Goerner’s 1992 follow-up letter to Ron Reuther: “Correctness of Barnum thesis is established”

In my Nov. 2, 2018 post, Did Earhart crash on purpose in Hawaii takeoff?,” we saw Fred Goerner’s Aug. 7, 1992 letter to Ron Reuther, in which Goerner discussed the sensational claims of Art Kennedy, an aircraft technician for the Pacific Airmotive Company in Burbank, Calif., during the 1930s.  Kennedy claimed Amelia Earhart told him that she was ordered by unnamed government officials to crash her Electra on purpose during her March 20 takeoff from Luke Field in Hawaii, which aborted her first world-flight attempt.

Kennedy said Earhart told him she followed that directive “and did it the only way she knew how.”  According to Kennedy, she said “a lot depended on my keeping quiet about what I’d seen because she was going on a special mission that had to look like a routine attempt to go around the world.  She said, ‘Can you imagine me being a spy?’ then she sort of tittered and added, ‘I never said that!’ ”  So wrote Art Kennedy in his 1992 autobiography, High Times, Keeping ‘em Flying

Undated photo of Ron Reuther in front of the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California, where Amelia Earhart’s plane was kept prior to her 1937 flight.  Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia Zoos, among others.  (Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle.)

With respect to the Kennedy comments about Earhart, the proverbial grain of salt applies,Goerner wrote in his August 1992 letter to Reuther.  [Please see my Jan. 2, 2019 post, Art Kennedy’s sensational Earhart claims persist: Was Amelia on mission to overfly Truk?]

Reuther, who founded the Western Aerospace Museum, was a revered, original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society, and had apparently been a close friend of Goerner.  Reuther was unique among the elite of the aviation establishment in his support for the Marshalls Islands-Saipan truth in the Earhart disappearance, but these are mere footnotes in an impressive list of his memorable achievements. 

He was also a noted naturalist who curated and directed the Micke Grove Zoo (Lodi, Calif.), the Cleveland Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Philadelphia ZooAs director of the San Francisco Zoo, Reuther was instrumental in the creation of an amazingly successful project to teach the world-famous, now deceased gorilla Koko sign language.  Following is Goerner’s follow-up 1992 letter to Reuther.  All boldface emphasis is mine; capitalization emphasis is Goerner’s.

Today we present Goerner’s follow-up letter to Reuther, in which he briefly addresses one of several phony claims made by Robert H. Myers in his stranger-than-fiction 1985 book, Stand By To Die

September 29, 1992

Mr. Ron Reuther
1014 Delaware Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Dear Ron:

In further study of Reuther communications, I realize that I have not replied to your comments regarding Earhart author, Robert H. Myers.

Mr. Myers perfectly represents the totally irresponsible weirdo fringe which has been omnipresent in the Earhart matter since 1937.

I believe many of these people (including Mr. Myers) to be unstable, desperately grasping anything which will offer them identity and concocting total fiction to support their bogus claims.

With respect to Mr. Myers, I submit on classic example (of several hundred I could offer into evidence) of Myers’ outright fabrications.

Attached are copies of pages from two books.  One is page 102 from Myers’ 1985 book titled STAND BY TO DIE [full title: Stand By To Die: The Disappearance, Rescue, and Return of Amelia Earhart].  The second is page 182 of James Sinclair’s 1978 book WINGS OF GOLD [full title: Wings of Gold: How the Aeroplane Developed New Guinea].

Myers maintains he met Eric Chater (he spells it ChaRter) while he (Myers) was in the military in 1943 during World War II.

The problem with that particular claim is that Eric Chater (who was the General Manager of Guinea Airways and who, together with his wife, hosted Earhart during her stay at Lae in 1937) was killed in a bizarre accident in October 1941 at the Lae, New Guinea airfield.

When I called this and other egregious distortions and untruths to the attention of Barbara Wiley, who ghosted STAND BY TO DIE, Wiley acknowledged to me that she had reached the conclusion (after having finished the writing of the book) that Myers was a liar some of the time, but she STILL believed Myers MUST have met Earhart as a boy sometime before the around-the-world flight began.  Whew.  What an aroma!

By the way, that IS Eric Chater (and his wife) with AE and Noonan in the photo on page 102 of STAND BY TO DIE.  Photos of the Chaters, the Jouberts and Jacobs taken at Lae, New Guinea before the takeoff 2 July 1937 have been widely published and are readily available to any author.  That has been Myers’ tactic: Use a photo or some item of accepted truth and then attach any piece of fiction onto them.

Fred Goerner, circa mid-1960s, behind the microphone at KCBS in San Francisco.  (Photo courtesy Merla Zellerbach.)

The same applies to Mr. Donohue and his [nearly unreadable] AE AND THE BRITISH CONNECTION [full title: The Earhart Disappearance: The British Connection].  He has used photos and benign basic research and stitched the wildest kind of fiction to them and it is without ANY proof or ANY reference to source.

Gillespie is much more subtle and sophisticated in his manipulation of the known facts, and he has clearly been more successful in gaining media acceptance than either Myers or Donohue, but it is truly amazing the number of persons who write to me of their belief in the creations of Myers and Donohue, to say nothing of Gervais, Klaas, Prymak, Reineck, Gillespie, Willi, Gannon, Wade, Loomis, Rafford and Brennan — to mention only a few.

The correctness of the Barnum thesis is therewith established.

Merla joins in sending the usual large collection of good regards and best wishes to you and yours.


P.S.  Again, Ron, please, if you will, treat the above as privileged information.  I don’t wish to see my comments turning up in someone else’s article or book.

Fred Goerner passed away in September 1994 at age 69, and is far beyond caring whether his missive to Ron Reuther is published on this blog.  I never had the privilege of meeting Ron Reuther in person, but he was always cordial to me in our correspondence, sending me pieces of helpful information and once kindly telling me that I was agood researcher,when I’ve never had any such illusions.  He passed away in 2007, and along with AES founder Bill Prymak, was among the most respected and influential of all the original AES members.

6 responses

  1. Ron Reuther gains the *respect of Fred Goerner by letter and points out the falsehood.

    Time and again, Mike separates FICTION from the *F*A*C*T*S and like an archaeologist’s sifter box, strains out the dirt…..



  2. My dad’s favorite saying was “Barnum was right”. Still true today, maybe even more so.


  3. Keep up the awesome work, Mike ! Be well, my friend. Warmly, you number one fan ! Stuart !


    1. Thanks Stuart. Always good to hear from you. All the best to you and your family!



  4. Phil Van Zandt | Reply

    Those photos from Lae, NG were not complete… the photo of “Tex” Mark Walker of PanAm standing next to the Electra door with his arm around Amelia always seems to be missing, though we have it and also the signed $1-bill offering her “Best Wishes” from that evening when she told him that that the next day’s flight was not to be ‘as advertised’. What I find amazing is that Joe Gervais separated the HI Clipper hi-jacking from the Earhart/Noonan earlier disappearance, when they are actually tied tightly together by Japan’s actions… Without Noonan, the world’s first act of air-piracy might never have been tried… it was he who most-likely under torture, while Amelia dined with Japanese officers at her hotel accommodations, revealed the ‘soft-spot in Pan Am’s Clipper routes (Noonan set them up in 1935). The Japanese needed a 14-cyl engine for the purloined blueprints that were to become the ZERO and the Clipper lost just one such (found in Japan that way post-war.).


    1. Extreme speculation bordering on insanity again from Mr. Van Zandt. You can’t even begin to conflate the Earhart story with the Clipper disappearance of a full year later. What evidence do you have that Mark Walker was at Lae? And so forth. You seem to be allergic to facts.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: