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Earhart's plane found at last?

Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:45 pm

Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Earhart's plane found at last?

THE discovery of the wreckage of an aircraft in the Ip River in East Pomio, East New Britain province last week, has generated renewed speculation that it could be the aircraft belonging to famed American aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, The National newspaper reports.

What makes this particular discovery significant is the fact that an Australian aircraft engineer, who has been involved since 1994 in a project to locate Ms Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, had pinpointed the location where the wreckage was found as the place where he believed Ms Earhart’s plane went down.

An entry on the free internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Ear ... e_from_Lae) says the engineer, former Air Niugini employee David Billings, asserts that a map marked with notations consistent with Ms Earhart’s engine model number and her airframe’s construction number, was seen briefly by Australian soldiers during World War II.

Mr Billings’ theory originates from the WWII Australian patrol stationed on East New Britain and indicates a crash site 64km (40 miles) southwest of Rabaul, which is only a few kilometres away from where the wreckage was found last week.

Mr Billings speculated that Ms Earhart turned back from her intended destination of Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean after unsuccessfully trying to rendezvous with an American warship, and tried to reach Rabaul for fuel.

Mr Billings and his team had made 10 attempts to locate the wreckage. His theory is contained in an exhaustive article on an American aviation website (http://www.wingsoverkansas.com/earhart/ ... asp?id=850) detailing the reasons for his conclusion that the wreckage spotted by the Diggers on April 17, 1945, belonged to Ms Earhart.

Ms Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Lae on July 2, 1937, in the heavily loaded Electra for Howland Island 4,113km (2,556 miles) away. To date, their disappearance had remained an enduring mystery.

A brief report in Monday’s The National prompted one reader from Australia to write in to suggest that the wreckage could belong to Ms Earhart’s Electra.

Further research on the internet revealed Mr Billings’ theory pinpointing the area 64km southwest of Rabaul where the Diggers spotted the wreckage in 1945.

A community leader from the Kalip ward in East Pomio, Isidor Vote, said last week that the aircraft was discovered by a group of youths in the Ip River in the bushes of East Pomio.

Local villagers believed the aircraft might have been shot down during World War I between 1913 and 1914, and even suggested it was being flown by a female American pilot. It is not known what their theory is based on.

Mr Vote said the wreckage had the serial number 06751 on one of its body parts that had remained intact all these years, and parts of one of its wings had dents on it.

Mr Vote wanted Government authorities to visit the site and inspect the aircraft in order to get more information.

He said it would serve as a record for the War Museum in Kokopo.

If the find proves to indeed be Ms Earhart’s Electra, it will have far more significance and could prompt an international media frenzy in the Pomio area.

Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:08 am

Researcher doubts plane find


AMELIA Earhart plane searcher David Billings yesterday said the aircraft wreckage found in the jungles of East New Britain last week was not the plane flown by the great American aviatrix.
And the former Air Niugini aircraft engineer said Ms Earhart’s plane was still in the jungles of East New Britain waiting to be discovered.
Mr Billings was responding to yesterday’s story in The National, which said that the wreckage could belong to Ms Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, citing Mr Billings’ theory that the plane went down in roughly the same area of ENBP.
Mr Billings, who has been involved in a project since 1994 to locate Ms Earhart’s plane, has made a dozen trips to the jungles of East New Britain over several years since 1994 – the latest being last August.
When told of the discovery, and that the wreckage had the serial number 06751, Mr Billings replied: “It will be another World War II aircraft.
“If the number you gave is the Bureau Number of the aircraft 06751, then the full Bureau No. is 40-6751 indicating that the aircraft came into US service in 1940.
“As you know, Earhart was lost in 1937.”
Meanwhile, Justin Taylan, of the US-based Pacific Wrecks, commenting on yesterday’s report, said there was no historical basis for Ms Earhart’s loss in PNG.
“The only fact in the article that is accurate is that Amelia took off from Lae airfield, and would have flown over part of present day PNG, before leaving present day PNG territory.
“Amelia Earhart died doing what she loved ... and most likely her plane crashed near her destination, and she died at sea, drowned or was wounded in the crash,” Mr Taylan said.

Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:16 am

Joe Baugher's site doesn't list a 40-6751 for the USAAC.

Navy BuNo 06751 would've been an SBD-4.
Last edited by Dan K on Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:00 am

The Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research website lists BuNo 06751 as an SBD-4 from VMSB-144 shot down over Guadalcanal on 4/6/43.


Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:23 am

Steve Nelson wrote:The Aviation Archaeological Investigation and Research website lists BuNo 06751 as an SBD-4 from VMSB-144 shot down over Guadalcanal on 4/6/43.

Correct you are...here's a bit more from PNG (Could it be that the media there is about as accurate as in the States? :rolleyes: ):

According to Fuller’s USN Lost list at http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/USN/LLApr43.htm, that plane crashed at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on June 4, 1943, claiming the life of its pilot Second Lieutenant John H. Fould.

“It is also possible the number found is not the plane's ID number, but another marking altogether,” Fuller added.

Asked if there was any possibility of the wreckage being Eahart’s, he replied: “Personally I do not think so.

“So what I was doing was trying to identify what it is.

“Right now, Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless Bureau Number 06751 is the best candidate.

“While the loss location lists Guadalcanal, that could be an error or where it took off from, or where it was last seen.

“Unfortunately I do not have any more details on that loss other than what is listed.

And still more...

The US Embassy in Port Moresby is aware of the potential crash sites related to American losses from World War II in the East Pomio area of East New Britain province, The National reports.

In a statement issued in light of the various findings of crash sites, including one in East Pomio recently, the US Embassy said that considering the sheer size of the Pacific theatre of operations and the activity in this theatre during World War II, finding a site or sites associated with missing American servicemen was not particularly unusual.

However, until further investigations confirm the site as being associated with an American loss, the embassy was not able to comment on the recovery process, the statement said.

It said recovery operations would require a great deal of resources – personnel, equipment, money and time.

“Before the resources are committed, the US government must confirm that the site is associated with missing Americans and assess how long a recovery will possibly take.

“In general, we welcome help locating sites but ask that (locals) not disturb the sites.

“We also ask that (locals) help us protect potential sites until we can get there, which often means not advertising its location,” the embassy statement said.

The mission of the Joint Prisoners Of War and Missing In Action Accounting Command (JPAC) is to account for all unaccounted Americans from past wars.

JPAC’s mission is strictly humanitarian and team members are held to the highest standard of conduct and respect for the laws and cultural differences of their host countries.

JPAC encourages anyone with information relating to an American loss to contact them directly or through the US Embassy.

Meanwhile, a letter writer to The National, Capt Keith Hopper, said in an email that the aircraft found in the Ip River in East Pomio recently could be that of a B-17 Flying Fortress flown by Brig Gen Kenneth N. Walker, commanding officer of the US Army’s Fifth Bomber Command.

Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:38 am

Sooo.... whatever it turns out to be is still pretty exciting, regardless if it's Amelia's or not.

I look forward to learning more accurate details.



Re: Earhart's plane found at last?

Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:39 pm

Electra? SBD? B-17? Wouldn't the remains be vastly different from each of these 3 possibilities?
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