Smithsonian rejection letters to Briand Jr., others: Classics of sophistry in the Amelia Earhart saga

In an April 3 comment  Les Kinney sent in response to my post of that same day,Revisiting the ’82 Smithsonian Earhart Symposium,” Les wrote: “Joe Gervais, Don Kothera, and Vincent Loomis all asked to speak at [the 1982] symposium.  All were denied.  Only Fred Goerner represented the Japanese capture theory.”  (Boldface and italic emphasis mine throughout.)

Three weeks later Les sent me a copy of a June 1982 letter from Ms. Claudia Oaks, then curator of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, to Paul Briand Jr.  In her June 6 missive, dripping with condescension, Oakes deigned to inform Briand that he wasn’t important enough to stand and deliver the truth about Amelia’s tragic end to the sophisticates who would be populating the peanut gallery at the Smithsonian’s Earhart Symposium later that month.   

Recall that Briand’s 1960 book Daughter of the Sky sparked the real modern-day search for Amelia Earhart, and that without it, Fred Goerner’s famed 1966 epic, The Search for Amelia Earhart, would never have been written.  Les has a similar Oakes letter to Kothera; Gervais and Loomis must have also received them. 

The Smithsonian has long been a central repository of Earhart disinformation — ground zero, as it were, for the establishment’s ongoing commitment to keeping the ugly truth hidden from those of the unwashed incurious enough to rely on government institutions to tell them the truth about America’s history, which is about 99.99 percent of the populace.  Oakes’ letter, below, is a prime example of the carefully crafted mendacity we’ve come to expect from the revered Smithsonian.

Oakes begins her litany of deceit by informing Briand that “half the program [will be] devoted not to her disappearance but to her life. . . . We want the day to be more devoted to Amelia Earhart, the person and the pilot, than to the mystery of her disappearance.”  Does anyone know the precise origin of, or who planted the seed that bloomed into the Smithsonian’s 1982 Earhart symposium?  After 45 years and hundreds of magazine stories, biographies, movies, documentaries, billboards and ads, all celebrating and trumpeting Amelia Earhart’s amazing life, are we to believe that the Smithsonian brain trust actually thought their symposium was needed to preserve Amelia’s legacy? 

Does anyone buy that?  My guess is that the initial impetus for the event was created by the growing, annoying realization among the anointed that Briand Jr., Goerner, Gervais, Loomis and Kothera had all found aspects of the same truth, which would soon be further disseminated to the masses by Loomis’ 1985 book Amelia Earhart: The Final Story and Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident two years later.  More than likely, the Smithsonian elites felt something needed to be done to derail this train of Earhart enlightenment before it sped out of control and exposed their sacred cow to danger.  They needn’t have worried.  Besides being dishonest, they were also quite paranoid, failing to understand how effective many decades of government and media propaganda had been in keeping nearly everyone either ignorant or disinterested about the so-calledEarhart Mystery.” 

Oakes, in her officious gibberish, was actually saying that the Smithsonian could handle Fred Goerner, whose ideas, though generally accepted by many if not most of the 400,000 who had made Search a bestseller in 1966, had been vilified and rejected by virtually the entire literary and historical establishment.  Goerner by himself was tolerable, but things could get very uncomfortable if truth tellers such as Briand , Gervais, Loomis and Kothera were to chime in with their findings in support of the unhappy facts Goerner uncovered in four visits to Saipan in the early 1960s.

Thus nobody should be surprised that Oakes tells Briand,Therefore, there are only two spaces on the program for speakers who will talk about her disappearance.  These two [Goerner and the silver-tongued Elgen Long, the poster boy for the government’s crashed-and-sank verdict of 1937, rapidly becoming an anachronism by 1982] were selected after much consideration and with the knowledge, of course, that not everyone would agree with our choices.”  And where was it written that only enough time would be allotted for these two to speak about Amelia’s disappearance, one of them the best-known and most vocal of the double-talking proponents of the false government narrative?  (TIGHAR would not appear on the Earhart scene for several more years.)  Never mind. 

Former Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Curator Claudia Oaks appears in a June 2012 Rome (Ga.) News Tribune story about her retirement from Chieftains Museum, also known as the Major Ridge Home, a log house of 1792 in Cherokee country, within present-day Rome, Ga.  It was the home of the Cherokee leader Major Ridge.  “Retiring Chieftains Director Claudia Oakes is donating commemorative swatches of original aircraft for auction,” the cutline reads.  “Here she is shown with a swatch from a Curtiss NC-4, one of the group of planes commanded by native Roman John H. Towers in his attempted Transatlantic crossing in 1919.  (Doug Walker /”

Our aim, however,Oakes continued in the same mendacious vein, was not a public debate on theories as to her ultimate fate but a program that would highlight her life, her flying career, and her contributions to aviation, with some attention to, but not emphasis on, her disappearance.”  The emphasis, of course, was on obscuring, deflecting and ultimately burying the truth about Amelia’s Saipan death with enough sugar-coated glorification, distraction and nonsense to keep the majority of the sheeple content, and that’s what happened:  Another stage-managed Earhart disinformation production sold and in the can. 

I have my own brief but inglorious history with the Smithsonian and its confreres, as my posts of Jan. 18, 2015, Smithsonian mag throws “Truth at Last” a bone: Says, “it’s possible . . . Campbell is on to something and Aug. 6, 2019, After five days and publication of this blog post, Smithsonian mag approves my Earhart comment clearly attest.  Nothing in the Smithsonian’s behavior with me or anyone else invested in the truth has ever given me the slightest reason to trust them in any way when it comes to the Earhart matter.

Included in the former of the two Truth at Last posts cited above, Smithsonian mag throws “Truth at Last” a bone,are several paragraphs from my Earhart Disappearance Position StatementBecause this truth cannot be over-emphasized and has yet to be accepted by more than a scant few, I present the below excerpts, as these are more than appropriate for this particular post. 

The Big Lie: The “Great Aviation Mystery”

This PRINCIPLE, which has become one of my constant memes, is that the very idea that the disappearance of Amelia Earhart is a “great aviation mystery” is among the biggest lies in American history.  So effective has the U.S. government been in inculcating and maintaining this idea into the official historical narrative that it has become a normal piece of our cultural furniture, accepted without question by all but the few who care to closely examine this longtime canard, this straw man our establishment created so long ago to protect its own interests.

. . . Thus, when the Earhart disappearance is analyzed or examined by people we would normally consider intelligent, like Tom Crouch [who replaced Claudia Oakes and retired as Air and Space curator in 2018], all established, traditional rules of investigation, including objective evaluation of evidence, logic and the scientific approach, become virtually nonexistent and non-applicable.

Undated photo of Paul Briand Jr. (left) and Joe Gervais, Earhart researchers whose findings, as well as those of Vincent V. Loomis and Don Kothera, firmly established Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan’s Marshall Islands landing and Saipan deaths, were determined not worthy to speak at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s 1982 Earhart Symposium by Claudia Oakes and her Smithsonian associates.

Les Kinney ended his April 3 comment with another fascinating nugget, this one concerning researcher Don Kothera and former Marines Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, whose story was the subject of my Dec. 26, 2017 post,KCBS 1966 release a rare treasure in Earhart saga.”

“As part of their June 1982 trip to Washington, D.C., the Kotheras tried to get Marines Headquarters to interview Billy Burks and Ev Henson on the record about their grave digging episode on Saipan [in 1944] directed by Marine Captain Tracy Griswold,” Les wrote.  “The Kotheras even had signed affidavits from Henson and Burks.  The Marines refused the Kothera request.  I wonder why.”

15 responses

  1. David Kapsiak | Reply

    Just having Oaks mention Elgen Long was enough to tell you where this was headed. More lies and deception.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom Williams | Reply

    A quick search including the words “Earhart” and “Symposium” revealed a new event titled “Amelia Earhart/Fred Noonan Symposium, TAC Conference 2020” which is scheduled for May 16th (it’s in Oregon); will there be anyone attending to represent the TRUTH?


    1. Absolutely not, Tom. I recall reading about this several months or even more than a year ago, not sure. But this one is all phony, pure establishment hype to make money and get attention so they can produce another TV ripoff. They know the audience of morons is always there. Here’s the lead paragraph:

      “The 2019 expedition to Nikumaroro Island, featuring National Geographic-sponsored deep-water exploration by Robert Ballard and terrestrial investigations led by Fred Hiebert and Tom King, marked a turning point in the search for Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. At issue now is the future of research efforts. What should be the next steps? Did Ballard’s survey, described in October 2019 by National Geographic on TV, rule out the existence of Electra airplane parts in the deep water off the reef?”

      Fools who attend must cough up $100 for the privilege. It never ends.



      1. William H. Trail


        I’m surprised that they’re going ahead with their symposium at all given the current nationwide situation vis-a-vis Covid-19. Even the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has cancelled AirVenture 2020 at Oshkosh.

        All best,





        Good point. I looked up Oregon’s Covid-19 restrictions, and found that all gatherings of 25 or more people have been cancelled. See above link. Maybe this Archaeology Channel event has fewer than 25 and the show is still on, with “appropriate social distancing” enforced, of course. If I wasn’t sick before I was forced at gunpoint to attend this dog-and-pony show (no offense meant to dogs and ponies) I would certainly be a candidate for the ICU afterward.



      3. Tom Williams

        …..who knows, they may have only 3 signed up for it.


      4. William H. Trail


        Three, huh? That being the case maybe you and I should sign up, go, and even up the odds a bit. ROAD TRIP!!

        All best,



      5. William,

        There’s an idea; a couple of questions though:

        – Would they let us in (“sorry, we’re full up, no vacancies”)?

        – Do we want to subject ourselves to a dog and pony show and end up in ICU? (Mike does have a talent for describing the indescribable!!).



      6. William H. Trail


        It could all be a moot point. Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown has just extended her state’s Covid-19 restrictions beyond Independence Day.

        All best,



    2. The Earhart and Noonan Symposium at the TAC conference is nothing more than a breakout session away from the general archeological topics discussed at the conference.

      I spoke at this event two years ago and represented the Japanese capture view. Tom King, represented the Nikumaroro Island landing theory. Almost all of the attendees at this breakout session (about 50) including the organizer had at one time or another been on one of the several expeditions to Nikumaroro. Much of the discussion centered on TIGHAR’s ridiculous Hoodless bone claims. Needless to say, I didn’t address a captive audience, at one point I was even jeered.


      1. You never told us about this before, Les. Sounds like the Christians thrown to the lions. I surprised they even asked you to speak, or did you request the “privilege” from them? In either case, congrats on your effort.



      2. Tom Williams


        I can picture it now….you being wheeled in wearing a straight jacket and face mask like Hannibal Lecter.



      3. William H. Trail


        Sorry to hear that you were treated in such a shabby, disrespectful way. A symposium is supposed to be about the free exchange of ideas. The rude, boorish, and ungentlemanly behavior of those conference attendees is totally unacceptable, and is indicative of petty small mindedness, and a real lack of class.

        All best,



  3. *Great article Mike, thanks for popping Ms. Claudia & Mr. Tom’s propaganda bubbles! Their bubble show may have thrilled a few, but for the rest of us, went over like a lead balloon……………………. Although Claudia has retired from the established syndicate, her creative writing & bubble making, may come in handy in a future, where is Amelia Earhart facade.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can certainly feel for Paul Briand and all the people interested in the truth about Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and death, but at least the Smithsonian allowed Fred Goerner to speak. The International Thomas Merton Society has been worse when it comes to allowing any truth to be told about how their supposed Catholic hero died. Hugh Turley and I, who co-wrote THE MARTYRDOM OF THOMAS MERTON: AN INVESTIGATION and published it in 2018, were frozen completely out of their biennial conclave in California last year. Read about it in At least, the Benedictines let me talk about our shocking discoveries the previous summer in Rome:


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