Happy Birthday Amelia!

It was on this day in 1897, the world's most famous aviatrix was born.

Today a number of people have posted her quote:  

"Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace; the soul that knows it not knows no release."

We are still in the process of trying to help grant her that peace.

We've been discussing a return to Saipan to continue our search for her airplane. 

Just to recap:

We went to Saipan to see if anyone knew anything about her presence there after 1937.  We spoke to many people, some of whom we put on camera and asked them to tell us their story. Their stories were consistent, and the details that the people spoke of, about their own lives during WWII and before, could be verified.

We also spoke to US Marines who found her plane in 1944.  It was parked out on Aslito airfield.  We've collected a number of these eyewitness reports on camera, some in print.  We are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that these men are telling the truth.  They found Amelia Earhart's Electra parked in a hangar in June of 1944. They guarded it, they spoke about it, they even saw it fly.  And then they saw it destroyed by US Forces on the airfield a few weeks later.


We've yet to hear a definite reason why - at least one that more than one eyewitness can corroborate.  But since it only took us three weeks to get 17 NEW EYEWITNESSES to seeing Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan, we are confident we will find more.  Either the sons and daughters of those eyewitnesses, or god willing, the eyewitnesses themselves. See for yourself:

We've spoken to a few people about creating a permanent exhibit on Saipan after we find a piece of her plane.  We've been asked why we'd do something like that.  Because the story of Saipan and the history and the plane are intertwined, and the wreckage of the plane, and her burial - whether cremation, or burial - belong to Saipan, belong to this island that has given so much to so many countries for so many years.  Spain, Germany, Japan, and now the US have all laid claim to its land and spectacular views. 

 It's not Saipan's fault that it was overrun by these different countries - but it is up to Saipan as to what they want to do with its own history.  So we'd like to work with them to create something that's worthy of the people and history of this wonderful island as well as tell the true story of what happened after she disappeared from history books - after she was declared officially "lost at sea" - after she was declared legally dead by her husband, George Putnam, who came to Saipan during WWII when he was stationed in Tinian.  Perhaps he wanted to hear the stories for himself.

What would the exhibit be?  That has yet to be determined. It might just be what we found on our trip to Saipan and what we've learned from that trip. It might include the history of Saipan and all the occupying forces - it might include some of the stories we've gathered from eyewitnesses. It might be more than that - but first we'd have to find that piece of her plane that we are convinced exists on Saipan. Over 200 people claim they saw Amelia Earhart after she disappeared in 1937. New eyewitnesses place her on the island as late as 1944.  Doesn't the memory of Amelia Earhart deserve some honor for what she suffered possibly the last seven years of her life?

Buried in the dirt of the airfield? Perhaps. Buried at sea?  Less likely, but also possible.  We will leave no stone (not literally, any digging we do is supervised by the Historians and archeologists on Saipan) unturned in our search for her. As soon as we can confirm our return plans, to continue our search for a piece of the Electra, we'll announce it here. 



Breaking News... is this Amelia Earhart's Airplane?

Frankly, we are a little disappointed with the news media.

They read a press release, and print it verbatim.  Never mind that no one saw her plane anywhere else but Saipan, never mind that over a dozen new eyewitnesses have come forth to say they saw her on Saipan, never mind that US Marines claim they found her plane, her briefcase, and now a portfolio of pictures from the Electra.

Never mind these facts, news media. Why report when you can print the press release?

Please. Watch for yourself these eyewitness reports.  Here are samples of eyewitness interviews, done this past March on Saipan of NEW eyewitnesses who saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan after 1937.  Of eyewitnesses her saw both her and her plane on Saipan.  Of eyewitnesses who saw her incarcerated on Saipan all the way into the 1940's.  Of eyewitnesses who found her plane in a hangar on Aslito airfield.. we could go on - but must we?

We are not selling this clip. We present it here for the world to see and hear themselves what the eyewitness reports are.  It's time to stop printing press releases and literally do some digging.  We know where the plane is buried. We intend to return to Saipan to dig it up. Literally.

Please share this with your local media outlet, share it with your friends, share it with anyone who really cares about where her plane came down and what REALLY happened to her.  See for yourself what they are saying by clicking on the photo:

Breaking News... is this Amelia Earhart's Airplane?

Frankly, we are a little disappointed with the news media.

They read a press release, and print it verbatim.  Never mind that no one saw her plane anywhere else but Saipan, never mind that over a dozen new eyewitnesses have come forth to say they saw her on Saipan, never mind that US Marines claim they found her plane, her briefcase, and now a portfolio of pictures from the Electra.

Never mind that news media.

Watch for yourself.  Here are the eyewitness interviews, done this past March on Saipan of NEW eyewitnesses who saw Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan after 1937.  Of eyewitnesses her saw both her and her plane on Saipan.  Of eyewitnesses who saw her incarcerated on Saipan all the way into the 1940's.  Of eyewitnesses who found her plane in a hangar on Aslito airfield.. we could go on - but must we?

Please share this with your local media outlet, share it with your friends, share it with anyone who really cares about where her plane came down and what REALLY happened to her.  See for yourself what they are saying by clicking on the photo:


The Search for the Electra

We are still in the hunt...

New information has come in and we are having it translated as we speak.  Meanwhile, we're beginning a fund to raise money to return to Saipan to survey the airfield and if possible, locate a piece of the Electra.

If you are interested in helping us return to Saipan to find a piece of the plane, please contact us at MartiniProds at Gmail for further information, or find the donate link on this page.  Every nickel helps!! Thank you.

Meanwhile, here's a bit of the information that we've been working on:

The Search continues....

Now that we're back Stateside, sifting through our copious notes and footage, a few tidbits have come to light.
Veteran Andrew Bryce met a Stevedore in Majuro who put the plane on the Kyoshu
Bilimon Amaron, the native of Jaluit who went aboard a Japanese ship to tend to Earhart's wounds - went on to become business partners with Jerry Kramer, the President of PII construction in Majuro, who has been doing business in that part of the world since 1961. He vouches for Amaron's veracity, and how he came to hear the many stories about Earhart's incarceration on Saipan and her subsequent execution there.

The ship that Bilimon Amaron went aboard to see Earhart and Noonan
Our interview with Major Rick Spooner, USMC retired, gives us a few tidbits as well.  He was there when Marines found a photo album in a military home on Saipan, and how his fellow Marines described it as a book filled with photos of Earhart and Noonan and other "white people."  He believes the book came from the Electra.  He also observed that the book was taken by Wallace Green, USMC, who turned it over to military intelligence.  This is a major revelation, as when Green became Commandant of the Marine Corps in the 1960's, and was asked about any information about Earhart being on Saipan, he was adamant that he knew nothing about her presence there.

Doug Bryce was stationed on Saipan, saw the Electra on Aslito 
Another piece of history - Spooner says that his troop of "about 100" had "returned to civilization" at Tanapag Harbor, where the Seaplane base was, and where all the materiel for the war effort was being loaded and offloaded.  He said the Marines had their C rations, and later that night said to him "Did you see the Electra?"  Major Spooner did not see it - but they described seeing it to him, amidst other airplane parts and pieces. They were adamant that it was Earhart's Electra.

Nabers guarded the Electra for 24 hours, then watched it burn
These Marines with Major Spooner saw the plane, or pieces of it at Tanapag Harbor, where they heard the airplane parts were destined to be "buried at sea" - If this occurred when Major Spooner says, in July of 44, that would have been just prior to the plane being buried.  It's possible that even after it was burned at Aslito field (witnessed by numerous soldiers, as reported here), it survived that torching (enough to be recognizable to battle weary troops) and was then deep sixed off the harbor.

Found Earhart's briefcase in a safe near the church
In the footage we have from the public talk at American Memorial Park, David Sablan mentions a phone call he had received the day previously from a Mr. Guerrero, who told him the story of when the Army Corps of Engineers was dredging Saipan Harbor (during the controversial dredging near the Sugar Dock as reported in the Saipan Tribune) one of the men, a "Mr. Mayer" claims that he pulled up from the harbor a wing of the Electra.

Oscar remembered his father saying they'd captured an
"American female pilot" and brought her to Jaluit in 1937
We are currently trying to locate Mr. Mayer - and appreciate any leads that anyone might have to do so.

He either served in Guam with the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1990's, and ultimately would have been under the Pacific Command in Hawaii.  The dredging began in the 1994 and continued for 6 years until the year 2000. His name may have been Mayer, or perhaps Meyer, or even Myers.

But one wonders what happened to the piece of an airplane he pulled up.  Where did it go?

Lotan Jack remembered a claim they'd shot her down.

All along this journey, we have stood by our maxim; if one person claims that they saw something, we look for a second person who may have seen or heard the same information.  That's how we have learned that the Electra came down at Mili, was taken to Jaluit, eventually to Saipan.  That Amelia and Fred were incarcerated, and Fred executed early on.  How Amelia was in a prison for up to 7 years, how more than one Chomorro saw her in prison, saw her transported on the back of a truck with two other downed US Pilots, and saw her, or heard of her execution.

Manny Muna tells the story of Jesus Salas, who was incarcerated between AE and Fred Noonan
And how the Electra was found at Aslito airfield, and was burned there by US Forces.  But now we are hearing for the first time that it may have then made a trip to the seaplane base near Tanapag harbor, Ponte Mucho, and may have been pushed into the ocean there.

Ms. Blas tells the story of seeing AE executed
We will continue to hunt for the truth no matter where it takes us.

Aslito when it was liberated in June 1944
Tanapag Harbor, where the plane may have ended up

  Thanks for staying tuned....


Josephine Blanco Akiyama

Where it all began...

Went up to see Josephine Blanco Akiyama this past weekend and her husband Max, both from Saipan.
It was with Josephine that the story on Earhart on Saipan began back in the 1940's.
Josephine Blas Blanco as a young girl on Saipan. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
And continues to this day.

She wasn't the first person to see Amelia, of course.  The Queen of Mili atoll saw her plane come down and land in Mili (Oliver Knagg's book), then Amelia was seen by Bilimon Amaron (later Jerry Kramer's business partner, who Jerry vouches for "100%") - she spoke to Bilimon in English, unfortunately he didn't speak English, but heard the crew calling her "Ameera." (his words).

Then we have a host of new people who've come forward who saw Amelia on Saipan - some say she was the "first caucasian woman" they'd ever seen, and that she was dressed like a man, so needless to say her appearance on Saipan - as it would be anywhere in the world - was something that everyone noted.

However, because of the time and place - Saipan - people were afraid to come forward and discuss it.  Which I confirmed with an extensive interview with Ms. Akiyama - who at 87 recalls these events as if they were yesterday.
Tan Josephine today in Foster City
She was a the daughter of Juan Blanco - a fairly well to do land owner who owned a ranch near Susupe, and two story large home in the heart of Garapan city.  The Japanese had begun to populate Saipan in 1914, and it became Japanese territory.  From all reports, people got along well with the Japanese, profited from the sale of sugar cane, tapioca and coconut, and Josephine's father would host large state dinners with Japanese dignitaries.  Josephine met Emperor Hirohito's cousin Kosho Otani on one such occasion when he visited Saipan prior to the war.

Mr. and Mrs. Juan Blanco. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
As a young girl, she enjoyed the wonderful beaches, going to the Catholic church (she is part Spanish and part Chomorro) and liked attending the local Japanese school, which was different from the "native" school where fellow Chomorro went...  Until the new Japanese troops arrived.  She doesn't remember exactly, but it was in the late 30's when these battle veterans (fighting in China since 1933) came, and took over for the teachers.  These soldiers were "mean, cruel" and she recounts how one student refused to bow ("salute") a teacher properly and this teacher killed him. Threw him against a rock and broke his skull.
The Blanco family, Josephine last row rear left. Korean
brother in law who forgot his lunch is the groom. Juan Blanco front row. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
(Later, that teacher was seen in the camp at Susupe, and Josephine remembered there was talk of murdering this man - Susupe was part of her family's property, and the US soldiers used it as a camp to gather all the surviving islanders, to feed and clothe them after the battle.)

Dinner for Japanese dignitaries in the Blanco Home. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
When Josephine was 11, in 1937, her sister asked her to deliver a lunch to her construction worker husband.  Her sister was married to a Korean fellow who worked in construction.  And he was currently working over near Tanapag Harbor (Ponte Mucho). There are subsequent reports that at this time the Japanese were fortifying the seaplane base there, perhaps that was form of construction he was engaged in.  But either way, as a favor, Josephine agreed to ride her bike over to the construction site near the ocean and deliver his lunch.
Old Garapan City, and a typical bicycle on its dirt street. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
And as she rode there, she was a silver plane flying low off into the harbor.  She said it was a plane unlike she had every seen before.  (I asked if it could have been a seaplane - she said "perhaps.")  The seaplane harbor was part of Tanapag Harbor, and if, as reported, Earhart came down in Mili, her wounds here tended to in Jaluit (as reported by Bilimon Amaron), it's conceivable that a seaplane picked her and Fred Noonan up and delivered her to Saipan.  (And as we now know, the Electra was taken to Aslito airfield and stored in a hangar.)
This was a hospital before and during the war,
now home to the CNMI Museum - one of our witnesses says his mom
heard about Amelia and Fred being treated here. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
But at this moment, all Josephine was aware of is that there is a commotion where the construction site is, and she got off her bike and went to deliver the lunch to the guard at the gate.  And as she was telling him what the name of her brother in-law, about "25 yards" away, she saw a "tall, thin ash blonde haired woman dressed as a man," walking with an "equally tall skinny man."  Josephine said she had "never seen a caucasian woman before" and that the even the Japanese guard said the words "woman" and "man" in Japanese with reference to the prisoners.  As in "that is a woman and a man" ("Onna" and "Otoko" in Japanese) when he referred to the tall thin woman walking with the tall thin man.
The Shinto Shrine. Prior to the war every single student had to go here at down and
"salute" bow down to the shrine whether they were Buddhists or not. It was near here that
a student was murdered for not saluting a teacher properly. Photo JB Akiyama
Josephine went home and told her family about seeing this "caucasian woman dressed as a man" down near the construction site. She didn't hear anything else about the woman, of who she was (but of course, we have.  Amelia was then seen at the "Kobyashi Hotel," at the hospital where her and Fred's wounds were attended to, and later at the jail in Garapan.  We've heard of Fred's execution early on, and finally two reports of seeing Amelia on the same day on the back of a Japanese truck with her arms tied behind her back - in May of 1944, just days prior to the American invasion.)
Dr. Schifft. Josephine is far right. She told Shifft about seeing the female
pilot dressed as a man, and he told Paul Briand. Photo JB Akiyama
But when the war ended, Josephine went to work at a Dentist's office in Saipan, for a Dr. Schifft.  And one day in 1946 he was talking about the rumors that a female pilot had been on Saipan, and Josephine offered her story of seeing her.  Dr. Schifft took Josephine down to the harbor and asked her to point to where she saw the female pilot and tell the entire story.  And then Dr. Schifft told that story to Paul Briand, who decided to write a book about it - by this time, in the 1950's, Josephine and her husband Max were living in California. Briand interviewed her and published her account in 1960 ("Daughter of the Sky").
The Catholic Church - Japanese closed the church (turned it over to the military in the late 30's)
and no mass was allowed. Bodies were disinterred from the Catholic cemetery and put into another.
Note blue stamp - Japanese authorities ordered all photos to be checked and stamped. Photo JB Akiyama 
And then Fred Goerner tracked her down, interviewed her while he was a CBS correspondent, and did the legwork of going to Saipan many times to get more stories ("Searching for Earhart").  (Josephine remembered Goerner promised a copy of his book, but never sent it; Briand did.)

So here we are in 2013 interviewing a woman about what she saw, when she saw it, how she saw it. She told other stories about Saipan, all of which can be corroborated, about the war, about what happened to her family. The stories we've heard about the war are very common. She also told the dramatic story of having her home taken by the Japanese, how she snuck back into her home one day to get some fresh water and was almost executed, how she and her fellow students became slave workers for the military government, how they were abused - but also how when the shelling began, there was a moment when it looked like her family of ten would be killed by the falling bombs - and a Japanese soldier showed them an underground shelter -- which saved her life.
Josephine around the time she came to the States. Photo courtesy JB Akiyama
"I love Japanese people. I married a Japanese man.  I have nothing against the people of Japan," she said during her interview.  I pointed out that the stories we've been gathering are the same - that the people of Japan and the people of Saipan have a shared history - and then for a short period of time, the government became a military one, and the abuse began.  And how many young Japanese men left their homes and families to fight on Saipan and lose their lives, just as the Americans did.  War is a matter of perspective, and we'd like to pay homage to all those individuals who lost their lives while fighting on Saipan.

Including Fred Noonan and Amelia Earhart.

Fred & Amelia. Photo Purdue Archive
Their only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Their only crime was being American citizens.  Its entirely possible that she was asked to spy for the government and that was the military nature of her journey - but that was only a small part of her accomplishment around the world.  In 1937 spying was an act of war.  So if her plane was equipped with Fairchild aerial surveillance cameras (as reported by one of our interviews with the son of the man who installed them), and she was picked up by the Japanese, she would have been considered a spy. Even if there was no footage in the camera.  And the US couldn't reveal they knew she was on Saipan (we have one witness who claims his uncle was told to look for her), because it would have revealed that we had broken their code. (which the US had done in the 1930's).

Wrong place, wrong time.

But they both died patriots - because they were both killed for being Americans. Isn't it about time we honor that sacrifice?

Thank you Josephine for telling us this story on camera.  Stay tuned...

Public Talk about the interviews and conclusions made of the Earhart on Saipan research

Here in its unadulterated form (meaning there's an hour and change of footage) is the talk we gave at the American Pavilion on Saipan, sponsored by the NMI Humanities Council.

Apologies for any sound or picture issues, we just had the one camera set up for the shoot.  Paul Cooper on the left, Rich Martini in the middle, and Mike Harris on the right.  Enjoy!


More interviews, some radio time, gathering footage continues

Hello readers of the Earhart on Saipan blog!

We did an interview with Catherine Rosario Perry today, on Saipan's 99.5 FM "Your Humanities Half Hour."  Rich Martini handled the history and journey of ARA, and how we came to be on the island, and why we felt it was worth pursuing the eyewitness reports that Amelia and Fred Noonan were seen many times by many people on the island.

We'll post a link as soon as it becomes available.

Catherine R Perry in action
"Your Humanities Half Hour" on 99.5

Rich discussed how he and Mike Harris had followed roughly the same path back in the 80's with regard to finding eyewitnesses who could tell their story about Saipan.  Mike filmed a number of interviews back then, and Rich pursued the Earhart story as a feature film.  When he wound up working on "Amelia" he decided to focus his efforts on the documentary version of the story, and included a number of interviews he had done with US Marines who claimed to find the Electra during WWII parked on Aslito airfield.
Rich with witness Delores Takamane across from the old jail

As Rich pointed out, he wasn't pursuing the "why" she wound up on Saipan, or even the "how" she wound up there.  He just zeroed in on eyewitness reports to see if they could be corroborated, either by other eyewitnesses, or people who could vouch for their witness' veracity.  And he said that he's found 17 new eyewitnesses that have never been recorded before on Saipan who claim they saw Amelia and Fred Noonan there after she disappeared.

Paul Cooper and Mike Harris speaking about the search
Will post the video of this talk in a few days
We're continuing our interviews with people, but back stateside.  As reported recently, Paul Cooper met a fellow who said he knew a gentleman in Texas who claimed he's a retired CIA employee, and that he witnessed the destruction of the airplane on Aslito field.  We're seeking an interview with him, who would be our seventh Marine to claim to seeing the Electra there (not including the ones who spoke to Tom Devine and Mike Campbell in their book).  This will be the 7th Marine that we have on camera telling his story.
Newsman Fred Goerner wrote "Searching for Earhart"
and visited Saipan three times in his research
Fred interviewed this woman in 1960.. but
no one bothered to put her on film. We will.
We are also speaking with the very first eyewitness to come forward, a Saipan native who lives in the US.  This woman has never been put on camera before, and so we felt it important to do so, and let her tell her story herself.

As with much reporting about Amelia Earhart and this saga - it all depends on the author's point of view, or preconceived idea, or conclusions about what really happened.  However, by way of a documentary, the audience is allowed to think for themselves, to hear the testimony themselves, and to make up their own minds whether they consider it to be false, manipulated, or too coincidental to be anything but true.  That's why the amount of eyewitnesses keeps growing.
This author, Oliver Knaggs, interviewed a number of people on camera for his book
We've also been able to track down the footage taken during a trip to Mili in the 1980's which will hopefully show those native islanders recounting their own stories about what did or didn't happen.  They claim they saw the Electra land there on the atoll in 1937, and the female and male who emerged from the plane were arrested by the Japanese and the plane was taken away by a Japanese barge.  We have testimony about where the plane went next, by other eyewitnesses.  And eventually those eyewitnesses all agree on the point that this female pilot and the man traveling with her, were taken to Saipan and incarcerated for being spies.

Hard to find book, however, Knaggs interviews some of
the same people who Mike Harris interviewed in 1983
Whether they were spies or not is subject to conjecture.  We know they were arrested as spies, because eyewitnesses were told by Japanese soldiers not to tell anyone what they'd see, or about the "American spies" upon fear of death.  We know that a Navy mechanic claimed to install Fairchild "Aerial Surveillance cameras (spy cameras) into her plane in Burbank.  We know that if she had been caught by the Japanese spying on them it would have been considered an act of war - as in 1937, when a spy was caught, it was considered an act of war.

But again, we aren't focusing on the why.  Just the what. As in "What happened?"

Lest we forget who we're talking about. American hero. Never thanked for her sacrifice to country.
Stay tuned...


CNMI Culture Center/Earhart Exhibit moves forward, along with more eyewitnesses, "In Veritas Libertas"

Captain Cooper met with the new Governor Eloy Inos and Lt. Governor Jude Hofschneider regarding the CNMI Cultural Center/Earhart Exhibit, moving the ball forward.

Lt. Gov Hofschneider, ARA's Paul Cooper & Gov Eloy Inos.
Photo by Robert Rustin
We'd like to thank the Governor for meeting with us, and helping steer us in the right direction!

Meanwhile, new eyewitnesses have come forward.

Estella Cabrera holding a picture of her family.
photo by Chris Neltner
We got a call from Estella Cabrera, with an amazing story of her own involvement with the Earhart on Saipan story.  She brought along some photographs of her family, and told us her story on camera for the first time.  We are in the process of speaking with corroborating witnesses who have a similar or nearly the same story.  But we can't thank her enough for coming forward to help us.
Captain Cooper with the Cabrera family. Photo Chris Neltner
Then we spoke with Mr. V Santos.  Mr. Santos saw that we mentioned the testimony of Jack Salas, 82, who says that when he was 12, he was sitting with his brother and saw Amelia on the back of a Japanese truck.  There were two other prisoners on that truck - both wearing khaki pants, but shirtless.  Mr. Salas saw the "blond" woman with her arms tied behind her back and was startled to see his first caucasion person every - who happened to be a woman in khaki pants and shirts.

Mr. Santos contacted us to let us know he was also there in Chalan Kanoa and also saw Amelia on the back of the truck with two shirtless prisoners. (We did not publish the part of the two other prisoners on the website - and when he claimed he saw her with two other prisoners, that confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that he saw the same event ON THE SAME DAY in May of 1944.)

David M Sablan, Vincente Santos and Paul Cooper. Photo by Robert Rustin

Mr. Santos, former teacher, a well respected member of the community, had a prominent role as member
of the negotiating team that negotiated the political status of the CNMI
Mr. Santos read about the eyewitness from Chalan Kanoa, and because he also witnessed the same event, felt compelled to tell us about it.  Mr. Santos told us about the day when he came down from his family ranch into Chalan Kanoa (housing area where the executives of the sugar mill lived) to sell papaya to the Japanese/Okiinawans living there.  On that date he "saw two or three Europeans on the back of the truck blind-folded and hand-cuffed with two Japanese military guards standing at the back of the victims."  Mr. Santos followed the truck part of the way as it was being driven slowly as if they were showing off the "captives" to the residents of Chalan Kanoa and finally ended up in the school campus.

Lotan Jack's story as told to Mike Harris in 1983
The "three Europeans" were Amelia Earhart, and two American pilots who had been shot down recently just prior to the invasion in June of 1944.  These two pilots must have been pretty startled to see Amelia as a prisoner traveling with them.

Either way, it confirms Jack Salas' story.  Thank you very much Mr. Santos!!!

Manny Muna from Mike Harris' documentary

The story continues....

Oscar DeBrum from Mike Harris' 1983 footage
And like most of the unusual events we've experienced on Saipan, a gentleman in a local establishment struck up a conversation with a member of our team recently.  He recalled a story told to him by a veteran of Saipan told him back in the States, which corroborates what other US Marines have told us; that Earhart's Electra was found on Saipan by US Marines and destroyed there. We're finding out whether this veteran will tell us his story on camera.  Fingers crossed, as he would add yet another voice to the chorus of those who saw or heard about Earhart's plane being found and destroyed on Saipan.

Godfather's Bar & Grill - where most everyone on Saipan winds up
at some point in the evening.  And a good source of intel!
There's an old Latin saying that we at Aircraft Recovery Associates take to heart: In Veritas; Libertas
It's the same phrase that is emblazoned on the wall of the entrance to the CIA: "The Truth Will Set You Free."  We feel that this search for the truth on Saipan, while difficult and taxing, will be ultimately rewarding for everyone involved.  People from across the globe who've never been to Saipan will go there to see these same sights, to experience the same things so many experienced in one of the hardest fought battles in World War II.  The thousands of tourists who come every day from Japan, China, Korea and Russia will get a chance to hear the history of Saipan from a fresh perspective. They will also get to experience a part of the US they weren't aware of - despite being so far from our shores, it's just like Hawaii - the temperature remains around 82 year round, golf courses abound... Something tourists from Asia experience daily.

Aslito airfield from Jerry Facey's balcony. Thanks Jerry!
We are thankful for all the help the Saipanese people have given us in our quest. 

Everyone we interviewed, we told the same thing; we were looking for two things.  One is the location of the plane, which we would not take from the island if indeed we found it; the Electra belongs to the history and story of Saipan.  Whatever we find on Saipan will stay on Saipan (unless borrowed for a traveling exhibition of course).  But more importantly, we wanted to hear their stories of what it was like on Saipan prior to the war firsthand, what the experience was like for the families who survived the war, and finally, whether or not they'd ever met or heard anyone claiming that Amelia Earhart was on the island.

Saipan site of the wreck of Magellan's Concepcion -
another buried treasure but they left a chest of gold!
What we found is that by asking the Chomorro people to tell us their stories, they were able to reconnect with the emotions and feelings from that era.  Sometimes it would be to wipe away a tear for the horrors that they witnessed, for the loss of the loved ones.  Sometimes it would be honor their mother and father and to repeat the stories they'd heard as children about the difficulties they experienced.  These stories are unique to Saipan and belong to history, and as such should become part of the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas) cultural center.  These stories are living history and should be preserved as such as much as the story of Earhart's journey to Saipan, her and Fred Noonan's incarceration there, their deaths, and the discovery and destruction of the Electra.  These events have never been explored in depth, and deserve to be.

Mike Harris and Rich Martini at the old church -
site where Marine Robert Wallack found Earhart's briefcase
These are new stories about Amelia Earhart, stories that have never been published before, stories that are corroborated by other details, are part of history.  In the case of one piece of testimony, an avowed skeptic when we first arrived learned from testimony that there was a distant relative who claimed to have seen both Earhart and her Electra on Saipan. This person had to reconsider their earlier skepticism, as the relative was beyond reproach.

Photographer Robert Rustin. Thank you Robert!
This gentleman's mother was a nurse in Saipan's hospital prior to the War -
She told her son the story of a woman pilot and her navigator who were
brought into the hospital in 1937
The hunt continues.  We are continuing the search, and compiling the results.  We will be presenting them as soon as we can.
New eyewitness testimony suggests Amelia Earhart
spent up to 7 years incarcerated here before being executed
perhaps weeks or even days prior to the American invasion. 
In the meantime, thanks to all the people of Saipan who went out of their ways to make us feel at home, to work tirelessly on our behalf, to encourage us to keep us the hard but rewarding work of finding the truth of this story.

Another day comes to a close...

Stay tuned...


The Airfield, The 2nd Eyewitness, The One who started it all...

Greetings from the page dedicated to finding the truth about whether or not Amelia Earhart and her Electra were ever on Saipan...

Digging on the airfield.
Note the Japanese bunker in background
Digging has continued at Alsito Airfield.  It took us a long time, and we jumped through all the hoops, but Captain Cooper was able to put shovel to dirt so to speak, in an attempt to dig up one piece of an airplane.
Digging at Alsito airfield. Captain Cooper and Jerry Facey assisting. Photo by Robert Rustin
It's a long shot to be sure.  But the logic goes like this; we have a number of people who claim they saw Amelia Earhart incarcerated on Saipan.  New eyewitness testimony, never before published, filmed live on Saipan with the eyewitnesses themselves.  We have old eyewitness testimony, shot by filmmaker Mike Harris when he was here in the 1980's at the start of this story.  We have eyewitness testimony, some on camera, some on paper of US soldiers who claim they saw Earhart's Electra on Aslito airfield.  We have new eyewitnesses to that effect, that have never been published or interviewed before.
Hydraulic Fluid Level Indicator
What they claimed was fairly simple, if not puzzling.  They claim they found her plane intact in a hangar on the field on or about June 19th, 1944. They claim the plane was guarded by US Marines, and then after a couple of weeks, the Electra was flown around the airfield, near Naftan point.  Then they further claim that the plane was taken out on the runway, covered with gas, and torched by US forces. We have various eyewitnesses to this event, two on camera who tell their story from two different points of view, and a number of others in print who describe watching the plane burn.  We aren't looking for the why of these events, even though we are aware how startling they are.  We are focused on "then what?"

So what happened to the plane after it burned?

And does aluminum burn along with other plane parts?
Electra in a museum in Tucson, Arizona
And how to differentiate from the many other planes that were destroyed on Aslito airfield, including Japanese zeroes (made from an aluminum alloy) and the many US planes that burned or crashed there?

Our premise is this; the Electra was made of an unusual alloy of aluminum.  Each part of the plane was identified, or stamped, and x-rayed in Burbank after it was repaired from her first mission.  If there is a plane part to be found, it would not be rusted, it would not be filled with moss (as the lesser aluminum alloy of Zeroes are) and it would be identifiable by the part number stamped on it or from its x-ray image.
Under the Electra during her Last Flight
We're only looking for one piece.

However, the airfield is large - and what we need to do is use various different pieces of equipment that can differentiate between ferrous material and aluminum. We are focusing on areas where eyewitnesses claim they saw the plane burned. By that process of elimination we are hoping to find one piece of the Electra.

Again, we aren't making up the story that the plane burned at Aslito. We are following the eyewitness reports of over a dozen US Marines who claim to have seen it there, seen it fly, or seen it burned.  Its possible that in the subsequent years, every piece of the plane was dug up and used as scrap metal.  It's possible that the plane was removed entirely from the field.  But that's not likely - as we know it was destroyed on the runway, and the standard operating procedure is still the same for burning planes - to push it off the runway and bury it.
Double rivets on the engine. The propellers were unique as well.
Needless to say there's a number of options for where the plane is buried.  And we're going through them one by one.

Rivets on a piece of aluminum from a plane found near the field
On the eyewitness front, we have a new eyewitness who corroborates the story of Jack Salas, who claims that in 1944 he saw the American woman flyer in the back of a Japanese army truck, her arms bound and wearing a black bandana.  This new witness has come forward only because of our reporting what Jack Salas said - because he also was there in Chalan Kanoa and saw the very same truck, identifying her as Amelia Earhart.  He too said it appeared as if the Japanese were showing their prisoners off to the islanders for some reason.  He too said it was a big event to see the first caucasian woman ever - dressed not like a woman, but like a man.  Not something ever seen on Saipan, not something anyone might forget, despite the years since seeing her on that truck.

Jack Salas's story  of seeing Earhart for 30 minutes on the back of a truck
corroborated by another Saipanese islander yesterday
Also on the eyewitness front, we've been granted an interview with the woman who was the very first person to report seeing Amelia Earhart on Saipan.  We are going to interview her in her home in a couple of weeks, and she has more of her story to impart.  Merely from a historic perspective, no one has taken the time to put this woman on camera to hear her story first hand.  And it's been 70 years since she first told it.  Don't you think its about time to hear her in her own words?

We do.

Thanks for tuning in....
This webpage examines the eyewitness accounts and other evidence that shows Amelia and Fred were arrested and taken to Saipan. There were over 200 individuals who claimed they saw her, this site examines who they were, and what they heard or saw. It includes details of evidence the Electra was found on Saipan, interviews with people who saw her and the Electra before and after they were taken to Saipan. Interviews with over two dozen Saipanese who claim they saw her there and over a dozen US Marines who claim they found the Electra, her passport, briefcase and other details.



Eyewitness Accounts: Published


Pg 40. “Glancing out on the runway ramp.. an area not the main part of Aslito Field, but an extended arm of the airstrip at the southwest corner… Near an embankment was (AE’s plane). (LATER) .. a muffled explosion at Aslito Field erupted into a large flash fire… I crouched and crawled toward the airfield. When I could see what was burning, I was aghast! The twin engine plane was engulfed in flames! I could not see anyone by the light of the fire… in July 1944.”


Goerner gathers dozens of eyewitnesses to Earhart’s incarceration and second hand info about her execution.


Amelia reveals she did not know Morse code (and neither did Fred Noonan)



South African journalist gathers numerous eyewitnesses at Mili, Majuro and Jaluit. There is footage of these interviews, but it exists somewhere in Miami – still trying to locate the negative.


Elgen shows how the original plan devised by radio man Harry Manning was adhered to by the Coast Guard Itasca – they didn’t know Manning got off the plane in Hawaii and wasn’t on the electra. So 90% of all their communication was in Morse code – something neither AE or FN knew.


PG 32. Robert Sosbe, 1st battalion 20th Marines, 4th marine division) Sosbe said he saw the Electra before and during its destruction) “on or about D+5 after our infantry had captured Alsito, the night before, then were driven off, only to capture it again, our Co was called up to fill a gap between our infantry and the 27th Army infantry. The trucks carrying us stopped off the opposite side of the runway from the hangars and tower about 3 to 5 hundred yds. This two engine airplane was pulled from the hangar to off the runway where it was engulfed in flames from one end to the other. I can still remember exactly the way it burned, how the frame and ribs because it was visible. It was about half dark. It burned approximately 15-30 minutes.”

Same page: a letter from Earskine Nabers: “I am seeking Marines who were placed on duty at Aslito to guard a padlocked hangar containing AE’s plane. The hangar was not one of those located along the runway. It was located near what may have been a Japanese administration building, and an unfinished hangar at the tarmac, in the southwest corner of the airfield.

The follow up letter (pg 33)

…”we had to get Col. Clarence R Wallace to sign all the messages that came through the message center.) Hq 8th moved back to bivouac area. I was dropped off at the Hangar for guard duty at the main road that went by west side of hangar. The road that went out to hangar, I was placed on the right side, just as it left the main road….

Pg 34 The best I can recall the plane was pulled on the field by a jeep.. the plane was facing north after the plane was parked and jeep moved. A plane came over real low and on the next pass he strafed the plane and it went up in a huge fireball. (We were sitting on the west side of the airfield about one hundred yards from the plane. We were on higher ground. As far as I remember, the (men) that pulled the plane on the field and us guys from H & S 8th were the only ones there.”

Pg 36 Marine Capt Earl Ford of Fallbrook, CA, artillery master sgt with 2nd Marines. Interview 6-7-88 by Paul Cook. “The aircraft was about 100 yards (from me) maybe less. We all saw it. No way we could miss it. A civilian twin engine. No way it was military. American aircraft in civil registration… some officers were saying it was Amelia’s… it had only two windows on the side, back here.”

Arthur Nash, Air Corps Corps, P47 group on Aslito. Claims he saw the plane on July 4, 1944 (book says 1945, must be a misprint based on following) pg 40:

“After landing on Isley.. at 2:30 pm, Japanese soldiers were running around the airstrip, one killed himself in the cockpit of a P47D with a grenade…” I slept fairly well (in the hangar) and (in the morning) wandered over to a large hole in the hangar wall facing the other hangar. The hangar floor and the area between the hangars was littered with debris, displace with siding from the hangars, maybe 65 yards apart, but close enough to get a good look at a familiar aircraft outside the other hangar. My eyesight was acute and what I saw was Amelia Earhart’s airplane!... the next morning I went over to see it but it was gone.”

Jerrell Chatham, 1st platoon, I company, 3rd regiment, 2nd marine deivions: “I was driving trucks .. on Saipan… when we went ashore I saw the hangar where Amelia Earhart’s plane was stored, I also saw the plane in the air. They told us not to go close to the airplane hangar and we did not…”

Pg 44: Howard Ferris, US Marines: “Sent to Saipan for guard dutey… an old hangar structure at end of a runway. This hangar was not large,.. small trees in front of big doors.. (then he recounts the same Marine argument that Devine and Nabers recount – where some Navy brass attempted to get in, but a Marine (Nabers) refused them entry.)” Howard was not present at the fire, but one of his buddies was. The buddy said a truck arrived with many gas cans and the guards saturated the entire hangar.. and it burned totally.

Pg 50 Robert Sowash, 23rd regiment 4th Marines Division: “I saw a plane in a building that was not a military plane.. I remember other Marines saying it was the same as Earhart’s. Later the place was cordoned off..”

Pete Leblanc, 121st Naval CB’s, 4th Marine division: “some of our guys were sneaking over towards the airfield to try and see (AE’s plane). We heard there were guards there. Then it was burned up later.”


Over 200 eyewitnesses as gathered by all the different authors with the various reports of her landing on Mili, being brought to Jaluit and incarcerated in Garapan prison.