What really happened to Amelia Earhart?


Two professional pilots ask pivotal questions –

reveal research-based answers –

and provide valuable new pieces

to the 75-year old controversy puzzle!


Click Image – Step Back to 1937

Amelia Earhart’s disappearance has long been riddled in mystery. Do you want to know the truth?

Professional pilots Bob Wheeler & Fred Nicely challenge current theories based on extensive investigative research and personal aeronautical expertise. Now they are providing insights and more plausible answers regarding what went wrong – and why!

Join the Wheeler-Nicely team as they uncover what really happened to Amelia Earhart through a fresh new perspective on these decades-old questions:

  • Did Amelia simply run out of fuel and then crash into the Pacific?
  • Did Amelia set the aircraft down on Gardner Island and die there as The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) contends?
  • Could the Japanese have kidnapped her from the island?
  • Was Amelia on a spy mission for the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)?
  • Was there a government cover-up about her disappearance that continues to this day?
  • Are there several eye-witnesses claiming they saw Amelia after her disappearance?
  • Is there a much larger puzzle still to piece together?

See “Research” for answers to these questions

ANNOUNCEMENT:  “Mili Island Landing Probable! We believe the ONI photo found by our friend and contributor Les Kinney shows Earhart and Noonan were at Jaluit. What do you think?

See Research article “281 Message Cracked

"Did Earhart really crash in the Pacific? Does newly discovered ONI photo show Earhart on Jaluit?"

Leave a Reply


  1. Jerry Chapman

    July 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    There appears to be substantial evidence discrediting that photo and I am not one to lend credence to any government conspiracy. It seems clear today that government employees cannot keep a secret for one week much less for eight decades just ask Trump. (NOT a Trump fan.) Is does sound to me that you are doing a great job at analyzing facts objectively and that your possible Mili Atoll landing site may be very plausible even without conspiracy or even without possible U.S. unknown Japanese capture.

    • Bob


      July 24, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Mr Chapman, thank you for the compliments on our research. Regarding your comments about the Les Kinney photo at Jaluit, please check out our article “Marshallese Debunk the Debunkers” to learn about the scrapbook type album (tied with a string) where that the photo was foun. THe Marshallese government confirmed that the dock at Jaluit was not built until 1936!! So the photo could NOT have been taken in 1935, as the Mili landing dissenters claim. Please read on

  2. CDA

    July 19, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I’m a bit a annoyed and frustrated about the recent stories that the photo which was featured on the recent History Channel documentary has been debunked. Although some have purportedly debunked the debunking, there is obviously more work to do. My frustration comes from a seemingly forgotten photo which was shown on a network TV show in the early nineties which shows a Model 10 Electra hanging from one of the cargo hoists of what appears to be a Japanese merchant ship in a harbor. As I recall, that ship looked to be the same or very similar to the one in the Jaluit harbor photo, the IJN Koshu.. At the time I wasn’t familiar with the unique external appearance of Amelia’s 10E but the aircraft in the photo had wing damage which appeared to be the same as that of the aircraft on the barge in the Jaluit harbor photo. If a copy of that other photo could be found it could establish the validity of the Jaluit harbor photo.

    • Bob


      July 20, 2017 at 9:18 am

      CDA, thanks for your comments. We agree that the critics of the Mili Island landing theory are brutal, including the media. In the past it seems like most folks believe that TIGHAR will find some proof that AE was on Niku or she crashed and sank. We don’t, as the only theory that holds water is the Mili-Japanese capture one; too much evidence to ignore. We applaud Les Kinney and the History Channel special and were glad that there was some major attention given to the Marshall Island theory.

      We think that the photo you saw of AE’s Electra on a barge was actually a stamp printed in 1987 by the Marshallese government in 1987 to mark AE’s 50 year disappearance. It is shown on our research page. Use right hand menu and look for “in depth research”. Bob and Fred

  3. Bob


    April 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    WE received this from Ron Bright, a respected historian
    Bob and Fred,

    One of the most mysterious events in her disappearance, (of course many!) is why AE didn’t try to radio her intentions to either continue searching or if she decided to fly north or south to the Marshalls or Niku at 0900, after failing to find Howland, when her last signal was heard. Based on Bellarts and Sutter’s contemporaneous reports, she “suddenly went off” with her last signal that they claim was made in very tense voice.
    Some argue the ITASCA’S highly sensitive receivers didn’t pick it up, unlikely, or that she was too away even though she was heard ,Lastly, some argue that her radio transmitter failed at that instant after working just fine for over 20 hours!! . We know that her receiver was kaput for most of the trip.

    My othr mystery is if she made it to the Marshalls and was captured, etc., not one of her 7000 Earhart covers has ever surface!

    I enjoy your blog and keep on searching. As you know some researchers claim they have seen the “holy grail”, (The Electra) but now its gone….

    I am still trying to find out what happened, and I probably will need a DNA,serial number or a piece of indisputable evidence linked to AE.

    Keep me posted

  4. Bob


    April 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    We received this email from Ron Bright
    I continue to research and investigate, so by all means you can include my email. I do have some tapes that I can pass on to you, interviews of Hanzlick, Elinor Smith, et all.
    One of my colleagues claims he had some photo evidence of AE at Jaluit, but I can’t divulge anymore. It is not 100%, in my opinion.
    If Devine is right, the Electra flew off course and landed in tact at Saipan. If Amran is correct, the plane landed on Mili and was transported via the Koshu to Jaluit, Kwajlein, then Saipan, all with a broken right wing! Both can’ be right.
    Devine takes numerous photos of gravesites, yet didn’t take any of the wreakage of the Electra at Aslito field in 1944!!
    Keep up the work, maybe someday a decrypted Japanese signal will surface:” Ah so, we find “Melia and Fred swimming…..”
    Ron Bright

  5. Leslie (Les) Kinney

    May 29, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    As a long time Earhart researcher firmly entrenched in the Mili Atoll theory, I always believed the “281” CW message meant “degrees” from Howland Island. Your article was well stated and logical. Don’t fret over the self-serving and apocryphal TIGHAR comments.

    In 1937, the Navy did not have accurate maps of the Marshalls; but Earhart didn’t need them for plotting her Howland course anyway. Still, Noonan could have possessed old British maps from his sea faring days. Factoring in the magnetic variance you accurately explained, it’s reasonable to accept the “281” message meant Mili Atoll.

    There is a likelihood, the U.S. Navy remembered this “281″ message long after 1937. That is something I am presently pursuing.

    • Bob


      June 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Thanks for your comments, Les. Please see our reply on the 1/9/14 article “Earhart’s Famous 281 message Cracked” in the In Depth Research Section.

    • Michael Langley

      June 21, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Imagine you are Fred Noonan on an island which is not on your maps (Gardner Island in the 30s still had the coordinates given by old whaling ships (4°20′ S, 174°22′ W). Not the current coordinates (4°39’59.35″S latitude, 174°31’44.61″W). What would you do, assuming you could only calculate latitude with precise precision. Longitude is You might give the # from the equators. Gardner island is 281 nautical miles south of the equator.

    • DitchedandSank

      November 5, 2015 at 11:00 am


      I’m not sure why you believe the Navy did not have accurate maps of the Marshall Islands in 1937.

      The 1936 Hydrographic Office chart No.5429. “Plans of the Marshall Islands: Southern Part” includes an accurate view of Milli Atoll and other nearby islands.

      An original copy can be purchased on Ebay-

      • Bob


        November 12, 2015 at 10:22 am

        Yes, “Ditched and Sank, we agree that the US Navy did have accurate maps of the Marshalls.,but we do not think AE “ditched and sank”.

      • Les Kinney

        May 1, 2017 at 11:33 pm

        The Navy did have maps of the Marshall Islands but they were not current. A map showing Mili Atoll in 1937 would not have shown all of the islands that made up that atoll nor the specific geographic features needed by the Navy.

        My research of Navy records indicate they (Navy) were desperate for current information concerning the Mandate Islands. Secondly, the maps in use in 1937 by Noonan and Earhart would logically have been sailing charts drafted prior to the Japanese gaining control of the Mandate Islands in 1918. It seems plausible to assume hydrographic chart 5429 would have been based upon earlier pre-Japanese period sailing maps.

        Noonan and Earhart can be seen in several pictures studying their planned route across the Pacific. However, that specific map would not have shown all of the thousands of islands that make up the Marshall Island group.

        Lastly, would Noonan carry extra maps that he didn’t need? I don’t know. But I do know this: Everything points to Mili Atoll for a variety of reasons.

        Stay tuned.

        • Bob


          May 12, 2017 at 2:07 pm


          I’m afraid we have to disagree with you on this one. According to our latest research the U.S. Navy had very up to day charts and intelligence concerning the Japanese Mandated Islands. There was a very well organized spy network operating in the Mandated Islands, especially the Marshall’s.

          The network was formed in the early part of the 19th century to keep the American business men, who were making fortunes in the opium trade to China, informed. It contiuned to operate even after the Second World War. Many wealthy families from Boston and Salem participated in the illegal trade and profited greatly from it. Families that were deep into the business were the Forbes, Russell, John Jacob Astor, Bryant, Cabot, Higginson, Paine and Peabody to name several. Russell and company was considered the largest. They used clipper ships that were built in Salem and Medford and then sailed down the Mystic River to Boston. They made their way to India and Turkey and finally to China loaded with opium.

          The network was operated within the ABCFM (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) and was financed largely with contributions from the participating families. An Australian newspaper clip stated that the ABCFM received an anonymous contribution of 1 million dollars in 1911 (Work that out in today’s dollars). In the Marshall Islands Carl Heine, Allen Hackett (covert US Navy agent who transfered from the ABCFM office in Japan to Jabor as a missionary), Jesse Hoppin and George and Leona Lockwood funneled information to the home office in Boston on a regular basis. Carl Heine was especially informative due to his collaboration with his close friends Joachim DeBrum, Alfred Milne and Capelle who all ran very sucessful copra operations in the islands. Their ships plied the Marshall’s on a daily basis and put in at every island both to pickup copra and to drop off supplies.

          Carl Heine was also the postmaster and agent for Burns Philp, an Australian company that handled all the mail and a lot of the copra transport for the Mandated Islands. They also worked hand in hand with Australian Intelligence. This made Heine a double agent. He was executed, along with his oldest son, by the Japanese in 1944 for their activities.

          “Footsteps in the Sea” is a great source for a lot of this information. Also Admiral Edwin T. Layton said in his book that the U.S. ran spy missions by submarine in the 1930’s and early 1940’s in the Mandated Islands. They had to be very careful not to be discovered and cause an international incident. This information, he states, should be in the Submarine Reports lounging in the National Archives.

          Some interesting asides to this: William Huntington Russell cousin and fellow opium trader to Samuel Wadsworth Russell head of Russell and company founded Yale’s Skull and Bones Society. Also in the May, 1938 issue of “The Pacific Island Monthly”, Carl Heine reports that a letter addressed to Amelia Earhart on Maloelap Atoll arrived in the Jabor post office in November, 1937. The return address was The Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, CA. (If you need to know the significance of that atoll talk with Woody Rogers.) Lastly the chief of operations for Russell and company was Warren Delano Jr. grandfather of FDR!

          Just a few nuggets from our latest research and as you stated in your comment………Stay Tuned.

          • Les Kinney

            May 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

            Sorry, I respectively disagree with most of the research you have recently gathered on this specific topic. The ABCFM info you received is pre-Japan, embellished, and doesn’t reflect the attitudes of the Japanese in the mid to late 1930’s.
            I have ONI documents indicating ONI was desperate for information about the Marshalls Islands in 1937.In 1936, ONI sent a Navy officer undercover to the Marshalls in an attempt to gain info. In December of 1937, ONI attempted to send spies to Jaluit.

            Your info regarding Heine is partially correct. However, Heine was not the postmaster at Jaluit in 1937.

            Decarie was not living at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1937 or 1938. She lived at home with her parents. Decarie’s mother worked as a housekeeper for the Putnam’s at Putnam’s North Hollywood home. Margo became sort of an unofficial assistant to Amelia. George disliked Margo for a variety of reason.

            If you would like to discuss this further, don’t hesitate to email me privately and we can set up a time to discuss.


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