During an attempt to fly around the world in 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared. No one really knows what happened to the pair.
What happened to Amelia Earhart?
Many historians believe that the plane simply crashed and sank due to running out of fuel. However her disappearance is shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories abound. Theories include:
She was Irene Craigmile Bolam
Another theory of the time was that she had moved to New Jersey, remarried, and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. This claim was originally referenced in the book Amelia Earhart Lives by Joe Klaas. New York banker Irene Bolam submitted an affidavit which claimed the book to be untrue.
She was a spy
Some thought Earhart was spying on the Japanese in the Pacficic for President Roosevelt.
She was Tokyo Rose
The 'Tokyo Rose' broadcasts were how allied troops referred to female English speaking radio broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. There was a rumour that Earhart was one of these women after her disappearance. Putnam investigated this claim personally, listening to many of the broadcasts beore identifying that it was not her voice.
They went to Gardner Island
One theory is that Earhart and Noonan flew on and landed on the uninhabited Nikumaroro reef, a small island. Improvised tools and bits of clothing have been found on this island and some believe that they died here.
They were captured by Japanese forces
Some believed that Earhart and Noonan had made their way to somewhere within the South Japanese Pacific Mandate and from there had been captured and executed. although many books have been written on this theory, it is unlikely due to the distance between Howland Island and the Japanese controlled Marshall Islands.
Who is Amelia Earhart?
Amelia Earhart was an aviation pioneer and author, known for being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was instrumental in the set-up of the organisation for female pilots, the Ninety-Nines. She set many women’s speed and distance records and was an early supporter of the equal rights amendment.
Her aviation made her a celebrity, and her image was used to promote many products, from luggage to Lucky Strike cigarettes.
She is considered to be a feminist icon. Her bravery, diligence and dedication made her a world famous pilot who is still referenced and talked about today.
Why did she go missing?
The trip was the second attempt by Earhart to navigate around the world, the first ending in a failed take off from Ford Island in Pearl Harbour.
The second attempt began with take-off from Lae Airfield in 1937. The ship USCGC Itasca was meant to guide the plane to land on Howland Island. However messages from Earhart’s aircraft indicated that they could not hear the radio signals from the ship, and didn't know where to land. Radio signals eventually went silent, and the plane disappeared somewhere over the island. Itasca quickly began a search of the island, joined by the US Navy.
Nothing was found and the search officially stopped in July 19 1937. The pair were declared dead in absentia on 5 January 1939.
Kinner Airster Biplane
The first plane that Amelia Earhart purchased was a Kinner Airster biplane which she gave the nickname ‘the canary’. Following a financial crisis she sold the canary and bought a yellow Kissel speedster which she nicknamed ‘yellow peril’
Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan were flying a Lockhead Model 10-E Electra when they disappeared. Purdue University, where Earhart was an advisor, funded the plane.
Amelia Earhart facts
- Amelia Earhart was the 16th woman in the US to be issued a pilot’s license
- The first aviator to fly solo from Honolulu Hawaii to Oakland California
- Known as ‘Lady Lindy’ and ‘Lucky Lindy’ due to her resemblance to Charles Lindbergh
- When Amelia Earhart decided that she wanted to be a pilot she cut her hair short, and bought a leather jacket. In order to fit in she slept in the jacket for three days to make it look worn.
- George Putnam asked her to marry him six times before she said yes. On the morning of their wedding she sent him a note saying:
"I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly."
Amelia Earhart quotes
“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
“[Women] must pay for everything…. They do get more glory than men for comparable feats. But, also, women get more notoriety when they crash.”