Sunday, August 25, 2013

Whatever Happened To Amelia Earhart?

Recently we were randomly humming and singing. One of the things that intrigued our curiosity was the line from the song Someday We'll Know by Mandy Moore. It was the hit song during our high school days but it really never piqued nosy minds that time until this day.

The line of sudden interest says "Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the stars up in the sky?" I am sure that the song composer used name of a legendary person as a literary device in order to convey something but leave to the listeners to make actual connection.

So, the question is: Who is Amelia Earhart by the way? I consulted the and I want to quote some parts verbatim of what I interestingly learned:

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AMELIA EARHART was an American aviator, author and women’s rights activist. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her disappearance in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world is a mystery that continues to intrigue people worldwide.


Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. During Christmas vacation in 1917, she went to visit her sister in Toronto. One day, at an aviation exposition, a pilot flew his plane near her. Later, she said, “I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by."

In December 1920, Earhart attended an air show in Long Beach, California. She took a short plane ride, and that ten minute flight changed her life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said.

Just six months after she began flying lessons, she purchased her first plane, a bright yellow, second-hand biplane that she named The Canary. She soon achieved the world altitude record for women pilots.

Earhart’s last flight

Nearing her 40th birthday, Earhart said, “I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system…” She hoped that it would be a flight around the world. She wanted to be the first woman to do it.

On June 1, 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed from Miami with great fanfare. They began the journey heading east. After twenty nine days of flight, they touched down in Lae, New Guinea. The remaining miles would be done over the Pacific.

The plan required landing on Howland Island, located between Hawaii and Australia. At only one and half miles long and half a mile wide, Howland Island was a difficult spot for landing. Special navigation precautions were taken, including establishing radio communication with US Coast Guard Ship Itasca off Howland Island.

At 10 a.m., Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae. They encountered problems with overcast skies and rain showers early on. Some witnesses reported that the radio antenna may have been damaged, and other experts suggest that their maps may have been inaccurate.

As they neared Howland Island, they were unable to make sufficient connection with the Itasca or to land on the island. Earhart’s last communication was at 8:43 a.m.: “We are running north and south.”

Though the Itasca began a rescue attempt immediately and the search continued for weeks, nothing was found. On January 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.

Theories about disappearance

For a long time, the most likely explanation was that the plane ran out of fuel and the flyers ditched or crashed and then died at sea. More recently, another theory has gained some traction. It holds that the flyers landed on uninhabited Nikumaroro Island, formerly called Gardner Island.

According to the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, Earhart and Noonan survived on the island for several weeks. They caught fish, seabirds and turtles and collected rainwater. Earhart died at a campsite on the island's southeast end. Noonan's fate is unknown.

This theory is based on on-site investigations that have revealed improvised tools, bits of clothing, plexiglass and an aluminum panel. In May 2012, investigators found a jar of freckle cream that some believe could have belonged to Earhart. Additionally, reports of lost distress calls have been reported.

Also, in 1940, a British Colonial Service officer found a partial skeleton on the island, as well as a campfire, animal bones, a sextant box and remnants of a man's shoe and a woman's shoe. The officer thought he may have discovered Earhart's remains, but a doctor believed the skeleton to be male, and American authorities were not notified. The bones were later lost. Recent computerized analysis of the skeleton's measurements suggests that the skeleton was probably that of a white, northern European female.

So, everytime we sing her name, we might as well wonder: Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart who holds the sky up in the sky? I can only conjecture that only heaven really knows and maybe we'll never know at all.

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