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.


Our response to "unintentional manipulation" during questioning

Earhart researcher, filmmaker Richard Martini: No manipulation

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Aircraft Recovery Associates refutes the arguments advanced by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery researchers in their research paper on the reliability of witnesses.

In their research paper titled, “Amelia Earhart, Saipan, and the Reliability of Eyewitnesses,” TIGHAR researchers Dr. Thomas F. King, Thomas A. Roberts, and Joseph A. Cerniglia cited studies as they offered caution in connection with “uncritical reliance on eyewitness accounts – particularly when these accounts have been gathered by untrained personnel and have been frequently retold.”

Earhart researchers  Captain Paul Cooper, Mike Harris, and Richard Martini answer questions from the audience during a public presentation at American Memorial Park last month.  Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
TIGHAR is exploring the Nikumaroro Hypothesis, that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan may have crash landed on Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro, in the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati.

In response, Aircraft Recovery Associates lead investigator Richard Martini, on behalf of the group said that the comment borders on “unintentional racism,” implying that the islanders aren’t capable of accurately recalling their own memories.

“Are these researchers saying that these islanders we’ve interviewed are lying? Or that they are being manipulated? Are they stating that the U.S. Marines are lying? Or that they are being manipulated?” asked Martini.

Martini, a journalist and an award-winning documentary filmmaker, has been conducting his own research for the past 25 years.

Martini e-mailed this reporter their response and posted a copy on their website

“There’s no such thing as ‘unintentional manipulation’ — a clever catch-phrase to make it seem that ‘oh, they must be making this up because the camera is convincing them to lie about what they heard or saw.’”

Citing the article published by Variety last Friday, Martini said, “The article claims that “even word choice by a questioner can influence memory,’ which of course is possible, unless you’re someone who’s been doing this for some time, and knows how to ask a person to recollect whatever it is they want to recollect.

King et al. stated in their paper, “Most of the eyewitness and other accounts by American military personnel are subject to similar forms of unintentional manipulation, memory construction, and faulty interpretation. Although there may be kernels of truth in some or many of the stories, there are ways of accounting for them that do not involve the presence of Earhart and/or Noonan in the Marianas.”

For Martini, “manipulation” is a pejorative and that there are no two ways around it. “Either a person is manipulated or they are not,” he said.

Martini said, “It may be ‘unintentionally racist’ because it’s been the history of Saipan, the history of the Chomorro people, that if an American can’t understand them, or take the time to ask them questions about their lives, about their personal experience during the war, they couldn’t possibly be telling the truth about what they heard or saw from their parents. The Chomorro were first told by the Spanish what to say or believe, then told by the Germans what they should or shouldn’t learn, and then by the Japanese on what they could or couldn’t say. And then when the CIA was based in Saipan until 1962, another group of people would tell them how to speak or what they could or could not say. Our exprience on Saipan is that everyone has secrets to tell, but in general, has chosen not to tell them.”

Martini also described as “paternalistic” and “chauvinistic” the TIGHAR researchers “expertise masquerading as science.”

He said it has little or nothing to do with science or the pursuit of the truth.

He said this is typical “of people who have a vested interest in their own version of the truth.”
“For example, one man we interviewed, 82 years old, said he was 12 years old when he saw a female fitting Earhart’s description sitting with her arms bound behind her in the back of a army truck parked prior to the War in Chalan Kanoa. He said, ‘I clearly remember it, as the truck was parked for 30 minutes, and I had never seen a white person before.’ We asked him questions about other details about the war, about his family hiding in caves. These and other details we were able to corroborate. Why would he slip one lie into an hour of truth?”

Martini said that the Chamorro people interviewed couldn’t be “cajoled or “manipulated in any fashion to say something they didn’t actually witness.”

He also said that a Chamorro will say that he or she didn’t see it personally and say that somebody else did.

“A Chomorro will say ‘I did not see this personally, and I repeat that it was my mother or father who saw it, so I can’t say that it happened, but this is what they said. He didn’t say it was Amelia Earhart. He said it was a ‘tall, thin woman wearing a khaki shirt with light colored hair with her arms bound behind her back and a black bandana across her face.’ If he was being manipulated — or trying to obfuscate — why not just say ‘I saw Amelia Earhart?” He did not know who she was, but he did see her as a prisoner prior to the war.”

Martini said they take the time to corroborate information.

Citing as an example what a U.S. Marine relayed to him, Martini said the veteran told him, “I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was the wire operator in Col. Clarence Wallace’s tent. I decoded the message that came in on June 19, 1944 that said ‘We have found Amelia Earhart’s airplane on Aslito airfield.’ I took the message to my commanding officer and he signed it. And I thought it was odd that he made no comment about it. And then he ordered me to the hangar to guard the plane for 24 hours.’”

Martini said they corroborated this story in interviews with other soldiers who saw this man guarding the plane.

“What part of his story was made up? What part was ‘manipulated?” he said.

Martini said, “To call a U.S. Marine a liar is, in our humble opinion, beyond the pale. Oh sorry — he was ‘unintentionally manipulated’ into repeating what he saw. Well, we have news for these researchers; the camera, in this case, doesn’t lie. This Marine spoke the truth and we have five other corroborating witnesses. And we’d like to see them tell a Marine to his face that he was ‘unintentionally manipulated.’”

“To imply that as a filmmaker, or a journalist, we have somehow manipulated people into saying what they think they saw, as opposed to what they saw, or what their parents told them they saw, is to imply we’ve been unintentionally (or intentionally) manipulating eyewitnesses,” said Martini.

The veteran filmmaker also said, “As a team, we’ve been at this for enough time to understand the difference between conjecture and reporting.”

The Aircraft Recovery Associates said, their premise is simple: let the people speak for themselves about what they saw or heard.

“We suspect those who choose to ignore the overwhelming accounts do so because of an inherent disregard of native islanders, or US Marines, or both,” said Martini.

Martini said the TIGHAR group has been developing and testing their hypothesis that Earhart wound up on Nikumaroro for 30 years.

“Isn’t it time to step back for a moment and consider that there might be some logic to what all of these eyewitnesses have said? After all, if the premise was true that people can spontaneously make up memories based on wishful thinking, where are all the witnesses who saw her on some other island? If it’s true that the U.S. Marines might have been deluded by the fog of war, why didn’t they say she was on Iwo Jima, Okinawa or Guam?” said Martini.
For Martini, one cannot ignore the fact that over a dozen soldiers claim they found her plane, saw her plane, or watched it burn at As Lito airfield.

“This was only 7 years after it disappeared — it’s not like they’d had a chance to come up with some other scenario,” he said.

Aside from these soldiers, he said, there were over 200 eyewitness accounts.

In the span of three weeks, they managed to get 15 new eyewitnesses.

“Logic tells us that these accounts bear further scrutiny — not that they may be incorrect, or manipulated, which is faulty reasoning — any cop can tell you that when eyewitnesses agree upon something, then it’s worth pursuing. That is, unless they’re being ‘unintentionally manipulated’ of course,” said Martini.

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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.