TIGHAR (still) not producing anything

Read the forum code of contact

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

Things are quiet at TIGHAR, the forum is all but dead, which makes one wonder - where are all of the promised reports/research projects/etc.?

Some two and a half years ago Gillespie said, in a gesture towards the scientific method, that an independent group was going to review TIGHAR's voluminous "findings" on the alleged post-loss radio messages from Earhart to see if he got it right. We're still waiting to see what Northwest Research Associates of California had to say after completing its pro bono review. Thirty-two months seems like an inordinately long time to run some numbers and see if they add up. Makes you wonder.

TIGHAR is also presumably well into its review and ultra-special analysis of film shot at Lae, New Guinea, the morning of Earhart's final take-off. This analysis is also pro-bono, by photogammetrist Jeff Glickman (who also happens to be a TIGHAR board member). This effort has been ongoing for years in various versions, including an ultra high resolution photo of the Electra, also shot in Lae. Makes you wonder.

Then there is the promised forensic examination of "Betty's Notebook," which TIGHAR believes is fragments of Earhart's post-loss radio messages, heard by a young girl in Florida while listening to their cabinet radio. That effort was announced years ago. Still nothing. Makes you wonder.

These are just a few of the many examples of Gillespie saying something is going to happen, but somehow, it never does. Kind of makes you wonder what $2.41 million in salary since 2001 has gone for.

 

 

Original post
Profile picture for user cometguymk1

Member for

12 years 8 months

Posts: 450

Hopefully people have wised up that for a recovery group they have very little recovered to show where the funds have gone. 

 

Profile picture for user K5054NZ

Member for

13 years 7 months

Posts: 1,204

I like to edit Wikipedia, particularly heritage aviation pages, with updated/correct information. One time I updated TIGHAR's page to list the various projects and noting that as of that date nothing had been recovered or, in the case of the P-38, nothing had moved. I may have even pointed out "As of *the date* TIGHAR has yet to recover any historic aircraft".

Not long afterward I was banned from editing any Wikipedia entries for a period of time...

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

K5054NZ said: " ... Not long afterward I was banned from editing any Wikipedia entries for a period of time... "

I'm not surprised by that. Funny things can happen to those who critique TIGHAR openly and extensively, the WIX incident comes to mind, as does my own treatment in TIGHAR's forums there at the end.

Gillespie in the past had applied an extremely heavy hand to anything critical in TIGHAR's forums, on its Facebook page or in his blog. The forums are of course now members only, and he seems to have eased up a little on the Facebook page. Maybe the IRS audit in 2018 had something to do with that, who knows? He's never publicly discussed it.

Profile picture for user mark_pilkington

Member for

17 years 7 months

Posts: 1,786

Hello Monty, I hope you are well,

Tighar is probably very busy getting ready to announce the discovery of the wreck of Glenn Miller's Norseman in the English Channel.

They will be planning all of the media releases, interviews and TV coverage, but are just delayed by the minor aspect of not finding it yet, and thats due to not enough "donors" drinking the kool-aid.

Regards

Mark P

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

Mark - PM sent (I THINK that feature works in here ...) Pretty much everything at TIGHAR has "gone dark," with the global pandemic a ready excuse for "staying safe" and all that stuff. There have been NO developments on:

  • The Glenn Miller Project, nothing at all since September 2019. Gillespie's not actively raising money for it;
  • Finding Amelia, The True Story of the Earhart Electra book. Gillespie at one point said he'd have it finished by Christmas 2020, then changed it to Christmas 2021, if he could raise the $50,000 or so he said he needed to finish writing it. Other than that, the Literary Guild II donors are left holding empty promises;
  • The Earhart Project, nothing substantive, just random speculations about various bits of stuff on the forums, and the occasional brutal smackdown of any outsider who dares to question the party line. Gillespie has declined to follow up in any substantive way with solid information that 2-2-V-1, the sheet of aircraft aluminum found on the island, is from a wartime C-47 crash on another island. As noted above, the world is still breathlessly waiting "final reports" on a number of things TIGHAR has raised money to pursue, or has farmed out for pro-bono work.
  • Project Midnight Ghost, where Gillespie postulates that Nungesser and Coli crashed in Newfoundland while trying to be the first across the Atlantic, likewise appears dead. No forum postings since 2017, although Gillespie said a year or so ago that substantial activity was looming and to "stay tuned."

Not bad for the $8.66 million he's spent since 2000, eh?

Profile picture for user avion ancien

Member for

14 years 5 months

Posts: 5,693

As Gershwin said, it's 'Nice work if you can get it'! 😉

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

In its latest attempt to get some attention, Gillespie has announced that TIGHAR will start a series of podcasts in April about all of their "expeditions" to Nikumaroro Island to "solve" the Amelia Earhart mystery. These will apparently be free, at least at first, which is unusual for TIGHAR.

Nothing said about whether independent fact-checking will be allowed ...

Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

17 years 2 months

Posts: 9,703

To add to the list of sites where criticism is frowned upon...

The "Aviation Mysteries" site...which started out Tighar-skeptic, and later became pretty tame.

The owner/moderator would PM and then call me on the phone to ask that I modify my posts...which were tamer than those posted by MFowler here..in other words not enough to get anyone in legal trouble..

Did they ever file the various IRS (tax) reports required for non profits? Last I heard, some were very late.

And since RG is still (presumably) getting his annual salery, exactly why does he need $50,000 to write a book? 

If it's self published, the purchasers will pay the cost of actual printing...the money does not need to be paid up front. It's called print on demand, Amazon does it all the time.:)

Would the objective accreditation group REALLY accept the word of a photo interpreter who is on the organization's board? 

The (former) professional journalist in me calls that a conflict of interest. 

Or am I being too "old school"? :)

Has any objective source weighed in on the possibility of whether Betty's alleged reception was technically possible on her home radio.

in the same vein, some people say they received radio broadcasts on their teeth fillings (an episode of the old Gilligan's Island series in the'60s, and very oddly, Lucille Ball made the same claim on a chat show)...but that doesn't mean I believe them. What do objective radio experts say?

Alsi, IIRC, and correct me if I'm wrong, the group would not even allow people to examine the notebook...citing Barry's privacy. Note....The right of privacy does not extend past the grave, and Betty was deceased.

At what point will even the most fervent Kool Aid drinkers, question the string of broken (or at least severely delayed) promises?

Listen, I was originally excited by the premier of the group and even considered donating a fair amount of money. But I became disillusioned with their intransigence on their pet theory...and the group defending into questionable methodology...to say nothing of their photo expert authenticating the famed Bigfoot film.

Come on people....I want answers about AE, but throw me a bone and give me some reason to believe the group is legit.

 

 

 

 

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

J Boyle said, "Did they ever file the various IRS (tax) reports required for non profits? Last I heard, some were very late."

They did finally file the 2018 form ... in November 2019. I had to do a bit of prying to get the 2017 form, but one of their lawyers coughed that up.

Nowhere, though, has Gillespie ever said a word publicly about the IRS audit TIGHAR underwent in 2018, and whether that had a bearing on the dramatic changes in some sections of their tax forms.

PS - Aviation Mysteries is serving up a "closed for maintenance, check back tomorrow" message. Not sure what, if anything, that means.

Profile picture for user cometguymk1

Member for

12 years 8 months

Posts: 450

On an odd note, the show Mythbusters tried the tooth picking up radio waves story (though I cant remember what the result was it was likely busted)   

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

As I said above, "In its latest attempt to get some attention, Gillespie has announced that TIGHAR will start a series of podcasts in April about all of their "expeditions" to Nikumaroro Island to "solve" the Amelia Earhart mystery. These will apparently be free, at least at first, which is unusual for TIGHAR."

The e-mail notice from TIGHAR about these stressed, right off, "PODCASTS ARE FREE." So props to Gillespie for not trying to corrupt that business model right out of the gate.

However, "Listeners who enjoy our podcasts can show their support on Patreon where you can make a small monthly contribution and get access to bonus material such as special episodes and videos." He just couldn't resist putting his hand out ...

More than 340 people have listened to the first few episodes. Playing What If, if each one of those individuals made the minimum $3 a month donation for a full year, that's more than $12,000 straight into Gillespie's pocket for a few hours of work. Not a bad side hustle. With horse feed going for $20 or so a bag at the nearest Tractor Supply store, he'll be set!

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

An update: Northwest Research Associates of California apparently wants nothing to do with re-analyzing the alleged Earhart post-loss radio messages. Which is not especially surprising.

What is surprising is that Gillespie has said Nothing about this development to TIGHAR's members. If disinterested third parties can find this out, why doesn't Gillespie say anything about it? Makes you wonder.

Profile picture for user PanzerJohn

Member for

13 years 5 months

Posts: 765

TIGHAR, the gift that keeps taking. As RG's reputation is now pretty well trashed in the aviation world he will be finding it harder to find "partners" to work with him.

Profile picture for user J Boyle

Member for

17 years 2 months

Posts: 9,703

Mr. Staff's comments are worth reading.

Particularly his note that the wood and fabric structure of the C-64 is now long gone, and likely would have been gone by the time of the fisherman's alleged find.I

I have been making that same blindingly obvious point for years here and in Aviation Mysteries forum .Nor of the aircraft experts on at either forum have disputed that.

If RG is the aviation expert he claims to be, he must surely KNOW THAT. Yet, his PR claims makes it sound that there is an intact aircraft waiting to be plucked off the channel floor.

Shame on him for not being clear on that subject.

Profile picture for user dhfan

Member for

22 years

Posts: 2,744

From what I've read here, I'm fairly confident he has no idea what the word 'shame' means, if indeed he's ever even heard of it.

I assume the number of mugs who sign up to fund his inflated income are diminishing?

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

dhfan said, "I assume the number of mugs who sign up to fund his inflated income are diminishing?"

The short answer is Yes, but as with all things TIGHAR, it's complicated. Gillespie never talks about actual, we-have-their-payment-in-hand membership numbers. The only data we have is what comes from the IRS tax forms, and remember, it's a federal crime to give false information on one. Here are TIGHAR's membership numbers from the last five years, from the "total number of volunteers" line on the form, which you are allowed to "estimate if necessary":

  • 2014 - 1,000
  • 2015 - 1,000
  • 2016 - 1,000
  • 2017 - 0 (no, that's not a typo)
  • 2018 - 200

It's worth noting that TIGHAR was audited by the IRS in 2018 after a complaint was filed against it. Gillespie has never said anything publicly about the audit, but the precipitous drop in "volunteer" numbers makes one wonder.

If all 1,000 "volunteers" in 2016 chose the lowest membership level of $25, that's still $25,000 in Gillespie's pocket. And it's quite a drop to the minimum of $5,000 he would have collected in 2018.

Member for

4 years

Posts: 226

There have been a few faint glimmers of life at TIGHAR recently. Nothing at all about the long-promised Earhart Electra book, of course; the new and exciting podcast venture of earlier this year seems to have died out (maybe not enough people were buying Patreaon memberships?), there hasn't been a Facebook post since June. and you can almost but not quite count the forum postings recently on one hand.

That said, there have been "project updates" that include hints that more donation requests will be forthcoming shortly - TIGHAR is back in Newfoundland to have another crack at finding Nungesser and Coli's aircraft (after a 25-year hiatus); and yet ANOTHER set of photos has been "discovered" that Gillespie wants analyzed to see if a bit of aluminum he found on Nikumaroro Island more than 30 years ago came from Earhart's aircraft.

The last "update" was a plea for year-end donations under new IRS charitable giving rules. From a group that spent almost $180,000 according to its most recent tax return; 49 percent of that was for salaries.