Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Morobeans claim Amelia Earhart's plane is in their province

Hi Mr. Nalu,


In regard to your news reported on the National news for today
(03/10/08) on the findings of the wreckage or crashed site for Amelia Earhart by Australian researcher David Billings in the jungles of East New Britain will not be treated as true according to our findings.

Amelia has departed Lae and hasn't travelled that much distance across the Bismarck Sea and disappeared, we have some findings of wreckage already just within the vicinity of Morobe Province and are liaising with the American Embassy for further exploring of the located site, (somewhere between Bangeta and Pindiu mountains).

With this in the request of one of our workmate namely Groover Tiworing who is engaged in these findings will be flying out to Lae for break this Friday (05th Sept) and would call into your Lae office and present his part of the story, actually he would like to see you and present his findings to you.

Thank you very much and I would appreciate your respond of what you think about this story.

Kande dange,

Sam Natung.
(Lihir Island).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

David Billings replies to the Amelia Earhart story

Australian David Billings replies to the Amelia Earhart story below (scroll down one story):


Now that I have some time, I can comment on your writing.

Whoever your "good sources" were, it is time to tell them to give you "correct" quotes, not incorrect fables made up without knowledge of the subject matter.

I take it that you have read my website and I can see that you have partially digested the information contained in the story of the Earhart Project in East New Britain. Your blog has also appeared on my computer and it contains errors which if you had studied the story intently would not have been made. For instance, you have distances and directions completely wrong.

The Australian Army veteran who actually examined the wreckage of the airframe cannot recall the tail section of the aircraft, ie: he cannot remember the tail section being on the aircraft wreckage and this would fit with an aircraft going through trees as the tail sections usually get stripped off the main body of an aircraft in that situation. Two B-24 Liberators I have been to are in exactly that state -"without the tail fins and tailplane". One was at 10,500 feet in the Finnesterres and the other outside of Lae.

The repair tag was not pulled off one of the engines, it was pulled off the engine mount tubing (as written) but this is a common mistake people make so you are not alone.

Marvello River. Well, there is no such animal, I believe you got that from the USA Today story which was published on 14th August 2001 by Gregg Zoroya. The river is the Mevelo River which has its' source as the rainforests on the south side of the Bainings Mountains. It is quite a long river. I have not been to the Mevelo twelve times, it is actually 11 times and it costs a small fortune to get there.

The reason we did not use a helicopter this last time was caused by two problems, initially and a third developed after. The first problem was that even after accepting the charter, five weeks in advance, Niugini Helicopters let the pilot go on tour leave without his replacement arriving. Now, you would be familiar with the "back to back" rule which operates all over Papua New Guinea in Mining Camps, in Aviation Companies etc, etc; but yet, the rule seemingly does not apply to Niugini Helicopters and we were basically abandoned as customers by their devil may care attitude and I believe they need striking off the PNG Tourism "good books" as punishment. I will NEVER use them again. On top of that, one of their staff stole our portable generator out of their "secure" shed which had been left behind after 2006 with their permission. "Yes, it will be completely safe here", their Base Manager said.

For the second problem, after doing the logistics, paying them in advance and paying for airfares and booking leave for the team, organising fill-ins for peoples duties here in Oz, etc, etc, they did the dirty on us and even when I rescheduled the whole thing they then had prior work in Kimbe, so they said. When we eventually got to Kokopo, their helicopter and pilot was there and the helicopter was in the shed when we left. Work that one out. As I say, they need striking off the PNG Tourism books.

The third problem with them was that it took three weeks to get my money back from their office in Kimbe and when I did get it back I was AUD400 short. They are a thoroughly disreputable company, in my opinion. I have known the Managing Director, Dick Grouse for 21 years (from Pacific Helicopters in Goroka) and I have used them three times in the past after Islands Helicopters quit the scene and yet they shat on us as paying customers. Grouse has not communicated with me at all despite me sending mail to his private email address.

Yes, we travelled by boat, from Kokopo to Wide Bay and return.

Camping in the jungle can be considered fun, believe me. We always have a good time. There are no phones, no TV and the river water is crystal clear. We have only ever seen three snakes, two of them not known to the local people so they are probably new species. There are other new species in there also. There is a rusty coloured frog with a long nose and little black claws at the end of its' digits. I puzzled over this for some time but the only food that I could see for the frog were fresh water crab eggs buried in the sand where the frog lived. There were thousands of tiny crabs in the area. The frog lives in an extinct volcano in a black marble tunnel which winds its' way down from the caldera to the river below, the tunnel ending in a waterfall about 100 feet high. There is also a flying mammal akin to a Sugar Glider but the one in ENB has no tail.

Yes, we have been to places where no one has been before. The local people in the area never did enter the rainforest until after 1951. If you have read "Hostages to Freedom, the Fall of Rabaul", by Peter Stone, you will know why.

Indeed, the scenery has changed in the fourteen years that I have been going into that area. This is mainly because the loggers have been in there and ruined the place. They have stripped the ridges and left an awful mess. It is criminal what they have done. In the fourteen years the topography of the place has changed, new creeks, new valleys and landslips are the result. This has quite possibly resulted in the Electra being buried.

There was no boat ride to Port Moresby, our chariot was an Air Niugini F100 P2-ANC, and it took one hour and twenty-five minutes, where you got the boat ride to Port Moresby from I have no idea.... possibly off the back of a cornflake packet ?

When I first went there in 1994, the Aid Post had nothing on the shelves at all, not one single band-aid, no antibiotics, no wound dressings. There was a small fridge but no electricity and all that was in the fridge was the man's kai (away from the ants) and one tube of sunburn cream....... I left him my bag of medical stuff and it was the first he had seen in years.

This last time, the last afternoon and into the evening I and my daughter spent dressing the sores on the legs of the kids caused by them scratching sand-fly bites. Their legs were in a terrible state with open sores supporating and infected. I lost count of the kids we patched up. There was a baby of about four or five months with a burn on the middle of the back. The last patient at around 7:00pm was a little girl with an infected cut on the bottom of her left foot. The cut was full of dirt which had to be washed out before being bandaged. I treated her and a few other kids by torchlight.

A few words of advice for you..... Just because you belong to the Media do not expect people to jump up at your beck and call and respond to you immediately and don't expect them to outlay all their knowledge to you just because you write for a newspaper. I am a very reasonable person, I have great interest in Papua New Guinea and I would like to improve Papua New Guinea by what I do. I have already spent twelve years in the country both at Goroka (Pacific Helicopter bilong Kela) and at PX in “Mosbi". Migat planti pren bilong mi istap long Mosbi. You would know what a find of this magnitude would mean for PNG, it would bring notoriety for PNG, for East New Britain and it would bring Tourism to an area of the world devastated by Matupit and Vulcan. Matupit was still blowing out huge clouds of ash while we were at Kokopo. My objective is just that, plus I would like to improve the lot of the people in the coastal area who have nothing. There is no Government assistance down there except for a DPI post at Milim and an Aid Post but miles away.

So there you have it. Please correct the mistakes that you have made in your writings. If you live in Mosbi, maybe we can meet and discuss the project at leisure as I will possibly be up there again "shottly".

For the Project to succeed now, we have to concentrate on obtaining funding for a Magnetometer Survey. That is a big call and the funds required increase year by year but I do now believe after what we have seen this last time that the Magnetometer is the way forward.

A favour to ask of you: Who was the "American" contact who said "Bull”?


David Billings.

The search for Amelia Earhart continues 71 years on

David Billings crossing a river in East New Britain in his undaunted search for the plane.Picture by
Chris Billings, Claire Bowers and David Billings in the jungles of East New Britain.Picture by
The Electra is in there somewhere, according to David Billings.Picture by
This is the search area in the jungles of East New Britain.Picture by

Four hundred miles northeast of Port Moresby, in the wilds of East New Britain island, is an American aircraft.

It lies on the jungle floor covered with overgrowth and it fell here many decades ago.Discovered during WWII by an Australian Army patrol, the plane is well hidden from the air and may be near-impossible to see from the ground.

It is an enigma — and reportedly the plane of Amelia Earhart.

Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared over the central Pacific on July 2, 1937, flying east along the Huon Gulf coast on their way to Howland Island, 4600 kilometres (2858 miles) to the north.

This year marked the 71st anniversary of one of the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of all time.

It intimately involves Papua New Guinea as Lae was her last port of call before she disappeared somewhere over the vast Pacific for the longest stretch of her around-the-world flight.The mystery and a long fruitless search -costing many millions of US dollars - had begun.

Yet that area on Howland Island is well over 2,000 miles from here.

So how could this plane on East New Britain be Earhart’s?

Australian David Billings, an aircraft engineer employed by Air Niugini, may have the answer, however, he refused to comment when contacted by me yesterday (Tuesday, August 19, 2008), except to say, “Malum,your ‘good sources’ are actually ‘bad sources’.

“No comment.”

After a dozen trips to the jungles of East New Britain over several years since 1994, it appears he has yet to locate what he believes to be Amelia Earhart's downed Lockheed Electra L-10 aircraft.

Billings has been dedicated in his resolve to locate the missing plane.
An American source, however, rebutted Billings: “Malum, that’s a lot of bull.

“What I hear is he (Billings) doesn’t want the news out that he couldn't find it - 12th time - and is afraid someone else will go find it.”

In April 1945, the 20-member patrol of the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion ‘D-Company’ is evading the Japanese while in the dense jungles of East New Britain.

Suddenly they come upon a wrecked aircraft — a two engine, twin tailed plane much like Earhart’s.
An old repair tag is pulled off one of the engines and the men moved on — fearful of falling into the hands of the Japanese.

The information on the tag is scribbled down on the edge of their map and then forgotten.

Forty-five years later at a veterans reunion, Don Angwin of that same Australian Patrol, talks about the aircraft that he and his patrol members found in the jungle.

He starts a search for the plane in 1993, and is joined the following year by David Billings of Air Nugini in Port Moresby.

Angwin died in 2001 but Billings continues the search, now living in Queensland, Australia.

The Marvello River Valley is steep and travelling is difficult — and only possible by foot.

Billings, now 68, has been to that valley nearly a dozen times.

Now he and the other members of the search team again had planned to be there this past July.

Yet, delays came and they didn’t get a helicopter as they had hoped.

Not willing to give up, Billing’s search team rescheduled for August.

Traveling by boat, Billing’s team arrived on East New Britain just two weeks ago.

Camping out in the jungle cannot be considered ‘fun’ as the myriads of snakes, volume of insects, and variety of animal life would fill a book on zoology.

With perhaps a few hundred metres of their starting point, Billing’s intrepid team began their assault.

There’s no Japanese military chasing them as there was for the patrol 60 plus years ago, yet the uphill trek does take its toll.

The Army patrol only found the aircraft because they were so far off-trail, trying to avoid capture or confrontation.

Up into the valley the search team climbs, but not without the resistance of the jungle growth.

Much of the scenery may have changed during the last half-century.

Several days in, means several out.

Even if located, the plane cannot easily be removed — if at all.

Few people — if any — have gone so far into this jungle, and for a week there’s been no sign, no call, and no message from Billing’s team.

It is as if the jungle has swallowed them up.

Then the lead member on the trek breaks through the foliage — Billings has returned.

The ride to Port Moresby from East New Britain must have been despairingly slow, but there is no report to the news media, and Billings has left Papua New Guinea for home in Australia.

It seems that twelve times in that jungle is not enough — there is no report of the plane.

The Hunt for Amelia Earhart

Book cover showing a biplane fighter taking off from the USS Lexington to join the search for Amelia Earhart

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email recently from Douglas Westfall, a book publisher in Southern California, USA, regarding a new book about the hunt for famed American aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Apparently, Westfall caught my January 2007 piece on the Earhart saga in The National, and saved it until he got in touch with me and sent me an electronic version of the new book (e-book).

The year 2007 also marks the 70th anniversary of one of the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of all time.

The mystery – that of the disappearance of Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan – intimately involves Papua New Guinea as Lae was her last port of call before she disappeared somewhere over the vast Pacific Ocean.

Amelia Earhart, darling of American aviation, went missing in July 1937, after leaving Lae for the longest stretch of her around-the-world flight.

The mystery and a long fruitless search – costing many millions of US dollars - had begun.

Today, 70 years after her final takeoff from Lae, the mystery is still to be solved.

Old Lae residents used to recall entertaining the couple in the Hotel Cecil the night before their departure, and then seeing them off the next morning.

Their Lockheed Electra was so overloaded with its eight tonnes of fuel that it was still barely clearing the waves as it disappeared from sight, flying east along the Huon Gulf coast on its way to Howland Island, 4600km to the north.

Today, a plaque to her memory stands at the Amelia Earhart Park, opposite the famous old Lae airport.

Up the hill from the park, at the Melanesian Hotel, the bar is named Amelia’s after this great woman.

The just-released new book co-authored by Westfall and the late Richard K Mater, The Hunt for Amelia Earhart, tells the story of the 16 days following Earhart’s disappearance.

The US Coast Guard with the US Navy and nine ships, 66 aircraft, and some 3,000 men searched over a quarter of a million miles for the Electra and survivors.

The book contains seven first person accounts.

It has a man from most of the ships including a Navy man on the deck of the USS Lexington aircraft carrier (still alive) and an airman (also still alive) from the USS Colorado.

They all give such great detail within their account of the search.

The book has 260 illustrations including 160 photographs over - 100 unpublished - plus the diary of Associated Press reporter onboard ship James Carey.

The book has four hooks.

1) It's a first person account piece, with unpublished diaries, interviews, and memoirs.

There are seven first person accounts in the book, from the young men who were on the Earhart Search, three of whom are alive and the rest have family who can be contacted for interview purposes.

One of these young men was James Carey.

He was a student at the University of Hawaii, who was working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and was a representative for the Associated Press.

His complete diary, photographs, and letters are included within the book including: a letter to Carey from AP’s Clark Lee, and a letter to Fred Noonan from AP’s Russell Brines.

Other than some web access, none of these materials have been published before.

2) It's a hero piece, what the boys did for Amelia.

“And I have seven of the boys; it's a real flag waver,” Westfall boasts.

Nine ships, 66 aircraft, and 3,000 US Navy and US Coast Guard men searched 260,000 square miles of open sea plus 24 islands within a 600 mile range of Earhart's target: Howland Island.

The book contains the accounts of sailors and flyers who in their early 20s were risking their lives on the Earhart Search.

“Two of these boys are still alive and can be contacted,” Westfall says.

3) It's a new theory piece, different than the two primary theories.

The splash-and-sank theory of Nauticos who have spent some US$3 million on three ventures to search for Earhart's plane at the bottom of the Pacific at 18,000 feet.

The book has the Lockheed man who built the aircraft, who is still alive, and can be contacted in Southern California.

The crash-landing theory of TIGHAR who have spent somewhat less on five trips to search for Earhart on Nikumaroro (Gardner) Island.

The book has the Navy flyer who flew over Gardner on the Earhart Search, who is still alive, and can be contacted in Utah.

4) It's a history piece, the story never told, with unpublished photos, charts, and maps.

A surprise ending where the Japanese officially tell Washington DC that they are out looking for Earhart, but never report back.

Two days after they would have picked her out of the sea, they attacked Beijing, China, on July 7, 1937, the start of the Pacific War.

Four-and-a-half years later on December 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, they bombed Howland Island - some 1900 miles southwest of Hawaii.

There were only a few shacks, four boys, and a three-tube radio on the essentially deserted island at the time.

The Japanese had investigated the island, six months before Earhart was to arrive.

The Hunt for Amelia Earhart. By Douglas Westfall and Richard K Mater. The Paragon Agency Publishers, 2007. 262 pages. ISBN 1-891030-24-8. Email: . Website:

Amelia Earhart and Papua New Guinea

Date with destiny...Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra in Lae before her flight into oblivion
Amelia Earhart...put Lae on the world map with her disappearance

Last year 2007 marked the 70th anniversary of one of the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of all time. ]
The mystery – that of American aviatrix Amelia Earhart – intimately involves Papua New Guinea as Lae was her last port of call before she disappeared somewhere over the vast Pacific Ocean.
Amelia Earhart, darling of American aviation, went missing in July 1937, after leaving Lae for the longest stretch of her around-the-world flight.
The mystery and a long fruitless search –costing many millions of US dollars - had begun. Today, 70 years after her final takeoff – from Lae in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province – the mystery is still to be solved.
World attention was focused on Lae in 1937, and continues to this day, when it was the last port of called for Earhart before she disappeared.
Old Lae residents used to recall entertaining the couple in the Hotel Cecil the night before their departure, and then seeing them off the next morning.
Their plane was so overloaded with its eight tonnes of fuel that it was still barely clearing the waves as it disappeared from sight, flying east along the Huon Gulf coast on its way to Howland Island, 4600 kilometres to the north.
On such occasions Lae-ites, regardless of class or social position, felt they were part of history.
Today, a plaque to her memory stands at the Amelia Earhart Park, opposite the famous old Lae airport.
Up the hill from the park, at the Melanesian Hotel, the bar is named Amelia’s after this great woman.
For the last 69 years, hundreds of rumours and theories – some practical but most the products of over fertile imaginations – have kept the memories of Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, alive for millions of Americans.
One of the popular crank theories is that Earhart and Noonan were on a spy flight for the US government and were captured by the Japanese and executed, something that has been vehemently disclaimed by the Japanese to this day.
Some have searched the sea, believing the plane ran out of fuel.
Others think she survived a crash landing but died on a deserted island.
The conspiracy-minded claim Earhart survived and lived out her life under an assumed name as a New Jersey housewife.
There are even bizarre, out-of-this-world urban legends that she was captured by aliens on a UFO.
To US aviation buffs, she is still ‘Amelia’ and they talk about her as though she only went missing yesterday.
The 39-year-old pilot took off from Oakland, California, on June 1, 1937, on what was reported to be her last record flight.
Slim, almost boyish, reminding one of Katherine Hepburn, Amelia Earhart had been setting records for 10 years.
In 1932, she had set a solo record for her Atlantic crossing and earned the nickname of ‘Lady Lindy’, because her slim build and facial features resembled that of Charles Lindbergh.
A year later, she married New York publishing magnate, George Palmer Putnam.
A university graduate, Earhart spoke five languages.
When not flying, she spent most of her time on welfare work in the Boston slums.
Never satisfied with her records, she was always planning something greater.
This was to be IT – the ultimate in long distance flying! She wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world!
Navigator Fred Noonan, senior navigator of Pan American World Airlines, was considered as good as any in the United States.
He had already crossed the Pacific 18 times, directing the flight of the company’s famed China Clipper.
Their aircraft, a twin-engined Lockheed Electra, fast and sophisticated for its day, was well suited to the task.
They had reached Darwin, Northern Australia, 40 days after leaving Oakland.
Possibly to save weight for the long over-water legs to come, they had then unloaded their parachutes.
From Darwin, it was a short trip over to Lae.
New Guinea was the departing point for the most grueling leg of the flight – near 4600 kilometres over water to Howland Island, the longest ocean crossing ever attempted. Their destination was a speck of sand and coral in the mid-Pacific 2.5 kilometres long and just under a kilometer wide.
The Lockheed was to be the first aircraft to land on its newly-constructed airstrip. “Even with a first class navigator on board, it would be an incredible feat to find the island by celestial navigation and dead reckoning alone,” wrote Australian aviator and Earhart researcher Terry Gwynn-Jones in 1977.
“With an error of only one degree in reading, they would miss the island by 72 kilometres.
“Thus it was that the US government stationed the fleet tug Ontario half way along the route and the Coast Guard cutter Itasca at Howland.
“Besides voice communication radios, the Itasca had a radio direction finder and a radio beacon that could be picked up by the aircraft’s Bendix radio compass.
“Once the Lockheed got to within a few hundred kilometers of the island, the Itasca could guide them in.
“Or so it seemed!”
Earhart maintained radio contact with New Guinea, and then later the Itasca and Ontario, until this was lost.
Her last words were: “We are in a line of position 157-337. Will repeat this message on 6210. We are running north and south. We have only a half hour’s fuel and cannot see land.”
The message blasted through loud and clear over the radio of the United States Coast Guard ship Itasca.
The woman’s voice betrayed anxiety.
Quickly, the operator switched to the 6210 kilocycle band and waited for her call.
It never came.
Her silence was shrouded by the crackling of static interference out over the vast Pacific Ocean.
Amelia Earhart, darling of American aviation, was missing