As researcher Dean Magley referenced in his June 1992 letter to Joe Gervais, today we present Magley’s strange account of his brief encounters with famed astronaut Wally Schirra, beginning in 1979. The following item appeared in the August 1994 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. Bold emphasis is mine throughout; underline emphasis is in the AES entry.
“WALLY SCHIRRA AND AMELIA EARHART”
(From the personal memoirs of Dean Magley.)
In October 1979, the Rockford Airport Authority held a public “Airport Appreciation Days” [sic]. In addition to static displays of military and airline planes, Wally Schirra one of the original seven astronauts was asked to appear and give a short talk.
Representing my employer, WREX-TV, I was one of a handful of local people asked to go to Milwaukee on a Coleman Airline plane to pick up Wally. He had just completed a public appearance for his new employer, Realty World. You recall he made TV commercials for them having retired from NASA earlier.
On the return flight Wally sat across the aisle from me. I asked my favorite question, “What do you hear from Amelia?” He laughed and said, “I suppose you mean Amelia Earhart?” I nodded yes. He added, “Some people think she is alive and living on the east coast.” [sic] I told him I am one of those. He laughed again and our conversation ended.
After his talk at the airport, Realty World offices in this area gave a reception for him at the motel where he spent the night. On my way there I stopped to pick up my wife so that she might meet him. As we approached him he had a big smile on his face and was shaking hands with everyone. When it was our turn, he looked at me, wiped the smile off his face and in a very serious voice said, “You’re the fellow who was on the plane this afternoon and asked about Amelia Earhart.” I admitted it was me He said, “I can tell you that as of yesterday, or at the most two days ago, she was alive. I can’t give you proof, as such — but, as of no more than two days ago she was alive.”
With that he turned away, put on the big smile and greeted others. Later I phoned and wrote to him at his home. He would not acknowledge any communication.
In June, 1986, Wally returned to Rockford for a speaking engagement. I accompanied our news crew which was to interview him. When they finished, I asked that the cameras keep rolling.
I introduced myself and reminded him of our 1979 conversation. He turned on the big smile and said he recalled our meeting because few people bring up the topic. He stated that just a few days prior (in 1979) he had been in Florida and someone had given him that information. He was very gracious but would not supply the name of that person. (End of Magley account.)
What, if anything, can we take from Magley’s story? Did the famed astronaut really have inside information about Amelia Earhart? Clearly Magley thought it was possible, but this was 1979 and much that we know now was not widely disseminated.
The fact that Magley knew Joe Gervais well enough to write him a fairly lengthy summary of the 1982 Earhart Symposium tells us that he was likely sympathetic, at a minimum, with Gervais’ contention that Irene Bolam was Amelia Earhart returned from Japan’s Imperial Palace following World War II, as was presented in the infamous 1970 book Amelia Earhart Lives. If Magley could believe this all-time whopper from Gervais, he could believe anything. We should all know better.