The investigation continues...

The story continues on Saipan...

Connie Kaufer is a descendant of Mathilde Arriola.  For those familiar with Fred Goerner's book "Searching for Amelia" he interviewed Mathilde extensively.  She claimed she saw Amelia just after her arrival at a former hotel in Garapan, which functioned as a police office.  She was seen also by Josephine Blanco Akiyama, a Saipan resident who currently lives in San Mateo, California (we interviewed her brother John). 

Connie and Paul - photo by Robert Rustin
What makes this story compelling is that Mathilde told Father Arnold, the Catholic Priest that Goerner asked to continue interviews after he'd left, the story of this ring that AE supposedly gave to her.  She was very descriptive of it, saying it had a white gold band, with a white stone setting.  That ring was passed down among Mathilde's descendants, and in the 1960's it was reportedly lost in Chuuk. (formerly known at Truk).

However, according to Connie, it never left Saipan, and in fact was lost during a typhoon.  So we asked her if the property still existed - and it does.  Here it is:

Remains of the house where the ring once lived. Photo by Robert Rustin
But what have modern technology on our side - a ground penetrating radar unit, which can isolate just about any piece of metal within 20 feet.  So, with the permission of the family, Captain Cooper is going to get at trying to locate this ring.  It looks daunting - and it probably is - but worth a shot, don't you think?

Paul getting the details - Photo by Robert Rustin

Meanwhile, permits came in on some of our digging sites; here's our backhoe out at the old Aslito airfield.  When the US came in a took over the field, they renovated it extensively and changed the angle of the runway slightly - which allowed some of the old structures of the airfield to remain in their same position that can be verified on maps and photographs.  We've pinpointed a number of likely sites for where the Electra was burned and pushed off the runway - and here's a couple of them:

Directing the backhoe to the right spot - Photo by Robert Rustin
Some areas are dense jungle, while others are a combination of local rock and metal.

Digging it - photo by Robert Rustin
And finally, a word about David Sablan.  David is 82 years young, living history of Saipan.  He's been President of the Chamber of Commerce many times and knows pretty much everyone on the island.  And in fact, he's related to pretty much every native on the island.  He's been an invaluable resource.  His own story includes hiding in a cave up in the mountains with his family, and his father speaking enough English (one of only two on the island who did speak English) that saved them from being killed in their cave.  We've met many descendants who were also in that same cave during the war, and soon, we're going to return with Dave to that very cave.  But for now, we can't thank him enough.

David M Sablan, Connie Kaufter, and Captain Cooper - Robert Rustin photo


Digging on Saipan, Tokyo and DC

The new week finds new revelations...

Members of our team back on the East Coast conducted an interview with Richard "Rick" Spooner, decorated US Marine veteran of the battle of Saipan.  Those familiar with History Channel broadcasts may recognize him as "the living historian of the Marine Corps."

Major Rick Spooner USMC
He told our team about a key piece of evidence in our search for evidence that Amelia Earhart was on Saipan, and when it is revealed will alter the story of her disappearance and what we've learned about what happened to her and the Electra.  We thank Rick for letting us interview him at his restaurant in Stafford, Virginia, "The Globe and Laurel." He is one of a growing list of Marines who are speaking out about what really happened to the aviatrix.

Meanwhile, digging has begun on one of our key sites at Naftan point.  Captain Paul Cooper was in action today, tearing apart one of our key sites near the airfield.

Photo by Robert Rustin

And in Tokyo, Rich Martini made an unscheduled visit to the nation's archive for Army and Naval history.  Together with a translator, who helped Rich navigate the thousands of records that are kept there, they pored over accounts of prisoners of war that are kept in the archive.  Specifically looking for a list of prisoners who were kept in the Garapan Jail from 1937 to 1944.

Translator Katori in front of the Defense Archives (no pictures allowed!)
Actually there were four Americans.  Two were captured in 1937, brought to Saipan and first sent to the hospital, and then sent to the jail.  And in early 1944 two American pilots were shot down and kept at the jail - and were subsequently executed.  The latter two are a matter of public record, the former two are not.
"Earhart permission to fly over Japan" is how this file is labeled.  

However, we have an eye witness who saw the latter two with one of the former - the female in question - in May of 1944.  That would have placed three Americans in the Garapan jail as late as May of 1944, and just a few weeks from the onset of the Battle for Saipan.

Which is pretty startling to think of it.

Sunset over Tokyo
The story continues... stay tuned.


The plot thickens...

The dig continues.. day two
Digging continued into day two and word came in from HPO that our permits have been approved for our larger site near the airfield on Monday in Naftan point.

Things are falling into place.

We had an evening with a number of local residents who came down to here us talk about our journeys into this project - Captain Cooper spoke of his 17 years as a pilot for Southwest, Mike Harris told of his expeditions to find the Titanic, and now to find Earhart, and Rich talked about his bewilderment of why people have ignored eyewitness reports for so long.

Capt Cooper and Mike Harris
Dave Sablan, who met Mike Harris back in 1983 and who has been overwhelmingly helpful in this expedition, spoke passionately of how he is now convinced she was here.  He spoke of being a 12 year old boy and hearing a friend of his father say he was at the airfield in Alsito where he saw Earhart's Electra, and how the aviatrix and navigator Noonan had been taken by the Japanese.  It was not a story a 12 year old boy forgets.  Thank you David.

David M Sablan

We also spoke to Ray Bermudes - his first interview ever - where he recounted how his mother told him as a little boy that she was a nurse in the Japanese hospital because she spoke and could write Japanese.  She told him how she had seen and heard the story of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan being brought to the hospital in 1937 to treat their wounds.  How she had been told not to tell anyone about it - and she had only told her family, which included a young Ray.  He had never thought to tell anyone the story until he read in the paper we were looking for second hand accounts as well.  Thank you Ray.

Ray Bermudes

Also in the audience tonight an audience member revealed that she was the granddaughter of the woman who had the ring that Amelia had given to her great aunt.  We had heard that the ring had been given by Amelia to Matilde Arriola, and Matilde gave it to her niece Trinidad.  Trinidad is the grandmother of these folks, and we are going to their old home tomorrow to dowse and use ground penetrating radar for the ring - which was reportedly lost during a rainstorm somewhere under the old house.  We'll let you know what we find.  

Half of the audience, sponsored by the Humanities Council

Thanks to all the folks who came out, to Scott Russell for putting the event together and his staff. It was a lot of fun and we hope everyone got new information to contemplate!

We will post the video of the event in a week or so - look to the right side of the page for the link!  Stay tuned!


Digging it on Saipan


HPO (Historic Pres of Saipan) Supervised dig at the old Jail in Garapan
We finally put shovel to dirt.

To all those who doubted that could ever happen - it did.  Perseverance, good luck, helpful hands - and being on site all helped.  Thanks to all the folks at HPO who worked overtime to help us get our shovels into the dirt.  What's that they say in the Marines? "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."  Everyone chipped in to help us get to this point.  A heartfelt thanks from the team.

What's down here?  We'll let you know.

Eric and his Auntie Delores
Eric arranged for an interview with his Aunt who lives near the jail.  She went on camera for the first time in her life and told a story that she's never told anyone on camera before.

Her grandfather was Japanese, his brother in law was a policeman.  When Delores was 14 she asked her grandfather about stories she'd read about Amelia Earhart being locked in the jail across the road.  His initial reaction was "Don't ask about that, it happened before you were born."  But she insisted. Finally he pulled his granddaughter aside and said "Yes, there were two fliers in the jail and the died.  Then they were cremated."

Delores showed us how the jail was part of a vast Japanese cemetery - a shinto shrine at the entrance and across the road, up at the top was a crematorium.  We visited that crematorium and saw how the Japanese had used that to send their loved ones into the next realm.  The logic of giving prisoners in the jail a Japanese burial is hard to deny.  So perhaps there never were bones for folks to collect on this island of the famed aviatrix.

Mike Harris, famed explorer, works the B camera
We were on site at 9 am with shovels in hand.  Archaeologist Mike Fleming, with decades of experience and an extensive history of working in Micronesia, supervised the dig.  He revealed a pretty cool fact; when Admiral Nimitz was stationed on Tinian, they brought his Studebaker for him to drive around the island.  And when he left it there, Mike's grandfather snagged it!  So it's part of his family history now.

Archaeologist Mike Fleming
Captain Cooper was instrumental in finding the location for the dig.  We did more ground penetrating radar and more dowsing and with the help of some able bodied locals, were able to begin this dig.

Captain Paul eyeballing a piece of Japanese pottery
Architect Dave Smithers stopped by the site, where we discovered Dave's sister Leah had worked on films with Rich Martini back in her Hollywood days. Small world.  Dave took a trip into the cell that has been identified by locals as Amelia's cell and came out visibly shaken.  When asked what happened, he said that he felt "the strong presence of a female energy in that cell, but angry, trapped, like a tiger pacing in a cell."  David's not known for his psychic abilities, but he shared some incredible stories of his life and events surrounding his father's death.  

Architect David Smithers visiting from Korea

We had an interesting and revealing interview with Jack Salas.  His brother Jesus, passed just prior to our arrival.  For those familiar with Mike Harris' interview with Manny Muna back in 1983, Manny said that Jesus saw Amelia in this jail in a cell prior to the war and pointed it out to Mike. 

We spoke with Joaquin "Jack" Salas - his first ever interview.  At age 82, his memory was as sharp as could be, and remembered specifically seeing "a female woman, thin, with blond hair" sitting in the back of a truck, her hands tied behind her back and a black bandana tied around her head.  He said the truck was parked near his home in Chalan Kanoa (usually mispelled as Charan Kanoa, as that was what the Japanese soldiers called it) for a full thirty minutes. He saw other prisoners in the truck, but said he could "never forget it, as it was the first time I had ever seen a white person's face."  

The date was prior to the beginning of the war in Saipan.  There were more details that he gave, which will be part of his interview - the first info ever given from this gentleman.  His father ran the sugar cane train, spoke four languages, and had 8 children that hid in the caves when the war began.  Jack lost his brother Jesus just recently, and said that his younger brother Tony was also with him when he witnessed the famous aviatrix sitting in the back of a military truck for 30 minutes.

Joaquin "Jack" Salas
Finally, the local Buddhist nun who blessed our expedition stopped by to hand out some water. Sunim is her name, she runs the Zen Buddhist temple of the island, is the only Buddhist monk on Saipan, and had never been to see the jail in her 12 years living here.  It was nice to see her come out and cheer us all on.  Thank you Sunim!

Filmmaker Rich and Master Zen Buddhist monk Sunim

Stay tuned for more action from Saipan!!!


Paperwork and film work...

Things happen on the island on "island time."  Still we're amazed at the lightning assistance we've gotten from the government agencies here.  What normally takes 18 days has been cut down to the wire, and everyone is bending over backwards to help us.  So a hearty thank you to all the folks who are giving us a hand.

Some latest developments.

Ed Williams
Did an interview with a gentleman who lives and works here in Saipan, and he spoke of his flight instructor - a man who was the youngest WWII veteran from Florida.  That gentleman told Ed Williams that he was shot down by the Japanese when he was only 16 years old.  He was a tail gunner on a plane, and he said the Japanese captors were friendly with him, and one spoke English.  That particular fellow didn't say what island he was on, but told the young gunner that he had seen Amelia Earhart when she was under arrest after being "shot down."  He said the pilot was "fastidiousness about her food, washing it before eating it."

We've heard scenarios of her being "shot down" before.  Mike Harris interviewed a couple of fellows in 1983, one whom repeated the same story ("Lotan Jack") about her being shot, or forced down by a zero.  Also Manny Muna recalled the Captain of the Fukud Maru ship claiming that one of the pilots from his ship had "shot down the American pilot."

We've spent more than a few hours shuttling paperwork from one government office to the next.  We try to let them know that we don't want to take anything from the island, and that we are just intent on bringing the story to its conclusion - but as anyone knows, permits take time.  We are committed to stay until we dig where we need to.  Here's one office we spend some time in:

More information coming forth from islanders.  We spoke to a gentleman whose father claimed that when he was ordered to bow his head by the Japanese, he did not - and saw the aviatrix and another "thin man."  Of course, living on the island, away from all media, he didn't know who the "equally tall woman" was, but described her with short hair.  He said they were both "europeans."  The natives here are very precise, very exact about what they say.  In fact in the 20 some interviews we've done, not one will say they saw something they didn't see - in fact they will go out of their way to say "I did not see this, and I cannot verify the person who told me this story was telling the truth, but..."  In our case we are using these secondary sources to back up some of the primary sources that Mike Harris interviewed (Not "Buddy" TC Brennan as is frequently reported - Brennan sought out Mike Harris who was directing the footage being shot about the search - some years later Brennan released a book and documentary, but never received permission from Mike Harris, who still owns and has the original footage.)

We've just had a corroboration of another story from a woman who we will be interviewing in the next couple of days.  She has confirmed the detail that we heard just yesterday about the location of where the American flyer who was a prisoner was executed.  It's not far from here:

Old Japanese Jail
We've already done ground penetrating radar and found some unusual disturbance in the earth.  We did not come here looking for Amelia Earhart's body - or that of Fred Noonan - it was reportedly dug up by Privates Hansen and Burke in 1944 (their own report, posted in the "Stars and Stripes" of all papers, reporting that they dug up here body in Saipan,also reported and interviewed by Fred Goerner "Searching for Amelia" ).  But we are following whatever the story brings our way.

We also spoke with historian Herbert Rosario who did a masterful job of recording the oral histories of the Saipan natives - over 300 individual tapes.  We looked at a number of them, including from a gentleman who was a former policeman.  Herbert was told off camera by one individual that he had seen Amelia Earhart in the cell - but did not want to say it on camera.  It's either that he didn't want to be caught in a lie, or he didn't want to reveal what he knew on camera.  We've found that to be the case with a number of natives - there has been a culture of secrecy for decades here.  We've been invited to interview an elderly gent who says he saw her in her cell, but insists we not publish his name or take footage of his testimony.  We'll report what he has to say.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and we're doing our best to hunt down as many leads as we can. Thanks for tuning in....

The Sugar King of Saipan greeting the sunset


An unusual talent on our team...

Captain Cooper, Dave Dougherty and Mike Harris
Owner of Pacific Marine Enterprises, Dave Dougherty gave us a tour of a lighthouse.

Captain Paul Cooper is a veteran Southwest airlines pilot.  He's from Texas and also happens to be an expert dowser.  For those unfamiliar with the practice, according to wikipedia, dowsing is a form of searching for water, gemstones, buried metal or ore as well as gravesites.  According to the wiki entry; "There is no accepted scientific rationale behind dowsing, and there is no scientific evidence that it is effective." 

Paul firing up the Ground Penetrating Radar
Well, that may very well be the case.  However, we have some visual evidence that it actually might be.

In our search for evidence that Earhart might have been on Saipan, we have allowed a select group of dowsers who live in the states to give us coordinates that they think might be of value in our research.  Mike Harris and I are avowed skeptics of anything outside of the norm of research - but at the same time open to any new research that can help us in our quest.  In light of that, we accepted these solicited sites from a number of people who live on the East Coast who don't know each other, but gave us coordinates that we might examine in our research.
Mike Harris walking the grid for the GPR site

Today was one of those days where we had an extra hour in between interviews to check out one of those sites.

On the way to Ray's home
First the interview; we spoke with Ray Guerrero, whose father was a policeman during the period prior to the war and also a policeman for the Japanese during the war.  He was also helpful to the Americans after the war, helping them seek out remaining Japanese soldiers, and translating for them.  Ray has four sons who are serving in the military currently, we saw pictures of them in his living room.

Ray has never been interviewed about his father's experience during WWII.  He knows that Fred Goerner tried to speak to his father, but he declined speaking to him.  Ray says that his father clearly stated to him that he had nothing to say on the Earhart matter, and further "If she was on the island he would have known it."  We also interviewed a couple of islanders who claim they heard Ray's father say that he did see her - but for whatever reason, his father said emphatically that he did not.

Tony at the archives in Northern Marianas College

We spoke to a number of other islanders who had parents who said the opposite - that they saw a "european woman" being escorted "with a tall thin man" in 1937, and we interviewed some folks who say that they saw Earhart in her cell, but have not spoken about it on camera for fear of some kind of retribution.  We also have spoken to an islander who heard a story about a Japanese tourist who came here in 1994 - said that he had been stationed in Saipan during the war, and further that he had been one of the guards who was at the Japanese jail.  He told a story that included Amelia Earhart's presence there - and we are currently researching that veracity.

Now back to the dowsing story.  Captain Cooper took out his dowsing instruments at one of our sites.  He walked through this bumpy parking lot and when the two metal rods crossed each other, he made a mark.  He then proceeded to dowse the same location from three other corners, and each time the rods crossed each other at that particular mark.  Then he asked for Mike Harris to bring out the sheet where we had recorded the coordinates of the particular spot in this parking lot - done by dowsers who live on the east coast of the US.
Here's a partial view of the GPS - wind blew over the page

He then put down a GPS onto the site and read the coordinates.  They were an exact match (there was a 3 second difference, but for all intents and purposes an exact match.)  Now - we don't know what is under this particular site - it could be water, could be metal - could be anything.  But we do know BEYOND A SHADOW OF DOUBT, that his dowsing the area was the exact same coordinates that had been done by dowsers who had looked at photographs of the area, and marked them for us via google earth.
The old Japanese cell

We are not claiming anything is underneath this area.  But as someone who has spent a good deal of time looking for things, Mike Harris and I were both in awe of the accuracy of Paul's reading.

So - we are leaving no stone unturned as they say, and we are utilizing all the tools in our kit, and all the arrows in our quiver in order to seek out items that will indicate Earhart or her Electra's presence here.  We are also continuing to interview families and their members - and tomorrow will speak with a historian who has two accounts for us to hear.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Stay tuned.


Earhart mystery brings 3 to Saipan...

Rich, Mike, David, Paul
Monday, February 18, 2013

Earhart mystery takes 3 to Saipan

By Haidee V. Eugenio
Could a journey back to Saipan lead a group of experts to finally lay to rest the 76-year mystery of the disappearance of legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart? That is what U.S.-based film director, producer, screenwriter, and freelance journalist Richard Martini, famed aircraft recovery lead investigator Michael Harris, and aircraft recovery specialist Capt. Paul H. Cooper are trying to answer in their ongoing research on Saipan.

The three are here to examine evidence whether Earhart, her co-pilot Fred Noonan, and their Lockheed Electra were on Saipan after they disappeared during their round-the-world flight in 1937.

Martini said there's over 200 islanders who claimed Earhart was here after 1937, and about a dozen U.S. Marines who claimed they found her plane on this U.S. island.

“Doesn't it make sense to follow the research to see if maybe she was here as opposed to where they have been looking in, in Nikumaroro, where there was no single eyewitness, where she was never in that direction?” Martini told Saipan Tribune in an interview on Friday afternoon.

Another group of experts is searching the Nikumaroro island, a tiny coral atoll some 300 miles southeast of Earhart’s target destination, Howland Island.

Martini said their mission on Saipan is two-fold.

“One is we're looking for the plane. But we're also talking to natives and people from here or anyone who has a story of what it was like during the war on Saipan and/or if they have any information that they heard secondhand or from anyone regarding Amelia Earhart's presence here or a European woman or someone they thought was American and we found at least a dozen people here who are giving us new testimony that's never been recorded before,” Martini said.

The group regularly uploads updates about their Saipan expedition on their website,

For the group, or at least for Harris who found the first sonar in the Titanic, the Earhart project has been a 30-year journey and counting.

The public is encouraged to help in this project by providing information about Earhart's supposed presence on Saipan in 1937 and onwards.

During this trip, they said they have received help from multi-awarded businessman David Sablan Sr., Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, and other residents, including those who provided testimony to them claiming they saw Earhart.

The story about Saipan as Earhart's final resting place has been in circulation for decades. In 1966, for example, CBS correspondent Fred Goerner published a book claiming Earhart and Noonan were captured and executed when their aircraft crashed on Saipan while it was still under Japanese occupation."

<<there is also an article in "Mariana's Variety" but hasn't been posted online yet.. stay tuned>>


Saipan Redux

Well.. this sign has nothing to do with our project, but it did get a laugh when we saw it in a local restroom.  Lot of betel nut chewers here on Saipan -  and signs abound asking people to aim their betel juice in the right direction...

Back to our story.

Ran into Peter Muna - he's a very knowlegable 17 year old high school student who has already signed up for service in the US Army.  His grandfather Manny helped Mike Harris during his second trip here in 1983, and his father Manny Jr. drove around Paul Tibbets, (pilot of the Enola Gay) on his last visit to the island.  Peter is a great collector of artifacts from WWII, and knows the island inside and out.  He took us up to see a place called "Forbidden Island."  Forbidden because it's nearly inaccessibly, but yet people do try to visit it - and sometime lose their lives in the journey to do so.

Peter Muna
Here's the island which is seldom seen.

Forbidden Island
One of our interviewees shared a photo with us of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal (He became Secretary after the death of Frank Knox in 1949)  There are no known photographs of Forrestal on Saipan - until this one. He's standing with General Holland and Admiral Nimitz.  For those who are well versed in Earhart stories, Thomas E Devine (there's a clip of his interview on the right side of the page) was convinced that he saw Forrestal here during his tour of duty.

Our research shows that Devine may have seen a gentleman who looked like Forrestal in June of 1944 when the plane was first found, and then perhaps he saw Forrestal himself at a later date.  Or it's possible that Devine was accurate - but this is the first we've seen any photo of the Secretary on Saipan. This was taken just prior to his visiting Iwo Jima. 
Forrestal, Admirals Turner, Nimitz
The story continues... have a full week ahead of us, hope to be able to update our site daily. Stay tuned!!!  Here's the end of Saturday Feb 16th, 2013.

Sunset over Saipan


The story continues...

Back on the trail again - archaeologist Marilyn Swift is helping us file the permits necessary to start our dig.  She and fellow archaeologist Mike Fleming have been on Saipan for quite awhile and have vast knowledge about the environs.  Still - paperwork takes time so we are holding our breath...

Meanwhile...Here's an aluminum piece of a plane found out near one of our sites, lying in the grass.  Note the holes, as well as the flipside:

Still working on the identification of this piece.

Carlos Shoda
Had a great chat with Carlos Shoda, the son of Mathilda Arriola who saw Amelia Earhart on Saipan in 1937.  We feel comfortable stating that as fact because in 1965, Carlos helped translate for his mom when she was interviewed by CBS journalist Fred Goerner.  She was also interviewed by Father Arnold - the transcript of that interview is quite extensive.  Matilde was shown two photographs of women - and she clearly (out of a lineup) chose the photograph that was of Amelia Earhart and said beyond a shadow of doubt, that was the woman she saw numerous times.  

Matilde saw Earhart in and around the Kobyashi hotel in 1937 - the hotel was used by the Japanese military police as offices.  Carlos verified his mother's story for our cameras and we discussed the ring that Amelia reportedly gave to his mother as a gift.  While his mother said that her niece had borrowed the ring and lost it - that was in the 1950's - we are seeking perhaps a photo of it, or any relative that might have seen it.  Earhart didn't wear jewelry in general - her wedding ring was platinum because her husband George Putnam had forgotten the actual ring, and he borrowed one of his mother's which was "simple in design."  But in all the publicity photos of Earhart over the years - rings or necklaces were in short supply if ever used. So it's a mystery where she might have produced such a ring during her stay on Saipan.  

The ring Matilde described was "white gold" or "white with a white stone in a setting" -we're in the process of seeing if anyone saw it, or perhaps has a photograph of it via family members.

Sam McPheters
Sam McPheters is a local historian and instrumental in the creation of the archives based on the Northern Marianas College campus - spent a couple of hours with him, hearing the many stories that he gathered from the students in his classes at the college and his extensive catalog of historical evidence.  He pointed us to archival footage that was shot by the tv show "Eye on LA" (I happened to have seen that episode when it aired in LA) where host Chuck Henry interviewed a number of local residents about their memories during the war and of Amelia Earhart in particular.  I spoke to Chuck Henry some years ago about Earhart, and he told me he'd heard many great stories.  Now we have the actual video "Witness to War" that they shot.

Ernesto Sablan
Ernie Sablan sought us out - we were in the midst of doing an interview at the old folks home when he came in with a story that if it proves true, will be quite startling.  He heard the story second hand, but we are in the process of following up on what he heard. Simply put, we are grateful for his taking the time to speak to us, and as he put it "I've been waiting 15 years for someone to hear this story."  We are glad we were here to put it on camera.

Old Garapan Jail
This is the old jail where many folks claim to have seen "a european woman" a "white woman" - Amelia Earhart incarcerated in 1937.  There are varying reports on what happened to her after her incarceration here.  We are seeking corroborating eye witnesses, and hearing some pretty amazing stories.  As we try to repeat to everyone we meet; we aren't interested in taking any artifacts out of Saipan, we aren't interested in examining why these events occurred, we are just seeking the truth of those events - what people saw with their own eyes.

Captain Paul Cooper

Besides being a Southwest Pilot for many years, Captain Paul has been an expert "dowser" for 30 years.  For those unfamiliar with the practice, it's commonly used in the olden days of the US to look for water.  We consider Paul a secret weapon in our arsenal of search tools, which include GPR, eyewitness reports and triangulation of forensic evidence.  It just so happens that every time we've had a GPS coordinate for Paul to locate (four separate occasions) he's been accurate without benefit of the unit each time.

A GPR screen
Little bit hard to see - but the GPR screen gives exact precise coordinates, and tells the operator if there are any pieces of metal - or lack of metal, under the scanner.  Comes in handy when you're looking for spanish bullion - or airplane parts.

The team in action at a TV station
Rich Martini, Captain Paul Cooper, Mike Harris and our friends at the local television station which had us on the air this evening.

More to come...!

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.