Tech visionary offers "real dope" on Amelia Earhardt

"I know the the real dope on Amelia Earhart's last trip."

The topic came up during my recent interview with Wayne Green, which focused on the octagenarian's long - and continuing - career as a high-tech entrepreneur and publisher of titles such as BYTE Magazine (Click here to read the full Computerworld interview).

Green says that back in the 1930s, his father ran the airport where Earhardt's plane was based, and Green - always the "conspiracy factist," claims to have heard the inside scoop over a family dinner with her mechanic one evening. So as our interview wound down, I asked him to tell his story. Green's answer hit the cutting room floor, but I've resurrected it below. What follows is Wayne Green's first-hand account of what transpired.

"My dad got hired to build an airport in Philadelphia, Central Airport. She kept her plane at my dad’s airport and I used to play in her plane.

"Her mechanic was a good friend of my dad’s. In 1935 we were living in Brooklyn and one day this fellow came over and had dinner with us. He explained that [Earhart] was going on this trip around the world and that the whole purpose of the trip was to take pictures of Truk Island and the Japanese naval installations there. The whole trip around the world was based on that.

'She was supposed to fly up from Lea, New Guinea up to Howland Island. But instead of going straight she would go up and take picture of Truk and then go over to Howland. [Her mechanic] put in more powerful engines and extra wing tanks so she could make the trip in the same time as she normally would have and he put in the cameras and so forth. He told us all about it.

"This was in 1935, before she went on the trip. Then she made the trip, and disappeared over the pacific. She couldn’t find Howland and she had a choice of either going West to the Caroline Islands, which are few and far between, or to the Marshall Islands, which are all over the place and you can’t miss them.

"Cut to seven years later, 1944, I’m in the Marshall [Islands] for a rest camp in a [U.S. Navy] submarine. We’re talking with the natives and they say, 'Oh yeah, seven years ago a plane landed on the beach. The man in the plane got hurt in the landing but the woman was OK. The Japanese came and took the two of them and the plane away a few days later up to Saipan.'

"When we went to Saipan we had a night to go ashore. I asked the natives there and they said, 'Oh sure, they were here and when it looked like the Americans were going to take the island they killed [Earhart] and buried her. The man died several years earlier from his wounds. When the Americans got there they burned the plane.'

"They had gotten the most famous woman in the world to act as a spy and they didn’t want anyone to know it. That’s the story that I knew."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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