Tag Archives: Amelia Earhart Society Symposium

Conclusion of 1993 AES Symposium review

Today we conclude our review of the 1993 Amelia Earhart Symposium, held at The Flying Lady restaurant in Morgan Hill, Calif., organized by AES founder and President Bill Prymak and attended by nearly all the leading researchers and authors of the Earhart disappearance. 

Names in bold capitals and other caps emphasis Prymak’s; all other bold emphasis mine.

A.E.S. SYMPOSIUM AUGUST 27-29th, 1993

LIST OF PRINCIPAL SPEAKERS

IRV PERCH:  You can’t describe this guy as a character; there’s’ simply too much depth, warmth and charisma behind this man . . . his welcoming speech will be well remembered for the story of his 150 pair of white overalls  . . .  What a character!”  Hey! . . . I did say it!  He IS a character!

BILL PRYMAKIntroducing principal speakers, special guests such as Bill and Nandine Southern, Bill being Neta Snook’s son; Irene & John Bolam, and a host of others.  Pat Ward of the 99s a very special attendee; helped Bill immeasurably thru the early days of AES.

Bill Prymak, a veteran pilot with more than 6,500 hours in private aircraft since 1960, studied the Earhart-Itasca messages for years before presenting his conclusions in his December 1993 Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter analysis, titled “Radio Logs – Earhart/ITASCA.”  He also conceived, organized and executed to near perfection the 1993 AES Earhart Symposium at The Flying Lady in Morgan Hill, Calif., an event that he modestly labeled a “measured success.” 

DON WILSONAuthor of upcoming book Amelia Earhart: Lost Legend, has done a superb job of putting together an anthology of all the eye witnesses in the South Pacific associated with events immediately after July 2, 1937.

COL. ROLLIN REINECK Describing his untiring efforts to initiate Congressional legislation to release State Dept. files that are still precluded from public scrutiny.  His handouts to all attendees to be forwarded as detailed on the handout are vital to our cause: every attendee is urged to act on it!  It only takes five minutes: Let’s do it NOW!

JOE GERVAIS1960, first AE investigation.  Went to Saipan several times to interview native witnesses, first trip 1961.  Visited Japan, Howland Island, Lae, Truk, Marshall Islands all in search of information leading to a solution.  Joe supplied all research data for Joe Klaas’ book Amelia Earhart Lives (1970), which was nominated for COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PULITZER PRIZE in 1971 [and later pulled from all bookstores after Irene Bolam sued the publisher for defamation].  Joe to this day still keeps up a torrid pace on his quest for the truth.  One of the true icons in Earhart research.

JOE KLAASAuthor of Amelia Earhart Lives (see above) . . . book now a rare classic fetching upwards of $125/copy.  Felt Howard Hughes put substantial heat on himself and Gervais after their book suggested that possibly Japanese obtained Zero Fighter blueprints from Hughes.  Hughes had great respect for the two Joes, who jointly earned approximately 30 combat medals between them.  They were told by Hughes’ henchmen, “If it were not for their combat records, they would have been squashed like bugs.”  A very strange story indeed.

Joe Gervais, the father of the Earhart-as-Bolam theory, and Joe Klaas, his right-hand man and author of Amelia Earhart Lives, in a typical news photo from 1970, when Amelia Earhart Lives was creating an international sensation.

ELGEN LONGPut forth his theory that AE simply ran out of fuel and ditched approx. 40-75 miles NW of Howland Island.  Mr. Long was heatedly contested on his position by several researchers, but, as is with AES policy, all sides are given time to plea their case.

ED MELVIN:  A close associate of Art Kennedy, who was her chief engine mechanic prior to her last flight, and Ed thinks AE was approached by one of the military services to survey, not spy, on Japanese installations in the Pacific.  Gave detailed insight on the personal life and accomplishments of Kennedy.

PAUL RAFFORDGave a detailed lecture on the radio analysis of the final flight . . . brought up serious questions re: events at Miami, where she spent one week, touching on issues as removing the 250 ft. reel-in antenna, how she blatantly refused a Pan American radio crystal that would give better coverage over the vast Pacific, how a ADF loop was installed on a “new” airplane, and the strange conduct by Amelia re: radio transmissions during her final hours.  Technically, a superb presentation.

ANN PELLEGRENO telling of her appearance at the 1976 99/Zonta meeting at which a shorterIrene Bolam was to speak.  (I wish the SYMPOSIUM could have made more time for Ann to tell of her fascinating trip around the world in an Electra 10, replicating the Amelia Earhart flight thirty years later–ED.)  Ann was our helpful GOFER GAL!

BUDDY BRENNAN who has done much research in the Pacific, and is author of the book Eyewitness to the Execution: The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart (1988), tells of his interview with BILAMON AMARON, who treated in 1937 at Jaluit the wounds of two American flyers, one a woman, and who saw a twin-engine silver airplane, Japanese, on the fantail of the Japanese ship.

T.C. “Buddy” Brennan, author of Witness to the Execution: The Odyssey of Amelia Earhart (Renaissance House, 1988), circa mid-1980s.

GENE TISSOT related how his dad was her mechanic on the VEGA and went to Hawaii with her to prep the plane for its historic flight to Oakland.  “Amelia was an average pilot,” states his dad.

ELLIS BAILEY told how during the Saipan invasion in WWII remains of two flyers, purportedly downed before the war, were secretly transported away from the Island of Saipan.

JO ANN RIDLEY:  Co-author of the fascinating book High Times, Keeping ‘Em Flying, recounting interesting tidbits from her book regarding Art Kennedy and his close relationship with Amelia. Jo Ann did for AES all the grunt work of putting together a superb detailed record of the entire SYMPOSIUM . . . available upon request.

ALBERT BRESNIK: set up a magnificent display of photos he personally took of Amelia.  Albert was the only person at the SYMPOSIUM who had personal contact with Amelia Earhart, and his talk sharing with us his private time with Amelia was very moving.

NOTICE! Albert has shown the AES a proof of the group photo taken at the SYMPOSIUM: it’s a great memento, and it’s a MUST for everybody who attended: Send $10.00 for each mounted copy (8½ x 11) to:

ALBERT BRESNIK
16843 Sunset Blvd.
Pacific Palisades, CA. 90272
Telephone 310 454-1825

Albert L. Bresnik, well known as “Amelia Earhart’s photographer,” passed away at age 79 on Oct. 3, 1993, shortly after his appearance at the AES Symposium.  Photo courtesy Bill Prymak,

JERRY STEIGMANNOur most provocative speaker of the entire SYMPOSIUM.  Jerry is an ex-NYPD forensic specialist who has carried on his research on the AE mystery for over 40 years, and his dogged investigations have led him to some startling conclusions:

1.  Amelia Earhart was a “double agent” working simultaneously for the Marine Corps, ONI, plus the Japanese JOHOKYOKU.

2.  Since the early 1920s, AE had been in contact with Admiral YAMAMOTO and the Japanese naval intelligence.

3.  The staggering revelationsgleaned from Japanese intelligence, services survivors, and former members of the Japanese Imperial Household guards, who are now dispersed, to the far flung corners of the globe, have avoided news media in an effort to thwart any uncover the of the mystery of “Mata Hari of the Pacific Skies.”

4.  Amelia Earhart was the real reason that Gen. MacArthur declined to prosecute Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal, and why he covered up the many atrocities committed by the Japanese Army Medical Corps in the Pacific.

5.  MacArthur feared that Hirohito would disclose to the world the role that Amelia Earhart played in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Mr. Steigmann claims to have documentation to all of the above statements, and will in short time present it in book form to the American Public.  Good luck!  (End of A COMPENDIUM ON THE SYMPOSIUM.)

Jerome Steigmann may have been the most provocativespeaker at the three-day symposium, as Prymak euphemistically described Steigmann’s disturbed exploration into Earhart fantasy, but he was far from the most credible, nor was the nearly incoherent spillage of Ellis Bailey, who joined Steigmann in capturing top honors in the Earhart lunatic fringe category.  Steigmann never produced the book he promised, nor any evidence to support his outrageous claims, and passed away in Phoenix, Ariz., in May 2003 at age 77.   

Bailey, who died in 2004, also didn’t author a book, but his serial letter-writing adventures qualified him to join Steigmann, James A. Donahue, Robert Myers and others among the disreputable ranks of Fred Goerner’s “totally irresponsible weirdo fringe” in the annals of Earhart lore.

For much more on Ellis Bailey’s extensive Earhart fantasies, please see my Aug. 17, 2017 post, From forgotten files of the Earhart lunatic fringe: The incredible tale of Ellis Bailey and USS Vega.”

First AES Symposium a “measured success” Part II

We continue with our visit to the first and only Amelia Earhart Symposium held and sponsored by the Amelia Earhart Society, in August 1993 in Morgan Hill, Calif., an event that AES founder Bill Prymak modestly labeled a “measured success.” 

Today we present the first-person account of the symposium proceedings as recorded by AES member Jo Ann Ridley, who, with Art Kennedy, co-authored High Times: Keeping ‘Em Flying: An Aviation Autobiography (1992)Boldface emphasis mine throughout; underline and caps emphasis author’s.

“AMELIA EARHART SYMPOSIUM
AUGUST 27-29, 1993”
By: Jo Ann Ridley

When Amelia Earhart failed to reach Howland Island during a 1937 attempt to fly around the world, her disappearance in the South Pacific created a mystery that after fifty-six years intrigues the American public nearly as much as the JFK assassination, and seems no closer to a solution.

But not for want of trying.  As 70 members of the Amelia Earhart Society heard during a recent members-only symposium in Morgan Hill, California, twin bills introduced by Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Inouye and Congresswoman Patsy Mink would declassify and transmit all relevant government records to the Library of Congress for public perusal.

Col. Rollin Reineck, USAF (Ret.), responsible for gaining the collective ear of his Hawaii congressional contingent, is suspicious of government protestations that all Earhart material has been released.  Major Joe Gervais, USAF (Ret.), after thirty-three years of investigation considered the deanof Earhart research, claims that until the United States government does release classified documents he believes still are kept hidden from view, the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance never will be solved.

During the three-day closed session in August, impressively accredited researchers took to the podium to offer persuasive and well-documented hypotheses about what really happened to Amelia Earhart, and why.  Not surprisingly, their theories are as diverse as their backgrounds.

A retired Pan American Airways radio man, recreating with charts her radio transmissions and presumed flight path, wondered why Earhart initially refused his airline’s offer to help track her across the Pacific.  A retired airline pilot totally committed to an assumption that Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan perished when they crashed in the ocean, pleaded for acceptance of the flyer’s last radio transmissions as evidence of the truth of her predicament and ultimate fate.  On the other hand, AES president, Bill Prymak, the Denver business man who has traveled the world and sailed the South Pacific with Gervais in pursuit of Earhart data, told of their encounter with “uncontaminated” Marshallese witnesses who confirmed published reports that Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese.

A retired New York Police Department forensic expert presented a sheaf of government documents he says indicate that as early as 1923 Earhart had been selected by the U.S. military to participate in a secret Orange Planand was on a photo mission when she vanished.  Like Gervais, he believes Earhart returned to the United States after the war, but not as the Irene Bolam described in the book “Amelia Earhart Lives” by California writer Joe Klaas, based on material furnished by Gervais.

It was Klaas who related in spine-tingling detail the harassment he and Gervais experienced at the hands of minions of Howard Hughes, who Klaas intimated in his book may have provided the Japanese with a design for the Zero fighter in an attempt to gain Earhart’s release.  The harassment ended with Hughes’s death, but not before the powerful millionaire recluse sent the two a message to the effect that had it not been for their distinguished combat records in World War II, he’d have squashed you like bugs,to quote the Hughes messenger Klaas heard say it.  Thanks to efforts either of Hughes or the U. S. government and a cooperative publisher, Amelia Earhart Lives is virtually unobtainable today, with first editions fetching up to $100 a copy. 

[Editor’s note: Amelia Earhart Lives was republished by iUniverse in March 2000 and has been available ever since for a pittance on Amazon Not that I recommend it for casual readers, but the 1960 interviews by Operation Earhart operatives Gervais and Robert Dinger on Guam and Saipan were valuable contributions; otherwise the rest of AE Lives presents only bizarre and ridiculous speculation, and probably did more damage to honest Earhart research than any book ever published.]

Author Jo Ann Ridley, who teamed up with Art Kennedy to write High Times: Keeping ‘Em Flying: An Aviation Autobiography (1992).  Ridley passed away in 2010.  To read more about her life and work, please click here.  Photo by Joan Gould Winderman.

As if that weren’t enough on-the-spot intrigue, the final day of the symposium featured several witnesses to the possibility that Earhart, having survived capture and imprisonment when her country failed to extricate her from a mission of their own making, was quietly repatriated by an embarrassed U.S. government under the assumed identity of a New Jersey woman.

Julie Perch, whose father operates the famous aviation theme restaurant The Flying Lady,where the symposium took place under 120 model airplanes circling overhead, related her bizarre encounter with Irene Bolam in New York City in 1976.  For many, it was bizarre enough to force a conclusion that Bolam either was Earhart or, slightly confused, was afraid that she was.  The late Bolam’s best friend was a special guest at the Symposium and confirmed that she saw stacks of files in a closet marked AE, and that a silver hair brush set bore the initials AE.”  Bolam’s brother-in-law and his wife said they remembered an intelligent, classy lady who was a world traveler, had famous friends, and could talk knowledgeably about airplanes of the twenties and thirties.  But all agreed that if you dared to ask if she were Amelia Earhart, you were no longer her friend.  None would admit they thought Bolam was Amelia Earhart, but none of them would positively claim that she was not.  Photographs of both women elicited various opinions about a resemblance. 

[Editor’s note: Only the blind could see any resemblance between the slim, attractive, 5’8″ Earhart and the far shorter, stodgy Irene Bolam.  In late December 2015, I began a four-part analysis and overview of the entire Irene Bolam fraud.  If you’re new here or want to revisit one of the most ridiculous chapters of the Earhart saga, please click here for the entire series.]

The symposium ended on the following note: no solutions yet, but banding together presents a united front for the record in Earhart research.  More information constantly is being retrieved and someday the truth will be known.

The only unanimous conclusion during the sometimes hot and heavy debate was that The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) did not find remains either of the Earhart Electra nor her belongings on Nikumaroro (Gardner) Island as claimed by its director Richard Gillespie.  Cited were independent reports from three former Lockheed employees who worked on the plane emphatically denying that a piece of the belly of an aircraft located by Gillespie could be from the Earhart Electra.  Nor was it possible that the size 9 shoe sole Gillespie offered as having belonged to the famed aviatrix actually was hers.  Earhart wore a size 6 shoe, which Gillespie already had been told by Lou Foudray, curator of the Amelia Earhart birth-home in Atchison, Kansas, before releasing the information. 

Amelia’s presence at the symposium was all the more palpable by the affectionate display of photographs taken by Albert Bresnik of Los Angeles, who was Earhart’s personal photographer and originally was slated to fly with her to record the journey.  Others among the intent participants, who came from all over the U.S., were several members of Ninety-Nines, the women flyers organization Amelia Earhart helped to establish.  Michelle Stauffer, a Kansas aircraft dealer and the first woman ever to fly a Russian SU-27 jet fighter, and Ann Pellegreno, who in 1967 successfully duplicated and completed Earhart’s 1937 flight represented two generations of women pilots devoted to Earhart’s memory.

Two more books about Earhart are due out within the next few months.  An anthology of eyewitness accounts assembled by Don Wilson of Rochester, New York, will be published in November under the title Amelia Earhart: Lost Legend.  Bloomsbury Publishing will bring out Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart by Gervais associate Randall Brink in November.

End of Part II.

 

1993 AES Symposium a “measured success”: Part I

Since our last post was an impromptu visit to the bygone, halcyon days of the Amelia Earhart Society, I thought we might continue in that vein by returning to the first and only Amelia Earhart Society Symposium, held in August 1993 in Morgan Hill, Calif., an event that AES founder Bill Prymak modestly labeled a measured success.” 

The 1993 AES Symposium should not be confused with the better known June 1982 Smithsonian Amelia Earhart Symposium at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.  This event is covered in my April 3 and April 10, 2020 posts.

The following comprehensive summary of the three-day AES extravaganza appeared in the September 1993 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters.  Today’s entry is the first of three parts.  Boldface emphasis mine throughout.

“A COMPENDIUM ON THE SYMPOSIUM”
By Bill Prymak

Judging by the smiles and happy faces at the AES SYMPOSIUM, plus the flood of mail expressing kind words and appreciation, the three-day meeting was a measured success.  This NEWSLETTER will recap the speakers and materials covered plus some trivia.  The NEWSLETTER will serve as a permanent hard-copy record for the attendees, plus fill in for those who unfortunately missed one hellava shindig.  Just look at the picture of that guy in the overalls and you know it had to be one hellava party!

Some eighty members and guests spent three days at THE FLYING LADY, where we were lovingly hosted by the guy in the overalls . . . we all fell in love with Irv, and without his efforts (plus Jan and Julie Perch, wife and daughter respectively), we collectively would not have experienced the true joy and warmth of being part of his family.

To those who could not attend and are just looking at the photo of Irv Perch: don’t be fooled by the overalls . . .  this man is a MAN amongst men . . . within his kingdom he answers to nobody!  (Maybe to Jan once in a while?)  Time may fade some of the speeches, but Irv’s effort and hospitality will remain with us forever.  Irv, we all thank you for showing us that caring and love still exist in our turbulent society. 

“IRV PERCH, OUR WONDERFUL HOST,” Bill Prymak wrote beneath this photo.

Since I didn’t join the group until 2002, many of those in this photo are unfamiliar and a good number are deceased.  The ones I recognize are: Bill Prymak, center underneath “Seeking the Truth” sign; Rollin Reineck, holding microphone far left top; Bill Prymak (left) and Paul Rafford Jr., bottom left; Michelle Stauffer, bottom center; and Joe Klaas (left) with Joe Gervais bottom right with mic at podium.  (Photo courtesy Bill Prymak.)

The below tribute to Bill Prymak was written by retired Air Force Col. Rollin Reineck, whose work is familiar to readers of this blog.  The original presentation in the October 1999 issue of the AES Newsletters was written in all caps and does not reproduce well, so I copied it in lower case but otherwise it’s just as presented in its original format and content, as I always strive to do.  Reineck’s response and Prymak’s note in the cloud are copied directly from the original.  

   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  BILL PRYMAK  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

There is a new way to spell success.  From now on it is spelled “Bill Prymak.”

Some of you may recall, others may not know, that Bill Prymak took a demoralized, failing Amelia Earhart Research Organization, that was deeply in debt, and virtually single handedly made the Amelia Earhart Society a viable and credible research organization that has now achieved national recognition.

For the last three years the Amelia Earhart Society has grown from just a handful of dedicated Earhart researchers to a thriving, coherent body of over 200 honorable individuals that have just one objective, and this is to find the truth as to what happened to Amelia Earhart.

The Amelia Earhart Society does collect a small yearly dues ($25.00) that covers the printing and handling of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter.  Bill has not solicited one single penny from anyone.  Whatever other expenses  there have been, Bill Prymak pays them out of his own pocket. 

On August 27-28-29 this year, the Amelia Earhart Society held its First Earhart Symposium.  This affair was held at the Flying Lady Restaurantin the small California community of Morgan Hill, just south of San Jose.  The owners of the Flying Lady and our hosts were Jan and Irv Perch.  A very fine couple indeed.

Again, Bill made all the arrangements, flew from Denver to Morgan Hill three times, coordinated all the activities and personally took a hand to ensure that everyone in attendance was well taken care of.  He was the leader that put this affair together and made it a success.

As could be expected there were many varying views on many of the subjects that were discussed at the symposium.  However, the presentations reflected quality, sincerity and well thought out personal beliefs.  The group as a whole and each member individually understood that no one has The Final Answeras to what happened on that fateful day of 2 July 1937.  Accordingly, each speaker was able to have his say in a congenial atmosphere of understanding and acceptance.

Although I had known of, had written or talked to many of the participants, meeting each and everyone was indeed a genuine pleasure for me.  No finer group could have been assembled.

I am very proud to be a member of the Amelia Earhart Society and am eagerly looking forward to our next annual symposium.

* This was the first and only AES Symposium ever held.

End Part I.

Best wishes to all for a great Christmas and New Year 2021!
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