The below photos and brief narrative appeared in the February 1994 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters, with little explanation as to the provenance of the plane photo other than its discovery by researcher Joe Gervais, and the headline, “COVERUP . . . part of a larger scheme?” Otherwise, readers are left with little else but bewildered questions. (Boldface emphasis mine throughout.)
JOE Gervais comes up with the darndest stuff sometimes, to wit the intriguing photograph from the Lockheed Archives shown above, a model 12 Electra mournfully laying in a ditch at the end of the runway at Burbank, date of accident established [sic] as May 7 or 8, 1937, about two weeks before AE’s departure on her second attempt around the world.
QUESTIONS: Who stonewalled the press, with such an incident certain to raise nationwide attention? Why was this accident not reported to the CAA? All incidents sustaining major structural damage such as seen above were mandated by law to be reported to the federal aviation authorities. No report was filed.
Compare photo below to person(s) standing in front of the Electra . . . sure looks like George and part of a bell bottom trouser, such as seen on AE.
[TAL Editor’s note: I don’t see any “part of a bell bottom trouser” in the photo above.]
The aircraft had a checkered history, passing through at least six ownerships, at one time showing the experimental registration X 17342 [sic]. Strangely, official CAA documents show Las Vegas Gas Co. as the owner of X-17342 for a period of time, and yet Joe, one to never leave any stone unturned, could not find, even in spite of dogged research, such ownership in any of the records of the Las Vegas Gas Co.
WHO would stand to gain the most from this cover-up? George Putnam? Lockheed? The U.S. government? Certainly Amelia dodged a fusillade of bad press, which couldn’t have come at a worse time in her career had this crash been splashed across the national newspapers.
In his February 1994 newsletter, the late Amelia Earhart Society president and founder Bill Prymak offered his limited membership yet another puzzling entry, and now I’m passing this strange item to the readers of the Truth at Last blog, with the hope that this little mystery can be solved. Can anyone tell us more about this photo and the story behind it?
******Oct. 23 Update******
Reader Blake K. Baxter has sent in a comment with information that partially clarifies our little mystery, albeit taken from a February 1995 edition of TIGHAR Tracks.
All interested readers should click on the link to the TIGHAR Story, found on page 8 of
Once again it appears that we have a case of Joe Gervais rushing to speculate and make another sensational claim before finding the available information.
Bill Prymak is also culpable for writing that the “date of accident established [sic] as May 7 or 8, 1937, about two weeks before AE’s departure on her second attempt around the world.” Where did he get that date, and what made him so sure? The Feb. 28, 1995 TIGHAR Tracks story doesn’t have all the answers, but it appears to have more than Bill Prymak had when he posted this photo in February 1994.