Born from a Kickstarter campaign, veteran explorer Mike Harris Sr. and filmmaker Rich Martini have joined forces to examine the evidence that Amelia Earhart was on Saipan after she disappeared. They've been joined by a team of professionals from across the spectrum and are backed by a number of individuals with a desire to know the truth.
Stay tuned for more information...

Tuesday

A recap and further adventures...

We are still in the hunt.

Captain Cooper at the old Japanese jail - photo Robert Rustin
Captain Cooper reports from Saipan that our permits are in order to being digging at Alsito airfield.  There may be one or two more hoops to jump through, but basically he's on the runway, his engines running.  Here is Captain Cooper in today's Saipan Tribune:


Facility to host exhibit on female pilot
A team of researchers doing investigative work in the Northern Marianas on the mystery surrounding famed American aviatrix Amelia Earhart's disappearance is reviving efforts to have a CNMI Cultural Center built on Saipan.

Capt. Paul H. Cooper, one of two guest speakers at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting yesterday, said the center could accommodate not just the world-class Amelia Earhart exhibition the team is putting together but also the CNMI museum.

Cooper said he found the 2005 plan for the proposed $20-million center during discussions with Chuck Jordan, who served as director of the Office of Planning and Statistics for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

“This program is something that Saipan needs,” said Cooper, a pilot for Southwest Airlines, adding that their team already created a committee to do due diligence to ensure that the project prospers.

According to Cooper, there are grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other funding sources that could subsidize the construction of the center.

“There's plenty [of] available grants to do this project. We just need the people of Saipan to get behind this. We're gathering our resources to bring this forward. I'm excited to be able to share this with you today because the center is what's best for Saipan,” he told Rotarians.

Cooper's team is doing research on Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, who disappeared in 1937 aboard a Lockheed Electra Model 10 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

“Our reason is to solve this aviation mystery that's been plaguing the world for the last 70 years,” said Cooper.

The team is composed of Cooper, film director, producer, screenwriter, and freelance journalist Richard Martini, and aircraft recovery lead investigator Michael Harris.

Harris, who also appeared before the Rotary Club of Saipan in January, said at the time that his visit is to make a documentary on the Naval Construction Battalions, popularly known as Seabees “because we didn't want the word to get out about the Amelia Earhart research that we're doing,” said Cooper.

“A lot of people out there don't want us to succeed,” he said.

Cooper said eyewitness accounts from a dozen U.S. Marines, plus over 200 from various Pacific territories attest that Earhart's plane was shot down and was taken to several islands before it was finally brought to Saipan.

“Her airplane was found here in 1944 by the U.S. Marines when they invaded Saipan. It was flown after they found the airplane then it was destroyed,” he said.

According to Cooper, some 20 eyewitnesses they interviewed on Saipan corroborate that Earhart indeed spent time on island during the Japanese occupation of the Northern Marianas.

Another group, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, is convinced that Earhart went down in Nikumaroro island, about 400 miles southeast of Earhart's intended destination, Howland Island.

“They don't have one piece of evidence. They don't have an eyewitness. Now, have I found a piece of the airplane? Not yet. But I'm close, I believe. The way the dominoes have fallen since I've been here, if my footsteps weren't guided by God, it would not have been possible for me to discover what I've discovered since I've been here. The whole team has just been totally blessed with this experience,” said Cooper.


Meanwhile, Mike Harris Sr. reports from Florida that he's been successful at locating some of the footage that he shot back in 1983 of islanders speaking on camera about seeing or hearing stories about Amelia Earhart being on Saipan.  This footage has been mistakenly identified as coming from "T.C. "Buddy" Brennan" when it was Mike who was directing the documentary and had hired the cameraman.  For whatever reason, Mr. Brennan released a video and a book about the expedition, but neglected to tell Mike that he was using his footage in either.  We've come that much closer to rectifying that oversight.  Mike will soon have a print of his footage in hand, so we can access it and blend it with what we've shot on Saipan.

Mike Harris shooting on Saipan

We've also had progress on two fronts; we have been able to locate some of the footage shot during the Oliver Knaggs expedition on Mili and Jaluit back in the 1980's.  After an exhaustive search, we are in the process of discussing what exists in VHS or 16mm form.  We will report back to you what condition this footage is in - but for those Earhart researchers who've been able to see Oliver Knagg's book, this footage will do a lot of clearing up the Mili portion of the story.  (Islanders reported the Electra coming down in Mili in 1937, these are eyewitness interviews with people who claim to have witnessed that event.)

Also we are pursuing an interview with someone who was instrumental in the Earhart saga.  We were able to interview her brother on Saipan, and god willing, we will do an interview with this woman who had a key role in the sighting of Amelia Earhart on Saipan.  The point of this being that we are asking people to just tell us what they saw - and when compared with other stories, eyewitness accounts, a fuller picture comes into view.  This person can also gives us an accurate portrait of what it was like on Saipan during the war years - and that information is priceless in terms of living history. 

Robert Rustin and David Dougherty - thanks for your help
Saipan, as we've come to learn, played a key role in world history.  Once the airfield was taken by the US forces, the air war was essentially won.  It was this key moment when bombers could refuel on their path to Tokyo.  And within months, the airfield had been expanded, and then a larger one was built three miles away on Tinian, where bombers could fly around the clock.  And of course, it was on Tinian where warfare changed forever, with the introduction of Fat Man and Little Boy into the lexicon of warfare.  It was this airfield that changed the way war has been fought since, and perhaps forever.

Aptly named Forbidden Island - another mystery of Saipan

By the way, one tidbit we've learned while on Saipan.  Japan was developing an atomic bomb at the same time the US was developing its own.  The story, as we've been told it from two sources is this; the Germans had a submarine not far from Saipan where Japan and Germany were doing a joint effort in the race to develop an atomic bomb - the bomb to end all bombs.  And when the first bomb destroyed Hiroshima, as the story goes, when word made it to this submarine, the three Japanese scientists went into their quarters and committed harakiri.  This story is not part of any history program we've come across, and if true, would change the argument about the necessity of dropping an atomic. If these fellows had been successful, the world would certainly have been a different place - and I probably wouldn't be writing this sentence...

Stay tuned... 

10 comments:

  1. Hi Paul -
    HOPE you's FIND the *RING. Has anyone THOUGHT about Fred Noonan's *WATCH? or Fred's wedding *ring?
    What about the rubber raft & *paddle they used when they paddled up onto Mili Atoll.
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Doug, we are aware of only what we are told and are not trying to find things that people have not reported. There is extensive reports of AE giving someone a ring. There is one report of a someone telling a Marine that he had her jacket. But we ignore reports that are solo - if two people say the same things then we examine it further. We believe AE and FN were taken off the island as reported in the Stars and Stripes in 1944. We have no evidence otherwise. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  2. Plus - Amelia was wearing a right side/insided *watch herself and what about the *belt that she wore around her trousers. Why isn't someone looking at OLD watches on Saipan? 1930's styles???
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doug, you're welcome to come to Saipan and check it out for yourself. We have our hands full with what we are researching, but thanks for the idea.

      Delete
  3. Another question - What about the *[SAFE] that was blown - open by the demolestion guy.
    It would be no good and couldn't this be located?
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The safe was in the Japanese HQ, which was the old church. It was destroyed, only the clock tower still exists. The safe, and tons of other scrap metal has been used and utilized by a living breathing island that has rebuilt and reshaped itself in the past 70 years. And a US territory - so it's like going to New Jersey. The airport welcomes travelers "to the United States of America." Check it out if you get a chance! Beautiful island, great people!

      Delete
  4. I believe the Aslito Airfield dig -- IF you get the permits -- is what the expedition should be focusing on.

    I am afraid this business of looking for watches and rings is just distracting from what should be THE primary objective: finding a piece of the "missing plane" where it's allegedly buried.

    The best shot -- and you guys know this already -- is with your GPR. I was so glad to hear that you brought a unit to Saipan. That may be the most important piece for detective work besides following up/finding eyewitnesses.

    I know one or two other Earhart researchers/authors have had misgivings about this expedition and the likelihood of obtaining permits for digging in the area of the airfield. One thing may actually have worked in your favor: the sheer ignorance of the people who are probably sitting on the permits. IF this so-called "conspiracy" to keep a dig from happening existed they surely would have done something already (remove debris, make up excuses to deny permits). The fact that this is NOT happening (as of yet) is good... It's in your favor that the people who had the most to lose from the truth getting out (evidence retrieval) are dead. The people who work in bureaucracies -- whether it's government or a corporation -- are so overwhelmed with things to do and keep track of that they very often don't know what they're sitting on or what they own.

    Fingers crossed -- I sincerely hope you find something that vindicates the eyewitnesses and may put in the next-to-last nail that'll finish off this mystery. IF you find that metal and it matches the existing sample in the US the secret will no longer be able to be kept... The authorities AND their complicit media will have to acknowledge what seems to be a foregone conclusion in history.



    P.S. -- TIGHAR is a joke... I think everyone who's over 7 years old emotionally and posses some lick of common sense knows that.

    At least P.T. Barnum had some charm and gave people entertainment despite his charades.

    What has TIGHAR delivered except empty, unfulfilled promises????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tighar is a reputable group of scientists who are following their leads as best they can. We really have no issue with them or their research, except when they attempt to discredit ours because it is subject to "unintentional manipulation." We wish them all the best, and hope they continue their work, as it allows us to continue our own work unfettered. And yes, we have permits to dig on the airfield. Thanks for asking - but we have two avenues we are pursuing. Eyewitness accounts from people, and a piece of her plane. The airfield is big - but we have some evidence that points to certain sights which we are exploring. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  5. H. Gordon Selfridge Jr. gave Amelia Earhart *a watch in one of his shops in America. In return she gave him the watch she wore on her 2 trans -Atlantic Flights.

    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Doug - again, we are just focusing on eyewitness accounts, and what people can verify. To date we have multiple reports of AE giving a ring to one of the islanders. The question is simple; what ring? AE had a platinum wedding ring and from what the evidence shows, rarely wore any jewelry, let alone on this trip. There are many photos of her last flight, and none of her wearing any. So we are focusing on the information we can gather from these eyewitness reports. If we find it, we'll let you know.

      Delete

Eyewitness Accounts: Published

EYEWITNESS: THE AMELIA EARHART INCIDENT BY THOMAS E DEVINE WITH RICHARD M DALEY

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.”

THE SEARCH FOR AMELIA EARHART BY FRED GOERNER

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

AMELIA EARHART: LAST FLIGHT

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

AMELIA EARHART:HER LAST FLIGHT

By OLIVER KNAGSS

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.

AMELIA EARHART: THE MYSTERY SOLVED By ELGEN M LONG AND MARIE K LONG

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.

“WITH OUR OWN EYES – EYEWTINESSES TO THE FINAL DAYS OF AMELIA EARHART” MIKE CAMPBELL WITH THOMAS E DEVINE

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.”

AMELIA EARHART: LOST LEGEND - DONALD MOYER WILSON

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.