The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 1, January 2, 2022, Article 30


Does an old aviation mystery have a connection to gold-backed banknotes? A group of Virginia adventurers thinks so. -Editor

  The Hawaii Clipper

During his research, he came across a non-fiction book by author Charles Hill titled, Fix on the Rising Sun: The Clipper Hi-Jacking of 1938.

I thought it was an amazing story that I had never heard before, Noffsinger said. I started going down a rabbit hole.

Almost immediately, Noffsinger changed the focus of his thesis to explore what turned out to be a mystery stretching back to before World War II — the loss of the Pan Am Hawaii Clipper over the Pacific Ocean, with 15 souls on board.

Here is the basic story of the Lost Clipper and as well as the theory posited by Noffsinger, Hill and others.

The Hawaii Clipper was a Martin M-130 flying boat, meaning the plane could land on water. It was part of the fleet of Pan American Airways, generally known as Pan Am and, at the time, the largest international air carrier in the world.

In July 1938, the Hawaii Clipper began Trip 229, a regularly scheduled 60-hour flight from San Francisco to Manila in the Philippines. It island-hopped along the way, stopping at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, then Midway, Wake Island and Guam.

At 11:39 a.m. local time on July 28, 1938, the Hawaii Clipper took off from Guam for the final leg to Manila. Three hours and 27 minutes later, the plane lost contact with radio operators. It disappeared — somewhere over the vast deep blue waters of the Pacific — with six passengers and nine crew members on board and was never heard from again.

Based on more than two decades of research, Guy Noffsinger thinks he knows what happened to the missing plane — and believe it or not, it ties to the famous mystery of Amelia Earhart, who disappeared almost exactly a year earlier, in July 1937.

Noffsinger and others believe that at least some of the passengers and crew on the Hawaii Clipper were working for the U.S. government — that they had been told they were on a secret mission to transport $3 million in gold-backed banknotes to organized criminals within the Japanese Navy who were allegedly holding Earhart ransom.

Only it was a ruse, and the Japanese were actually after the new, long-distance engines on the Hawaii Clipper. They feared their own airplanes were less advanced and the new high-tech engines on the Clipper would give the United States an advantage in the run-up to World War II, which was already brewing.

The theory goes that two Japanese hijackers disguised as mechanics crept on board in Guam and hid in a cargo hold. This is based on FBI interviews at the time with Marine sentries who said they gave two mechanics access to the plane in the overnight hours. Once the plane was over the ocean, the Japanese agents took over the plane, forced it to land and took the passengers and crew prisoner.

Far-fetched of course, but no more off course than your typical conspiracy theory. The beauty of these theories is that there remains the slimmest chance that it might be true, and no one can prove otherwise. But who knows, perhaps this crew will at least find some evidence of the fate of the Lost Clipper. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Group of Loudoun County adventurers hopes to solve enduring aviation mystery (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster