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...

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The Latest from Aviation Week on Science and the Electra pieces found on Mili Atoll

Aviation week weighs in on the evidence from the Paris air show.

http://aviationweek.com/paris-air-show-2015/will-disappearance-amelia-earhart-be-scientifically-explained-long-last

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"Will Disappearance Of Amelia Earhart Be Scientifically Explained At Long Last?"

Paul Jackson Jun 15, 2015

Parker Aerospace has funded a scientific investigation into one of aviation’s greatest mysteries. Will the disappearance of Amelia Earhart be scientifically explained at long last?

The word “closure” did not have its present meaning when, on July 2, 1937, renowned aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific while flying a Lockheed 10E Electra on a world circumnavigation attempt. For 78 years, theories ranging from the mundane to the bizarre have surrounded the tragedy but, at last, an answer based on irrefutable science might be about to settle the matter beyond reasonable dispute.

A recent expedition to the Pacific by non-profit Amelia Research, Inc., was sponsored by Parker Hannifin Corporation (Hall 5, C210) and accompanied by Jon Jeffery, its Aerospace division’s director of technology and business development. Jeffery told ShowNews, “Parker is involved with many charitable events to promote engineering and aerospace interest in the world (and) saw this as an opportunity to help resolve a longstanding mystery from an engineering-based approach. Parker has a long history of helping solve difficult problems purely for the benefit of mankind.”

(That expedition included Mike Harris, Les Kinney, Dick Spink and Jim Hayton from these pages.)

Lending dimensions to the enormity of the recent search task, one theory has Earhart and Noonan leaving Lae in Papua New Guinea and then running out of fuel near Gardner Island, 420 miles south of their intended destination of Howland Island. However, the Parker reconnaissance was in Mili Atoll, specifically Endrikin, one of its 92 component islands. This is 850 miles northwest of Howland – a not inconsiderable change of focus.

Why the new target? Explained Jeffery, “There were eyewitness reports from many native Marshallese citizens who observed the landing and were involved in helping the Japanese in moving the aircraft across the island to load it onto a Japanese ship for transportation to Saipan.” (The Marshalls were a Japanese possession between the World Wars, and there is even a claim that Earhart and Noonan survived and were taken to a Japanese hospital on nearby Jaluit Atoll.)

(Specifically, an island elder recalled that the Japanese had ordered the islanders to help them move the plane off the atoll.  As reported here earlier, Andrew Bryce, a WWII Veteran from Denver, reported that during WWII a stevedore he worked on Majuro claimed that he had helped move the place from Mili onto a Japanese barge which took the plane to a Japanese ship docked in Majuro (which was then seen in Jaluit by many eyewitnesses.)  Veteran Andrew Bryce, who was interviewed about his experiences, is the brother of Douglas Bryce, who saw the Electra in a hangar on Saipan during WWII when he was a radio repairman.)

The expedition was prompted by Amelia Research’s discovery in 2014 of metal items which could have been from a Lockheed. The Parker project team arrived in January 2015 to follow-up with more sophisticated searching equipment.

An area 75 x 300 feet has yielded two small aluminum plates, one with some red paint, which was the color of the trim on Earhart’s aircraft, plus other metal items, at least one matching a component of an Electra’s wheel-well. Jeffery’s team of laboratory specialists is now examining the chemical “signature” of the metal and hopes to be able to present its findings later this summer.

Courtesy Dick Spink - piece found on Mili

Jim Hayton demonstrates where this other piece fit on the Electra

For more positive identification, says Jeffery, “the team gathered parts from another Lockheed Electra from the same time period; parts from a Japanese “Zero” fighter and “Betty” bomber; and parts from a 1946 Piper J3 Cub, to compare and show differences.  Also, the team may have access to paint and aluminum samples that is confirmed from Amelia's aircraft”.

The last remark refers to part of the starboard engine nacelle that was removed during an earlier accident repair. The paint’s chemical structure will be a further reality-check, for it must be remembered that U.S.-made aluminum was exported to Japan until an embargo was imposed at the end of 1939.

Parker Aerospace is performing the role of detective, not judge or jury. After its scientists’ findings are disclosed, it will be up to officials of Amelia Research, and others, to weigh the facts and arrive at a decision. “Parker currently doesn't have any plans for further sponsorship beyond supporting verification of the parts came from the Earhart aircraft,” notes Jeffery.

But someone else does. This very month, a different group of historians is on Gardner Island (now known as Nikumaroro) to search for wreckage just offshore, as well as evidence of a castaways’ campsite, hoping to substantiate an alternative theory. Signs are it’s going to be a busy few months for Earhart followers.

The initiative by Parker Hannifin may, or may not, silence the incorrigible conspiracy theorists and achieve public “closure” but, at least, the responsible authorities in Washington, DC, might be able to close their dusty files. At the FAA, for example, the N-number of Earhart’s Electra (16020) is on the “permanently reserved” list in her name, thus unavailable for reissue to another aircraft, as would be usual.

And at the National Air and Space Museum, Tom D. Crouch, senior curator, has declared that the Electra is “on the bottom of the Pacific” 18,000 feet down, tantalizingly close to its destination at Howland. Endrikin or Gardner desert island landings are, therefore, dismissed by a government-funded entity not accustomed to being contradicted.

(Elgen Long also believes her Electra crashed in the ocean. However, he told me point blank that he would be "thrilled" if it turned out that these pieces are from her Electra. Stay tuned.)

If Parker’s public-spirited sponsorship and technical analysis proves the Museum’s unsupported assertion to be 18,005 feet in vertical error, not to mention over 850 miles horizontally askew, it will have been money well spent."

Closure (Photo Purdue Archives)


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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.