For those who think I lack a sense of humor about the Earhart disappearance, the following is submitted for your entertainment and edification. By way of the July 1995 edition of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, this is a quaint little unattributed book review for Age of Heroes (Hastings House Publishers, 1993), by the legendary Henri Keyzer-Andre, that appeared in an otherwise undated April 1993 issue of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
In addition to its imaginative title, the cover of Age of Heroes is even more compelling, as its subtitle, “Incredible Adventures of a PAN AM Pilot and his Greatest Triumph, Unraveling the Mystery of Amelia Earhart,” promises readers the solution to our greatest aviation “mystery.” I had heard about this book a few times over the years, but just recently purchased it, brand new, for a few dollars on Amazon. Although I haven’t read it yet, I know the ending and am not recommending it to anyone interested in the Earhart case.
Keyzer-Andre said he met Amelia Earhart in 1928 when he was 21, and three years later, Fred Noonan, at Pan Am’s Dinner Key operation building, when Noonan was Pan Am’s instructor in celestial navigation and Keyzer-Andre was beginning his pilot training. That’s about as far as we can safely tread when it comes to most of the claims in this article, and Keyzer-Andre’s bio might be much embellished as well, as far as I know.
I’ve seen very little that’s more convoluted and clueless than this mess, which begins as what appears to be a review of Age of Heroes, but immediately leaves its author and begins quoting from a retired Air Force Colonel. It’s no mystery why this review wasn’t bylined. Who would want to take credit for it? Without further ado, here’s “Whatever Happened to Amelia Earhart.”
(Bill Prymak’s note: To illustrate the enormous range of thinking that goes through men’s minds, the following might be construed as the OUTER LIMITS we have had come across our desk.)
“Whatever Happened to Amelia Earhart?”
PALM BEACH – Amelia Earhart was executed by the Japanese, who then used the advanced technology from her plane to perfect their WW II Zero fighters, according to a flight engineer who worked on Earhart’s aircraft. Henri Keyzer-Andre, Palm Beach resident and longtime pilot, discussed one of the great mysteries of the 20th century as he explains it in his autobiography, “Age of Heroes.”
The story is similar to one that has been told for years by Naples resident and retired USAF Colonel James “Dusty” Rhoades. He said he has known since 1959 that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were shot and killed by the Japanese in the South Pacific, but not for plane parts.
“It was an espionage mission,” Rhoades said of Earhart’s reported attempt to circumnavigate the globe. “We do spy on people. That’s the way to stay alive.”
Keyzer-Andre’s book says two lieutenants in the Japanese navy broke into Earhart’s radio frequency during the 1937 flight, and guided her into a trap on the island of Nonouti, where Japan had a base. Earhart and Noonan were killed and their bodies burned, to hide all traces. Keyzer-Andre said Earhart’s final words were, “Oh, mother.”
Rhoades, a 28-year veteran of military tours in Japan, Korea and China, said a Japanese general he befriended after World War II told him a different story. Instead of being lured to Nonouti in the Gilbert Islands, Earhart crashed just to the northwest in the Marshall Islands after running out of fuel during a storm, and losing radio contact with a U.S. submarine tracking her mission.
The Japanese army captured and court-martialed the injured Earhart and Noonan, sentencing them to death for spying on the Japanese fortification of Pacific islands prior to the war, Rhoades said. The pair was brought before a firing squad, with Noonan standing tied to a post, and Earhart tied to a chair because she could not stand.
One day in 1959, while having lunch at a Japanese golf club, Rhoades said the Japanese general who told the story, Minouru Genda, introduced him to the man who commanded the firing squad.
Rhoades said he does not know what became of Earhart’s plane after the crash, but does know it was equipped with a state-of-the-art engine built especially for the U.S. Navy by Lockheed. But the plane was badly damaged, and the Japanese, who had spies in the United States during the war, would not need to capture Earhart in order to learn about her plane.
“I was a good friend with Gen. Genda at the time,” Rhoades said. “I believed the things I heard because they had no reason to lie to me.” (End of review.)
Bill Prymak’s closing comment, “Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known,” is spot on, but these wise words originally came from the pen of Michel de Montaigne (Michel Eyquem, lord of the manor of Montaigne, Dordogne (1533-1592), who was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay.