Forum artHighlights From the Forum

July 2 through 8, 2000

Subject: Re: Coast Guard buttons
Date: 7/3/00
From: William Webster-Garman

Dillard Gates wrote:

>It seems to me that the researchers on this project are approaching the
>job with little understanding of the scientific method. The scientific
>method would aim at trying to identify and explain the artifacts rather
>than trying to prove a preexisting notion.

TIGHAR is not trying to fit the button to a pre-existing notion. TIGHAR would like, if possible, to identify the source of the button.

william 2243

Subject: Warning to new guys
Date: 7/3/00
From: Jonathan Einarsen

Ok, this one was enough for me to finally de-lurk and chime in my unsolicited 2 cents. First, allow me to introduce myself:

My name is Jonathan Einarsen. During daylight I'm a video systems engineer. For the past two months I've been lurking on this forum to satisfy a curiosity that I imagine is shared by most everyone here. I submit this post both as an introduction and to offer the perspective of another "new guy".

First of all, I read the introduction. If I remember correctly, it did say that the forum was *strictly* for the discussion of the disappearance of AE and FN as it relates to the possible landing on Niku. That said, I offer the following personal perspective:

Prior to last April, my interest in AE was simply a passing curiosity. Then I happened upon *gasp* Elgen Long's book. My main attraction to the book was the cover and specifically the words "Mystery Solved". (Score 0 for the scientific method, 1 for marketing.) I found it a fascinating and interesting read. It appealed directly to several other passing curiosities including early radio, aviation, WWII, history, and an odd sort of interest in the human dynamics of catastrophe) I'll stop short of saying that I believed every word --- but I absolutely found it "possible".

With my appetite for information on the subject now ravenous, I set out on the web to find more. After a brief stop at a "Saipan" site that I found mostly humorous, I landed on TIGHAR's cyber runway. I must say that my first impression of the site was not considerably better than the "Saipan" site. I would attribute that mostly to a set of pre-existing assumptions that there is a whole heap of water and a teeny tiny bit of dry land in that general vicinity which makes the whole "Landed on a deserted island" concept seem kind of weak --- at first.

Now two months later I'm still reading every email and my appetite for more is still strong. The theory I first met with skepticism I now consider one of the two most probable scenarios. (Thank you Mr. Gillespie and the rest of TIGHAR for your attention to science, method, and demonstrating a genuine interest in the "truth" and not simply proving the current theory.)

As for this forum and the non-TIGHAR theories, I have some simple comments:

1) Isn't this a PUBLIC forum? Isn't it open to non-TIGHAR members? As such, wouldn't you EXPECT a certain number of people with dissenting opinions? If you don't want to discuss the "old stuff" with every "new guy" I'd recommend a "member's only" forum.

2) Since my first exposure to the current camps of thought on AE was through the Long's book, I have many questions that relate to the differences between their theories and TIGHAR. If this is a public forum, I would expect it to be the appropriate place for such discussion.

3) I'm going to make the further assumption that this forum is also a vehicle to attract new membership. Perhaps some indulgence of the under-informed would go well to attract some of those elusive financial supporters.

4) Preaching to the choir gets you nowhere, saves no new souls, and is neither fun nor challenging.

I truly hope that my expressed opinions do not disguise the seeds of genuine admiration I have for many of the people on this forum. I also hope I've managed to make a better first impression than the last "new guy". I don't know if I have much to offer in the way of new expertise or insight into the matter at hand. I have enjoyed lurking these last two months and look forward to participating in the future.

My apologies to the list for the length.



From Ric

Congratulations on your decision to de-lurk (probably a better expression than "coming out"). I take your active participation as a compliment. Thank you.

Yes, this is a public forum but it's not a public free-for-all. Our primary objective is to solve the mystery by finding incontrovertible hard evidence (i.e. DNA-matched human remains and/or serial numbered aircraft parts). After twelve years we've pretty much convinced ourselves that we're on the right track and, despite frequent excursions into the realm of crashed-at-sea and captured-by-the-Japanese, have yet to find any support for those theories. It's therefore, I hope, understandable that we prefer to focus on the avenues of investigation that have in the past proved fruitful and, we expect, will do so in the future.

That said, we are always open to real evidence that contributes to our understanding of the Earhart case, even if --- no --- especially if it casts doubt on anything in the chain of evidence that points to Nikumaroro. We also realize that the people who are most likely to join the forum are those who already have an interest in the Earhart case and, by definition, have read books and articles and have seen TV shows and, quite naturally, have questions.

Depite our resemblance to a cult we really don't expect or want anyone to "convert" on the basis of "faith." We've tried to make a lot of answers available on the TIGHAR website but we can't cover everything that way. So, please, ask your questions and we'll do our best to answer them, and chances are we'll learn something too.


Subject: Re: Coast Guard buttons
Date: 7/5/00
From: Tom King

Dillard Gates wrote:

>It seems to me that the researchers on this project are approaching the
>job with little understanding of the scientific method. The scientific
>method would aim at trying to identify and explain the artifacts rather
>than trying to prove a preexisting notion.

Actually, the scientific method would not try to identify and explain the artifacts, unless one were doing a scientific analysis of, say, buttons for their own sake. The scientific method would generate hypotheses and try to test them, using whatever data it could lay its hands on -- such as artifacts. That's what we're trying to do the Nikumaroro hypothesis. It's a preexisting notion, as is any hypothesis, but we're trying to test it, not prove it.

LTM (whose son is, admittedly, only a SOCIAL scientist)
Tom King

Subject: Noonan Project possible lead
Date: 7/6/00
From: Dave Porter

I've been slogging my way through forum digests to catch up from being away on military duty for the last couple weeks, and though I'm not completely caught up yet, wanted to toss in my usual two cents worth.

First off, I hope your mother is doing better. Mine had a stroke while I was away at the Benning School for Boys, and is recovering now, but it made for a few nights even more sleepless than those normally experienced by Army Drill Sergeants. (Rest easy America: your sons in the infantry are not being overly stressed, nor is their self esteem being damaged--so long as we can manage to stay out of a shootin' war, everything will be just fine.)

Re: Ron Dawson and the Noonan Project: Here in the Detroit area there is a Noonan Pontiac auto dealership that is actually operated by folks named Noonan. Since it'd be a local call for me I'd be happy to make an inquiry--just give me some command guidance into how such things are done.

LTM, who is happy to learn that "Survivor" does NOT have the "aye" of the TIGHAR.
Dave Porter, 2288

From Ric

The "aye" of the TIGHAR? Clever.

Noonan is actually a fairly common Irish name, but no harm in asking. I'd just call up, ask for Mr. (or MS.) Noonan and explain that you're a member of an aviation historical group researching the Amelia Earhart disppearance and wondered if there was any chance her navigator, Fred Noonan, was a relative. What you do next, of course, depends upon the response but the first step is to just up and ask.

Ric (who remembers the "old program" at the Benning School for Boys)

Subject: Whose button is it, anyway?
Date: 7/7/00
From: Ron Bright

I'm lost now re button button stuff, but has anyone gone in reverse. I'm guessing the theory is that the button belongs to the castaway. So has anyone gone to the AE museum in Atchison (?) or at Purdue University, who have some clothes (and by the way shoes (size ?) for comparison. There must be other resources, relatives, etc on AE's side or photos of AE's ubiquitous shirt. What was she wearing when she left Lae?

Ron Bright 2342

From Pat

Purdue has some articles of clothing, including at least one pair of slacks, in their collection of Earhart memorabilia. I dunno who has what else.

Subject: Secret Navy files reveal AE on spy mission to Truk, says ex petty officer
Date: 7/8/00
From: Ron Bright

I'd like to revisit an off forum discussion concerning the possiblity of Navy files still extant at Crane Indiana.

Brink's book Lost Star, page 173-4, relates the recollections of Carrol F. Harris, a former navy photographer, and then a retired CHP officer, who in interviews in 1983, recalled seeing secret ONI files from a 4 drawer cabinet that clearly indicated AE was on a spy mission, i.e., changes in the Electra's structure, intended flyover Truk, the installation of two Fairchild aerial cameras in the lower fuselage bay, the addition of two, more powerful Bendix radios, etc. All of which if true would substantially change the perspective of Amelia's flight.

Harris told Brink he was assigned to Flag Secretary Admiral J. R. Smedberg and was directed to photograph (microfilm) the records in "OP-20G" and "ONI OP-16" files and that the Earhart files occupied "3/4 of a file cabinet." These files were located in ADM Smedberg's office in room 2052 of the old Navy Dept building on Constitution Ave. The files were "Top Secret" then.

Note: Brink does not indicate when (what year) Harris microfilmed the files, whether there were witnesses to this event, where he stored them and whether Harris had mentioned this activity, apparently in the 40s, to anyone before and why and how Harris now (in 1983) was coming forward with these ancedotal recollections.

But upon further investigation, there may be some truth in Harris' report.

Former ONI officials that I know recall Earhart files in a four drawer cabinet as late as 1966 at Arlington, Va but believed they had been archived; they did not think there was any significant information relating to the Earhart mystery,only files relating to ONI's investigation into her disappearance. (The Agent Patton investigation in 1960 at Saipan.) But this is just a guess of where the files went and as of this date I haven't pursued further this link. Additionally, those files may not be the files that Harris was referring to.

But here is where it gets interesting.

I interviewed Barbara Harris, age 70s, still in California,who advised that her husband Carrol F. Harris, was indeed the Harris that provided Brink with his recollections in 1983. She said her husband retired from the California State Patrol in 1984 and died at age 64 in 1986. Harris, she said, was on active duty with the US Navy from 1941-47, then served in the active reserve until 1980.

Barbara recalled that sometime in the 60s Carrol became acquainted with Fred Goerner, then in San Francisco, and subsequently became "good friends" over their mutual interest in the Earhart mystery. Barbara said she learned the following from Carrol:

In the mid-40s or thereabouts, Carrol was assigned duty as a yeoman in the Navy and his assignment was in the "mail room" of the White House doing work for the Navy. (FDR was Pres.) During this period he was given a high security clearance and was assigned to microfilm some Earhart documents in a file cabinet with "Top Secret" Earhart material. Some of the files related to the installation of equipment, radios, cameras into the AE's airplane. Harris related this information to Goerner and to Brink.

Barbara said she was not particularily interested in the Earhart story so these recollections are vague (and of course hearsay). She was not sure exactly where Harris was assigned to the "White House" (Brink says it was the Old Navy Building). She met and married Harris years later while attending college.

Barbara said that there are still some boxes of mementos etc in her house but has not gone through them searching for Earhart documents, Carrol's diaries, etc.

Barabara said that based on what Carrol told her she thought those files that he was referring to went to Crane Indiana for archive purposes. (Goerner did follow some of those leads but struck out.)

Barabara agreed to additional interviews if she could be helpful and would search her files for Carrol's material if any. She was quite responsive and seemed to be competent. She said Carrol was a respected CHP officer and credible.

Another researcherand correspondent of mine, Doug Hubbard Sr., founding father of the Nimitz Museum, became good friends with Fred Goerner and thus was instrumental in getting Fred upon his death to donate his material to that museum. According to Hubbard, Goerner was aware of the Harris story but thought that Harris was on guard duty in the office of the CNO and that one night he and some others got into a file cabinet with one drawer devoted to AE. This material was sent to Crane for storage and declassification. Hubbard has a copy of a letter from Casper Weinberger, SECDEF, in which Weinberger said it would take about 9 years to get to those files for declassification (about now).

Comments: As luck would have it the primary source, Harris, is deceased and it is doubtful any of his records will be found. Nevertheless, it may be possible to prove or disprove the AE secret mission files by locating those files at Crane Indiana. In my opinion, they may not be Navy files since Harris was talking about the White House mail (or map) room. Obviously, if Harris' recollections are accurate, and according to Barbara, he had a "photographic" memory, it would cause quite a stir among AE researchers.

Maybe Randy Jacobson, who has searched Crane, could help. I know your friend ex Marine officer Jack Hillard agrees that the ONI files did not contain any solutions to her disappearance or confirm any covert, secret mission stuff re Amelia's flight, but that doesn't mean the files Harris talked about are one and the same. Harris' recollections have a ring of truth and detail that a CHP officer offered for the truth of the matter. That's pretty good evidence, but of course not sworn testimony, and not corroborated.

I'll keep on trying to see if the Harris story is true, false or simply a mistaken belief.

Ron Bright (who probably got a ticket from Harris when living in Cal)

Well, I guess you know what our opinion is.....

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