Last Attempt at finding the Electra – Expedition Completed in May 2023 – Please Donate
COPYRIGHT 2004 – 2023
The contents of this website are Copyright to David Billings. No portion Of this website story may be used without permission. All Rights to the content of this story based on the Earhart Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft being on New Britain Island are Copyright to David Billings and the story is the Intellectual Property of David Billings.
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 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 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 crashed 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-analyzed 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.”
David Billings is planning his next foray into East New Britain in 2023, the 86th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.
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…
“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, November 2020.
Part 1 – The Beginning | Part 2 – PNG History/Topography | Part 3 – Wreckage is Found
Part 4 – Tangible Evidence | Part 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
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 – 2023
The contents of this website are Copyright to David Billings. No portion of this website story may be used without permission. All Rights to the content of this story based on the Earhart Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft being on New Britain Island are Copyright to David Billings and the story is the Intellectual Property of David Billings.
326 thoughts on “Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain”
July 4th – president Trump has announced the creation of a federal park which will contain statues, etc of famous Americans. Included will be Earhart ! Might be a good time to contact White House and maybe get government help to locate her plane ???
Feel free to publlsh any or all info of my earlier analysis of how she got to your location- the only differences being the amount of tailwinds needed and the approximate turnback distance from Howland ..
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An interesting thought George .Like him or loathe him he might just be interested in doing something to find an American hero. . He’d get publicity out of a find, and for trying. Resources or money would do!
Keep in mind that with the move of the part of the fleet into a relatively close by area ( China sea, etc ) a passover by a P-8 with advanced MAD gear could help find an old aircraft engine or two at minimum ‘ cost’ perhaps shared by U.S and Austrailia as a training mission And if something like that is found at the estimated location- its a good bet that gubbermint help in verifying ‘ ground truth ‘ would likely be forthcoming.
Any updates David?
@”H” 4th Dec…..
Obviously, 2020 became write-off due to the Chinese Virus…
During the year I had much interest from a TV Channel but they did not want to talk directly with me but acted through a “third party” company. Anybody dealing with TV Channels must be aware that their main source of income is money for advertising, especially “prime time” advertising. The proposal was a funded expedition with a film crew which would culminate in a two-hour “tv special”. The deal proposed was weighted very heavily and lopsidedly in their favour such that I estimated the Project (in comparison) would receive peanuts. Secrecy involving the search area would be gone. I therefore said “No”. If I have to basically “give” the Project away I see no point in “giving” it to a multi-billion dollar entity (who would make a lot of money) for a sum to me and the team which would not cover the costs, what I have put in and what the team have put in.
So, we plan for 2021, which will be dependent on the CV Vaccine schedule and gaining some funding, if at all possible.
The main cost for a basic expedition using a helicopter to gain access to site is a minimum of what 4 ½ Flight Hours will now cost. Pre-CV it was US$2000.00 per hour plus fuel (Kina500/Hr), so that bill would reach around US$10,000; possibly US$12,000 “post-CV”. The next question is “has the chopper company survived and what are the costs now?”. Air Niugini has survived on a reduced Domestic Schedule at about 50% capacity and International freight runs carrying only essential passengers, but what will the airfares now be?
This year has given me time for a review and reflection on the Project and two documentary clues as to location have re-emerged from all the letters from the Veterans and my memory has kicked-in in remembering a Metal Detector buzz I got in 2012 on the search area hillside which does tie-in with the two documentary clues. The Metal Detector buzz happened on a small area of bare earth and at the time I took a GPS Waypoint for future reference as I thought it could be ironstone but wanted to go back there to investigate. As a result of this and one of the documentary clues mentioned above, I looked closely at one of the 1943Aerial photos and there are two light reflecting objects which appear to me to be laying on the jungle floor at the calculated spot which is the same as the GPS Waypoint. That Lat/Long position will be the No.1 Target on the next Expedition.
This then is your update !
Hang in there David, and thanks for the update. Meanwhile we’re all trying to stay clear of the Wuh Flu.
On Wed, Dec 9, 2020 at 8:32 AM Earhart Lockheed Electra Search Project wrote:
> Billings commented: “@”H” 4th Dec….. Obviously, 2020 became write-off due > to the Chinese Virus… During the year I had much interest from a TV Channel > but they did not want to talk directly with me but acted through a “third > party” company. Anybody dealing with TV Channels ” >
You’ll be able to put another book together soon David. It seems all of your efforts to enter into sponsor type arrangements is like diving into a tank full of man eaters. EXcvept worse. At least with the man eaters you can see what you’re getting yourself into. I pleased to hear you’re staying the course. Good luck to you.
Thanks for all that, David. Apart from the TV stuff you mention some interesting points. That target area you have sounds exciting. Good luck.
Hans, John and “H”; Dec 9th…..
Thankyou for the responses and Best Wishes…
Yes, when dealing with large entities or very wealthy entities, it never ceases to amaze me at the avarice which eventually appears when the talks “get down to the brass tacks” of proposals and agreements, some just want a disproportionate level of return for capital extended, some also “want the lot”, some want control of the Project from the outset, some don’t. The levels vary from entity to entity. I would not write about some of these entities as I would probably get sued for defamation, their word against mine, so I’ll stay away from that.
You can tell genuinely interested donors at the outset, they do not come in full of bravado, they listen and tell you what they think and they include and consider the local people in their thoughts, I have had three considerations like that.
i watched the Sky History programme a couple of days ago on Sir Ernest Shackleton and the search for the Endeavour . They didn’t find the wreck on that trip but are hopeful they will soon. It was an interesting 2 hours of TV. Pity it wasnt on your Earhart search! That would have been even more interesting.
@”H”, Jan 14th….
….and in warmer climatic conditions. I for one, would not go anywhere near the Weddell Sea even if i was paid to go !
But David, no crocs or snakes!
Hi David. It seems quite a while since we’ve heard how things are going. Or not as the case may be. I trust we haven’t heard the last from you. Just for the record I have been sharing your story with contacts of mine I feel could assist, although to little avail at this stage. However I will persevere, as I know you have done and I suspect will continue to do.
Any news for us David?
@John Brockelsby 6th Aug and @”H” on 7th Aug 21……
Well, I am still breathing and not getting any younger, but unable to go anywhere out of AUS due to Covid restrictions in Australia. It is an Aussie Guvmint edict that we cannot travel out of Australia without Departmental permission. Unlike countries which have ditched the “Lockdown” procedural way of handling Covid, AUS has firmly entrenched itself in the Lockdown method State by State and presently we here in the State of Queensland are ‘in home’ Lockdown (essential travel only) with an expectation that it will be extended past the 4 p.m. ‘today’ ….supposed relaxation. Likewise New South Wales and Victoria States are similarly ‘deeply’ incarcerated. We are ‘informed’ that International travel will be ‘on’ when 80% of the AUS populace ie: 20 Million are fully vacc’ed (presently 17%)….. Nobody in Guvmint wants to look at the Swedish method….
Being fully vacc’ed we would then need 14 days home isolation on return to AUS.
Then, there is the control for entry into Papua New Guinea. Must be fully vacc’ed. A Covid test 7 days before travel plus another at the AP before boarding. On arrival in PNG, Twenty-one days Quarantine at your own expense in a hotel in Port Moresby with Covid tests at 7, 14 and 21 days in Q. There was a ban on anyone visiting East New Britain but that has been lifted but… it could be back on right when you want to go there…
All very disconcerting in the light of the findings done last year, principally discovering the author of the writing on the map and a lot of map work and SAT photo study. However, I now believe I know where it is and of course we are chomping on the bit but only damaging our teeth as we cannot go. For one, the AUS Guvmint rule and second, the hotel bill in Port Moresby would bankrupt me. Goodness knows what the airfares will be when we can escape, also.
I need a Genie to fix me a Lotto prize.
We will get there but ‘when’ is the question, unfortunately it is looking like 2022
Wow: Interesting to note that the author of the writing on the map was found. That should be a prompt in sorting the probable location of his observation. …Staying tuned for more details.
-Hans Kuala Lumpur :
> David Billings commented: “@John Brockelsby 6th Aug and @”H” on 7th Aug > 21…… Well, I am still breathing and not getting any younger, but unable > to go anywhere out of AUS due to Covid restrictions in Australia. It is an > Aussie Guvmint edict that we cannot travel out of Austr” >
@ Hans 13th August…
Yes, the finding that Sergeant Jones write the cryptic “600 H,P S3/H1 C/N1055” and that as the Acting Battalion I.O., he would be privy to the full details of the find by the Patrol A1and also to all the reports and signals “in” and “out” at the Unit level, makes the details as in the Addendum in the website, all the more interesting.
It also shows, with the “Attn Captain Mott” that Motty was also “on the ball”, because back in the mid-90’s, I had a brief conversation with Mott’s son, who told me that his father was interested in and spoke of “an aircraft wreck” up in New Guinea when the two met up in Melbourne after the war was over. Did Captain Mott realise whose aircraft wreck it could be and did he tell Sergeant Jones to keep him informed ?
Is that what is behind the cryptic message ?
Any developments David ? Hopefully Covid easing in most places now.
@’H’ 10 March ’22…..
Yes, Covid restrictions are easing as you say but there are still hurdles that could spell disaster for a cohesive team of travelers. I am considering this year depending on funding.
There is the CPR Test to be done within 72 hours of departure from Brisbane AP, a positive CPR means no point in going to the AP. On arrival in PNG there is a RAT Test. If that is positive it means Quarantine in a hotel at own expense. Then, again on arrival you could be told of an outbreak of Covid in East New Britain and the Province of ENB has closed the border to visitors. There are much the same ‘departure’ rules out of PNG which could see members forced into Q or denied boarding
Then there is the necessary funding, nothing from PayPal in the last six months and only a small total just over $1000 held by me from that to go on the next visit. I have given over $100K of my savings to the project and I am now 82 and on a pension since 2015 so I am looking at what I have left in savings with a bright eagle eye.
The cost for the team will have increased. Airfares are said to be up 30-40 percent, so that will be around $11,250 now. We would require three round trip helicopter flights for the search area, two trips ‘in’ and one ’out’. That will be 4.5 flight hours at US$10,000 at 2017 prices, maybe US$12,000 now. Hotels ‘in’ and ‘out’ $2500, Hire car, Rations and Equipment another $5000. It all adds up.
It is imperative that we do go again in the light of the new evidence which turned up the detail of “Who wrote the notations on the WWII Map”, our main piece of evidence. With Sergeant Harold Jones being the Battalion Intelligence Officer at the time, he would have been privy to all signal messages going back and forth from Battalion HQ to 13 Brigade HQ and returns from 5th Division. Jones would have seen the detail “600H/P S3H/1 C/N1055” on the tag. The notation itself appears to be an intended note for Captain Mott but Motty had already left TOL for Jaquinot Bay and his job in the Intelligence Section at 5th Division. Certainly, detail of the find in the jungle was transmitted to the American 594th EB&SR Company a Jaquinot Bay, why else would two Officers from that unit visit ‘D’ Company at KALAI on the day before they were due to ship out. Did someone suspect what the engine might be ?
Hmmm- now that China seems to be laying claim to the Solomans,further complications re travel are no doubt likely.Although I sent some of the following to David months ago, It may still be worthwhile to help untangle some of the issues regarding how close to Howland Earhart really reached. Some of my earlier computations as to range and turn around distance came up with 200 to 300 miles short of Howland. The background as to how and why I came up with the following name and link seems to be a real life version of the old game 6 or 7 degrees of freedom to realate to ‘ kevin bacon”- which is the probability of finding some far out ‘ relationship’ as to who knew who who knew wh0….which eventually links two people with common knowledge past or present. In this case, it was my parents who years ago showed me a postcard from Byrds little America Antartica expedition in 1933 and later that they had received from a ‘ friend ‘ who later was involved with Earhart in a big way. Since the expansion of the internet search capability over the last decade or so, and being retired, I have from time to time chased down the facts behind parents comments ( family lore ) as to how they knew him, and found out it was more than just ‘ lore’.
Anyhow I’ll post a link or two which seems to support the 200-300 miles short of Howland and makes it probable that Davids analysis and finds are the real thing re the crash site.
Richard Blackburn Black
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
From 1933 to 1935, he served in Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition as a civilian in charge of East Base in Little America, for which he received the U.S. Navy Special Silver Medal.
Over the next thirty years, he served in four other expeditions and was an active-duty officer planning Anarctic expeditions. While working for the U.S. Interior Department he was based in Hawii and was in charge of preparing Howland Island for the arrival of Emilia Earhart in her attempt to fly around the world in 1937. He monitored her last message before she vanished over the Pacific Ocean. As a member of the Naval Reserve, he was called to active duty in August 1941 and was stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked U.S. bases there.
…Meanwhile, Byrd had established a base camp in the Antarctic that he named “Little America.” In 1933, Byrd hired Black as an engineer for his second expedition.
In San Francisco, Black bid farewell to Ruth and his 5-year-old son. The excitement about his new assignment was short-lived when he learned that his wife had died on January 21, 1934. Being a consummate professional, Black carried on his work and, because of his accomplishments, was awarded the Navy’s Special Silver Medal.
When Black returned from Antarctica in 1935, the Interior Department stationed him in Hawaii. On May 13, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order placing the islands of Jarvis, Baker and Howland under the Interior Department, where they were to be administered by Black. In June of 1937, Black was asked to prepare an airstrip on Howland, an uninhabited coral island midway between Hawaii and Australia, to serve as a pit stop for Amelia Earhart and her navigator.
On July 2, Black boarded the Coast Guard cutter Itasca to help guide the aviatrix onto the small island through radio communications. However, the radio equipment on Earhart’s plane was faulty and the signals picked up by Black were insufficient.
Black had heard from the plane that they were running low on fuel, and, 20 hours into the flight, Earhart reported a position 280 miles away from Howland. This was the last transmission Black received, and when the Itasca got to the reported position, the members of the crew were unable to locate anything.
Still trying to find source – document- to support the 280 mile report ?
@ George, 13 April ’22
Yes, the “280-mile” quote attributed to Black is perplexing and would be of more import if
it could be traced and verified as irrefutably correct. Accordingly, I mailed the editor of
The Bismark Tribune:-
Sent: 10 December 2021
To: Amy Dalrymple, Editor, The Bismarck Tribune, North Dakota.
From : David Billings, Earhart Researcher, Nambour, Queensland, Australia.
One of my correspondents in Washington State sent me a mail today, which contained a passage from the Bismarck Tribune of July 14th, 2009; the passage is an informative write-up on Rear Admiral Richard Black, a native of North Dakota, and his accomplishments.
Within the writing is a statement that Admiral Black heard one of the last messages from
Amelia Earhart. The particular statement that I am interested in is as follows:
“Black had heard from the plane that they were running low on fuel, and, 20 hours into the flight, Earhart reported a position 280 miles away from Howland. This was the last
transmission Black received.” …. et cetera…
I have been researching the Earhart loss since 1994 and in accordance with reports by the members of an Australian Infantry patrol into jungle in 1945, which found a “Wasp” engine and Airframe wreckage, I have led Expeditions into the Jungle in search of that wreckage. I have never before seen the report quoted as being from Admiral Black, of Earhart’s position report of being “280 miles from Howland at 20 hours into the flight.”
I would dearly like to know of ‘where’ that report positively came from… The reason I would dearly love to know is because it roughly coincides with my worked out position for Earhart, Noonan and the Electra at that time of 2000 GMT which is also the 20 hours point into the flight. That is the conclusion I arrived at after extensive speed, fuel usage, and wind workings. Knowing the veracity of the report would give credence to my statement in my website.
Would you please assist in a determination for the quote attributed to Admiral
If the writer of the piece still writes for the Bismarck Tribune perhaps he or she can assert the veracity of the quotation. Coincidentally, our Search Area is next to the border of the land mass known as “The Bismarck Archipelago”…
For information on our 27-year project please view:
To this date I have not received a response.
An interesting article that may assist at https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/37827723?searchTerm=earhart
Re comments by Richard Black
” Black was in the radio shack aboard the Coast Guard cutter Itasca off Howland during the last recorded moments of Miss Earhart’s flight.
‘I heard all the Earhart transmissions.’ he said. ‘She stated the fuel was low.’
The first radio transmission from Miss Earhart’s plane was monitored by the Itasca at 2:45 a.m.. It was almost inaudible. At 3:45 a.m., she reported flying in a cloudy overcast.
At 4:43 a.m., she said she was not hearing the ship. At 6:12 a.m., she gave her bearing and said she would whistle so the ship could take a directional fix on her. At 6:14 she said she was about 200 miles from Howland.
At 6:45 a.m. and 8:03 a.m., she again asked the ship to take a bearing and report to her. Miss Earhart said she believed she was in the area but could not see the island.
At 8:44 a.m., Miss Earhart called the Itasca and gave her estimated position.
‘That was the last message,’ Black said.
He said that Miss Earhart and Noonan wold have been able to determine their position from the ship and the island if they had used a trailing wire directional atenna. Black said he later learned that Earhart had off-loaded vital parts of that antenna in California before setting out for the Pacific.”
and a bit more re Richard Black
From the time she arrived in Darwin it was evident that the flight was the most mismanaged she had ever made, and the most difficult part lay ahead—from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island. This time there was no Bill Miller to take over. Instead management, such as it was, had become a triumvirate: Putnam, Richard Black of the Department of Interior who was G. P.’s representative aboard the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, and Cmdr. W. K. Thompson, captain of the Itasca. These three, often working at odds with one another, could not provide the help Amelia needed. G. P. worked first through Washington, while he was still in New York, and after June 24, through the Coast Guard’s division command in San Francisco. Black did everything he could to oblige Putnam but with an eye on the interests of his own department, which administered Howland Island. Commander Thompson set up a network of weather information stations for Amelia and tried to confirm radio arrangements but he had no control over her decisions and clearly thought the Itasca deserved more significant duties than looking after a “stunt” flyer.
G. P. sent his messages from the Coast Guard’s radio station in San Francisco to Black on the Itasca to be forwarded to Amelia wherever she might be. Even before she reached Darwin he asked Black to make certain that she brought negatives and motion pictures if any were taken of her arrivals and departures at Lae and Howland. Black was also to remind her to file her story directly from Howland to the Herald Tribune in Oakland and to get some aerial pictures of Howland.
Goes on re Black and Itasca captain, etc
@Ron Haggard and @George x 2, 16 April…
On the night of 4th July 1937, two and a half days after the Electra carrying AE and FN disappeared (were last heard from), radio watch operators at a U.S. Navy Radio Station on Hawaii recorded this message, sent in clumsy morse code:
“TWO EIGHT ONE NORTH HOWLAND CALL KHAQQ BEYOND NORTH DON’T HOLD WITH US MUCH LONGER ABOVE WATER SHUT OFF”
KHAQQ was AE’s call sign and the message had been received on 3105Kcs, which was AE’s night time-frequency. Strangely (for AE), it was in CW (Morse code). The message was certainly considered to be from AE and three ships, including ITASCA, were sent to search the area at a distance of 281 miles north of Howland Island. They found nothing.
Admiral Black would have known this message as he was on the ITASCA and the message would also be known to the U.S. press core at the time.
Note that the two and a half days which had elapsed meant that after all fuel had been expended the Electra would have to have been floating on water for at least two days and Lockheed stated that due to the location of the radio equipment, transmissions from water were not possible.
Note also that “post-loss”, there were some calls made which were considered to be hoaxes. The Tighar site has extensive coverage of this topic.
I consider that the North Dakota Bismark Tribune writer also knew of the “281 north” message and reported it as known to Black and abbreviated the number to ‘280’.
Dear Mr. Billings
I just sent you an email about this project to your gmail account.
Matthew….Your email has not appeared in my inbox. Please check the address is correct and send again….
Just sent again.
Let me know if you received it.
David, can you give us any info or updates please?
I had thought that we could go towards the end of last year, after the Covid restrictions were easing and being wound back but various impediments became front and centre. Family commitments, school holidays, work commitments, health problems, lack of sufficient funding, all combined to make it a ‘no go’.
This year presented the same problems but the light at the end of the tunnel is in view for “after April 24th” and planning is in process despite the insufficient funding situation at present and the fact that I will be two members short.
At present therefore, the trip will be sometime beginning in late April/early May.
Any dates for news?
Likewise, I’m interested in any updates. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realise there was a donation-to-the-expedition page… I can’t see any link. Is the expedition underway?
To all interested parties:
May 1. We reached the Domestic departure lounge at Port Moresby AP in readiness for the Rabaul/Kavieng flight only to hear Air Niugini Customer Services announce the cancellation of the flight ! Then ten seconds later reinstate it but only to Rabaul, phew! a wipe of the forehead needed….. We reached our Hotacc just as it was getting dark.
Next day spent shopping for essentials.
3rd day: Chopper ride in to TOL village, Wide Bay, then a vehicle ride to Lamerien village to say hello and then back to TOL.
May 4th: Vehicle transport to site approx 15 kilometress. Search begins by reaching Waypoint 93 up the side of the search area spurline, no indication from the metal detector.
May 5th: Area expanded, still no indication from the MD with the deep search kit fitted. I sprained my right ankle during the descent off the hill. Back at TOL found that a scratch on my right knee was badly infected and right ankle swollen. Commence treatment cannot go on searches.
May 6th: Vehicle not available, called a rest day.
May 7th: TOL boys to take team to another site where there is wreckage. Photographs taken no obvious identification.
May 8th: Similar long trek to another wreck site, again no obvious identification.
May 9th: Vehicle not available again, called rest day.
May 10th: Search party trek to the Mumus River.
May 11th: Chopper ride back to KOKOPO.
May 12th: Ride to TOKUA AP for flight PX207. While in the departure lounge, Air Niugini cancelled the flight, move back to Hotacc….
May 13th; Rescue flight is PX275 and arrive in POM to be accommodated at the LAMANA Hotel
May 14th: PX003 to BRISBANE delayed 1.5 hours at the gate while full of passengers……
An eventful trip, all the photographs are being collected for examination….
If I’m not mistaken, this year’s expedition commenced 04 May 23. I’m sure any donations at this point would still be needed and appreciated to help defray the costs involved in this undertaking. To my point of view, Mr. Billings’s primary focus is ‘finding’, not ‘funding’, which I greatly appreciate. I donated to the ’cause’ earlier this month and was glad to do so! ….
I hope this finds you “on the mend” from the injuries that you incurred while in the jungle. Your accounting of them is a reminder that these types of searches are a serious business, indeed.
Your last entry is intriguing, both for what it does and doesn’t say. “An eventful trip” keeps resonating for me. There a lot of ways that can be defined, and it’s my hope that some insight into the location of the wreck that the 1945 patrol came across has been gleaned from this latest trip.
In regard to the aircraft wreckage that the local population took you to, when you say “no obvious identification”, are we to assume that this is because of vegetation has covered them? Were these sites known previously to anyone other than the local population? Is the thinking that there is some chance that these could be the Lockheed Model 10? Earhart-associated or not, expanding the data base of wrecks in this part of the world, especially if they are WWII related, is eventful in itself.
I look forward to your next update. I’m curious as to whether you had the opportunity to use lidar-equipped drones in the search, which I thought had been a possibility (funding allowing, of course), along with any other details that you can share at this time . How nice it would be if there was a surprising “reveal” forthcoming , a la so many of the streaming series these days, that you might be sharing with us at the appropriate time..
Good to have you and the team back,
Response to Erik…..
It didn’t look like much of an injury but in remote places, especially jungle, infections can cause loss of limbs if ignored or neglected, so discretion of the better part is needed…… Indeed, this search is serious business as has become apparent:
Two days ago a report came from the local people in East New Britain that by using information supplied by me, in the form of maps and diagrams, a team of young men have found human remains within a 60 Metre target strip of ground. Ground which I had marked on a picture, generated from a satellite view.
That in itself is remarkable accuracy, akin to swatting a fly at a thousand paces with a custard pie, the target being marked, months earlier, from an armchair in Queensland 2400 Kms away
In regard to the aircraft wreckage that the local population took you to, when you say “no obvious identification”, are we to assume that this is because of vegetation has covered them?
No, I mean insignia or lettering.
Were these sites known previously to anyone other than the local population?
Possibly. in a couple of places because an R.A.A.F Recovery Team went into the woods in the late 1940’s looking for B-17: 41-2429
Is the thinking that there is some chance that these could be the Lockheed Model 10?
There were thoughts along those lines
Earhart-associated or not, expanding the database of wrecks in this part of the world, especially if they are WWII related, is eventful in itself. Correct, as we are now looking at possibly four WWII wrecks in the area containing up to 36 MIA’s.
I look forward to your next update. I’m curious as to whether you had the opportunity to use lidar-equipped drones in the search, [No. not enough funding] which I thought had been a possibility (funding allowing, of course), along with any other details that you can share at this time . How nice it would be if there was a surprising “reveal” forthcoming , a la so many of the streaming series these days, that you might be sharing with us at the appropriate time..
That’s all there is to date,
David, at this stage now is security of concern in terms of preserving whatever has turned up?