Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

There has been a lot of talk lately about Amelia Earhart’s fate.  Did she crash into the sea, or land on a desert island and die, or fall into Japanese hands (the worst possibility, as the proprietors of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere were not kind to their prisoners)?  Just lately, conveniently close to the recent July 2 80th anniversary of her disappearance, a picture was released that claimed to show Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and her damaged Lockheed Electra 10E.  Trouble is that the figures are all distant, and the photograph’s resolution is less than excellent.  “Earhart” has her back to the camera, so she has to be identified by her garments and her haircut, neither of which can be seen clearly.

It seems to me that investigators have overlooked at least one, possibly two, other probable fates.  The more likely one is that Noonan was not what he seemed.  One of the close companions of the Prophet was one Nu’man bin Bashir.  One of the prominent characters of the Arabian Nights is a powerful Persian king named Omar bin al-Nu’uman.  It seems likely that the name “Fred Noonan” is a clever Anglicization of “Firdawsi al Nu’uman,” and that Earhart’s so-called Chicago-born navigator was actually an Islamic terrorist.  A few hours after they took off from New Guinea that July 2, they sent a message that all was well.  Then a half-hour later Amelia sent a frantic SOS, just about the time they were supposed to be landing on Howland Island to refuel.  Clearly, “Noonan” had wrestled the controls from her, and was deliberately crashing the plane.  She was too good a pilot to miss that landing strip.  It is said that the earliest radio transcriptions of the SOS contain Noonan’s muffled “allahu akbar” (“Allah is great”) in the background, but that portion was immediately redacted by the Secret Service, Because the US wanted to maintain good relationships with Middle Eastern oil producers in light of the anticipated warfare which indeed began a couple of years later.

amelia and her plane

Amelia Earhart and her Lockheed Electra 10E

It’s worth noting, by the way, that a popular ballad called “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight” has been sung by many a bluegrass, folk, and folk-rock band.  But almost all of them leave out the second verse of four.  The third verse, usually performed as the second, begins “A half an hour later an SOS was heard.”  A half-hour later than what?  Without the missing verse, the action has no context.  Why do this?  Because three verses, with the chorus after each one, and one-verse-long instrumental solos in between, add up to about three minutes, about as long as a song could be in the old days of 78 RPM records.  Hats off to the Greenbriar Boys, who include the real second verse:

She radioed position and she said that all was well,
Although the fuel within the tanks was low.
But they’d land on Howland Island to refuel her monoplane,
Then on their trip around the world they’d go.

One musically engaging performance among many is given by the Country Gentlemen, whose lead singer, Charlie Waller, had a wonderful tenor voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9KLJsvjPXM

A less likely but interesting theory about the disappearance involves the possibility that Noonan’s muffled cry was actually “Ollie’s Auk Bar.”  This bar was a legendary hangout in Iceland, where some of the last Great Auks lived before their mid-19th century extinction.  The bar’s first proprietor, Oliver J. Pendragon, served roast Great Auk as the flagship dish of the place, with local Auk Ale (“Now that’s a great “Auk”!) to wash it down.  In this theory Noonan was actually a descendent of natives of Iceland, and his surname is a slangly English translation of his pagan Icelandic name, which literally means “he who worships the sun at its zenith”: “Noon ‘un.”  In this theory Noonan is lamenting his lost Icelandic past, since Ollie’s Auk Bar became less popular after the demise of its namesake meal.  Crashing the aircraft into the shark-infested Pacific would be the ultimate expression of the futility of life, the rendering of the aircraft as flightless as the extinct Great Auks of his far-away ancestral homeland.

Just a couple of theories, but they make as much sense as any of the others.

© Arnold Bradford, 2017

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One thought on “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

  1. We really wanted these exciting adventurers to succeed. Interesting AUK and Iceland connections. Love the Waller band’s pink shirts, some with mullet hair cuts. The song reports that this “sweetie” crashed into shark-infested waters, yow. Thank you.

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