An Airplane on Gardner Island?

26 Mar

airplaineIt seems that Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for TIGHAR is to put out a press release touting their new find first, and then start an investigation. Not surprisingly many of their press releases have been proven wrong; many of their assumptions have turned out to be wishful thinking. But Ric Gillespie continues to crank out publicity that endeavors to make the general public believe that anything found on Gardner/Nikumaroro Island that isn’t a coconut, a crab or a bird, came from Amelia Earhart’s Electra.

Thanks to Tom Pochick from West Virginia it looks like another bit of TIGHAR’s “research” is about to be turned against them. TIGHAR claims that there was aircraft wreckage on the reef near the SS Norwich City when the first settlers arrived on December 13, 1938. The native population talked about this aircraft in interviews, all of which are available on TIGHAR’s website. TIGHAR, of course, takes these remembrances as “evidence” that there was aircraft wreckage on the reef, and of course any aircraft on Gardner before the US Loran Station was built had to be the Electra. Naturally the eyewitness testimony advances their hypothesis that Earhart landed on Gardner. (We wonder why the eye witness testimony of the Gardner Islanders is believed while the accounts given by witnesses on Mili Atoll and Saipan are termed unsupported, most likely mistaken.)

On March 21, 2012 Tom Pochick sent Ric Gillespie the pictures shown here. Tom had indicated that the photos reveal a plane sitting in the surf off Gardner Island.  Gillespie emailed a response: “I guarantee you, that is not her plane”. We are glad that Gillespie is so sure this isn’t her aircraft. We agree with Tom. We also understand why another aircraft on Gardner Island isn’t what Gillespie and his minions want to hear anything about.


We can assume that there was no aircraft wreckage on Gardner Island when the three aircraft from the USS Colorado performed their aerial search on July 9, 1937. If, as the islanders testify, the aircraft was easily visible at low tide and the water only rises 5 feet at high tide, that means that a fuselage about four feet in diameter would be, at most, a foot underwater.  Isn’t it ludicrous to think that in water as clear as it was then, an aircraft one foot below the surface would be missed by the six men in the search planes, specifically looking for an aircraft?

The Maude-Bevington Expedition of the 13th-15th in October 1937 searched and carefully documented their entire visit to the island. They took a photo of the ship, SS Norwich City, shipwrecked on Gardner since 1929. (The photo contained an object which has been identified by Photek as possibly one of the Electra’s landing gear.) Eric Bevington documented everything he saw, including the fish and octopi in the hold of the derelict ship. We find it unbelievable that Bevington would have failed to mention the landing gear of an airplane sticking up on the dry reef flat.

Later, the New Zealand Expedition took place on November 30, 1938 and failed to find airplane wreckage (or failed to mention it). But, on December 15, 1938 settlers were brought to the island; they lived there until 1964. During that time no aircraft was reported to have crashed on or near the island. The islanders reported there was an aircraft on the reef near the ship. From the looks of the “artifacts” recovered by TIGHAR they salvaged what they could use from the

In conclusion, we can assume there was no aircraft wreckage present before October 15, 1937 and there was aircraft wreckage there on December 15, 1938. Logically it would lead one to the conclusion that the aircraft that the villages saw and salvaged arrived between those dates. If an aircraft crashed or landed on Gardner Island between those dates who did it belong to?




All photos courtesy of Tom Pochick

Are the two white dots located in the square engine nacelles?

Are the two white dots located in the square engine nacelles?

Tom did some contrast work on this image. If it’s not an aircraft, what is it?

Tom did some contrast work on this image. If it’s not an aircraft, what is it?


This image shows that the wreck is 347 feet from the tide line. What kind of investigator wouldn’t want to take a look at this up close and personal?

This image shows that the wreck is 347 feet from the tide line. What kind of investigator wouldn’t want to take a look at this up close and personal?


This is the same area on Virtual Earth.

This is the same area on Virtual Earth.

These images are 4 degrees 41 minutes 31.49 seconds south and 174 degrees 30 minutes 16.78 seconds west. They are 347 feet from the shore. It appears that the engines are still attached to the wing. If this is the aircraft that the villagers salvaged, it is conceivable that in the 70 odd years it has been there that it has migrated to the present location. According to experts, coral has a very difficult time growing on an aluminum aircraft that is subject to wave action. The aluminum is too flexible and won’t allow the tiny animals to hold on. Steel and iron, because of its rigidity, is perfect for the formation of coral. So an aircraft near the surface would not become encrusted in coral and therefore would look much like it did the day it sank.

It would seem that Gillespie isn’t interested in investigating the presence of an aircraft on Nikumaroro. His interests seem to lie in keeping the mystery of Amelia Earhart alive and producing income. Time after time, when it seemed he had failed in his mission to find AE’s Electra “something” is found to revive the public’s interest.


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Leave a Reply


  1. Anon Y. Mous

    August 15, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Speaking of Mr. Gillespie’s “interests”, I see that he has just announced a campaign on the web from which he hopes to gain $1.2 million(!!) in only two weeks(!!!). See:

    Not sure I need a t-shirt that badly . . . the reaction to this may be quite interesting . . .

    • Bob


      August 16, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Good thought, Mr. Anon y Mous! We don’t need the T-shirt either 🙂

      • Anon Y. Mous

        August 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm

        Bob, not to worry! He has now updated the funding site with all sorts of Amazing Stuff besides T-shirts, surely you can find something there! . . . Actually it now looks like the souvenir shop at a Gator World or something.

        Meanwhile, funding has zoomed all the way up to almost 0.25% (1/4 of one per cent) of the goal!

        • Anon Y. Mous

          September 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm

          And now the time is up for funding, and TIGHAR received the amazing total of . . . wait for it . . . $4106. Maybe not too bad for a T-shirt store, but not too good for funding another Pacific ocean jaunt. It is about 0.3% of their ambitious goal. Actually not even very helpful paying Gillespie’s $100K annual “salary”. Is TIGHAR’s charmed life finally heading for some hard times ahead? I see also that Tim Mellon is appealing the decision on his lawsuit, there go some more legal fees out the door . . .

          I find it very interesting that a comparatively unknown “crashed and sank” proponent, Dana Timmer, did much better a few months ago with his fundraising on Kickstarter, over $33,000 was pledged. (If interested see

          • Bob


            September 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

            Anon, sounds like his ship has sailed.

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