One of the mysteries to the Earhart disappearance has been one of Amelia’s last broadcasts in the Howland area with words to the extent that “there was only ½ hour of gas left.” This statement prompted a multitude of theories that Earhart crashed and sank at sea. However, more recently Dave Bellarts, the son of Leo Bellarts, disproved that statement and revised it to “gas is running low.” It was a far cry from the original statement of 1/2 hour of gas left.
Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts monitored this transmission in the radio shack of the ITASCA, anchored off the northeast shore of Howland Island on 2 July 1937. Although it was not required, Bellarts had conscientiously been on duty since 2:00 a.m. He was a man who took his duties seriously. This is what the ITASCA’s Chief Radioman, Leo Bellarts, remembered about that fateful day:
There were actually two radio logs that were maintained, the orignal Bellarts log and the O’Hare log. The Bellarts’ log recorded her last transmission as gas is running low, which was correctly stated. However, a second log which was kept by T.J. O’hare, Radio Operator Third Class caused an uproar and contained the 1/2 hour statement. It was recorded in error, according to Chief Bellarts. It should have never been written in the log books.
Gas is running low: Bellarts remembered Earhart say "we must be on you but cannot see you, but gas is running low." Bellarts further stated, “She didn’t say she’s running low on gas or anything but gas is running low. This is recorded on the original log, but on the log being maintained by O’Hare he wrote that she only had ½ hour of gas. This should never have been recorded, due to O’Hare’s job was not to handle Earhart traffic but only other traffic coming into the ITASCA. It was not O’Hare’s responsibility and he did it for some unknown reason."