What’s NOT YET been said about the Amelia Earhart photo discovery…

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???

Earhart on Jaluit Hawaii Clipper

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.

Earhart on Jaluit Hawaii Clipper 2

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.

Jaluit Mili distance

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.

Lae Howland Island

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

Lae to Truk

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.

Truk Howland leg

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).

Lae Howland Island

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.

Truk Bypass

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.

Earhart prison

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?






28 Comments Add yours

  1. Ed Bauer says:

    New here and still learning. Has anyone asked the question and done the follow up research of looking at old aerial film of ports in Japan or elsewhere, for the ship and it’s barge with the plane?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Guy says:

    THAT is a very asstute observation Edward – thanks for serving that up.


    1. Ed Bauer says:

      I’ve been to the National Archives many times reviewing historical aerial film in support of our countries POW-MIA effort. They do have light tables for this. You can bring a digital camera for making quick copies. Otherwise the only other way for a private citizen to get high quality digital scans from original negs or positives, is via outside contractors. Quite expensive I might add, something like 30 to 40 dollars for one frame, on top of the $100 or so just to have the contractor retrieve the can from NARA and do the scanning.
      I made a trip there one time from North Carolina in support of my local historical society, looking for film of their airfield used during WW-II for a D-Day dry run invasion.
      I imagine any effort of this type could take quite awhile, depending on how many ports there are to look and the amount of film to review. Much of the WW-II film I’ve seen first hand on the light table, was of very good quality and mostly taken in stereo.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Edward McLaughlin says:

    The sailboat to the right of the people on the dock is flying lots of signal flags. I don’t know what they mean but I’ve learned that they are flown on special occasions, such as welcoming VIP’s.


  4. Guy says:

    Thanks for all your comments and attention!


  5. Daniel Buck says:

    The person sitting/squatting on the end of the wharf & said to be Earhart is of indeterminate ethnicity & gender. His/her back is to the camera, and only a seriously blurry side view of the face is visible. A photo of Fred Noonan overlaid on the face of anonymous man standing camera left (the actual left side of the man’s face is partially obstructed by a pole/sign), was flopped so as to make the man look more like Noonan, per TIGHAR’s Earhart Project. Caveat lector.


  6. koshu maru has a modern similar ship the kosyu maru spelled with a ”y” . the ship in q does appear in janes in side view but spelled with a ”y”. no more info was given. the 1935 date on a tourist book or even the photo can be planted or changed. even at this late date, I think the Japanese are hiding true events.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. GuyGuy says:

    Hello John – the latest is that the photo has not actually been debunked because the travel book from which it came may have been miss dated. Stay tuned.


  8. John B. says:

    Am I missing the post or did you guys not see this photo has indeed been genuinely debunked, by National Geographic, among others…


    Keep up the fight, JohnB


  9. joe says:

    what about the fact that a Japanese journalist looked into the whereabouts of the Kushu and it was supposedly 1500 miles away and witnesses on the ship claim they were told to watch for the lost plane but never saw it?


    1. Guy says:

      Thanks Joe – please pardon the long delay. There were actually TWO Japanese merchant vessels called the Kōshū. Weird eh? Here is the 411:

      Kōshū Maru (膠州) #1 was built well before the war in 1911 as a cargo vessel for the Imperial Japanese Navy by Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd., in Kobe Japan. On 24th March 1945, planes from TG 58.1, carriers Bennington (CV-20) and Hornet (CV-12) and small carriers Belleau Wood (CVL-24) and San Jacinto (CVL-30) complete the destruction of group KANA-304 and sink the Koshu Maru along with Torpedo Boat Tomozuru, Escort Vessel CD-68, Aux Minesweepers Chitose MAru and Shonan MAru No. 16 and merchant ships Soka MAry, Kaijo Maru and Tsukushi MAru No. 3. two hundred miles northwest of Okinawa

      Kōshū Maru (膠州) #2 was also built before WWII in 1937 for the Chosen Yusen Line at the Uraga Dock Co. Ltd., in Uraga Japan and sunk on August 4th 1944 by three torpedoes from U.S. submarine RAY (SS-271) in the Celebes Sea while escorting auxiliary submarine chaser CHA-112. Kōshū Maru had left 29th July Batavia for Makassar, carrying 540 passengers and 1.513 prisoners of war, most of them Javanese laborers, to be used to repair the bombed airstrip at Makassar. When she sank, she took with her 1.239 POWs, 273 passengers and 28 crew.


  10. CDA says:

    Guy, good rational reaction to the Jaluit Harbor photo and the HC documentary. Some other investigators, not to mention the U.S. intel establishment and at least some in Japan, are threatened by it and are reacting irrationally, even childishly.


  11. Dennison Love says:

    Check your records Amelia Lockheed 10e had 2 windows on the star port side of the fuselage, after the aircraft was repaired after her Hawaii take off attempt there was only one window. In the picture in question if the star port side of the fuselage does not have a window showing if it was covered by a tarpaulin it would have to painted silver. This must be a computer-generated photo, made by somebody that does not know what Amelia’s Lockheed 10e looks like.


  12. Guy says:

    Check out this link – the photos show no passenger windows (were removed) except for two observation windows (1 on each side) on the aft portion. These could have been damaged or covered by a tarp. Check out https://www.chasingearhart.com/single-post/2017/06/09/Amelia-Earharts-Lockheed-Electra-10E-Special-NR16020


  13. Dennison Love says:

    I have been looking at the airplane on the barge, I can tell that it is a low wing monoplane that seems to be right side up with only its starboard vertical stabilizer and rudder shown. I cannot see Fred’s window showing on the starboard side of the aircraft. In the stamp painting it shows that the right wing separated just past the engine nacelle, however this windowless airplane looks like the wing had been re-attached. This photo has to be computer generated, in the program it was shown how to check the content of a photo 5 ways from Sunday and the program showed that this photo was not tampered with. Black and white camera film has a grain pattern if this was from a small size spy camera it would be impossible to enlarge Fred’s face to the point where it was in the show. Cameras of this era do not take photos they expose negatives, that are then printed into photos that have a given grain pattern that cannot be changed, if a person were to enlarge a film negative to the point show all we would see are a collection of larger film grain elements. So, if a person went to all the trouble of creating a 37-foot-long fuselage on a barge why did they not put windows in the starboard side of the poor airplanes fuselage, the go to all the trouble of reattaching the wing. Can any body explain why?


  14. Guy says:

    You have much better eyes than myself Dennison. According to the recent documentary on History Channel, the measurement of the fuselage matched with the dimensions of the Electra so who knows (using measurements of the ship with known lengths).


  15. Dennison Love says:

    I have been trying to take a look at the airplane on the barge, I can tell that it is a low wing monoplane that seem to be right side up with only its starwort vertical stabilizer and rudder shown. I cannot see any windows showing on the starwort side of the aircraft. In the stamp painting it shows that the right wing separated just past the engine nacelle, however this windowless airplane looks like the wing had been re-attached. Can ant body explain why?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Guy says:

    Good question Jill – I’ll have to ask Les what was on the back and what else was in the series. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. jill-n says:

    Well, the back of the photo must be blank, or why would it not be mentioned.
    What other travel photos would ONI have in their files, are any marked from library sources in Japan. ?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jill-n says:

    Bloggers saying the photo was in a Japanese Library in a tourist brochure in 1935, does not explain why such a photo would be in our archive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guy says:

      Hi Jill and yes – you are on the money with that. I did some research on it last night and it opens up (to me) so many questions. Could the book (here is the link to the actual entire book) http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1223403/99?itemId=info%3Andljp%2Fpid%2F1223403&contentNo=99&__lang=en
      be first? I didn’t see a date mark on it or the book (because it is written in Japanese) so it will require some translating to know if the photo is the original to the book or to ONI. Who knows, maybe the the Navy got a copy of the photo or the other way around from the photographer. I am very intrigued by this development and think it is a good one because – after all – I’m searching for the truth, no matter what it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Dennison Love says:

    Earhart is still lost everybody can’t see the forest because of the trees.

    Take a close look at the way this photo was enlarged during their program, then think about the type of camera that was used to take this photo the negative had to be a large format camera using 620 of 127 size negatives or larger.

    And it had to be taken by a professional photographer, this photo was planned the photographer had to what until all its elements were in frame with the human’s show being too small to be enlarged from a very small spy camera.

    To be enlarged to the point that it has been his must be a modern photo shopped type of photo, .

    If a tourist took this picture there would have to be whole roll of additional photos taken of each photo element from this event.

    With lots of close-ups of the people on the dock as well as the nice shiny wrecked airplane.

    If this was supposed to be a military spy photo taken to be used to plan an attack, how come the only fixed object in the photo is a single loading dock.

    We must find out who was the photographer and where are the rest of their photos. As well as what type of camera that had to be used.

    This is a fake Amelia and Fred are still lost.


    1. Guy says:

      Thanks Dennis for the thoughts. I can clearly see your points however I respectfully disagree with some of them. I would however be interested in learning the model and manufacturer of the camera you are implying. Both Digital Forensic Analysts Doug Carner and facial expert Kent Gibson did not come to your conclusion – especially about the photography. I for one was a US Naval Photographer based at ONI (Office of Navy Intelligence) – in the Pacific theater and can pretty much make an educated conclusion that a 1930s “spy” would have used something not to attract any attention, something rugged, reliable and simple, and be as common as possible should he be questioned about it. I imagine it could be a Kodak Box Camera but probably more likely an Ensign E20 Camera or maybe even the 35mm Kodak Retina 1. Both of the latter cameras had excellent image definition and were in great use. If he wanted to be extra sneaky he could have used a German Leica or Rollieflex camera or even a Japanese Yen Camera to really fit in. To your point about it being a mini spy camera, which one? The famed Minox Riga was not released until 1938-ish and the other miniatures like the ABC Wristwatch Camera, Ticka Expo or Ansco Meno would have been the worst choice for the humid environments of that area.

      YES! He would indeed be a professional photographer and was most likely “pretending” to photograph the people when he was actually simply cataloging the ship traffic visiting the port. The Japanese did the same thing in the same way at US ports and often acted as tourists (much easier for them than for us westerners). Keeping a watchful eye on what ships were visiting, if they were loading or off loading equipment and the people disembarking would have been important information and been written down — not photographed. It is far more likely the photographer took notes about the barge being towed by the Koshu – and the other vessels making port – and then moved on. This is why I disagree that the photo would be used for an attack on the port – it was just to ID shipping traffic and cargo.

      So in the end, the rolls of film may still exist however having been in that very specialized employment, I would say it is doubtful. The thousands of film rolls I personally processed over two decades were sleeved, placed in boxes, given a code sticker and shipped off to who knows where (I think March AFB in California). I still remain firmly in the belief that the two flyers were accidentally imaged on Jaluit and it was probably the last photo of their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Scott L Peterson says:

    Problem with the timeline: Your article notes that Koshu Maru was launched in August 1937. But how could the photo be of July 1937 if the boat hadn’t even launched?


    1. Guy says:

      Hello Scott and thank you for your message.  You would be correct if there was only one Koshu Maru however there were two.

      Koshu Maru #1 was originally the Daiun Maru completed in 1911 as Kawasaki ‘s first full-scale cargo ship. In 1913, it was sold to the Osaka Merchant Ship Co. and renamed Koshu Maru. On 24 March 1945 the vessel was bombed and sunk by American carrier aircraft of Task Group 58.1. It is the one most believe (including myself) in the photograph.

      Koshu Maru #2 originally named the Teishu Maru — and yes – I got this one wrong before – was constructed in Inchon Korea rather than Japan by the Korea Yusen Corp. (Uraga Dock, K. K.) as Yard No. 421 , a 2,612-ton cargo ship. It was then launched on August 25th, 1937 and put into active service on November 30, 1937. Later in 1941 it was sold to the Chosen Yusen -Tyosen Yusen K. K. company and renamed KOSHU MARU. Well after World War II had brocken out, the Koshu Maru #2 was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and converted to a transport named IJA No. 1129. Almost a year later, she was sunk near the southern entrance to the Makasar Strait, by the US Gate class submarine USS RAY’s (SS-271) after three of its four torpedoes ripped into the starboard engine room and forward part of No. 3 hold. The KOSHU MARU sank in two minutes at 04-05S, 117-40E with 273 passengers, 1,239 POW / slaves , 273 and 28 crewmen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Scott L Peterson says:

        That makes so much more sense to me now. Thank you!


    1. Guy says:

      I love this story as a perfect example why new information is almost always “debunked.” Do you believe Vincent van Gogh lopped off his ear as gift to a French prostitute (he didn’t – he lost it to Gauguins’ fencing rapier in 1888). How about everyone in 15th century Europe thought the earth was flat until Chris Columbus proved them wrong? Wrong there too – thank the Greeks in the 3rd BC knew about constellations rising in the sky as they sailed south. Just having some fun – sorry. What I would like to add to the story for further consumption are these additional accounts to consider:

      – Two Mili fishermen on Barre Island, Lijon and Jororo Alibar, saw a silver plane approach and crash-land on the nearby reef, breaking off part of its right wing. The two Marshallese hid in the underbrush and watched as two white people exited the wreck and came ashore in a yellow raft. A little while later Japanese soldiers arrived to take hold of the fliers. When the shorter flier screamed, the Marshallese realized one was a woman. They remained hidden until long after the captives were taken away.

      – The Japanese Survey Ship Koshu (#1 of #2) was dispatched from Ponape to Barre Island to pick up Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. The canvas sling the Koshu normally used for plucking Japanese seaplanes from the sea was still around the big silver bird when the ship returned to Jaluit on July 19, where Japanese Medical Corpsman Bilimon Amran or sometimes spelled Amaran, who treated Noonan’s crash injuries, boarded the ship and saw Earhart. This fits with the timeline that earlier on July 13th, Japanese Foreign Minister Koki Hirota transmitted a coded message from Tokyo to the United States Japanese Ambassador Shigeru Yoshida (who was in London at the time and eventually became prime minister ) that stated” He had received a report that a Japanese fishing vessel had rescued the Earhart plane.” Back in Jaluit, John Heine, a grandson of the German missionary Carl Heine gave an account that he personally saw “A ship pulling a large barge with a plane on it unlike any Japanese plane he had ever seen before – and that he was later told that it was an American plane and that a woman had been flying it when the crashed at Mili Atoll.”

      – After the Koshu dropped anchor and medical corpsman Bilimon Amran helped to evaluate the injuries to Noonan, he took note that Earhart was “wearing mens trousers and had a short haircut” Amran said that Noonan had blue eyes – something too he had never seen before (for the record – Noonan was known to have Blue – Gray eyes). He further mentioned that the male flyer had a gash on his knee that had become infected from the crash two weeks prior and that he also had a cut on his brow. Since he spoke Japanese, he overheard the ship was departing Jaluit soon to head for Kwajalein and Roi-Namur. The officers referred to Amelia as “Ameera” and that her plane was the one on the barge.

      So, since you, I or anyone else reading this blog were not at any of these activities, all we can do is speculate and consume as much data to fill in the puzzle pieces. I think some of the shapes sure look similar, but as we all know, each one has its place and is needed to complete the picture.

      Liked by 1 person

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