Lloyd Royer’s Earhart claim: Truth or fancy?
I’ve seen Lloyd Royer’s name in passing over the years, chiefly mentioned in biographies as one of Amelia Earhart’s favorite early boyfriends, during the early to mid-1920s. A few crackpots have accused Royer of fathering a child by Amelia, but no evidence has ever accompanied such speculation; if Amelia ever had offspring, we’d certainly know about it.
The question asked in the headline of today’s post is strictly rhetorical, as anyone familiar with this blog will immediately discern once they read it. Still, I think it’s instructive to understand how many otherwise apparently rational, productive citizens — giving Royer the benefit of the doubt — were clueless when it came to the wicked Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart canard — and a few poor souls likely remain so.
The following story appeared in the September 1993 issue of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. (Caps emphasis in original AES story; boldface and italic emphasis mine throughout.)
“The Strange Meeting Between Major Joe Gervais & Lloyd Royer”
by Bill Prymak
Lloyd Royer became involved in Amelia Earhart’s life as early as 1921 when AE wrote to Lloyd re: repairs on her father’s equipment, and in 1924 assisted Amelia in selling her truck after she had gone back to Boston.* Lloyd at this time was a master mechanic at Kinner Field; it was no secret he’d grown very fond of her, having proposed to her in late 1923 with no definitive answer. Sam Chapman was another suitor who followed her to Boston, but, as history was to later show, both failed to capture this beautiful prize.
Lloyd eventually drifted into the employ of the fledgling Lockheed Aircraft Company in the early 1930s, and his skills focused on installing control pedals and instrument panels on the new Electra Series aircraft. Thus it must be assumed that he knew a great deal about the Electra airplane and the general operation of the Lockheed plant.
Lloyd Royer’s trail drifts aimlessly into obscurity for many, many years, but in one of the most bizarre twists of fate Royer comes back into the picture nearly forty years later when Joe Gervais receives a telephone call from the now elderly Royer begging him to come to his home in Huntington Beach, Calif. “Joe, I read your book, and before I pass along, I must tell you about Amelia and the secret shenanigans that went on at Lockheed when I worked on her airplane.”
Researchers like Joe never pass up an opportunity to listen to first-hand experiences, no matter how far the road required to travel, and on July 8, 1977, Joe Gervais visited with Lloyd Royer. Joe summarizes his meeting:
Before AE’s airplane returned from Hawaii, another Electra 10E with registry R-16020 was already painted on the tail; this brand new airplane was located in a secret hangar called the “skunk works” and headed up by Kelly Johnson. This building was also called the “Ginmill” because they had made gin there when it was a distillery. It was located on San Fernando Rd. in 1937 and the same building still exists.
(Editor’s [Prymak’s] Note, July, 1977: AES notes that Paul Rafford describes in interviews with mechanics at Miami that when a new ADF loop was ordered installed on AE’s aircraft, the cabin roof was found to be free of previous mounting holes (READ: this cabin roof, and assumedly [sic] the rest of the airplane was brand new!)
Royer stated that her mission was to fly over Truk and photograph the military installations; the entire operation, according to Royer, was later covered up by Lockheed and FDR.
As their meeting was concluding at the end of the day, Lloyd dropped a bombshell on Joe, unexpectedly placing on the coffee table a copy of Joe’s book AMELIA EARHART LIVES. Mr. Royer stated that Irene Bolam had recently visited him, leaving a copy of said book and inscribed “TO LLOYD WITH FRIENDSHIP.” Lloyd further showed Joe a Polaroid photo of Irene and Lloyd together on the front porch. Joe was unable to persuade Mr. Royer to print a copy of the photo for Joe to keep.
Unfortunately, Mr. Royer died shortly thereafter, and Joe was never able to secure a copy of the photograph. However, Joe did ask if Irene Bolam was indeed Amelia Earhart, but Lloyd would only respond: “I’ve known Irene for a long time, and the answer to that question might be found in your book.”
The AES membership might do well to reflect on the above. (End of Bill Prymak’s “The Strange Meeting Between Major Joe Gervais & Lloyd Royer.”)
Bill Prymak wrote this story in 1993, a year after he and Joe Gervais were suddenly brought face to face with the undeniable truth that Irene Bolam could not have possibly been Amelia Earhart. The penultimate incident is discussed in the “JOE GERVAIS & MARY EUBANK” subsection of “Amelia Earhart’s Survival and Repatriation: Myth or Reality?” available to all on Wikipedia.
By 1993 Prymak was no longer in thrall to Gervais and his Irene Bolam scam, but he failed to denounce what he knew to be a flat-out lie for far too long, as his closing words in the Lloyd Royer piece reveal. Prymak eventually came to his senses, too late to suit many who were close to the situation. Though he eventually regretted this unfortunate chapter in his long friendship with Gervais, he never really denounced him for the unprincipled charlatan that he was, as this paragraph in his 2005 letter to the online Amelia Earhart Society Forum reveals:
I have spent considerable time the last year compiling compelling evidence – some never before made public – that Joe made an honest mistake in identifying Irene Bolam as Amelia Earhart. I have irrefutable evidence that links Irene Bolam circa 1970 back to World War II and beyond as the one and only same person! I even have Joe Gervais involved in the Mary Eubank affair.
With the exception of Amelia’s mother, the outspoken Amy Otis Earhart, Royer was the only person close to Amelia who claimed that she was engaged on a “mission . . . to fly over Truk and photograph the military installations; the entire operation . . . later covered up by Lockheed and FDR.”
Royer allegedly made these sensational statements to Joe Gervais, who created the insidious Irene Bolam-as-Amelia Earhart can of worms, and whose credibility in such matters has long been nonexistent in the minds of most objective, rational observers. To add flames to the fire, Royer strongly implied that Irene Bolam personally confirmed to him that she was indeed Earhart returned from her stay at Japan’s Imperial Palace — she was later relocated to a civilian internment in Weishien, China, thanks to the grossly sensationalized and misunderstood Weihsien Telegram — a scenario that, with our current knowledge of Bolam’s history providing clear perspective, was also patently absurd.
This is all I have on Lloyd Royer, courtesy of Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais. Thanks to research by Richard Bergren author of our Oct. 3, 2020 post, “Did top doctors search for Earhart on 1944 Saipan?,” it appears that Lloyd Royer was born on Feb. 21, 1892 and died in November 1978 at age 86.
Another source, however, “The Life Summary of Lloyd Geiman Royer,” claims that “Lloyd Geiman Royer was born on 14 September 1896, in Westminster, Carroll, Maryland. . . . He lived in Pasadena, Los Angeles, California, United States in 1930. He died on 27 October 1981, in Huntington Beach, Orange, California, United States, at the age of 85, and was buried in Sylmar, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States.”
So we have a bit of a conflict, and any help would be appreciated!
March 4 update: Reader Pam Boardwell has checked in and tells us: “Lloyd Royer was my great uncle. . . My grandmother’s brother. The correct date of birth for him is 14 September 1896 and date of death is 27 October 1981.” So our linked source above must the correct. Thanks Pam!
* A website that deals in sales of autographs, photos and memorabilia offered an “Amelia Earhart Autograph Letter Signed with Cover Addressed in Her Hand.” The undated letter’s envelope is “postmarked from West Medford, Massachusetts, on November 22, 1924. Addressed to Lloyd Royer of Santa Monica, California, the famed aviatrix writes regarding the sale of her automobile, in part: ‘If the offer for $1500 cash is real, I think we’d better take it. You have the necessary papers. From the fact that the hunting season is due for its slack time soon and from what I gather of conditions in building in Calif. I should imagine this is a good time to sell. The last letter was mailed before I put the number in so you may not get it promptly. I am writing in much haste. Adios, [signed] Am. E.’ ”
Castro, AEMMI donate Earhart books to HPO
Readers of this blog are familiar with the efforts of Marie S. Castro and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI) to establish a permanent memorial to Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan, as well as the less-than-encouraging progress they’ve made since the formation of the AEMMI in September 2017. Although the Marianas Variety and Saipan TV have supported the AEMMI movement with several stories about Marie and her wealth of Earhart-related experience, the vast majority of the citizens of Saipan remain overwhelmingly opposed to the Earhart Memorial Monument.
What appears to be a small step forward occurred on Feb. 9, when Marie and several members of the AEMMI gathered at the offices of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) Historic Preservation Office at Saipan’s Springs Plaza in Gualo Rai to make a charitable donation of several extremely important books that present many aspects of the truth in the Amelia Earhart saga so that local readers can learn the truth for themselves.
Saipan TV’s Ashley McDowell was on hand to chronicle the brief event for local viewers, and interviewed Marie about the AEMMI’s donation to the CNMI Historic Preservation Office of the seven best books ever written (in my opinion) that present various aspects of the truth about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
“This is valuable material that is going into the archives of the Historic Preservation [Office], and this is for anybody who would like to know more about the story on Saipan in 1937,” Marie told McDowell.
Marie then formally read the names and authors of the seven books that will be available in the HPO archives, and presented the AEMMI official HPO resolution to HPO Director Rita Chong. Most are Earhart disappearance classics familiar to anyone with even a casual interest in the Earhart story.
Chronologically, these books are Paul Briand Jr.’s Daughter of the Sky (1960), Fred Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart (1966); Vincent V. Loomis’ Amelia Earhart: The Final Story (1985); Thomas E. Devine’s Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident (1987); Marie S. Castro’s Without a Penny in My Pocket (2013); Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (2nd Ed. 2016), by Mike Campbell; and Marie Castro: My Life and Amelia Earhart’s Saipan Legacy (2019) by Mike Campbell with Marie S.C. Castro.
“Castro says she hopes these books will give insight to anyone questioning Earhart’s story in 1937 on Saipan,” McDowell said. To watch the Saipan TV video, please click here and go to 13:45.
Better late than never, the Marianas Variety followed with a story and photo by Bryan Manabat on Feb. 16, “Amelia Earhart books donated to Historic Preservation Office.”
Manabat’s story presented some powerful quotes from Marie,, including these:
Castro believes that there is “undeniable evidence that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were on Saipan. Earhart’s plane was seen in a Japanese hangar at the Aslito Airfield on Saipan and a Marine, Robert E. Wallack, discovered Earhart’s briefcase in a blown safe on Saipan shortly after the island was declared secure on July 9, 1944.”
Castro pointed out, “Three high-ranking military officials — Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, Gen. Graves B. Erskine and Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, the Pacific commander-in-chief during WWII and the last of the Navy’s 5-star admirals — came to the same conclusion that Amelia Earhart had been on Saipan.”
“So we have the responsibility to keep and honor this part of our history, as recorded in these books,” Castro said.
Soon another opportunity for Marie and the AEMMI to bring their Earhart Memorial Monument proposal to public attention looms. The 5th Marianas History Conference, co-organized by the University of Guam, Northern Marianas College, Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Humanities Guåhan, Guampedia, and Guam Preservation Trust, will be held virtually [via Zoom] from Feb. 19-26, 2021 and will feature on-site venues in the CNMI and Guam for select, conference-related events and presentations.
Marie will present her Earhart story to the conference on Feb. 26. Please stay tuned.
“Nikumaroro bones”: No DNA match for Earhart
I’d been wondering why we haven’t heard recently from TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which has yet to recover a historic aircraft) or any of the other Earhart miscreants operating out there, when Tom Williams, a longtime reader of this blog, sent me an email Jan. 30. (Boldface and italics emphasis mine throughout.)
“I watched a program on the Science Channel on Thursday (Jan. 28), ‘Conspiracies Decoded,’ Season 1, Episode 6 titled ‘Finding Amelia Earhart,’ ” Williams wrote. “It is regarding the bones ‘discovered’ in a museum in Fiji after the Ballard fiasco which were supposedly the ones examined by Dr. [D.W.] Hoodless in 1940.”
“Finding Amelia Earhart,” subheaded, “Experts examine remains that may solve the disappearance of Amelia Earhart,” did indeed premier Jan. 28, 2021 on the Science Channel and Discovery Plus. I hadn’t heard about it and it made not a ripple in the media, for obvious reasons. My home cable package doesn’t offer either of these relatively obscure channels, and I thanked Williams for his perspicacity.
For a complete history and analysis of the Nikumaroro bones and TIGHAR’s failure to sell them as Amelia Earhart’s, see my March 19, 2018 post, “Les Kinney joins ‘The Truth at Last’ conversation, Shreds TIGHAR’s latest false Earhart claims.”
Presaging the “Finding Amelia Earhart” program by well over a year was an unbylined University of South Florida story of Oct. 14, 2019, “USF Forensic Anthropologist Testing Human Remains Believed to Potentially Belong to Amelia Earhart,” which, if not for the Internet, would probably have never made it off the USF campus:
World renowned USF forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle is featured in a documentary produced by National Geographic about aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during an attempt to fly across the world.
Kimmerle was selected to test bone fragments stored in the Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Centre located in the western Pacific island of Tarawa, Kirbati [sic]. They were first discovered on Nikumaroro Island, Kirbati, three years after Earhart’s radio signal was last transmitted in 1937. However, the bones went missing after being sent to Fiji for examination.
“We needed the world’s best expert on missing people,” said Hiebert. “It was just natural to reach out to Erin Kimmerle.”
Kimmerle used the bone fragments to reconstruct a skull she believes belonged to a female. She also assessed the remains’ height, age and ancestry, and considered Earhart’s dental features and known sinus condition. In addition, bone fragments were sent for DNA testing to determine whether or not they matched any of Earhart’s relatives.
The National Geographic documentary investigates a number of theories as to what happened to the aviation pioneer. Kimmerle’s role could be the final step in solving this 72-year-old mystery. The film aired on the National Geographic channel October 20 . The film did not offer a final resolution to Earhart’s last moments. (End USF article.)
For a review of the above referenced NatGeo program of Oct. 20, 2019, please see “NatGeo’s ‘Expedition Amelia’: Dead on Arrival.”
The caption of the photo of the skull and bone fragments above virtually jumps out and mugs anyone who can read above a third-grade level: “A female skull was reconstruct [sic] from bone fragments found near Amelia Earhart’s last known coordinates.” This statement is absurd. What “last known coordinates” are they referencing, and how were bones found wherever those “last known coordinates” were located? What exactly are they asking us to believe?
Further confusing the issue are the “bone fragments stored in the Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Centre located in the western Pacific island of Tarawa, Kirbati [sic],” according to the USF story, which states they “went missing after being sent to Fiji for examination.” Without any explanation as to how these magical bones were found, we’re told that “National Geographic archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, Ph.D., recently learned of the bones’ existence and contacted Kimmerle to determine if they belong to Earhart.”
You may detect a distinct aroma emanating from the foregoing two paragraphs; I certainly do. This stink is created whenever our media and academe team up for some good old-fashioned Earhart research — it’s the unmistakable stench of deceit, and in this case it’s overwhelming.
“The [Jan. 28 Science Channel] program . . . announces the results of the DNA test were NEGATIVE, NOT Amelia Earhart,” Williams continued in his email. “I did a quick internet search for that Earhart DNA test result and have found NONE. And I checked the University/Institute website and there is no mention whatsoever regarding that investigation. . . . Sounds like another MSM boondoggle, where they made a big deal of the attempt, but bury any results that don’t fit their agenda.”
Here’s the link to the Forensics at USF site, where you won’t find a whisper about Earhart, Kimmerle or National Geographic. Is anyone surprised that the negative Earhart DNA results were buried in the growing mountain of rubble where the truth has been sent to die for over 80 years?
Since I don’t get the Science Channel, I asked Williams if Kimmerle and her findings were on the new program. “No, Erin Kimmerle is not on the show,” Williams told me in a Jan. 30 email, “although they use her picture and refer to the work she did at USF including finding an Earhart relative to do the match (they don’t specify who). I guess the only thing new is that the USF team was able to get a DNA sample from the bones, found a living relative of AE and got a sample from that person, and the result of the test (quote from Prof Mark Horton, archeologist and one of the experts on the show).”
Amelia’s only living blood relative is Amy Kleppner, her now elderly niece and sister Muriel’s daughter, about whom we’ve already weighed in, though Amy has had two children with Adam Kleppner.
Thus it appears that the Science Channel’s “Finding Amelia Earhart” is nothing more than a reworking and reconfirmation of the old, repeatedly presented non-evidence that’s been never been linked to Earhart or Fred Noonan. We don’t even know if the alleged “bone fragments” referenced in these stories are the same ones examined by Dr. Hoodless in 1940, or are an entirely different sampling from who knows where. Most likely the latter is true, and no wonder this escapade was on such a non-entity of a channel, where relatively no one would see it, and nobody else in the media has even mentioned it.
This latest chapter in TIGHAR’s longest running scam has been a quiet one, paralleling my long-ago description for all the phony media Earhart operations — “In like a lion, out like a lamb” — in that the propaganda media, in its countless Earhart stories, TV specials and documentaries, always promise, with shameless hyperbole, that the latest operation might finally solve the greatest aviation mystery of the 20th century. These Earhart media blitzes are aimed at nothing but ratings, and are always followed by silence when the test results come in and the false “evidence” disappears into smoke, leaving us with nothing once again, and usually with no announcement or follow-up informing us of the latest abject failure.
What is the definition of insanity, and who are the true “conspirators” when it comes to the Earhart saga?
If we’re lucky, the Science Channel bones debacle will mark the end of our corrupt media’s infatuation with the “Earhart bones on Nikumaroro” lie. We can hope, but do we even dare dream that they are finished with TIGHAR and the other Earhart disinformation artists altogether? Pigs will fly.