A visit with the “lunatic fringe” of the Earhart saga

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 Newsletter, 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.

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.

It doesn't get any more promising than this. Unfortunately, there's absolutely no substance underneath the stylish cover, and Keyzer-Andre reveals himself to be among the most gullible Westerners to ever visit Japan, as he fell prey to a whopper of a tale about the fate of Amelia Earhart, and dared to pass it to us as fact. This is precisely what Fred Goerner meant when he called a particular segment of Earhart authors "the lunatic fringe."

It doesn’t get any more promising than this. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no substance underneath the stylish cover, and Keyzer-Andre reveals himself to be among the most gullible Westerners to ever visit Japan, as he fell prey to a whopper of a tale about the fate of Amelia Earhart, and dared to pass it to us as fact. This is precisely what Fred Goerner meant when he called a particular segment of Earhart authors “the lunatic fringe.”

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 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 BEACHAmelia 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 WWlI 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.

Author Henri-Keyzer Andre, at age 86, in front of his wall of fame at his Palm Beach, Fla. home circa 1993. Keyzer-Andre may well have been a fine pilot in the early years of Pan American Airways, but an expert on the Earhart disappearance, he is not.

Author Henri-Keyzer Andre, at age 86, in front of his wall of fame at his Palm Beach, Fla. home circa 1993. Keyzer-Andre may have been a fine pilot in the early years of Pan American Airways, but an expert on the Earhart disappearance? Well, you decide, dear reader. 

The Japanese army captured and court-martialed the injured Earhart and Noonan, sentencing them to death tbr 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 tile 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 US Navy by Lockheed. But the plane was badly damaged, and the Japanese, who had spies in the US 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.)

Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known . . .

Bill Prymak’s closing comment 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) (28 February 153313 September 1592) who was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay.


13 responses

  1. As I read additional perspectives on Earhart’s and Noonan’s final days, I am reminded of the “mystery” of Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. It seems in both cases, there is no end to the number of individuals with “good information and sources” who “know” the “truth” … and are willing and even excited to enlighten the rest of us with their findings. Interestingly, in both cases the missing persons seemed to have been in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps this is at least the one irrefutable fact on which all can agree.

    On another note, Mike, I have not heard a whisper in months about the current planning for the 2015 junket to Nikumaroro – any news? (Oops – a google search turned up June 17-July 7. Only $8500 for accommodations on one of two decks, or $11,000 if you prefer a mini-suite. Plu$ $500 for a trip $upplement to Fiji ….. Plu$ $1500 for the RT airfare from LA. Plu$ your travel expen$e$ to get to LA prior to June 17. Plu$ an extra $upplement of 150% of the accommodation fee if you prefer NOT to have a roommate.)

    (I am mortgaging my home and 28+ acre$ right now and clearing my calendar …)


    1. I keep tabs on the TIGHAR facebook page and contact people who disagree with them and give them the link to Mike’s page to see the truth.You wouldn’t believe all the fools cutting them checks and saying they are on pins and needles waiting for them to find her plane(ha ha ha );they have banned me from posting so I made a fake profile to mock them when they return empty handed(as usual) once again.


      1. Thanks Jesse, much appreciated. They don’t come any dumber or more brainwashed than that bunch! A tribute to the power of propaganda on the mindless!


  2. Your welcome Mike,one person even contacted me and told me he was banned after coming to the defence of Gary Lapook,typical Ric Gillespie.


  3. I received a solicitation from Ric a month ago he just needs a few more $$$$ to reach his goal. I told him sorry, I gave at the office.. He threatened me with banishment because I claimed the plane would float which he subsequently incorporated into one of his scenarios where her plane “floated” off Nikumaroro reef in order to sink into the abyss. Never gave me credit.

    However, doing my research at that time with the help of the Florida girl’s dubious radio reception of Amelia, I figured, flying due west, she would have landed on Nonouti in the Gilberts. So I posted that, one of the brighter participants looked at Google Earth shot of Nonouti and lo and behold there is a plane in the water off Nonouti just the right size to be the Electra. It is actually near a smaller island off shore which is now a bird sanctuary. We speculated it was probably an Air Kiribati wreck, of which there are apparently a few. It brings to mind the plane with one wing on Taroa. Naturally Ric scoffed at our wonderment. So I studied up on Nonouti. Apparently there are primitive accommodations there because Australian fishing boats visit.

    I read Maude’s book about the islands, a very good read and also a book called “Twilight of Pacific Colonialism” which is a very unconventional view of Nikumaroro in the 60s, I believe. Long before Ric showed up. So then I got my scuba diving qualification in Beverly, Mass, and I was ready to go. I went to New Zealand for backpacking on an AMC trip and found for very little extra money I could stop over in Fiji on the way home. From there get to Nonouti. But my schedule was such that I would have had to fly to Tarawa and wait there for 6 days for the weekly Nonouti flight then spend 7 days on Nonouti , and on and on. I began to get discouraged at the expense and bother of my wild goose chase and wisely called it off when I read “The Truth at Last.”

    Also, by then I was looking at Bing Earth which doesn’t give coordinates like Google Earth does, but the plane was not there. Since I could not figure out the dates of the views I was stumped. It’s funny that one of your accounts in the latest post has some one claiming they landed on Nonouti. It says the Japs had an outpost there in 1937? I don’t think so, but maybe they did. Does anyone know? When I asked the Kiribati tourism agent about a plane wreck on Nonouti, he stopped answering my emails. Are there any other Nonouti theorists out there? Ready to go?


  4. I forgot to mention I have long been a card carrying member of The Lunatic Fringe. This is way off the Earhart subject, but in a way it is not. Last night I encountered a You Tube video proposing the theory that the Titanic was wrecked on purpose because in reality it was actually the damaged Olympic which the White Star Line wanted to get rid of and collect the insurance. They were supposedly switched, you see. It is easily proved that they weren’t switched, but the video is very well done, and convincing.

    There are several very curious facts about the voyage which are never mentioned in National Geographic accounts which are consistent with such a switch, or at least with a deliberate sinking of the Titanic. Or if not that, at least with incompetence, lies and cover-ups. It goes to show that any cockamamie theory about these two famous events will have actual facts consistent with such a scenario. Then, subsequently, someone else will assert that the conventional facts are not true at all, here’s the REAL facts. So when you are not preoccupied with Amelia’s mystery you can go for a change of pace with the Titanic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_d_GEy8lr0


    1. I watched that over a year ago,and guess what, I believe it.


      1. I think I believe a lot of it, too. I’ll have to get Ric’s opinion, though.


  5. Stories like these come and go, where as *FACTS stand the test of time. I wonder if Henri Keyzer Andre bothered to write down this firing squad / now tile worker’s name?

    I wasn’t aware submarines could track airplanes? Japanese Navy guiding Amelia into a trap? I didn’t know Amelia was rehearsed in the Japanese language? or that she would be able to understand a word they said?

    This reads more like an Ian Fleming spy novel.


  6. All I can do after reading the above is just shake my head in wonder. What entertainment. I was also thoroughly entertained by all of the comments above. Keep them coming, boys. You had me rolling on the floor. Great stuff, Mike. Thanks for this post!


  7. Robert Yanacek | Reply

    I saw this today on National Geographic news. Mike, you should try to contact these guys.

    One Man’s Dogged Search for Amelia Earhart


    1. I KNOW Dick Spink, Robert, and he promised to tell National Geographic about Truth at Last. I believe he did that, but they decided to shut me out.
      This is par for the course with today’s media. It’s good for the cause anyway, despite being personally ignored.


  8. That tale was meant to throw off the scent, and/or he was misled. There was a radio order (not from Itasca) to land on another island, but she could not identify the operator, was suspicious they would not let her finish the trip, and turned south. Surely that info is in Navy archives?


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