the post-loss transmissions during his longtime collaboration with Fred GoernerI have only two points of very minor disagreement with Gurr — one of which concerns the ability to transmit while in the water,Hooven told Goerner in a 1982 letter.  I have no doubt that some possibility existed of the transmitter operating with the plane in the water but am quite certain that the battery would not have provided the current to operate it for as much as an hour.  So that it is impossible to suppose that the signals that were heard over three days could have been transmitted from a floating plane.  It is for that reason that I absolutely agree with Lockheed’s verdict that there was no way for the plane to transmit from the water without the opportunity to run an engine to charge the battery.

The Electra’s potential flotation time is also unclear.  San Francisco Division’s statement that no fears felt for safety of plane on water on the third day after a possible water landing was clearly erroneous.  In 1998, researcher Bill Prymak, a pilot and engineer whose work in the Marshall Islands is presented in Truth at Last, studied the problem, plotting the Electra’s center of gravity from Lockheed documents and blueprints of the plane.  Prymak said hecame to the conclusion that within seconds of a no-damage (a miracle in itself) water landing, the nose would immediately tilt down into the water at a 50 degree angle.  For the empty cabin tanks to become buoyancy-effective they would have to be totally submerged, at which point the plane might float for a short while, but the cockpit would be nearly submerged even before the wing tank vents began filling with water. . . . There were no radio transmissions from Earhart’s plane if it was in the water.

Prymak estimates the Electra would be completely submerged within an hour or so.  Paul Rafford Jr. agrees, and writes, “had Earhart ditched, the Electra would have sunk shortly thereafter. An Electra that ditched off Cape Cod a few years later sank in a matter of minutes.”

Other alleged messages were reported in the days following Amelia’s loss, some more believable than others, but I have no desire to tax readers further than has already been done.  In my next post, we’ll take at more of what Hooven and other radio experts believed about their possible validity.

Frank Benjamin’s unique Earhart exhibit

Frank Benjamin is an Amelia Earhart enthusiast par excellence.  Frank, 74, a semi-retired college science teacher who lives with wife Suzanne in the bedroom community of Galena, on Maryland’s eastern shore, has distinguished himself in recent years for his avid support of the truth in the Earhart disappearance.  He contacted me several years before Truth at Last was published, in connection with his own serious probe into a murky area of Earhart research, and even drove down twice to Knoxville, Tenn., from Galena to visit.

On one occasion, he assisted me at a veterans business event at the Knoxville Convention Center, helping me accost unsuspecting East Tennesseans with the truth in the Earhart case and the new book where they could find it.  We sold just six books that day, but consoled ourselves by telling each other what a great job we did planting a few seeds.”  Although a few thousand souls might have passed our booth, we were able to talk to perhaps a hundred or so.  Overall, the day’s experience was instructive — and very deflating.  Most couldn’t have cared less about Amelia Earhart.

Frank is also quite a world traveler; he’s been to the Marshall Islands and Saipan more times than he can recall, and hopes to return at least once more to the Marshalls to visit Mili Atoll and the uninhabited and nearly inaccessible Barre Island, where our best evidence indicates Amelia made her wheels-up landing in the Mili Lagoon.  Nearly every summer Frank flies to Japan to walk its more remote beaches in search of the decorative glass balls that local fisherman use to secure their nets and eventually wash ashore to be claimed by enterprising scavengers like Frank.

Frank Benjamin's fascinating Earhart memorabilia display at Atchison, Kansas, during the July 2013 Amelia Earhart Festival drew considerable attention.

Frank Benjamin’s fascinating Earhart memorabilia display at Atchison, Kansas, during the July 2013 Amelia Earhart Festival drew considerable attention.

Over recent years, Frank has been assembling a fascinating exhibit – some might call is a display – that reflects his devotion to the truth in the Earhart case (pictured above, at Atchison, Kansas in July 2013).  Among the many curiosities comprising this one-of-a-kind Earhart memorial are an elegant print of a painting of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief Pacific Fleet, which Frank procured from the Navy History Center at the Navy Yard in Washington along with another, similar print, which Frank generously presented me;  a beautifully enlarged and mounted set of four postage stamps issued by the Republic of the Marshall Island in 1987 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amelia’s landing at Mili Atoll; and an original painting depicting a forlorn Amelia behind bars at Saipan’s Garapan jail, as reported by many native witnesses to researchers such as Fred Goerner, Joe Gervais and Vincent V. Loomis.

Many photos, clippings and other assorted memorabilia, including the front page of the July 1, 1960 San Mateo Times, proclaiming “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” direct from Saipan and courtesy of Times reporter Linwood Day and Fred Goerner (below), make Frank’s display unforgettable for anyone with even a modicum of interest in the Earhart story.

This headline, from the San Mateo Times of July 1, 1960, is as true today as it was then.

On Dec. 1, Frank brought his exhibit to the Massey Aerodrome & Museum, in nearby Massey, Md., hopeful that those attending its Eleventh  Annual Open Hangar Day would be drawn to the alluring layout, seeking to learn about the Earhartmystery.”  Many hundreds came to Massey for the Open Hangar Day, Frank recalled, but very few bothered to approach him or his display.

Mike, the airshow in Massey WAS WORSE than Knoxville!Frank wrote in an email.  At least there (in Knoxville), people passed by the display; here they did not even bother.  And their reaction to my going to bat for the Marshall Islands-Saipan “Truth” was really zero.  Nobody cares, as I guess that you already know.  I have to find a new way to get the message out there, but I do not know what it will be.”

In deference to Frank’s wishes, I won’t name any of better-known personages who attended the 2013 Amelia Earhart Festival during the third week of July, whose less-than-friendly treatment of Frank and his message revealed their support for the establishment’s aversion to the truth, reflected in a policy that forbids even the mention of Amelia Earhart and Saipan in the same sentence. 

After being led to believe by Chamber of Commerce types that he would be allowed to sell his special Earhart “MIST” (”Marshall Islands-Saipan Truth) T-shirts screened with the  same image of an imprisoned Amelia that graces his commissioned painting (below), and several dozen copies of Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last at Atchison, event officials coldly informed Frank that such activity was prohibited soon after he arrived.

This haunting image of Amelia Earhart in Japanese captivity in Saipan's Garapan jail adorns an expensive painting commissioned by Frank Benjamin, as well as several dozen T-shirts he hasn't been allowed to sell at two events he's attended.

This haunting image of Amelia Earhart in Japanese captivity in Saipan’s Garapan jail adorns an expensive painting commissioned by Frank Benjamin, as well as several dozen T-shirts he hasn’t been allowed to sell at two events he’s attended.

Still, at Atchison, Frank managed to collect a small amount of psychic incomefrom a few good souls who appreciated his efforts, unlike his bleak experience at Massey.  I was recognized at the luncheon for my extensive display on the Saipan Truth (it did come out real well, and was an eye-catcher!) and [Birthplace Museum Director] Lou Foudray went around telling everyone what a wonderful job I had don’t, Frank told me in a recent email.  “But it means nothing, as I got an ear-full from the Irene Bolam people, and it left me tired, and asking why had I bothered to do this at all?  I could sell none of the books, nor my T-shirts, and at the last minute I was removed from the ‘Meet the Authors’ because they already had three speakers, and there was concern that people would run over the time allotted.”

Atchison is Amelia’s birthplace, and the week’s events were all part of the town’s annual devotions to its most famous citizen.  We can expect at least a minimal interest in an elaborate, creative exhibit dedicated to her memory and those who have stuck out their necks to offer the truth about an event that’s still promoted as one of thegreat mysteries of the 20th century.

The reception Frank received at Massey is far more reflective of the public’s vast indifference and lassitude when it comes to the fate of Amelia Earhart.  Most under 60 years old have barely heard of her, and are hard pressed to tell an inquisitor anything about Amelia except thatshe was lost in the Pacific Ocean, wasn’t she? Certainly, many of our seniors, especially those over 85, are almost always interested, as many of them can remember sitting in front of their radios as children with their mothers and fathers, anxiously awaiting news of the lost fliers in 1937. 

Amelia’s loss is real to these people, and when I’m able to tell them what really happened, they’re usually amazed and appreciative.  But 77 years of propaganda and lies have  succeeded in convincing the vast majority of the American public that the Earhart mystery won’t be solved, so what’s the point, and who really cares anymore?  This is the sad reality of the Earhart case, as Frank and I have learned up close and personally. 

%d bloggers like this: