January 11, 1935 Earhart

A specially trained team of four border collies was brought to the atoll to search for bones in June 2017, but the answers remain elusive.

Amelia Earhart was born July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, the first surviving child of Samuel “Edwin” and Amelia “Amy” Otis Earhart. Amy didn’t believe in raising “nice little girls”, she allowed “Meeley” and her younger sister “Pidge” to live an outdoor, rough and tumble “tomboy” kind of childhood.

AmeliachildEdwin seems to have had life-long problems with alcohol, often resulting in an inability to provide for his family. Amelia must have been a disciplined student despite it all, as she graduated with her high school class, on time, notwithstanding having attended six different schools.

Earhart was certainly independent, saying later in life that “The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune”.

Amelia and her sister saw their first airplane in 1908, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. It was a rickety old biplane in which Edwin was trying to interest them in a ride.   Earhart later described the biplane as “a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.”  At the time, the girls preferred the merry-go-round.

Meeley and Pidge worked as nurse’s aids in Toronto in 1919.  There she met several wounded aviators, developing a strong admiration for these people and spending much of her free time watching the Royal Flying Corps practice at a nearby airfield.

Around that time, Earhart and a friend were visiting an air show in Toronto, when one of the pilots thought it would be funny to dive at the two women. “I am sure he said to himself, ‘Watch me make them scamper,'” she said, but Earhart held her ground.  “I did not understand it at the time, but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.”

A ten-minute ride at a Long Beach California air show in 1920 changed her life.  From that time on, Amelia Earhart knew she wanted to fly.

Earhart worked at a variety of jobs from photographer to truck driver, earning money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita “Neta” Snook.

She bought a second-hand Kinner Airster in 1921, a bright yellow biplane she called “The Canary”, flying it to 14,000’ the following year, a world altitude record for female pilots.

Neta_amelia_kinner_airster_s
Neta Snook, Amelia Earhart, 1921

Short funds grounded her for a time, by 1927 she was flying out of the Dennison Airport in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Earhart invested in the airport and worked as a salesman for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area while writing about flying in the local newspaper.

Charles Lindbergh’s New York to Paris Flight on May 20-21 of that year was the first solo, non-stop transatlantic crossing by airplane. Aviatrix Amy Phipps Guest wanted to be the first woman to make the flight, but later decided it was too dangerous. Instead she would sponsor the trip, provided that “another girl with the right image” was found.

“Lady Lindy”, Earhart became that first woman on May 21, 1932, five years to the day after Lindbergh.

Amelia_Earhart_standing_under_nose_of_her_Lockheed_Model_10-E_Electra,_small

On this day in 1935, Amelia Earhart became the first person of either sex to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

Two years later, Earhart and copilot/navigator Frederick J. Noonan attempted to fly around the world. The US Coast Guard cutter Itasca picked up radio messages that the aircraft was lost and low on fuel on July 2, 1937, and then it vanished.

The $4 million search and rescue effort covered 150,000 square miles and lasted for sixteen days, but to no avail.

amelialostphotosFollowing the end of the official search, Earhart’s husband and promoter George Palmer Putnam financed private searches of the Phoenix Islands, Christmas (Kiritimati) Island, Fanning (Tabuaeran) Island, the Gilbert and the Marshall Islands, but no trace of the aircraft or its occupants was ever found.

Earhart was declared dead in absentia on January 5, 1939 at the age of 41, Noonan on June 20, 1938.  He was 44.

For years, the prevailing theory was that Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10 Electra ran out of gas and plunged into the ocean.

Earhart-electra_10
“Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E. During its modification, the aircraft had most of the cabin windows blanked out and had specially fitted fuselage fuel tanks. The round RDF loop antenna can be seen above the cockpit. This image was taken at Luke Field on March 20, 1937; the plane would crash later that morning”.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has been exploring a 1½ mile long, uninhabited tropical atoll once called Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro, in the southwestern Pacific Republic of Kiribati. After eleven visits to the atoll, TIGHAR sonar images revealed a straight, unbroken anomaly under the sand, remarkably consistent with the fuselage of a Lockheed Electra.

The traces of a long-dead campfire were discovered in 1940, along with animal bones, a box from a sextant, and thirteen human bones.  A doctor judged them to have belonged to a male and American authorities were never notified.

Those bones were subsequently lost, but computerized re-evaluation of their measurements suggest that the skeleton was probably that of a white female of European ethnicity, standing roughly the same 5’8″ as Amelia Earhart.

A specially trained team of four border collies was brought to Nikumaroro to search for bones in June 2017.  Thus far, the answer to one of the great mysteries of the 20th century, remains elusive.

Nikumaroro is no tropical island paradise.  There is no fresh water and daytime temperatures exceed 100°F in July. The island’s only inhabitants are Birgus latro, commonly known as the coconut crab, The largest land-dwelling arthropod in the world, specimens weigh up to 9lbs and measure over 3′ from leg tip to leg tip.

Coconut crab

Gifted with a keen sense of smell, the adult coconut crab feeds on fruits, nuts, seeds, and the pith of fallen trees, but will eat carrion or just about anything else if given the chance.  Virtually any food source left unattended will be investigated and carried away, giving rise to the alternative name “Robber crab.”

It’s anyone’s guess how the two aviators spent the last hours of their lives, or who it was who lit that fire or left those bones. Looking at the size of the island’s only inhabitants, it’s not difficult to imagine why there were only 13.

 

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January 11, 1935 Amelia Earhart

The US Coast Guard cutter Itasca picked up radio messages that she was lost and low on fuel on July 2, 1937, and then she vanished

Amelia Earhart was born July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, the first surviving child of Samuel “Edwin” and Amelia “Amy” Otis Earhart. Amy didn’t believe in raising “nice little girls”, she allowed “Meeley” and her younger sister “Pidge” to live an outdoor, rough and tumble “tomboy” kind of childhood.

Edwin seems to have had life-long problems with alcohol, often resulting in an inability to provide for his family. Amelia must have been a disciplined student though, she graduated with her high school class, on time, despite attending six different schools. She was certainly independent, saying in later life that “The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune”.

Amelia saw her first airplane in 1908, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. It was a rickety old biplane and the girls’ father was trying to interest them in going for a ride.  At the time they preferred the merry-go-round, Earhart later describing the
biplane as “a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.”

In 1919, Earhart spent time with her sister in Toronto, working as a nurse’s aid where she met several wounded aviators, just home from WWI. She developed a strong admiration for aviators, spending much of her free time watching the Royal Flying Corps practice at a nearby airfield.

A ten minute ride at a Long Beach California air show in 1920 changed her life, from that time on she knew she wanted to fly.

amelia-earhartEarhart worked at a variety of jobs from photographer to truck driver, earning money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita “Neta” Snook. She bought a second hand Kinner Airster in 1921, a bright yellow biplane she called “The Canary”, and flew it to 14,000’ the following year, a world altitude record for female pilots.

Lack of funds grounded her for a time, but she was flying out of the Dennison Airport in Quincy Massachusetts by 1927. She invested in the airport and worked as a salesman for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area, all while writing about flying in the local newspaper, soon becoming a local celebrity.

Charles Lindbergh’s New York to Paris Flight on May 20-21 of that year was the first solo, non-stop transatlantic crossing by airplane. Aviatrix Amy Phipps Guest wanted to be the first woman to make the flight, but later decided it was too dangerous. Instead she would sponsor the trip, provided they found “another girl with the right image”.

Now nicknamed “Lady Lindy”, Earhart became the first woman to make the solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic on May 21, 1932, five years to the day after Lindbergh.

Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California on this day, January 11, 1935.

Two years later, Earhart and copilot/navigator Frederick J. Noonan attempted to fly around the world. The US Coast Guard cutter Itasca picked up radio messages that she was lost anddaily-news-earhart low on fuel on July 2, 1937, and then she vanished. The four million dollar search and rescue effort which followed was the most expensive in history, but to no avail. Earhart and Noonan were never seen again.

For years, the prevailing theory has been that Earhart’s Lockheed Model 10 Electra ran out of fuel and plunged into the Pacific. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has been exploring a 1½ mile long, uninhabited tropical atoll called Nikumaroro, in the southwestern Pacific Republic of Kiribati. After eleven visits to the atoll, TIGHAR sonar images revealed a straight, unbroken anomaly under the sand, remarkably consistent with the fuselage of a Lockheed Electra. nikumaroro-atoll

TIGHAR has re-examined 120 known reports of radio signals which could have been sent from the Earhart aircraft between July 2 and July 18, the day the official search was called off.  They’ve concluded that 47 of them are credible. The remains of a very old campfire has been discovered on the island, along with a 1930s-vintage clothing zipper, bone-handled pocket knife of the type Earhart was known to carry, and a jar of a once-popular anti-freckle cream.  13 human bones have been discovered which may belong to a white female, around the same age and height as Earhart was when she disappeared in 1937.

What was then Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro, is no tropical island paradise.  There is no fresh water and daytime temperatures exceed 100° Fahrenheit in July. Its only inhabitants are Birgus latro, commonly known as the coconut crab. Also known as the coconut-crabrobber crab or palm thief, Birgus latro is the largest terrestrial hermit crab in the world, weighing up to 9lbs and measuring over 3′ from leg tip to leg tip.

The adult coconut crab feeds on fruits, nuts, seeds, and the pith of fallen trees, but will eat carrion or just about anything else if given the chance. It’s anyone’s guess how the two aviators spent the last hours of their lives, or who it was who lit that fire or left those bones. Looking at the size of these things, it’s not difficult to imagine why there are only 13.