Volume 5 Number 1 Copyright 1999
Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved
Elgen M. Long and Marie K. Long
New York, Simon & Schuster, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-86005-8, 320 pages, $25.00
Key Words: Aviation, History, Data, Archives, Interviews, Investigations
Reviewed by: James Hurysz
Americans want heroes and heroines. We want to admire Americans who have performed heroic acts in dangerous pursuits, like aviation in the 1920's and 1930's. Americans are still alive who were contemporaries of such aviation heroes as Charles Lindberg, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, and Howard Hughes. But what is remembered about them is often taken out of the context of their lives and times and interpreted in the context of ours.
Biographers generally like American heroes and heroines -- especially when their personal lives are free of controversy. And, as we saw after John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s plane disappeared during a "routine" flight between New Jersey and Martha's Vineyard, we want to know every detail of the events that occurred (might have occurred, or could have occurred) when a celebrity pilot loses his or her life in a plane crash. When planes and passengers remain missing for days, weeks, months, and years, the speculation about "what happened" only intensifies and becomes more abstract. This leads to more speculation about "sinister forces" at work. The media are only too willing to feed our appetite for "stories" about celebrities. That's what supermarket tabloids are largely about.
We want government authorities to obtain "facts" about airplane crashes, even when there is little factual information to be obtained. From the inception of human flight in aircraft, the cause of airplane crashes has almost always been some type of error (or errors) resulting from imperfect humans attempting to control imperfect machines. For decades, our government has employed thousands of investigators, in several large agencies, whose job it is to discover "what went wrong." They often do. They sometimes can't.
In Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved, authors Elgen and Marie Long attempt to determine "what went wrong" during Amelia Earhart's around-the-world flight in 1937. According to his published resume', Elgen Long is an accomplished pilot and World War II veteran, with over 40,000 hours flying (as a pilot or co-pilot) everything from 1930's Boeing 314 seaplanes to Boeing 747 cargo jets. Marie Long is a former public relations consultant who helped establish the Western Aerospace Museum in Oakland, California.
There have been at least two commemorative recreations of Amelia Earhart's and Fred Noonan's flight. Sister-ships of the Lockheed Model 10-E Electra that Amelia Earhart flew in 1936 and 1937 are now hangared in several aviation museums in the United States and Canada. A restored Lockheed 10E was flown around-the-world by Linda Finch in 1997 during a 60th anniversary commemoration.  In 1967, Ann Pellegreno and a crew of three flew a Lockheed Model 10A Electra around the world in a 30th anniversary commemorative flight that retraced most of Earhart's route. 
The Longs divide their book into six areas. The first chapter describes what the Longs think happened on board the Electra between the time that Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea, at 0000 GMT on July 2, 1937, and just over 20 hours later, after the Coast Guard received Earhart's last voice transmission near Howland Island, at 2013 GMT.
Chapter Two is a brief biography of Amelia Earhart, from her birth in 1897 to just before her 31st birthday, in 1928. The Longs succinctly explain how the misfortunes of Earhart's family played a role in her later accomplishments. Chapter Three reviews how she became an instant celebrity when, in 1928, she became the first woman to fly nonstop across the Atlantic (as a passenger). The Longs relate how her celebrity increased over the next seven years. Amelia Earhart's accomplishments during this period were the result of her piloting skill, natural charm, hard work, and zest for adventure. She marrried publisher George Putnam (who was her tireless promoter) in 1931. She competed in air races. She tested new types of aircraft. She set transcontinental and transocean distance and speed records. She helped start two airlines. She was instrumental in starting an organization for female pilots. She lectured to large audiences. Several recent biographies document her many activities and achievements between 1928 and 1935.   
In Chapters Four through Thirteen, the Longs follow Amelia Earhart from her purchase of a Lockheed Electra for "research purposes" early in 1936, to the plane's disappearance on July 2, 1937. The Longs relied on published reports, archived materials, and conducted over 100 interviews with people who knew something about Earhart and Noonan, the preparations for the around-the-world flight, what occurrred during the flight, and possible reasons for the Electra's disappearance.
Amelia Earhart's around-the-world flight was first discussed during meetings in November, 1935, at Purdue University, where she was a part-time faculty member. Subsequently, several Purdue benefactors contributed $80,000 toward the purchase of a twin-engined Lockheed Electra. Earhart and her husband contributed at least $10,000 more toward the cost of the plane and its equipment. This was a tremendous sum in 1936, which was a recession year in the middle of the Depression.
While Lockheed was building Earhart's Electra, she and her aviation friends and associates were hard at work planning an equatorial flight. Much of their work involved obtaining various overflight, landing, refueling, and take-off permissions from more than 20 countries. As an ardent New Dealer and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, she was able to enlist the U.S. Army, Navy, and State Department to assist in her preparations, and flight operations.
Earhart planned to fly around-the-world from East to West. She took delivery of a Model 10E Electra in July, 1936. She spent the next eight months flying the plane, making final preparations for the flight, making publicity and public relations appearances for the flight, and lecturing. According to the Longs, she spent virtually no time becoming familiar with the plane's radiodirection finding (RDF) equipment. Her flight crew included an experienced co-pilot (Paul Mantz), radio operator and radio navigator (Harry Manning) and celestial navigator (Fred Noonan). The first three legs of Earhart's trip were Oakland to Honolulu, Honolulu to Howland Island, and Howland Island to Lae, New Guinea.
The Electra took off from Oakland for Honolulu at 4:37 PM Pacific U.S. time on March 17, 1937. It touched down in Honolulu 15 hours and 47 minutes later. Despite problems with the plane's generator and propellers, the trip was fast and uneventful. According to the Longs, the Earhart-Manning-Mantz-Noonan flight crew functioned well.
Shortly after arriving in Honolulu, Earhart told reporters that Mantz would remain in Hawaii, that Noonan would continue on to Howland Island, and that Manning would remain onboard as far as Darwin, Australia. According to the Longs, George Putnam did not want Paul Mantz to co-pilot Earhart's Electra beyond Hawaii. Nevertheless, Mantz spared no effort to ensure Earhart's flight from Honolulu to Howland Island would be a success. (Manning and Mantz died several years before the Longs began the research for their book. The Longs interviewed their survivors.)
Fixing the Electra's propellers took longer than expected. Earhart wasn't able to take off for Howland Island until dawn on the morning of March 20th. Although Manning was an experienced pilot, he and Noonan sat in the rear of the plane braced against the fuel tanks. As Earhart attempted to take off, the Electra went into a ground loop and crashed on the runway of Luke Field, sliding 1200 feet from the point it impacted. The plane was seriously damaged. Fortunately there was no fire, and the only injury was a bruise to Manning's elbow. The Longs hold Earhart blameless for the accident. The Electra was a research airplane that frequently took off overloaded, with concomitant stress on the engines, landing gear, and airframe.
The Hawaii crash greatly changed Earhart's plans for an around-the-world flight. The Electra was crated and shipped from Honolulu to the Lockheed plant in Burbank, at a cost of $4,100. Earhart and Putnam decided that they could dispense with the services of Harry Manning. They felt that Earhart would be capable of operating the plane's radios. Fred Noonan would be in the rear of the plane - behind the fuel tanks - navigating. They decided that when the world flight resumed it would be from West to East. George Putnam estimated that additional $30,000 would be required to repair the plane and complete the flight. He and Amelia immediately began to raise the money. Most of the contributions for the plane's repairs came from the same Purdue University benefactors who financed the Electra's purchase. Although sponsors paid Lockheed for the Electra's repair, George Putnam had to mortgage his and Amelia's home to meet the flight's cost. According to the Longs, Earhart and Putnam were so short of funds that Noonan paid his own expenses during the resumed flight.
Lockheed repaired the Electra within six weeks, at a cost of $12,500. The low-frequency (500 kilocycle) trailing antenna under the Electra's fuselage was destroyed by the Honolulu crash. Earhart wanted to communicate with ground stations by voice on 3105 and 6210 kilocycles (high-frequency). She did not want to take low-frequency (300-500 kilocycle) bearings; nor communicate by Morse code on any low-frequency or high-frequency band. According to the Longs, Earhart and Noonan were capable of copying Morse code at low speed. They could copy individual Morse code letters sent repeatedly by domestic low-frequency beacons. They could also send Morse code characters at low speed. They did not want to use Morse code, low-frequency communications or radio direction finding, if they could avoid it. But acccording to the Longs, Morse code was the principal way aircraft communicated outside the United States in 1937.
Lockheed delivered the repaired Electra to Amelia Earhart on May 19, 1937. She resumed her around-the-world flight on May 20th, beginning in Oakland, California. She flew from Oakland to Miami - via Burbank, Tucson, and New Orleans - and arrived on May 23rd. Earhart tried to keep the Oakland-to-Miami part of the trip confidential. She stated that she could ill-afford any more bad publicity while she tested the restored Electra.
In Miami, Pan American Airways mechanics fixed several problems that appeared during the flight from the Lockheed factory (the total flight time on the restored plane was then about 20 hours). According to the Longs, Pan Am radio technicians also installed new Bendix radio transmitters and receivers, configured according to Earhart's specifications. They configured the plane's radios for low-frequency radio direction finding (RDF) bearings using a loop antenna mounted over the Electra's cockpit. Earhart received approximately a half-hour's instruction in low-frequency radio direction finding before she and Noonan departed Miami. Low-frequency RDF was not something Earhart wanted to do. She would rely on Noonan for dead-reckoning and celestial navigation positions throughout the resumed around-the-world trip. She would rely on amplitude-modulated (AM) voice transmissions on two frequencies - 3105 and 6210 kilocycles - at a power of 50 watts for air-to-ground communication.
To simplify their discussion of Earhat's flight, the Longs reduced thirty Miami-to-Lae flight segments into three: Miami to Dakar, West Africa; Dakar to Singapore; and Singapore to Lae, New Guinea. Their narrative parallels Earhart's own. She wrote a series of newspaper dispatches, letters, and notes that were collected into a volume published by George Putnam soon after her disappearance.  The Longs also consulted Noonan's archived navigational charts and notes, which Earhart and Noonan shipped to the United States from several places along their route. The Longs interviewed ten people who interacted with Earhart and Noonan on the Singapore-Lae segment of the flight.
Earhart and Noonan encountered several problems that affected how they flew during the resumed flight. These included unexpected moderate-to-heavy headwinds; reduced visibility caused by storms, clouds, and haze; inoperative Bendix RDF equipment; and the repeated failure of instruments that measured engine performance - especially fuel consumption. The Electra's fuel-consumption measurement system often broke down during the flight from Miami to Lae. For lack of spare parts, Earhart was forced to fly the Electra with inoperative fuel-consumption sensors across South Asia to Java, where the sensors were replaced by KLM mechanics. According to the Longs' account of Earhart's flight, by the time Earhart reached Lae the Electra's fuel-consumption sensors had failed often. The Bendix RDF unit may have been inoperative from the time Earhart left Miami until the time she reached Darwin, Australia. There, a radio technician discovered that the problem was a blown fuse in a power supply.
In Chapters Twelve and Thirteen, the Longs set the stage for Earhart and Noonan's flight from Lae to Howland Island. The final flight segments were from Howland to Honolulu and then Honolulu to Oakland. According to the Longs, by the time Earhart and Noonan reached Lae they were exhausted. They had flown 22,000 miles, at an average ground speed under 150 miles per hour using celestial and dead reckoning navigation. Their fuel-consumption instruments were often disabled. They flew in equatorial heat, and often flew through bad weather.
No one was the overall coordinator for Earhart and Noonan's resumed flight - as Paul Mantz had been before the Hawaii crash. Responsibility for the flight's communications and logistics was divided among Earhart, George Putnam, and Earhart's liaison with the U.S. government, Richard Black, an administrator at the Department of the Interior. According to the Longs, this caused substantial confusion, which was compounded by departure delays caused by bad weather and instrument failure. When Earhart and Noonan landed in Lae (on June 29th) they were in an area where radio communication with the rest of the world was inadequate for their needs. Radiotelegrams, weather reports, and other information sent by radio could take days to reach Lae. Earhart's radiotelegrams sometimes took days to reach Putnam, Black, and others she needed to contact immediately.
The primary guard ship for Earhart's flight to Howland was the Coast Guard cutter Itasca. The Itasca was stationed just off Howland Island. Another ship, the oceangoing tugboat Ontario, was stationed on Earhart's course midway between Lae and Howland. A third ship, the U.S. Navy seaplane tender Swan, was stationed between Howland and Oahu. Some of the Itasca's crew were stationed on Howland Island. The Itasca's overall mission was to both support Earhart's flight and resupply the small colonies the United States had constructed on the Line Islands (Howland, Baker, and Jarvis) to establish sovereignty over the area. Earhart, Putnam, Black, Mantz, and Manning and others had conferred with the Coast Guard and other government agencies from late in 1936 to the eve of Earhart's departure from Lae. According to the Longs, many conflicting messages were sent and received about Earhart's communications schedules and capabilities, both during the flight preparations and the flights themselves.
The Electra's radio communication capabilities changed several times between March and July 1937. Earharts's apparently, did not. According to the Longs, by late June the Itasca's crew was aware of the Electra' s high frequency voice radio capabilities. It was not aware of the plane's limited high frequency and low frequency RDF capabilities, and lack of CW Morse code capability. Nor were the Itasca's radio operators aware that Earhart and Noonan's lacked RDF expertise and Morse code knowledge. The Longs claim that George Putnam sent the Itasca several confusing messages about the Earhart and Noonan's communications capability and communications schedules betwen June 15th and July 2nd.
The Itasca used a Navy and Coast Guard time system for communications schedules, while Earhart and Noonan used Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Coast Guard time on the Itasca at Howland Island was 1 hour behind Honolulu time and 11 1/2 hours behind GMT. The plan was for Earhart to transmit to the Itasca at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour. She would listen on the hour and half-hour. According to the Longs, the Itasca's radio operators believed that Earhart would transmit and receive at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour Itasca time. Earhart would also listen for the Ontario at 10 minutes after the hour. The Ontario's assignment was to broadcast a Morse Code beacon on 400 Kilocycles and serve as a "guard ship."
While at Lae, both Earhart and Noonan expressed confidence that they would be able to complete the Lae-Howland segment of their flight without too much difficulty. Noonan stated that when he worked for Pan American Airways he navigated more than a dozen flights to Wake Island - not much larger than Howland Island - without trouble. The Longs fail to mention that the planes Noonan navigated for Pan Am were seaplanes that flew with a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and radio officer. Pan Am's Clippers could make a water landing in an emergency, if the ocean weren't too rough.
Because the radio communications system at Lae was haphazard, Earhart's priority messages were often delayed while congratulatory messages were promptly delivered. The Itasca didn't learn that Earhart and Noonan had departed Lae until they were in the air for over 7 hours. After she departed Lae, Earhart may - or may not - have received radioed weather reports that indicated she would encounter strong headwinds for most of the flight to Howland. Earhart's communications protocol with Lae was similar to her radio schedule with the Itasca. She transmitted messages to Lae at 18 minutes past each hour and listened for messages from Lae at 20 minutes past each hour. She did not immediately acknowledge that she received messages from Lae. Lae radioed weather forecasts to Earhart. Earhart radioed latitude, longtitude, altitude, wind, and other observations to Lae.
The Longs determined that Earhart exchanged messages with Lae from shortly after take off at 0000 GMT (10:00 AM in Lae) until 0718 GMT (5:18 PM in Lae). She reported in her 0718 GMT transmission that she was experiencing a 23 knot (26.5 mph) headwind and her position was just to the west and in sight of Nukumanu Island. The Longs believe that Earhart delayed making this position report by about an hour. This was the last time during the flight that she reported her latitude and longtitude. Earhart made her 0718 GMT report at about the time the sun was setting. Assuming they stayed on their planned course for Howland Island, sunrise for Earhart and Noonan would occur at approximately 1800 GMT (6:30 AM Itasca time). After sunset, Earhart stopped transmitting to Lae on her day frequency - 6210 kilocycles - and began trying to contact the Itasca on her night frequency (3105 kilocycles).
The Longs believe that Earhart and Noonan considered whether to keep flying to Howland or return to Lae soon after passing Nukumanu Island, when they had completed about a third of their flight. At this point in the flight (about 0618 GMT), the Electra's fuel consumption was high and, with headwinds, the plane's average ground speed from Lae to Nukumanu (850 miles) was about 135 miles per hour. But returning to Lae at night across mountains on Bouganville, New Britain, and New Guinea would also be hazardous.
Earhart and Noonan continued eastward. Their next checkpoint was the guard ship Ontario, which was about 130 miles southwest of Nauru Island on Earhart's planned flight path. The Longs believe that Earhart passed to the north of the Ontario, and saw the lights of the S.S. Myrtlebank, a cargo ship that at 1030 GMT was about 80 miles south of Nauru. The Ontario was supposed to broadcast Morse Code on 400 kilocycles so that Earhart could take a position bearing using the Electra's Bendix RDF. But the Ontario never received a message that Earhart had departed Lae. Therefore, the Ontario, never broadcast to Earhart.
Although there is no record of Earhart hearing anyone on Nauru, the Longs claim that at least one Nauru resident heard her on 3105 kilocycles at about 1050 GMT. By this time, Earhart and Noonan had flown 1414 statute miles, at an average ground speed of about 134.5 miles per hour. They had to fly 1142 miles more to reach Howland. (The Longs maintain that Earhart and Noonan deviated north and south of their planned course, but use the direct route distance - 2556 statute miles - as their basis for flight calculations.)
Most of the theories about the Earhart's and Noonan's fate depend upon interpreting her brief transmissions to the Itasca on 3105 kilocycles between 1415 GMT and 2014 GMT. These transmissions were recorded in one or more of the Itasca's radio logs. A partial copy of a page of log entries appears on the cover of The Mystery Solved. The Itasca's radio logs are a consensus opinion of what several people in the radio room heard on July 2nd.
According to the Longs, the Itasca first heard Earhart on 3105 kilocycles at 1415 GMT (0245 Itasca time). Her voice was unreadable through the static. Earhart's next two reports (at 1515 GMT and 1624 GMT) were brief weather reports and were barely readable. Her next reports were at 1745 GMT (6:15 AM Itasca time), 1815 GMT (6:45 AM Itasca time), and 1912 GMT (7:42 AM Itasca time). Each transmission was stronger than the last. All transmissions that the Itasca copied were on 3105 kilocycles, Earhart's night frequency. Until 1928 GMT (7:58 AM Itasca time) the Itasca transmitted to Earhart on 3105 kilocycles and 500 kilocycles, often using Morse Code. According to the Longs, the Itasca's radio operators confused GMT with Itasca time, misunderstood or ignored Eahart's radio requests, and were confused about Earhart's and the Electra's radio capabilities. From Earhart's 1912 GMT transmission until the last transmission the Itasca heard from her at 2013 GMT, the strength of her radio signals was S-5 (very loud).
Earhart used two methods of radio direction finding as she approached Howland Island and the Itasca. She tried to take bearings on the Itasca's signals using the Electra's radio direction finder. The Itasca attempted to take bearings on the Electra using both a shipboard radio direction finder and an experimental radio direction finder on Howland Island.
At 1928 GMT (7:58 AM Itasca time) Earhart reported she was "circling." She asked the Itasca to transmit on 7500 kilocycles, either immediately or on the scheduled time in a half-hour. The Itasca responded immediately on 7500 kilocycles with a string of "A"s in Morse Code. Earhart replied that she heard the signals, but could not get a minimum. She requested that the Itasca take a bearing on her and answer with voice on 3105 kilocycles. She sent long dashes by voice for about five seconds. The Itasca responded that it could not take a bearing on 3105 (the battery that powered the experimental RDF on Howland Island had run down and Earhart's voice transmission was too brief for the Itasca to get a bearing).
For the next 40 minutes the Itasca attempted to contact Earhart, using Morse Code and voice on 7500, 3150, and 500 kilocycles. At 2013 GMT (8:43 AM Itasca time) Earhart came on the air and reported that she was flying on the line of position 157-337, that she would listen on 6210 kilocycles, and that she was running north and south. It was the last transmission the Itasca heard from Earhart.
In Chapter 14 the Longs explain the extensive search that the U.S. Navy conducted after Earhart was declared overdue. The Itasca continued to transmit to Earhart on 7500, 3105, and 500 kilocycles for many hours after her 2013 GMT transmission. The Itasca's captain, Commander Warner K.Thompson, recalled the landing party from Howland Island and began a search of the area north and west of Howland Island, based upon what the Itasca's officers felt was the most likely area Earhart ditched the Electra. Although the weather near Howland was clear and calm on July 2nd, heavy cumulus clouds were visible on the northwest horizon. The Itasca began searching for Earhart at 2210 GMT (10:40 AM Itasca time) along a 337 degree course heading northwest of Howland.
According to the Longs' narrative, communications for the early efforts to rescue Earnhart and Noonan were both confusing and confused. The Itasca called Earhart incessantly on 7500, 6210, 3105 and 500 kilocycles. Many of these transmissions were by voice. Some of the Itasca's transmissions were picked up by shortwave listeners. Some who listened to the Itasca's transmissions thought it was Earhart who was transmitting. The Itasca also called U.S. Navy and Coast Guard stations in Hawaii and California, sending information and asking for orders. Several newspaper reporters and wire service reporters filed reports from the Itasca when the ship was not transmitting and receiving official messages. The reporters passed their own impressions about Earhart's overdue flight, and whatever information they were able to obtain about the Itasca's rescue efforts, to the world.
About 4 1/2 hours after the Itasca heard Earhart's last transmission, the Secretary of the Navy authorized American ships and aircraft to search for Earhart and Noonan. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard began what was to that time the largest search and rescue operation conducted for an aircraft lost at sea. But, according to the Longs, the Itasca was the only vessel that was near Howland Island for the first crucial days of the search. Moreover, after initially running 55 miles to the northwest along a 337 degree line on July 2nd, neither the Itasca nor any other naval vessel or airplane undertook a systematic search of the waters near Howland and Baker Island for the next ten days.
After July 2nd, the Itasca was dispatched to search areas far from Howland Island. This happened for two reasons, according to the Longs. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard initially received incorrect information from George Putnam and Lockheed about Earhart and Noonan's survival and emergency communications capabilities. Putnam and Lockheed reported that the Electra would float a long time with empty fuel tanks, that Earhart and Noonan had a life raft and emergency rations on board, and that the Electra's radios were capable of emergency operation if the plane were down at sea. This subsequently lent credibility to the reports of shortwave listeners who thought they heard distress calls from Earhart. The Itasca was then dispatched to investigate several areas where Earhart was thought to have ditched the Electra, based on reports by shortwave listeners and instructions by George Putnam.
The U.S. Navy dispatched two groups to rescue Earhart and Noonan. Scout seaplanes from the battleship U.S.S. Colorado searched the Phoenix Islands between July 7th and July 12th, and found no evidence that Earhart and Noonan were stranded on an uninhabited island in the Phoenix Islands. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lexington launched 60 aircraft between July 13th and July 18th, and together with the Itasca, Swan, and several destroyers, searched for Earhart and Noonan in a 262,000 square mile area that included Howland, Baker, and the Gilbert Islands. The Lexington group found nothing related to Earhart, Noonan, or the Electra, on land or at sea.
In Chapter 15, the Longs examine the evidence they collected about Earhart's and Noonan's disappearance. Based upon the headwinds they think Earhart encountered between Lae and Howland, they believe Earhart ran out of fuel about the time the Itasca heard her last message (2013 GMT, 8:43 AM Itasca time). Like the crew of the Itasca in 1937, the Longs believe that, based upon the strength of Earhart's transmissions on 3105 kilocycles and 1937 radio propagation, the Electra crash-landed on the ocean within 100 miles of Howland Island. Based on the construction of Earhart's Electra, the Longs feel the Electra sank within about an hour after it crash-landed.
In the final chapter of The Mystery Solved, the Longs attempt to solve the mystery of Earhart's and Noonan's disappearance. The Longs hypothesize the causes of Earhart's and Noonan's failure to find Howland Island. They believe that any celestial observation taken by Noonan could have deviated as much as 10 percent from the Electra's real position. They say that the last celestial (star) fix Noonan was able to take occurred at 4:52 AM Itasca time (1622 GMT) when Earhart was about 350 miles from Howland. They believe Noonan used a "sun line" navigation system to deliberately fly north of Howland and to develop daytime navigational data that would take the Electra close to Howland. The Longs also determined that Howland's true position (which Earhart and Noonan did not know) was about 6 miles east of the position shown on Noonan's charts. Finally, the Longs conclude that Noonan's celestial and surface navigation techniques could not provide the unambiguous data that Earhart and Noonan needed to find Howland Island. A position fix using a radiodirection finder was essential.
The Longs believe the Electra is lying on a featureless plain on the ocean floor near Howland Island, at a depth of about 17,000 feet. They feel the Electra is intact and in good condition. They think that locating the Electra will cost about 2 million dollars.
What does The Mystery Solved tell us about aeronautical data and information in Earhart's and Noonan's time? The Long's book leaves us with the impression that flying 65 years ago was a casual affair, and "stunt flights" were common. Accurate aeronautical data were important - up to a point. But aviators and aviation in the 1930's reached a point where, for many, the benefits from stunt flying far outweighed the benefits of careful and prudent flying. A year after Earhart's disappearance, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan was given a hero's welcome in New York for flying an old single-engine light plane equipped with only a few instruments from New York to Dublin nonstop. Six month's later, Lockheed 's sole P-38 fighter prototype crashed while making an emergency landing on a Long Island golf course, when Lockheed used it to attempt a new transcontinental speed record. 
What do data quality and information quality tell us about The Mystery Solved? They tell us that the Longs made many assumptions when writing their book. The Long's really don't know what the Electra's fuel consumption was between Lae and Howland. The Longs (apparently) don't know the mean time between failure (MTBF) for the Electra's engine performance measurement instruments, although such instruments were widely used for over a decade. They didn't determine the reliability of Earhart's Bendix and Western Electric radio equipment. And although many Lockheed Model 10 Electras crashed, the Longs don't provide data that could show how crashworthy the plane was.
Nor do the Longs really know what navigation decisions Noonan made on the flight between Lae and Howland. Did Noonan aim for a point above Howland Island using the "area of uncertainty" navigation principle, as the Longs claim? Or did he aim for a point between Howland and Baker Islands, so as to have a good chance of seeing one island or the other, or smoke from the Itasca? Why aren't eyewitnesses who the Longs interviewed quoted to buttress crucial points? Many key participants the Longs interviewed (like Ruckins D. "Bo" McKneely, Earhart's mechanic between Oakland and Miami on the second attempt) have only recently died.
The Longs (and almost everyone else who has researched Earhart's disappearance) ignore the problems Ann Pellegreno and her crew encountered when trying to find Howland during their 1967 commemorative flight. Pellegreno's navigator attempted to replicate Noonan's "line of position" techniques as Pellegreno approached Howland. Although Pellegreno's Electra was equipped with what was state-of-the-art radio and navigation gear in 1967, she and her crew of three (including two experienced pilots) visually acquired Howland Island with great difficulty, despite being given RDF bearings by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter. 
Amelia Earhart, The Mystery Solved is an outstanding addition to 1920's and 1930's American aviation history. But, from a data quality perspective, the Longs raise as many questions about Earhart's and Noonan's disappearance as they settle. It appears that we will have to wait until Earhart's Electra is discovered before the mystery of her disappearance begins to be solved.
 The Final Hours, Amelia Earhart's Last Flight, produced by Independent Communications Associates, marketed by South Carolina Educational Television, Columbia, S.C., 57 minutes, 2000, videocassette.
 Pellegreno, Ann H., World Flight, The Earhart Trail, Ames, Iowa State University Press, 1971.
 Rich, Doris L., Amelia Earhart, A Biography, Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1989.
 Lovell, Mary S., The Sound of Wings: The Biography of Amelia Earhart, New York, St. Martins Press, 1989.
 Goldstein, Donald M., and Dillon, Katherine V., Amelia: The Centennial Biography of an Aviation Pioneer, Washington, D.C., Brasseys, Inc., 1997.
 Earhart, Amelia, Last Flight, New York, Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1988.
 Boyne, Walter J., Beyond the Horizons, The Lockheed Story, New York, St. Martins Press, 1998, 111.
 Pellegreno, 154-164.