This was supposedly her last radio transmission; "We are on the line of position 157 dash 337. Will repeat this message. We will repeat this message on 6210 KC. Wait listening on 6210. We are running North and South." This message was received by the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca. Then Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan and her Lockheed Electra, supposedly completely vanished without a trace! The U.S. Navy immediately launched one of the largest search forces ever assembled .... and found nothing. Later the Navy announced; " Amelia ran out of gas and ditched her plane in the Ocean, then she and Fred drowned." This was the story that was accepted by the media and spread around the world. Why then, not a sliver of air plane wreckage or debris, no scrap metal or paper, no oil slick, no human remains, or any other tangible evidence of a ditching at the ocean was ever found? The truthful answer is very simple, Amelia Earhart did not ditch her airplane into the ocean.
Recently this writer was very amused as I watched the History Channel. Two self proclaimed "Experts" took two hours to prove she did. They retraced her whole flight and pinpointed the exact spot where she went down. Another "Expert" used side scan sonar on five miles of cable that reached the depth of 18,000 feet. In fact he surveyed 600 miles of ocean bottom ..... but found nothing.
In 1937 Japan was well advanced in their military buildup of the Marshall Islands. Already there were bases at Kwajalein, Mili, Maloelap, and Jaluit Islands, while their headquarters was in the Mariana Islands in Saipan. No one could enter any of this territory without special permission. It was very important that the United States gain accurate information about these illegal bases.
The popular Amelia was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and she also knew her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He persuaded Amelia to become a special spy, just for him. She would fly over the Marshall Islands and especially Truk Island. No one would suspect that she would be taking photographs of the bases.
Just a few months earlier Amelia's first attempt to fly around the world had ended in failure. Amelia started in Oakland, California, and the first stop was Honolulu, Hawaii. As she was flying around the world west to east, the second stop would be Howland Island, which was 1,800 miles away. But Amelia crashed, trying to take off from Ford Island in Pearl Harbor Honolulu, Hawaii! So her Lockheed Electra was crated up and shipped back to Lockheed Aircraft Plant in Burbank, California.
The U.S. Navy took charge and had the plane rebuilt and highly modified. Two larger military engines were installed (Pratt Whitney S3N1-550 HP each). Six gas tanks in the wings and six more in the fuselage that would carry 2,000 gallons of gas. All of the latest radio and navigational equipment was installed. This included two Fairchild aerial-survey cameras installed in the lower bay fuselage. Lockheed technician Robert T. Elliot recalls cutting the holes for the cameras. Therefore, this special airplane furnished, Amelia could fly faster and higher than any Japanese plane that might pursue her.
On this second attempt to fly around the world, the Navy reversed Amelia's flight plan. That is why Howland Island became her last stop! She could fly over the forbidden Japanese territory and photograph their bases. Then she could land on Howland Island and the Navy would quickly remove the cameras and the film. But as Amelia flew over the Marshall Islands, she was spotted as an intruder. Also in the area was the Aircraft Carrier AKAGA. (This is one of the aircraft carriers that would attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941).
Zero fighter pilots were sent aloft to force the American plane down, one way or another! One pilot stated, "we were not told that the intruder was a world famous American Aviator." The Japanese pilot that shot Amelia down made one fly-by. But Amelia ignored the zero, so on the next pass he fired both machine guns. Amelia swerved downward and crash landed on the beach at Mili Atoll. The Japanese were in no hurry to pick them up, as they were having war games.
No one could enter this area, and the American search party had been warned to stay away. For this reason, Amelia Earhart was able to send out an SOS for four long days, and they were heard as far away as Los Angeles, California!
It is incredible that we did not try to get them out. Fred Noonan had a cut in the middle of his forehead. He also had a badly infected cut on the knee. A sixteen year old native medical corpsman from naval hospital on Jalvit Atoll, tended to Fred's wounds. His name was Bilamon Amare, he said the Japanese called the American woman "Meel-ya, Meel-ya." Bilamon also remembers seeing their airplane with a broken left wing.
Fred Noonan was beheaded in Saipan, just a few days before Amelia Earhart was shot. There are hundreds of reliable people that saw both of them in Saipan. Some are natives who lived there, and some are American servicemen who were there at the time.
Army Sergeant Thomas E. Devine was shown where they both were buried. They were not even buried in a cemetery, but do lie side-by-side. Devine has been trying for all these years to bring the bodies back to the United States for DNA testing. But Saipan officials still refuse to allow them to be exhumed. And the U.S. Government still has everything classified.
It seems a shame that these two lonely graves still remain on foreign soil. It seems that Fred Noonan and Amelia Mary Earhart are two people without a country.
With Our Own Eyes - Mike Campbell
Lost Star - Randall Brink
Missing Believed Killed - Roy Conyers Nesbit
The Fun Of It - Amelia Mary Earhart