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Monday, 19 August 2019

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As much as I love airplane stories, I admire Amelia Earhart mainly for the prenup she presented to her husband to be.

We care about Amelia, because she was attractive and quixotic. The Pacific has swallowed many others. Consider the late, largely unlamented Brigadier General Joseph Warren Stilwell Jr.

"He was lost at sea on July 25, 1966, when flying a C-47 to Hawaii with longtime friend and pilot Hal Grimes of Air Ferry International. Harold Fossum was the navigator. The C-47 was to continue on to Thailand; however, Stilwell was only intending to travel as far as Hawaii to increase his instrument rating qualification. The Coast Guard, USAF and US Navy (including three destroyers and the USS Yorktown) searched an area of 105,000 square miles without finding any trace of the aircraft."

I was a radarman on USCG Cutter Dexter in that search. We spent a week participating in an inventory of every piece of flotsam or jetsam in the Pacific between SF and Hawaii, looking for an idiot.

The story we heard is that Stillwell and his buddies were borrowing a Royal Thai Airforce plane. They revved up once to take off from Alameda Naval Airstation, but couldn't get up enough power for lift off, and went back to have the engines tinkered with. Second try, they got airborne, but turned back after a few miles, for more engine work.

Third time the charm? They disappeared over the Pacific. The only hint they went down there was a weak signal that may have been a Mayday picked up by a commercial airliner.

Hi Mike - there's quite a story re. the skeleton. The bones went missing, possibly buried, but the forearm bone was measured and it seems likely it was from a European woman. There's also the intriguing possibility that human DNA can be extracted from nearby vegetation (if the bone site can be relocated) as the body / bodies deteriorated into the poor soil.
This info. is from a talk (early last year or the year before) here in Auckland NZ from one of the local historians who was on one of the previous expeditions to find Earhart's wrecked plane. Sorry I can't be more specific but I can track down the speaker's last name (his first is Keith, a fellow diver) if you're interested in pursuing the story. I think that there were other plane parts found, too, but not recognised as such at the time.

I think most conspiracy theories are bunk but in the case of MH-370 I think Jeff Wize’s critique (https://link.medium.com/PA63NK80iZ) of Langewiesches story in the Atlantic - and alternative theory of the event - is worth considering. The MH-370 may not be as neatly explained as we might like.

Jonathan.

The link in Jonathan Murray’s comment takes me eventually to the iOS App Store! This http://jeffwise.net/2019/06/28/onezero-the-mystery-behind-the-missing-malaysia-airlines-flight-isnt-solved-yet/#more-6042 seems to be the correct one. It is worth reading, not sure I would call it a conspiracy theory though.

I hope NatGeo has signed up Geraldo Rivera to narrate the special.

I feel compelled to mention the 1972 album, In Search of Amelia Earhart, by Plainsong. Never heard it so can't comment on its merits.

One of the worst aspects of my otherwise cool job, is that I cannot bring my camera to photograph the amazing planes I am working with.

A jet fighter taking off at night with the diamonds of flame streaming from the after-burner assisted takeoff is a beautiful thing.

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