Now, for the first time, the knowledge of what happened to Amelia Earhart may be about to change. An explorer from Bow, Washington, by the name of Dick Spink, recently discovered two artifacts from the reefs of the Marshall Islands (a small aluminum cover plate and a circular metal dust cover from a landing-gear wheel assembly). Spink believes both artifacts came from the Earhart airplane when she and her navigator vanished July 2, 1937, during an attempted around-the-world flight. For 77 years the artifacts may have appeared to simply be junk lying on the reefs of Milli Atoll.
“This is the first time that somebody has offered hard evidence from the Marshall Islands that can be traced to Earhart’s Electra,” said Carol Linn Dow, a Texas pilot and Earhart author. Dow added, “There’s no evidence of any U.S. or Japanese aircraft being shot down or disabled in that part of Milli Atoll. So where would these artifacts have come from? In all likelihood, it came off Earhart’s plane.”
After listening to countless stories from the Marshallese about what happened at Milli Atoll, Dick Spink shot video on the actual crash site of Earhart’s airplane and he completed four very important interviews with the people of the Marshall Islands.
According to Spink, the story the Marshall Islanders tell is that Amelia Earhart’s airplane crashed at Milli Atoll. Amelia Earhart and her navigator were taken to Tokowa and given food and water. Several days later Japanese soldiers arrived and took them prisoner. The airplane was winched off a reef at Milli Atoll and onto the back of a barge where it was towed to a tramp steamer, the Koshu Maru, standing by offshore.
What eventually happened to the airplane is unknown. Some researchers say it was taken to the island of Saipan and destroyed in World War II. Other researchers believe it was taken to the Japanese aircraft factories in Tokyo. Based on Spink’s findings, a few parts may have fallen off the Electra at Milli while it was being towed to the Koshu Maru. Spink said, “that may be all we will ever be able to find of the Earhart airplane … just a few scattered parts on the reefs of Milli Atoll.”
Explorer Dick Spink and book author Carol Dow teamed up to create “Amelia Earhart Mystery,” a DVD they believe will have a lasting impression on the Earhart story. The filming was done entirely in the Marshall Islands and at North Sound Aviation, Sedro-Woolley, Washington. It was made under the auspices and with the permission of the people and the government of the Marshall Islands. The DVD documents the actual clearing on the reef where the Japanese hauled the wrecked Electra to the Koshu Maru standing by offshore. Interviews with community leaders and the artifacts found are also included. No other research groups, including Tighar, have laid claims to having reports from eye witnesses who saw the crash and later witnessed Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on board the Koshu Maru at the port of Jabor, Marshall Islands. According to Marshallese native, Shikaro Lajuan, who’s father actually witnessed the crash of Earhart’s airplane on the reefs, it was at Jabor where Noonan’s infected wounds from the crash were dressed by a Japanese medic. The Japanese medic, Bilimon Amran, settled in the Marshall Islands after the war and became a respected member of the community.
The most popular and the most often used excuse explaining the disappearance of Amelia Earhart has been the theories dubbed with the title of “crashed and sank.” Dow said, “They took the easiest way out. Ninety five percent of these people (with exceptions) who write books and make movies know nothing about airplanes and the problems of radio navigation or the events that took place in the Marshall Islands. They just dropped her off in the ocean, and that’s the end of it. The easy way out. What a travesty of justice this is.”
According to Felix Girard, Executive Producer of Mystery, “the discoveries in the Marshall Islands are new, they are exciting, and now for the first time the public has something they can really bite their teeth on. We originally thought the public would bite into the post loss transmissions and Almon Gray’s Affidavit as it appears in Carol Dow’s book, ‘The Lost Flight of Amelia Earhart’. Nonetheless, the current effort appears to be even better yet. Perhaps now we really have the chance to boost the story of Amelia Earhart with the new discoveries from the crash that took place at Milli Atoll in the Marshall Islands.”