Many books about Earhart have repeated stories alleging that Noonan had
a drinking problem. Some say he had been fired from his job at Pan American
Airways for alcoholism. Others even claim that, for the final takeoff
from New Guinea, he was so hung over that he had to be helped aboard
the airplane. However, film of Earhart and Noonan boarding the airplane
that morning show a bright and cheerful Fred Noonan helping Amelia up
onto the wing. The stories about Noonan’s drinking seem to have begun
in 1966 with the publication of The Search for Amelia Earhart by
Frederick Goerner and are totally without documentary support. It is
one of the tragedies of the Earhart Legend that an aviation pioneer whose
contributions to modern air travel are considerably greater than Earhart’s,
is primarily remembered as Amelia Earhart’s drunken navigator.
For more information about Fred Noonan, go to Fred Noonan, Sea Captain.