‘I saw Amelia Earhart’

Josephine Blanco, center, hugs her nephew, Harry Blanco, as John Blanco, also a relative, looks on. 
(Erwin Encinares)

Two persons reportedly saw on two separate occasions the lost aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart on Saipan, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Josephine Blanco, a 93-year old who reportedly saw Earhart in the Tanapag Harbor in 1937, noted that at the time, she didn’t know it was Earhart. She was 12 years old at the time.

“I cannot say she is pretty because I saw her from a distance,” Blanco said yesterday at a welcoming dinner at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan.

“I didn’t even go inside [the harbor area],” she said, adding that it was a commotion in the area that caught her attention. She said she was halfway toward the harbor, and that was where she caught a glimpse of a woman’s figure.

“I didn’t go there to look for somebody or meet somebody. I just happened to be there,” she said, adding that she found out it was Earhart only after World War II.

WWII started in 1939.

“I didn’t tell anybody, I didn’t know about her,” Blanco said. “Only my family knew—my sister worked [in the area], and she knew too.”

Blanco mentioned other family members who knew of Earhart, but noted that they have all passed away.

Eighty-five-year-old Joaquin T. Salas was 11 when he believed he saw Earhart in 1944.

Salas noted that he is unsure if the woman he saw then was Earhart, but was sure that he saw her on a Japanese military truck with three others.

“There were two men and one lady, a blonde. They put one ribbon on her face, and her hands were tied,” he said. The truck parked in front of their house, which was across the post office in Chalan Kanoa today.

Salas said he watched them stay in front of their residence for about an hour.

“After that, they took off. I don’t know where they went,” he said.

Salas was able to reproduce through a drawing what he remembers were the positions of the military truck.

Salas believes the Japanese captured Earhart, and that they parked in front of their house at that time.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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