Carol Linn Dow with portrait of Amelia and George Putnam: On Camera in Atchison
1. Hello, my name is Carol Linn Dow, and I am the novelist and screenwriter for “TheLost Flight of Amelia Earhart.” Felix Girard, Executive Producer, asked me to comment on the reasons why I wrote the book and the script.
2. Quite a few young women in this country and actually around the world have at some time in their lifetime cherished the cause for which Amelia Earhart flew on her daring flights through the sky. She was a hero in a true sense of the word, and I was fortunate to have been friends with her sister, Muriel.
3. Early on in my career I was fascinated with the life of Amelia Earhart. I live in Texas, and at one time I was a pilot and flew a Beechcraft Bonanza out of Addison Airport in the Dallas area. Fortunately, I decided to sell the airplane before I got killed, but that little airplane to this day is still flying around somewhere in California, I believe. Muriel Earhart Morrissey and I became fast friends as a result of a business trip I made to the Boston area to see Parker Brothers Games. I stopped off to visit Muriel on that trip. She was living in a small wood frame house in West Medford, Massachusetts.
4. I became fast friends with Muriel. She was a dear sweet person and so encouraging, and alert, and enthusiastic to be around. She was wonderful. We wrote letters and letters and post cards. In fact, here’s one of the letters I can read to you:
5. “Dear Carol….The impressive game arrived yesterday all intact. I’m eagerly awaiting for my son’s family to come on Sunday so we can baptize it and learn who has a flair for playing stockmarket games. Thank you much for sending your brain child to us. Thank you, too, for returning “Courage is the Price” so promptly. I hope it was helpful in showing Amelia as she was so you can write a true but exciting screenplay. Remember, I shall be glad to help to the best of my knowledge. Good Luck! Sincerely, Muriel".
6. Well… so now you know… at an early age I was attempting to write a screenplay about Amelia Earhart. “Courage is the Price” was a book that Muriel had written about her sister, Amelia. The game Muriel talked about was a stockmarket game I was trying to sell to Parker Brothers in Salem, Massachusetts. Write a screenplay? All of the screenwriting activities began for me in the year when Susan Clark’s Amelia story aired as a television special. The television special was deeply flawed, and Muriel thought the research was poor and only 50% accurate. Diane Keaton, a few years later, did another television special that characterized Amelia as a hot-headed, incompetent pilot that flew out over the ocean and crashed in the sea. Incompetent???? Amelia Earhart????
7. I always thought that a successful screenplay about Amelia Earhart had to answer the fate of the round-the-world flight and its tragic ending at Howland Island. Without it, a story about Earhart is incomplete and lacking in content. It begs the issue. What happened to Amelia Earhart? The usual crash in the ocean to dispose of the matter is not enough. It makes a zero grade in the drama department. It is dull and uninteresting. The two television screenplays that have been done followed the crashed and sank story line, and they have since faded into obscurity. Perhaps the screenwriters did not know enough about the subject matter to complete the story. I don’t know.
8. I have forever believed that Earhart, in her round-the-world flight, turned back for the Gilbert Islands and was captured by the Japanese. Captured by the Japanese? It is a story that has never been told on the silver screen. It is a story that has intense dramatic value. Amelia’s mother, Amy, believed her daughter was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and the Japanese thought she was a spy… when, in truth, she was not.
9. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz told a story to Fred Goerner, a CBS radio reporter, that Amelia Earhart did indeed fall into the hands of the Japanese. As Chester Nimitz told the story, the airplane actually crashed in the area of the Marshall Islands, the next chain of islands north of the Gilberts. Nimitz believed Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were taken to Japanese headquarters at Saipan, imprisoned, and there they died as prisoners of war. Spies? Executed as a prisoner of war? If this was true it would be electrifying in a feature motion picture. Just think of it! An Aircraft Carrier, a Battleship, and three Destroyers being sent to search the crash area. It was an unprecedented move for a civilian flight, and the largest search for a downed pilot in aviation history. The Japanese must have indeed thought this woman was on some type of a military mission. Maybe she was a spy. Amelia Earhart a spy?
10. All of this is great movie material, but, until now, it has never been used on the silver screen. We believe “The Lost Flight of Amelia Earhart” has the potential to become a film classic. Possibly it will. It is basically an Oliver Stone type of JFK project with a great World War II story behind it.
11. In constructing the novel and the screenplay for The Lost Flight, I created a protagonist who didn’t believe all the “usual” crashed and sank stories about Amelia Earhart. Mack Brown, a veteran newspaper editor and the protagonist in the screenplay believed Earhart turned back for the Gilbert Islands and landed in the Marshall Islands by mistake. It is great setup for conflict…. a story a newspaper editor cannot print…but which he believed… but which could start a war with the Japanese. And let this same editor have a knock-down battle with George Putnam, Amelia’s husband. George Putnam would say, “A prisoner of war! She is no such thing. She’s alive I tell you, she’s alive! You can’t put a story like that in the newspapers!” The story of The Lost Flight is Mack Brown’s opinion of what happened to Amelia Earhart. It is a story he cannot prove, and a story he cannot write, and a story he cannot put in the newspapers.
12. When I first started working on the Lost Flight, I actually thought Amelia Earhart may have been on some type of a spy mission. But none of the information that was available supported a spy story. Spy stories did not make any sense . A civilian aircraft flying over the Japanese mandated islands taking pictures would have created an international incident in 1937. For what purpose? United States naval intelligence had secretly broken the Japanese codes before the onset of World War II. They well knew the Japanese were preparing for war in the Pacific. In fact, it is suspected that Franklin Roosevelt knew Earhart had been captured by the Japanese and was being held a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. How else could you explain the cruise of the Nourmahal? The millionaire Vincent Astor and Roosevelt’s cousin, Kermit Roosevelt, took Astor’s magnificent yacht, the Nourmahal, ona supposedly pleasure cruise to the Marshall Islands in 1939, two years after Earhart disappeared. The Nourmahal was a luxurious ocean going vessel manned by a crew of forty two. The ship was 264 feet in length and was capable of reaching speeds of 24 knots. With the advent of World War II, the vessel was sold to the Navy and operated as a Convoy Escort Commander.
13. The Nourmahal was denied access to the Marshall Islands. On board the yacht in this cruise was a British intelligence officer. Natives from the nearby Gilbert Islands had penetrated the Marshalls and were supplying the British with all the military information they needed. In fact, the problem was really what had happened to Roosevelt’s good friend, Amelia Earhart? What was the real reason for the cruise of the Nourmahal. According to Fred Goerner, several times before the war the records that are now available indicate that Roosevelt asked the Office of Naval Intelligence to infiltrate agents into the Marshall Islands to determine whether Earhart was alive or dead. He also asked his friend Vincent Astor in 1938 to take his private yacht to those islands to seek out possible information, but the yacht was quickly chased away by the Japanese.
14. It took about five years to write and develop the book and screenplay for “The Lost Flight,” and, yes, the cruise of the Nourmahal is in the novel and the script. There is a treasure house of research information in the book about the Lost Flight.
15. But how do we know these statements about the cruise of the Nourmahal are true? Where did they originate, and what was the source? There is information available now that U.S. Naval Intelligence knew a great deal more about Japan's activities in the mandates, particularly Saipan, Truk and the Marshalls than has ever been revealed. The information was gathered from agents who were able to infiltrate the islands. Through the observations of agents and submarines and the breaking of the Japanese codes and traffic analysis of Japanese Naval radio messages, the U.S. already had more than a fair idea of what was going on with respect to the various islands. To ask Earhart to overfly either the Carolines or the Marshalls was not only too dangerous for a flight that was already marginal, it also had no purpose.
16. One of the most important aspects of Japanese development of the mandated islands was the construction of radio stations with high frequency direction finding capabilities. By 1937, Japan had eleven (11) radio stations in the mandates. They were much better at tracking the Earhart plane then we were. Their radio direction equipment was far superior to anything the United States had at the time. The truth of the matter is that if Earhart went down in the area of the Gilbert or the Marshall islands, the Japanese would have been there first.
17. Before closing there is one point I would stress and that is the importance of the post loss transmission that was heard by a radio operator at Nauru Island following the Earhart loss. That transmission has never been questioned by the press, by researchers around the world, or, quite literally, by anyone who has ever spent any time investigating the Earhart disappearance. The message was:
SPEECH NOT INTERPRETED OWING TO BAD MODULATION OR SPEAKER SHOUTING INTO MICROPHONE BUT VOICE SIMILAR TO THAT EMITTED IN FLIGHT LAST NIGHT WITH EXCEPTION OF NO HUM OF PLANE IN BACKGROUND.
The message tells us the airplane was down and down on dry land, but we do not know where. The engines were not turning. Thusly, the transmission was made on battery power only. The voice was the voice of Amelia Earhart. She was evidently shouting into the microphone in an effort to be heard. With all due respect to the efforts of Elgen Long and Nauticos in their search at sea, the Earhart transmissions in the area of Howland Island were not the final transmissions of Amelia Earhart. The story did not stop at Howland Island.
18. The website we have up and running is doing a good job of persuading public opinion of the true fate of Amelia Earhart. It is very factual, and now the book is available with even more extensive information.
19. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been my pleasure to be able to talk to you for these few minutes. I sincerely hope from what I have said, it has helped to bridge the gap on the fate of Amelia Earhart’s round-the-world flight, and its tragic ending. What Earhart was trying to accomplish was a route across the Pacific with a refueling point at Howland Island. May we forever remember Amelia Earhart for the sacrifice she made. She, undoubtedly, became one of the early victims of the war that developed in the Pacific. It is a tragic ending, but, even so, Amelia Earhart remains endeared to all of us as one of the great women of aviation. It is my pleasure to have written the book and to some day also see it come to life on the silver screen.
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