Fred Noonan

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  • Full name: Frederick Joseph Noonan.
  • Born April 4, 1893; lost July 2, 1937; declared dead June 20, 1938.

How did Noonan get involved in the World Flight?

A confidential letter from George P. Putnam to William T. Miller on March 1, 1937, hinted that Putnam was not totally comfortable with the experience level of Capt. Harry Manning "in matters like this" (aerial navigation), and suggested that one of Pan Am's best practicing navigators be summoned to discuss the matter with him "to advantage". On March 12th it was announced that Noonan, who left Pan Am earlier in the year, would be joining the crew of the World Flight.

First round-the-world attempt

Was Noonan a drunkard?

  • Claim first made in the 1960s?
  • Heavy drinking a norm for pilots in the 1930s.
  • The claim that "personnel unfitness", a phrase from a telegram sent from Earhart to Putnam on June 29th, was a pre-arranged code between them has not been substantiated.[1]



  1. Gore Vidal, for example, made this claim in the WGBH American Experience show.

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