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Amelia Earhart - Decoy for a Spy Plane?

Astonishing Legends

Scott Philbrook

History, Society & Culture

4.6 • 9.6K Ratings

🗓️ 25 November 2023

⏱️ 152 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


On July 3, 1975, the Ministry of Justice in Japan responded to an inquiry by Amelia Earhart researcher and investigator Major Joe Gervais. Gervais had sent a letter to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization in Tokyo, operating on the hunch that Earhart had been taken prisoner and held on Saipan during WWII but under an assumed identity. The Ministry of Justice responded, saying the woman in their custody was known to them as Irene Craigmile. This was not a name mentioned by Gervais to the Japanese authorities. So, who is Irene Craigmile? Craigmile and Earhart were acquaintances and pilots who looked similar, but photos show they are two separate people. This begs the question for the “Japanese Capture” theory of Earhart’s disappearance: who then went down with the plane that was apparently ditched near Buka Island in Papua New Guinea? Were these two women connected via some secret mission, and is the plane at Buka a version of Earhart’s Electra 10-E? These questions and evidence are just a few of the puzzle pieces of the enduring mystery of Earhart’s fateful last flight, meticulously stitched together by William “Bill” Pennington Snavely, Jr. in his latest book, Lost in Flight: Amelia Earhart, Giving Cover as a Decoy for a Spy Plane. In 2018, Bill was a guest on our show, where he outlined his research leading to a startling theory of Earhart’s plane possibly having crashed near the coast of Matsungan Island near Buka, eventually sinking to a depth of 109 feet. Two main aspects of Bill’s investigation that remain novel are that, unlike the other researchers, he calculated his flight tracking starting from the last known location and then traced backward and that his team is the only one with an aircraft to investigate whose characteristics match the Electra. Bill’s multiple expeditions to Buka have yielded intriguing evidence supporting his claim, evidence which has previously been kept under wraps due to nondisclosure agreements. However, as his research in the intervening years continued, a new hybrid theory emerged from his discoveries that may solve the disconnect between “Japanese Capture” and the wreckage at Buka. Could it be that a failed reconnaissance mission led to one of the greatest coverups in US history? Bill Snavely is now free to disclose the shocking findings he revealed in his book. Also joining us is longtime friend and fellow podcaster Chris Williamson, whose podcast Chasing Earhart and its companion book, Rabbit Hole: The Vanishing of Amelia Earhart & Fred Noonan, is the definitive interview collection. Prepare to suit up as we dive for the truth behind one of the world’s most famous and significant aviation enigmas.

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In November of 2014,


Astonishing Legends was barely a month old


when we decided to cover the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a pioneering woman aviator who, along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished in an attempt to fly around the world in 1937.


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