By HB Auld, Jr.
Today marks the 83rd anniversary of the disappearance of the late famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart.
Amelia Earhart had already flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean as the first female to do so in 1932. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, then set out in 1937 to fly around the world, island-hopping into the history books. They were near the end of their journey when they took off on July 2, 1937, from Lae, New Guinea. Their intended next stop on their around-the-world flights was Howland Island in the Pacific. From there it would be on to Hawaii and then the United States where they began their eastward trip. They never made it to Howland Island, although their radio transmisions were heard on board the USCG Cutter ITASCA, listening for them at Howland Island.
What REALLY happened to Earhart, Noonan, and their Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft, NR 16020, has been the subject of hundreds of books and sheer speculation since they flew into history and disappeared over the Pacific.
In my opinion, the very best book on Amelia Earhart’s final flight is Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last, written by former Navy Journalist and Air Force Civilian writer Mike Campbell. Mike is the author of three books on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. He is a member of Amelia Earhart associations and has spoken to aviation groups throughout the US, including “The 99s,” an association of female pilots founded by Amelia Earhart herself. His most recent book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last (Second Edition) is consistently among the top five of more than 1,000 books on Amelia Earhart on Amazon each month.
I first met Mike in the mid-1980s when he was a JO2 (Navy Journalist Second Class), assigned to a national Navy news service in Washington, DC. Later, we worked together as Writer/Editors at Naval Recruiting Command in DC. We have been great friends for more than 30 years. In 1988, Mike was assigned to write a feature on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart for the Navy news service. His exhaustive investigation of that subject for his article introduced him to the late Thomas E. Devine, a former Army Postal Clerk who had served on Saipan in World War II.
Devine was convinced that Earhart crashed in the Marshall Islands in 1937 on her way to Howland. She and Noonan were subsequently captured by the Japanese and transferred to Saipan where she was imprisoned at Garapan Prison and later executed and buried on Saipan. Devine had interviewed countless Saipanese who were live eyewitnesses to Earhart and Noonan’s capture and execution there. Out of that friendship grew Mike and Thomas E. Devine’s first co-authorship of the book, With Our Own Eyes, (Eyewitnesses to the final days of Amelia Earhart). With that friendship, Mike was hooked and has spent the past 32 years continuing Devine and his quest to prove what really happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.
In the now Second Edition of his more than 450-page Amelia Earhart book, Mike delves into the detailed eyewitness accounts and interviews with others notables. He digs into famed radio investigative journalist Fred Goerner’s book, The Search for Amelia Earhart, which quotes interviews with three US military flag officers, including Fleet Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, and a US Marine Corps Commandant. Mike’s book contains hundreds of footnotes, several Appendices of declassified naval messages, a complete Bibliography, and a detailed Index. In short, this is NOT a rip-snorting, thrill-a-minute, action-packed account of an exciting flight, but a well-researched, historical scholarly narrative of what really happened on the flight. Along the way, Mike debunks the other myths and legends out there about the aviators disappearance, including the “crash and burn” in the ocean, the “captured as a spy and flown to the Japan mainland where she was eventually released and lived out her life in obscurity in New Jersey” theory, and the well-publicized trips by an aviation group who makes annual excursions to another Pacific Island, searching for non-existent artifacts in the wrong place.
l highly recommend Mike’s book, Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last, (Second Edition) available from Amazon. It is the definitive work on what really happened to this famous aviation pioneer and her navigator who flew into history 83 years ago today.
Mike Campbell’s WordPress Amelia Earhart blog: