"Among reports of voice messages, two from teenagers using shortwave antennas rigged by their fathers were most disturbingly credible.
In Rock Springs, Wyo., Dana Randolph, 16, heard a voice say, "This is Amelia Earhart. Ship is on a reef south of the equator.'' Radio experts, aware that "harmonic'' frequencies in mid-ocean often could be heard far inland, viewed the report as genuine.
Turning the shortwave dial in St. Petersburg, Fla., 15-year-old Betty Klenck was startled to hear a woman say, "This is Amelia Earhart Putnam,'' followed by pleas for help and agitated conversation with a man who, the girl thought, sounded irrational.
Having heard Earhart's voice in movie newsreels, she had no doubt that it was her.
"In my mind, a picture of her and what she was saying lasted for years. I remembered it every night of my life,'' Betty Klenck Brown, now 84 and widowed, said in a recent telephone interview from her home in California.
The man, she recalls, "seemed coherent at times, then would go out of his head. He said his head hurt ... She was trying mainly to keep him from getting out of the plane, telling him to come back to his seat, because she couldn't leave the radio.
"She was trying to get somebody to hear her, and as the hours went by she became more frantic.''
Betty listened for nearly two hours, taking notes in a school composition notebook as the signals faded in and out. They ended when the fliers "were leaving the plane, because the water was knee-deep on her side,'' she said.
She believes she may be the last living person to have heard Earhart's distress calls.
Her father, Kenneth, who also heard the voices, contacted the Coast Guard at St. Petersburg, but was brushed off with assurances that the service was fully engaged in searching for the fliers, she said. "He got mad and chucked the whole thing because of the way he was treated.''
Both teenagers' accounts would support TIGHAR's premise that Earhart crash-landed on Gardner's flat reef at low tide, was able to run its right engine to power the radio, and escaped the aircraft before tides eventually carried it off the reef into deep water."