Saturday, July 8, 2017

Amelia Earhart: The Smoking Gun?

As many of you familiar with this space may know famed aviator Amelia Earhart is a main character of my novel War Plan Crimson, and of my short story, Chasing Fate, which is part of my collection, Elvis Saves JFK!  So my interest in the recent news that seems to indicate that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan may have survived their crash comes at least honestly.

As history records, Earhart and Noonan vanished on July 2, 1937, on the transpacific leg of their round-world trip in their Lockheed Electra 10E on the way to land at Howland Island.  A series of garbled messages were received and despite a massive search effort, neither Earhart and Noonan were found.

Since that time, researchers and historians have tried to find evidence of what happened to Earhart and Noonan, but without luck.

But that might've changed. Recently, a photograph, taken in 1937 recently found by History Channel researchers working on a documentary about Earhart in the U.S. Government Archives apparently shows two Caucasians – a male and a female – on the wharf on Jaliut Atoll, which is part of then occupied by the Japanese Marshall Islands.  Facial recognition software employed by the History Channel investigators indicate that the nose and hairline on the male figure standing by the telegraph pole were a match for Noonan, while more advanced techniques were used to match the sitting female figure to Earhart.  In the background and to the extreme right is the Japanese ship Koshu Maru – one of the ships searching for Earhart and Noonan– which seems to be towing something very large and aircraft shaped.

U.S. National Archives
It’s now alleged by the investigators that Earhart and Noonan crashed off Mili Atoll, which is also part of the Marshalls – some 1420 km (883 miles) from Howland Island – and were later taken into captivity by the Japanese. At the time Mili was a significant Japanese base, housing a radio direction finding beacon and a weather station. It was manned by a garrison of 2,045 men from the Imperial Japanese Navy and 2,237 men from the Imperial Japanese Army.

It’s theorized by the investigators that after crashing at Mili, Earhart and Noonan were taken by the Koshu Maru first to Jaliut and then finally, to Saipan, where they are alleged to have died in custody. This would seem to be a dead end, except over the years, there here have been a number of claims by witnesses alleging to have seen the duo in custody on Saipan and even being executed by Japanese soldiers.

Although certainly intriguing, it yet remains to be seen if this is the smoking gun that has been long sought after. Certainly, some of the pieces do fit together: in the tense build-up to the Second World War, could an off-course American plane flying over sensitive Japanese military installations be seen by the Japanese military as act of espionage? Indeed, despite evidence to the contrary, were Earhart and Noonan undertaking what would be called today a"plausibly deniable" reconnaissance flight on behalf of the U.S. government?

Again, without further evidence in either direction, it remains another interesting turn in one of the history’s great unsolved mysteries.

Chasing Fate is now published online at OMNI reboot, and it’s free to read.

What's Next?
I'll have a complete review of the next paperback edition in Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series, Blood in the Water.  Honest.

Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  Thanks.

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