Which way, Amelia?
Internet Version published by Paul
Niquette in 2010.
Script Drafted for Interview by
Christopher Williamson in 2017
Williamson: Exactly 80 years ago, on July 2,
1937, for the final leg of her round-the-world flying adventure,
Amelia Earhart, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, took off in
her Lockheed Electra from Lae, New Guinea. The destination
for the flight was an airstrip on Howland Island more than 2,500
miles toward the west along the equator. She never
arrived. Mr. Niquette, what happened to Amelia Earhart?
Niquette: The answer to that question is arguably the
greatest mystery in aviation history. For eight decades now,
journalists and authors have written thousands of pages full of
speculations and theories. As you know from your own
research, Mr. Williamson, there are dozens of fascinating books on
this historical subject, each putting forth a theory about the
disappearance of the Amelia Earhart.
Williamson: Your book,
which is entitled Which way, Amelia? uses a unique
format. Tell us about it.
Niquette: Thank you for
noticing. Yes, I have organized my investigation into ten
puzzles -- what the French call énigmes -- along with
proposed solutions. Each addresses specific issues that
arose during those final 20 hours of the flight.
[chuckling] Do you want me to go over the solutions to all ten
[also chuckling] Do you think that is really necessary?
Niquette: I don't. Here is my
answer to your question: Failure in radio navigation was the
culprit. The flight arrived at the selected
'sun-line-of-position', which crossed their flight path over
Howland Island, but Amelia Earhart turned the wrong direction --
probably against the advice of her navigator -- and ultimately
crashed in the ocean following fuel exhaustion.
explanation is much simpler than others I've read.
The most extravagant range from disguising their true
location so that they could spy on the Japanese to
deliberately landing at an airfield on one of the
Guilbert Islands, thereby staging their own
disappearance as a publicity stunt, which went awry.
To this day, there are eye-witnesses -- rather their
descendants -- who will confirm some of the most
outlandish stories. No trace has ever been
found, despite many expeditions to land masses near
Williamson: Am I correct
in remembering that you spoke about confining your
studies to the final 20 hours of the flight?
Niquette: Yes -- with one
exception. The solution to one puzzle,
"Gathering Range," refers to an incident
that happened nearly a month earlier, on
June 8, 1937. Amelia Earhart crossed
the Atlantic eastbound, with Dakar as her
destination. Fred Noonan had to use
dead reckoning and deliberately set a course
north of Dakar in a procedure called
"landfall navigating." Upon arrival at
the African coastline, the Electra was
supposed to turn right and fly south to the
airfield. Amelia Earhart did not
believe that to be correct and, exercising
her prerogative as
pilot in command,
she turned left and
flew along the
was another airport
in French West
Africa, 120 miles
north of Dakar.
How is that relevant
to your conclusion?
the same at
in place of an
coastline -- a
offset of the
course to the
calling for a
left turn but
only ocean --
farther to the
same pilot in
So there was
more than one
Indeed, but I
in Morse Code,
and the need
for high fuel
To facilitate the preparation of inteview questions,
extensive explanatory improvements have been
carried out on the solution page for
Which Way, Amelia?
End of version