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.’ ”