Research Document #17
Betty’s Notebook
This document is provided on this web site as a matter of general interest and to aid in research by individuals. No permission to reproduce it or transmit it is implied or granted.

We have what appears to be a real-time transcription of what were believed at the time to be post-loss radio transmissions from Amelia Earhart. TIGHAR has made no judgment at this time about the possible authenticity of the transmissions.

A 15 year old girl – whom we’ll call “Betty” for now – was living in St. Petersburg, Florida in the summer of 1937. One afternoon in July – the exact date is not known – at about 3 p.m. Betty was sitting on the floor in front of her family’s radio console. She liked to listen to music and kept a notebook in which she jotted the words to her favorite songs, made notes of current movies and drew pencil sketches of glamorous people. She also liked to listen to the “short wave.” Her father had erected a long wire antenna – perhaps 60 feet in length – across the back yard from the house to a pole near the street. Betty could routinely pick up stations all over the world.

This particular afternoon she was “cruising” across the dial in search of anything interesting when she came upon a woman’s voice, speaking in English and obviously quite upset. Betty listened for a while and was startled to hear the woman say, “This is Amelia Earhart. This is Amelia Earhart.”

Betty was always “crazy about airplanes” and was well aware of Earhart’s World Flight. Today, at 78, she can’t recall whether or not, on this particular day, she already knew that Earhart was missing but it was clear to her that Amelia was in trouble so Betty opened her notebook and started to make notes about what she was hearing. The words came too fast for her to get everything and often she would only write a word or two of what had been said. The signal faded in and out, sometimes stopped altogether for several minutes and at other times was quite distorted, but Betty tried her best to get down at least some of what was being said. If she wasn't sure about a word she would just write down what it sounded like to her.

Betty heard not only Amelia’s calls for help but also her comments to a man who was with her. Betty had the impression that the man had sustained a head injury and was delirious. She gathered that they had crashed on land but that there was also great concern about rising water. The man would alternately struggle with Amelia and try to get the microphone away from her or panic and try to get out of the airplane.

The transmissions continued to come in, off and on, for about three hours until 6:15 p.m. At 5:15 her father came home from work and Betty excitedly told him to come listen. After a few minutes her father ran next door to see if his neighbor could also hear it on his radio, but perhaps because his neighbor did not have a long antenna, nothing was heard on the neighbor’s set. Later that evening Betty’s father reported the event to the local Coast Guard station but he was told that the government had ships in the area and everything was under control. Betty kept her notebook and, over the years, occasionally tried to get someone to pay attention to her claims of having heard Amelia Earhart. A letter to Fred Goerner brought only a “not interested” response. She had given up thinking that anyone would ever believe her but a friend who had seen TIGHAR’s website sent us a very tentative message on her behalf. We were immediately struck by the prospect of an alleged contemporaneous document containing a real-time transcription of what had been heard.

The Notebook

The cover of the notebook. It originally had 96 pages but some pages toward the front have been torn out.

Click on the photo to open a new page with a full-sized version.

Pages 35 and 38 are reproduced here and are typical of the content of most of the notebook.
Among the sketches on page 44 are written “31.05” and “KGMB.” Betty explained that during the intervals when the transmissions from Earhart stopped she would turn to drawings that she wanted to change or work on some more while waiting to see if Amelia would come back on. When she heard another transmission she would write down something that might be important before turning back to her notes.
Betty has, at our request, offered clarification of her notes based upon her recollections. On the left is a transcription of the notes, with Betty’s comments; on the right, a miniature view of the page of notes. Click on the graphic to see a larger (and fully legible) version of the notes in a new window. The left-hand page of the notebook was left blank throughout this section.

Text

Comment
Page Image
158 mi. Amelia said this but she said several things before this I was so floored at hearing “this is Amelia Earhart” several times I didn’t start writing right away until the numbers started being said
Help me  
W40K Howland port or W O J Howland port AE [speaking]
waters high  
here put your ear to it talking to him
This is Amelia Putman
" " " "
here she also may have put Earhart
SOS  
stop – Amelia here he took over
speak  
Uncle  
0h oh  
(crying now) ......AE – but back on the radio
help  
help us quick  
I can feel it  
your right  
Bob  
come here just a moment

......in here he kept wanting to get out of the plane because it was so hot and she kept calling him back.

Next Page
58 338
AE
send us help AE
Amelia take it Man
hear it (this was man talking with her sometime too)
help help  
I need air  
Amelia things are  
here I come - oh  
let me out of here in here he complained of his head
different suffer  
Amelia  
take it away  
Howland  
N.Y. N.Y. N.Y. in here they were both on radio
Marie Marie  
N.Y. N.Y.  
Oh, if they could hear me  
N.Y. N.Y.  
Marie  
It's going AE
Next Page
since 4:30 5:10  
airport  
Marie  
oh  
where are you AE
waters knee deep – let me out AE and man––in here he was yelling
where are you going AE
we can't bail out  
see in here she was saying the waters coming up like she could see water rising
yes  
Amelia - yes both talking
oh oh ouch  
are you so scared  
what  
Hello Bud  
Amelia ......here she started the “this is Amelia Earhart” and went on
South 391065 Z or E  
fig 8 - 3. 30 500 Z all AE
3E MJ3B  
Z 38 Z 13 8983638  
Next Page
5:30 1 hr.
I wrote this at top of page
hurry  
3.15  
are you there – fuzzy “fuzzy” was the radio fading
hear from me hear from me AE
George  
get the suitcase in my closet  
Calf all AE down to here [California]
are you  
Marie Hey! Man
Marie Man
Amelia Earhart She got the radio again
Hey  
watch that battery  
what did you tell me to do  
SOS  
Will you help me  
Will you please  
all right! All above was AE

Final Page

6:00

end at 6:15

 
what are you doing AE
3Q rd 36  
J 3  
Amelia here  
quick let me out Man
3630 AE
knee deep over AE
stop AE
I can't make it He was yelling again.
38-3  
huh  
are you here He had got out and she was getting ready to go too.
3  
darn All above AE. She said a few cuss words and sounds like she was having trouble getting water so high the plane was slipping.
30 AE
N.Y.
N.Y.
AE. – Something that sounded like NY. That was the last I could hear.
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