Earhart’s Last and Final Flight: Navigational Error?

18 May
Nauru Island

Nauru Island (Photo credit: ARM Climate Research Facility)

Nauru – Ice Cream Cone on the Pacific

The “Chater Report” contained in your extensive archive contains the evidence which my friend and I believe misled Mr. Noonan. The light at Nauru was telegrammed to be at an altitude of 5600 feet. We believe this not to be correct. At that day and time we speculate it should have read 560 feet but verification is ongoing as today the island height is just over 200 feet.

We believe Mr. Noonan would have used his “Pelorus Drift Site” and estimated his distance from the island especially at night below the cloud layer.  He knew his altitude so he could have obtained  a negative angle sighting, checked current flight altitude for elevation, and applied his trig tables and derive a distance from Nauru. This drift site was their third means of navigation provided. Celestial and radio navigation would not have been available or useable.

If he had taken two sightings and plotted them, they would have a good ground speed and wind data to apply a corrective heading for Nuribenua Island, his next landfall.

This works out why they missed and ended up south of Howland for us. Does it work for you?

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  1. James Kelly

    July 19, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Wow. This is all very interesting. I just stumbled on this site. My only comment is I have always disagreed with anything TIGHAR posts, and writes, so in that regard, I do not believe they landed on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro). I do believe they ditched at sea, and what happened at that point, I can only speculate, but won’t. Obviously a great and lasting mystery !!!!

    • Bob


      July 30, 2015 at 8:48 am

      James, thanks for your thoughts. We also disagree with TIGHAR’s theories, but respect all viewpoints. It is exciting to see all the recent publicity finally given to the recent finds in the Marshall Island. This, of course, gives more strength to the possibility of AE’s landing there, instead of on Gardner. The mystery keeps unfolding.

  2. Les Kinney

    January 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I am a retired federal agent and long time Earhart researcher and stumbled across this web site quite by accident.

    With no disrespect to Vernon Prescott, the Japanese had indeed begun fortifying many of the Japanese Mandated Islands in the early 1930’s. There are declassified documents I reviewed at the National Archives that show this to be the case. For your information, in the early to mid- 30’s Japan had began construction of naval sea plane bases on Palau, Enajet and Mili in the Marshall’s and finally completed the construction of Aslito Field on Saipan in the summer of 1937. Truk, Japan’s Gibraltar of the Pacific, was continually fortified from the early 30’s to the U.S. bombings in February 1944.

    As far as the post loss radio transmissions, the Coast Guard, the Navy’s OP-20G secret listening station at Waialua on Oahu and Pan Am’s radio station on Wake all picked up radio signals they firmly believed originated from Earhart’s plane. Unfortunately, as weeks passed, no more mention is made by the government as to the credibility of these messages. That was for good reason; the U.S. Government knew by then Earhart had been taken into custody by the Japanese.

    By the way, I strongly disagree with the premise Earhart was picked up on Gardner Island by the Japanese.

    • Bob


      January 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Mr. Kenny
      Thank you very much for your post we have always welcomed comments, pro and con. We, like you, have done a great deal of research on the Japanese and must confess that it seems to be the most plausible explanation for Amelia and Fred’s disappearance. You brought up an excellent point about the US knowing about their capture. The most logical scenario would have been the fact that the US was reading messages transmitted in the so called Blue Code used by the Japanese Navy to communicate with each other. Wouldn’t you agree that the Japanese would have used the code to inform their Headquarters about what was going on with the famous fliers?

      You might be interested in our next post that should be finished in a few days. We feel that we have finally cracked the “281 message”. Needless to say, the message trashes all thoughts that the pair landed anywhere but Mili Atoll.

      Bob Wheeler

  3. amy wische

    amy wische

    June 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Amelia Earhart’s Briefcase Found on Saipan

    On 5/11/12 I talked to Ed T. Jones, now 85, who lives in Florida. During our phone interview he stated that he was a close friend and WWII buddy of Bob Wallack. Bob, now deceased, was a Marine Corps machine-gunner on Saipan. He was the person who, in Jone’s own words, “,,,,,,,ordered the safe in the Garapan Saipan Municipal Building blown open by demolition experts. Inside the safe was a briefcase. The briefcase contained all the navigational gear Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan had. The briefcase was ‘dry as a bone’. It was turned over to a ranking Naval officer who ordered him not to disclose any information about the items found in the safe. Bob earned two purple hearts and individuals who don’t believe this actually happened are in a roundabout way calling my friend a liar.”

    Well, Ed, I believe Bob Wallack. I think the Japanese did take Amelia and Fred and the U.S. government covered it up. What do you guys think?

    • Fred Nicely

      June 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Excellent point Amy, it sounds like you’ve become a follower of the Earhart mystery, I would like to hear more later about your interview with Ed Jones. As for our opinion we agree with your assessment. Too many people have come forward and given testimony about the two “white Americans” on Saipan before the war. Yet the “investigators” always want proof to back up their statements. If you have ever been involved with the government and a secret, you know they make it very plain what the penalities are if you talk to anyone about what you know. Bob Wallacks account is a good one since he cites navagational gear and also (from another source) he mentioned country clearances and passports, all items Earhart would have had with her on her final flight. Very specific for someone making up a story. This guy was a “mud marine” (an affectionate term, I used to work for the Corps) who did what he was told and he was told to forget what he saw and not to discuss anything about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. How would Bob Wallack know what should have been in Amelia Earhart’s brief case, for that matter how would he have known that she even had a briefcase with her. Bob Wallack’s statement doesn’t prove that Amelia and Fred were imprisoned on Saipan but it proves that the Japanese governement had access to their belongings. A through investigation be controversial and the Amelia Earhart Controversy is just that. Good work.

      • amy wische

        amy wische

        June 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

        Do you think that the Japanese were responsible for her disappearance? If so, where do you think Earhart and Noonan landed? Lastly why do you think it would have been covered up all this time?

        • Fred Nicely

          June 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm

          Do we think the Japanese were responsible for Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance? We, along with thousands of other people, do. The International Group for Historical Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has proved with a great deal of circumstantial evidence that Earhart landed her Electra on Gardner Island. They have also shown that she broadcasted distress calls for 5 days after she disappeared. We know from statements by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. that she couldn’t have transmitted on her radio for any length of time unless she could run the right engine and she couldn’t have run the engine unless she landed wheels down on land. The Earhart controversy arises with their contention that she and Noonan perished on the island within 48 hours after their last transmission on the 7th of July. The island was searched from the air on the morning of the 9th. With no storms or high seas reported in the area and the tides running normally how was a 7000 pound aircraft suddenly washed off the reef when it hadn’t been effected in the previous 5 days? Simple Logic dictates that Earhart, Noonan and the Electra weren’t on the island on the 9th. Who in the Pacific had the ability to snatch them and the Electra from the island, The U.S., Britian, Austrailia and Japan. Of those choices who was most likely the culpruit and why? The firest three had no reason to want Earhart to disappear and neither did the Japanese, UNLESS Amelia had photographed one of their secret installations as contended by Fred Goerner. Now we have a spy mission and kidnapping. The plot thickens. Was there a conspiracy to coverup Earhart’s disappearance during her last and final flight? If Amelia was on a spy mission for FDR (she probably wouldn’t have done it on her own.) and the Japanese kidnapped her and neither FDR nor the Office of Naval Intellegence (ONI) did nothing to rescue her, isn’t it rather obvious they wouldn’t have wanted that little tidbit of information to leak out to the voting public. Truman wouldn’t have wanted to own up to any involvement. By the time Eisenhower came along there was a spy school on Saipan and travel to and from the island was restricted by the CIA. If the evidence of U.S. Government involvement was destroyed in 1944 as Wallack and others have contended nothing would remain about the conspiracy to cover-up what happened on Amelia’s last flight.

          • vernon prescott

            December 28, 2013 at 8:12 pm

            Many fallacies in the comments…many.

            1. Not a single post loss Distress Call was ever conclusively proven to be Earhart;s. Experts on radio, the atmosphere, the ability /inability of transmissions to bounce, have proven that the teenager, “Betty” could not have heard Amelia. Betty lived in Florida. Even the Sears short wave receiver she owned has since been discredited. Searchers believe what they wish to believe.
            2. History: In 1937, the Japanese invaded China. Their military focus was on conquering China. The only ” secret ” fortification they had in the Pacific was Saipan. If Amelia saw Saipan, she did so as a prisoner. Fortifications of the Japanese Mandates did not begin until 1941.
            3. The Mile Atoll ditching, rescue by the Koshu ( and recovery of the Lockheed as well ), the removel tp Jaluit and subsequent imprisonment on Saipan had many native ( on Mile, Jaluit and Saipan ) and American witnesses ( Marines ). A great conspiracy ? Or really, really coincidental ??? Or facts ignored by people who do not want the mystery solved. ?? It’s an individual call….
            4. Gardner Island ( Nikumaroro today ): Why fly to an uninhabited island ? If you can fly an additional 350 miles to Gardner with remaining fuel, why not use that same fuel to conduct a ” lawn mowing ” search for Howland where there is a support staff and a Coast Guard Cutter off shore ?

            5. Finally: TIGHAR: This organization has either claimed outright or implied by innuendo that they’ve found Amelia or her aircraft a half dozen times or more. It’s a Non-Profit where the Executive Director and family make $200K a year via keeping theories ( and dues ) rolling along…

            In conclusion, I like your comparisons to the Lady Be Good, and the problems, circa 1937, with receiving and transmitting in the tube radio era.
            THAT WAS LOGIC AND FACT !!

          • Bob


            December 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

            Thank you for your comment, Mr. Prescott. As always we welcome all input, positive and negative. The exchange of ideas is the very essence of an investigation. That is one precept, we fear, many investigators don’t adhere to.
            No radio communications after the last call made by Amelia Earhart on July 2, 1937 have ever been conclusively proven to be true or untrue. In fact, nothing after her take off from Lae, New Guinea can be taken as fact, including her route of flight, the true capabilities of her aircraft or even her destination.
            We feel that you are somewhat mistaken about the fortifications of the Japanese mandates. Please refer to The Japanese airbase on Taroa Island, Republic of the Marshall Islands 1937-45 by Adams, Ross, Krause and Spennemann republished by the University of Michigan Library. It shoots many holes in the Japanese contention that they only started to fortify the Mandates in 1941.
            Any investigation must start somewhere and this one is no different. Webster defines investigation as “…careful search; detailed examination; systematic inquiry”. There are a number of investigations out there and they all started with a premise. The Mili Atoll incident presents a compelling line of inquiry. The multitude of eye witness reports should be investigated until someone disproves them. What would be the reason for so many people reporting the same thing? As we have outlined, we believe the Mili Atoll incident was probably a “dog and pony” show put on by the Japanese to establish her violation of Japanese airspace.
            The landing on Gardner Island is an enigma. We have done investigation and are beginning to doubt the Gardner Island scenario. We are in the process of putting together another article that draws into serious question TIGHAR’s assumption that she landed on Gardner Island (Nikumaroro). We have discovered that their conclusions about radio intercepts by Pan American are very questionable.
            Finally, we agree wholeheartedly that TIGHAR’s motives are very questionable. You’ve got to hand it to Gillespie; he is quite good at the PR game. He has built an organization that has impressed the mass media and he has them on his side.
            Robert Wheeler and Fred Nicely, co-authors Amelia Earhart Betrayed

  4. amy wische

    amy wische

    May 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I am a real fan of “What happened to Amelia”. Why haven’t I seen this theory discussed or even addressed anywhere else. I have seen theories that blame unforcasted winds, both directional and strength and human error. Your theory seems to be so plausable since we know what the winds were and that Noonan was one of the best navigators in the world at the time.How easy would it have been for him to have made this mistake? It sounds so much better than the alien abduction theory!

    • Bob


      June 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      After nearly seventy-five years truth becomes so very diluted! But todays techonolgies allow us to realy look at the mountain of information available in a very unique way. If we determine how it could happen, determine details of the facts preserved as historical reference only hand me downs. Plot data from yester year today as if we were to do over the flight next week. We soon will conclude what we have been led to believe happened, occured for a very different and important reason. The experts of the past and present have failed to satisfy this writers curoisty! So look through this material with an open mind. Compare it with what you have been taught to bleieve and soon the smoke will clear and the mirror will reflect a brighter spot on the truth of the matter!

      • Amy

        June 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        Well put, Bob. I think Earhart and Noonan never received the respect they deserved.

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