13 April 2018
The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart was a great American aviator and the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. During the peak of her life, she received several awards, acknowledgments and was the topic of best-selling novels. Although she became best known for her aviation skills, her upbringing and her disappearance played a major role in keeping her name relevant still till this day.
On July 7, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart was born. Her parents were married, but often separated due to her father’s drinking problem. It was at this time early on Earhart’s mother decided to move her and her older sister to live with their grandparents. While staying there, Earhart and her sister seemed to have entertained themselves by climbing trees, hunting rats, and riding on Earhart’s sled. When she was 10 her family got back together. However, once back together Earhart’s father couldn’t keep a job and made the family move around a lot. Changing schools and surroundings made it difficult for Earhart to settle and make friends. In 1915, Earhart’s parents divorced again, and they moved to Chicago to live with friends. There she went to high school and was great in Chemistry. Her father wasn’t the provider that the family needed, so Earhart became independent. After graduation, Earhart spent her Christmas with her sister in Toronto, Canada. After seeing wounded soldiers from WWI, she decided to become a nurses aide. While working, Earhart started to like aviation and watched the nearby Royal Flying Corps. Earhart then moved back to Long Beach, California to live with her parents that got back together again. In 1920, Earhart got a chance to ride in an airplane that would change her life. She was immensely fascinated with flying. Even though her childhood was hard at times, that didn’t stop her from pursuing her goals of becoming a pilot. (Szalay 1)
Earhart was interested in flying lessons from Anita Snook, a female aviator. She learned almost everything about flying and spent some time at the airfield. In 1921, Earhart bought her first airplane and nicknamed it “The Canary” to try to make herself noticed. Although Earhart hit a few bumps along the way, she didn’t let that keep her from her passion for flying. Captain Hilton Railey asked Earhart if she would accept his deal of flying across the Atlantic. She accepted the deal and went to New York to meet up with George Putnam. Earhart was able to fly, but only as a passenger (Szalay 1). Facing many challenges, Earhart still became the first female pilot to fly and set many records of her time. It was during one of her famous trips, she disappeared without a trace and became an unsolved mystery to this very day (Gonzalez 2).
Earhart was dubbed “Lady Lindy” after becoming an aviation celebrity, and Putnam made her his next bestseller. Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world, even though it was almost her 40th birthday (Szalay 1). Her and Noonan departed from California and reached New Guinea on June 1, 1937. Earhart and Noonan departed from Lae, and tried to make it to their next destination, but they didn’t make it due to many issues. Even though lots of effort was put into finding them, neither Earhart nor Noonan was found, and they were both declared dead in January 1939 (Gonzalez 2). Although no one ever heard from them again, lots of theories and speculations were made to try to figure out what happened. For Instance, one theory was from TIGHAR, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery who thinks that they survived on an uninhabited island (Szalay 1). TIGHAR visited Nikumaroro (formerly known as Gardner Island) seven times to find evidence that Earhart crashed on an island (Jacobson 6). Many months after Earhart’s disappearance, TIGHAR found a skeleton on the island. The skeleton had similarities with Earhart, but the technology wasn’t good at the time to examine it. It wasn’t until 70 years later researchers re-examined the bones and found out that they did belong to a female. TIGHAR had to re-evaluate one of their past theories to get even more evidence for Earhart’s disappearance. Dr. Richard Jantz collaborated with Stephen Ousley to create a computer program that discovers the background of any skeleton. They used this program to try to solve the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance. In 2017, Dr. Jantz began new research using newer software and found out that the bones were similar to Earhart, but they could have been from someone else. Dr. Jantz’s conclusion was quantitative, but any other conclusion made was qualitative (Ryall 10). Another theory is that Earhart landed on a reef, but died due to the radio being broken (Levenson 3). Many others believed that both Earhart and Noonan lived out their lives and began living under secret identities (Hamilton 5). There were other rumors speculating that Earhart was captured by the Japanese, but the Japanese government denied it (Stevenson 4). Along with those theories, there was also the theory of Earhart landing in Japan and being renamed “Tokyo Rose”, and spreading propaganda over the radio (Haines 7). There even was a theory that they were saved by U.S. Forces and changed her name to Irene Bolam after being rescued from crash landing on an island. A terrifying theory about Earhart’s disappearance is there is that Earhart crashed and was eaten by giant coconut crabs (Robins 8). Although these theories were looked into, none of these have been proven to be true, so most of these theories are ruled out (Gonzalez 2).
All in all, Earhart became a memorable woman even if her childhood wasn’t that great. She accomplished and achieved extraordinary goals as not only as a writer, but as the first female pilot to travel great distances even though the odds were against her. She also married Putnam. Earhart not only made history with her skills in aviation, but she remains famous due to her mysterious disappearance and people are still trying to figure out her location. She inspired many women to achieve their goals in life, no matter what they may be.