Earhart’s Disappearance Leads to New Britain

COPYRIGHT 2004 – 2022
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

Now that it is lookin like a CV Vaccine will be available and dispensed in time, and providing that the PNG Airline schedules gear up, David Billings is planning his next foray into East New Britain in 2021, the 84th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

New satellite maps, a possible LiDAR survey and more time on site will help in the search.

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 – 2022

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.

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

  1. 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 ..

    George 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 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!


    1. 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.


    1. @”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 !


      1. Hang in there David, and thanks for the update. Meanwhile we’re all trying to stay clear of the Wuh Flu.

        Best regards,


        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 ” >


  3. 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.


  4. Thanks for all that, David. Apart from the TV stuff you mention some interesting points. That target area you have sounds exciting. Good luck.


  5. 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.



  6. 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.


  7. 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.


    1. @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



      1. 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.

        Best regards,

        -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” >


        1. @ 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 ?



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