99s welcome “The Truth at Last” to Wichita

On Saturday, Sept. 27 at 2:30 p.m., in a spacious, well-appointed first-floor meeting room at the Wichita, Kansas Marriott Hotel, hundreds of hours of preparation and sweat were finally put to good use. A mostly unsuspecting audience consisting of 50 members of The Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots from eight states, a number of their husbands and others totaling about 70 souls were soon to learn about the Truth in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, my obsession for the past 26 years and the subject of my second book on the subject,  Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last.

Many months previously, Kay Alley, the vice chair of the Kansas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines and the primary mover and shaker for the three-day, South Central Section Fall Meeting of the Ninety-Nines, invited me to be their main speaker, all expenses paid, and I gladly accepted.  I was extremely grateful for the rare opportunity to tell others the unvarnished truth about the Earhart disappearance.  The South Central Section is made up of chapters from Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.  They meet twice a year, in the spring and fall, and the Fall 2014 theme, ironically, was “Remembering Our Past.”  In the case of the Earhart disappearance, this theme was especially poignant.  For more information on the Ninety-Nines and their colorful history, see my March 8, 2014 post, A point of light emerges.”

Linda Horn of the Ninety-Nines Colorado Chapter fine tunes the "Truth at Last" slide show shortly before the 2:30 presentation on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 27.

Linda Horn of the Ninety-Nines Colorado Chapter fine tunes the “Truth at Last” slide show shortly before the 2:30 presentation on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 27 at the Wichita Marriott.

The Colorado Chapter’s Linda Horn had the unenviable task of advancing each of the 142 slides in my power point program, sometimes through sheer guesswork, and considering my sometimes confusing, rambling commentary, Linda performed admirably.  I briefly considered naming my talk something like,It’s Time to Change the Conversation, but realized that the best opportunity to change the public perception of the Earhart disappearance had passed by long ago. 

Thanks to 77 years of government and establishment propaganda, the ironclad idea that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is an irresolvable mystery is a part of our cultural furniture, nailed down and impossible to move. If Fred Goerner couldn’t break through the stone wall of the federal security apparatus in the mid-1960s, with his 400,000 book sales, six-weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and thousands of irate Americans demanding in vain that their congressmen act to bring the “Justice of Truth” to Amelia and Fred Noonan, who am I with my unknown book to make such a presumption?

It was my first ever power-point presentation, and 63 pages of notes stood ready to support the slides.  Soon, however, I realized these notes were of little practical use, that reading from them only slowed down the program and distracted the audience, which does not appreciate being read to, and I just didn’t have enough practice doing these presentations to fake it.

I also wasted 30 precious minutes and 30 slides telling the audience things about Amelia’s life they could easily find for themselves in any of the 2,000 Earhart biographies and other Earhart-related books they can find on Amazon.com.  Next time I’ll cut that to about 10 minutes and get on with the reason I’m standing in front of them – to tell them about the long suppressed facts in the Earhart case — if there is a next time.

A Hopalong Cassidy Watch, box and saddle exactly like the set pictured above was among the many curiosities evaluated and appraised by Stephen Gleissner, Ph.D., at the Ninety-Nines version of the popular Antiques Road Show TV program Friday night at the Wichita Marriott.

A mint-condition  Hopalong Cassidy Watch, box and saddle from the early 1950s, exactly like the set pictured above, was among the many curiosities evaluated and appraised by Stephen Gleissner, Ph.D., at the Ninety-Nines version of the popular Antiques Road Show TV program Friday night, Sept. 26,  at the Wichita Marriott.

Slightly nervous to begin, I forgot a few things I wanted to say in the opening, stumbled a few times, blanked out on a name once, but kept at it and quickly began losing track of time as I traced the modern-day search for Amelia back to Paul Briand’s 1960 book Daughter of the Sky, then to the San Mateo Times stories about Josephine Blanco Akiyama by Linwood Day (see Linwood Day: Forgotten hero of the Earhart saga,” July 10, 2014), to Fred Goerner’s Saipan trips and so on down the line of the major Saipan and Marshalls threads, of course only brushing the surface, doing my best to paint the big picture.  Instead of stopping at the agreed-upon 90-minute mark, I went two hours and no one said, Stop! Time’s up!

I couldn’t restrain my passion at times, as I hit on some of the key witnesses and dramatic accounts that place Amelia and Fred on Saipan, and put the lie to the constant establishment mantra that the Earhart case is a great Aviation Mystery.  I made sure to point out that convicted murderers are regularly sent to their executions on the smallest fraction of the eyewitness testimonies that tell the sad story of Amelia’s wretched end on Saipan.  Yet we’re told by Wikipedia and virtually all media that the truth is nothing but a “paranoid conspiracy theory” or an “unsubstantiated urban myth” unfit for discussion in polite circles. 

I think the audience got the message, but a small number clearly didn’t like the unpleasant truth, which is always predictable, given the toxic reaction this information often elicits from the uninformed.  Many were surprised and virtually none had any knowledge of the work of Fred Goerner, Vincent V. Loomis, Oliver Knaggs, Thomas E. Devine and others through the years that so clearly established the truth. 

I was glad for the opportunity to begin to educate them about the fate of their co-founder.  We sold a few books, and most important to me, Kay Alley was pleased and told me I did a “beautiful job.”  Several others said nice things, and Kay made it clear that I had vindicated her faith in me.  Thus I will count the event as a victory for the Truth, which is rare indeed in these days of massive indifference and rejection, not only from the media but virtually the entire public.

Of course the Truth at Last presentation was the highlight of my weekend, but Kay Alley and her committee planned the three days for everyone’s enjoyment, and all were kept busy with a variety of activities.  A first-floor Hospitality Room offered shopping and browsing, a book fair, aviation timeline, snacks, beverages and visiting area.  On Thursday evening, members and their husbands were treated to dinner at Mid-American All Indian Center under the flag of nations, a tour of the museum, a film about how the Wichita Indians were employed at Boeing for the building of aircraft for World War II, a walk around the Keeper of the Plains statue and lighting of the Arkansas River fire-pots at sunset.

The Air Capital Chorus quartet of (left to right) Bruce Bergsten (tenor), Mary Halsig (lead), Jeff Moler (bass), and Tom Schleier (baritone) join to offer the assembled Ninety-Nines a fabulous rendition of the famous 1937 standard "Turn Your Radio On" at the "Banquet in Blue" finale Sept. 27 at the Wichita Marriott.

The Air Capital Chorus quartet of (left to right) Bruce Bergsten (tenor), Mary Halsig (lead), Jeff Moler (bass), and Tom Schleier (baritone) offer the assembled Ninety-Nines a fabulous acapella rendition of the famous 1937 standard “Turn Your Radio On” at the “Banquet in Blue” finale Sept. 27 at the Wichita Marriott.

An outstanding buffet breakfast in the first-floor Marriott restaurant was available each morning, and activities on Friday began with a citywide bus tour of historical buildings, aircraft plants, the Amelia Earhart Elementary School, lunch at Lloyd Stearman Field in nearby Benton, Kan., and a tour of the new condo-hangars being built at the airport.

Following dinner on Friday night, which featured a particularly excellent vegetarian entry, the group settled in to enjoy a Wichita-style “Antiques Roadshow,” complete with TV camera and projection screen to show all the fascinating details of the many pieces on display.  Wichita native Stephen Gleissner, Ph.D., former chief curator of the Wichita Art Museum (2001-2013) and member of the International Society of Appraisers, looked over a wide variety of artifacts and memorabilia, from a signed edition of Amelia Earhart’s 1932 book, The Fun of It,” to a mint-condition Hopalong Cassidy wristwatch on a saddle it its original box from the early-1950s.  Dr. Gleissner, who specializes in appraising decorative arts and accessories, glass, paintings and prints, treated the Ninety-Nines to an impressive, educational  performance laced with plenty of laughs, and captivated the dinner audience for well over an hour.

Saturday began with a business meeting followed by a fashion show luncheon that I only caught at its finish. After my talk, a 99 helium-filled balloon launch was held in memory of the original founding members for the 85th anniversary, followed at 7 p.m. with the weekend’s climax, the “Banquet In Blue” wherein all attendees were asked to dressed in something blue, the corporate color of the Ninety-Nines.

After the food was served, we were treated to the musical stylings of The Air Capital Chorus Quartet of Bruce Bergsten, Mary Halsig, Jeff Moler, and Tom Schleier.  Among their offerings was a fabulous acapella rendition of the famous 1937 standard “Turn Your Radio On.”

They worked up an arrangement of ‘Song of the Ninety-Nines’ that has never been heard by members of our organization in the last few decades,Kay wrote in an email.  “I found a copy of the song at our International Headquarters in Oklahoma City, Okla., and gave it to the quartet to sing for us, written in 1941.

The exquisitely crafted Amelia Doll, a creation of Ninety-Nines memberJene Rapp, owner of The Doll Jenie, in Belle Plaine, Kansas, that Kay Alley gave me at the conclusion of the "Banquet In Blue."

This exquisitely crafted Amelia Doll, a creation of Ninety-Nines member Jene Rapp, owner of The Doll Jenie, in Belle Plaine, Kansas, that Kay Alley gave me at the conclusion of the “Banquet In Blue.”

Following the music, Bonnie Johnson, replete in American-flagged aviator’s garb, delivered a fascinating 25-minute impression of Louise McPhetridge Thaden, perhaps the second-most famous American female pilot of the Golden Age of Aviation, next to Amelia herself.  Johnson-as-Thaden recalled the early pioneering days with Amelia, Pancho Barnes, Opal Kunz and Blanche Noyes. Thaden defeated her colleagues in the first Women’s Air Derby, also known as the Powder Puff Derby in 1929, a transcontinental race from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio, which was the site of the National Air Races that year. It took place from August 13–20, 1929. Twenty women were entered in the race, and Marvel Crosson was killed.

Johnson-Thaden went on to tell her rapt audience about how she won the Bendix Trophy Race in the first year women were allowed access to compete against men.  She set a new world record of 14 hours, 55 minutes from New York City to Los Angeles, Calif.   In her astonishing victory she flew a Beech C17R Staggerwing biplane and defeated twin-engine planes specifically designed for racing.  Laura Ingalls, another aviator, came in second by 45 minutes flying a Lockheed Orion.  First prize was $4,500 and she also won the $2,500 prize for a woman finishing the race.

Among those Kay thanked for their contributions to the weekend’s events were the Northeast Kansas Chapter, Ann Shaneyfelt, chairman, for the 99 helium-filled Balloons Launch; Judy Benjamin Godfrey, of the Northeast Kansas Chapter, for her invocation before dinner; and Janet Yoder, Kansas Chapter chairman for her leadership in planning the Fashion Show with Ann’s Fashions.  Others Kay praised were Ann Sooby, of the Kansas Chapter, for preparing the welcome packets; The Kansas Chapter’s Phyllis Blanton for her work in historical aviation, Wichita and the Amelia Earhart timeline; Cathy McClain, Kansas Chapter, for her dinner toasts to Indian Heritage, Amelia Earhart and the Ninety-Nines; and the planning committee of Blanton, Sooby, Johnson, Shaneyfelt, Janet Yoder, Mandi Hill, Cindi Newport, and Linda Leatherman.

Kay Alley truly went the extra mile to produce this event, and her hard work and attention to detail paid off in a well-orchestrated and enjoyable three days for all concerned.  Still recovering from a severely broken ankle, Kay handed out many gifts and mementos to conclude the final night, and she completely surprised me when  handed me a beautiful Amelia Earhart doll, finely handmade and crafted by Jene Rapp, owner of the Doll Jenie in Belle Plains, Kansas, which will always be treasured by this heretofore non-doll collector. 

Kay Alley, vice chair of the Kansas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, thanks the "Banquet in Blue" guests for a great three-day sectional meeting at the windup dinner Sept. 27.

Kay Alley, vice chair of the Kansas Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, thanks the “Banquet in Blue” guests for a great three-day sectional meeting at the windup dinner Sept. 27.

My weekend at Wichita closed on just about the sweetest note I could imagine.  Kay kindly offered to drive me to The Church of the Blessed Sacrament for 11 a.m. Mass on the way to Mid-Continent Airport, and I arranged a noon pickup for the airport with Uber.com taxi driver Teresa D. Renecker.  On the way, Teresa asked what had brought me to Wichita, and after a brief recap of the Ninety-Nines, Amelia Earhart and a simpatico conversation about the plight of our nation generally, she said the ride would be “complimentary, for what you’ve done for women’s aviation.”  I was deeply moved by Teresa Renecker’s generosity, and she even refused to take a tip! What more could a visitor to the fine city of Wichita ask than this, as well as the many other kindnesses I’d received in the past three days?

It think it’s appropriate to close just as I closed with the Ninety-Nines when winding up my presentation at the Marriott, words that I wrote long ago as I prepared for a rare radio interview.  I hope you, dear reader, will take them to heart.

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is NOT an insipid piece of American historical trivia, an unimportant subject for idle academic discussion and speculation that, in the end, defies solution.  This is a major event in our history that has been so distorted and misrepresented by our government and establishment media that the American people think it’s an irresolvable mystery.  Without some incredible, unforeseen change, the status quo in the Earhart case will never change.  Please help dispel the darkness and support this cause in whatever ways you can.  Thank you for your consideration.

7 responses

  1. Mike, I can see that your trip to Witchita was a resounding success. Your description of the weekend and your presentation there allowed me to “experience” the weekend and “enjoy” it vicariously as you and the other visitors obviously did. I especially not only enjoyed reading of Kay Alley’s presentation of the Amelia Earhart doll to you as a token of their appreciation for your presentation, but also of the kindness of Ms. Teresa Renecker, your driver at the conclusion of your trip. It would appear that you were not only well-received by the women of the 99s, but the area citizenry as well. Well-done, Mr. Campbell. Please continue the fight and, as Ms. Earhart and Mr. Noonan obviously did, never, ever give up.


  2. Great comment, hbauldjr! I agree, Mike, your trip to Kansas was magical. I think you needed to step away from the ordinary, mundane details of daily life, and your experiences in Kansas – all of them as described – were just the ticket. The events of the Amelia doll, the ride to mass, and the interaction with Ms. Renecker were the icing on that cake. And I assume you are now back safe at home. Theirs is a polished organization and I am sure your story reached further into many minds and hearts there than you know. If, as you say, there is no way the mainstream will embrace this truth, then in my mind every opening you make in each individual’s awareness is where you must seek your purchase. Welcome home, and keep up the fight.


    1. Thanks, Wolfy and Sonny, as always, for your kind words. I’ll try to remember them as I watch the book’s sales continue their descent into the crapper.


      1. Good morning Mike, glad to see that your presentation, and presence, was welcomed in Kansas. Now, if we could only get the Feds to release the long hidden records of just what did transpire with Amelia & Fred. Keep on doing your best to bring enlightenment to those who are still interested.


      2. Jennings,
        Thanks for your good thoughts, but this appears to have been a one-off event that happened only because of the good graces of the Ninety-Nines’ Kay Alley. No indication that anything else will happen. As far as I know, the local Wichita Eagle reporter, a member of the 99s, didn’t come to my talk. I was never introduced to her, and she had indicated earlier that she was too busy to do a story about the Earhart disappearance, as seen from the perspective of the truth. So it’s the same old thing, Jennings. The media continues to ignore this on a massive scale. I wish it were otherwise, believe me, but this is why so few have attempted to take on this story. They know it’s a stinking sacred cow that will only be ignored.


  3. Hello Mike: Congratulations to you on a successful weekend in Wichita!….Sounds like not only your presentation went well, but since you got to spend all weekend there you most likely had many opportunities to network with a lot of these gals. Plus some book sales. I think if this Chapter was happy with your presentation, you may soon see “invites” from other chapters to come and speak, as well as possibly their national convention. But word has to get out among this group first. And the Ninety-Nines would be the perfect organization to demand an outpouring of truth from the government if they could only step up to the plate and do the right thing. By the way, it would be nice to see your book in Costco. They offer heavily discounted pricing but such national exposure would be great. Also, a word about the FDR special on PBS a couple of weeks ago, which ran for six consecutive nights, an outstanding presentation for sure; a lot of unvarnished truths in there, but nothing remotely touching the AE disappearance, and one item about FDR kept popping up, he was famous for keeping SECRETS.


    1. Thanks Sandy. Please forgive me, but I can’t be nearly as optimistic as you about future opportunities. Time will tell. Costco will sell whatever the public demands, and the public doesn’t even know about this book, thanks to the media’s blackout. As for FDR, you wouldn’t catch me watching anything on PBS, much less a whitewash job about this, one of our most overrated and evil presidents ever.


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