Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain


Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain:

Second World War Australian Patrol Finds Tangible Evidence

Of all the various theories and searches regarding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and their Lockheed Electra, only one endeavor has the tangible documentary evidence and eyewitness accounts to buttress the conclusion to their final resting place – the jungle floor in Papua New Guinea. In 1945, an Australian infantry unit discovered an unpainted all-metal twin-engine aircraft wreck in the jungle of East New Britain Island, in what was then called New Guinea.

The Australian infantry patrol was unsure of their actual position in the jungle and were on site for only a few minutes. Before they left the site they retrieved a metal tag hanging by wire on an engine mount. The Australians reported their find and turned in the tag upon return to base. The tag has yet to be recovered from the maze of Australian and American archives, but the letters and numbers etched upon it were transcribed to a wartime map. The map, used by the same Australian unit, was rediscovered in the early 1990’s and revealed a notation “C/N 1055” and two other distinctive identifiers of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra Model 10E.

On 2 July 1937, while en route to Howland Island from Lae, New Guinea, pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared shortly before they were to arrive at Howland Island – up to 2,600 miles and 20 hours after take-off. They were flying a modified Electra aircraft built specifically for the around-the-world journey. Had they arrived at Howland Island, their next stop would have been Hawaii, and finally California. A flight around the world would have been the first by a woman pilot. They undoubtedly encountered headwinds on the flight. The widely accepted last radio voice message from her was “…we are running on line north and south…” manually recorded 20 hours and 14 minutes after take-off by a United States Coast Guard ship at Howland.

This project theory holds that Earhart and Noonan, after flying some 19 hours should have “arrived” close to Howland, but after an hour of fruitless searching for the island, Amelia invoked the Contingency Plan she had made and turned back for the Gilbert Islands. While there were no known usable runways between Lae and Howland except for Rabaul, there was at least the opportunity to ditch the aircraft near to or crash-land on the numerous inhabited islands in the Gilberts along the way if needed, and there was more than sufficient range to reach Ocean or Nauru Islands. Earhart carefully husbanded the engines to extract the maximum range from the remaining fuel. The aircraft had an advertised range of some 4,000 miles in calm air; there should have been plenty of fuel to retreat to the Gilberts at a minimum. Among the myriad of alleged radio calls from Earhart after her last confirmed message were four radio calls heard by the radio operator on Nauru Island…one call was heard just under two hours from her “final” transmission, and some 10 hours later, three more final calls on the pre-selected frequency were heard by the Nauru radioman. The Nauru radio operator was one of only a few radio operators who had reliably monitored Earhart on her outbound leg to Howland – he knew the sound of her voice over the radio. In any event, her aircraft has been projected to have run out of fuel some 50 miles south of Rabaul, New Britain Island, and then crash into the jungle.


David Billings, a now retired aircraft engineering professional, has been analyzing the flight and searching for Earhart’s Electra for more than 20 years in the jungle of East New Britain. Dense jungle, harsh terrain, poor maps, imprecise archival information, personal resource limitations, and possible natural or manmade burial of the wreckage, have thwarted success. He has led many expeditions into the search area, and has refined his analysis to the likely wreck site using terrain mobility studies, geospatial analysis of aerial and satellite images, custom-built maps, and re-analysed archival maps and documents. As an example, the Australian-held wartime map is authentic, and the handwriting reflects unmistakable discreet data points and little known references of military operations in 1945 East New Britain.


The longtime map holder, the Second World War Infantry Unit clerk, Len Willoughby, retrieved the map from a map case on a pile of discarded equipment in 1945, and kept the map until he mailed it to former-Corporal Don Angwin in 1993 (and who revealed it to Mr. Billings in 1994). Neither of these former infantrymen had the motive nor “insider” expertise to create or introduce details concerning the Electra’s obscure component identification or situational nuances. The string of numbers and letters, “600H/P. S3H/1 C/N1055,” remains the most significant historical notation found to date in the search for Earhart’s aircraft. This alpha-numeric sequence almost certainly mirrors the details on the metal tag recovered from the engine mount by one of the Australian soldiers on 17 April 1945. This three-group sequence translates to 600 Horsepower, Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S3H1, airframe Construction Number 1055. This airframe construction number IS Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10E Electra aircraft, and the engine type exactly matches as well. The eyewitness visual descriptions from three of the Australian veterans at the scene also strongly support this supposition. The date on the map, 24 May 1945, refers to the return answer to the Australians from the American Army, who did not believe it was “one of theirs.”

Powerpoint_AE_PNG_NB_01 14 August 2015

David Billings is planning his final foray into East New Britain in 2017, the 80th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

New satellite maps, GPS-aided systematic search patterns, more time on site, larger team, all will help in the search, and a recently completed road will allow vehicle access and eliminate the helicopter costs previously incurred.

The search costs thus far have been borne primarily by David with some help from America, from team members and private donations, all of which has been expended on previous expeditions. Some funding will go a long way to assist in providing the answer…

David says:

“After much thought and new analysis of what we do know, a change of tactics is called for and a new search area has been selected. The area now selected was seen to have an area of “loose bare earth” in 1996 but not considered to be of importance as at that time, we were looking for an aircraft wreck on the surface.

The search area is quite remote and every expedition to this area costs a great deal.

Now retired, I need some financial assistance to be able to continue this very interesting project. We have good evidence but need adequate funding. All donations will be thankfully received and acknowledged.”

David Billings, January 2016.

Part 1 – The Beginning | Part 2 – PNG History/Topography | Part 3 – Wreckage is Found
Part 4 – Tangible EvidencePart 5 – Analysis | Part 6 – Lae to Howland Island
Part 7 – Howland area to New Britain – To the Gilberts…
Part 8 – Howland area to New Britain – Flying Westwards for Rabaul
Part 9 – Not Seen, But Not Forgotten
Part 10 – 2017 Expedition Overview
Home | Contact

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I would like to express my greatest thanks to the men of the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion – specifically Don Angwin, Ken Backhouse, Keith Nurse, Roy Walsh and Len Willoughby.

Google Earth:  The Google Earth application has been of enormous assistance with this project in East New Britain by the project being able to look down on the search area for one, and within the project the ability to ascertain distances and locations for points of the Earhart story has been exceedingly helpful.

The Australian War Memorial contains valuable information concerning the efforts of the particular patrol  that found wreckage but also the information contained in the records offers a surrounding view of the events in New Britain at that time of crisis during World War Two.  The AWM records provided invaluable assistance.

The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), the organisation based in the U.S. that has carried out research over the years into the disappearance of the Electra and her two crew members.  TIGHAR documentation, and the ascertaining of pertinent facts from within the research contained on the TIGHAR site, is acknowledged.


Copyright 2004 to 2017 David Billings – All Rights Reserved

70 thoughts on “Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain

  1. This is a crazy story, but I think it is too crazy to ignore. I hope you can find the tools and support to find the wreck and solve one of the big mysteries of the twentieth century!

    PDX, Oregon, USA


  2. The hypothesis -read fantasy- that gets the most publicity is Gardner Island, when in fact, the huge amount of dollars, time and resource expended in ‘researching’ that farcical hypothesis, has done more to prove the hypothesis wrong, than prove it right.

    ENB would answer why there was no evidence for the Electra or its crew ever being found anywhere in the assumed search area, you can’t find any particular thing if you are looking in the wrong place.

    Keeping a known indicated airspeed seems the number one priority, to me, it is the one ‘known’ you can have, from that you can deduce rate of fuel endurance, and know that whatever navigational aid you use, you have a better chance of keeping on course, by working out the error at each correct fix. So, I think you have it spot on regarding the airspeed, there’s little point Noonan using an airspeed to dead-reckon, when it is varying from, say, 120Smph to 170Smph. It seems obvious that without stars, keeping the airspeed to a known value is imperative, no point throwing another variable into the mix.

    I also think that a contingency plan is why they continued to Howland with no stars, they knew it worth a crack to look for the island, knowing that if they fail they could backtrack to the Gilberts, they had just been over them, and as you say, they knew they were there. This has been one of the puzzling bits for me for years, why continue on if you knew you had little fuel and had no stars? It makes complete sense that they did not feel any sort of danger from proceeding because they knew they had fuel enough to go back, and at the very worst crash land offshore a Gilbert Island, and at best -once they’ve worked out the fuel, wind and location- decide whether it was feasible to make another crack at Howland from a known location.

    I think they had fuel enough to continue beyond the usually accepted endurance, and the ‘experts’ cite things like the alleged stress in Earhart’s voice to Itasca as being evidence she was about to splash. They forget this was a human being and a woman, if I had to go 20 or so hours non-stop to a refuge, and found the place closed, and knew I had another four to eight hours to get to a similar refuge, I’d be pretty freaked out too…and definitely depressed, very depressed. As you say, there seems enough information by Earhart herself -the one who actually flew the plane- and 487 to indicate the Electra was better at fuel endurance than the ‘experts’ say.

    I do think that there is merit in the backtracking idea, it’s not even beyond the realms of possibility that the plane went down in the big salty anywhere west of the Gilberts…if it is the plane in ENB, how tragic would it be to be so near and fail? The Diggers’ story is intriguing, so much of it seems to point to the plane being there, if only that darn tag could be found! The localized corrosion hinting to a salty flight, the lack of markings on an all metal airframe, the cabin collapse up to the main wing strut, the height of the fuselage to the Lieutenant’s waist, the amount of growth reported, so many tantalising little clues, then the map…

    I’ve read elsewhere a navigation expert say Noonan had the sun and moon to shoot at Howland, and the data bears this out, BUT, that depends where he was, and the amount of cloud they had in their vicinity. I think that your placing them so far from Howland is why Noonan at best only had the sun to shoot, and maybe not even that. Many Navigators seem to have a hard-on for Noonan, as if he couldn’t miss Howland -despite the most obvious fact, that he did- but with the winds, no stars and maybe even no moon during the day, maybe he really had no idea where he was, there was a reason why Earhart asked for a bearing. After maybe an hour of fruitless searching where they thought Howland was, if the fuel situation was as you say, why carry on looking, when you had a wide band of islands in daylight going back the way you came?

    I think that Earhart baulked at the thought of using radio direction finding, she’d taken little interest in instruction on how to use it, and failed in her preflight test at Lae to get a null; I think she accepted the belief (like some still do today) that Noonan was a superman, who could get her to Howland, which in fairness, if he had stars, he probably could have. But clouds were this superman’s Kryponite, he lost his powers, and in a last desperate bid Earhart tried to use RDF, I think the fact that she used RDF is an indication of how desperately lost they were; until then, she expected all navigation responsibilities lay with Noonan. I also think that this little detail is another reason why she was so stressed in the final calls, not only was she responsible for keeping in the air, but also to navigate. Double responsibility within a few seconds!

    It is an interesting story, and it is wonderful to see someone actually putting their own hard-earned cash on the line for their project, unlike some other projects where the main players put in none of their own cash, but get a great living from the constant funding drives, but continually fail to deliver on the projects themselves. You passionately care for this project, and I wish you well!


  3. MStar,
    You have grasped the totality of the story I have worked quite hard to tell.
    In previous attempts to figure out the detail of the flight using the Lockheed Power Settings or the P & W Max. Continuous setting, the speed those settings gave always overran the target Position Reports of Choiseul, Nukumanu and the Ontario, unless the headwind figure was wound up high….. Only the constant IAS giving a 150 mph TAS has worked and “slotted in” with the times and distances.
    The two sides to the whole story have to be realised in that for No. 1., “there is a wreck in there” which from the description by the Vets and from the detail on the map edge says it is the Electra and No. 2., the Hypothesis of how it could possibly get back to East New Britain is shown in the extracts from the MS Excel plot worked from standard aerodynamic formulas and Horsepower formulas.
    Binding the whole story together is crucial in gaining acceptance for the project and eliminating the somewhat difficult task some Americans have in accepting that their own technology in the mid-30’s was so very, very, good.
    Thanks very much for very good comment.
    David Billings


  4. MStar, My understanding is the radiomen trained AE to “pitch” her voice so that it could be heard above the pops and whistles of long distance radio transmission. Her speaking voice did not “carry” very well when the transmission grew faint.

    It was not an obscure source where I learned that fact (could I find that source today?), but no one seems to mention it. I suppose that makes it an obscure fact, but if true, it may help to put an end to the “fear in her voice” element of the legend.

    Portland, Oregon, USA


    1. There remains the possibility that even IF she did pitch her voice high, for improving radio efficiency, that she was still in panic and fear when the last messages were received. Only the people who heard those messages directly know how she sounded, the rest is speculation.

      That said, I don’t see a panicky Earhart negating this hypothesis, even if she had a contingency plan, it doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have been panicky and in fear when heard by Itasca. Think about it, you’ve been flying for 20 hours, relieved that you should be landing soon, then the dawning of realization that you have to fly back the way you came, it could make one excitable or even panicky. Even a car journey can cause similar stress, I’ve been on long drives and realized when I am four hours into the drive that I have left something back at home, that I intended to have with me at the destination, if I were on the radio darn right I’d be excitable to any receiver of the message, and that’s with just four hours to go, and the ability to pull up for more gas!


  5. The “pitching the voice higher” is written in “The Chater Report” and attributed by Chater to the LAE Radio Operator, Harry Balfour advising Earhart to do this to help overcome the static noises on HF Transmissions.


  6. David Billings has done his homework. It should be obvious to anyone that Amelia and Fred crashed on New Britain in 1937. All the BS about Gardner Island and all the other crazy speculation out there is totally without merit. The tag on the engine truss, the map, and the testimony from the A1 Australian patrol ought to be enough to convince anyone that the Electra made it back that far. Every commercial flight has an alternative in case of problems and all the evidence points to Amelia invoking her contingency plan. Mr. Billings should be congratulated for sticking to his guns. He certainly kept the faith with 16 trips in the wilderness without finding the Electra. I hope and pray that the planned trip in 2017 will solve the mystery


  7. When in 2017? I am trying to get people in the U. S. interested, but I am not a good salesman. All I can say is that when, on the old website, Mr. Billings described the hair standing on his neck, MY hair stood on my neck.

    I hope you can provide a description of how you can make the best effort on this next trip. I hope to get some people excited about the idea!

    PDX, Oregon, USA


    1. Chris,
      Thanks for the offer…I have about ten people already which is the biggest Team I have taken in there. The logistics are bad enough with four in the Team !


  8. Good luck in your endeavours , I only wish I have the time and resources to assist in a more meaningful way, without doubt a worthy adventure.


  9. Having read this all again I can’t see what else the plane wreck could be.

    DB: Neither can I. I have had some wild guesses come my wy, some of them from people who really should know better. One of the wildest was a Dornuier Do17, a Gern[men aircraft used by the Luftwaffe as a medium bomber in WWII, the theory there was the the German sent a dis-assembled Do17 to the Japanese and somehow it wound up in New Guinea…. of course an aircraft “On Test” with the IJAF without doubt have remained in Japan. One person who runs a website for avid wreck chasers in the Pacific reckoned that our Vets Patrol A1 saw the prototype Boeing B-17 Flying Fi[ortress which hads Pratt & Whinet engines. That person reckoned on that being the wreck even though the Patrol Lieutenant stated a “twin-engined” aircraft lay there and we do know that the underpowered prototype B-17 with P & W Hormet engines crashed and burnt out. Still, I get the impression that the unbelievers who cannot possibly give credit to what honest men saw in 1945 are getting fewer when they have had time to think about the possibilities. It just goes to show that there will always be”detractors” of any idea in all walks of life !

    For me it was 487 and the planned Dakar to Aden trip in the first attempt that says NR16020 had the lungs to do it, why would there be a strip map of a flight that was not possible? It may have been extreme range but she was overland, and I guess that there would have been a contingency in that she could, if she had difficulties crash-land on a lump of Earth.

    DB: Precisely, why produce a Flight Plan for 4307 Statute miles if the aircraft could not do it and of note was that all those FP’s produced by Clarence Williams were for NIL Wind conditions. I did look at that flight for a long time and years ago, to be honest, I did think that she would need a 10 mph tailwind to be able to complete such a flight but in the light of flying at Best Lift/Drag Ratio, I may work that again to the same rule I used when working out that AE could make it back to New Britain (but only just)…. before fuel exhaustion.

    I know skeptics say the range was too optimistic and that is why no other legs were planned of that length on the second attempt, but I say that Earhart was aware how tiring such a flight would be by the time of the second attempt, that is a lot of time in the air, even if Fred was co-flying for sections, would have been Hellish listening to those two engines for all those hours, let along all the other stressors of such a flight.

    I can’t see why Earhart could not have happened upon the ‘sweet spot’ in her plane’s performance, after all those hours flying, and for sure she didn’t thrash the plane, we don’t know the planes performance, we haven’t got it to test, but for sure the data in 487 isn’t just pen and paper, Johnson apparently flew the plane with weights corresponding to the various weights to be encountered in a flight profile; his figures are not some dodgy computer program, they are real-world data of what he measured.

    DB: Johnson did do extensive testing of the Model 10E, besides Report 487, there was another report made salso, No. 465, using a stock electra 10E C/N 1041, listed as beung owned by Lockheed in Carrington;s book. So he did test the 10E and he came out with the “best” speed to fly as an average, not the “best speed to fly” for economy which is my answer to critics of my working of the possible range for a return. Like I say in the website, the four-engined Turboprop I was aircrew on as a Flight Engineer flew at 1.1 x Vmd (Velocity-minimum drag) which was a trade off of fuel for speed.
    My idea on the return is that initially they happened on Tabituea in the Gilberts far earlier than expected, i.e: the Radio Call on 6210Kcs, reported by Fred Goerner in the USN file which can be timed at 2200 GMT 2nd July and heard by Nauru Radio would indeed tell us that land was sighted one and three-quarters of an hour after the 2014 GMT call where AE reported she was changing to that very frequency. It fits with her Contingency Plan to return to the Gilberts. To arrive early means that she would not have used up all of her Contingency Fuel.
    To me, the Groundspeeds obtained in the early part of the LAE-HOW flight give the clues as to where Earhart was at 1912 GMT when she thought she was “at or lateral to” Howland. To me in the knowledge of the Groundspeeds she could not possibly have been within 250 miles of Howland.
    Lockheed Report 487, Page 30 is but a brief “resume” of the speeds to fly at for best performance and the only thing missimg from that page is a column showing the “Lift/Drag Ratio number” for the AUW of the Electra and at the Velocity at the time. That is why I added it into the table in the website. Without doubt, Earhart would have had more tabulations supplied by the Lockheed Aircraft Performance Office to consider to extract economy from the Electra 10E. It goes without saying that for her long distance flights she would need that kind of information due to its importance to ensure the success of her flights.

    My gut says it is there, and I hope it is, there are a lot of overinflated egos out there need popping…both crash and sunk and the Gardner fairy-tale.

    Weird how polarised this topic is, kind of like the Mallory/Irvine disappearance on Everest in 1924, although they found Mallory now, but people are still arguing if they summited or not! Like Earhart, they failed but are remembered more for failure than success, if Earhart/Noonan and Mallory/Irvine had all succeeded, people would have forgotten them by now!

    DB: Yes indeed. There are a lot of inflated egos out there, as the subject brings out all the experts who cannot desist from disparaging an honest attempt to solve the mystery based on the only evidence that exists as to where the Electra rests. They bother me not. The only thing that does bother me is that to be able to continue with this I really do need some solid finance behind me.
    Thanks for your comment.

    Anyway, Mr Billings, keep us updated, this is now the only web source I look at now for things Earhartian, I do not like the Cool-Aid at the Leader’s site and have been unable to even view the Aviation Mystery site for a couple of years, I seem to be forbidden…oh well, more important things in life to do…

    Fingers and all extremities crossed you solve this thing!

    Keep dodging those vines 🙂


  10. Make use of some aerial drones with HD cams to assist in your search. Good luck in your East New Britain adventure. Best regards – Hans

    Drones are impractical in the scenario we have. The trees and vegetation hide the ground and we believe nothing will be showing above ground anyway, except “if” the bulldozer driver that buried it, missed seeing the detached engine, which was said to be 30 yards (metres) distant from the main wreckage. We have looked in the area which we consider to be the site but nothing seen. Even so, any object on the ground would now be camouflaged by tree debris and plant growth.


  11. Assuming that Earhart had made a U-turn and her airframe can be verified as c/n 1055, it’s hard to conceptualize that a pilot would track over trees on empty tanks. Daylight conditions prevailed; any pilot with a survival instinct would instead hug the coastline of New Britain for a controlled crash landing on or parallel to the beach.

    Firstly, you must accept that there is an unidentified wreck at the location seen by the Patrol which appeared to be “American” and which has not been claimed by the U.S Army who really would be the only source of an all-metal aircraft if it was a WWII wreck. The visual evidence and the documentary evidence points to the Electra.

    Secondly, If there is no alternative than to keep going to a later forced landing or a forced landing on empty tanks, then the crash situation is unavoidable.

    The prospective crash suite is not very far from the coast anyway, approximately two to three kilometres in fact and “yes”, there is a sloping beach on the coast for about two kilometres or so.. However, the only possibility that can be envisaged to complete a return to East New Britain is if the flight “after” the turnback was conducted at Best Lift/Drag speed… it is the only possible way that the Electra could get there and also the most economical way to fly if you have concerns about fuel. That means a very long drawn out flight at the most economical fuel usage possible and at slower than a normal cruising speed, ie: trading speed to save fuel.

    Thirdly, did daylight conditions prevail ? I think not….

    What the hypothesis of the return is stating within the website is that the total flight time is around 33 Hours. If you add 33 hours to the 2nd July 0000 GMT. Take-Off time you will see that the resultant date/time would be the 3rd July at 0900GMT or 1900 Hrs Local time, ie: 7:00 p.m. in the evening at which time it is dark in New Britain. For fuel economy, the dictum would be “fly as high as possible” so that leaning off would be at maximum but also not forgetting that there was no Oxygen carried on the Electra. That means a 10,000 foot ALT as normal with possible excursions to 12,000 for periods as it is known that Earhart did fly the Electra at 12,000 feet in the U.S.. Typically, also, is the late afternoon cloud build-up in the tropics which is “routine” in East New Britain. A descent through a cloud layer in failing light is not normally countenanced on low fuel, but of neccesity having to descend at low tank levels would be the scenario here, in the hope that maybe some faint light may be available to effect a crash landing. Faint hope of that at 7:00 pm over New Britain, sad to say.


    1. Thanks for your reply. Indeed, you are correct. Sunset at Rabaul 3 July 2017 is recorded at 17:51 …so twilight only till 1821, and only 7% Moonlight was recorded on 3 July 1935.


  12. why do these alternate theories always make the news each time you head into the jungle?? conspicuous timing i say!

    DB:Hello Bryce,

    Good to hear from you again…. Yes, first it does seem that every time I make a small amount of headway and gain few more fiends that something happens to stymie the progess for a while. Way of the World I suppose …


  13. Mr. Billings, have you looked at or is there a chance that a LIDAR scan could prove useful for peering under the canopy? I know LIDAR has revolutionized archaeology in jungle environments. I wonder if gridded sweeps of LIDAR could offer clues on the ground, or even slightly under the ground if the topsoil is mounded over the plane?

    Thanks for all you’ve done!

    DB:Hello Joz,

    Thank you for the thanks you gave…. It is encouraging to have that.

    LIDAR would help us tremendously if it eliminated all the trees and just showed the ground pattern or relief. I know the ridgeline fairly well having walked and searched it a few times, first in 1995 for most of the Western end and then in late 1996 at the Eastern end which I have worked out was just after the time when bulldozer driver buried it. Since then I have been along the Eastern half about three or four times and we have looked on the northern slopes where the wreck should be during those times. The trees and other foliage are the problem, you cannot see very far and gauging the ground for a twenty year old disturbance is difficult. This last time we didn’t get a suufiently long time to do a thorough search with the Metal Detectors. Metal Detectors are what we have to use, even though we know that there is iron stone in thje subsoil. Havihg to pull out early was the saddest thing but sensible in the circumstances, mainly caused by having to ford the Mevelo with the vehicles which we had not expected we would have to do. The Mevelo is a big river and I have the utmost respect for it for I have seen it in flood.

    A complete LIDAR scan of the ridgeline surface and the northern slopes surface could give us a better chance at finding it. What we could hope for there is an examination of those surfaces for even the slightest ripple on the surface indicating a curve or slight bank which we could pinpoint in Lat/Long and then investigate each and every bump in the ground for surely as you say, there would be a “lump” showing where the burial mound is.

    I have exhausted all that I could expend on this and i am now completely dependent on funding. What we have to do now, as I see it, is to seek further funding and find out how much LIDAR assistance would cost to scan an area perhaps one kilometre long by 100 metres deep (1090 Yards by 110 Yards). We can;t use roads for access again until they are improved and also bridges are built. That could take years. Helicopter access is expensive in that we need extra runs in with the equipment and rations we carry. Equipment has to be given to the local people as we can’t carry it out and doing so cuts down on helicopter runs. Average cost of an Expedition for six people for two weeks is around $25,000-$30,000 using a Helicopter. Add LIDAR costs to that…


  14. Thanks for your reply! I’ve seen some pretty amazing images produced by LIDAR. Angkor Wat comes to mind, specifically. Features absolutely invisible on the ground can become plainly obvious from the air. The old spoil, disturbed as it was, could possibly be far more obvious from a LIDAR scan.

    I’ve always been interested in the Earhart mystery, but it became a little more personal when I realized that one of the co-designers of her Electra was my 2nd cousin, Lloyd Stearman. In the 60’s and 70’s, I actually lived a very short drive from Stearman, but any of my family who could tell me if we ever met have long since passed on. I’ve attempted to find out what extent Stearman was involved in the modifications for Earhart’s Electra, but that information has been difficult to find.

    In addition, my wife worked for Bendix-King, which became Allied Signal, and now, Honeywell. She still today sells and supports BK radios, specifically, weather, ground and air avoidance systems, GPS systems and GPS databases, all for smaller aircraft. If you’ve ever had to call BK/Allied Signal/Honeywell for GPS databases, there’s a high degree of probability you’ve talked to my wife. Through her, I’ve had the opportunity to test and play with some of the newer BK AV80R products. Considering the state of technology available to Earhart and Noonin, there’s no way they could’ve even imagined the technology at our fingertips today, like GPS navigation.

    Best of wishes on your hunt. I do hope you get all the support you need. If nothing else, the latest media frenzy will help lend impetus, we hope, to continue the search. It would be fantastic if you could be there for the discovery. Here’s hoping!


  15. David,
    When I first read the above research, I found much to admire. At last! Something that seems tangible! And completely at odds with the common conspiracy theories to which I subscribe and with which I will not bore you…

    For, how can a plane be in two places at once, i.e. somewhere in the Marshall Islands and somewhere in the jungle of New Britain?

    Given that we cover-up merchants like to theorise (without much proof) about who knew what, I found it difficult to see why the Americans would show much interest in a possible part of Amelia’s plane turning up in New Britain in 1945? Yet the serial number written on the map seems to indicate clearly enough this was the original plane.

    The conclusion I came to was that the presence of Amelia’s plane in New Britain when it was supposed to be at the bottom of the Pacific presented an ‘inconvenient’ truth. I am fairly sure there was a switch of planes involved but can only guess where it might have occurred. Some have pointed to a swap with the sister plane, Daily Express, in Miami, naturally with cameras all installed. Umm. Certainly, there was something funny going on. My pet theory – without a shred of evidence – is that this plane (or another we do not know about) was modified and sent to Lae awaiting Amelia’s rendezvous. The logic is clear, if not the evidence! In particular, it is difficult to explain the presence of the Daily Express in the USSR if she is at the bottom of the Pacific. Hence, maybe a different plane was used.

    I suggest somewhere close to Lae for the switch because I find it hard to believe that the authorities would risk her travelling two-thirds of the way around the world in a spy plane and risk discovery. Better she swap planes for the last leg with the strict injunction to ditch if the mission is compromised – all speculation but ….

    Now to how a plane can be crash landed at Mili Atoll and in New Britain. If you accept the theory that the planes were switched at the last moment to avoid risk of detection on the earlier circumnavigation out of Miami, when it was known to the authorities, as we lovers of conspiracy would have it, that she had been captured, it would have been awkward to have her plane #1 still in situ in a hangar in Lae Airfield. It needed to be disposed of fast. It may have been given a new identity or flown out at night when no one would see. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, it crashed in New Britain.

    In short, the plane sighted in New Britain was a loose end that needed to be kept quiet. This was why the Americans wanted to know what had been found. By order of FDR all trace of Amelia needed to be expunged. She was never on a spy mission etc. Seems strange how the ‘repair tags’ disappeared, or perhaps, not so strange… What hadn’t been bargained for was somebody noting it on a map.

    Wish you every success with the next dig and make the world sit up and taken note!


    I suppose that the apparent lack of interest expressed as: “Not one of ours”, in the “Official” reply to the Australian Unit could be summed up with the words “There was a war going on and everyone was busy with that…” The later Official reply received had earlier been pre-empted by the visit by two Officers from the U.S. Army who I strongly suspect came from the 594th EB&SR unit 80 miles away down the coast at Jaquinot Bay. These Officers did express interest by n[making a hurried trip to Wide Bay to talk to Backhouse so maybe some intelligence was shown by the U.S. Army but with not enough time to explore the possibilities.
    Yes, Sir Hubert Wilkins was using the recently acquired Russian owned ‘Daily Express’ Electra 10E (C/N 1065) to search for the Russian 4-engined Tupolev Bomber aircraft lost in August 1937. Wilkins search mission with the Electra ended in March 1938 and as far as we know, the Electra ended its’ days in Russia, some say abandoned on the steppe or in many pieces at a Soviet aeronautical institute. So, if Sir Hubert had the ‘Daily Express’ in 1938, it could not have possibly been flown to New Guinea
    In any case, what happened to C/N 1055 left behind after the switch ? Ah, flown out of the airstrip near to Lae and then crashed in the jungle…. O’Kay… So what type of aircraft was the flight continued in ? I am afraid I do not buy the conjecture of an aircraft swap.
    A good read… however.


  16. I think a lot of people accept now that Mr Billings search should be continued until whatever it is there is found. LIDAR might make all the difference to the search- you would think some organisation might make LIDAR available to DB for a couple of weeks- if only as a project of some kind- or for doing a TV program me.

    It would be great if even more did ! Thanks for the thought. Yes, we are looking at LiDAR and indeed I have secured an offer to do a LiDAR Scan next year and from now, I need to secure funding for the team to go back after the LiDAR scan is done.


    1. Whether it is the Electra Earhart was actually in when it crashed , or whether she had switched planes, or another Electra with her old repaired engine and tag , there is a great interest story there – one way or another. I am pleased that LIDAR will be available but just wish some TV programme producer or investor could see the potential in funding a programme on this. What is your funding monetary target David for another trip using LIDAR?

      I have had an offer to do the LiDAR Scan of the whole hill totally out of interest, ie: FOC. The monetary requirement is now the cash to get the team into the site. OUr costs being Airfares, Hotel in and out and rations and equipment. We tried vehicle transport this year (3 x Toyota Hilux)… although the drive of 166 Kilometres over seven hours was “interesting”, the problem became the large river we had to ford and that became dangerous. The Mevelo River is quite wide, maybe 100 metres and it flows quite fast at the level it was at when we forded it. Water over the front hood of a standard Hilux (without a snorkel and big tyres) is pretty deep and we only just made it over and then made it back a few days later. We now are back to using a helicopter and that costs a lot of money for the time required so a reasonable budget for a two week trip “after” the LiDar scan is done is around US$30,000.00 $35K would be better but I can live with 30K.


  17. Hi David,

    I second what H says on the subject of LIDAR. Your continued searching is vital, in my opinion, to us making progress in this mystery. I have ‘changed my story’ about what may have happened many times, but I have always found myself trying to incorporate this New Britain crash site which, you will understand, makes my support of the Mili Atoll – Saipan theory difficult to explain.

    For me, there are two key sign posts – if you will – that seem mutually exclusive, but which I believe are not. The first of these is the Paul Rafford theory that the planes were switched in Miami when the Bendix direction finder was fitted to a plane which previously didn’t have one despite the fact that she flew into Miami with one already installed on her Electra. Previously, I have followed Paul’s suggestion that the switched plane was the Daily Express. From what I have seen on Russian websites, I am pretty sure that this is not the switched plane.

    However, if we decide that the planes were swapped, then we are back to how did the original plane end up in the jungle of New Britain? Most of what we have in the form of so-called evidence is little more than anecdote. Whilst I might not concur with your theory, David, I have to acknowledge that you at least have something a little more tangible to support your claims, i.e. the map.

    This is why I have had ‘so many sleepless nights’. If I don’t want to accept that AE and FN flew all the way back and crashed but feel I have to accept the presence of their original plane there, what can the explanation be? You see the dilemma?

    The most plausible explanation – but still armchair supposition – I can devise to fit both a New Britain crash and a Mili Atoll crash runs something along these lines:

    The Government picks up the tab after the March crash and sets about repairing the original plane – it also creates a replica complete with extra fuel tanks, the mechanism to mount and run spy cameras but, possibly, without the cameras themselves, hidden under / within all the fuel tanks at the back of the plane. It’s all speculation, really, and what I am suggesting now is more a nuance than anything. Some say that her plane left Miami all kitted out for its spy mission with cameras + military radio secreted on board. I say that the mechanism for the camera doors and the cradle for holding the cameras was probably already in place, but the cameras / radio were actually installed in Lae. It’s pure speculation, of course, but I am thinking that the Government didn’t want to run the risk of discovery while she is globe-hopping.

    Also, cameras are sensitive pieces of equipment so it would make a kind of sense not to expose them to any more take offs and landings than strictly necessary, particularly with someone like AE who crashed in March, landed heavily in Miami (requiring further repairs), and who, it transpires, through wear and tear had problems with her shocks during the trip itself.

    But there is another reason why I postulate that certain things are likely to have had to have been done in Lae. It gives me the opportunity to bring in the original Electra. You reasonably ask what happened to it if we accept it was swapped? I believe it was given a different identity and had one or both of the following roles to perform:

    1) It was to be present at Lae for final installation of cameras / radio on the modified plane AE and FN had been traversing the world in; maybe to bring out spares as well. This was an important mission for the Government and they wanted to leave nothing to chance. Once this service was performed and the ‘spybird’ was on the wing, it was time to leave and unfortunately crashed in New Britain

    2) What if there was a bit more to it than this? I am the first to admit that most of my case is based on anecdote and that what you, David, are offering is tangible. However, be that as it may, anecdotally, we have the mystery of the Bendix in Miami, the alleged microfiche of the modded plane and alternate route in Navy archives, AE telling a friend on the eve of departure from Lae that she was not going to stick to the planned route – probably overflying Truk. The question I am asking is what would be the advantage of having two long-range Electra’s in the air at the same time? I can think of one, but you may be able to suggest others.

    If AE’s real mission was to overfly somewhere like Truk whilst wanting the listening world to think that she was on her allocated course, would she not want to be in one place keeping radio silence whilst appearing to broadcast to the world from her legitimate course? I know others have queried over the radio transmissions and claim to have spotted all sorts of anomalies. This explanation might be part of the solution. We would have to assume that this ‘radio-dummy original’ plane was heading back to Lae in the dark, low on fuel when it attempted the crash landing in New Britain and ended up where it did.

    It’s a good yarn, isn’t it? I have absolutely no idea whether such a ruse was feasible, By throwing it out there, I am hoping that someone can lend it some plausibility based on the known transmissions or seize on this concept to advance an alternative.

    I keep coming back to the words of Chester Nimitz, I believe, which said that what they did would blow your mind. This seems pretty mind blowing, but correct? Umm, the jury’s out!


    Yes it is but I can’t continue forever. At 77 I am starting to feel the strain. Vital as it is ….the vital thing I need is the Funding. The Funding is the vital thing, without it I cannot continue.. You see, I have spent my own money on this over the years (and some amounts of funding) out of a firm belief that we are on the right track but as I am now on a pension, I am now totally dependent on funding.


  18. If there was another Electra Phil, who do you think was flying it, and why? And whilst the Nimitz comment was interesting wouldn’t he have discussed the ‘situation’ with other people? How do you keep something like that ‘secret’? Equally how do you keep things secret involving two Electras and crews? A lot of decent people have come up with interesting comments on her disappearance which are not always easily discounted. I am confident DB has something, I think it is Earharts Electra but like you I just wonder if it was her and Noonan in it.This is a major air mystery and DB is the only person who looks like solving it or at least proving a vital link in what happened.His theory still seems the most plausible to me but is there a twist in all this…..


  19. Hi H,
    Your points are all well made and what I am about to say kind of feels like pointing to lack of evidence and claiming that it IS evidence, whereas, IN FACT, no evidence is still no evidence!

    Well here goes…

    If we accept that the original Electra is the one crashed in New Guinea, I think it unlikely that AE and FN were on board because the one-sided cryptic comments of the then Secretary of the Treasury in response to whether to release more information about AE’s demise don’t seem to fit very well – “damaging to her reputation”. How so? The navy was already saying that she crashed at sea, so how is being lost in a jungle any different? If, as seems obvious from his words, the government knew exactly what happened to AE and where she was, why launch a very expensive naval search thousands of miles away? This is answering questions with questions and not really an answer. I suspect there is a twist in this. My guess would be an Electra with different markings but the same serial numbers as AE’s original plane. Hopefully, we will see…

    An alternative theory to explain DB’s thesis was put to me – that this was a false trail laid at the time to deliberately muddy the waters. However, I think DB’s research has been too thorough to admit this possibility. I view the New Guinea crash site as a loose end the Government was keen to keep quiet. They feared that just like the tag end of any knot can be used as a means to unravel the knot itself, there was always the danger that someone may do just that. That’s why they sent two ‘operatives’ out in 1945 to investigate.

    A second Electra? The answer to that question may lie in DB’s crash site – the twist in the tail. Who would have flown it (if it existed) and why don’t we know more about them? “This question is easier to answer – it was a covert operation, the fewer people who knew, the better, and the secret died with flyers in Papua New Guinea”, is what I would say.

    If it does turn out that two planes were used, the only other thing I might speculate is that the original Electra possibly commenced its activities not from Lae (as I previously suggested) but, say Rabaul, not too far from the crash site, in fact. We might speculate and say that Rabaul was sufficiently close to cover matters at Lae, but not too close to arouse suspicion, and that the crashed plane was, in reality, headed for Rabaul and not Lae.

    The DB crash theory is an intriguing mystery within a wider mystery (depending on whether it is the last resting place of AE and FN, or not) and could well hold the key to shedding light on what really happened.



    1. “H” and Phil,
      I am afraid I do not go with the “2nd” aircraft theory, too many people at Lae (or Rabaul) would have seen it and we would have heard about that: “Don’tya know thur wuz anodder airplane …?” kind of thing. It has to be found whatever it is even if it eliminates itself from the search (I obviously believe it is the Electra on the evidence)… Also I donlt go with the “operatives” visiting to speak to Backhouse… just pure and simply “Two ARmy Officers from the 594th EB&SR…who might just have our two and two together and come up with four but divulged nothing to the Australian Unit”. They may even have suggested that theory in a signal themselves and it lays hidden in an depository in the ARMY Records offices – “ignored”…. I know the feeling well.


      1. Hi David,
        Great comments, as always, from yourself, and belated congrats on the LIDAR (sorry, a bit behind the times with those!).

        I am putting the following up, not as a rebuttal – for it may well be that you are right – but more as a curiosity. It was the first time I had heard of it, and wondered whether you and fellow bloggers had come across it?

        I was perusing Mike Campbell’s EARHART THE TRUTH AT LAST page on the infamous comments uttered by the then Secretary of the Treasury, when I came across the following posting by a Rob Ellos:

        “If FDR thought AE HAD disreguarded orders, then got into trouble with the Japanese, as I feel FDR KNEW by fall of 1937, it could help explain the strange comment overheard by David Finlayson that, “they found the bitches airplane,” by FDR in 1944. Amelia, FDR, and Eleanor had been close friends. FDR may have been VERY ANGRY at AE for the disreguarding orders to not approach the Marshalls, and now, public release of knoweledge of that could theaten his present AND future presidency and political aims. Sincerely, Rob Ellos”

        Of course, it is not saying WHERE they found her plane, but it is more the tone that knocked me off my perch, so to speak.



    2. My view, the more convoluted the tale, the less chance it happened, too many elements and too many people to keep a secret safe…a good argument against the 9/11 inside job false flag nonsense.

      I have been reading recently, elsewhere, of a guy who believes NR16020 is actually pictured on Gardner reef, who is now trying to explain away the crew as being ‘spirited’ away by a Japanese submarine to Saipan.

      With so little real data all we have is imagination, Gardner is nonsense, Saipan is irrational, the Japanese had nothing to spy on in the area at the time and were not at war with the USA, helping the US find AE and FN would have increased Imperial Japan’s stock with the USA. Folks forget that at this time in history Japanese interests were further north, raping and murdering in Manchuria etc demonstrating no aspirations to take on the USA…and for sure there was huge doubt about AE’s flying ability in the upper echelons of aviation, it seems that was one reason for Manning to pull out, and Mantz was troubled too…enough that GP kept him out of the loop.

      Think about it, she was was not exactly the best aviator of her day, she had already nearly converted a completely flyable airframe into a complete hull-lose on just her second flight in her first World Flight attempt. Does it make sense that the US intelligence agencies are going to have her take off and land around 30 times before she films the alleged Japanese facilities? Even if it were a plan, they’d throw cold water on it after her Luke Field crash. Let alone the fact that any ‘surveillance’ equipment on board could be discovered at any time in those up to 30 flights by any number of civilians working on the plane all over the world.

      Reconnaissance pilots are amongst the best one can have, they need a cool head and endurance, and certainly should not be neurotic, as AE seemed to be. She doesn’t make the cut as a recon pilot to me…that woman had enough on her hands flying the plane, heck, she couldn’t even work the radio properly, another skill all spies on such a mission would need, a spy in the 1930’s who couldn’t read and and TX Morse Code?

      I think the plane that keeps being spoken in Japanese territory was more likely a Kawasaki Ki-56, and for sure Grunts on the ground would never spot the difference, and time plays tricks with memories.

      As for East New Britain, it still intrigues me, it has one piece of evidence other hypotheses does not have, the map, just a shame the tag never turned up, I can see an extreme scenario when due to complications with navigation the legendary Noonan didn’t get as near Howland as he thought, and sick of being ignored by the ‘chauvinists’ on the Itasca AE headed back the way she came knowing at least there was land that way, and that the Electra can survive a prang, as Luke Field proved.

      The only thing that puzzles me is that surely at first landfall Noonan would have had a fix and been able to head to Howland again with a more accurate course, assuming they had fuel enough to fly all the way to ENB?

      That said, maybe the proposed stronger than expected winds and the apparent radio failure ruled out any thought of Howland, once bitten and all that…just keep flying until fuel says ditch, plenty of islands on the reciprocal course. Although, another puzzle to me is having past land in daylight, why continue to fly in darkness when landing anywhere would be more dangerous? I have no idea what Lae was like at night, but they wouldn’t have been expecting her, and I wonder how lit the runway would have been?

      There again, it was AE, much of what she did and said was not rational…maybe she did rely on that inner voice, her prescient/psychic abilities that ‘told’ her where an aircraft crashed years before…for sure GP called in cranks to find out where AE was, so perhaps both of them had a belief in Guardian Angels and Lord knows what!


      1. @ down the Pub:
        In putting forward the “Hypothesis” side of the website I looked very closely at the groundspeed(s) achieved during the flight up to the sighting of the “ship” which to me indeed was the U.S.S. Ontario. I allowed five minutes for the Electra to be overhead and at the plotted Log position of the ship for the time then worked out the groundspeed overall as “an average”… The sector groundspeeds (LAE-CHOISEUL, CHOISEUL_NUKUMANU, NUKUMANU-ONTARIO) were more difficult to ascertain because of the poor Position Repotring done by Earhart, but, I consider that what I did decide is fairly on track to be correct. All the groundspeeds were down on what could have been attained indicating that the operation of the Electra was on this, the longest flight attempted, “different” to the others. Given that they were flying into a headwind (which from the USCG Itasca wind report on the arrival day), indicated that the wind was actually increasing the further East they went, meant that unless they did something about conserving fuel, they were not going to make it to Howland. Hence I decided to work the fuel on “Best Lift/DRag” speed as soon as they realised that they had the 26 ,ph headwind when they turned the corner to the West of and near to NUKUMANU Atoll.

        What all this meant, with the groundspeeds so far and the use of Best L/D speed was that it would have been impossible for the Electra to be at or lateral to Howland when Earhart made the 1912 GMT call “…must be on you”. The “rate of acceleration” required to be at that physical distance would have meant firewalling the throttles and that would have been suicidal to do. Besides the hypothesis of the Best L/D speed, how can a Navigator know where he is when it is likely that it was “cloudy and overcast” since at least 1415 GMT, five hours before 1912 GMT ? For in that five hours he could have lost 20 miles quite easily and Noonan with Astro to guide him surely would have found Howland after his last starshot and then have used Ded Reckoning to arrive at Howkand assisted by the USCG Itasca as per the plan. Hence the distance I arrived at from Howland at the time of 1912 GMT. That is the basis of the Hypothesis.

        I think you are correct when you say “..once bitten, twice shy”… about having another crack at Howland. Decision time came up on seeing “Land in sight ahead” as per the Fred Goerner report in his book about the call heard by NAURU. Consideration had to be given about a crash landing on TABITUEA Island or a ditching close by the island but in the back of the mind would be possible fatal injury on a crash or being trapped in the ditching (That was Linda Finch’s consideration also) without any possible rescue or medical assistance on such a remote place. What about BANABA (Ocean) Island or Nauru Island? Banaba was populated and was the then administrative capital of the remote islands and Nauru had the Phosphate mines and was heavily populated. LAE was impossible to reach but maybe, just maybe RABAUL was in reach and night would come on just before they got there. As I say in the website, many pilots told me they would keep going as long as the fuel lasted with just enough left to be able to control a ditching or a crash landing.


  20. But David, wouldn’t you have thought the map cn 1055 would have set a few bells ringing with the Americans? Particularly in that area. Presumably their people had access to all kinds of aircraft identifiers .


    1. @ “H”
      Indeed… I do think it rang few bells, particularly at the 594th EB&SR. The timing of the visit by the two US Army Officers and the date they visited meant that it was “too early” for two US Army Officers to arrive in the fighting zone from Port Moresby or any other long distance location away from Wide Bay. The very fact that (to the Patrol) the wreck looked to be “American” and the words Pratt & Whitney being seen meant that the Australian Unit would look around for some Americans to notify and then send signals up the command chain which would arrive at HQ 5th Division which was located at Jaquinot Bay. Who better to notify that the 594th EB&SR (an “Engineer” Unit) who were also at Jaquinot Bay and possibly familiar with American equipment. The 594th EB&SR Unit had an Australian Officer attached to their unit and he was the “Liaison Officer” working as a go-between HQ 5th Division and the 594th. The 594th had a very close working relationship with the Australian Army Units at Wide Bay and indeed had been involved in ferrying troops around, supplying the units and evacuating wounded and even giving fire support on occasion, so the relationship was excellent.

      One area of the records we do need to view are the 594th records which i believe are at Maxwell Army Base. As you will have read on the website, the visit by the two officers was hurried and their return to Jaquinot Bay urgent as the whole unit was due to ship out and did so the morning after their return from Wide Bay. Did they file a report or did they let it rest ? Certainly the statements by the Patrol A1 Veterans indicate that the U.S, Army reply which was read out to them on the 24 May 1945 (5 weeks later) did contain the message “Not one of ours” and “the engine is a Pratt & Whitney Was engine”, and “possibly from a Lockheed”. That is all we know.


      1. @David Billings,

        Must be so frustrating that information could be at Maxwell Army Base, but not be able to access it…

        I find it bizarre that a hypothesis about Americans is ignored, yet vast sums can get spent by Americans on events that have nothing to do with them.

        I am a fan of history and have a massive interest in areas such as the Amundsen/Scott at the South Pole and Mallory/Irvine on Everest…

        Mallory and Irvine were two British climbers both lost on Everest in 1924, although Mallory’s body was found in 1999 by a mostly American team. It was claimed to be a ‘research’ team, but that didn’t stop photos of Mallory’s body being sold to news outlets for thousands of dollars and nor did it stop several books from being authored and sold. Claims that they ‘revered’ the body seem at odds to some of the events that were associated with the way evidence was gathered…there’s even talk that his ice axe may have been found and gone to a private collector.

        Why mention this? I think because Everest is still relevant, people go their, mostly rich-Americans ticking something off their list (I have a feeling that Antarctica is next to join the list of conversation feats, stuff people can boast about at dinner parties), so people are already spending money to go there, there is also an interest in the possibility that Mallory and Irvine got to the summit before Hillary and Tenzing, and people do find artefacts, they are rare but so far a glove, an ice axe and an oxygen bottle have been found along the path to Everest. There is a book and a reputation to be made by anyone who can find Irvine’s body, and no doubt some artefacts are finding there way into private collections.

        Now it could be that the US has a huge mountain climbing fanbase to fund expeditions, but, people can get to the summit in reasonable safety for around $60,000 dollars, at the end of the trip they can have a selfie of them at the top of the world, and maybe find an artefact, but certainly have something to bore people with at dinner parties.

        BUT, what has Earhart have to offer? Any search is very expensive, people see TIGHAR’s three decades and millions of dollars spent on no proof at all (the fact that no proof could mean she wasn’t at Gardner, seems to be missed by many people), PNG is likewise expensive and, as much as I admire your pluck, several years and not an inconsiderable amount of money has been expended with no further noticeable results (I know from each search you are learning something, but folks looking to invest an idea usually want more tangible results, that said, it hasn’t stopped people funding Gillespie’s horses, er, I mean research)…and to an extent crash-and-sank has certainly had the most time spent on it, and not an inconsiderate amount of money, heck half of the US navy was looking at one stage…and Waitt Institute et al have spent hours and millions using highly sophisticated technology to find….NOTHING!

        It seems to me that for most investors in mysteries there is at some level a buck that needs to be made, and after the millions that have been spent on no results I doubt Earhart holds much interest for investors, with Everest they can always come back and bore us with how they nearly died in the Death Zone, but what can an Earhart researcher ‘boast’ about? “I spent a month getting bit by bugs and had the shit for days”, I spent six weeks on a boat looking at an LCD screen”, “I spent five days walking up and down a beach, and throwing a Go-Pro over the side of a boat” lol

        Whether the plane at ENB is NR16020 or not is something that intrigues me, and in some ways not so much because it maybe, but if it is not, then the whole story by those Diggers is even crazier if the plane there is not AE’s plane…with their description, the map etc…it is so annoying that there are people out there with billions to spend, whom a few million for an exhaustive search of ENB would be nothing, they probably spent that on dining or car last year…but this is the world we live in…sick, isn’t it…


  21. Have you had any luck yet in finding a TV company to do a programme on the search ,providing the funding ? I would have thought the whole story, the physical search , and everything associated with your ‘theory’ would make great TV.


    1. @ “H”…..

      Yes, you would think that the story is sooo important and Americans are sooo wanting to find out what happened to Earhart, Noonan and the Electra that with us holding the only piece of evidence as to where the Electra is ….that we would be knocked over in the rush ! It hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened because for one it is very difficult to believe that the Electra could fly so far despite documented figures from Lockheed and strange as it may seem, I do believe that because “I” am not American that people in America find it hard to believe that someone other than an American has the key to solving the mystery. I sincerely believe that if I was American and lived in America and came out with this story there that the press would be all over me….

      Just look at what happened when in 1996, Gillespie of Tighar heard from a Pratt & Whitney representative in Singapore that I had spoken to, that I had “C/N 1055” on paper. Gillespie contacted me almost immediately and wanted to know where I had got that from and he asked me if it was the same story that Veteran Don Angwin had told him in 1990. I knew that Don Angwin had written to Gillespie and that Don considered Gillespie’s response to him to be “rude and a touch arrogant” so I didn’t want to deal with Gillespie at all. I had after all, read the Tighar Forum front to back an well knew what I would be dealing with in Gillespie. I replied to him in a “Cannot confirm or deny” mode which must have annoyed him somewhat.. Gillespie had therefore seen the story in 1990, then again from the P & W Rep. in 1996 and never told his members about it. You probably know as well as I do, that each and every Earhart item that Gillespie hears about or which appears, gets commented on in the TIghar Forum but no, the Don Angwin letter to Gillespie in 1990 nor the information about C/N 1055 known to him in 1996 never got a mention on the Tighar Forum in those years and never appeared until 2004..

      When my first website was issued in 2004, the first thing that happened was that Tighar Members posted queries to Gillespie, “Did he know about this ?” He had to own up and tell his members that he had known about the PNG Story since 1990 but had never told his members. Now, you have to ask, “Why would that be ?”. He posts about all the other Earhart news he knows why didn’t he inform his members about the PNG Story which: “Glory Be !!!”, had some evidence ??? There then appeared many posts from a variety of Tighar people who should know better, which were derogatory and sneering towards the PNG Story. It takes all sorts to make up this world…. Weird.

      I have had several people approach me in regard to doing “stories” about the various searches and searchers who look for Earhart and Noonan. I have had people wanting to do documentaries but when I question them about a return for our group such as like you suggest, ie the Documentary provides some funding for us, “Oh no, these documentaries cost a lot of money to make don’t you know….”. NatGeo wanted to fund the search at one stage then offered half of what I had asked for but wanted “All rights” in return, we would have received SFA. After that another mob popped up and when I started asking questions about what we would get out of it, I got a remark, “Oh yes, we have heard you are hard to deal with…” Really ? Usually it is an approach that says “…..we want to include all the groups” but in reality when I question them they want smaller alternative stories to their main interest which invariably is Tighar and I will not be in that. If they want to do a story entirely on the PNG Search then I am agreeable but so far, no-one has approached me wanting to do “our” story alone and no-one has approached me on a “fair and even” basis.. Of late I have had a request for a video interview but I am so wary of the Media that I want the questions beforehand and they are loathe to do that. LIfe does exist without Media attention and so far I have reached 77 without it…




      1. @David Billings

        I don’t blame you, I get fed up with documentaries where they promote one idea over others, and make the other ideas seem to be ‘cranks on the fringe’.

        My thinking is that they get a topic area, see who the major player is, those most in the public eye -after all all shows are about ratings, then approach the major player with the idea they have in mind. The major player then negotiates its whack (if it is big enough in the field, such as TIGHAR, their appearance on the show itself could be lucrative through interested new members and perhaps future sponsorship) and transmission rights etc

        Then to have a ‘balanced’ show they have a chat with the ‘fringe’, perceived as quaint, amateur well-meaning by the ‘professionals’, for their inclusion. I often think that in many such documentaries, that the alternative ideas are also used a ‘filler’ for the show. I have seen a number of documentaries that I have sat through for an hour where the show could have taken only ten minutes, but it is filled up with ‘fringe’ ideas and ‘a project threatening crisis’…ever notice how every single documentary has a ‘crisis’ moment just before one of the commercial breaks?

        These shows are not about the subject matter, they are about the documentary makers making a buck and the major players promoting a product…TIGHAR excels at it…or did, I think the fall off in sponsorship is indicative that corporations have grown wish to the scam.

        Gillespie ‘hiding’ the existence of ENB is no surprise to me, he has a history of doing such things, wasn’t there a report that wasn’t favourable to his cult so he just put it on the website without mentioning it, so that he can claim he had put the information out there, even if he wasn’t going to discuss it?

        Something that amused me greatly was when he said that the ENB story had ‘grown’ over the years, when TIGHAR’s crazy hypothesis not only grows but mutates and evolves to explain away embarrassing facts…they are still on about dear old the late Dr Hoodless and the bones, I don’t know if Gillespie is actually losing it, but his latest writings seem to be almost at the level of a paranoid conspiracy theorist.


        1. @bloke down the pub
          Your comments of September 15th 9:17 am on “The Media” etc..

          “I don’t blame you, I get fed up with documentaries where they promote one idea over others, and make the other ideas seem to be ‘cranks on the fringe’.”

          That is exactly what they try to do…. I was “pestered” by one TV Show presenter a couple of years back (whose name rhymes with “Gosh”) who wanted me in his show where he was going to relate all the Earhart searches but basically the show revolved around the circus that was him. He did even go to Papua New Guinea and talk to people in a village hundreds of miles from where we go and he listened while the village Elder gave his version of the Earhart Mystery.

          Since my name appeared in the papers in PNG as “looking for Earhart”, I had mails and phone calls about the Electra being out the back of several villages spotted all over PNG and sometimes I was to pay a fee to go and look and there was usually a box of gold involved or more than two sets of remains or the single seat in the wreck gave the game away.

          “Gillespie ‘hiding’ the existence of ENB is no surprise to me, he has a history of doing such things, wasn’t there a report that wasn’t favourable to his cult so he just put it on the website without mentioning it, so that he can claim he had put the information out there, even if he wasn’t going to discuss it?”

          Yes, there was, it was about the Elements involved in the composition of the metal in the famous “Holey Scrap” of aluminium sheet found on Nikumaroro. He received the unfavourable report and quietly inserted it into the website without saying anything to his members. The report meant the metal was of later WWII vintage and could not be from the Electra.

          “Something that amused me greatly was when he said that the ENB story had ‘grown’ over the years, when TIGHAR’s crazy hypothesis not only grows but mutates and evolves to explain away embarrassing facts…they are still on about dear old the late Dr Hoodless and the bones, I don’t know if Gillespie is actually losing it, but his latest writings seem to be almost at the level of a paranoid conspiracy theorist.”

          That is typical TIGHAR hypocrisy. I must admit that what was said then didn’t amuse me, at the time. What he failed to mention as the growth part was that when Don Angwin contacted him about the 1945 Patrol find was that, at that time in 1990, Don did not have the map. The map did not appear by Len Willoughby’s hand until 1993 and I did not see it until 1994 in that memorable “hair on the back of my neck” moment. Therefore, in 1994 we then “did have” the vital piece of evidence the project needed. I recall that remark by Gillespie was made after my first website went up in 2004, fourteen years after he had first heard of the New Britain Project and had scoffed at it in his written reply to Don Angwin. When you think about it, if he had listened and had not been so “rude and arrogant” to Don, with all the millions he later accrued, the search would have been done and dusted, year ago.

          Of similar note in the hypocrisy stakes is of course the obstinate continuation of the failure to accept the Dr. Hoodless statement that the Pelvic remnant found in 1940 on Gardner island was Male…. and now, to further that obstinacy, we await the Dr. Jantz “candle in the darkness” report/guess/bob-each-way-bet, on “The Bones”….. with bated breath.
          There will be a catch of course if Dr. Jantz says “Male’….. the Pelvic remnant will be declared to be Noonan’s, just as the shoe sole was found to be too big to be Earhart’s and declared “…must be Noonan’s then !”

          Your September 15th 9:46 am comment.

          You bring up many more points that are relevant. Here are responses to a few of them…

          “Must be so frustrating that information could be at Maxwell Army Base, but not be able to access it…”

          That is quite true. It is frustrating. Maxwell may have what we need. Currently I have only one particular American who has been of very considerable help and who has carried out research and continues to do so and I am extremely grateful for that. Part of the problem is that there are quite a few depositories of records spread over the U.S.. Previously David Menard at the USAF Museum at W-P AB had also been of considerable help but David left us all, a few years ago.

          “I am a fan of history ……..Mallory and Irvine were two British climbers both lost on Everest in 1924, although Mallory’s body was found in 1999 by a mostly American ……………but that didn’t stop photos of Mallory’s body being sold to news outlets for thousands of dollars and nor did it stop several books from being authored and sold. Claims that they ‘revered’ the body seem at odds to some of the events ………..”

          I have a strict policy there of “no interference, no pictures and no going near”, we leave that to the specialists, but there would be an impossible security situation in this instance due to the remoteness and circumstance, which ‘in the event’ would worry me considerably.

          “BUT, what has Earhart have to offer? Any search is very expensive, people see TIGHAR’s three decades and millions of dollars spent on no proof at all…”

          Yes, that is the surprising fact that around ten million USD has gone under the bridge there, without the slightest sliver of proof and the hypothesis offered did not originate with the proposer at all, but has “seemingly grown” over time….as you say. Similarly, Nauticos and Waitt have also spent millions, also without proof on Crashed and Sank theories. In the least the modern search for MH370 is backed by the find of some wreckage appearing out of the sea.

          “Whether the plane at ENB is NR16020 or not is something that intrigues me, and in some ways not so much because it maybe, but if it is not, then the whole story by those Diggers is even crazier if the plane there is not AE’s plane…with their description, the map etc…”

          If it is not the Electra, despite the notation in the map and the eyewitness description which matches, then, whose is it ? The very fact that the Wasp engine designation as an S3H1 limits the engine as a Civilian engine not as a Military engine and it also limits the parent aircraft down to a few aircraft types none of which went anywhere near to New Guinea before (or during) WWII except for the Electra 10E C/N1055. I have been avidly interested in aircraft from an early age and I cannot think of, nor can I discover, any aircraft type other than that particular Electra that it could be. I am open to suggestions on that from anyone. It is no good saying that “Wasp” engines were “ubiquitous” and were “all over” as some do, you have to pin it down to a particular type aircraft and that is what eludes most that try.

          “……it is so annoying that there are people out there with billions to spend, whom a few million for an exhaustive search of ENB would be nothing, they probably spent that on dining or car last year…”



  22. Its not all bad though! TIGHAR has accumulated a lot of useful information provided by genuine contributors on the subject of Earhart which will be of help and interest to people interested in her disappearance, as have other people who might well be wrong in their theories as to what happened but nonetheless have written interesting accounts. I suspect a number of genuine TIGHAR people might have quietly ‘defected’ to DBs side. Its a pity the money to fund ENB trips in the quantity they have raised hasn’t yet followed DBs theory . Oh for a fraction of what they have raised, goodness knows DB deserves it..


    1. @ “H”

      Amen to that.

      I would be the first to say that the research contribution to find AE, FN and the Electra, done by the membership of the TIGHAR organisation has been absolutely tremendous. I do acknowledge that on the website. What I do not like about the TIGHAR management is another thing, which is, the continual unwarranted disparagement of other people’s efforts by the management and management cronies, which has been dreadful and at one stage had the cause and effect of me taking the mickey out of them by issuing a series of satirical (and humorous) cartoons on WIX. I have also probably contributed to the “leaving” of a few members of that organisation and of especially the leaving of one Moderator by contributing the diagrammatic proof that the “Holey Scrap” was much too big to fit the hole left by the removal of the RHR window. That was easy to deflate. The most serious thing about the organisation is that it will not abide other points of view or opinions, even though you have to pay to post them, surely that is an anachronism….

      Enough of TIGHAR, I do not really want to turn this comments column into an anti-Tigharfest, they go their way, I go mine…..




    1. @ “H”,
      There is some detail on “that” Form website in their archives under the “search” function about HMS Achilles and a call they heard at 0600Z 3rd July is mentioned. In RABAUL time that would be 1600 Local. As it is my thinking that the Electra reached ENB at around 7:00pm, the Electra would be positioned about 350 statute miles to the East at that time…. “if” the reported dashes heard (as detailed to be in response to ITASCA calling KHAAQ) were from the Electra. The dashes were heard on 3105 Kcs which doesn’t fit with the use of 6210 Kcs as heard “earlier and later” by NAURU Radio. The Achilles records may exist in N.Z..


  23. Would Earhart have kept religiously to her scheduled Daytime and Nightime frequencies, or were there circumstances where might she have tried both? I have just read the Electra would have been the only 3105 source apart from Itasca in that region at the time.Time zones, differing frequencies- its all a bit complicated for us lesser mortals..


    1. @ “H”
      Firstly, the point about the time zones (and indeed US Navy “ship time” and “zone time”, all add confusin into the mix and the only way to sort that out is to lay out all the various times into Microsoft Excel (that wonderful Excel !), and tabulate the lot downwards in half hour periods. Then the confusion ends because you can cross-reference without any doubts. Even NAURU Island had two time zones “Local time” and “Official time”, to further slurry the mix ! …and now, onto your question of did she or didn’t she stick to “daytime and night-time frequencies” ?
      Seems like on the last flight that she did …..according to the times in Mary Lovell’s book “the Sound of Wings”,for instance, except that the use of 3105 Kcs was a little prolonged as she continued with transmissions to the ITASCA as she got closer to the ship.
      Daytime 6210 Kcs was used up until 6:00pm local time at LAE (0800GMT) by which time the Electra was past NUKUMANU Atoll where the local time was already past 6:30 pm.. Harry Balfour at LAE is reported as asking her to stay on 6210 Kcs as he was hearing her O.K., but of course, with her Rx out she would not hear that and changed to 3105 Kcs. Then out further and during the period when she was the closest she got to ITASCA, she was on 3105 until 8:44 am., ITASCA local time. Their call to her to stay on 3105, similarly went unheard, so she changed to 6210 kcs as she had said she was going to do around that time.
      The interesting report by Fred Goerner in his book “The Search for Amelia Earhart”, then comes into play. I refer of course to the intriguing report of the “Land in sight ahead” call Goerner reported as heard by NAURU Radio on 6210 Kcs at a time he records as “1030”, The question then becomes “which 1030 ?” LAE time, Nauru time, ITASCA time, GMT time and so on (?). Back to the Excel file and it tells us that the only time which could fit is ITASCA local time and that corresponds to 2200 GMT 2nd July or one and three-quarters of an hour “after” the supposed last call at 2014 GMT. The other three calls heard by NAURU on 6210 Kcs at 0831, 0843 and 0854 GMT (6:31 pm to 6:54 pm LAE/RABAUL local time) all fall within the time range as per the “out-bound” usage of 6210 Kcs as per the “Past NUKUMANU” example above.
      The conclusion therefore, must be that Earhart “did” generally speaking; use the two frequencies as “daytime” and “night-time” …..with some overlap at the fringes, so to speak.


  24. David–

    Ever since reading about your project on Mike Campbell’s site I’ve been very curious about the bulldozer tracks. What is your hypothesis about who, when, and why? How difficult would it be to get such heavy machinery in and out?

    My dad worked on the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation production line off and on in the early to mid-fifties (the ex-USN R7V recently acquired by the Quantas Founders Museum would have been one of the earliest ones built during his time there and the original L-1049 operated by Quantas would have been some of the last). An old-timer who had worked at Lockheed since the thirties told him that Amelia and Fred had overflown a Japanese controlled island and were “forced down” by a Japanese aircraft and imprisoned. Senior Lockheed people have always been well connected to U.S. government sources so my dad accepted the account as fact.


    1. @CDA,

      The trouble with all anecdote is that it is just that, anecdote.

      In my life I have known people who either had direct contact with or knew someone who had contact with the murderer Lord Lucan, the Krays, Elvis, even aliens, ghosts and spirits, none have any proof!

      We do know that memory gets worse as we get older, we also know from modern research that each time we recall an event we actually pervert the original memory, the mind colours it…anyone with honesty acknowledges this, it is one reason why eyewitnesses are not considered the primary source of evidence, but in many cases they may be all we have…many historical events we’d have no record of if it were not for some scribes ramblings. Indeed, for many many centuries a lot of ancient mythology was considered just that, but the finding of real locations -like the city of Troy- changed that thinking.

      I see Japanese capture as a myth, until someone shows evidence otherwise, and there is none, disappearing briefcases and planes, for example, could be just that, made to disappear in an attempt to hide evidence…or maybe they cannot be found because they never existed at the time and place reported.

      For me, someone has to prove that NR16020 could actually get to the Mandate and thence on to Howland, where it was expected to land, it is just not possible given the aircraft capabilities and the wind…that would make a spy mission a one-way trip, something that seems at odds to Earhart’s character and the fact that Fred was planning a whole new life post World Flight.

      For me only two hypotheses work, crash-and-sank and ENB.

      Crash-and-sank has obviously a huge area to search, and as we have no idea when she went in, if she did at all, it is hard to narrow down precisely…and we have had the most intense search in history for MH370 and even with modern computer modelling and recovered aircraft parts we still have not found a plane many times the size of the Electra. The MV Derbyshire was a huge 100,000 ton ship and even knowing its rough location it took 12 years to find at the bottom of the ocean -although not as an intense search as MH370.

      Of course the lack of evidence is a strike against crash-and-sank, but it has more reason than others to not have evidence.

      Then we have ENB, the map writing is pretty amazing and if actually in context for the period takes some explaining, I just wish the engine tag would turn up some day in some archive…for sure those Diggers saw a plane and some of the details were intriguing, what gets me is too many critics of ENB just say “It can’t be the Electra” with fingers in their ears like kindergarten inmates…without trying to assess or reassess the information. Given the time they airframe was found, what other unpainted plane with ‘ugly looking rivets’ could it be? Similar answers for all the other aspects detailed by the Diggers could do with reanalysis by critics, but all they do is say “No, can’t be”.

      What is annoying is that practically every hypotheses could be proven or disproven by a very rich benefactor actually wanting the mystery to be solved, with no partisan interest…it is a big ask…but as an umbrella project encompassing all hypotheses their name would be linked to the successful conclusion whomever was right.


  25. @ “CDA”,

    The bulldozer tracks are purposely made by the “Open Bay Timber Company” as extraction tracks for the logging which goes on in the rea. “Open Bay Timber Co.” have had the timber lease for many years and formerly, in the 1980’s (before our first visit there in 1994) some extraction of the massive (and very valuable) Cedar trees in the forest was done as we often saw the stumps left behind. Then in 1996 they started gearing up for the next onslaught and started the extraction of the massive Camerere trees for export (we have seen exceptional examples of them to be 10 feet in diameter at times) which are highly prized as furniture timber I believe. It is a medium hardwood and quite strong and light in weight in comparison to other timbers.. There are bulldozer tracks all over the place in there but only in 1996 did they reach what we now consider is the target area and that is when the story of the Bulldozer contacting something which wouldn’t move arose and the BAINING Tribe driver recognising that it was an aircraft and in the knowledge that an opposing tribe of POMIO’s (and us as the White Tribe) were looking for it, promptly buried it out of tribal jealousy. This 1996 act was a close secret and only was exposed in 2011 by the BD driver’s brother-in-law who is of the TOLAI tribe, who knows of the burial but not “where”.. The BD Driver himself, died in the year 2000 so we can’t ask him

    We have been offered a LiDAR scan of the hill and the processing “FOC” to take place next June. We as the Search Team, need to raise the necessary funding for the team to go again, next July. The Lidar Scan will show the hill as a “bare earth” picture for LiDAR processing can strip away the trees and leave the bare ground as a grey scale or colour picture (Google the Lidar search at Ankor Wat on Cambodia and you will see what LiDAR can do). We will be able to see the bulldozer tracks across the target hill and any activity made by the bulldozer and obviously we will be looking for tracks around a mound or any odd-looking disturbance. It is my recollection of the “bare patch” I saw in late 1996, but didn’t attach importance to it as our minds were focused on a wreck above ground. Now years later the bare patch seen has relevance but will be completely overgrown now. The LiDAR GPS will tell us where the possible targets are and we have multiple GPS points already logged on the target hill itself and I know the area very well. We just need to raise the US$35,000 – $40,000 or so to make the trip a “GO”. We will need helicopter trips this next time s we cannot go by boat (too dangerous) or by road ( too deep and wide a river to cross) and helicopters are a big expense.



    1. David–

      Thanks for explaining. Very intriguing story. LIDAR sounds very promising. In the meantime, it might be possible to find old satellite imagery from the mid-nineties which would show the bare patch before regrowth of vegetation had advanced. Also, there is newer radar imagery available (ESA Sentinel) which might reveal the location. It had to have been a good sized hole to bury the wreck.

      Why is access by boat too dangerous?


  26. I think David’s theory is more likely but if the Electra was forced down by the Japanese is it possible they simply questioned Earhart and Noonan , searched the Electra, and then released them and then for some reason they came down in ENB.


    1. @H,

      Indeed David’s theory is more likely.

      At the time in the area the Japanese had few air assets and no real need for an interceptor, and for sure did not have radar to track an ‘errant’ aircraft.

      How can an aircraft be intercepted if one does not know where it is? Even the Itasca, which was part of the plan, was only using direction finding radio, and that failed due to limitations of equipment and confusion over frequencies…even if NR16020 overflew the Mandated Islands, aircraft at the time were not that quick, AE had one of the most advanced for its time, and where would an interceptor take off from and how would it intercept an aircraft that was pretty much the same speed, if not faster? I mean, these days in a war-zone we have Quick Reaction Force aircraft able to launch in minutes, maybe seconds, if the threat imminent enough to require pilots sitting in the aircraft waiting.

      Japanese capture is a fantasy, as far as I can see, one to sell a book, with NO proof for it, just anecdotes, and anyone who has lived long enough knows how poor human memory is and how often anecdotes are not historically accurate.

      I find it absolutely bizarre the way some minds keep finding more and more convoluted ways of ‘answering’ the mystery.

      I have been reading recently of a guy, whom is an advocate of Gardner (indeed, a guy who believes video imagery shows the broken plane there on the reef at Gardner), proposed that AE and FN landed on Gardner, a Japanese submarine kidnapped them, took them to Japanese territory and pulled the Electra off the shore into the water to hide all evidence.

      To answer uncomfortable facts about his hypothesis, this person, also invented a creative account of how the Electra had unique ultra-secret never-to-be-used-again turbo-super-charged engines fitted for the spy mission, which to any rational person makes the wrecking of the plane by the Japanese madness, as such engines would have been an immense leap in Japanese technology.

      I do wonder why what is essentially an unimportant story now has so many conspiracy-theories attached to it…although in some cases there is an obvious reason, some people are making money from their hypotheses; around $200K a year for the Leader of the Cult of Gardner for example.


      1. @Eriq: If you don’t believe that the Japanese captured Amelia and Fred then you should read Mike Campbell’s book or spend some time on his blogsite. The blog archive is most informative. What I do know is that a Japanese vessel, most likely IJN Koshu, transported a Model 10 Electra as shown in the Marshall Islands postage stamp issue from the eighties. The artist’s portrayal, based on an eyewitness account, is very close but not 100% accurate. If there is a Model 10 wreck in ENB then the question is, which Model 10?


        1. @CDA,

          I’ve read the book, and I find it full of logical fallacies…like many of the hypothesis’s supporters.

          Look at your comment, here, quote:

          “What I do know is that a Japanese vessel, most likely IJN Koshu, transported a Model 10 Electra as shown in the Marshall Islands postage stamp issue from the eighties. The artist’s portrayal, based on an eyewitness account, is very close but not 100% accurate. If there is a Model 10 wreck in ENB then the question is, which Model 10?”

          How can you say you “know” then state “most likely”?

          Then your ‘evidence’ is an artist’s rendition of an eyewitness’s account? Really? My whole point is that eyewitness testimony/anecdote is unreliable, this is why eyewitness testimony varies when viewing the same event ‘There were two/three/four gunmen…no one hurt/two/three/four/a dozen casualties…there was a loud bang/there were two loud bangs/I just saw a flash…’ eyewitness testimony is unreliable and why conspiracy theories have life; advocates can pick the anecdotes/report that best fits their hypothesis/delusion, and can also claim that all the other witnesses ‘were wrong’ or ‘part of the cover up’…I see this all the time.

          Regarding the Japanese capture, I still say there is NO evidence, interested parties have investigated sites where AE and FN were supposed to be buried, or the plane was destroyed and ne’er a thing found…every Earhartean hypothesis has anecdotes and eyewitnesses, and they are not all right, so we need physical contextual evidence to support the eyewitnesses…we have none…well except, perhaps, ENB map writing, and the written records of people who lived through the story at the time.

          As for ENB itself, so far as I can tell David Billings has demonstrated reasonably that there is no record of another L10 of any designation lost in the area…heck, even the one he advocates is there is not accepted as lost there by most Earhart investigators…for sure no one has shown that another L10 was lost over ENB prior to the patrol allegedly finding the airframe.

          The thing is, IS it an Electra, and if so is it Earhart’s airframe? We can’t know until it is found, if it ever is…I would now like it found more for the curiosity of the story than to find NR16020 itself, ENB itself is a mystery, if it is not AE’s Electra, then how did the map writing get there and the Diggers’ descriptions mean the age of the plane they found was older than the contemporary planes of the time.

          For me ENB has more going for it, and one thing that I greatly admire David Billings for is he is just putting all he knows out there, he is not trying to sell a book or set up a lucrative lecture tour or fund a $200,000 a year lifestyle with the lie of being a charity…of all the hypotheses his seems to be the only one that the chief advocate has spent his own hard-earned cash investigating, the guy has spent his own retirement income looking into this mystery…sure he now needs donations, but that is the nature of not having a huge personal fortune, he has proven his genuine belief in his hypothesis, in my book. Everyone else seems to be so ‘sure’ of their hypothesis that their first thought is to sell a book or get funding…I don’t know any that have ‘hocked’ their personal finances to the intensity David has…if I were a billionaire I’d be putting money his way to get this mystery sorted…whoever’s plane it is!


    2. @H: It’s possible the Japanese were more congenial toward Amelia and Fred initially than some believe but it’s doubtful they would have fueled the Electra and sent them on their way.


  27. @ CDA for Oct 16th…..

    Satellite imagery from 1996 “may” show the bare patch, …..if there is any available….? I have no idea where to look for that possibility. it is such a remote area that there would not be the vaguest interest in 1996 of snapping pictures of Jungle clad hills… but you never know… I do believe that with the overhang from the bigger trees, we might be out of luck if the SAT angle is not in our favour…..but worth a try.

    Courtesy of one of my team searching through the halls of NARA…., we do have a WWII PR photo from 1943 taken by a Lockheed F-5 from 23,000 feet almost directly from above the Wide Bay area (the search area) and indeed this photograph is almost assuredly the photograph from which the US Army Mapping Service produced the wartime map copies and on which one of the prints has the evidence “600 H/P, S3H1, CN 1055” actually written in indelible pencil. It is amazing (Nay, incredible…!) to me that one of my team actually laid his hands on the very PR photograph which led to the making of the map. So we have the 1943 photograph. The photograph remains clear down to about 10,000 feet in my estimation, before it gets fuzzy. Does it show any holes…? Well, you have to discern “what is a hole” and “what is tree shadow” but in the estimation of someone who does know, the photograph apparently does show some holes, possibly where trees have fallen over due to age, storm or termites or from an 8000 pound aluminium brick…… So, yes it does and to the best of our ability we have plotted them for GPS location but 60-70 years later we are faced with the “Overgrown” problem, nothing in the 2000’s resembles anything from the 1940’s. even with my memory which is rated “fantastic” by my wife, the appearance of the hill now, to the foregoing times of have been on the same hill … well, for me even it is difficult to discern where some parts of it are as the BD track is getting fainter but I did recognise the two curved bends in the track at the beginning and the place were there is a cutting and one high spot on the hill. That is why we desperately need the LiDAR scan for the LiDAR will pick out the track and the side tracks leading off of it and the processing will include the Lat/Long grid to tell us where we will need to go. Not to mention that it should show where the BD has been working to bury an aircraft….

    I forgot to say in my last reply about the BD tracks in there that the major access route used by the loggers over the years was a track which was made by the Australian army during WWII from the southern Wide Bay area through to the Open Bay area on the north coast. The direct line distance across this “neck” of land is 38 Kilometres. One Army Battalion was relieved along this track in 1945 during a Battalion changeover. The logging company revived it during the 80’s and 90’s but now the jungle has taken it back and it is overgrown again which is a great pity.

    Access by boat dangerous (?) Yes, it is. It is a white-knuckle ride in a 22 foot Japanese made Yamaha fibreglass “Banaba” boat with one outboard motor, for anything from 4 hours to 5 hours over what can be very rough choppy seas as the current from the northern end of New Britain meets the current coming up from along the South-eastern coast line. We have done it maybe seven or eight times and half of those would be life threatening. Even changing the petrol tanks over at the half way point in a rocking boat gets your attention…. Meeting other boats coming in the opposite direction gives us an appreciation of what “our boat” is doing because “their boat” disappears behind waves ten to fifteen feet high just as ours must be doing and misjudging a wave by the boat skipper means the Banaba boat is flying over a crest and banging down into the bottom of a swell with a tremendous crash…. We nearly lost Matthew, the last time we went by boat and he was in the air and then down again onto his back and he couldn’t walk for a week after one bad smack down by the boat into the bottom of a swell. Never again.



  28. @ CDA for the post of the 18th October….

    All well and good except that it really is not “Which Model 10” but a question rather of “Which Model 10 E”, with the emphasis on the “E”. This is solely because of the written “S3H1” contained in the handwriting on the 1943 Map edge or border. Despite the “600 H.P.” being there and the “C/N 1055” being there, the S3H1 designator clearly denotes a Prat & Whitney R-1340 engine, not a Pratt & Whitney R-985 or even a Wright engine R-975 or a R-1344 SC-1…. Clearly and demonstrably, the S3H1 is a Civilian engine against all the “Military” designators; prime of which is the R-1340 “AN-1” engine and then all the other designators used by the USN, USMC, USCG…. Of the Electra’s, the S3H1 Wasp was only fitted to the 10E Model so the aircraft that it is fitted to cannot be a Lockheed 10A (R-985), 10B (R-975), or 10C (R-1344 SC-1). If it is an ELECTRA it is fitted to, it has to be a 10E and only two 10E’s are missing and positively unaccounted for. Those positively unaccounted for are C/N 1065, “The Daily Express”, which was sold to Russia and the other is C/N 1055, AE’s Electra. There are two finalisations for C/N 1065…. One is that it is abandoned somewhere on the Russian steppe and two is that it was dismantled for a project to reverse engineer Electra’s, such as the Russians did with the Douglas C-47 and the Boeing B-29. There is yet no finalisation for C/1055 except that it was in the South-West Pacific when last seen.

    If the aircraft seen in 1945 is other than an Electra 10E, then it has to be a Civilian aircraft of a type fitted with two Pratt & Whitney R-1340 S3H1 engines that was lost prior to April 1945 or should I say, lost a few years before April 1945. I am at a loss as to a name to apply to such an aircraft. I am open to suggestions as to what aircraft it could be, if not an Electra 10E.



  29. Its amazing how something like that just turns up David! I wonder what other potentially helpful photos or records still exist – somewhere….. Whilst the physical search for the Electra obviously remains the main priority I wonder if at some stage a ‘desk top’ information discovery of information might provide further key details of what happened.Can modern electronic enhancements do anything to help on the photo?


  30. @ “H” for 19th Oct….

    Well, we would dearly like to find the Metal Tag as a priority. Lt, Backhouse did cinsider it was sent to the US Army. IF and I say IF, it was sent down to Jaquinot Bay to the 594th EB&SR Unit… they were Engineers and some quite probably could be familiar with the Wasp engine as it did power tanks used by the US Army (the Sherman for instance) and could havs sprked thei interest. We would also like to find anything in US ARMY records of comms from the AUS unit to the US Army; detailing what was said that cuased the US Army to respond and give the men of “D” Company the message that “.. It was not one of theirs..”.

    The visit by two US Army Officers s also intriguing and I think we have nailed that down to the 594th EB&SR Company sending two Officers and I also think we have shown quite clearly that it must have been a visit from the 594th because they “had to get back” due to embarking for Hollandia the next day.

    Yes, we are lucky enough to have an expert on the Team who had studied the PR Photo and has come up with some data which locates the more suspicious detail of what could be holes in the canopy made by an 8000 pound aluminum brick…. Tying those in with the results from a liDAR Scan would be interesting as well as activity just off the track where the bare earth patch was located.




  31. In regard to “possible” other aircraft types that the wreck “may be”….. I went through the list again. I followed the Pratt & Whitney website which lists the Aircraft Types that Wasps were fitted to (all designations of Wasps that is) and I also followed the Wikipedia site which has the subject of P & W Wasp and which also contains list of aircraft types. I came to the same conclusion that I came to over twenty years ago that there is no alternative aircraft type which could fit the wreck powered by two R1340 S3H1 engines.

    The nearest example of an aircraft type that comes close is the Boeing Model 247 but it was powered by the R-1340 S1H1 or the AN-1 Wasp. No mention of S3H1’s being used to power the Boeing 247. The USAAC did use 27 of them which were impressed into service but 19 of those were returned “”Surplus to Requirements” in 1944. NO knowledge of what happened to the other eight…. but it does not fit anyway. In any case if used it would be camouflage painted.

    I also want to openly discuss here an alternative explanation of how “600 H.P. S3H1 C/N1055” came to be on the map. I do this so as to “get it out of the way again” in case it is raised. This alternative explanation was given by the “other Forum” many years ago and the writer, the doubting Marty Moleski SJ, wrote that “The Americans” gave “The Australian Army” those numbers as a means of identifying the wreckage they had seen in case it was Earhart’s. Now before I discuss this, I will take you back to when I interviewed the man who found the Metal Tag: Keith Nurse. Keith said that when he found the tag hanging by wire from the engine mount tubing, he took it off the tubing and looked at it and what he saw was “a string of letters and numbers” which did not mean anything to him so he put the tag in his shirt pocket, intending to hand it in with the patrol report. So, that little thought of: “a string of letters and numbers” was in his mind, on site, before any news was given to their Unit that they had found aircraft wreckage.

    Now, if “the Americans” had given the recognition features and details of Earhart;s Electra to the Australian Army Unit, what would those details encompass ? I suggest the information would have been on these lines:
    “The wreckage may be a Lockheed Electra bearing the Registration NR16020 in large black lettering and numbers on the wing top surface and bottom surface. This Registration is also on the vertical fins at the back of the aircraft. The fuselage will have a plate in the cockpit with the Serial Number 1055. The aircraft has two engines and propellers. The Engines are Part & Whitney Wasp engines with Serial Numbers 6149 and 6150. The aircraft is unpainted except for some red paint on the front of the wings . There are fuel tanks inside the fuselage and there could be the remains of two occupants inside.” Would that be a fair appraisal of information to describe the Electra ?

    I ask readers to compare that information with a string of letters and numbers such as “600 H/P S3H1 C/N1055” which does not contain the obvious recognition feature of the Registration NR16020 which is the Primary piece of identification for the Electra to anyone chancing upon the wreck and which surely would be forwarded to anyone if it was suspected that Earhart’s Electra had been found..





    1. @ “H” 29 October…

      Yes, that may be the case if as you say a “twiddly bit” appears, meaning that somewhere in the beginnings of the East New Britain story, someone has got something wrong and the wreckage is not what I am saying it is. Yes, it may be the case that those of us who do say it is the Electra could be incorrect and it is some other aircraft. Surely, though, it is the case that there is an aircraft in that “neck of the woods” that was seen by Patrol A1 of “D” Company, 11th Battalion AIF in 1945.

      When we started to look for this wreck in 1994, it was not the first time that I had gone into jungle looking for an aircraft wreck. I had previously been into jungle looking for military wrecks whilst working in Papua New Guinea. What is not realised by people when they think about the Pacific War is that the Pacific War was not only fought by Naval actions involving naval battles, air battles and island-hopping by US marines and US Army actions, but also by land, naval and air battles in the South-West Pacific which were of equal, or more importance. At one time for example, the USAAC had 2400 aircraft based in the New Guinea area. It was not unusual for the USAAC to lose multiple aircraft every single day. Port Moresby alone had six or seven airfields. Landing grounds at Nadzab and Dobodura had multiple strips also. The house where I lived for ten years in Port Moresby was built on the site of old aircraft revetments. Digging in the garden to plant vegetables revealed cartridge cases and old maps and aerial photos showed the WWII runways and taxi ways and parking bays in my “downtown” area, which, since that time had been developed into residential communities. Wartime runways and taxiways had become roads.

      As to why I went looking for Military wrecks, I have to take you back to the 1960’s. I had been through training and had started flying as a Flight Engineer on transport aircraft in the Royal Air Force in the UK. After gaining the F/E brevet and expecting to be allocated to a transport squadron I, along with other F/E’s was posted onto helicopters. The reason was a little known insurgency operation in Borneo called “Confrontation”. Indonesia was trying to stop the formation of Malaya into Malaysia, the combining of Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo into the “new” country of Malaysia.

      All went well flying on helicopters from late 1965 until early 1968. Although not really liking being off four-engines and onto “choppers”, nothing untoward had happened until “Confrontation” had ended and one Pilot and myself were tasked to pick up troops at the end of an exercise in North Borneo. We were on a sector to pick up troops when we had an engine run-down which forced a crashlanding into the only tiny grassy patch of ground on the side of a hill that existed in the area we were flying over. Some small trees were chopped down by the blades as we went in. The helicopter was a mess, I considered it to be a write-off. Luckily I had seen the grassy patch and called it. Any seconds later and we would have been over huge trees and would probably have been killed in the crash into the trees or the long drop to the bottom. After thinking about it, I wondered that if I had been killed, “Who would have come looking for me ?”

      That question caused me to consider that if I was in a position where I could look for and find lost Aircrew then I would do it. The opportunity arose 20 years later when I was working for a helicopter company in Papua New Guinea and a Pilot came back from a Task one day and said he had heard about a large American aircraft on top of an 11,000 foot mountain in the Finnesterre Range. That was the start.

      If there is a “twiddly-bit”, does it really matter ? Someone or some persons will be found, whoever that someone or some persons is or are. If it is not the Electra, then we will have eliminated one aircraft from the search. Personally, on the evidence, I believe it to be the Electra.




  32. No David ,it doesn’t matter as such. Whatever you find is going to be interesting and worthwhile – as it could be the complete answer to this mystery or maybe a link in the chain of things concerning her disappearance. I think it is as you say probably her Electra and it all might be perfectly straightforward but there are just so many other people with comments that cannot all be dismissed lightly , so I wonder if there could be a bit more to the story somewhere along the line. The wreckage , depending on its condition and whats left of it, might provide closure one way or another on these stories.


  33. @ “H” Nov 3rd….

    I try very hard to stay away form any criticism of other people’s projects concerning Earhart and I have not involved my self to any great extent with any of them. Yes, there are a lot of theories and yes there are a lot of people who have them. A lot of money has been spent by three entities involving amounts of about US$10M of OPM for one, about US$5M for another and about the same for the third, the last two amounts from personal fortunes and a few donors.. All together these three Earhart Search entities have spent around US$20 Million (or more) without one shred of evidence as guidance for the expenditure of this money. None have offered any help to my Project despite having the wherewithal to do so.

    There are other projects beside these three entities above where eyewitness reports say that the Electra is in various places but there is no documentary evidence. Some of these have extra stories where Earhart and Noonan were taken to other places, again, with some eyewitness reports but no documentary evidence has turned up.

    No direct evidence of the Electra that is tangible, or of Earhart and Noonan has been seen from any of the above projects.

    The East New Britain project as described in the website “Earhart Search PNG” has excellent documentary evidence and eyewitness accounts. The documentary evidence is described minutely and explanations given to completely explain how that evidence came to be on the aircraft wreck seen in 1945 and how it came to be transcribed onto a Patrol Map used by the unit that found the wreckage. Eyewitness accounts by members of the patrol involved can be described as accurately describing features of the wreck that was found which coincide with features of a Lockheed Electra aircraft such as the one that Earhart used.

    I will continue to state that our evidence is the only evidence of where that Electra Model 10 E rests…..



    1. Hi David:
      Can you share some photos of the bivouac sites and map references of the latest area searched. This would give readers an appreciation of the jungle logistics involved in the search. Thanks.
      Best regards.


  34. Not directly related to your search David but today the BBC has a report that explorer Benedict Allen has gone missing in PNG. He had been visiting the Yaiflo tribe around Bisorio. Although its not ENB I wondered if you had come across Benedict Allen before and if the terrain he has been in around Bisorio is as treacherous as what you have had to contend with in ENB.


    1. @H, Nov 15….

      No “H”, I wouldn’t know him from Adam. Never heard of him before either. I now read he has been picked up and has Malaria…. which is endemic in PNG. I can’t find Bisorio on Google Maps but am assuming it is near the border with West Irian, the Indonesian side of the whole island where some remote tribes exist. Where I have been to in PNG the Jungle has been pretty bad, ie; hard to get through. Coupled with very steep terrain it can be awful to get through compared to Malaya or Borneo. I did my Jungle training near Khota Tinggi in Johore State, Malaya as it was then. You could walk through the jungle. In PNG you find yourself cutting all the time. “The Jungle is Neutral” (1951) by Freddie Spencer Chapman is a good book to read about life in the Malayan jungle.


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