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.


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...

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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.