So I am pretty sure you have seen this now famous spy photo allegedly of Pilot Amelia Earhart and Navigator Fred Noonan. If not — where have you been???
Blog visitor Tom recently remarked how the absence of Japanese guards should indicate that the two folks in the photo are not Earhart and Noonan but simply some other folks visiting Jaluit Atoll on that partly cloudy day. I would respectfully disagree and here’s why–
A bit of history first: The Imperial Japanese Navy was calling the shots for the most part in Micronesia and had initiated major construction projects to the tune of 1,000,000 Yen for improvements in the air, sea and land facilities of the Marshal Islands. The Nan’yõ-Cho (South Seas Government) was working to add as much infrastructure to the islands under the League of Nations mandate as possible while not “appearing” to militarize them (kinda like the Chinese are doing now). This now sets the stage for the visual lack of a military presence. In my opinion, Earhart and Noonan were called “guests” and left to themselves probably because there was no place for them to go and I highly doubt the Japanese military would put them under armed guard and cause a visual stir if they wanted to keep the rescue quiet. There would surely be plenty of time later for guards and prison if necessary so I assume they were under a watchful eye but not under any restraint. From eye witness accounts, Noonan had a head injury and Earhart was exhausted so it looks pretty darn good that this image is indeed legitimate.
A closer look at the newly discovered photo also shows what has been identified as the Kōshū Maru; a transport ship serving the Nan’yõ-Cho and Imperial Japanese Navy. If you need a better look, here is another image of the vessel –
The Koshu was originally named the Daiun Maru when launched in 1911 as Kawasaki ‘s first full-scale cargo ship and renamed Koshu Maru in 1913 after being sold to Osaka Merchant Ship Co. Much later on March 24th, 1945, the ship was bombed and sunk by American carrier aircraft of Task Group 58.1.
Speaking of the photo, there is a wealth of information to be mined from the image including the identification of what is being tugged behind the Koshu (a 30 foot long aircraft). This image is eerily similar to the Marshall Islands 44 cent stamp depicting the Koshu recovering Earhart’s Electra on the bottom right panel.
Marshallese natives of Mili Atoll gave eyewitness accounts of her crash landing (due to running out of fuel because of unexpected headwinds) and of a Japanese recovery operation. Please take note of the three people standing on the beach under the Koshu with Electra and a Japanese Officer, Noonan and Amelia.
(Above: July 2, 1937. Lae, New Guinea. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan takeoff in their heavily overloaded Lockheed 10E Special bound for tiny Howland Island 2,500 miles away.)
I personally believe the photo DOES show the two missing flyers because partly an expert who works with the FBI in identifying people in poor quality photography researched the image and used characteristic traits and measurements to professionally estimate there is indeed a “most likely” chance that they where captured in the photo.
From my and others research, Earhart belly-landed off Mili Atoll shortly after she ran out of fuel. After crash landing, she tried to communicate by radio but was only successful in alerting the Japanese of her location and was soon picked up by the Koshu Maru (a civilian vessel) and transported as a guest of the empire some 154 miles east to Jaluit Atoll. If she did not yet know it – she was in grave danger.
The Lockheed Electra 10E Special – NR16020 was a highly reconfigured flying gas tank designed for extreme distance (had an original range of 750 miles). It carried aloft around 1,150 gallons of fuel to make the 2,565 mile trip from Lae Airfield in Papua New Guinea to Howland Island. Most researchers agree that Earhart was on an aerial photography mission for President Roosevelt under the guise of a record setting trip that would use her celebrity as a cloak of protection should the plan go awry. I too have concluded that, as Amelia stated in her own words, that she was flying her aircraft “under wraps” – meaning faster than was publicly disclosed due to Lockheed’s proprietary disclosed information – and that she met with unexpected heavy winds heading to Truk (now called Chuuk) Lagoon and then on to Howland Island for a rendezvous with the USCGC Itasca.
The hop from Lae to Truk is a short one (relatively speaking) of 500 miles. From the study of weather reports and wind patterns of that time frame, she most likely encountered severe headwinds as she struggled to fly high enough to avoid detection over the Japanese version of Pearl Harbor. After the quick flyby she would then immediately leave the area and make a break for Howland Island flying faster than the published speed of the aircraft to make up for lost time traveling north instead of west.
Why would she do that? Simple. She had to make it look like her distance and time matched the intended route rather than the northerly detour. The northern track however cost her precious fuel when they unexpectedly faced severe headwinds at various altitudes which reduced flying time and distance (a 168 mile difference).
Thus, Amelia and Noonan flew faster than the published speed and their gas reserves were depleted much sooner than expected which resulted in a belly landing short of their intended destination.
From Truk to Mili Atoll where the pair crash landed is roughly 1,386 miles – just 829 miles short from Howland Island 2,215 miles in the same direction. This calculation fits with the timeline I have found in numerous documents and oral histories of how they were ”rescued” (made guests of the Emporer so they would not be guarded) and then LATER imprisoned on Saipan as spies against the empire and executed.
In one such oral history from an Australian prisoner who was released from the same Garapan prison said he had listened to two Japanese workers (one a maid and the other a guard) who were arguing why “the pilot lady” was on Saipan. The maid insisted she was a guest of the Emperor and the guard said she was a spy, yet both agreed that it was the American woman pilot. Another story from Thomas E. Devine relates how Michiko Suzuki Sugita, whose father – Mikio Suzuki – was the Chief of Police on Saipan, was overheard by Ms. Sugita stating how Amelia Earhart had been suspected and charged as a spy and shot by the Japanese military in July of 1937.
Surely there is far more to this history than being lost at sea… just like the disappearance of the Pan Am Airways Hawaii Clipper and the discovery of its passengers and crew by eyewitnesses in Truk Lagoon. If, like this new revelation, is proven true, then might the pursuit of the Hawaii Clipper not garner similar attention?