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Author Topic: Government Surveillance Flight Theories  (Read 72989 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2010, 11:10:32 AM »

Most of the stories about people in the Marshalls and on Saipan seeing AE and FN are about people who saw a white woman and man who were later assumed to have been AE and FN.  In the years immediately prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific there was no shortage of white missionary couples (husband/wife or often brother/sister) who were rounded up and done in by the Japanese.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2010, 11:30:06 AM »

I hadnt considered that fact. It did seem very far-fetched, that They were picked up by the Japaneese, and moved around the Marshalls, and finally ending up on Saipan.
So---we have concluded that they did not fly to Truk in the Electra-- so we need to find the Electra, or what is identifiable, at NIKU.
Tom
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2010, 11:51:34 AM »

For what it's worth, I don't presume anything so specific as a definite overflight of a specific island at a specific time; rather, the looser concept that AE and FN may have been asked to collect what data they could, and may or may not have been given a few pieces of extra equipment to that end.

In July of 1937, information on the Japanese presence on Truk was deemed both hugely important and hugely lacking.  The US was determined--in fact, it's not a stretch to say desperate--to gain knowledge that could in any way, shape or form predict who would end up in control of China (the Kuomintang, communists, or Japanese).  

The Sino-Japanese war broke out July 7, 1937. I find it inconceivable that an American flight coming anywhere near Truk would not at least raise the question in of whether or not to task it for surveillance.  It doesn't mean AE was tasked, in the end, nor even that if she had been tasked, she chose to follow through with the idea.  Or due to weather/timing, was able to, even if she'd meant to.

While American agencies differed on their attitude toward "spying," in 1937, this "spying" was in fact often just a simple matter of keeping eyes and ears open in service of the nation, something many civilians were asked to do (Roosevelt in fact had a penchant for tasking civilians, lol--a practice which China today uses to a fault).

I realize I've thrown around a lot of opinion here - have to run into the studio but will post some related links when I get back.

Never a dull moment!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 11:55:14 AM by Sheila Shigley »
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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2010, 12:08:21 PM »

Well..."inconceivable" is a strong word.  Anything is conceivable. 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2010, 12:30:49 PM »

I find it inconceivable that an American flight coming anywhere near Truk would not at least raise the question in of whether or not to task it for surveillance.

Perhaps, but Earhart was not planning to be anywhere near Truk.  The closest point on her route from Lae to Howland was 800 miles from Truk.

While American agencies differed on their attitude toward "spying," in 1937, this "spying" was in fact often just a simple matter of keeping eyes and ears open in service of the nation, something many civilians were asked to do (Roosevelt in fact had a penchant for tasking civilians, lol--a practice which China today uses to a fault).

Unless Washington was worried about the British there was nothing for her keep her eyes and ears open for.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2010, 12:36:12 PM »

I really wasn't thinking of the natives' report, as much as the radioed position reports. Assuming that the natives knew what an airplane was (I mean, we are talking about the south pacific, before WWII), I think that we can take 3 positions, and draw a definite conclusion as to AE's route to Howland.

One nail in the coffin is the physics of radio transmissions on 3105 kcs: to counterfeit a position reception at Nauru on this frequency at that time of night that sounded like a nearby transmission, NR16020 would have to be carrying a much better antenna and a much more powerful radio, even if the ionospheric conditions might have made the transmission possible.  But a signal that strong and clear would also probably have been heard by other stations listening to 3105.  Of course, there are directional antennas; all the conspiracy theorists have to do is pack one of those into the Electra when no one is looking.

For me, the other nail is the report by the natives.  They may not have known what an airplane was.  We don't have transcripts of what they said in their own language nor do we know how familiar they may have been with airplanes.  But a European who was talking with them might legitimately interpret their claim to have heard engines overhead as necessarily being attached to an airplane and may have supplied a term that the natives lacked.

Quote
Funny thing though, What about all those people in the Marshalls and on Saipan that 'saw" her and Fred? Might they be right too?
Another mystery wrapped in another mystery!

Testimony given by witnesses has to be sifted using criteria of possibility, plausibility, and credibility.  I'm inclined to set a low threshold on hearing an airplane overhead.  It is not rocket science.  All it takes is good ears and being in the right place at the right time.  Criminal lawyers and law enforcement officers know very well how unreliable eyewitness testimony can be when it is a matter of picking a suspect out of a lineup.  That requires a great deal more skill.  Logically, as the case stands now, I concede that it is possible that someone may have seen AE in captivity--strange things do happen.  I don't find the stories plausible or the witnesses credible on other grounds.

Just because I'm willing to credit the report ascribed to the natives of hearing the sound of engines passing overhead it does not follow that I must credit all other native testimony about other events.
LTM,

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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2010, 12:41:41 PM »

In July of 1937, information on the Japanese presence on Truk was deemed both hugely important and hugely lacking.  The US was determined--in fact, it's not a stretch to say desperate--to gain knowledge that could in any way, shape or form predict who would end up in control of China (the Kuomintang, communists, or Japanese).  

What evidence do you have from primary sources for this assertion?

By "primary source," I mean documents written at the time period under consideration by those who possessed those concerns.

Quote
The Sino-Japanese war broke out July 7, 1937. I find it inconceivable that an American flight coming anywhere near Truk would not at least raise the question in of whether or not to task it for surveillance.

Truk is a long way from the Korean peninsula.  I doubt very much that the Chinese, who were suffering huge casualties on land at the hands of the Japanese, would have worried much about Japan's navy operations out in the Pacific.
LTM,

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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2010, 01:19:08 PM »

Truk is a long way from her Howland route, according to the position reports. 5 hours (+-) at 200 mph. NO doubt in my mind that Truk was important, and doing some recon would have been a help, but we are talking about 1937, 4 years before Pearl Harbor, and about 6 years before the battle of Tarawa. I'm certain that Japan did alot of fortifying in 6 years. I'm not saying that AE didnt overfly Truk and the Marshalls, but the radio evidence seems to dispell that.
If the DNA evidence is positive on the bones on NIKU, then her being on Saipan, or other locations in the Marshalls is dispelled too.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2010, 01:30:50 PM »

Jeff-- I've thought about your Gardner/Japaneese capture theory since I became involved with TIGHAR. Its possible that Japan was keeping tabs on her flight, but to have a ship, or even a submarine in the Gardner area at the time of the disappearance is stretching things. But, a sub would go undetected to air and surface search teams, and in 1937, they probably would not be looking for a sub-surface contact.
so---here we go again----another theory. Ric---hope the bones have her DNA!!
Tom
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2010, 01:33:00 PM »

Tom,

nice alternative but what is the motive to go to Gardner, destroy the electra and rescure/pick up AE/FN?
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2010, 01:44:15 PM »

chris, since she wasnt spying on Truk, I cant think of any, unless they suspected that she had some information. Dont see how, because the islands that she flew over were in the Gilberts.
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2010, 01:55:47 PM »

Not quite de bunked but another theory that dosn't hold much water

edited to say that I don't beleive that you are proposing this as a bona fida theory, just another example of where you can take the whole flight/fantasy thing.
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2010, 01:56:27 PM »

I stand corrected!!!! Tabituea, the island the natives claimed to have seen/heard the Electra, is about 275 miles south of Tarawa---and we know that Japan had fortifications there. Even though Amelia would have been flying over at night, It "could" have attracted enough attention by the Japaneese to warrant investigation.  
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2010, 03:23:12 PM »

Ahem.  Well, Wemple apparently was not known to be her mechanic and MAY have never been connected; on the other hand, perhaps he was attached to the effort at some point in time, and perhaps a time later - who knows - may have wanted his own moment of notoriety.  Perhaps he took a shot at that through the 'spy thing' when he had an audience.  It would have resonated in the public fervor of the times.

Green says he overheard the conversation before the first round-the-world attempt, not after.

I don't know that there was any anti-Japanese fervor in 1936-1937 in the American public.

What makes sense to me is that he heard about the oversize engines and gas tanks on the 10E as compared to the 10A and just speculated about a "spy mission."  It does not seem implausible to me that a child might misunderstand the tone and words used by adults at the dinner table and might, in later years, give those words more weight than they deserve.  I've done things like that myself, though not so publicly as Mr. Green.
LTM,

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Sheila Shigley

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Re: Government Surveillance Flight Theories
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2010, 04:25:11 PM »

Seems I'm always on the run when I'd rather be savoring this new-found forum, lol.  Before I skip on home, though, a huge thanks to all of you who started and have maintained this project--a phenomenal accomplishment.  The level and detail of research is not like any I've seen on this subject (or many others for that matter).  I appreciate very much your responses, and take each one very seriously.  I know many of you have been doing this a very long time, and I'm grateful for your patience.

Getting to the possible US motive(s) for intelligence-gathering in the Japanese-administered South Sea Mandate islands, I like Malcolm Muir, Jr.'s observation as a starting point:

In December 1936, when the Japanese government announced its withdrawal from the treaty structure which had constrained the world's major navies for over a decade, the Roosevelt administration faced the necessity for renewed battleship construction.  Unhappily, American intelligence on the Japanese naval rearmament was virtually nonexistent.  Here was a matter of the utmost gravity, because the basic dimensions of any new American capital ship program (i.e., the numbers and characteristics of the individual ships) should be tailored to counter the Japanese challenge, especially since the long-standing American contingency plans for a war with Japan--codenamed ORANGE--called for the United States to advance into the Western pacific and force a showdown with the Imperial fleet....Imperial officers, weighing the battleship equation in the 1930s, counted on an impenetrable curtain of secrecy to build the ships that would trump American quantity with Japanese quality.  (Rearming in a Vacuum: United States Navy Intelligence and the Japanese Capital Ship Threat, 1936-1945])

While quietly proceeding with rapid advances in the size and speed of it's ships, Japan publicly crowed about its "spirit of nonmenace and nonaggression."  Radio traffic analysis provided the US plenty of frightening hints as to Japan's new program, but didn't offer Roosevelt enough proof to justify the colossal expenditures required for the US to match Japan's escalation.

So why Truk...I should add again that, while Truk looms large, I don't presume that Truk could have been the only target of interest.  I'm respectful of the distances you mentioned between AE's publicly-announced destination, and Truk.  Japan was certainly fortifying islands in addition to Truk.  

Nonetheless, Truk is very interesting for many reasons, not the least of which is that in the event of war with Japan, the US "ORANGE" plan, as it existed in July of 1937, called for the immediate seizure of Truk and Eniwetok:

From Truk, the US advance could go in any one of five directions. (Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the US Navy, Symonds/Clipson)

After Japan's July 7th attack on Chinese forces, and Germany's annexation of Austria 8 months later, the US switched to a two-front plan with debate as to which parts of the "ORANGE" plan remained intact.

I include all that mainly to show how incredibly important Truk was in 1937--not just as a place to spy on Japan's naval activity, but one which required as much reconnaissance as possible in advance of potential US invasion.  I also think it's incredibly ironic that only days after AE went down, the very Navy war plan which may have encouraged an overflight of Truk, took its first of two steps toward the potential scrap heap.

None of this means she flew over Truk.  But it seems safe to suggest that in 1937, no one had more motive to collect data about Truk than Roosevelt and the US Navy.





« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 04:27:45 PM by Sheila Shigley »
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