Art Kennedy’s sensational Earhart claims persist: Was Amelia on mission to overfly Truk?

We begin 2019 with a closer look at one of the more controversial characters in the history of the Earhart saga.  Art Kennedy was an aircraft technician for the Pacific Airmotive Company in Burbank, Calif., during the 1930s, and first met Amelia in 1934 when he serviced her Lockheed Vega for a Bendix Trophy race.  Later, he directed the repairs of the Electra when it was shipped back to Burbank in boxes following the March 20, 1937 accident at Luke Field, Hawaii, during her takeoff on the second leg of her first world-flight attempt, which could have easily resulted in her death.

Much speculation surrounded the cause of the Electra’s so-called ground loop, and Amelia herself said thatpossibly the right landing gear’s right shock absorber, as it lengthened, may have given way. . . . For a moment I thought I would be able to gain control and straighten the course.”  Army aviation expertsexpressed unofficial opinions that a landing gear failed just before the right tire of her plane burst, but Harry Manning, who was in the co-pilot’s seat that day, said Amelia “lost it on takeoff. 

 “The plane began to sway during takeoff, and according to Manning, Earhart tried to correct with the throttles and simply over-corrected, Fred Goerner wrote in a 1992 letter to Ron Reuther.   He said it wasn’t a matter of a tire blowing at all.  It was pilot error with a load of 940 gallons of fuel.  He added it was a miracle there was no fire.

The seriously damaged Electra 10E after Amelia’s Luke Field, Hawaii “ground loop” on March 20, 1937.  Amelia and Fred can be seen standing next to the pilot’s side of plane.  The Electra was sent back to the Lockheed plant in Burbank for months of costly repairs, including bigger engines, according to Art Kennedy, who worked on the Electra during that time.

In his 1992 autobiography co-written by JoAnn Ridley, High Times — Keeping ‘Em Flying, Kennedy offered a far more sinister explanation for the crash.  After a close examination of the plane’s damaged right wing, right gear, brakes and propellers, Kennedy said he realized the ground loop was not normal, but “forced,” and that Earhart purposely wrecked the plane.  When confronted by Kennedy, she “told me not to mention it and to mind my own business,” he wrote.

Kennedy, who passed away in September 1998 at 85, said he reminded her that an inspector was due the next day to make an official accident report and would recognize the plane’s condition would never have been caused by an accident. Damn! I forgot about the gear,  Kennedy claimed she said.  Art, you and I are good friends. You didn’t see a thing.  We’ll just force the gear back over to make it look natural. Will you promise me never to say anything about what you know?”  Kennedy complied and swore he kept his word for 50 years.

Most recently we heard from Kennedy when his account was featured in Did Earhart crash on purpose in Hawaii takeoff?” on Nov. 2, 2018.  The following interview, titled “A Visit With Art Kennedy in Portugal,” by Bill Prymak, appeared in the February 1993  Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter.  Prymak described Kennedy, who then lived in Cellerrico De Beria, Portugal, as a “walking encyclopedia on every aspect of airplanes in the Golden Years of Aviation and at the age of 81 [in 1993] his mind is incredibly sharp. . . . It is with a feeling of deep veneration that we sit and break bread with a man who knew Amelia Earhart so intimately, a man who worked with her, laughed and joked with her, took her home at nights when she didn’t have the car, dined with her.  There is virtually no one alive today who knew her as well as Arthur Kennedy.

As an added feature in this interview, still relevant after 25 years, Kennedy lent his considerable expertise to the early TIGHAR claims that made so much international noise in its early days, and sadly, continues to do so, though only those without critical thinking ability pay any attention these days.  We begin:

AES:  Art, you spent quite a bit of time with Amelia, both professionally and personally.  What was she like?

KENNEDY:  Bill, this gal was a true lady . . . lots of class, but no snob, friendly with all the shop guys, very inquisitive about the work being done on her airplane.  Always looking over the shoulder, but never interfering with the mechanics.  She and I developed a special relationship as I was the only one, once she got to know my work, who she would allow to work on her engines.  Polly (Art’s high-school sweetheart and wife of 45 years, who died in 1978), Amelia and I would go out for supper many times when we were working late.  On one occasion she lamented how she was tiring of all the notoriety, sick of all the false fancy friends, fed up with George’s constant pressures, and simply yearned once more to be a simple American gal who could enjoy her privacy like the rest of us could.  Polly and Amelia got along great, went shopping together, had girl-to-girl private times, and really developed a close friendship.

Undated photo of Art Kennedy, back in his heyday.  According to Bill Prymak, who knew him well, Kennedy fabricated stories about what Amelia Earhart told him after she crashed the Electra on takeoff from Luke Field in March 1937.  These tales from Kennedy have been cited by some as strong evidence that Amelia was ordered to ground loop her plane, change directions of her world flight and even embark on a spy mission.

AES:  If they went shopping together, did they ever shop for shoes, and if so, do you recall if Amelia’s shoe size ever came up?

KENNEDY:  If you’re alluding to Mr. Gillespie and his size 9 theory, with all the hoopla I’ve recently read about this great discovery, let me put it to rest once and for all.  Polly wore a size 7 and COULD NOT fit into Amelia’s shoes . . . not by a longshot.  That TIGHAR theory is pure baloney.  (ED. NOTE: Art was more inelegant in his choice of words, and we simply had to clean it up.)  Where did they find this guy?

AES:  What about Paul Mantz?

KENNEDY:  Paul was one of the finest pilots I had ever met, but everybody used to call him the HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR BOY, and I did quite a bit of work for him before I moved over to PAC, and it was Paul who first introduced me to AE.  He gave her countless hours of dual (instruction) in the Electra and Paul was pretty satisfied that she could tackle the world flight.  He could never figure out the groundloop [sic] at Hawaii . . . that puzzled him to his dying day.  But Paul in his business dealings was a bulldozer, and quite a wheeler and dealer.

AES:  Did you ever meet her husband George?

KENNEDY:  No, but I saw him several times looking for AE in the shop, and, on one occasion, when she saw him beckoning with this finger, AE pleadingly caught my eye, and her facial expression seemed to say: Gad, why did he have to show up at this time, when I was really enjoying these guys around me and my airplane!  Polly and I never went out with the Putnams as a foursome.  George was too big to socialize with a ramp rat.  Amelia was different that way.

AES:  You indicate in your book that Amelia told you that she was told, immediately before takeoff at Hawaii bound for Howland Island, to somehow abort the flight.  This is potent stuff, Art, and not many are buying this.  Can you expand on this?

KENNEDY:  I never did ask her who ordered her to abort at Hawaii and it really was none of my business, and she probably would not have told me even if I did ask her, but indeed she did state that she was ordered to abort.  I can think of only two reasons for this; something was not ready downstream, or, somebody figured she needed bigger generators as the existing generator blew fuses or burned out on the way to Hawaii.

AES:  But Art, if somebody wanted to abort an airplane, I could think of a dozen safer ways to do it — run the wing into a telephone pole, hit a pickup truck, slide into a ditch, fake a brake failure and run into a brick wall . . .

KENNEDY:  Yea, I know, but she was probably planning on a very slow, deliberate ground loop at very slow speed, where she figured there’d be no risk with all that has on board.  But in a situation like that, if you start the takeoff roll and hesitate for just a fraction of a second, bam . . . you’re already past thesafe zoneand you find yourself doing things that are absolutely crazy!  One spark in the wrong place and they all would have been fried.

AES:  Was she really a good pilot?

Bill Prymak and Joe Gervais traveled to the Marshall Islands to visit with the iconic Earhart eyewitness Bilimon Amaron at Amaron’s Majuro home in 1991.  A year later, Prymak and Gervais journeyed to Art Kennedy’s home in Portugal to interview the controversial expert who personally worked on Amelia Earhart’s Electra 10E.

KENNEDY:  Bill, I flew with a bunch of the old timers, even got a pilot’s license myself.  A lot of the final checkouts, such as rigging and engine performance, had to be done in flight . . . and yes, Earhart was a good solid, pilotI flew with her many times, even once watched her bring in the Electra down to the runway with a 25 mph crosswind straight as a die.  When the Bendix rep who was halfway down the runway during the ill-fated Hawaii takeoff told me that her tailwheel was already high when the groundloop began, I could not believe it!  Even a dumb student pilot does not groundloop on takeoff at 50 mph.   Something very fishy here.

AES:  You’re still convinced she was on a spy mission?

KENNEDY:  Absolutely!  I’m 81 years old and have no need for storytelling or ego trips at my age.  I have only one trip left, and that’s to meet my Maker.  I can’t tell you everything she told me about the mission because other people were involved who might still be alive, but I will tell you thisShe mentioned the mission taking her over Truk, the big engines received brand new from Pratt & Whitney in May 1937, were modified by me personally to accommodate the bigger generators, and even though her regular engines were being overhauled, these two new super engines were charged to NR 16020 — her airplane!  Many strange things and many strange people were involved in her last flight.

AES:  How do you address the claim by TIGHAR [The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which has never recovered a single historic aircraft, to my knowledge] that the piece of aluminum they found came from the belly  of NR 16020?

KENNEDY:  This simply cannot be!  When the damaged aircraft came back from Hawaii, Amelia Earhart and I personally and meticulously went over the entire fuselage.  We had to raise the fuselage high enough to get a low-boy tractor underneath for transport to the Lockheed factory on the other side of the field.  In lifting the fuselage, Amelia and I got a good look at the belly, and there was absolutely no damage, not even dirt, from the groundloop accident.  There was however, cable sling damage from hoisting the airplane onto the boat from Hawaii, and in unloading same stateside.  Cable sling damage was observed at Station 239, where two stringers were buckled in, and it was here that Lockheed removed and replaced stringers and full skin sections, NOT patches, as TIGHAR claims.

AES:  But Gillespie claims that Lockheed people like Ed Werner and Harvey Christen are wrong when they state that the rivet and stringer spacing could not vary from the original specification, as found on TIGHAR’s piece of aluminum.

KENNEDY:  I don’t remember Ed, but if Harvey Christen says after studying the TIGHAR piece that it could not have come from the Electra, well you can bet the farm, the wife, and your bottom dollar that it did NOT come from an Electra.  Let me tell you something about Harvey . . . there was a guy, who in the early days of Lockheed, started as a wrench rat and who, through his some forty years with the firm, rose to be Vice-President of Quality Control Engineering.  He was revered, respected, and loved by everybody, and nobody knew his job better than Harvey.  There is no greater authority on this argument than this man.  For Gillespie to say that Lockheed “could have changed” original design integrity is ludicrous, stupid and pretty damn arrogant of him.  He must have a lot of money riding on this piece of aluminum.

High Times — Keeping ‘Em Flying, Art Kennedy’s 1992 autobiography with Jo Ann Ridley, is “a lively account of growing up in early West Coast aviation, working on famous aircraft with famous flyers; of practical jokes and competitive dirty tricks; and of significant innovative contributions to aircraft safety. . . . Aviation has given this old ramp rat one hell of a great life!”

AES:  But TIGHAR claims that the piece has an ink-stained stencil reading 24S-T3, in red ink, and that because it was hand-stampedat the factory, it had to be pre-World War II.

KENNEDY:  All aircraft companies bought their aluminum from ALCOA starting in 1932.  24S-Condition 3 was used on all aircraft prior to World War II.  24S-T3 was produced right through the beginning of WWII and was used on tens of thousands of American aircraft, including the PBY, DC-4, P-38, P-51, P-47, and the 247D.  Lockheed and other airplane manufacturers were stacked to the rafters with 24S-T3 on the onset of WWII, and as far as identifying the date of manufacture of a piece of stamped aluminum, hell, I saw the stamps put on in blue, red, green, black . . . they used every color under the sun, and sometimes they stamped with the grain, sometimes against the grain, diagonally, every which way.  Nobody today, shown a piece of 24S-T3, can pinpoint the date of manufacture just by the color of the ALCLAD stamp or by the shape of the letters.

AES:  You have seen a sketch of the TIGHAR artifact.  Comments?

KENNEDY:  Absolutely no way would Lockheed permit a change of rivet spacing on the replacement of a skin panel . . . it would never pass inspection.  Nobody in their right mind . . . in any repair situation, would ever change the pattern of the rivet holes and make different holes thru stringers, circumferentials [sic], keels, and other attaching structures and put more holes in these structures and thusly compromise the structural integrity of the original design.  This TIGHAR piece of aluminum might have come from the nose gear door of a Catalina Flying Boat because they got easily damaged and were always in constant repair.  You might also check the bottom of the floats as they have a rivet pattern similar to what you showed me.  Lockheed did skin replacements, not patches.

AES:  TIGHAR claims that they have evidence that Amelia and Fred removed a fuel cell from the cabin and with an engine cover jury-rigged a water-catchment device on Gardner Island, using only a screwdriver.  Your comments?

KENNEDY:  Bill and Joe, you guys can’t be serious that somebody would try to bamboozle the American public into thinking that AE and Fred would even attempt such an impossible job on a deserted island.  First, you’d have to remove the radio blocking your way to the fuel tank to be removed.  Then you have to tear apart the floor boards of the entire rear of the airplane . . . then you need special wrenches to get at the nuts tying down the tank; then you need BIGGER 1.5-inch wrenches to release the B-nuts  tying the vent lines to the other tanks.  And when this is all said and done what have you got?  I’ll tell you what you’ve got!  Ever try drinking water out of an aluminum can that’s been full of aviation gas for two months?  It’ll kill ya, and Fred certainly knew better.  Didn’t I read someplace that somebody suggested that if they really were down on a deserted island they simply would have deployed their life raft for water-catching purposes? 

AES: Yeah, we suggested that in a previous AES Newsletter.

KENNEDY:  And another point . . . the engine covers were never taken on the final flight.  I remember walking into Firman Grey’s office at Lockheed several weeks after she went down and seeing engine covers in the corner stenciled NR 16020.   Firman said Amelia thought they were too bulky and heavy to be trucking around the world.

AES:  But AE’s book Last Flight states that they used engine and prop covers at Timor.

Art Kennedy, Alverca, Portugal, 1991.

KENNEDY:  That’s baloney.   Putnam wrote that book and filled in all that fancy prose.  Amelia was too busy and dog tired at every stop to write notes for George.  GP got a few scraps of information from phone calls to AE and from the press, but there was no press or telephone at Timor, so George filled in some empty space with his own creations.

AES:  Art, you’ve been a superb host, and a fabulous source of “firsthand” information on the greatest Lady of Aviation.  In closing, what do you feel really happened?

KENNEDY:  I am convinced she went down in the Marshall Islands, as so many researchers besides you two guys have theorized.  Something BIG has always bugged me: I kept immaculate fuel low records from the tests cells on her engines, and so help me, from her last message to Itasca at 20 hours and 14 minutes into the flight, she had AT LEAST five hours of fuel left.  Think about it: if you’re really lost, then when your fuel runs out, you’re about to die, and you know it.  Talking to somebody there on the radio is your only lifeline, and it costs you nothing to talk and yell for help, as the average pilot would have done in this situation.  The silence with an operational radio and five hours of fuel left really bugs me.  That was not the Amelia I knew.  She had somewhere else to go to.  It was planned.  (End of Kennedy interview.)

In High Times, Kennedy wrote that Earhart told him she was ordered to abort the Luke Field takeoff and did it the only way she knew how.”  According to Kennedy, she saida lot depended on my keeping quiet about what I’d seen because she was going on a special mission that had to look like a routine attempt to go around the world.  She said, ‘Can you imagine me being a spy?’ then she sort of tittered and added, ‘I never said that!’” Several researchers, including some who knew him well, have looked askance at Kennedy’s claims and pointed to his reputation as a well-known “bullshit artist,” as he himself admits in his book’s prologue.  Who knows for sure?

Bill Prymak, who knew Kennedy well, was among those who agreed with Fred Goerner in dismissing Kennedy’s claim about the Luke Field accident.  On the other hand, Prymak wrote that Joe Gervais (who accompanied Prymak to Portugal) and I were left with some lasting impressions of Art Kennedy, not the least being his total love and admiration for Amelia, his uncanny knowledge of the Lockheed Electra, and his unquestioned honesty and resolve not to embellish when we quizzed him on matters that happened 55 years ago that since became fuzzy.  We appreciated that kind of candor.”  So what are we to think?

Was this Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated flight route on July 2, 1937?  This map appeared in the September 1966 issue of True magazine, along with a lengthy preview of Fred Goerner’s soon-to-be-published The Search for Amelia Earhart.  Art Kennedy may have thought so, and to this day the true path of Earhart’s last flight eludes us, and remains the biggest mystery of the Earhart saga.

It’s hard to buy Kennedy’s claim about the ground loop, as it’s difficult to imagine that Amelia would purposely endanger Harry Manning and Fred Noonan, who were both aboard.  It’s more likely that she honestly blew the takeoff at Luke Field, but what of Kennedy’s assertion about Amelia’s “mission taking her over Truk,” and that the Electra received “big engines” in May 1937 that he personally “modified” for the flight’s extra miles?  We have no credible evidence that supports the idea that a new pair of “big engines” was put on NR 16020, but could it have happened?

The total distance from Lae to Truk to Howland Island is 3,250 statute miles, compared with 2,556 statute miles when flying direct from Lae, well within the Electra’s normal range of 4,000 miles, even without modified enginesCan we so easily dismiss these separate and altogether plausible — at least in this observer’s opinion — claims from Kennedy?  Most probably the fliers reached Mili in a different way, but a definitive answer continues to elude us.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

“Courage is the Price”

Courage is the price that Life exacts
for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter
joy can hear
The sound of wings
How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull gray ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion? Each time we
make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the resistless day,
And count it fair.

— Amelia Earhart

Our welcoming hearts go out to all our friends and supporters of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument in the U.S.A. and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.        

Marie S. Castro (third from right, sitting), and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee welcome Josephine Blanco Akiyama (sitting next to Marie, left) back to Saipan at a reception Oct. 9, 2018.

Let us join hands this Holiday Season in celebrating the 81 years of the long-overdue recognition of Amelia Earhart’s presence with her navigator, Fred Noonan here on Saipan, the great aviators of the 20th Century.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year  2019 

— From President Donald Barcinas, Vice President Marie S. Castro, Secretary Frances Sablan, all the members of the Saipan Earhart Memorial Monument Committee, and Mike Campbell, Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Listen to Goerner’s first KCBS radio report on Saipan

Gary Boothe, of Floyd County, Va., lived on Saipan as a child from 1958 to 1962.  Both parents were teachers for the U.S. Navy civilian administration, teaching local students at Saipan Intermediate School.  They also taught for the U.S. Trust Territory in the Caroline islands at Chuuk and Yap.  Gary is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and has made several trips to visit islands in Micronesia, including Saipan, where the below photo was taken in June 2018.

Photo taken during Gary Boothe’s June 2018 visit to Saipan.  From Left: Dominique Boothe (Gary’s daughter), Gary, Marie S. Castro. Congressman Donald Barcinas, Mrs. Evelyna Shoda, Mr. Carlos Shoda. 

Recently Gary listened to an old reel-to-reel tape that his father left, and he made an amazing discovery.  It appears to be the first KCBS radio report filed by Fred Goerner upon his return to San Francisco following his late June to mid-July 1960 investigation there.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard this recording.  Moreover, I’ve never heard another researcher claim to have it.  This is a rare collector’s item that I gladly share with you, dear reader.  Since my WordPress blog format will not allow the posting of MP3s or other audio formats, my friend Dave Bowman, author of Legerdemain (2007), The Story of Amelia Earhart (2012), A Waiting Dragon: A fresh and audacious look at the Mystery of Amelia Earhart (2017) and others, has agreed to host the MP3 file of Goerner’s 1960 KCBS production on his websiteTo listen to Goerner’s report please click here.

At nationally broadcast KCBS news conference in San Francisco, November 1961, following Goerner’s second trip to Saipan, the author (at table, right) is questioned by newsmen about package of remains being flown in from Saipan.  Don Mozley, KCBS news director, is at the table with Goerner.  (Photo courtesy Lance Goerner.)

The 15-minute report parallels Goerner’s narrative in his bestseller, The Search for Amelia Earhart (pages 41-52, First Edition) about his initial Saipan visit, in mid-June 1960.   He speaks of how he “set about enlisting the aid of the fathers of the Church,” as virtually all the locals on Saipan were Catholic.  Monsignor Oscar Calvo, and Fathers Arnold Bendowske and Sylvan Conover served as translators during Goerner’s interrogations of what he variously reported as 200 to 300 potential witnesses, ensuring he would be getting the truth, in contrast to the lie so often spread by our media that the Saipan witnesses told Goerner “what he wanted to hear.”

The report doesn’t state its airing date, but it was on or about July 1, 1960, the date of Linwood Day’s stunning, front-page story in the San Mateo Times, headlined “Amelia Earhart Mystery Is Solved,” and an “all media news conference . . . in Studio B at KCBS in the Sheraton-Palace Hotel in San Francisco, according to Goerner (p. 62 Search).

He names only a few of his original 13 witnesses named in his 1966 bestseller, but quotes native dentist Manual Aldan, whose patients were Japanese officers:  I didn’t exactly see the man and the woman, but I heard from the Japanese official about one woman flier and a man that landed at a place (unintelligible) now called Tanapag. . . . I dealt with high officials on the island and knew what they were saying in Japanese.  The name of the lady I heard used. This is the name the Japanese officer said — Earharto!”

Jose Rios Camacho (identified as Rios R. Camacho) told Goerner, I was working at Tanapag Harbor.  I saw the plane.  It was heading across the island . . . in a northeasterly to southwesterly direction.  It crashed in Tanapag area.  I saw a Navy launch bring them to the beach.  I saw the lady pilot and the man.  She was dressed like a man. Her hair was short, it was brown. Afterwards they kept her in Tanapag.”

Gary Boothe, left, circa 1960, at age 5, and friend enjoy another idyllic Saipan day near their Navy Seabee-built Quonset homes on Saipan. “The photo was taken in the housing area by the lighthouse on Navy Hill” Gary told me in a recent email.  “The building up the hill at the top of the photo is the island commander’s compound.  The ones in our housing area were moved there from somewhere else on the island in the mid ’50s. They were hot, but not as bad as you might think.  The only place to find any air conditioning out there at the time was on Guam, and it was pretty rare there.  We loved our Quonsets, and it was sad to return after many years and not have a single one in sight.  It was the dominant architectural feature back in the day.  (Photo courtesy Gary Boothe.)

“The testimonies go on and on,” Goerner said. We have two-and-a-half hours on tape.”

In concluding, Goerner jumped the gun a bit in his enthusiasm to claim the salvaged parts might have come from the Earhart Electra, but that’s understandable.  We know that they were later confirmed as coming from Japanese-made planes.  

Still germane today is the yet-unanswered question about the plane that brought the fliers to Saipan.  Was it a seaplane, as one would tend to believe, or a land-based plane that landed in the harbor because it was in trouble? 

Goerner said that the plane that the two Saipanese dove on in Tanapag Harbor was the same one that brought the fliers to Saipan in 1937, and he may have been correct in this.  If it was true, the plane that took the fliers to Saipan was not a Japanese seaplane, but a land-based plane that probably originated at Kwajalein, as two witnesses have attested (p. 150-154 Truth at Last). 

This would have been more evidence to support the land-based-plane-crash-landing scenario at Tanapag Harbor, already strongly supported by several Saipanese witnesses who used the word “crashed” in describing the plane’s arrival.  Seaplanes landing on water are not normally said to be “crashing.  This conundrum is discussed at length in “The Saipan Witnesses” chapter of Truth at Last.

Was Amelia Earhart buried on Tinian?

Tinian is best known as the launching pad for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb Little Boyon Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, followed by a second atomic device, Fat Man,dropped on Nagasaki by the B-29 BockscarBut if the site an American Marine was shown by a native Hawaiian who worked under the Japanese in 1937 and claimed was the grave of Amelia Earhart could be found and verified, Tinian’s notoriety in world history would be exponentially increased.  (Boldface mine throughout.)

St. John Naftel was a Marine gunner’s mate assigned to the 18th AAA Marine Battalion stationed on Tinian shortly after the American invasion of July 24-Aug. 1, 1944.  The 8,000-man Japanese garrison was eliminated, and the island joined Saipan and Guam as a base for the Twentieth Air ForceJapanese losses were 5,543 killed, 2,265 missing and 252 captured, while 326 Americans died and 1,593 were wounded.

By Aug. 10, 1944, 13,000 Japanese civilians were interned, but up to 4,000 were dead through suicide, murdered by Japanese troops or killed in combat.  The garrison on Aguijan Island off the southwest cape of Tinian, commanded by Lt. Kinichi Yamada, held out until the end of the war, surrendering on Sept. 4, 1945. The last holdout on Tinian, Murata Susumu, was captured in 1953.

On Guam, St. John Naftel hoists the Nov. 7, 2004 Pacific Daily News, shortly before the Tinian Earhart Expedition failed to answer the headline’s question in the affirmative.  (Photo courtesy Rlene Santos Steffy.)

Fast-forward to September 2003, when “It all began with a call from Jennings Bunn to Jim Sullivan on the ‘The Deep,’ a radio talk show aired on K57 radio in Guam,” wrote Rlene Santos Steffy, a columnist for The Guam Daily Post, in The Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004,” still available online:

Jennings was in possession of a letter from Mr. Elliot Broughton, who knew of a WWII veteran claiming knowledge of the fate of Amelia Earhart and her navigator following their much publicized disappearance following their attempted flight around the globe in 1937.  Jennings contacted Mr. Broughton and learned of Mr. St John Naftel, who was stationed on Tinian at the end of the Japanese era of control.  During Mr. Naftel’s time on Tinian, he came to know a conscript of the Japanese army who confided the location of two graves that he had been forced to dig five days after his arrival in 1937.  In these graves, he told Naftel, were buried the bodies of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan.

Jennings’ call to the radio show was a plea for assistance that Jim Sullivan and his guest host that evening Bob Silvers responded to.  After an initial meeting to discuss the details, The Tinian Earhart Expedition [also known as The Tinian Dig] was formed.  During the next month, the group interviewed Mr. Naftel, researched his story, conducted an aerial survey of the area and dug into the historical archives for additional supporting documentation to try to determine the validity of Mr. Naftel’s story.  By the end of September, it was looking very promising and it was decided that the only way to progress further was to bring Mr. Naftel to Tinian to undertake a physical search for evidence of the grave sites.  With great confidence and anticipation, the arrangements were made.

Steffy is an ethnographer, oral historian and research associate at the University of Guam’s Micronesia Area Research Center, and also wrote a review of Truth at Last in July 2017.

Following is Naftel’s account as given to Cassandra Sandy Frost, self-identified as an award-winning e-journalist and editor who has covered the topics of Intuition, Remote Viewing and Consciousness from an Athabascan or Alaska Native point of view the past three years, who also chronicled The Tinian Dig in a series of articles for Rense.com (see below):

The first job for my unit was to clean the place up.

There was a place that I called the stockade which consisted of three sections.  First made up of military personnel, second, island natives (farmers, shopkeepers, etc.), third, the people the Japanese had brought in prior to any military action (they were like slaves to the Jap military).  Because the cleanup operation required a lot of labor, these people could be trusted (used) to help with the cleanup.

My first job was to escort a truck load of these people from the stockade to our camp each day.

JOB — Pick a truck load of these people at the stockade which usually consisted of about 30 people — each day as we loaded the truck (open body) I would ask, Is there anyone that can speak English?  Because these people came from different international locations, there was always some that could speak English.  I would then choose one of them to act as a sort offoreman to help me with the job.

On about the third or fourth day when I asked this question, a man stepped forward speaking good English.  I do not remember this man’s name because I had never known it before.  He told me he was from one of the Hawaii [sic] Islands when he fell for the Japanese promise to come work for them at a good wage.  Only when he along with others arrived at Tinian did they find out that they were actually slaves.

St. John Naftel, left, is accompanied by expedition organizer Jennings Bunn as he arrives on Tinian in early November 2004.  (Photo courtesy Rlene Santos Steffy.)

After the third day that he was on my truck load of people, he began to open up in talking with me while we were traveling to my camp.  On the third or fourth day our conversation went kinda like this:

Man:  On the way in I want to show you something and tell you about it.  Can you have the driver to slow down when I ask you to?

Me:   Yes, no problem.

Man: Can we move over the side of the truck?pointing to the left side

Me: Yes, which we did.  I tapped the truck cab and asked Hall (clarification, C.C. Hall was the truck driver) if he would slow down when asked.  As we began a downward slope toward what was Tinian Town this man asked me to slow down, then Look out there.  He was pointing to the left (on the left was a cliff that the Japs had made in the hillside).  In the cliff there were three man-made caves.  These caves overlooked Tinian Bay.  In each of them the Japs had some large guns.  I had visited these caves earlier.

When the man pointed to the left and said,Look, I replied, Yes, I see the caves.  I have not been in them before.” “No, not the caves,he said.  Look like I am pointing. The truck had slowed down, so the man was kind of pointing back up the slope.

Man:  “Look, see those two graves up there?”

Me: Yes, what about them?

Man:  I have never said anything to anyone about this before because there was no one that I could trust.  I was about the third or fourth day that I was brought here that the Japs brought me and five or six other men here and gave us shovels and picks and pointed out that we were to dig graves.  We were under the guard of two Jap soldiers.  After we dug the graves to please these guards, a truck soon arrived.  There were two bodies in the truck.  One was a man — the other was a woman.  I immediately noted that they were both Americans.  The woman was dressed in pants and a jacket.  On the jacket (he reached his hand across his left chest) was what looked like a wing.  Before I got hooked up with these Japs, I had heard and saw newspaper pictures of this American woman that was going to fly around the world.  I can’t think of her name right now.”

St. John Naftel, right, points out the spot on Tinian he believed to be the location of the gravesite he was shown by the unnamed Hawaiian man in 1944.  “I would bet my life this is where I saw the two graves,” Naftel told Bob Silvers, left, according to Jennings Bunn, who was standing nearby.  (Photo courtesy Rlene Santos Steffy.)

Me: “Would it be Amelia Earhart?”

Man: “Yes, that’s who it was.  As we were instructed we buried the bodies, then the Jap in charge — he could speak English — called us together and told us that we were never to speak to anyone about this, and that if they even thought we had, we could be digging our own graves.  You could not trust anyone in the camp because they tell a guard so they could get a favor.  You are the first and only person I have ever mentioned this to.”

At this point we arrived at my camp and I was called to the office.  I had to take a detail out aboard a ship (several had arrived carrying a lot of cargo and some with a lot of Seabees) and help with the unloading.  This took two weeks.  When I returned to camp we were being divided up into different gun crews — I never saw the man again.  (End of Naftel account.)

St. John was talking about picking up the workers at acamp,that was Camp Chulu,Jennings Bunn told me in a November 2018 email.  I took St. John there, and he recognized the standing façade of the old headquarter building and police station.  Kind of like a city hall.  The workers there were primarily Okinawans who were hired long before the war to work in sugar cane fields on Tinian.

Several established facts militate against the possibility of Earhart or Fred Noonan’s burial on Tinian.  Most importantly, not one of the many Saipan witnesses — people like Josephine Blanco Akiyama, Matidle F. Arriola, Joaquina Cabrera, José Pangelinan, Dr. Manual Aldan, Jesús Salas and others — ever claimed they were told that the American fliers were taken to Tinian or buried there. 

The Tinian Dig begins.  Among those assisting in the excavations were Dr. Hiro Kurishina, University of Guam, who brought his archaeology class; TIGHAR’s Tom King Ph.D.; and Karen Ramey Burns Ph.D., a forensic anthropologist at the University of North Carolina. (Photo courtesy Rlene Santos Steffy.)

Matilde was told the American woman was cremated by an alleged eyewitness, Mr. Tomokane, in an account recently revealed by Marie Castro, in which case no Earhart gravesite would have existed at all.  Don Kothera and the Cleveland Group’s interview of Anna Magofna (pages 245-247 Truth at Last) is a fairly compelling story that suggests Amelia might have been buried outside the Liyang Cemetery outside of southern Garapan, as José Pangelinan told Fred Goerner, and where Marine Capt. Tracy Griswold directed privates Everett Henson Jr. and Billy Burks to excavate skeletal remains of two individuals in the summer of 1944.  Many others, too numerous to mention here, attested to their common knowledge of Earhart’s death on Saipan, none ever mentioning Tinian in any context. 

Further, the idea that the fliers had been buried on Tinian came from just one unnamed eyewitness, who shared his story with Naftel in 1944 under unusual, strained circumstances.  The anonymous Hawaiian’s own words to Naftel could be considered questionable in themselves by a suspicious observer.  “You could not trust anyone in the camp because they tell a guard so they could get a favor,” he told Naftel of his 1937 experience working under the Japanese.  “You are the first and only person I have ever mentioned this to.”  Did the Hawaiian man himself hope to gain a favor from Naftel for this amazing revelation? 

Another provocative detail in Naftel’s story was the Hawaiian man’s description of the jacket worn by the dead woman. “On the jacket (he reached his hand across his left chest) was what looked like a wing,” he told Naftel.  On the back cover of Mary Lovell’s 1989 book, The Sound of Wings, is a small portrait photo of Amelia in a dress with what appears to be three pearl necklaces and a wing device attached.  Also, on page 134 of Carol Osborne and Muriel Earhart Morrissey’s 1987 biography, Amelia, My Courageous Sister, Amelia is shown in June 1932 in two photos with National Geographic officials in Washington, wearing what could be the same wing device.  In the appendix of the same book, on page 302, three different wing devices are shown in very small photos without descriptions.

Was the “jacket” worn by the dead woman a leather flight jacket?  Though many photos of Amelia wearing such a jacket can be found on an internet search and in various books, I’ve not seen any with a wing attached, sewn or embroidered on it, as commonly done among U.S. Navy and Marine aviators, then and now, and which is likely what the Hawaiian man was describing.  The Japanese would have removed a wing device and any other jewelry from a dead body, and would they even bury such a jacket with a body?  

Although a photo of Amelia in a jacket with a wing on the left side would support Naftel’s story, it would not absolutely confirm it.  Naftel’s account doesn’t add up for many reasons, but if you have a photo or can direct us to one that matches the Hawaiian man’s story, please let us know.  

Needless to say, The Tinian Dig did not locate the remains of Earhart or Noonan.  In a series of posts for Rense.com Cassandra Frost traced the roots and progress of the Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004.  In chronological order, here are Frost’s detailed reports:Amelia Earhart’s Grave Found?;  “Earhart – Latest On-Scene Report;  “Earhart Dig – Day One;Earhart Dig – Day 2;  “Interview With Saint John Naftel“Earhart Dig – Day 3 Expedition Shifts Gears; “Earhart Dig – Day 4 Time Travel, High Tech Style”; “Earhart Expedition – The Day AfterInterview With Jim Sullivan “Earhart Expedition – Breakfast With Bob.”

Members of The Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004, left to right: Bob Silvers, Jennings Bunn, St. John Naftel and Jim Sullivan.  (Photo courtesy Rlene Santos Steffy.)

In my closing comments on The Tinian Dig in Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last (p. 305), I compare the highly promoted 2006 Nauticos Deep Sea Search for Amelia Earhart,” with The Tinian Earhart Expedition 2004, which was completely ignored by the American media, and came to a familiar conclusion:

The Nauticos search and Tinian Dig are minor footnotes in the long history of failure to find the smoking gun in the Earhart disappearance.  Neither seems worthy of further consideration, but they reveal a disturbing reality when examined from another perspective.  As we’ve seen, the Nauticos effort was well publicized in the months preceding its launching.  News of the Tinian Expedition, by contrast, was found only in small publications such as the Saipan Tribune and Pacific Magazine.  How can big media’s blackout of The Tinian Dig be squared with its boundless enthusiasm for the ill-conceived Nauticos excursion into the empty depths of crashed-and-sank theory?  After all, both ventures were aimed at achieving the same goal: solving the great Earhart mystery.” 

The answer is simple.  The intensity of our media’s passion for the idea that the Electra lies on the Pacific’s floor is equaled only by its abhorrence of the very thought of the fliers’ deaths on Saipan at the hands of the Japanese—now among our strongest allies in the Pacific Rim.  Anything that might lead the public to seek more information about the fate of Earhart and Noonan, such as broadcasting or printing news stories about an investigation into their possible burial site on nearby Tinian, must be strenuously avoided.  Tinian is in the same forbidden neighborhood as Saipan—too close to the truth and strictly off-limits.

St. John Naftel passed away on Feb. 2, 2015 in Montgomery, Ala., at 92.

(Editor’s note:  Jerry Wilson, of Chattaroy, Wash., a longtime Earhart researcher and Tinian advocate, contributed much of the information in this post, which would not have been possible without him.  My sincere thanks and appreciation go out to Jerry, as well as to Jennings Bunn.)

Did Earhart crash on purpose in Hawaii takeoff?

Much has been made by a few of the more conspiracy-minded researchers of Amelia Earhart’s disastrous crash at Luke Field, Hawaii, on March 20, 1937, during her takeoff on the second leg of her first world-flight attempt, which could have easily resulted in her death, as well as those of Fred Noonan and Harry Manning, who were also with her in the Electra that day.  Some believed Amelia crashed on purpose.

First, some background might be helpful.  The original world-flight plan called for an Oakland-to-Oakland flight via Honolulu, then on to Howland Island; Lae, New Guinea; and Port Darwin, Australia.  “Part two, a lengthier stretch over fabulous lands,” as Earhart described it, “extended from Australia to the west coast of Africa by way of Arabia.”

Part three would take the Electra over the South Atlantic to Brazil and from there northward to the United States.  Noonan would go as far as Howland and return to Hawaii by ship.  Captain Harry Manning, a pilot, navigator, and master mariner of the United States Line, had agreed to serve as Earhart’s navigator and radio operator during the difficult early stages of the flight.  Manning would stay until they reached Australia, and Earhart would fly the rest of the way alone.

The flight from Oakland to Honolulu went well, as Earhart, Noonan, Manning, and technical advisor Paul Mantz took off from Oakland Airport on March 17 at 4:37 p.m. Pacific time.  They landed at Wheeler Field, Oahu, at 8:25 a.m. Pacific time, March 18, covering the 2,400 miles in a record 15 hours, 43 minutes.  Once there, Mantz test flew the Electra, made repairs on the right propeller blades that became temporarily inoperative about six hours from Hawaii, and delivered the plane to the Navy’s Luke Field, on Ford Island near Pearl Harbor.  With its 3,000-foot paved runway, Luke was considered more practical for the Electra’s 900-gallon fuel load.  

The seriously damaged Electra 10E after Amelia’s Luke Field, Hawaii “ground loop” on March 20, 1937.  Amelia and Fred can be seen standing next to the pilot’s side of plane.  The Electra was sent back to the Lockheed plant in Burbank for months of costly repairs.

But on the March 20 takeoff for the 1,900-mile flight to Howland Island, the Electra had covered about a thousand feet of runway when its right wing dropped, the right wheel and the undercarriage were torn away, and the plane slid along the runway, showering sparks before coming to rest.  Miraculously, despite fuel leaking through the drain well of the belly, no fire erupted and no one was injured.

Witnesses said the tire blew,” Earhart explained.  “However, studying the tracks carefully, I believe that may not have been the primary cause of the accident.  Possibly the right landing gear’s right shock absorber, as it lengthened, may have given way. . . . For a moment I thought I would be able to gain control and straighten the course.  But, alas, the load was so heavy, once it started an arc there was nothing to do but let the plane ground loop as easily as possible.”  A wire report said Army aviation experts “expressed unofficial opinions that a landing gear failed just before the right tire of her plane burst.”

Art Kennedy, an aircraft technician for the Pacific Airmotive Company in Burbank, Calif., during the 1930s, offered a more sinister explanation for the crash in his 1992 autobiography, High Times, Keeping ‘em Flying.  Kennedy first met Earhart in 1934 when he serviced her Lockheed Vega for a Bendix Trophy race, and directed the repairs of the Electra when it was shipped back to Burbank in boxes following the accident at Luke Field.

After a close examination of the plane’s damaged right wing, right gear, brakes and propellers, Kennedy said he realized the ground loop was not normal, but “forced,” and that Earhart purposely wrecked the plane.  When confronted by Kennedy, she “told me not to mention it and to mind my own business,” he wrote. 

Kennedy said he reminded her that an inspector was due the next day to make an official accident report and would recognize the plane’s condition would never have been caused by an accident.  “Damn! I forgot about the gear,” Kennedy claimed she said.  “Art, you and I are good friends. You didn’t see a thing.  We’ll just force the gear back over to make it look natural. Will you promise me never to say anything about what you know?”  Kennedy complied and swore he kept his word for 50 years.

Undated photo of Art Kennedy., circa late 1930s.  According to Bill Prymak, who knew him well, Kennedy fabricated stories about what Amelia Earhart told him after she crashed the Electra on takeoff from Luke Field in March 1937.  These tales from Kennedy have been cited by some as strong evidence that Amelia was ordered to ground loop her plane, change directions of her world flight and even embark on a spy mission.

Kennedy said Earhart told him she was ordered to abort the takeoff “and did it the only way she knew how.”  According to Kennedy, she said “a lot depended on my keeping quiet about what I’d seen because she was going on a special mission that had to look like a routine attempt to go around the world.  She said, ‘Can you imagine me being a spy?’ then she sort of tittered and added, ‘I never said that!’” Several researchers, including some who knew him well, have looked askance at Kennedy’s claims and pointed to his reputation as a well-known “bullshit artist,” as he himself admits in his book’s prologue.  Who knows for sure?

Bill Prymak, who knew Kennedy well, was among those who joined Fred Goerner in dismissing Kennedy’s claims.   Goerner laid out his reasons in a cordial 1992 letter to Ronald T. “Ron” Reuther (1929-2007), himself a remarkable and highly accomplished individual.  

Reuther, a close friend of Goerner, founded the Western Aerospace Museum and was a revered, original member of Bill Prymak’s Amelia Earhart Society.  Reuther was unique among the elite of the aviation establishment in his support for the Marshalls Islands-Saipan truth in the Earhart disappearance, but these are mere footnotes in an impressive list of memorable achievements in a life well lived. 

He was also a great naturalist who curated and directed the Micke Grove Zoo (Lodi, Calif.), the Cleveland Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo.  As director of the San Francisco Zoo, Reuther was instrumental in the creation of an amazingly successful project to teach the world-famous and recently deceased gorilla Koko sign language.  Following is Goerner’s cordial 1992 letter to Reuther.  All boldface is mine.

August 7, 1992

Mr. Ron Reuther
1014 Delaware Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Dear Ron:

Again you have proven to be a good friend!

Many thanks for your comments regarding my health, and extra thanks for sending along the chapter from Arthur Kennedy’s book, HIGH TIME [sic] — KEEPING ‘EM FLYING.

I’m more than a little happy to report that my recovery proceeds apace, although I have some distance to go in regaining strength.

The surgeons at the Cancer Institute in Washington, D.C., saved my life in a fifteen-hour operation, and I have just concluded the last of three week-long chemo sessions at Mount Zion Hospital here in San Francisco.  The latest CT-scan is clean, so it appears that I have at least a few more years to plague family and friends.

Undated photo of Ron Reuther in front of the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California, where Amelia Earhart’s plane was kept prior to her 1937 flight.  Reuther was a founding member of the Amelia Earhart Society, and was a committed naturalist who directed the San Francisco and Philadelphia zoos, among others. (Photo by Lea Suzuki, San Francisco Chronicle.)

With respect to the Kennedy comments about Earhart, the proverbial grain of salt applies.

Kennedy appears to have been influenced by the film FLIGHT FOR FREEDOM in which Earhart [is asked by the U.S. Navy purposefully to crash her plane in Hawaii so she can later undertake a secret mission.  Kennedy alleges Earhart did just that and that Earhart even told him something about it.  [Ed. note:  Tony Carter is the character in Flight for Freedom that Goerner identified as Earhart, but the parallel was obvious.]

This reckons without the testimony of Harry Manning who was flying the right-hand seat alongside Earhart at the time of the Honolulu crack-up.

Harry became a good friend in the late 1960s and the early 1970s.  As you will recall, Harry was the initial navigator for the around-the-world flight, and he later shared the duties with Fred Noonan.

Harry told me Earhart simply “lost it” on the takeoff, and there was no mystery about it whatsoever.

He said, “One second I was looking at the hangars and the next second the water.  I thought we were going to die.”

The plane began to sway during takeoff, and according to Manning, Earhart tried to correct with the throttles and simply over-corrected.  He said it wasn’t a matter of a tire blowing at all.  It was pilot error with a load of 940 gallons of fuel.  He added it was a miracle there was no fire.

As far as the rumor that Earhart ground looped the plane on purpose to delay the flight, he said it was a concoction of a script-writer.  There was no truth to it whatsoever.

To accept such a conclusion, he added, one would have to accept that Earhart did not tell either himself (Manning) or Noonan what she planned to do.  He said neither he nor Noonan would have been foolish enough to go along with such a plan which might end in death for all of them.

Harry also said if there was a need to delay the flight because of some secret mission, the easiest way to delay the flight was for Earhart to feign an illness which required her to return to California.  Then they could have flown the Electra back to California instead of having the wrecked plane returned by ship.

Amelia Earhart with Harry Manning (center) and Fred Noonan, in Hawaii just before the Luke Field crash that sent Manning back to England and left Noonan as the sole navigator for the world flight.

Harry said by the time he got out of the wrecked plane and onto the runway he had already made up his mind that he no longer wanted any part of the flight.  It has always been stated that Harry had to return to the command of his ship and that is why he left the flight, but the truth is he had had enough of both Earhart and Putnam.

Sometime when we have a chance for a face to face, I will tell you the whole Manning story.  Harry wanted me to do a book about him and his career, but he died before the project could begin.

By the way, Harry Manning was a pilot himself, and he knew whereof he spoke.

I trust that all is well with you, Ron, and with your family.

Merla joins me in sending all good wishes to you and yours, and thanks again for your thoughtfulness in sending the Kennedy material to me.

With respect and admiration.

Fred

P.S.  A chap named Bob Bessett of the Aviation Historical Society wanted me to appear tomorrow at Spenger’s to discuss Earhart along with Elgen Long and Richard Gillespie, who is flying in from Delaware.  Alas, my doctor won’t turn me loose.  I simply do not have the requisite strength yet.  Oh, how I would love to train my guns on Gillespie.  The man is a consummate rascal, and the Nikumaroro business is totally bankrupt.  If you happen to attend tomorrow’s confrontation, give me a blow by blow.  I’m sure Elgen and Gillespie will pea [sic] on each other’s shoes.  (End of Goerner letter.)

Goerner had two more years before the cancer took him on Sept. 13, 1994.

Publicly unfazed by the near disaster at Luke Field, Earhart nonetheless changed the flight’s direction to an easterly route, explaining in Last Flight that weather differences in various locations after the three-month delay for repairs dictated the reversal:

The upshot of those consultations was, that I decided to reverse the direction originally chosen for the flight.  Revising the Pacific program was a sizable task in itself.  The Coast Guard had arranged its routine cutter cruise to Howland Island so as to be on hand there at the time of my flight, other provisions had been made by the Navy.

The original course from Brazil though Panama, Central America and Mexico would be replaced by a cross-country flight to Miami, a “practical shakedown flight, testing the rebuilt ship and its equipment . . . thereby saving the time of running such tests in California,” Earhart wrote, adding that any necessary adjustments or repairs could be made in Miami.

Do Goerner’s letter and Prymak’s dismissal of Kennedy’s claims really mark the end of the story?  Can we really declare “case closed” with confidence, based on the word of these two experts, as well as what some of our own “better angels” would have us conclude?

The words of a few others might give some of the more suspicious among us reason to pause.  We still don’t know precisely how much Amelia’s mother, Amy Otis Earhart knew, for example, as I discussed in a Dec. 9, 2014 post, “Amy Earhart’s stunning 1944 letter to Neta Snook.

And in Amelia Earhart’s Radio (2006), respected researcher Paul Rafford Jr. made an astonishing revelation:

Yet Mark Walker, a Naval Reserve Officer, heard something different from Earhart. I heard about Mark from his cousin, Bob Greenwood, a Naval Intelligence Officer.  Bob wrote to me about Mark and what he had heard.

Mark Walker was Pan Am copilot flying out of Oakland. He pointed out to Earhart the dangers of the world flight, when the Electra was so minimally equipped to take on the task.  Mark claimed Earhart stated: “This flight isn’t my idea, someone high up in the government asked me to do it.”

“Earhart’s crack-up in Honolulu is a classic example of how minor events can change world history,” Rafford wrote.  “Had she not lost control and ground looped during takeoff, Earhart would have left navigator Fred Noonan at Howland and radio operator Captain Harry Manning in Australia.  Then, she would have proceeded around the world alone. 

“Fate decreed otherwise.”

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