Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain


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.”

Powerpoint_AE_PNG_NB_01 14 August 2015

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…

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, November 2020.

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 – 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

  1. @Ron Haggart26th and 28th January….
    Heavt Equipment and Acconodation:……
    The Palm Oil people over the Mevelo have Heavy Equipement and I am sure the Malaysians would be willing to let us hire their gear. All that will come together when we have found it. There are many hands to use the many spades we have taken down there…. Similarly it has always beem my intention that we will need temporary accomodation such as Mine Site “Dongers” set up for the reclamation team. Then there will be a need for a Lodge and to this end a mobile Lucas sawmill will be a priority for lumber.

    Beach Landings in the area>\:…..
    Not possible from my visual experiences. The beach which runs almost all the way down from the Mevelo lagoon nearly to Brown Island mentioned by Ron as his Lat/Long is too steeply shelving. A “daring crew” would end up taking a bath, besides which is is half sand and half gravel and there is a slight bank at the top in parts.

    Landing on River Sandbanks:….
    Again these are hazardous as they do contain logs and tree branches stuck in them from river floods. Hp Gunther’s suggestion for a STOL A/C with tundra tyres would work in places south of the river; on the roads for instance and of cours it would work at TOL It was crazy of the Palm Oilers tolet the runway decline in use just as ut is crazty to let the roads overgrow and return ti junge.


    1. The best dongas are insulated containers modified on site with A/C etc. robust, transportable, cheap and durable etc..
      I am associated with a Mens Shed that currently happens to have a near new Lucas Sawmill for sale.
      It appears that behind Brown Island to the Main land has now been reclaimed since WW2 photos.
      Any AUS modern ultralight (some are STOL with all terrain tyres tyres) could land on this area maybe with some local slashing.
      The opportunities now starting to appear are mind boggling .i.e. tourism, venture tours, 4×4 buffs, WW2 history visits etc. and this can only help the indigenous traditional owners of this wild place.
      This site appears to becoming a great place to develop all these ideas for Bill to come up with viable risk venture capital investment proposals..


      1. It now appears that a landing barge with a drive off ramp suitable for beach landings is available on a weekly basis at a reasonable rate and passengers are not allowed except maybe the driver.
        If a runway could be cleaned up a PAC P-750 XSTOL / similar may be hired from POM direct – Take-Off Ground Roll: 721 ft / 220 m as an alternative access for others.


  2. @ Ron Haggart jan 29 and 30th….

    I suspected that the reguar weeklty KOKOPO-POMIO run by the shipping company with ad-hoc deliveries to TOL, was “Freight only” due to nobody at Lamerien previously telling me of a service available alternative to our former use of helicopters, banana boats and Hilux vehicles… it now appears I was correct.

    Prior permission would be needed to use an ultralight aircraft in PNG and as far s I know, it would be “a first” as to my knowledge there are no ultralights in the country. Also CASAPNG would want to know the intricate details of the operation and there would be lots of red tape involved including Customs business..

    Indeed, the opportunities on a successful find are mind boggling, the list is quite long, once the aircraft is found.

    The PAC750 STOL aircraft has an estimated operating cost of around US$400 per hour with pilot according to Pacific Aerospace the company that builds it…. but the riders and disclaimers on that are extensive. For PNG, I would conservativeky double that to US$800 per hour. It cruisres at 160 mph and would take 3 hours plus to get to site. For a two week foray by us, it would need to return to Port Moresby and then come back to pick us up. Therefore, all in Flight Hours would be say, 12-13 at US$800 per hour. (Conservatively). Tthat would be marginally cheaper than a helicopter but flying 450 miles over water in a single engine aircraft is not my idea of fun..

    Err, yes, I did wonder who “Bill” was !



    1. I was not suggesting a long direct flight over water.
      Another hypothetical call for the future, maybe a Quest Kodiak 100 with a decent load from Lae with a small sea crossing rather than a limited load helicopter from Rabaul.
      It is interesting to note why would the Tol strip be allowed to depreciate when the locals obviously have road grading equipment, maybe politics or vested interests. It may not be a great cost to run a local grader up and down and wonder who owns it.


      1. Hello All….
        I have not posted a response to Ron’s hypothetical suggestion as I made an enquiry to the PNG CASA about whether TOL Airstripis “officially” oen to fixef wing traffic ….or not. Which would mean whether we could use it or not.

        I have not yet receved a reply….. maybe this coming week I will get one… maybe



  3. What is the position of the PNG government in relation to the project? Is there any contact there? Since presumably they own the land and the wreck, and potentially stand to gain from the discovery, they are going to be involved at some stage.


  4. @ “H” regarding the BUKA Aircraft in 100 feet of water….

    No, there has been no response. I do not have a comntact for Mr. Snavely but I have been in contact with Chris WIlliamson who does say that they do know about the Ventura loss but the apparantl location in the file of “Bearing 200 degrees and 20 miles from the Buka Passage” does not agrees for the location they have fior their wreck. In which case the location data in the file could be the last location radioed by the crew of the Ventura or barring that, there “is” a different aircraft there.

    They say 1937 and at that time there was no aviation activity in that area. They are saying that there were three airfields on Buka but available infor says that the airfield at Buka was commenced un 1941 by the Australian Army. There are a lot of things said in a 2-Hour Podcast featuring Bill Snavely which I listened to “with interest.” He says they knew about an airfiled on Buka but never have I seen that in all the stuff I have read. IF they could use BUKA on the World Flight why did they not posiotion fuel there which would cut 600 miles off of the LAE-HOW sector flight over water and make it 1800 miles BUK-HOW ? A much safer plan.

    Local people in PNG count their age by “Christmasses” and very iften they get it wrong. If it is not a 1937 aircraft then it most probably is a WWII aircraft from either side. The Japanese had a copy of the Lockheed Hudson in volume Production, both by Kawasaki (Ki-56) and Tachikawa (Type LO). bothe were transport aircraft and were powered by Nakajoma and Mitsubishi engines of 900 and 875 H.P. respectively.



  5. @ Tom Gwyn, FEb 9th:
    “What is the position of the PNG government in relation to the project? Is there any contact there? Since presumably they own the land and the wreck, and potentially stand to gain from the discovery, they are going to be involved at some stage.”

    The PNG Government have little interest in Historic events in PNG. I made contact with the Museum DIrector (The National Museum is of course run by the PNG Government) back in 1994 when I first went in. They havea “Modern History” Section which has aircarft salvaged from wwii. Unfortuneately they are all out in the open nd the site basically resembles a junkyard more tht it does a pristine Museum setting which is what most people expect when the wird “Museun=m’ crops up…. The RAAF restored a n A-20 Havic fir them but they have no civeredc area in which t put it so it remains in ustralia.

    The Project Story has appeared in both the local nesspapers and my name has appeared in PNG Diplomtic Mail in the UNited States.. I have never been contacted by anyine frokm the PNG Guvmint and the only contact I have had has been with the Museum. In 1994 I pais the expenses of the Representative of the Museum that we took in, he was a good bushman and was great to have with us. The next guy in 1996 swore to keep the confidential points of the Project close ti his chest and we paid for him to go also. After we came out he blabbed the whole project detail to Richard Gillespie. The third guy we paid for never turned up at the Airport for the flight and we left without him. On our return to Rabaul, ther he was, happy as Larry and he flew back on our flight. After that, I didn’t bither with a Museum Rep. anymore.

    If and when we find it, they will get involved, for sure….. the meeting will no doubt be short.



  6. Reference: TOL Airstrip….
    I have heard from PNG CASA this morning and they confirm that TOL AIrstrip is “not certificated”, which means that if you use it, you use it at your own discretion. As far as the PNG Government is concrerned therefore, it is not open which basically eliminates it for aircraft insurance puposes.



  7. @”H” Feb 27th…

    I am in discussion with a prospective person who is to try to get funding, that is all I can say at the moment on possible funding. Although I have said before previous expeditions tht I will not spend anymore money, sometimes you cannot avoid spending a few hundred but this time I am definitely sying “No more”… I just cannit afford to dip int my resevrve mney in case I need some urgecy for ependiture within the close famiy. I have never been what youv could call ‘anywhere near to being rich” and on a pension nobody can be called as having ample money, never mind being called rich.

    On the research side, a kind gentleman undertook to look in the 13 Brigade files in the AWM In Canberra but nothing there either. What is not generally known is that at the end if WWII the original ARmy records were left in what ws then “New Guinea” and placed in the Returned Services League (RSL) building which was a wooden weatherboard building in downtown Port Moresby and that building burnt down together with the original records before I even arrived at AIr Niugini in 1992.. Old hands at Air Niugini related how you could sit and have a beer and pull the files off the shelves to read.


      1. @ Ron Haggart Mar 24th

        Sorry for delay in respose….

        Yes, a bit of news…. I am in comms with a party in the U.S. who is a historian and who has connections to TV Production companies. So far, there is interest in the project but we have not got to the funding stage as yet.

        I would like to go again this year because I have had a lot of time to think where it could be and have settled on a site where we passed through in 2009 which has some bare earth showing and a mound there which struck me as being man made and which is close to a bulldozer track. This site fits with the Veterans description very well. LUckily I took a waypoint there with my GPS but I do recall the position anyway because it is not on the top of the hill but it is on the side of the hill and on the way up from a point which we had not used before strting off from the road where a creek runs throiugh a culvert..

        The whole thing now depends on funding, I cannot afford to spend any more money on it so we what to see what develops from the talks.



        1. Ground penetrating radar packages start at around $14,000 Just discovered another buried Viking ship with GPR https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/science/amazing-viking-longship-discovery-radar-reveals-mysterious-ship-grave/vi-BBVgbF5?ocid=spartandhp

          Alternatively, a deep penetrating “twin-box” metal detector would click on either of the two buried radial engines. http://www.nexusdetectors.com/

          Best regards,


          On Sun, Mar 31, 2019 at 7:54 AM Earhart Lockheed Electra Search Project wrote:

          > David Billings commented: “@ Ron Haggart Mar 24th Sorry for delay in > respose…. Yes, a bit of news…. I am in comms with a party in the U.S. > who is a historian and who has connections to TV Production companies. So > far, there is interest in the project but we have not got” >


  8. @ Hp Gunther April 1

    “Ground penetrating radar packages start at around $14,000….”
    Airborne GPR is horrendously expensive… and it would be absolutely impossible to drag or push a handcart loaded with GPR Gear over the ground in there as I have seen people doing in videos

    “Alternatively, a deep penetrating “twin-box” metal detector would click on either of the two buried radial engines. http://www.nexusdetectors.com/
    Agreed there, I have the Garrett GTI2500 with the deep gear attachments. We can manage to get that through the jungle although it does get tangled in vines and small trees. The detector coils are on a long (1.5 metre) FRP hollow pole which I had to cut in half to get it into the carryall bag and connect on site with a wooden plug.

    The problem at the moment is that here I am scratching for US$16,000 just to go back in with to check out my Waypoint 93 where I did get a buzz with a Pioneer Metal Detector in2009. The Pioneer I also have is only a shallow detector (but some people swear by them as being “Good”) and after a single buzz, it didn’t repeat in the same area. Maybe it was trying to tell me something ! but there was what looked like a man-made mound (what MIners call a “bulldozer push” as there was a drop off at the end of the push. We haven’t been back there since but then in 2009 we didn’t know for certain that it was buried. I now regard WP93 as a prime target due to its’ “fit” with the Vets description

    Best regards,



    1. @ “H” May 14th….

      Still looking for Funding. I do not have a boat, craravan of precious jewels to sell, but I have had my Glider ‘For Sale’ for a couple of years now and after dropping the price three times, finally, it looks like it is sold at a loss and will go this weekend. It will not deliver enough money to take the team in so I will go on my own as I have done once before and have to go by boat (4-5 hour trip) as I will not have enough to hire a helicopter. No-one seems to be willing to part with substantial donations but I have around AU$1500 from the PayPal donations plus what I will get fronm the Glider.. I tried a millionaire who s a PNG Businessman but no inteest ensued. That was the guy that the two pushy businessmen from the Gold Coast here intro’d me to last year. I saw him after that debacle but still no luck.

      I have been in talsk with an Amercan Group that expressed interest but now that seems to have lapsed. Part of the problem with taking on an interested party that is proposing funding is that they always assume that I they can “walk-in” and assume control and tell me what they want to do with my project and I will not allow that. They also always include in their “Agreement” proposals that this agreement will be “binding by the Lawsof California or New York Law” and I guess we have all heard of “Phillapelphia Lawyers” as examples held up of highoy estemed smart lawyers which scares the pants off of me because you then know beforehand that if there are disputes or you do get cheated by your proposed partner that you have to fight the case in America, where gresat expense and possible bias wil be invilved in an extreme. I read the American News on Google and on YouTube and in the papers here on a Daily basis and I am not impressed by some of the judicial process in the top echelons of the U.S. that I am seeing and reading.

      I don;t believe in miracles but if they do exist, I thnk I need one.



  9. Are the locals willing or able to help you at all in getting to the area you want to look at? You would think some university or government body would be interested in taking part without imposing excessive commercial terms.


  10. @’H” May 18th…

    The ‘locals’ in the closest villages to the search area are from Yarras village which is about half a mile from the area or from Lamerien Village which is on the Wide Bay coast. The Lamerien villagers have been especially helpful and happily engage with us. Neither village have seen what we are looking for. I assure you that is not unusual…there were two B-25 Mitchells found in around 1988/89 that were out the back of people’s houses in Rabaul but they didn’t know they were there..
    The Guvmint, in the form of the PNG Museum would happily send a representative but at my expense.! I think I have related the one successful Rep, that went with us in 1995, then the next one in 1996 who swore to confidentiality and then blabbed the detail to Richard GIllespie just to ‘big-notre’ himself and who caused a bit a bother by going down the village instead of staying in camp…. I still have Gillespie’s FAX somewhere thanking him for letting him know all our business…. RG Never disclosed that he knew about us until he was forced to admit that he did, in 2004……and then the third one from the Museum who didn’t appear for the domestic flight out of Port Moresby ….. So I gave up asking for another one after those two debacles,,,.



  11. @ John Fallon May 21st 2019…

    Thanks for the notification and your effort to awaken interest in NZ……..

    It does take some time for some folk to go “click” and realise the significance of a “REPAIR TAG” being the tag left on a repaired engine mount and that such a tag is NOT a “DATA PLATE”, but simply a rough and ready means of identifying a component sent out for repair. In my case, the penny dropped at about 2:00 am one night and I woke my wife to say, “It was a Repair Tag !!!”. Her reply was “Ugh?” In my time in A/C Engineering I have known of people going to the Sheetmetal Shop for a scrap of sheet to make into a tag…. Drill a hole in it, stamp the ident and lockwire it to the part.

    What I say is exactly that… then, Some kind soul left the tag on when it was refitted to the Electra at Burbank after the groundloop repair and Warrant Officer Keith Nurse picked on it when he was looking at the detached engine..

    DATA PLATES are totally different and of coure they are headed by the Name or the Logo of the parent organisation that made the component. W.O. NUrse who examined the detached emgine did say he saw “Pratt & Whitney” somewhwere but could not remember where, maybe it was on this Tag we speak of. As a professional organisation, Lockheed by itself, could have manudfactured Repair Tags in metal with their neme on it.

    As another source for the tag, Lockheed used several different engines (as you mention) and each rated engine would require a different engine mount . I have a certified letter that says Lockheed stored engines and engine mounts outside of the plant building in crates and each crate was identified as to “what was in it and where it had to go” i.e: which “Airframe C/N” it was destined for due to this very difference in engine types



  12. Could there be any information hidden away in some place in Japan? Maybe a report of a Japanese army patrol stumbling across a mysterious wrecked plane? A bit like the Aussie patrol. Recovering items from the wreck? I wonder if language makes it difficult for ‘googlers’ in Japan to get into your website, particularly older people who might have had knowledge of events in that part of the world in WW2.


  13. @ “H” May 28th…

    Q – “Could there be any information hidden away in some place in Japan? Maybe a report of a Japanese army patrol stumbling across a mysterious wrecked plane?”
    A – Yes, possibly. If you Google “Japanese WWII Military Maps – GAIHOZU” and locate “New Britain” ( I recall Page 5 of the Gaihozu map collection ) and look for our search area on New Britain from information on the maps contained in the website, you will be able to see on the JApanese Maps that there was a track cut by the Japanese, plainly shown, which goes across the MEVELO RIVER ( in the BIG “W” area of the river ) and going West the track climbs the hillside which actually would lead them to the Captain Harl Pease B-17 wreck (41-2429).if they were led to it by the local people. It is known thar the Molkolkol tribe sided with the Japanese in the area.
    Q- “Recovering items from the wreck?”
    A – Again, possiby. Remember, there is the “Nabers Story” about te briefcase on Saipan. Again, if they were led to the Electra wreck by the nomadic Molkolkol, to me it is feasible that it could have happened.

    ‘I wonder if language makes it difficult for ‘googlers’ in Japan to get into your website, particularly older people who might have had knowledge of events in that part of the world in WW2.’
    Could be, I suppose, but out of the few still breathing, we would be extremely lucky to find a computer literate IJA or IJN Veteran who served in a detachment as part of a backstop in WIde Bay, East New Brtain !. I think it extremely unlikely, but I would love to be proven wrong.


  14. David, It strikes me that your wonderful website is halfway to being a book. Maybe one of your readers , followers, colleagues has the skill to do something like an Amazon free publishing , or whatever, to enable your search details to reach a much wider audience. And perhaps raise money from book / e book sales , or even through coming across a reader with enough money to help fund a trip.


    1. @ “H” July 24th:

      Thanks “H”… Yes, this ia already underway and to prove it I have ‘writer’s cramp…”, but I believe that capitalising would be best left until we did actually find it. I have signed an Agreement with a U.S. company who say they can find the funding BUT… Robert Ballard has now announced he is going to search at NIKUMARORO so while that is on and until it fails, I consider our chances of funfding are slim…

      There is always something that crops up when I am in preparation firanother trip in.

      Thankyou for the kind words.


  15. David, is Robert Ballard fully aware of your search details? If, and I am sure he is, genuinely interested in finding the Electra surely all your research and information must interest him.


    1. @ “H” July 28th….
      I have seen a video in which Robert Ballard says, in respect to this search he is to undertake: “I will find it.”. Now, I don’t know if that soild statement is part of a longer sentence which was, “If it is there, I will find it,” but it sounds pretty confident to me in any case. Being the Scientist that he is, surely he would be wanting all the data he can get and has read reports of this Australian effort. Having done due diligence on the matter it is inescapable that he has missed it !.

      Therefore, the conclusion must be that he does know and is simply “pressing on regardless”, having swallowed the TIGHAR Kool-Aid. What could go wrong ? He has the Nautilus team for the mapping and the sorting of “soft and hard” targets, then the deep diving for looksees out of the windiws and he has a team of volunteer TIGHAR Members with cadaver sniffing “dawgs” and DNA sampleccollection bottles.
      NOTE: I will not mention the previous “ending” experiences that TIGHAR has inadvertently made with DNA Samples.

      So Ballard has a “Deeps Team” and a “Land Team” and as I saw in a video this morning, the lady running the show has said, “We are riding on the back of the 30 years experience made by TIGHAR.” Now, what could go wrong ?

      For those who have not read my treatise on “TIGHAR and the TIGHAR Scientific Methodology”, it can be seen on WIX under “Vintage AViation” On about Page 4 or 5.

      I am still in receipt of positive messages from the people I am involved with who are looking for funding..



  16. What Ballard actually said in the NatGeo video accompanying the announcement:

    “That plane exists, which meams I am going to find it.”

    So there you have it, that’s what he said.



  17. Having said he will find it, assuming he doesn’t on this TIGHAR trip, he will have little option other than to give your search his best shot! I can just imagine the pair of you discussing what he did on Titanic and film rights! He is ‘out there somewhere’ now isn’t he? Lets hope he reads , first hand and not a distorted second-hand account, your website.And then acts to help you.


  18. @ George. 4th Aug 2019
    George, Yes, that is the famous “Monty Fowler Burnt Bridge” treatise from 2017. Monty packed-in with TIGHAR after finally coming to his senses after $50,000 had flowed from his wallet. He then joined “Aviation Mysteries and all the other former banned TIGHAR embers there, including Bob Lanz, Jeffrey Neville and Alan Harris to name but three.

    Bob, a Forum Moderator, had categorically stated that the Pelvic Bone Remnant sketched in Dr. Hoodless’s Report from 1940 was MALE and had continued to say that, even after a computer had declared the remnant to be female, proving once again that computers are always correct. Bob’s password into the Forum was cancelled by the Jesuit who has overall control of the Forum and on orders from the top.

    Jeffrey Neville’s crime was to withdraw his proposition that Artifact 2-2-V-1 (called The Magic Scrap by some) the piece of aircraft aluminium sheet found on NIKU in 1991 had come from the piece of sheet covering the aperture left by the removal of the RH Rear window at Miami. He withdrew the proposition after several weeks of deliberation on the Forum where Gillespie had also been pushing this line. I had sent Jeffrey a scaled drawing of the window installation showing that The Magic Scrap was too big in one dimension to fit the aperture dimension. Gillespie was furious at his withdrawal of the proposition and Jeffrey’s Moderator privilege was withdrawn. He resigned shortly after that.

    Alan Harris was always questioning Gillespie’s more dubious statements as were a large numbers of others and he and that number of so-called miscreants were gradually banned and the TIGHAR Forum went to a “Paid-up Members Only” allowed to post, whereupon it lost the genuine cut-and-thrust of a lively forum and declined. There have been lengthy periods of weeks where no posts have been made.



    1. David:

      It’s worth reminding readers that Earhart’s disappearance occured BEFORE millions of debris was scattered across the Pacific during the raging conflict of WWII.

      Best regards,


      On Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 9:26 AM Earhart Lockheed Electra Search Project wrote:

      > David Billings commented: “@ George. 4th Aug 2019 George, Yes, that is the > famous “Monty Fowler Burnt Bridge” treatise from 2017. Monty packed-in with > TIGHAR after finally coming to his senses after $50,000 had flowed from his > wallet. He then joined “Aviation Mysteries and all the” >


  19. “H” Aug 5th
    “Having said he will find it, assuming he doesn’t on this TIGHAR trip, he will have little option other than to give your search his best shot! ”
    Well, I am not going to hold my breath on that premise ! Ballard himself has said that “I only do deep water searches”… I guess he would be lost on land.
    When he does end up “empty-handed” so to speak, I would be pleasntly surprised if indeed more attention WAS paid to the search in East New Britain…..



    1. So Dr. Ballard is going to waste a lot of time, money, and resources on looking for something which isn’t there, so he won’t find it, and then there will be some explaining to do. .Am I missing something?

      It would be good if this focused attention on PNG, but sadly I think another failed search may be counter-productive, as the public has only a finite interest in the Earhart mystery, and sources of funding are also finite.

      David – What is the situation at your chosen waypoint? How deep do you think the wreck is buried, what is the soil type, and what is the vegetation/tree cover like? What sort of expedition would you need to mount to have a reasonable chance of recovering a convincing piece of Electra, and what would it cost?


  20. @Hana, August 8th.

    Quite so Hans…. People forget history. When Earhart and Noonan were lost in July 1937, no one had any idea that short of five years later the Pacific would be turned into a battlefield.

    The piece of sheet (Artifcat 2-2-V-1) located by TIGHAR in 1991 had to come from somewhere but for them, as well as everything else that they have found on NIUK, that speaks of humankind… it had to have come by way of Earhart or Noonan or the Electra. Proving the provenance to TIGHAR is “no big deal”…. just keep repeating that it “must” be theirs. Despite Gardner/NImumaroro being tramped over by men from early Whaling ships, the odd castaway (no doubt), the survivors from the SS Norwich City, the Bevington Survey, a New Zealand Survey party, sailors from the USS Bushnell (who, it ihas been proven: Dd leave a Sextant Box behind …..that TIGHAR for years said: “Must be Noonan’s”), plus 50 men from the US Coast Guard and not forgetting the Gilbertese Labourers for the Copra project….who had a “Co-operative Shop” which sold stuff in glass jars…. just about everything they left behind “Must have come from Earhart, Noonan or the Electra …Yeah Right.

    Artifact 2-2-V-1 could have come from the C-47 wreck on Sydney Island or from the B-24 wreck on Canton Island, Neither of these two types of aircraft have been fully explored by TIGHAR. It could also have come by supply ship from any island in The Gilberts that has wrecked aircraft. Reportedly, the New England Aircraft Museum found a match wih an early C-47 wing they have, I know of two researchers who are still looking for the possible origin of that Artifact. The Gilbertese on NIKU did not leave the island until the mid-Sixties, plenty of time to obtain scrap from their home villages in the Gilberts or for new settlers to bring it with them to use in handicraft work..

    But “No”… Tighar has “Wave action”, “Pounding wave action” and “Storm action” loosening the “Patch” (as they call Artifact 2-2-V-1) and breaking it out of the Electra where it is found on the shore by the Gilbertese and used to fry fish. When that didn’t fly…[flying fish?], they then had Noonan kicking out the “Patch” to get airflow through the Electra… ALL, I might add, on the ASSUMPTION that the Electra landed there in the first instance.

    “Must be Noonan’s Patch” ……The mind boggles….


  21. At Tom Gwyn, August 9th:
    “So Dr. Ballard is going to waste a lot of time, money, and resources on looking for something which isn’t there, so he won’t find it, and then there will be some explaining to do. .Am I missing something?”

    No, You are not missing anything,”they” are…. In 1990, Don Angwin wrote to Richard Gillesie telling him about finding a ‘Wasp’ engine in the jungle. Don told me that instead of enquiring for more detail, RG’s response was “rude and arrogant”. Don said that if he hadn’t of been rude and arrogant in 1990, when more information in the map came to light in late 1993, he would have gladly supplied it to RG. As it stood, in 1994 when I offered to go and look, Don said he didn’t want anything to do with RG and asked me to be the same.

    When a PNG Museum Representative that we took with us “big-noted himself” and blabbed the detail of our expedition to Gillespie in 1996, Gillespie sent a fax to me at Air Niugini wanting to know if what we were looking for was the same engine that “Corporal Angwin” had notified him about previously. I replied in a non-committal “Cannot confirm or deny” mode. Nothing of this appeared in the TIGHAR website, which “always” reports on other people’s efforts. Not until 2004, when our first website went up, when Tighar members asked if RG knew about the effort in East New Britain. he admitted “Oh yes”, he did, but went on to say the story had been embellished and shrugged it off, along the lines of “Nothing will come of it” and that “Wasp engines are ubiquitous” (i.e; “can be found anywhere”)…. He allowed snide remarks to be published and inferences that the Veterans were lying.

    The fact that he omitted to tell his members when he got the inside information from the Museum Rep. is very telling of his duplicity but he would say this project is impossible but with others he broadcasts all news. Very strange.

    “It would be good if this focused attention on PNG, but sadly I think another failed search may be counter-productive, as the public has only a finite interest in the Earhart mystery, and sources of funding are also finite.”

    I agree to a certain extent but then again it will come back in grow like Topsy….

    “David – What is the situation at your chosen waypoint? How deep do you think the wreck is buried, what is the soil type, and what is the vegetation/tree cover like?” :

    We were headed for funding before this Ballard venture arose, now all is on hold. I have prepared maps and fixed waypoints in an area we have not explored. It will not be deep; the story from the BD Drivers mate was that when we had stopped looking he was going back to dig it out… There is not much topsoil at all and then reddish clay and at about two feet, grey clay which a BD can move easily. Most of the trees are gum trees with some Cedar and under the canopy are ferns and palms trying to grow bigger, Mostly you can walk through cutting at you go but roots and vines are every sometimes impeding progress. It is the worst I have been into compared to Malaya or Borneo.

    “What sort of expedition would you need to mount to have a reasonable chance of recovering a convincing piece of Electra, and what would it cost?”

    Same as we have done previously. We have the Metal Detectors already. All we would need would be photographic evidence of unique points on the Electra: Fueling point cover panels, the cockpit window framing, the LH Door, the top fuselage vents, the upper access hatch, a gear leg and all the other points…. but of all these points (and more), the clinchers would be the Data Plates, the Airframe data plate from the Instrument Panel and the plates off the back of the engines. Cost works out to around $5000 – $5500 each, to get the team in and out using a helicopter I could do a trip for a Maximum of 30 grand Australian Dollars. I have done it for less using boats but boats are too dangerous in the rough seas so never again.

    As I have informed, there is now an American group looking for funding to film an Expedition but nothing will happen until Ballard comes up empty handed.


  22. @”H” August 13th
    They are not going to say anything until the search is over and then a few days after when they have thought if something to say….. I figure around 25th to 30th August ,,,,


  23. This is in response to the question by Tom Gwyn to David Billings about the type of soil and how deep the Electra might be buried. After all these years (23) perhaps Alvinus, the BD driver, did not do a very good job of covering it up. David said it is likely not very deep and one can hope for something obvious in the next search. Hopefully something might be sticking out of the ground. How much time could the driver waste covering it up? Remember that the engine and the airframe were separated and he may not have not seen the engine. Then there is the tail section that was not seen by the army patrol. Was it lost after the A/C went into the trees? Did the BD driver find the tail section and bury all three parts of the aircraft?

    Why everyone swallows the TIGHAR bait is beyond me. It is obvious that Gillespie will say or do anything in order to stay in the limelight.


  24. Both Tighar and National Geographic should be able to see the writing on the wall by this stage, but for some reason they can’t or won’t. Very strange…..

    It does seem possible that the tail section is still “on the surface” but it is likely to be very overgrown, badly damaged and some distance from the rest of the aircraft, so not at all easy to find. That said, it is quite a large component, if Ken Backhouse’s drawing is correct. I would speculate that it broke off because the aircraft was tail-down when it hit the trees, and that it would break roughly on a plane between the nearside door and the offside rear window. I stand to be corrected, of course.


  25. @mrp4on5, 23 August:
    “How much time could the driver waste covering it up?”
    I figure about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The situation described to me was that the bulldozer was putting in the main track onto the ridgeline of the hill, coming over the length of the hill from the NW to the SE. This main track led off the hill at the SE end to where a road was intended to be put in between the MEVELO River and the YARRAS River (which can be seen on G-Earth).
    The BD driver only told his brother-in-law about covering over an aircraft some time later and did not tell him “where” he had buried it. That’s the hard part.

    “…and he may not have seen the engine”.

    Yes, that is possible but of late and in the recollection of where we were in 2009 I did get a beep out of my MD on the side of the hill on what we call a “bulldozer push”… where earth has been pushed by the blade and has formed a bit if a drop off but considered it not significant at the time as there is a lot of ironstone on the hill and it was lower down on the hillside not: “Just after starting the descent”. I did store a waypoint at that spot and it could be a likely spot for the detached engine. That will be investigated next time.

    As I know from experience of B-24’s going through trees, the tails get ripped off If it did get ripped off of the Electra it could be close by. If it broke off due to overload after the gas was exhausted, it could be anywhere within a large radius of the main wreckage. That is too large an area to contemplate at this time.

    It is the limelight as a factor for RG as you suggest but there is in my opinion the added subject of green lucre.


  26. @Tom Gwyn August 25th

    “Both Tighar and National Geographic …etc…”
    Well you have to keep the drum rolling if you want people to turn up and part with cash. There will be contract clauses in effect of “loose lips sink ships” about this latest search venture and during this week I would guess that Dr. Ballard will be meeting with NatGeo executives to decide whether it will be better company policy to keep the public on the edge of their seats until October 20th or come out with it and say: “We ain’t found nuttin’….!” If theyfound “Nuttin’…”, what would be the point of producing a $500K two-hour video for TV consumption ???

    We could speculate all day about the tail section “Not being seen” for a variety of reasons, to my mind, a catastrophic failure is quite likely at fuel exhaustion. This could very well occur due to the propellers being “Non-feathering” and to one engine failing first followed by the second and the probability of the propellers going out of “synch”, which would cause massive drag alternately from each propeller and impart differential loadings on the tail section caused by yaw.

    A likely area of the start of a failure such as described, would be at the incorrectly repaired RHR Window aperture area where a section of longeron was missing (had been cut out), when the larger window was installed at the RHR Position. Without strengthening the upper area with multiple doubler plates to restore structural strength removed by cutting out the longeron section, the window area would be weaker at that upper point. (My two cents)


  27. Howland and Baker next then, so Ballard still interested. Have you never had any contact from Ballard or his team David? Does he even know your Website exists? Anybody who has read it must be curious , you would think.


  28. @ “H” Sept 3rd…
    ‘Howland and Baker next then, so Ballard still interested.”

    My understanding is the the HOW & BKR Surveys are for the US Guvmint and an Envronmental Qango in the US…. Of course if he sees anybody waving out of the sliding cockpit window of an Electra down unde rthe waves, then of course he will investigate…. That’s only natural…but I am not holding my breath !

    “Have you never had any contact from Ballard or his team David? Does he even know your Website exists? Anybody who has read it must be curious , you would think.”

    Never or ever have I had any contact with Dr. RB or his team and no idea if he does know about the Project. You see I either do not exist or I am ‘classified’ as that nutcase that lives in ‘Orsetrailia…” Hardly anyone from a “competing” researcher group contacts me except that I do have the occasional mail with MIke Campbell as I know him from the former “AE Society” which collapsed after a fight with the Bolamites. GIllespie contacted me once in 1996 or 7, but did’t get the answer he was looking for… I have had people contact me over the PRoject with a view to fund it but they usually want “ALL rights” (as did NatGeo) and they can’t have that so they go away. If I gave them all rights to the story after by “my standards”, a great expenditure, I would get nothing. I Started out in this in a humanitarian sense, as I have done with the missing wartime wrecks which do greatly interest me, being ex-Aircrew myself; but after my expenditure of my own money and time I feel that I should at least get that back. …and so it goes on…


    1. You’re absolutely right David. The effort, energy and $$ you’ve put into this project over the years must be recognised and if there is a dollar to be made then you have first rights.


  29. @John Brocklesby Sept 6…

    Thanks John but it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to go…. “Best laid plans of mice and men”…etc.. Funding entities have in the past stated that they want their money back first and it has been that the demands from them mean that I close the negotiations and walk away, then they wondrer why I have walked out. I am by no means what is called “rich” and at best I would like my expenses and my team’s expenses out of it if that is at all possible.. We’ll see.


  30. That’s the very least you deserve, David. Have any Universities or research project people shown any interest in joining your team on a PNG visit?


    1. @’H’ Oct 1st

      No, they have not except for one Queensland University expert on Frogs, whiom I later called a “Frogologist” because I didn’t think that frogs were bundled together with snakes and lizards under Herpatology. I called the University and asked to speak to a person who knew something about frogs: “a Frogologist” as I was the first to see a frog in an extinct volcano stream bed that was rather unusual. The frog was rust red and brown in colour and about 5 inches (125mm) high as it sat and seemed to me to be unusual because it had claws on each of its digits. There were literally hundreds of really tiny little white crabs in the stream bed and I figured the frog had used the claws to dig in the stream bed sand to find eggs or crab “roe” or other crustacean food…. It was a bit weird in the extinct volcano…. black marble walls and a few old stallegmite/stallectite looking drip formations on the ground. The steam led to a tiny waterfall about 200 feet high.

      So, this expert said to me, “What have you seen ?” So I said “I have just got back from New Guinea, actually from New Britain in fact and I have seen a frog there that has claws on its’ digits.” There was a silence and then he said, “There is no such Frog that has claws”. “Oh yes there is…”… “Oh no there isn’t”…. That was basically it for the Frog, so my dream of “Aquarian Volcanius BIllingsii” was shattered so I moved onto the pale electric blue snake with the yellow mouth and black cap to its’ head and he was still not that impressed so Barney Cochrane’s dream of “Herpus Cochraneii” was also shattered.

      I then asked him if he as an alternate would be interested in the mammal I had seen which resembled a sugar glider but did not have a tail,but no interest there so “Petaurus Breviceps Billingsii” was a redundancy and I moved on to the clear “See-through” mollusc with white organs in its’ body which lives under large leaves and is 6 inches long (150mm) but no interest either so “Molluscus Moffatii” was also a non-starter. He only asked where this was and could he come along with us next time, probably at our expense…. end of conversation…

      I think we will continue to cencentrate on Pleiades Electra Earhartii and gaining funding for that and leave the new species until after we find that known elusive animal…



  31. David , I think on reporting back in connection with your last visit you mentioned something about another aircraft wreck a few miles up river, but in the vicinity of where you are looking. , The Electra wreckage will understandably be the priority but have you got much information about this other nearby wreckage?


    1. @ ‘H’ Jan 27th…

      A long story…..

      The Captain Harl Pease B-17E 41-2429 was lost in August 1942 and it lies on the south hillside above the River MUMUS and if you plug the hull number into Pacific Wrecks you will see the history and the sad tale. In the river down below the hill but some distance from the main wreckage there is a Long Range Fuel Tank so it looks like that was jettisoned while the aircraft was still flying, Apparently this fully camouflaged B-17 blew up at altitude and early on in my visits there were a few other bits in the river (ammo chutes, an oil cooler matrix’, an engine cowling) including one Wright Cyclone engine with one prop blade speared into the clay of the river bed. I have never seen any of the other three engines. The engine cowling sheet with the bright stainless steel heat shield is now down at KALAI, 25 kms away as it was tangled in tree roots and a flood has now washed these bits away. The MUMUS River and the MEVELO River are real sights to behold when in flood. The main wreckage of 41-2429 has no cockpit section, it separated at the production joint. There are no engines on the remaining inboard nacelle firewalls, there are no outer wing panels or intermediate wing panels (which carried the No’s 1 and 4 engines). There is no tail section aft of the radio shack. In short the wreckage of 41-2429 bears no resemblance to the description of the wreckage seen by the Australian Vets.

      Incidentally, the owner of the Pacific Wrecks website who has a chrystal ball; wrote to me and suggested that the Australian Vets had seen “an” engine from B-17E 41-2429 as this aircraft was powered by P & W Wasp engines… go figure.

      The B-17F Model was built with extra fuel tanks in the wings and these were called “Tokyo Tanks”. The B-17E Model did not have them and so used these LR Tanks fItted into the Bomb Bay and this obviously would resrict the bomb load. The LR Fuel Tanks carried in the bomb bay were “re-usable” but could be jettisoned if needed in case of fire or imminent closure with the ground because an empty tank is more “explosion ready” than a full tank…..

      Early on in this project, I had the opportunity to speak to a former B-17 crew member who mentioned they carried one LR Fuel tank on the raids to RABAUL and the aluminium tank took up one side of the bomb bay.

      In 2000 the local people took me to a stream bed whch feeds into the YARRAS River and in that stream bed was “another” aluminium LR Fuel Tank so where had this second tank come from ?

      In 2011, I started going back to work at Air Niugini in Port Moresby as a Consultant as they had a few problems that needed a wise man….. Occasionally the newspapers there report on “new finds” of old wreckage from WWII and a report in a newspaper said that some locals had seen an old aircraft in the IP River valley on New Britain Island. “New Britain” immediately sparked my interest and asking around and a map search reveals the IP River is due south of our search area by 20 Kilometres (12 miles). My memory clicked in… could it be another B-17 ? A B-17 that jettisoned its’ LR Fuel Tank because the Crew knew they were going in ?

      The only other B-17E which is still missing, whereabouts unknown, is B-17E 41-9196 flown by Lieutenant Earl Hageman, lost on 5th October 1942. Another sad tale.



  32. Thanks ,David, for that info.- very interesting. You have built up so much knowledge over your many years involved in all this.


    1. Hear hear. Never ceases to amaze me the depth of David’s knowledge. For the record David, as soon as I win the lottery, I’ll give you what you need to sort this.


  33. David, I have been wondering if you have tried to make contact with the likes of Kermit Weeks? It strikes me that someone as interested in historical aviation as he (and US aviation history particularly), and how motivated he is at finding a way of promoting interest in it to the wider public through his museum, that he would be a likely candidate to be involved in such a (ad)venture as yours. Additionally, he is a pilot and an intelligent individual whom I feel sure would comprehend your hypotheses based on aeronautical fact.

    Kermit is also a friend of NZ movie-maker and historical aviation enthusiast, Peter Jackson. The two together have access to much in the way of funds. A movie, a museum, a common interest, a mystery waiting to be solved…what more is needed?

    Just a thought from an interested Kiwi.




    1. @ “H” Feb 4th….

      Thanks… I actually should have said the 41-9196 is the last remaining “unknown whereabouts” B-17 “E” Model lost over New Britain. Of course there are other “E” Models missing over the mainland of New Guinea per se. When i reported in about a B-24 above TAUTA in the Finesterre range, CILHI (as it was) asked me if I knew of a B-17 in that general area which was lost in a Headquarters move (probably port Moresby to Hollandia) and that missing one has two Generals on board plus staff, so is another one “whereabouts unknown”. Don’t think for one minute that I have been to scores of wrecks, because I have not. Other people have done more than I have, particularly Brian Bennetts, who worked for the Forestry Department in PNG and all his workers would let him know if they found anything. I only did it on an opportunity basis if I had the time.

      @ John Brockelsby 17th Feb

      Buy more tickets ! Thanks for the thought….

      @ John Fallon 17th Feb

      No, Mr. Weeks is one I have not contacted. From watching his videos, I think Kermit likes to see what he is buying before he reaches into his pocket. Most that I have contacted do not respond. Please feel free to contact him on my behalf, at the moment I have a case of “one finger writer’s cramp.”

      Thanks to all for continued interest….


    1. @ ‘H’ March 25th….

      Unfortunately, I have to say “Yes”… Plans have been disrupted until the dust settles and the reality of the Covid-19 “Chinese Virus” situation becomes apparent and clear. Australia is in virtual lockdown anyway so I could not go even if I wanted to, right at this time.

      The funding entity is still very interested and talks between planning groups continue and all are appreciative of the situation. Hopefully as soon as light appears at the end of the tunnel we can pack our bags and go but when that will be I have no idea due to the unknown length of the time span.

      PNG itself has chopped international flights down to a minimum and is only reporting ” 1 ” case of the virus and I sincerely hope they can keep the virus out as they themselves are saying they are ill-equipped to deal with it. I really hope they are able to keep it at bay too.



  34. Dear David,
    Congratulation for your extensive and very professional work, also for the endurance you are keeping up this theory with. I heatedly and eagerly went through the entire site, some parts several times. Maybe too hastily to miss the reason why the existence of the contingency plan is in question at all. While it is not a direct proof, but if someone takes a look on the news clips at the end of the Luke Field incident report it is quite clear. She herself explained to the reporter that she duly thought of returning ‘after 8 hours if it was necessary for any reason’ and took the necessary fuel with her. As to how long during that 8 hours she would have reached I am not quite sure. The trip to Howland from Luke would have probably taken some 14+ hours.

    Sorry for the naive and coarse approximations; the Electra had a rated capacity of 4,500 mi. How can someone even contemplate that this plane with an almost full fuel load would have dropped from the sky after ca. 2,600 mi? Even if it was 20+ mph headwind all through the 19 hrs flight time it would have increased the distance in air to 3 – 3,200 mi, being well within the plane’s capacity. Let alone the support what the same wind had probably provided on the return route. Your meticulous performance calculations are of course much more precise and seem to prove the theory well.



  35. Janos Varga, 21 April 20.
    Thankyou Janos for the compliments contained in your post.

    Your points:

    You are quite correct in saying that AE did point out the possibility of a return from the LUKE Field departure for HOWLAND, a possible turnback which she had taken into consideration on the World Flight “1st” attempt. Obviously if she had considered a turnback on the 1st World Flight attempt it follows that the reasoning would be the same on the 2nd WF and possible destinations for a turnback on the 1st and 2nd WF’s are bound to have large distances involved. Telling Eugene Vidal that this was a consideration and as written into the records at the Uni of Wisconsin secures the thought into a fact. As to why this cannot be accepted in some quarters means that the some individual agendas do not concur and therefore some individuals dismiss The Contingency Plan completely.

    My attention was caught on the LAE to HOWLAND flight by the seemingly “long’ time it took for the Electra to reach the “ship in sight” point at 1030GMT and also caught by the 0518 GMT “150*7’E, 7*3’S” PR call. Surely she still could not be at 150*7’E after 5+ hours! …and what was she doing at 7*3’S when she is supposed to be on a course which is just north of East ? Then I realised she had actually flown a dog-leg through CHOISEUL in order to avoid the reported bad weather LOW off the end of New Britain Island which could cause problems going over the mountain range on Bougainville Island. That made the flight distance LAE-CHOISEUL-NUKUMANU-ONTARIO (with the correction at Nukumanu) 1362 Statute Miles in 10.6 Hours giving an average Groundspeed of only 128 Mph Indicating an average headwind of 22 Mph, not the 12 Mph I strongly suspect that she had flight-planned. This said to me that the Electra was flying into an increasing headwind, the further it got from LAE. We know that after Nukumanu as they turned onto the direct track that the wind was 26.5 Mph as reported in a radio call. I believe that as soon as it was realized that the wind was disastrous for the flight that she pulled back the power to attain a Best Lift/Drag speed in order to save fuel.

    Therefore, in view of the headwind, Noonan’s advice to the pilot after his workings made at the Ontario would then be of a revised Estimate (ETA) for Howland based on the wind he would calculate from an Astro sighting at Top of Climb after leaving Nukumanu at around 0800GMT. If Noonan managed another Astro shot at 1000GMT knowing the arrival over the ONTARIO he would have a fair idea of the wind on arrival overhead the ONTARIO which I put at 1036GMT, 10.6 hours of flying time. He may have left his calculations until their arrival at the Ontario.

    As I discuss in the website story, the actual groundspeed overhead the ONTARIO is hard to determine due to the mispositioning of the ship itself and what Noonan’s speed calculations made of it from Astro shots but indications are that at the most it was 127 Mph and may have been 112 Mph. I recall the U.S. Navy made it 119 Mph. One thing is for sure, in the intervening 8.6 hours (1036GMT to 1912GMT), to travel 1290 Statute miles the average speed over the distance must be 150 Mph. So far on the flight, the Electra has not managed to attain the initial flight plan average which I made to be 138 Mph. To me, the whole Power Setting regime which had previously been settled on for the flight had to be changed to fall back onto a lower power setting to give the “best speed for low drag”….. Really, they should have turned back when they hit the 23 Knot wind after Nukumanu but it would have meant loitering in the dark until daylight came, at either Rabaul or Lae..

    The “meticulous performance figures” you see in the website are tabulated into MS Word tables in order to display the results and calculations from two huge MS Excel files which if printed would probably reach 50+ pages of A4. One Excel file is a “Results” file which has separate tables (but linked by calculation cells) for AUW, Coeff. Lift, Coeff. Drag, Best L/D., H.P. Required and Velocity. These tables are all linked to a Density Altitude cell. The second Excel file is the “Calculations” file where the Results are plotted and necessary calculations made where required for a the flight plotted right to left in increments of 100 pounds of fuel usage (16.66r USG steps) through the columns. This gives me an AUW throughout the PLOT resulting in a flight tailored to follow the altitudes, speeds, timings and distances as known.

    Yes, for a return, the all-important ‘tailwind’ has to exist, it would be impossible without the tailwind. Obviously, there are detractors who cannot accept the hypothesis, I fully understand that. However, not one detractor can answer the question of why an unpainted, all-aluminium, twin engine aircraft wreck was seen that was powered by Pratt & Whitney R1340 S3H-1 engines of 600 H.P.. If even one detractor can tell me what type of aircraft it is, other than a 10E Electra, I will have doubts myself !



  36. @Richard Rudd, May 16th:
    Hi Richard,
    Haven’t seen you since the mid-80’s, hope you are well.
    Thanks for the info re: LiDAR.
    With funding we would like to try “new” Technology Magnetometer equipment work and LiDAR. We only need LiDAR for positive I.D. of where the bulldozer tracks are if they have become indistinct to the Mk.1 Eyeball which happens after the annual rainfalls they get there.
    Problem is some companies that use drones do not seem keen on PNG work due to the DG requirements on Lithium Batteries which would have to be sent ahead as Freight through Moresby Customs and then onto Rabaul/Tokua. This would present a logistics headache if the batts don’t get there in time because of transit processes.


  37. May 21st 2020:
    To all readers of the website…..

    I wish to draw your attention to an important addition to the website in Part 5 “Analysis”.

    Over the past two weeks or so we have discovered who it was who wrote the writing on the lower border of the wartime map, our main piece of evidence. The result of the effort to find the writer is written into an Addendum, together with all the evidence material from the Australian War Memorial archives.

    The resultant find of the writer is important because it puts the writer in a perfect time and place to be completely in the knowledge about the find made by the Patrrol A1 and also to have knowledge of any response from the U.S. Army.

    There is also a strong connection beteween the writer and Captain Mott for whom the writing on the map was intended.

    This recent find enhances the evidential material contained throughout the website.



    1. Thanks for latest update with photos.

      …But it just makes the back of my hair stand up whenever I see that silly aviatrix like a beached whale slung over the fuselage watching busy mechanics trying to salvage her wrecked airplane. After a blown tire this mediocre pilot was late in retarding throttles, late in applying full opposite rudder and late in differential braking to avoid a ground loop. Upon this Luke Field snafu the benefactors and commercial sponsors should have pulled the plug on this celebrity hound who had no business behind the wheel of such a high powered twin, normally operated with a dual crew in airline operations.

      Mind boggling is how one supposedly experienced pilot could attempt a record-breaking oceanic crossing on a single generator, with a single Western Electric-13C transmitter, with a single Western Electric-20B receiver, and a single Bendix direction finder. No radio training and no real radio testing prior to departure at Lae. No communications coordination with Itasca. She’s just winging it. In a hurry to stay “on schedule.” Just Get In And Go! Altogether ill prepared for complex in-flight switching…changing bands, cranking the “coffee grinder” receiver control head, and tuning the Bendix Direction Finder coupler. And she was unprofessional in aviation phraseology. Earhart was one useless spoon-fed lazy girl mindlessly propped and hyped by the media and the public’s fascination with a female hero pilot.

      Good riddance.

      Best regards,


      On Fri, May 22, 2020 at 4:53 AM Earhart Lockheed Electra Search Project wrote:

      > David Billings commented: “May 21st 2020: To all readers of the > website….. I wish to draw your attention to an important addition to the > website in Part 5 “Analysis”. Over the past two weeks or so we have > discovered who it was who wrote the writing on the lower border of t” >


  38. David

    I remain in awe of the thoroughness of your research and the dedication with which you follow each and very rabbit hole through to the end. I have no doubt you will be successful in your search and I look forward to the day your persistence is rewarded.

    Kind regards, John


  39. Ditto to that also. Regardless of the outcome, this remarkable find and adventure should be written up permanently for posterity…and my bookshelf!



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