Amelia Earhart

Curious Dragonfly Science Monthly

Who is Amelia Earhart?

Amelia Earhart is known as the most famous female aviator pioneer, being only the 16th woman to be issued a pilots license. Would you have flown in a plane in 1923? She had several notable flights which made her famous. In 1928, Amelia became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. She accompanied two pilots from Newfoundland to Burry Port, Whales. She was an instant celebrity, but she quickly noted that she was only keeping the log. In 1932, she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She left in the morning from Newfoundland, and traveled for 12 hours with difficult weather conditions. She wasn't going to make it to Paris like planned, she landed in a pasture outside the small village of Culmore, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.


Several other notable flights included a solo trip from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. This established her as the first woman to fly both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She also traveled from Los Angeles Mexico City, and then Mexico City to New York.

Amelia Earhart had set seven women's speed and distance aviation records in a variety of different aircrafts.

What was Amelia's flight plan?

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Amelia Earhart's final flight began on May of 1937. She left from Oakland, California with Captain Harry Manning as first navigator and Fred Noonan as her second navigator and headed towards Hawaii. They experienced problems flying across the Pacific but landed at the United States Navy's field on Hawaii for repairs. After three days, the Electra began it's takeoff and experienced a loss of control and looped the plane on the runway. It is not sure to this day what caused the accident. Theories are a tire blew, but some say pilot error.


The plane needed repairs and after getting additional funding, the weather patterns and wind changes altered the original plan. This time Amelia would fly east. Fred Noonan would be the only one accompanied her on this voyage due to Manning's previous commitments.


On June 1st, Earhart and Noonan took off from Miami towards Central and South America, then turning east for Africa. From there, they crossed the Indian Ocean and finally landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29, 1937. 22,000 miles of the journey had been completed. Did you follow her flight across the world? Only 7,000 miles remaining across the Pacific Ocean.


While in Lae, Earhart contracted dysentery that lasted for a couple days. While she recuperated, several adjustments were made to the plane. Extra amount of fuel was stored on the plane and the parachutes were packed away since they would be flying over the desolate Pacific Ocean. The radio equipment was adjusted and the shorter wavelength frequencies were left behind.


On July 2, 1937, Earhart and Noonan left for the Howland Island. There was a claim that as the plane was taking off, the radio antenna may have been damaged. Their plan was to use celestial navigation, but there was extreme overcast conditions.


On July 3 at 7:20 am, Amelia reported her position at 20 miles southwest of the Nukumanu Islands. At 7:42 am, the Itasca (A U.S. Coast Guard ship stationed off of Howland Island to assist in keeping on the right route) picked up a message from Earhart "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet." The flyers last communication was at 8:43 am. The transmission was marked as questionable.


Realizing that the plane must be in trouble and that the Itasca had no more contact with Earhart or Noonan, an immediate search began. What do you think happened to Amelia's plane?

Theories of Amelia's final Trip

1. Amelia successfully landed the airplane on one of the smaller uninhabited islands in the area

2. Amelia purposely crashed the plane into the Pacific Ocean on a suicide run.

3. She was captured by the Japanese and forced to broadcast to American GI's as "Tokyo Rose."

4. Amelia guided the plane north on a spy mission for the American government to photograph and study the secretive Japanese in the Caroline Islands.

5. She was shot down or ran out of fuel and crash-landed on the Japanese held Marshall Islands and was jailed or executed.

6. Amelia and Noonan's plane was ditched or crashed and they perished at sea.

Did you have your own theory of what happened to Amelia?

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The Finding of Amelia Earhart

Modern forensics has been researching where Amelia's final resting place could be. Artifacts have been found on the remote island of Nikumaroro (formally known at Gardner Island), located on the southwestern Pacific Republic of Kiribati. An international group called TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) has continually researched Amelia's disappearance on this remote island since 1989. They have run 10 expeditions to the South Pacific and are currently raising money for more.
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Items found on the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro (Also known as Gardner Island)

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What do you think about all the artifacts found on the island? Could they be Amelia's?
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The Search for the Plane

TIGHAR's most recent expedition in 2015 was to look for Amelia's plane. Anomalies were detected off the shore of Nikumaroro Island found on the 2012 expedition. A 14-person team scoured the remote South Pacific Island but the expedition didn't go as expected. They were plagued with technical issues, bad weather and difficult environment. The main explorer was a remote operated vehicle ROV that would have gone down 600 feet to investigate an anomaly at the base of a cliff just offshore. The ROV malfunctioned, resulting inoperable. A second ROV was suppose to be on-board for back-up, but due to costs, was left behind. The TIGHAR was able at the last minute to deploy a crude camera system to take images of the bottom of the ocean in the area of the anomaly. Results of the expedition are still being compiled, analyzed and evaluated.

Do you think the researchers will find parts of Amelia's plane?

Possible Part of Amelia Earhart's plane

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The Bevington Object

A photograph taken of the island three months after Amelia Earhart's disappearance by a British Colonial Service Officer, shows an object protruding from the water off the Nikumaroro Island. The photographer at the time dismissed it as unimportant, but current studies show that it could have been part of the Lockheed Electra's landing gear sticking out of the water. It is believed that Amelia landed the plane on the islands reef during low tide, and eventually the plane was washed over the edge. Sinking into deeper waters.
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