Research Document #31
The Helen Day Letters
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|Fred Noonan wrote many letters back to
the States during the World Flight. Many were written to his wife, Mary Bea.
Others went to friends scattered about the country, including Helen Day,
of Coconut Grove, Florida. She kept the letters her whole life.
Helen Day’s son, Jim Bible, has been gracious enough to scan the original letters and send the scans to us for use by researchers. To aid in comprehension we are including a transcription with each image.
Each letter has its own page. Scroll to the bottom of the page to access the other letters.
The first letter Fred wrote to Helen was from Fortaleza, Brazil, four legs into the flight from Miami, on June 5. Click on the thumbnails at right to open a full-sized version in a new window; the transcription is below.
Brazil, June 5, 1937
We are well on our way – but I know the most enjoyable part of the flight is behind us – I cannot express the pleasure I found in the few hours you so kindly devoted to me. My only regret is that they were so few. I hope for better luck in the future.
We have enjoyed a pleasant and uneventful trip so far – it was particularly interesting to me because rather [than] fly the established trade routes we f[l]ew the most direct routes
from Carapito, Venezuela to Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana, and from there to Forteleza.
Those routes took us across hundreds of miles of unexplored dense virgin
jungles. Nothing visible but solid carpets of tree tops, with frequent wide
winding rivers cutting through them. The weather was uniformly good – over
the Orinoco River we encountered a few heavy tropical downpours, but were
because of the lack of recognizable landmarks – a jungle is equally as devoid of distinguishable markings as an ocean. In consequence, at several times we had to rely upon celestial navigation to ascertain our position. We have been treated royally at all our stops. At San Juan Clara Livingston – a friend of years of both Amelia and I – entertained and slept us at her ranch. In Caripito our host was the manager of the Standard Oil of Venezuela. At Paramiribo and in Ceara we used
Hotel accomodations [sic]– but were besieged with invitations and offers of hosipatily [sic] – in fact, to date we have been unable to spend a penny. This morning we went shopping for some sponge rubber and liquid cement for use on the ship. We finally located it – but the dealer would not accept payment. He offered it as his contribution to the flight.
We are leaving in the morning for Natal – only two hundred and seventy miles distant – and will take off from there for Dakar, Africa
just as soon as weather permits.
I wish to again express my pleasure at having seen you again – and to hope I shall be equally as fortunate in the not distant future.
Oh yes – while we were in the cockpit waiting to take off from Miami both Amelia and her husband paid you nice compliments – he said you were a mighty nice girl – and Amelia said – “Yes, mighty attractive, and beautiful with it.” I’m glad they could appreciate such obvious facts. Will drop a line from some place along the route. Kind regards. Fred