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The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

By Reeti Shah


Who was Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart saw her first airplane when she was ten, but she was initially unimpressed. Her interest in aviation was sparked when she went to a stunt-flying exhibition. Her first airplane ride was in 1920, which inspired her to start flying lessons. Eventually, she bought her first airplane and named it “The Canary.” She used this airplane to set the first women’s record by flying to an altitude of 14,000 feet. She was truly a pioneer, as she set many records that include being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, and being the first person to fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, California, and from Mexico City to Newark. Through her flights, she proved that men and women were equal in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness, and willpower.”


However, a record that she was unable to reach was to be the first woman to fly around the world. Her attempt at setting this record would become a mystery that fascinates people to this day.


The Day she disappeared

Earhart left Miami with her navigator, Fred Noonan, on June 1, 1937. The journey was 29,000 miles, out of which she completed 22,000 miles by June 29th. She had to travel to Howland Island from Lae, New Guinea, which was to be a challenging journey since Howland Island was small and not easy to locate. She, along with Noonan, left Lae on July 2nd. Although the weather was ideal when they took off, it soon became worse, as the overcast skies made it difficult to navigate. Additionally, her radio transmissions were irregular, and she was unable to reach her radio contact on the US Coast Guard cutter (ship) Itasca. One of the last messages heard from her stated that she was flying at 1,000 feet, and then nothing was heard. Although there was an extensive search operation, no trace of her was found.

So what happened to Earhart?

There have been many different theories over the years, and here are a couple:


Theory #1 - The Official Theory

The official theory backed by the US is that the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Nauticos, a company that does deep ocean searches and offers other ocean research services, believed that Earhart crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island, They thoroughly searched the area, but they found nothing.


Theory #2 - Aliens

Another, slightly more outlandish, theory states that Earhart made contact with alien life forms while flying to Howland Island. With this theory, it is believed that she was taken to another planet, cryogenically frozen and then used to make an entire civilization of alien aviators. However, this theory does not seem possible, and there is no evidence for these claims.


Theory #3 - Nikumaroro Island

Another theory is that Earhart landed on Nikumaroro Island, which is around 350 miles southwest of Howland Island. Earhart’s last radio messages lead to this, as from her messages, researchers deduced that she could have landed on Nikumaroro Island while trying to find Howland Island. This theory is backed up by the discovery of 13 bones, which were evaluated to be from a woman who had Earhart’s build. Also, remnants of shoes belonging to a man and a woman and a sextant (a navigation device) were found. Many glass bottles from the 1930s have also been found here. However, the main problem with this theory is that this island was already searched in the initial search by the Navy when Earhart first went missing.

Although there are many theories about what happened to Earhart, ultimately her legacy is much bigger than how she disappeared. She was a fighter and a trailblazer, someone who fought against prejudices to become the first woman to set many records. In a letter to her husband George Putnam, she said, about women, “When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

Sources:

1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/07/amelia-earhart-disappearance-theories-spd/

2. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/19/amelia-earhart-found-disappearance-theories/1475518001/

3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/will-search-for-amelia-earhart-ever-end-180953646/

4. https://www.ameliaearhart.com/biography/

5. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Amelia-Earhart

Editor: Judy Zhang

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