“Crashed-and-sanker” Elgen M. Long dies at 94

Please forgive the delayed news, but I’ve only recently learned that Elgen M. Long, the famed aviator best known as the public face of the false “crashed-and-sank” theory in the Amelia Earhart disappearance, died in Reno, Nevada, on Jan. 26, 2022, at age 94.

For more than 50 years, Long’s alleged “research” into the last leg of Earhart’s flight produced countless unsuccessful attempts to determine where her Lockheed Electra crashed, and he became the poster boy for the 1937 Navy-Coast Guard verdict that the Earhart plane “crashed on the sea about 120 miles northwest of Howland Island.” 

Long’s 1999 book, Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved, co-authored with his wife, Marie K. Long, is quite possibly the most misnamed tome in American history, rivaled only by Amelia Earhart Lives, by Joe Klaas, the infamous 1970 fish wrapper that introduced New Jersey housewife Irene Bolam as Amelia Earhart and forever tainted legitimate Earhart researchers with the dreaded conspiracy theorist label.

Elgen M. Long was the public face of the "Crashed-and-Sank" theory in the Earhart disappearance.

Elgen M. Long was the public face of the “Crashed-and-Sank” theory in the Amelia disappearance.

Long gained worldwide acclaim in 1971 when he flew solo around the world over both the North and South Poles setting 15 world records and firsts, becoming the first to cross Antarctica alone via the South Pole.  He was awarded the Federation Aeronautique International Gold Air Medal as the world’s outstanding sports pilot, the Institute of Navigation Superior Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a practicing navigator, and the Airline Pilots Association Award for Outstanding Airmanship.

Not content with these legitimate laurels, Long gained his greatest notoriety as the chief apologist for the U.S. government-media complex’s incessant propaganda efforts in the so-called Earhart mystery,directing the uninformed, gullible public away from the truth of her tragic death on Saipan.  Whether he actually believed the nonsense he spouted is unknown to this writer, but in practice it made no difference.  Through his powerful public podium and slavish media allies, Long spearheaded the feds’ efforts to convince millions to believe their lies in the Earhart case.

Is it merely a Freudian slip that "The Mystery Solved" is so hard to read on Elgen Long's terribly misnamed 1991 tome, "Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved"?

Was it merely a Freudian slip that made The Mystery Solved nearly impossible to read to read on the original hardcover edition of Elgen Long’s misnamed 1999 tome, Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved?

Soon after The Mystery Solved was published, Earhart researcher Rollin Reineck issued a scathing critique of its major claims, which are all aimed at putting the Electra in the Pacific before it could reach Howland Island.  Long opened his case with Earhart’s first intelligible message to Lae, at 2:18 p.m. local time, when she reported, “HEIGHT 7000 FEET SPEED 140 KNOTS,” which Long says meant that “they were already experiencing stronger headwinds than anticipated.  The increased winds had made them recalculate their optimum speed.”

Reineck described Long’s interpretation of the message as totally wrong, a mistake that is the foundation of the Long theory. . . . Long knows, as all pilots know, that when you give a position, you report the speed you are making over the ground, or GROUND SPEED, not TRUE AIR SPEED. . . . It is more than obvious, Reineck wrote, that Earhart is talking about GROUND SPEED when she says 140 KNOTS, not TRUE AIR SPEED as Long would like you to believe. . . . Long, by changing certain facts, using poor information and bad assumptions would have the reader believe that Earhart ran out of gas some 20 hours and 32 minutes after she left Lae, New Guinea.”

Worse than Long’s inability to accurately calculate fuel consumption and mileage capabilities for the Electra in The Mystery Solved, however, was his abject failure to acknowledge the gigantic elephant in the room that defined and dominated true Earhart research long before The Mystery Solved was published — the mountain of eyewitness accounts and other evidence that placed the doomed fliers in the Marshall Islands and Saipan, where they died miserable, lonely deaths, ignored and slandered by the feckless Franklin D. Roosevelt and his minions. 

Not a single sentence mentioning this overwhelming evidence can be found in The Mystery Solved.  By completely ignoring the definitive work of Paul Briand Jr., Fred Goerner, Thomas E. Devine, Vincent V. Loomis, Donald Kothera and others, Long loudly and irrevocably proclaimed himself as an enemy of the truth in the Earhart case, as well as the primary mouthpiece in the Deep State’s ongoing Earhart disinformation program.  His success in committing such literary malpractice was ensured by a mainstream media devoted to perpetuating all manner of lies and deceptions as it protected and nurtured the Sacred Cow that is the truth in the Earhart disappearance.

During a 2018 visit to Israel, Elgen Long, 91, is reunited with two sisters aged over 90 who were passengers on the plane on which he was a crew member, airlifting Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949.  (Photo by Shahar Azani.)

If Long had wanted to leave behind a respectable, untainted legacy, he should have avoided Earhart altogether.  Besides his aviation feats, he had other worthwhile entries on his résumé.  From Wikipedia, we learn:

While working as a commercial-flight navigator for Alaska Airlines in January 1949, Long received a telegram from company headquarters issuing instructions to make for a British Royal Air Force base in Aden, a port city in YemenThere, his crew took part in a daring rescue mission Operation Magic Carpet that would come to be known as On Eagle’s Wings’ a reference to Exodus 19:4 — that airlifted tens of thousands of Yemenite Jews facing persecution and death out of Yemen and into Israel.

Using one aircraft with seats removed to maximize space, Long and his crew completed seven days of non-stop transport from Aden to Tel Aviv. They rested for one day, and then they made five more runs, clocking 12 trips in total. On Eagle’s Wings,” also known as “Operation Magic Carpet,” saved 49,000 Yemenite Jews.

As it is, for those with any knowledge of legitimate Earhart research, Elgen Long’s name became synonymous with “sellout” decades ago.  Not only was Long a sellout of the first magnitude, he was almost certainly a government agent of disinformation — if he wasn’t, he performed that function free of charge. 

Long can no longer recant his treachery in the Earhart matter.  Those of a similar odious ilk — people like Ric Gillespie, Robert Ballard, David Jourdan, Susan Butler and all the rest who hate the truth in the Earhart disappearance — still have time to renounce their errors and get on the right side of history.  But does anyone expect that to happen?

8 responses

  1. Ok so Mr Long believed in an incorrect theory about Ms Earhart and Mr Noonan; can we just agree to disagree on the Earhart matter? Why all the “snarky” comments about the man? Why bother with a column about him at all? Apart from his Earhart research his work in Yemen saving thousands of people from death merits him to “hero” status to me. Rest in peace Mr Long and lets leave who is right and who is wrong about the Earhart matter for another time.


    1. You’re entitled to your own opinion, Donna, which I haven’t ignored or deleted, as Long did to others who disagreed with him.

      This isn’t a simple a matter of who is right or wrong about the Earhart disappearance; anyone can make honest mistakes. This is about someone who very purposely ignored evidence and worked for decades to have that evidence buried. The difference is infinite.

      Perhaps you should read the post again, as I made sure to give Long the credit and praise he earned for his more legitimate accomplishments. I don’t do snark.



  2. I mentioned once before I saw him and his wife at that facility near the Oakland California airport, sometime in the 1990s. From what i remember, most if not all the attendees bought into the crashed and sank theory they were espousing. Their main point of contention, was constantly repeating the phrase ‘Because we believe Amelia”, referring as I remember to her saying she was low on fuel, etc. They repeated this over and over and had the attendees repeating this chant after them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janet Phillips | Reply

    The “most” misnamed tome has a rival. The Zapruder Film.


  4. In the 1990’s Elgen Long gave a talk in a restaurant at Lake Tahoe, I attended that talk.

    I agree with Dave, Truth will win out! I already knew the real story and thought those people were telling a lot of untruths. Long had a distinguished career and no one can take that away. He was also part of a crew who rescued all the Jewish people from Yemen. His talk about his life was extremely ego centered!

    He did not like any reference to women pilots, of which I am one and have been since the ’50’s. There certainly been such a big deal made from the “Crash and Sanker” group, opened the door for criticism from others, they were not telling the truth. A lot of money changed hands over the years for all the searching they did without any evidence!

    Thank goodness for Mike and all his investigating over the years and with so many eyewitnesses, there can be no doubt as to the real disappearance of Amelia and Fred.


  5. Leslie G Kinney | Reply

    Elgin Long accumulated a lot of original source material and had many firsthand witness accounts. He started researching the book in the early seventies and came up with information that has never been shared but had no intention of tarnishing her iconic image. If he had, his book would need a different title, and most likely have been a best seller.

    As Mike said, Long purposely ignored evidence that could lead to no other conclusion than she crashed and sank. The most glaring is his insistence she was facing a head wind; thus, supporting his central premise she ran out of gas. There is zero evidence Amelia and Fred ran into long and protracted headwinds. In fact, according to Navy meteorological studies completed in 1942, the prevailing headwinds in that part of the Pacific shift from east to southeast to south as summer approaches.

    Les Kinney


  6. In answer to your question at the end of this blog post, I don’t expect others who have gone with the flow of disinformation, to change their crashed and sank views in this lifetime on the Earhart disappearance. As aviation history moves on, this issue will take on less and less importance, in my view.


  7. William H. Trail | Reply

    Greetings to All:

    May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

    It’s a shame that Elgen Long’s nobility not just as evidenced by his courage, determination, and skill as a record-setting aviator, but especially for flying to the rescue of oppressed Jews in Yeman will be forever overshadowed and tainted by the ill-conceived book he authored promulgating a falsehood. So it goes.

    All best,



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