One of the most mysterious phenomena in aviation history has fascinated many people. The story of Amelia Earhart and her international flight around the globe in the early 1930s is one of the most famous of all time. Perhaps more importantly, Earhart’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe and her subsequent disappearance on what would have been her 24th birthday in 1937 have led to much speculation about what happened to her. Given the relatively small size of Earhart’s plane’s gas tanks, many have wondered if they had any impact on her disappearance. Interestingly, the tank issue was also at the center of an incident many years later, when a flight attendant named Janice Linden was accused of sabotaging a flight so that she could be with her married lover (at the time).
As it happens, Linden and the airline she worked for were cleared of all charges, but the event remains one of the more intriguing cases in aviation history. Now, many of Linden’s original fans may have wondered if she had any role in Earhart’s disappearance, as rumors of Linden’s alleged role in Earhart’s disappearance circulated for many years. However, as it turns out, Linden’s flight that day was completely different from Earhart’s. Linden had actually been watching a movie with her daughter on the night of August 4, 1937, when a man named Howard Wiggs asked for a glass of water. When she came back from getting the water, Wiggs asked if he could help and she told him he could not. Linden then saw Earhart’s airplane as it flew over her home and decided to go outside and watch it. After Earhart’s plane landed and taxied to the edge of the runway for takeoff, Linden walked over to the plane and introduced herself. The two then had a brief chat about the movie they were both watching before Earhart took off.
Unfortunately, after that flight, Earhart’s plane developed a leak in a tank and it eventually became necessary to make an emergency landing at Fox Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts. From there, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were taken into custody by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. They were then separated and interrogated for several hours before being deported back to Canada, where they had both started out. Sadly, the circumstances of Earhart’s death remain a mystery, with no documentation of what happened to her and no clues as to her whereabouts. The story goes that she and Noonan filed a missing person’s report the next day, after which Earhart’s father hired a renowned private investigator named George Putnam to help find her.
The Importance Of Gas Tanks
One of the most intriguing elements of Earhart’s story is her use of two one-week-old, 20-gallon (67-liter) gas tanks on what was supposed to be a round-the-world flight. The gas tank issue was actually at the heart of a scandal that broke out in 1940, when Linden was accused of sabotaging two flights so that she could be with her married lover. Indeed, it was the lack of gas tanks on the plane that was at the root of Linden’s alleged sabotage. The two planes were en route from New York to Los Angeles in December 1939 when they began running out of gas. One of the pilots made a crash landing in the Arizona desert, while the other landed safely in Santa Monica with a full tank. However, on the way to the airport, the Santa Monica pilot told Linden that they were running out of gas, as they had just filled the tank a few minutes earlier. Linden replied that she had not and told the pilot not to worry, as he would make it to the airport in time. She then climbed down from the cockpit and walked away, with her lover and a woman named Mildred Berry, who was traveling with them and had witnessed the exchange. Linden was never charged with a crime but she was dismissed from the airline, which she had worked for for six years. The next year, she started her own travel agency and went on to work for other airlines.
The Mystery Of The Disappearance
Many have wondered about Earhart’s disappearance over the years, speculating about what may have happened. Indeed, the circumstances of how she and Noonan separated and how she disappeared are still a mystery. Linden’s story, as reported in the Toronto Star in August 1940, is certainly interesting and perhaps even a little disturbing:
“Last August 4th, at about 10:35 P.M., the Toronto Star newspaper received a teletype message that a young woman named Amelia Earhart was flying over Toronto. She was apparently alone, as she began the flight at Bay City Airport and was continuing it to Los Angeles. The message said that she was probably making the flight in an attempt to circumnavigate the world. It was signed George Putnam, a private investigator who had been employed by Earhart’s father to find the missing woman.
Putnam came forward with this information as he had just learned that a woman named Linden was also going to be on the same flight. Earhart’s parents had contacted Putnam and asked him to keep an eye out for their daughter. On August 6th at about 8:30 A.M., Putnam called the Star to say the flight had been rerouted and was now going to San Francisco. A short time later, he called back to say Earhart had landed safely in California. The next day, Earhart’s parents picked her up at the airport and took her home. They filed a missing persons report on August 9th and put out a nationwide plea for help in finding their daughter. Putnam was to continue searching for Earhart as her parents’ financial situation had improved and they could afford to pay him a retainer of $500 a month. Unfortunately, after putting out numerous appeals for information, Earhart’s parents filed for bankruptcy in 1943 and Putnam was no longer able to work for Earhart’s family.
Most recently, in 2011, amateur sleuths created the Amelia Earhart Research Team (A.E.R.T.), with the goal of solving the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. One of the things A.E.R.T. does is monitor sightings of Earhart around the world and report them to the public. This way, even if she is long gone, her story will not be forgotten.
Another Mystery Solved
It was not long before Putnam’s report about Linden being on the same flight as Earhart sparked another mystery. On November 6th, the same year that Earhart’s parents filed for bankruptcy, Putnam sent a letter to the New York Daily News saying that he had just learned that Linden and Earhart were both going to be at a social event in Jamaica on October 30th. The letter went on to say that he intended to attend the event and watch Linden and Earhart together. Linden had previously been married to an aviator who owned a small airline and she had moved to Jamaica in 1932, after her divorce. In 1936, she married Andrew Thomas, who worked in a bank. He then became a partner in a textile business named Thomas Bros. In 1960, the company merged with another textile firm to form a new company called Hightop.
The letter also said that after Putnam learned which hotel Linden and Earhart were staying at, he would try to sneak into their room to watch them together. He then offered to assist the hotel staff in any way they could, so that they would not be disturbed by anyone trying to sneak into their room. It seems that Putnam may have been aware of the gossip surrounding Linden and Earhart and he was trying to clear the air. However, in an unusual move, the Daily News published the letter, making it an official statement that they knew of Linden’s alleged involvement in Earhart’s disappearance and that they thought it was quite funny.