This just in:
Les Kinney, retired Federal investigator who has been doggedly researching all things Amelia for decades, has allowed me to put up a chapter from his book about Amelia's disappearance.
This is an excerpt from Les Kinney's upcoming book about what happened to Amelia based on his decades of research:
The Amelia Earhart Mystery and Nina Paxton by Les Kinney
At about 2:20 in
the afternoon of July 3rd, 1937, Nina Paxton was fiddling with the tuner on her
Philco radio in Ashland, Kentucky. Suddenly, she heard Amelia Earhart "In
a very clear strong voice." For a few seconds, Nina attended to the needs
of her five year old son thinking Miss Earhart must be on a training flight.
When she then realized Amelia was crying for help, she listened and took a few
notes. A few minutes later, Earhart was
Until her death on
Christmas Day, 1970, Nina Paxton told anyone who would listen that Earhart had
crash landed in the Marshall Islands. She tried to remember everything she
heard that day. She began standing vigil over her radio listening to the short
wave band hoping to hear Amelia again. A few years later, Nina wrote to Rand
McNally looking for information on the Marshall Islands. She developed a guilt complex and believed
she hadn't done enough to save Earhart's life.
She searched for new memories, words or phrases Amelia might have said
on that July afternoon that might have escaped her. No one seemed to believe
her. In the mid-1940's, she wrote to the Office of Naval Intelligence, Walter
Winchell, and the FBI. Toward the end of her life she corresponded with Fred
Goerner, the bestselling author of The Search for Amelia Earhart. Nina's letters always carried the same
general message: Amelia Earhart landed in the Marshall Islands.
Skeptics said Nina
could have gotten her information from newspapers, radio, and seeing the 1943
movie Flight to Freedom. The fact that
Nina waited a full week to tell her local newspaper didn't help her
credibility. On July 9th, 1937, the following brief article appeared in the
Ashland Daily Independent. It differs from Nina's notes from July and August
1937. Nina had more to say than the local reporter sent to print.
"Mrs. C.B. Paxton, 3024 Bath Avenue, told the Independent she
heard the distress message of Amelia Earhart noted American woman flyer lost in
the Pacific ocean last Saturday afternoon at two o'clock.
Miss Earhart and her
navigator Frederick J. Noonan, last were heard from in the air at 2:12 EST last
Friday when they said they had only a supply of gas good for thirty minutes.
"The message came in on my short wave set very plain," Mrs. Paxton
said, "and Miss Earhart talked for some time.
I turned the radio down one
time to talk to my little child and then turned it back up to catch the last
part of the message. I didn't understand everything Miss Earhart had said, Mrs.
Paxton told the Independent," because there was some noise."
the following message as she understood it: "Down in ocean, then Miss
Earhart either said on or near little island at a point near...” after that Mrs. Paxton understood her to say
something about directly northeast although she was not sure about that part.
"Our plane about out of gas, Water all around very dark."
said something about a storm and that the wind was blowing." Will have to
get out of here," she said. "We can't stay hear long." The message was proceeded by Miss Earhart's
call letters, KHAQQ calling, KHAQQ calling."
letters in the 1940's were so passionate, I suspected what she had to say was
true. Why would she lie? Nina was
educated, married, a registered nurse, and had no bone to pick. When I started
investigating her background, I found out she died a widow in Ashland, Kentucky
on Christmas Day in 1970. She left no family. Her husband passed away in 1954.
Her son got into one scrape after another until he ended up in prison.
It took me three
years and quite a bit of luck to locate the Paxton papers. Eventually, I
discovered Nina's Earhart files at tiny Mars Hills University in the mountains
of western North Carolina. They were donated to the University by a wife of a
doctor that had worked with Nina in the 1950's. The Paxton box had been
collecting dust in a library store room since 1975.
I planned to report
the Paxton findings in the book I am writing on the disappearance of Amelia
Earhart. Recent events caused me to change my mind. TIGHAR just released a new
Post Loss Radio Study touting the claims of Betty Klenck, who in 1937 as a
fifteen year old claimed to have heard Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on her
home radio for several days.
None of the post loss radio messages collected by
TIGHAR give a location where Amelia and Fred went down. The Paxton paper's
tells us Earhart and Noonan went down in the Marshall Islands. Mars Hills
University recently decided to put a few of Nina Paxton's letters on the
There are over a
hundred letters, some notes, and a few newspaper and magazine clippings making
up the Paxton material. I copied them all. The first letter is dated July 14,
1937. Nina continued to write and offer insight into the Earhart disappearance
until close to her death.
After reviewing all the files, it appears there might be a
few writings and reference notes missing.
It was about 2 pm
on July 3, 1937, local time, when Nina Paxton heard Amelia Earhart's distressed
voice announce she had gone down in the Marshall Islands. Nina had no idea where the Marshall Islands
were located. Nor did she know the call sign for Amelia Earhart's Lockheed
Electra wasn't KHABQ.
After hearing Earhart on her radio, Nina went to the
Ashland Police Department and then to a nearby Coast Guard Station to report
what she had heard. They laughed at her and said the call sign for Earhart's
Electra was KHAQQ. It was for this reason that Nina didn't tell the local press
of Earhart's distress message until July 9, 1937.
Nina had no idea the call
sign for Earhart's previous plane, a Lockheed Vega was KHABQ. A tired,
exhausted, worried, and emotionally drained, Amelia Earhart blurted out her old
call sign the day Nina heard the distress message on July 3, 1937. It would
have been an easy thing to do.
There were over
fifty post loss radio messages reported to newspapers, the government, and
later to researchers. Nina Paxton was the only one who heard a distress message
giving the specific location where Amelia and Fred landed. During the two
months following Earhart's disappearance, Nina enclosed her rough notes in the
letters she sent to Mrs. Noonan, George Palmer Putnam, Walter Winchell, and
Congressman Fred M. Vinson.
Nina typed the rough notes out twice and tried not
to embellish what she had heard. She created spaces where she was unsure of a
word or phrase. The first rough note is without a heading. The second one is
titled, "Call of a Courageous Lady." She didn't like that either and
scratched it out.
In some of her
later notes, which aren't on Mars Hill's web site, Nina wonders why Amelia used
the time of her arrival as 2:20. She possibly thought Earhart might have
converted the time to Eastern Standard Time and makes that point in later
letters. Nina put's this confusion in parentheses.
Nina's two rough notes held by Mars Hill
University seem to be a cumulative compilation completed sometime in August
1937. Nina says "the plane was damaged in landing hear near a part of
Marshall Islands." Amelia say
Noonan was injured, and that he "doesn't walk very well, and that he
(Noonan) bruised his leg badly when landing."
In a letter to
George Putnam dated August 5, 1937, Nina writes she found a piece of scratch
paper she had written while listening to Earhart. ""Miss Earhart mentioned three
little islands. The little one (perhaps a reef) they were on, north of Howland
Island at a point very near an island she called "Marshall".
(Sadly, this little piece of scratch paper is
missing from the Mars Hill holdings.)
Rather naively, Nina tells George Putnam in a letter dated August 5,
1937, "If there is an island known by the name of Marshall and it can be
contacted, I believe it well worth-while to do so at once as I am sure Miss
Earhart, and Captain Noonan will be found in this area."
Early researchers Vincent Loomis and Oliver
Knaggs in the late 1970's and early 1980's focused their attention on the
middle of three islands at Mili Atoll. On my recent trips, to Mili Atoll, we
discovered airplane artifacts in the middle of three small islands. Nina's
rough notes indicate she heard Earhart say, "Directly north-east of a part
of Marshall Islands, 90 ****173 longitude and 5 latitude. We missed our course
yesterday and came up here."
No one knows
whether Fred Noonan carried sectional maps for the Marshall Islands. The U.S.
Navy hadn't the opportunity to map the area since the Japanese took control in
1914. It wasn't on their planned route and its likely Fred had to rely on an
old British map of the Pacific from his sea faring days. There is a picture of
Amelia and Fred on the internet standing next to the tail of the Electra
looking over such a map. If they relied on that map, Fred would have only had a
general idea where he and Amelia had gone down.
On that warm summer
day, 81 years ago, when Nina heard Amelia's
worried voice fill her living room. She scratched down a few of Amelia's
shaky words. "90 ******173
longitude and 5 latitude". If you
look on a map, 5 degrees North latitude and 173 East longitude is not far from
Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands."
(NOTE: This is a chapter from Les Kinney's book - no portion may be reproduced without his written permission.)
NOTE: THIS LETTER IS POSTED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS LETTER CANNOT BE PUBLISHED OR OTHERWISE USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE UNIVERSITY, BUT I POST IT HERE ONLY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.
Nina Lear Margaret Paxton (Mrs. C.B. Paxton), “Letter dated July 30, 1937 from Mrs. C.B. Paxton to Mr. Walter Winchell,” Southern Appalachian Archives Mars Hill University, accessed July 28, 2018, http://southernappalachianarchives.org/items/show/227. This image may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for personal and educational use, but any commercial use is prohibited without permission from the Southern Appalachian Archives, Mars Hill University.
Nina Lear Margaret Paxton (Mrs. C.B. Paxton), “Letter dated July 30, 1937 from Mrs. C.B. Paxton to Mr. Walter Winchell,” Southern Appalachian Archives Mars Hill University, accessed July 28, 2018, http://southernappalachianarchives.org/items/show/227. This image may be viewed, downloaded, and printed for personal and educational use, but any commercial use is prohibited without permission from the Southern Appalachian Archives, Mars Hill University
Here's a transcript of the above second page of one of the many letters she wrote (this one to Walter Winchell, who had spoken about AE on his famous radio broadcast.) She began writing letters on July 9th, 1937.
“About 2 pm Saturday (7-3-37) as I tuned my radio between 12
and 13 Megs, I picked up the following message: (NOTE: My notes (RM) are in black)
"KHABQ calling. KHABQ...."
(KHABQ was the old call sign for AE, not
something Paxton could know).
“We are down here on a little island, perhaps on a coral
reef at a point near Marshall Islands. At a point north east of Marshall
Islands. 90 ********** 173 Longitude and 5
Latitude. We missed our course yesterday
and came up here.
(NOTE: Google Earth says that Mili Atoll is 171 Longitude and 6 Latitude. The exact location of 173 Longitude by 5 Latitude would be roughly 100 miles east of Mili atoll. From the route they were following from Lae to Howland island, if you chart 90 degrees due North from their trajectory you'll find yourself in Mili Atoll, the Marshall islands.)
"This is a bleak place. We can see part of the Marshall
Islands in daytime. There isn’t any
habitation or life here, but some vegetation."
|At high tide, the coral reef of Endriken (hundreds of yards long) disappears. Bleak indeed. |
(NOTE: Here’s a photo of Endriken island, where locals claim she brought the plane down. During the day, the coral reef is long enough
to land a 747, but disappears as the water rises. In photos of the island from 20 years ago,
there are few trees, mostly vegetation... and just a long reef.
("A bleak place")
In the “Google Earth” photos from a decade ago, drag marks from a large object
can be seen going from the north side (where the ocean is) to the south side
(where the inlet is, where a barge could be used.)
Dick Spink, Mike Harris and Les Kinney found
railcar wheels left on the island, the kind that would have been used to
transport a large object across the island.
According to locals, “40 Marshallese islanders were ordered by the
Japanese military to move the plane.”)
“There are no trees here, but we can see a few small trees
on a part of Marshall Islands in daylight. It is stormy here and very dark. The
wind is blowing. The ocean is very rough.”
(NOTE: Reports claim that there was a storm that had come up and
was partly responsible for pushing the plane on its path. As noted here on this site, she “often was
200 miles NE of her destination (once in Burbank, another time in Dakkar) as if
she “leaned on the joystick” in such a way that kept her going to the
left. Either way, the recent documentary
“Amelia Earhart” on the History Channel showed documented evidence that she had
enough gas to make her way to the Gilbert islands not far away to the south.)
“We came down here yesterday afternoon at 27 (crossed out) 2:20,
(or Ms. Paxton wrote “it is now 2:20”). The plane was (badly) damaged here when
landing on a part of Marshall Islands. (Damage to the plane described.) We have
everything. The Captain is with me. The Captain isn’t right here with me, he is
over near the plane.”
(NOTE: Her note that “damage
to the plane” was described is telling.
According to Jim Hayton, NTSB investigator who examined the pieces of
the Electra that Dick Spink found (and determined it could only come from hers)
the pieces he found indicated that the wheel base had broken over the rough
coral landing, and the brakes shredded.
However, she landed the plane intact, as it was seen intact on the
Japanese ship by Bilimon Amaron, a former Marshallese congressman and others
"We landed near the water’s edge and our plane is drifting.
The Captain doesn’t walk very well, he bruised his legs badly when landing
yesterday. The Captain was shaken severely in landing."
(NOTE: This was corroborated by two people. According to Bilimon Amaron, a citizen from Jaluit (who later was a business partner of a construction company still in existence, where his partner from Boston told me "He never told a lie. If Bilimon said he tended to their wounds, we all believed him.") Bilimon said he tended to a small cut on Amelia's forehead, but that Noonan's wounds were bad and on his legs. Recently, in Saipan, a Ray Bermudes, a local, reported on camera that his mother worked as a nurse in the hospital on Garapan, Saipan, where she tended to Amelia's wounds, but told him to not speak of it to anyone "because she was a spy.")
"The water is all around us, and it is warm. We are very comfortable right now, but we
will have to get away from here soon."
"Howland island is ----- miles (south west).
(NOTE: Mili is 882 miles from Howland, Ms. Paxton didn't remember the exact number and if she was making it up, she would have supplied one. Either Amelia was already 200 miles NW off course, or as the History Channel program noted, had enough gas for a back up plan; either way, enough people saw her land the Electra, and have found pieces of it on Mili.)
"We are a long way from New Guinea (name of
place [Lae]) New Guinea) is between eighteen hundred and nineteen hundred miles
from here, we started to Howland Island ((she) stated why they missed their course.)
(Paxton wrote "My Imp" or “my impression” in pencil.)
(NOTE: Mili is 1921 miles from Lae, New Guinea where they took off from - so this is EXACTLY CORRECT and not something Ms. Paxton could know or make up.)
"The Gilbert Islands are xxx south east, and Cook Island is
(NOTE: The Gilberts are 449 miles SOUTH EAST from Mili atoll. Cook Island is to the South. Both of these are CORRECT and not details Ms. Paxton would know. According to the History Channel documentary, her back up plan was to fly to the Gilberts for rescue; this corroborates that decision, but she knew she was "near the Marshalls.")
"(Mulgrave or Musgrave) Island is very near. (The name of Smith was used
in some manner.) Our food supply is good but the water supply is not so good.
It has become contaminated. We are alright
now, but we can’t stay here many days.”
(NOTE: Mugrave island is also known as "Lady Musgrave island" and is off the coast of Australia, close to Brisbane. Mulgrave island is the term for "Badu Island" which is South of New Guinea. HOWEVER, I THINK AMELIA WAS DESCRIBING WHAT THE ISLAND LOOKED LIKE. The word "near" can also be used with regard to how something looks. She may have said "close to" with regard to how it looked, and Ms. Paxton heard it as distance. See the photos below for contrast.
First, this points to the fact that Ms. Paxton could not be making these details up, since she has no idea of where any of these places are, but if you look at the photos below, you'll see that Lady Musgrave Island and Endriken Island are similar in shape and size.
Elinor "Smith" was a famous stunt pilot, there was a friendly rivalry between the two aviatrixes, Smith was the 3rd woman to be featured on a Wheaties box in 1934. Not sure if she meant this Smith, but it would have been funny for her to say something about her rival at this point.)
(Miss Earhart (then) gave a description of the islands as she
mentioned them. Words in parentheses are as I understood them.) The above message was heard with practically as much volume as local broadcasts. The last time I heard Miss Earhart speak her name was 10 PM, EST, August 10th, 1937.
|This is Lady Musgrave off the coast of Brisbane, which looks a bit like:|
|Aerial of Endriken Island (near Barre Island) where locals said she landed the Electra|
|Endriken Island with pins where Dick Spink found artifacts from the Electra that Jim Hayton, former NTSB investigator said "could only have come from her Electra." (see below) Spink, Mike Harris and Les Kinney returned to the island a few years later and found more artifacts from her plane. Note how the ocean's rise has taken up more of the island than in the above photo from about ten years ago.|
|Most recent Google Earth photo of the island. Note, water above is deep water, and the below is lagoon water. There are still railcar wheels on the island that were used to transport the Electra from the north side to the easier to access south side.|
|This is Mulgrave Island ("Badu") off the Coast of New Guinea|
(NOTE: If Amelia was using the term "near" to describe what the island looked like, both of these photos show a similarity between Endriken (near Barre island in Mili atoll) and Mulgrave and Musgrove islands.)
In her letter to George Putnam she added that she’d found a
scrap of paper: . ""Miss
Earhart mentioned three little islands."
(NOTE: See photo above - these three islands are on the north end of Mili Atoll. Another detail left out of the above.)
"The little one (perhaps a reef) they
were on, north of Howland Island at a point very near an island she called
"Marshall". I believe she said 90 degrees directly NE of Howland
island, however this may have been miles. After giving the latitude and longitude
(173 longitude x 5 latitude) she said “We missed our course and came up here near Marshall Island.”
(THANKS TO LES KINNEY FOR SHARING THIS NEW INFORMATION.)
For further details, in case this is your first time here; scan the articles below:
EARHART TIMELINE: BASED ON EYEWITNESS REPORTS:
She landed the plane on Mili, a number of islanders saw her. The son of an island "Chief" says "40 Marshallese were ordered by the Japanese" to help them load the plane onto a Japanese Barge.
|Saw her plane in Jaluit with his father in 1937. "They've captured an American spy."|
Footage shot and owned by Mike Harris.
|Bilimon Amaron, whose business partner says he was "beyond reproach."|
Footage shot and owned by Mike Harris.
|It was a secret punishable by death. Footage shot and owned by Mike Harris.|
Andrew Bryce (USN) worked alongside a stevedore who told him that he helped load the plane on a barge - knew whose plane it was. Andrew's brother Doug saw the plane in its hangar at Aslito airfield months later.
|Douglas Bryce; stationed on Saipan, saw the plane from 30' away.|
|Andrew Bryce, his brother stationed on Majuro, met the stevedore who transported Electra.|
|Aslito the day they found her plane in a hangar. (From US Marine footage from that day in 1944)|
Numerous people saw Amelia and Fred in Jaluit as noted above. I have two eyewitnesses on film who claimed to have seen her and the plane on Jaluit, I have two eyewitnesses on camera who saw her and Fred (one was the son of a man who saw them) arrive on Saipan.
I've filmed eyewitnesses or have testimony on camera of people who washed her clothes, fed her, tended to her wounds. None of these people tell their story for any other reason than because I asked them.
|An army veteran, his father Manny Muna saw AE in her cell in Garapan.|
|Her first cell in Saipan shown by Manny Muna.|
Footage shot and owned by Mike Harris.
|Ray Bermudes' mother treated her in the hospital, told Ray about it,|
but warned him to not reveal it to anyone.
|This gentleman was 12 when she was parked in a truck in front of his grade school for half an hour. His brother saw her too. "My first caucasian woman, dressed like a man and in Japanese custody. It's not the sort of thing you would forget."|
This gentleman saw her the same day on the same truck on
the same road in front of his school. He had never heard the above
account, came forward to corroborate the story in May 1944.
|The hospital where her and Fred's wounds were tended to.|
This foto from 1944, was a hospital for GIs as well.
|The prison today. Her cell was halfway down this row.|
|Fred Goerner looking at her cell in 1963. There's a tree still growing in it,|
although the bars are now gone and someone has whitewashed it.
|The brake assembly piece found on Mili Atoll that only|
fits that particular model, according to an NTSB investigator, one of a number of pieces.
Property of Dick Spink.
|A dust plate found on Mili that has paint that matches the color of paint from the Electra.|
Property of Dick Spink.
|Railway wheels used to transport large objects across the|
sand found on Mili. (Also the same guage used on
Saipan and other islands for sugar cane transport.)
|Dick Spink, Jim Hayton, the NTSB investigator with piece of the Electra|
(Rich Martini and Mike Harris)
|This US Veteran had a flight instructor in the 60's who told him|
about meeting a Japanese soldier who claimed he guarded Amelia.
|Josephine Blanco, who lives in San Jose. She was on the docks at age 16, delivering a sandwich to her brother when she saw Fred and Amelia brought ashore. She told people about it after the war, and it was a letter she sent to Fred Goerner that got him interested in the story in 1963.|
It's notable that there is no other island, no other group of people who claim to have seen her and Fred. There's no motivation for them to do so. None. There are eyewitnesses who saw her incarcerated, who heard that Fred was executed, that heard she had died from dysentery. There are eyewitnesses who claim to know where she was buried.
|This US Marine was there when Wallace Green took over a photobook with photographs of Amelia Earhart in it. This Marine reported his fellow Marines said they "saw her Electra on the runway." (Green, later commandant, denied he'd ever "heard anything about Earhart being on Saipan.")|
There are US Marines who I've filmed on camera talking about decoding the message when they found her plane, found her briefcase, saw her passport and flight plans. There are Marines who saw the plane in a hangar and natives who also saw it in a hangar and saw her in prison. There are Marines who claim that they saw the plane flown, and then later saw it destroyed. There are veterans who claim they were ordered to dig up her body "but only found an arm and a partial ribcage."
|Saw the plane, overheard Nabers talking about the Electra, saw her cell.|
|Decoded messages they'd found her plane, guarded it for 24 hours, watched in burn.|
|Found her briefcase, passport, turned it over to Lt. Col. Wallace,|
Nabers confirmed he saw the same briefcase in Wallace's tent.
This is not theory, belief or opinion. These reports are not theories, beliefs or opinions. This is just what the eyewitnesses have said. I've long stopped considering other people's theories about what happened to her - none of them have any eyewitnesses. When you hear one person tell you a fantastical story, you may consider the source. When you have two tell you the same story (as I have, including two people who saw her in May of 1944) who can name the street, the time and day they saw her - then it bears further research.
But if you have over 200 islanders who say relatively the same things about her being on the island, about her dying on the island, and then US veterans, who have no motivation to make up a story recount the same story that other veterans have said... then at some point its insane to consider any other possibility than what they've said consistently about her.