Pioneers of World Aviation
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and the conspiracy theories about her disappearance.
From photographs of the Marshall Islands to the remains of several campfires in Nikumaroro Island, Kiribati, recent discoveries have given credence to popular theories about the disappearing of the American pioneering aviator
Amelia Mary Earhart (1897 – 1937) was born in Atchison, Kansas, as the second child of Samuel Stanton Earhart and Amelia Otis. According to family tradition, she was named after her two grandmothers, Amelia Josephine Harres and Mary Wells Patton. Since her childhood she was known by her spirit of adventure, always setting off to explore her neighborhood, spending long hours climbing trees and hunting rats with her sister Grace. In 1908, at the age of ten, Amelia saw her first aircraft at the Iowa State Fair as her father tried to interest her and her sister in aviation. But it was on December 28, 1920 when Earhart took her first flight with pilot Frank Hawks; she was 23 years old. This experience would change the young woman’s life. “By the time I had go two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly”, she stated. And she managed to become a pilot even against her family wishes – in fact; she became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license by the Féderation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).
Between the 1920s and the 1930s, young pilot Amelia Earhart set new world records in a field which seemed to be reserved exclusively for men. In fact, she became the first woman to set a world speed record, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928 as well as the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. Later, Amelia started planning a round-the-world flight, which was intended to be the longest one ever (29,000 miles) as she aimed to circumnavigate the globe from the equator. She and her navigator Fred Noonan departed Miami on June 1, 1937 aboard a Lockheed Electra 10E airplane. After several stops in South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, they arrived at Lae, New Guinea, on June 29. Unfortunately, on July 2 the Electra that Amelia and Fred Noonan were flying disappeared somewhere near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Earhart was legally declared dead in 1939.
Newly discovered photos and remains of campfires reignite conspiracy theories
Since Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, several theories have formed regarding her last days. Some researchers think that, due to artifacts that have been found on Pacific Islands, the plane that Amelia and Fred Noonan were flying crashed and the two aviators perished at sea. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and the National Geographic Society, however, consider that Earhart and Noonan might have flown without radio transmission and landed at uninhabited Nikumaroro Island, a reef in the Pacific Ocean 350 miles southeast of Howland Island. Several onsite investigations, including forensic dogs, have led researchers to locate possible signs of an American castaway. This signs include the remains of several campfires, US-made artifacts such as a jackknife, a woman’s compact, a zipper pull, a glass jar, an aluminum panel and a piece of Plexiglas the exact width and curvature of an Electra window.
Less credible theories are that Earhart was on a spy mission to the Marshall Islands and was captured by Japanese troops. Newly discovered photos in the US National Archives suggest that Earhart and Noonan were in the Marshall Islands, proving that they died in Japanese custody, rather than during a crash landing in the Pacific. Japanese officials, however, have always stated that they have no records of both aviators ever having been in their custody. Finally, Amelia Earhart has never been officially found, but several investigations carried out after her disappearance have claimed to have discovered evidence about her and her plane, giving credence to popular conspiracy theories.
South American Jets.