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Thread: Critique Of TIGHAR By Ex-member/Donor

  1. #91
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    J Boyle said, "It's possible the "old debt" referred to is personal debt, not TIGHAR.
    That makes sense if their previous house was bought by them pre-group or paid for with their salary."


    I agree the "old debt" might be personal, but I can't imagine what kind it would be by that point in time - Gillespie and Thrasher formed TIGHAR in 1985 and they've indicated that was their only source of income.

    The Delaware house on Fawkes Drive that was sold to facilitate the move the Pennsylvania was bought, in part, by TIGHAR members as part of a "new headquarters" fundraising campaign. I haven't been able to nail down exactly how much members contributed to the purchase price, nor is it really clear how much of that was paid back to TIGHAR, if any, when the house was sold.

    Records on the internet from several real estate websites indicate the Delaware house was sold in May 2014 for $275,260, after being listed for $289,900 in February of that year. Gillespie said in November 2015, "We used the proceeds from the sale of our house to pay off old debt" without giving any details as to what exactly that was.

  2. #92
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    One of the things TIGHAR regularly touts is how cost-effective it is with regards to its various projects, with Gillespie saying in 2013, "TIGHAR is one of the most efficient, cost-effective, low-overhead, most bang-for-the-buck nonprofits you'll ever see." Maybe with regards to efficiency, it is. Perhaps even cost-effectiveness, for what it does (which is admittedly a very narrow area of interest to most of the world).

    Low overhead? The numbers don't really support that. Take the Nikumaroro IIIIP expedition in 1999, a more limited one than most Niku expeditions, with a two-part effort to search a very specific part of the island, and follow up rumors of bones from a skeleton found on the island in 1937 (that may or may not have been Earhart's) ended up in Fiji. Total cost of Niku IIIIP: $207,523, divided as follows:

    - $109,681 for the Nikumaroro portion, for team airfare, ship charter, Kiribati representative, equipment and incidentals.
    - $7,482 for the Fiji portion, for airfare, accommodations, meals, incidentals and car rental.

    So what was the remaining $90,360 spent on? Six months of operating costs. More than 43 percent of the total "expedition costs" were to keep the TIGHAR office (Gillespie and Thrasher) up and running at a cost of more than $15,000 per month. Even allowing for the fact that a complicated expedition in multiple countries on the other side of the world was being planned and executed, it's hard to picture how spending more than 40 percent of the money on overhead can be considered "low."

  3. #93
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    I haven't seen much media coverage of their latest pronouncement (I.e. guess) on the bones.
    I understand The Economist ran their release without any questions or critical analysis.
    They must not have seen the comments attacking the Fiji doctors.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  4. #94
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    I saw that as well, and am, well, puzzled by TIGHAR's approach to securing international cooperation with some of its efforts - I mean, International IS the second word in its name. But the tone of the one article on the British involvement in Earhart's disappearance seems, to me, to practically guarantee that any future cooperation with officials in Fiji or that part of the Pacific will be wishful thinking on TIGHAR's part. I think most of their Nikumaroro expeditions stage out of Fiji ... should be interesting the next time they try to clear Customs ...

  5. #95
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    ~Alan~ said, "A very intereting read. You have to wonder though, how as he go away with it for so long ?"

    To which Sabrejet replied, "It's like bad restaurants in tourist locations: plenty of new customers and no repeat business. In this case I think the new customers are snared by a constant drip-feed of 'new' projects."


    After spending almost two decades as a TIGHAR member, I really have come to believe that is Gillespie's business model - it's how he operates. There has never been any kind of systematic plan or organized research protocol at any time for any of his projects; one bright shiny thing was discarded the second a newer, brighter shiny thing with more fundraising potential came into the picture. I doubt it was even a conscious decision on his part, it was more along the lines of, "This worked the last time ..." when a new cash infusion was needed for whatever purpose. Human nature being what it is. Which is why he has been so denigrating towards the "tourist trips" to Nikumaroro - he didn't think of it, therefore he can't control it, spin any findings for maximum media exposure, or rake off 20%-plus in "operating costs."

    One thing that eventually started to gnaw at me was how some shiny things could be praised to the skies, touted as The Earhart Mystery Answer, and then vanish into obscurity, only to be resurrected years later with a new Earhart Mystery Answer attached to them. The Patch comes immediately to mind in that regard. There are some ex-TIGHARs who have never publicly stated all that they know about that entire convoluted episode.
    Last edited by MFowler; 4th March 2018 at 20:31.

  6. #96
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    J Boyle said, "To answer the question of how they spend £100,000 a year on legal costs? Perhaps writing letters to forums as suggested on post 84?"

    I went back and looked at previous year's legal expenses, and except for 2013-2015, they were either $0 or minimal during the last 15 years, so that $134,459 over three years was all, or mostly, due to the Mellon lawsuit. That's not an insignificant amount for a non-profit to have to spend to defend itself from federal fraud and racketeering charges, but ...

    ... there was the TIGHAR Legal Defense Fund established to help take care of that. In June 2013 Gillespie announced the fund in the same forum posting announcing Mellon's lawsuit. Other than requests for money for the defense fund, until Mellon had exhausted his appeals, TIGHAR members were never given a full accounting of how munch money the Legal Defense Fund raised, how much the lawsuit ultimately cost (other than saying "we still have a huge legal bill to pay," or how the entire episode impacted TIGHAR's overall fiscal health (and for some reason a link for the Legal Defense Fund is still active on the TIGHAR website).

    It all seems very obtuse now.

  7. #97
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    JBoyle said, "Let's hope this thread is seen by journalists and the public when the group starts it's next round of PR/hype/fund raising for their announced search for Miller.

    Too many writers have just accepted the group at face value and forwarded their claims/theories unchecked to the public."


    After almost two decades as a TIGHAR member, once I started questioning how things work there, it became obvious, to me, that TIGHAR is in the business of looking for things that can't be found.

    Granted, their projects to date have all been a challenge from the get-go, but if you step back and take a dispassionate look, and don't let yourself get swept up in the excitement of the hunt, there's really, well, very little to nothing to base most of these projects on. Let alone giving them the remotest chance of any kind of success. It's all about showmanship and marketing, both things Gillespie is very, very good at.

  8. #98
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    Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director, said in 2013, "TIGHAR is one of the most efficient, cost-effective, low-overhead, most bang-for-the-buck nonprofits you'll ever see." Examination of its IRS 990 tax form filings might raise some questions about that statement. One definition of "efficient" is taking in more donations than you spend on your activities, to keep the organization moving forward. Previous charts in this thread have highlighted some of Gillespie's other talking points. The ProPublica website has a Non-Profit Explorer that allows you to both download group's 990 forms, and breaks down each year into basic categories, with analysis. TIGHAR's is here: http://https://projects.propublica.o...ions/510282621.

    The analysis is interesting in that it summarizes total functional expenses and net income for the year, so you can get a quick read on how the group does business, and has fared over the last five years. The bottom line at TIGHAR is, it has spent $4.45 million, with a net income of minus $415,377. The chart makes for an interesting pattern:

    Name:  TIGHAR_expenses_vs_income.jpg
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  9. #99
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    Good article from Carl Hoffman - who's been covering the Earhart saga for years -

    https://www.outsideonline.com/229134...lly-been-found
    Last edited by Mahone; 10th April 2018 at 08:00.

  10. #100
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    An excellent article by Carl Hoffman, and logical commentary by David Jourdan who is pursuing a more rational theory of "Crashed and Sank" in the vicinity of her destination - Howland Island.

    More importantly, an informed and insightful thread from Monty Fowler, a long term contributor and former supporter of Tighar, he has seen the inner workings of Tighar to know where the skeletons are buried, and has seen the leaping from one "smoking gun" to the next, to raise funds (and administrative incomes) for Tighars expeditions etc.

    Dave Jourdan is correct, there is no direct evidence that Earhart came within 300 miles of Nikumaroro Island, the most obvious unique evidence that would resolve her presence is a piece of Lockheed Electra, yet so far, not one piece of aluminium found on the island is attributable to that aircraft or type, and instead we have seen parts identified as PBY/B-24 and now more recently, C-49 (impressed civil DC-3).

    It turns out the colonists travelled to near by islands for work, and brought back pieces of aluminium for rework as cooking plates or making into trinkets such as combs.

    The much promoted piece of aluminium scrap found on Niku in the 1980's and claimed to be the Lavatory window patch from Earharts Electra, and which Mr Glickman was going to positively identify as that patch through evidencing that he could see "matching rivet lines" in the Miami photo of a blurred and highly reflective bare metal patch, - instead turned out to have a chemical composition that matched WW2 samples, but did not match 1937 samples of Alclad sheeting.


    The turning of an inksplot into the inverted wheel and undercarriage leg of an Electra (by a man best known for confirming the existance of Bigfoot through authentication of a 8mm film of what is later admitted to be a man in a fur suit), is just one example of the exaggerations that spew out from the Tighar fountain of froth.

    The collection of faeces buried in the sand, as likely evidence of Earhart, on an island that had a british colony, and a wartime manned US Radar Station beggars belief!

    I am very sure many of those people found themselves walking around the island and suddenly "in a need to go", and too far away to wait to return to camp and use a formal WC.


    The reliance on the verbal testimony of one of the colonists, that a tubular structure that sat on the reef in her time was confirmed as remains of an aircraft by her father, beggars belief that they would know what the internal parts of a wrecked aircraft would look like, and be able to differentiate it from the volumes of debris that clearly was being shed from the disintegrating ship wreck that sits on the reef in the immediate vicinity of these claims.

    In fact the presence of the SS Norwich City wreck on the island, and the risk that these bones are from an injured survivor from the wreck who failed to meet up with the other survivors and be rescued is all but ignored by both Tighar and Jantz, as if they never existed.


    The indisputable existence of the wreck of the SS Norwich City, and the debris and unknown fates of its missing crew are the "Elephant in the Room" that Tighar neatly ignores in its "Scientific Method"

    Why is that?, because going down that path risks admitting it is the more rational explanation for most of the "Preposterous items of Evidence" that Tighar clings to as its "Preponderance of Evidence" claims.


    The whole thing is a house of cards, and Dr Jantz puts his report on the top of that shaky roof, relying on the exaggerated material below to bolster his own estimations.

    Its time to bring down the curtain on this circus act.


    Regards

    Mark Pilkington
    "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

  11. #101
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    Despite the points made above...by many people...the group still attracts donors and unquestioningly media attention.
    Last edited by J Boyle; 17th April 2018 at 14:57.
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

  12. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Boyle
    Despite therapies points made above...by many people...the group still attracts donors and unquestioningly media attention.
    Its bizarre that in the internet age, people seem almost more inclined to take something at face value despite the almost endless amount of information readily available.
    Martin

  13. #103
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    Amelia Earhart, Glenn Miller, the French Oiseax(sorry for mispellings). Interesting how donations are asked for searches that will take years and never be finished. Sounds like a well paid job for life. Maybe they will get a big government grant as well from various countries.

  14. #104
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    buzzbeurling said, "Amelia Earhart, Glenn Miller, the French Oiseax(sorry for mispellings). Interesting how donations are asked for searches that will take years and never be finished. Sounds like a well paid job for life. Maybe they will get a big government grant as well from various countries."

    buzzbeurling raises two good points, the first of which agrees with how my view of TIGHAR evolved over my 18 year membership - TIGHAR is in the business of looking for things that can't be found. Or the chance of finding them is, to quote from TIGHAR's forums, "vanishingly small." It is a business - make no mistake - regardless of whether it has the IRS' non-profit seal of approval. It is the only job Gillespie has had for more than three decades, and he has made a very decent living at it, in a succession of houses, which have been supported and/or paid for in part by the very members he says he serves. All of this is public record.

    But ... all of his many, many, projects - every single one - has been a failure. Every. Single. One. I am at a loss as to how that record can continue to inspire any level of confidence, in the general public or potential donors.

    TIGHAR has gotten money from the US government, but only in small quantities, for doing historic or cultural resource surveys from an aviation history perspective - should this or that crash site be preserved?, basic things like that. TIGHAR advertises for these "contract services" the its website. What is nominally interesting is that person who has either done or led many of these contracted efforts is a longstanding TIGHAR member, who got their advanced degree through a TIGHAR scholarship program, which was established by a then-TIGHAR member some years ago, and which apparently only ever awarded this one scholarship, as nothing further was mentioned in TIGHAR's newsletters (that I was able to find. If anyone knows otherwise, please correct).

  15. #105
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    MFowler MFowler is offline
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    buzzbeurling said, "Amelia Earhart, Glenn Miller, the French Oiseax(sorry for mispellings). Interesting how donations are asked for searches that will take years and never be finished. Sounds like a well paid job for life. Maybe they will get a big government grant as well from various countries."

    buzzbeurling raises two good points, the first of which agrees with how my view of TIGHAR evolved over my 18 year membership - TIGHAR is in the business of looking for things that can't be found. Or the chance of finding them is, to quote from TIGHAR's forums, "vanishingly small." It is a business - make no mistake - regardless of whether it has the IRS' non-profit seal of approval. It is the only job Gillespie has had for more than three decades, and he has made a very decent living at it, in a succession of houses, which have been supported and/or paid for in part by the very members he says he serves. All of this is public record.

    [/u]But ... all of his many, many, projects - every single one - has been a failure. Every. Single. One. [/u]I am at a loss as to how that record can continue to inspire any level of confidence, in the general public or potential donors.
    https://tighar.org/Projects/projectslist.html


    1. The Earhart Project - @30 Years?, >$2MUSD , 9 Trips to Niku? and not 1 piece of undeniable Earhart or Electra evidence.


    2. Project Maid of Harlech - @10 years? - the P38 is still sitting in the shallows on the coast of Wales - no active plan to do anything

    3. Historic Preservation education and training to museums/restorers - Yet Tighar is the most derided, least respected "Aviation Heritage group" in the world

    4. Project Midnight Ghost - - Nothing found of the "White Bird", and no evidence it ever made it to the US Coast let alone Maine

    Projects NOT LISTED

    5. Project - Glenn Miller & his Norseman- A fisherman drags up the remains of an aircraft and then drops it back into the Channel, and his description fits perfectly with Tighars next High Profile Revenue Generating Project, - even though the Norsman has a steel tube fuselage and wooden wings and hence is unlikely to remain much more than a corroded engine, let alone survive being lifted by a trawler!


    6. Project - Save A Devastator - No longer in the Project Listing but still given its own section in their forum is the 20 year plan to recover one of the two Devastators sitting in the sea around the Marshall Islands - never mind that the Marshall Islands has said no to any recovery by the USN itself, and that the USN has recovered 40+ aircraft from the Great Lakes while Tighar - well they havent recovered ANYTHING!


    7. Project B17 - "Lady in Waiting" /"The Agaiambo E" ( - Tighar's first intended aircraft recovery project, long before they started looking for Earhart.)

    They tried to push their way into the Travis Air Museum's project and independently visited PNG in Spring 1986 to progress "the largest and most ambitious aviation archaeological operation in History"!

    In the end, its the only Tighar Project Aircraft - "That has ever been recovered", although NOT by Tighar, and NOT due to anything Tighar contributed.

    Read about it here http://aviationmystery.com/index.php?topic=62.0

    In 1991 in Tigar Tracks (some 6 years after its recovery survey in 1986) Tighar "gives notice to all parties" in Tighar Tracks, that it is committed to the preservation of the B-17 and will "work aggressively" to that end. It advises that the Tighar project for the recovery will be known as "Lady in Waiting" and previous references to the aircraft as "Swamp Ghost" trivialises the artefacts significance. (nothing further is done to actually recover it)



    7 Projects, 30 years of collecting funds from members, the public, donors etc, and absolutely nothing to show for it, other than the Gillespie Horse Farm, (and to be fair, an excellent online resource of Earhart historical research material.)

    Regards

    Mark Pilkington
    Last edited by Mark_pilkington; 21st April 2018 at 11:41.
    "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

  16. #106
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    Mark_pilkington said:

    "1. The Earhart Project - @30 Years?, >$2MUSD , 9 Trips to Niku? and not 1 piece of undeniable Earhart or Electra evidence.

    3. Historic Preservation education and training to museums/restorers - Yet Tighar is the most derided, least respected "Aviation Heritage group" in the world.


    In fact, TIGHAR has spent more than $4.5 million on the Earhart Project just since 2008. It's not possible for the general public, looking at available IRS 990 tax returns, to figure out exactly how much TIGHAR has spent on this effort since it started in 1988, because of the way TIGHAR filed some past tax returns - for whatever reason, TIGHAR combined its costs for the Earhart Project and Project Midnight Ghost (contrary to non-profit best practices guidelines). I have their tax returns for the last 10 years, but TIGHAR doesn't post past returns on its website and the IRS doesn't keep them for very long.

    TIGHAR has never released the cumulative costs for any of its projects, at least in a readily-accessible form. While Gillespie is always ready to talk about how many times TIGHAR has been to Nikumaroro, and extremely eager to talk about what it has found there, when it comes to talking about how much it has cost to find those things, well, "expeditions are expensive." Over the course of 30-odd years, it is basically very difficult and time-consuming to know. At least in a way that is relatively easy for potential donors/members to figure out. Most of the data a person would need is probably on the website, buried in the back issues of newsletters or in expedition summary reports, but it is not in any way remotely transparent. Which also goes against best practices for non-profit governance.


    As far as historic education and training goes, at one point TIGHAR put on semi-regular "field schools," where people could sign up for a week or so of getting dirty and sweaty while poking around old aircraft crash sites/airfields, while learning something about archaeology and aviation history and preservation. I participated in the 2005 field school. While it was fun and I learned a lot, there are financial aspects of that experience I have chosen to remain silent about.

    The last field school was in 2013 and there have been no plans publicly announced for the next one. I'm not a wreck chaser or hard-core airplane nut, but I'm pretty sure there are an abundance of crash sites in the continental US that TIGHAR could use. I know of at least one in my state, that I told TIGHAR about for possible field school use. Nothing came of it. While Gillespie talks about helping individual kids with school reports, or sometimes working with an entire classroom full for a special effort, is that really enough to meet the educational mission its non-profit status was granted for? Not my call.

    The only other thing education-related I know of is TIGHAR's self-published "Guide to Aviation Historic Preservation Terminology" which first came out in 1991. This is TIGHAR's - basically, Gillespie's - opinion of how various aircraft should be categorized and labeled.

    To my knowledge, no other museum, group or entity has accepted these definitions as a standard. So it assembled some terms and even had a meeting with a number of aviation-related entities about the topic. Kudos to TIGHAR ... but that was almost 30 years ago. What has it done since?

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