It is our opinion that the letter known as the Noonan Document is a hoax,
and not a very good one at that.
The most obvious discrepancy is the handwriting. Existing copies of sentences
(as opposed to navigational notations) known to have been written by Noonan
are all in a casual but legible cursive hand and are written in pen. Photos
of Noonan taken during the world flight show him with a Parker pen in his
shirt pocket (identifiable by the characteristic arrow motif of the clip).
The letter found in the bottle is crudely printed in pencil. The two styles
could hardly be more different.
Several factual errors also betray the hoax. For example,
the reference to “the starboard gas tank” shows that the hoaxer
was unaware that the Electra had three fuel tanks in each wing plus another
six tanks in the cabin. A ditching should not have ruptured any of the
wing tanks, but even if it did, the effect would be insignificant and
would certainly not cause the aircraft to sink. Also, the good luck bracelet
he says he just saw was left in New Guinea.
Equally as damning as the factual errors is the melodramatic tone of
the letter. Noonan was an educated professional whose only known comment
about Amelia was made in a note he wrote to his wife during the world flight.
He said he liked Amelia because she worked as hard as a man. It is inconceivable
that the worshipful, vaguely prurient sentimentalities expressed in the
letter in the bottle could have been written by Noonan. I’d sooner believe
that Chuck Yeager speaks in iambic pentameter.
We have expressed these opinions to Mr. Tennant along with other critical
points that we can’t discuss here without violating the nondisclosure agreement.
We have advised him to make the letter public because it has no value other
than as an interesting example of the sort of fiction that the Earhart
disappearance has inspired over the years.