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The Adventure of the Disappeared Aviatrix

by Edmund Holmes

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"Amelia Earhart was shot down over the Gilbert Islands," said Mary Russell-Holmes, putting down the newspaper she was reading in Holmes' old armchair.

"How did you figure that out?" asked her cajoling companion, June Wilson,sitting in a chair by the book shelf.

"By at least two inferences, to begin with."

"I heard that the Pentagon may release related documents, now that her flight has been reenacted as it was flown sixty years ago. What articles are you in debt to which let you vet the news to get your latest explanation bet, Mary Russell-Holmes?"

"Here," she answered, "get acquainted with the news which I shall let you read," passing her the newspaper from the table and adjusting her blonde plait while her young aeronautical engineering friend read the articles.

June Wilson read, "The author of ‘Search for Amelia Earhart' says the circumnavigating aviatrix wrote to her mother before her flight, saying that she ‘was on a secret government mission.'"

"And what would that be, other than to report back on any suspected Japanese build-up which she would be flying over in the South Pacific?" queried Mary Russell.

"Was there any evidence of that?" her friend asked."They did take over islands there, didn't they?"

"Yes, and here is another recent item of disclosure," Ms. Russell answered, handing over a small cutout newspaper clipping.

Ms. Wilson read this second item, "There was a secret radio transmission with Japan from a spy on Oahu. At the behest of Goebbels, a German couple had a short-wave radio hidden in their beauty shop in Honolulu and transmitted military secrets and any of the spy's own naval and airforce observations to Japan without awareness of American intelligence."

"Now, the Axis powers wouldn't want her to get back with observations of Japanese military infrastructure in the South Pacific, would they?" asked Ms. Russell

"No, and they would have to keep her from discovery and disclosure to the Americans. That would spoil an unsuspected surprise attack, wouldn't it?" asked Ms. Wilson slyly, squinting at the Pacific Ocean islands on a world globe on the book case.

"You think she'd have to be kept from radioing Japanese military secrets from her airplane?" asked the late detective's spousal protege.

"Yes, so how far did she get across the Pacific?" Ms. Wilson wondered,studying the globe, taking off her leather flight jacket and tossing it on the chair with the news articles.

"Her last stop for fuel was at Lae airport in New Guinea," aided Ms. Russell. "On what was supposed to be the first circumnavigation flight."

"Then she would be flying over shipping routes to Rabaul, Bougainville and Guadalcanal." recalled the aeronautical student. "This reminds me of another aviator flying his Corsair fighter down the slot of the Solomon Islands! Ba Ba Black Sheep Pappy Boyington with his squadron, just a five years after Amelia Earhart disappeared."

"She flew over those islands, all right, June. She took off on New Guinea for Howland Island, her next landfall for fuel," stated Ms. Russell.

"Howland Island is just a few degrees from the equator and the international date line, for refueling for the penultimate leg of her flight, to Hawaii and then on to Oakland, where she took off for the first round the world flight!" June raised her voice to exclaim, spinning the globe, rising and twirling herself in a pirouette.

"With barely enough fuel to fly two thousand, six hundred miles in her two engine silver Electra airplane," prompted Mary pedagogically.

"She would have flown near Makin and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, where American Marines invaded, charging onto the beaches to attack and take those atolls," recalled the young student aviatrix.

"The reinforced pill boxes and artillery bunkers there indicate that they were there some years before. When she took off in 1939 the Japanese Zero was in full production, prepared to protect those garrisoned Gilbert Islands," reasoned Ms. Russell.

"If she were to see what they had built up, they would have had to bring her down..." posited the sensitive June Wilson.

"Some say she was forced down on Saipan for interrogation. An old Islander says he remembers seeing her Electra aircraft."

"But Saipan is sixteen hundred miles north of her eastern flight plan," noticed Ms. Wilson, studying the globe. "So she couldn't fly that far with just enough fuel for Howland Island, could she?"

"There were no airstrips from New Guinea to Howland Island for landing and refueling. No, it's too far for her plane's fuel capacity for further flight to Saipan."

"So where do you think she went down?" wondered the student.

"She may have had to made a forced landing or was forced or shot down over Nukunau Island, which is right on her east-by-north-east flight plan. Some presumed artifacts have been found there, a piece of aluminum wing and the sole of a shoe like hers."

"You think Amelia Earhart ran out of fuel and crashed and burned there?"

"Unless she was deliberately shot down out of the blue sky by zero fighters to keep her from reporting on the Japanese navy and airforce build-up in the Gilbert Islands."

"I'll bet that's what you think your Mr. Sherlock Holmes might've deduced?"

"Well, that's elementary, my dear Wilson, with the evidence of facts around the disappearance of the aviatrix, isn't it?" smiled Mary Russell.

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Edmund Holmes of the London of the West, has taught English Literature and Film-making, travel driving throughout GB and the US South, entraining often through Europe. His interest in art history and archaeology has inspired master painting subject representation and historical topic photo-collages. Holmes' recent writing has been of sonnets and Sherlockian pastiches. You can email Edmund Holmes with your comments or questions. This work is copyrighted © 1999 by Edmund Holmes. My deep thanks to Edmund for allowing me to publish this work on Yoxley Old Place.

Note: This web version first appeared on 'Yoxley Old Place'

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