Common Earhart Myths
Not since George Washington chopped down the cherry tree has a historical figure been the subject of more myth and legend than has Amelia Earhart. Here are a few from a long list of Earhart fables.
MYTH:
She was captured by the Japanese.
FACT:
This popular fantasy began with the wartime Hollywood film Flight For Freedom (RKO, 1943, starring Rosalyn Russell and Fred MacMurray). Allegations that Earhart and her navigator had been captured by the Japanese were investigated and found to be groundless by both U.S. Army Intelligence and the United Press as early as 1949. In 1960, with the capture of a genuine spy flight in the news (Francis Gary Powers’ U-2), radio commentator Fred Goerner popularized renewed charges that Earhart had been imprisoned by the Japanese. His book The Search for Amelia Earhart (Doubleday, 1966) became a bestseller. Since then, a small library of books and articles have expanded the legend but there remains no evidence, either written or physical, that it has any basis in fact.
MYTH:
The government still has secret documents on Earhart.
FACT:
There never were any secret documents on the Earhart disappearance. A Freedom of Information Act request for Mandatory Declassification of all State Department files on Earhart was filed in 1991 (Request Number 9105146). No classified files were found to exist.
MYTH:
Earhart was lost, panicky, and out of gas at the time of her last radio transmission.
FACT:
Although certainly worried that she had been unable to locate Howland Island, historical documents indicate that, when last heard, Earhart was following standard navigational procedures in a professional manner and had approximately four hours of fuel remaining.
MYTH:
Earhart’s navigator, Fred Noonan, was an alcoholic.
FACT:
Frederick J. Noonan was, without question, one of the finest aerial navigators of his day. It is not clear how he became a scapegoat in the Earhart disappearance but no documentation has been found to support allegations that he had a drinking problem.

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