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Rafford, Paul, Jr, 1919-2016



  • Existence: 1919 - December 10, 2016

Biographical Information

Paul Rafford Jr. worked for Pan American Airways from 1940-1988 as a flight radio officer, technical consultant, and later as a project engineer in communications for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) human space flight programs (1963-1988). He is well-known for his theories on Amelia Earhart's disappearance and as an expert on radio transmission capabilities during the late 1930s.

His career in aviation started with Pan Am where he began as a flight radio officer in 1940, working with colleagues who flew with Fred Noonan and worked on Amelia Earhart's Electra 10E. He became a technical consultant in 1946 and then a project engineer in 1963, working for NASA's human spaceflight programs and was part of the team that put people on the moon. During his career, he navigated with the World War II Japanese radio station at Jaluit in the Marshall Islands and flew missions with the Bermuda Clipper and the Yankee Clipper and provided support to the Flying Tigers during Pearl Harbour. Throughout his career, he specialized in forecasting and analyzing radio communications. He retired in 1988.

Paul Rafford Jr. became fascinated with the mystery of Earhart's disappearance after reading Fred Goerner's book, "The Search for Amelia Earhart", which included radio logs and navigation data that had recently been declassified by the United States Navy. His own search for an explanation for her disappearance started in 1980 after he met ex- Air Force pilot Vincent V. Loomis. He began extensively researching Earhart, Noonan, and their disappearance, focusing heavily on research around her radio communications.

He has contributed his theories in books, articles, and film productions. He first presented his theories in Vincent V. Loomis' book, "Amelia Earhart: The Final Story" (1985) and later wrote articles for the "Amelia Earhart Society Newsletter" from 1989-2000, among others. In 2006, he published his own book, "Amelia Earhart's Radio" and later contributed to the novel and script for Carol Linn Dow's, "The Lost Flight of Amelia Earhart". He was also one of the original members of Bill Prymark's "Amelia Earhart Society of Researchers", all of whom are now deceased.

Through his research and experience, he became a renowned expert on radio transmission capabilities during the late 1930s and is well known among Amelia Earhart researchers.

Paul Rafford Jr. passed away on December 10, 2016 in Rockledge, Florida at the age of 97.


Earharttruth (Dec. 14, 2016). Paul Rafford Jr., “Elder Statesman” of Earhart researchers, dies in Florida hospice at 97. Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last. Retrieved from:


Rafford Jr., Paul (n.d.). "Amelia Earhart, her own navigator". Paul Rafford Jr. papers on Amelia Earhart, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.


The Lost Flight of Amelia Earhart (n.d.). Lost Flight Group. Retrieved on April 25, 2019 from:

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Paul Rafford Jr. papers on Amelia Earhart

 Unprocessed — Box: 1
Identifier: 20190315