Apa yang Terjadi dengan Amelia Earhart?

Apa yang Terjadi dengan Amelia Earhart?


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Menyatukan potongan-potongan itu

Dick Spink bukanlah pencetus teori Kepulauan Marshall. Ini pertama kali menjadi perhatian global selama tahun 1960-an dengan penerbitan buku Paul Briand Putri Langit, serta koresponden CBS Fred Goerner Pencarian Amelia Earhart. (Ketertarikan dengan Earhart berlanjut kru yang mencoba menerbangkan pesawat bertenaga surya di seluruh dunia berencana untuk memulai apa yang disebutnya "kaki Earhart" dari perjalanannya, melintasi Pasifik yang tak kenal ampun.)

Buku Goerner — semacam alkitab bagi banyak orang percaya Kepulauan Marshall — berpendapat bahwa Earhart dan navigatornya Fred Noonan ditawan oleh Jepang setelah mendarat di Marshall dan diangkut dengan kapal ke Saipan, di mana mereka meninggal di penangkaran.

Spink menganggap dirinya di antara murid-murid Goerner, tetapi dia tidak menjadi percaya dengan membaca bukunya. Faktanya, dia belum membaca apa pun tentang Earhart ketika dia pertama kali bepergian ke Kepulauan Marshall untuk usaha bisnis sampingan. "Saya hanya berasumsi semua orang percaya bahwa dia menghilang ketika dia tenggelam di laut," katanya.

Kemudian, tiga tahun lalu, Spink sedang makan malam dengan teman-teman Marshall ketika dia mengajukan pertanyaan polos: "Bukankah Amelia Earhart menghilang di bagian dunia ini?" Seorang pria lokal menjawab: "Ya, dia mendarat di pulau kami, dan paman saya mengawasinya selama dua hari."

Reaksi pertama Spink adalah tertawa, tetapi dia tiba-tiba berhenti ketika dia menyadari pria itu tidak bercanda. Setelah itu, ke mana pun dia bepergian di Marshall, dia terus mendengar cerita yang sama. "Begitu banyak orang mengatakan hal yang sama," katanya. “Ini menjadi bagian dari sejarah dan budaya Marshall.”

Apa yang dimulai sebagai kebetulan menjadi pengejaran untuk Spink. Dia mewawancarai lusinan penduduk asli Marshall, menekankan secara spesifik sampai dia menemukan hamparan pantai karang yang kasar di mana dua nelayan mengklaim mereka melihat daratan Earhart. Pesawatnya, kehilangan bagian saat memantul di atas karang, kemudian diseret ke kapal angkut Jepang.

Spink tidak pernah meminta bantuan keuangan untuk usahanya. Tetapi melalui koneksi dengan perusahaan bernama Parker Aerospace, pencariannya menerima dorongan besar. Tahun ini Parker mendanai ekspedisi yang membawa peralatan canggih untuk dibawa ke area pencarian di Marshalls.

Parker memproduksi perlengkapan untuk sistem bahan bakar dari hampir semua pesawat yang dibuat pada tahun 1920-an dan 30-an, termasuk Spirit of St. Louis karya Lindbergh dan Earhart's Electra.

Jon Jeffery, perwakilan Parker yang menemani Spink pada ekspedisi Januari, mengatakan, "Ketika kami menemukan bahwa perusahaan kami telah membuat suku cadang untuk Earhart's Electra, itu membuat manajemen Parker bersemangat, dan mereka membuat keputusan untuk berinvestasi dalam proyek tersebut."


Apakah Amelia Earhart Dimakan Kepiting?

Awal bulan ini, Robert Ballard, penjelajah laut dalam yang menemukan Raksasa dan kapal patroli Perang Dunia II John F. Kennedy, di antara bangkai kapal terkenal lainnya, memulai misi untuk menemukan pesawat di pusat misteri sejarah yang paling abadi: Amelia Earhart jatuh Lockheed Model 10-E Listrik.

Pada tanggal 2 Juli 1937, Earhart dan navigatornya, Fred Noonan, sedang dalam perjalanan ke Pulau Howland di Pasifik, sekitar 1.700 mil barat daya Honolulu. Mereka enam minggu dan dan 20.000 mil jauh ke dalam perjalanan mereka di seluruh dunia. Pada saat itu, Earhart telah menjadi wanita pertama yang terbang sendirian melintasi Atlantik dan dari Hawaii ke Daratan AS, perjalanan keliling dunianya akan menjadi yang terbaru dalam serangkaian pencapaian luar biasa bagi perintis penerbangan.

Earhart dan Noonan, tentu saja, tidak pernah sampai ke Howland. Di suatu tempat di sepanjang jalan, Electra menjadi terlalu berat dan kekurangan bahan bakar, dan pilot serta navigatornya tidak bisa melihat pulau kecil seluas dua setengah mil persegi di tengah lautan. Tidak ada yang tahu persis apa yang terjadi selanjutnya.

Kebijaksanaan konvensional menyatakan bahwa Electra hanya kehabisan bahan bakar dan mendarat di suatu tempat dekat Howland, tenggelam ribuan kaki ke laut. Setidaknya itulah yang diyakini oleh pemerintah AS. Tetapi yang lain berpikir bahwa Earhart dan Noonan malah mendarat sekitar 350 mil laut tenggara Howland, mendarat di penghalang terumbu karang yang mengelilingi Pulau Gardner&mdashnow yang dikenal sebagai Pulau Nikumaroro. Mereka menunjuk ke panggilan radio marabahaya yang datang dari pulau selama beberapa malam berikutnya setelah kecelakaan yang diklaim.

Selama sebulan terakhir, Ballard dan Allison Fundis dari Ocean Exploration Trust telah mencari di perairan Nikumaroro, sementara tim arkeolog dari Nasional geografis telah menyisir pulau untuk menemukan jejak pesawat.

Selama ekspedisi, NatGeodilaporkan pada teori itu mungkin menjelaskan apa yang terjadi pada Earhart dan Noonan jika mereka benar-benar mendarat di dekat Nikumaroro: Noonan mati, Electra hanyut, dan Earhart tinggal selama berminggu-minggu di pulau itu tanpa makhluk apa pun kecuali kepiting kelapa asli sepanjang tiga kaki untuk menemaninya .

Kepiting itu, menurut teori, memakan Earhart setelah dia binasa di pulau itu.

Pada tahun 1940, pemukim Inggris menemukan 13 tulang, termasuk tengkorak, di pulau&mdash&ldquomungkin milik Amelia Earhardt [sic],&rdquo menurut telegram yang dikirim setelah penemuan itu. Setelah pemeriksaan lebih lanjut, dokter mengatakan tulang itu milik laki-laki Eropa yang pendek, meskipun beberapa antropolog tidak setuju dengan penilaian tersebut.

Tapi jika 13 tulang telah melakukan milik Earhart, apa yang terjadi dengan 193 lainnya dalam kerangka manusia yang ditemukan? Kredit kepiting: Orang Inggris yang menemukan tulang mengatakan &ldquokepiting kelapa telah menyebarkan banyak tulang,&rdquo Nat Geo laporan.

Untuk menguji teori ini, International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) memberi kepiting bangkai babi untuk dimakan. Ternyata kepiting mengerumuni tubuh babi, membuang sebagian besar dagingnya, dan memindahkan sebagian tulangnya sejauh 60 kaki. &ldquoIni memberitahu kita bahwa kepiting menyeret tulang,&rdquo TIGHAR&rsquos Tom King memberi tahu Nat Geo.

Sementara Ballard dkk. adalah meninggalkan Nikumaroro tanpa Electra minggu ini&mdashsetelah pemeriksaan visual 100 persen dari pulau hingga 2.400 kaki, Ballard tidak dapat&rsquot menemukan bukti pesawat&mdashpencarian mungkin belum selesai.

Nat Geo arkeolog Fredrik Hiebert dan timnya mungkin telah menemukan fragmen tengkorak dari tahun 1940 di Museum dan Pusat Kebudayaan Te Umwanibong di Tarawa, Kiribati. Dan antropolog forensik mengatakan itu milik seorang wanita dewasa.

&ldquoKami tidak tahu apakah itu [Earhart] atau tidak,&rdquo kepada Erin Kimmerle University of South Florida. Nat Geo, &ldquotetapi semua bukti menunjuk pada tulang 1940 yang ada di museum ini.&rdquo Mereka berencana untuk merekonstruksi tengkorak dan menguji DNA-nya dalam beberapa bulan mendatang.


Kontras dengan pendaratan penerbangan Atlantik

Tanah pertama yang saya lihat adalah penonjolan Pillar Point, sekitar 21 mil selatan Golden Gate, dan Pigeon Point, sekitar 43 mil. Saya tidak mengenali wilayah itu sama sekali. Karena ada sedikit badai hujan tepat di jalan saya, saya berbelok ke kanan. Jadi saya muncul sekitar lima mil ke selatan dari tempat saya seharusnya berada — tetapi bagaimanapun juga di benua yang saya tuju!

Menarik lebih dari takik di perbukitan, tepat di jalur saya, saya melihat Teluk San Francisco di depan saya. Di atas San Mateo saya berlayar dan enam menit kemudian NR-965-Y dan saya duduk di landasan pacu Bandara Oakland, kira-kira 18 jam dari Honolulu.

Pendaratan saya sangat kontras dengan penerbangan solo Atlantik. Pada saat itu, padang rumput terbaik seorang petani adalah akhir perjalanan saya, dan di sana tiga orang Irlandia keluar untuk melihat makhluk macam apa yang dimiliki pesawat itu. Pengumuman saya bahwa saya berasal dari Amerika diterima dalam keheningan yang meragukan. Di Oakland saya tidak perlu menjelaskan dari mana saya datang kepada ribuan orang yang menunggu. Kamera diklik segera setelah saya membuka kokpit dan mikrofon diangkat untuk menangkap ucapan penting (?) pertama saya.

Saya telah mengatakan sedikit tentang tindakan pencegahan yang diambil jika terjadi kesalahan. Milik saya adalah pesawat darat, dilengkapi dengan roda. Kadang-kadang yang seperti itu turun dengan selamat di atas air, meskipun pendaratan umumnya berbahaya.

Ada beberapa faktor yang mempengaruhi hasil. Diantaranya adalah kekasaran air, daya apung dari kapal itu sendiri, dan posisinya saat menabrak. Saya memiliki katup pembuangan di dua tangki pesawat terbesar, yang memungkinkan evakuasi isinya hampir seketika. Kosong, ini saja memiliki daya apung yang cukup besar — ​​ditambahkan ke tangki sayap mana pun dari mana bahan bakar telah digunakan. Saya merasa ada kemungkinan pesawat akan tetap mengapung untuk beberapa waktu.

Paul Mantz, penasihat teknis saya, yang dalam terbangnya untuk film membuat pesawat terbang melakukan hal-hal yang sulit dipercaya, membantu saya merencanakan cara terbaik untuk menjatuhkan monoplane sayap tinggi di atas air tanpa jungkir balik. Prestasi telah dicapai dan kapal jenis itu telah diketahui mengapung selama delapan hari sebelum kru diselamatkan. Tentu saja, menyelam yang curam ke laut akan merusak pesawat apa pun sehingga cenderung tenggelam sekaligus. Demikian pula, gelombang tinggi akan menghancurkan baik daratan yang tidak menguntungkan atau kapal air yang dipaksa turun ke permukaan tanpa ampun.

Paul Mantz. . . membantu saya merencanakan cara terbaik untuk menjatuhkan monoplane sayap tinggi di atas air tanpa jungkir balik. . . [A] kapal jenis itu telah diketahui mengapung selama delapan hari sebelum kru diselamatkan.

Di atas pakaian terbang hangat saya, saya mengenakan rompi karet tiup, dibagi menjadi dua kompartemen. Masing-masing akan meledak seketika ketika saya melepaskan karbon dioksida terkompresi yang terkandung dalam dua kapsul logam kecil di pinggang.


Mengapa Amelia Earhart Masih Penting

Pada tahun 1920, seorang wanita Kansas melakukan penerbangan pertamanya&mdashand segera mengubah dunia.

Jauh di atas Samudra Pasifik dengan Lockheed Electra dua mesinnya yang berkilauan, Amelia Earhart membumbung tinggi. Saat itu tanggal 2 Juli 1937, dan bersama navigator Fred Noonan, dia sedang dalam perjalanan ke perhentian berikutnya&mdashHowland Island, 1.700 mil barat daya Honolulu. Dua penerbang veteran berada di bagian terakhir perjalanan keliling dunia mereka, setelah menyelesaikan 20.000 mil dalam enam minggu.

Saat pesawat terbang di atas bagian Pasifik yang sunyi, semakin jelas bahwa mereka dalam bahaya. Pesawat itu terlalu berat, mereka kekurangan bahan bakar, dan pulau kecil itu akan selalu sulit ditemukan&mdasha sebidang tanah seluas dua setengah mil persegi di lautan luas. Saat jam berlalu dan matahari pagi mengaburkan pandangannya, suara Earhart menjadi panik dan bingung saat dia mengirim beberapa transmisi radio yang terpotong. Kemudian, sejauh catatan resmi menunjukkan, diam. Keheningan itu akan menjadi awal yang tenang dari salah satu misteri terbesar dalam sejarah Amerika.

Sekarang 80 tahun kemudian, misteri itu masih memesona, membingungkan, dan membingungkan semua orang yang mencari dua penerbang yang hilang sejak 2 Juli 1937.

Siapa Amelia?

Amelia Mary Earhart lahir di Atchison, Kansas, pada tahun 1897, enam tahun sebelum Wright Brothers pertama kali terbang. Dalam bukunya tahun 1932 Penerbangan Terakhir, dia menulis bahwa dia melihat pesawat pertamanya pada tahun 1910 di Iowa State Fair, tetapi bahwa "Saya lebih tertarik pada topi absurd yang terbuat dari keranjang buah persik terbalik yang baru saja saya beli seharga lima belas sen."

Setelah bersekolah di Pennsylvania, dia bekerja sebagai asisten perawat selama Perang Dunia I di Kanada. Selama di sana, ia menghadiri pameran yang menampilkan para jago terbang yang baru saja kembali dari Eropa. Menyaksikan pesawat-pesawat terbang di langit dan mendengungkan kerumunan memiliki dampak yang sangat besar pada Earhart. "Saya tidak memahaminya pada saat itu," tulisnya, "tetapi saya yakin pesawat kecil berwarna merah itu mengatakan sesuatu kepada saya saat melintas."

[image mediaId='70023c8b-3f80-42b7-aee7-6a54a76b26fc' caption='Earhart sebelum penerbangan tanpa henti melintasi Samudra Atlantik, 1928.' loc='L' share='true' expand='true' size='M'][/image]

Pada tahun 1920, dia melakukan penerbangan pertamanya dengan ace Frank Hawks yang akan segera memecahkan rekor. Setahun kemudian dia adalah salah satu dari sedikit wanita di sekolah penerbangan, dan pada tahun 1923 dia menjadi wanita ke-16 yang mendapatkan lisensi pilotnya dari Federasi Olahraga Udara Dunia. Setahun setelah Lindbergh kembali dari penerbangan bersejarahnya, Earhart menjadi wanita pertama yang terbang melintasi Atlantik (walaupun sebagai penumpang, sesuatu yang selalu mengganggunya). Dengan tonggak sejarah ini, ia menjadi terkenal dan kaya secara internasional.

Pada tahun 1930, dia membeli pesawat yang akan membawanya ke dalam sejarah, Lockheed 5B Vega merah ikonik yang dia juluki "Old Bessie. Sudah dipajang di Museum Luar Angkasa & Udara Nasional Smithsonian sejak dibuka pada tahun 1976. Kemudian, pada tanggal 20 Mei 1932 dan tepat lima tahun dari tanggal perjalanan Lindberg, dia membuat tanda yang tak terhapuskan dengan menjadi orang kedua yang mengemudikan pesawat sendirian melintasi Atlantik&mdashand wanita pertama. Pada tahun 1935, ia menjadi yang pertama orang untuk terbang dari Hawaii ke daratan Amerika Serikat.

Pada tahun 1937, Earhart adalah seorang penulis terkenal, dosen, selebriti, dan panutan bagi wanita di mana-mana. Dia menggunakan ketenarannya untuk mendorong orang lain seperti dia untuk menjadi pilot, mendirikan organisasi The Ninety-Nines yang masih beroperasi sampai sekarang. "Dia selalu ingin menentukan jalannya sendiri," kata Dorothy Cochrane, kurator aeronautika di Museum Luar Angkasa & Udara Nasional Smithsonian. "Dia hanya bertahan [sambil] membantu menjadikan penerbangan sebagai moda transportasi ketika itu masih dianggap hal yang baru."

Penerbangan Terakhir

Pada bulan April 1936, ketika Earhart mengumumkan petualangan berikutnya adalah terbang keliling dunia, hal itu menarik perhatian seluruh dunia. Dengan dana dari Universitas Purdue, dia memiliki "laboratorium terbang" yang sangat dihebohkan, Lockheed L-10E Electra, dan terbang ke angkasa.

Pada 17 Maret 1937, Earhart memulai perjalanan dengan terbang dari Oakland, California ke Honolulu, Hawaii dalam waktu kurang dari 16 jam. Tiga hari kemudian saat lepas landas dari Honolulu, Earhart melakukan "groundlooping" pesawat, menyebabkan kerusakan parah tetapi untungnya tidak ada cedera. Tetap saja, itu pertanda suram.

Dua bulan kemudian dia mencoba perjalanan keliling dunia sekali lagi, kecuali kali ini dia pergi ke timur. Rutenya akan melintasi benua Amerika Serikat, Karibia, Amerika Selatan, Afrika, Asia, turun ke Australia dan kemudian ke Lae, New Guinea. Seharusnya diakhiri dengan berhenti di Pulau Howland sebelum dia kembali ke Oakland. Itu adalah penerbangan 28.595 mil yang melelahkan yang dimaksudkan untuk mengikuti khatulistiwa, dan itu akan lebih lama dari apa pun yang pernah dicoba siapa pun sebelumnya.

[image mediaId='d0cf81f6-cf7c-4ef8-88b6-bc5998e7ff96' caption='Earhart, dan navigator Fred Noonan, berangkat dari landasan udara di Australia, beberapa hari sebelum menghilang selamanya, 1937.' loc='C' share='true' expand='true' size='M'][/image]

Earhart dan Noonan mendarat di Lae dengan sedikit masalah pada tanggal 30 Juni dan berangkat pada tanggal 2 Juli dengan pesawat yang dimuat dan penuh percaya diri. Penerbangan mereka ke Pulau Howland seharusnya menempuh jarak sekitar 2.500 mil dan memakan waktu 18 jam.

Kematian Seorang Legenda, Lahirnya Banyak Teori

Banyak teori yang menjelaskan apa yang terjadi&mdashsome lebih bisa dipercaya daripada yang lain. Dua menonjol sebagai yang paling umum dan diterima secara luas. Yang pertama adalah mereka kehabisan bahan bakar dan mendarat cukup dekat dengan Pulau Howland, dengan pesawat tenggelam ribuan kaki ke dasar Pasifik.

Secara resmi, pemerintah Amerika Serikat percaya inilah yang terjadi. Beberapa buku, termasuk Elgin dan Marie Long's Amelia Earhart: Misteri Terpecahkan, membuat kasus ini menggunakan teknik penerbangan intuitif dan catatan transmisi radio dengan kapal patroli Penjaga Pantai AS Itasca, yang seharusnya memandu Electra ke pulau itu.

Nauticos, yang dikenal karena menggunakan pemetaan resolusi tinggi dari dasar laut dan survei sonar untuk membantu lembaga pemerintah menemukan kapal selam yang hilang, telah meluncurkan beberapa ekspedisi laut dalam selama dua dekade terakhir yang berpusat pada radius di sekitar Pulau Howland. Hingga Februari 2017, pencarian Nauticos masih berlangsung.

[image mediaId='b594eebd-20a6-4c6d-a698-f9f748c9747c' caption='Pulau Howland, tujuan tujuan Earhart. Di kejauhan ada mercusuar kecil, dijuluki 'Earhart's Light.'' loc='C' share='true' expand='true' size='L'][/image]

Tapi Cochrane juga berpikir tragedi itu mungkin bisa dicegah. Bahkan sebelum mereka lepas landas, Earhart bersikeras untuk meninggalkan antena radio sepanjang 25 kaki, percaya bahwa itu berat dan tidak perlu. Antena ini akan memberi Coast Guard kesempatan yang lebih baik untuk mengasah sinyal radionya. Cochrane juga menekankan bahwa baik Earhart maupun Noonan tidak memiliki banyak pelatihan komunikasi dan tidak tahu Kode Morse, yang juga akan memberikan cara komunikasi yang aman dari kegagalan.

[image mediaId='221a31a9-f441-45b2-9946-a2036d9ed11e' caption='Krim anti-bintik ditemukan di pulau Nikumaroro, kiri, ditemukan oleh peneliti TIGHAR, 2006.' loc='L' share='true' expand='true' size='M'][/image]

Untuk menambah risiko lebih lanjut, Pulau Howland yang kecil adalah pilihan yang buruk untuk tempat pendaratan karena panjangnya hanya dua mil dan lebarnya satu mil. Namun, militer AS ingin mendirikan pos terdepan di Pasifik sebagai awal dari Perang Dunia II dan mendorong pemilihannya. Pada akhirnya, kata Cochrane, "itu adalah kecelakaan yang menunggu untuk terjadi."

Tetapi beberapa ahli seperti Ric Gillespie, direktur eksekutif Grup Internasional untuk Pemulihan Pesawat Bersejarah (TIGHAR), tidak percaya teori "tabrakan dan tenggelam" dan menunjuk pada segunung bukti yang digali oleh TIGHAR. Dia yakin kedua orang Amerika itu melewatkan Pulau Howland dan melanjutkan perjalanan sejauh 350 mil laut ke tenggara, di mana mereka dapat mendaratkan pesawat di penghalang terumbu karang di sekitar Pulau Gardner yang tidak berpenghuni (sekarang disebut Pulau Nikumaroro).

Selama beberapa malam berikutnya, panggilan radio marabahaya dipancarkan dari dekat pulau ini, tetapi pesawat pencari Angkatan Laut AS tidak dapat menemukan mereka yang terbuang. Gillespie percaya bahwa Earhart (dan mungkin Noonan) tinggal di pulau itu selama berminggu-minggu, mungkin berbulan-bulan, sebelum meninggal. Faktanya, kerangka manusia ditemukan di pulau itu pada tahun 1940, meskipun pihak berwenang Inggris mengatakan setelah pemeriksaan awal bahwa tengkorak itu milik laki-laki Eropa yang pendek.

Gillespie tidak setuju dengan penilaian itu, dan mengatakan antropolog Richard Jantz dari University of Tennessee memeriksa ulang pengukuran dan percaya bahwa mereka adalah perempuan asal Eropa. Pada musim panas 2017, TIGHAR, dengan sponsor dari National Geographic Society, mengirim tim anjing pelacak sisa-sisa manusia untuk menemukan tempat yang tepat dari kematian orang buangan itu. Saat penggalian tidak menemukan sisa-sisa, mereka sedang dalam proses melihat apakah DNA manusia dapat diekstraksi dari tanah dengan teknik yang digunakan untuk memulihkan DNA Neanderthal. Gillespie mengakui "ini pukulan panjang," tapi dia berharap.

[pullquote align='C']"Mereka memberi tahu 4,32 juta orang [yang menonton pertunjukan] sesuatu yang terbukti tidak benar."[/pullquote]

Sementara itu, penjelasan yang lebih liar terus bermunculan. Baru bulan lalu, Saluran Sejarah menayangkan film dokumenter yang mengklaim foto yang telah lama hilang adalah bukti bahwa dia dan Noonan ditangkap oleh Jepang.

Namun, dalam beberapa hari, foto itu terungkap kemungkinan telah mendahului penerbangan mereka dan tidak mungkin menunjukkan dua selebaran Amerika. Sementara Cochrane dan Gillespie tidak setuju tentang apa yang terjadi pada Earhart 80 tahun yang lalu, mereka sepenuhnya setuju bahwa foto yang konon menunjukkan Earhart dan Noonan adalah tempat tidur. "Teori itu telah ada selama bertahun-tahun," kata Cochrane, "sayangnya, gambaran yang mereka anggap pasti ini tidak." Kritik Gillespie bahkan lebih menggigit: "Mereka memberi tahu 4,32 juta orang [yang menonton pertunjukan] sesuatu yang terbukti tidak benar."

Saat dimintai komentar oleh Mekanik Populer, History Channel menjawab dengan pernyataan: "HISTORY memiliki tim penyelidik yang mengeksplorasi perkembangan terbaru tentang Amelia Earhart dan kami akan transparan dalam temuan kami. Pada akhirnya, akurasi sejarah adalah yang paling penting bagi kami dan pemirsa kami."

Warisan Abadi

Pesawat Patty Wagstaff menggantung terbalik hanya beberapa kaki dari Earhart at Museum Luar Angkasa & Udara Nasional Smithsonian. Dia tiga kali Juara Aerobatik Penerbangan Nasional AS dan wanita pertama yang pernah menang. Karena teladan Earhart, Wagstaff menjadikan penerbangan sebagai kariernya.

"Amelia Earhart memberi tahu saya bahwa kemungkinan itu ada. (dia) membuat saya tetap percaya," kata Wagstaff. Mekanik Populer. Sementara legenda Earhart terus berkembang selama delapan dekade, Wagstaff mengatakan penting bagi kita untuk mengingat selebaran besar itu bukanlah mitos. "Apa yang (Earhart) lakukan memang luar biasa, tapi dia adalah wanita biasa."

[pullquote align='C']"Amelia Earhart memberi tahu saya bahwa kemungkinan itu ada. [dia] membuat saya tetap percaya."[/pullquote]

Wagstaff, Gillespie, dan Cochrane semuanya mengatakan bahwa tidak masalah jika misteri di balik hilangnya Earhart dan Noonan terpecahkan. Gillespie mengatakan tidak ada yang mereka temukan yang akan mengubah sejarah penerbangan yang dibuat Earhart. Ketika ditanya apakah dia pernah berpikir Earhart akan ditemukan, Wagstaff menjawab dengan sederhana, "Di satu sisi, saya harap mereka tidak."

Jadi, apakah semua pencarian ini membuang-buang waktu dan uang? Cochrane mengakui itu mungkin, meskipun menemukan DNA Earhart atau Electra yang terendam akan membantu menjelaskan misteri berusia 80 tahun ini. Tapi satu hal yang bukan misteri, adalah bahwa Earhart tetap menjadi inspirasi bagi jutaan orang, baik pilot veteran atau gadis-gadis muda yang berharap untuk mengikuti teladannya.

"Dia selalu ingin berkarier dari (penerbangan) dan dia melakukannya," kata Cochrane. "Bagi seorang wanita untuk melakukan itu, itu luar biasa. Dia mengambil risiko besar. dan merupakan panutan dan sosok yang berani."

[image mediaId='40981834-c64e-4375-bc2f-51f90ff890b2' caption='' loc='C' share='true' expand='true' size='L'][/image]


Apa yang terjadi dengan Amelia Earhart?

Meskipun pilot dipastikan meninggal secara hukum pada tahun 1939, sejarawan masih tidak yakin tentang apa yang terjadi padanya. Sekarang ada dua hipotesis utama: bahwa pesawat itu tidak mengisi bahan bakar dengan benar di Lae dan karena itu jatuh ke laut dan tenggelam, atau bahwa dia melewatkan Howland dan terbang ke Pulau Gardner terdekat dan jatuh di sana.

Ada beberapa bukti tidak langsung untuk keduanya, meskipun tidak cukup untuk mengabaikan teori sensasional terakhir bahwa Earhart mendarat di sebuah pulau yang diduduki oleh Kekaisaran Jepang dan dieksekusi sebagai mata-mata. Salah satu bukti untuk ini adalah kesamaan mencolok antara bagian-bagian pesawat Electra-nya dan bagian-bagian dari Mitsubishi Zero Jepang yang mengalami banyak layanan dalam Perang Dunia Kedua.

Sebuah peringatan untuk Earhart di Harbour Grace di Newfoundland, Kanada.

Meskipun nasib Earhart masih belum diketahui, warisannya masih kuat sampai sekarang. Inspirasi untuk 1.000 pilot transportasi wanita dalam Perang Dunia Kedua dan penerima penghargaan anumerta yang tak terhitung jumlahnya, pilot tetap menjadi pahlawan wanita yang cocok untuk zaman kita sendiri.


Apa yang Sebenarnya Terjadi pada Amelia Earhart?

Dengan pengecualian dua atau tiga astronot terkenal, hanya ada empat pilot dalam seluruh sejarah penerbangan yang namanya akan dikenali oleh setiap orang Amerika: Wilbur dan Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh dan Amelia Earhart. Faktanya, produser film biografi utama Earhart yang baru-baru ini dibuka menyebutkan bahwa nama depannya saja sudah cukup untuk menarik puluhan juta pelanggan ke Cineplexes, Blockbuster, ke Netflix. amelia. Diakui dia beruntung karena tidak dibaptis Sally atau Martha, dan mewarisi nama keluarga yang begitu sempurna bahkan seorang novelis roman pun akan menolaknya: Air-heart.

Posisi Earhart dalam sejarah mungkin tampak aneh. Bakatnya sebagai pilot dipertanyakan, mungkin dengan rasa iri, oleh banyak orang sezaman. Ketenarannya tumbuh dari penerbangan di mana dia hanyalah seorang penumpang — sama pentingnya dengan “sekarung kentang,” menurut seorang kritikus — ketika dia menjadi wanita pertama yang menyeberangi Atlantik melalui udara. Dan ketenaran utamanya berasal dari penerbangan yang gagal—usahanya keliling dunia tahun 1937—setidaknya sebagian karena beberapa kesalahan fatal dalam penerbangan.

Namun Amelia tetap hidup, sementara Louis Blériot, Eddie Rickenbacker, Wrong-Way Corrigan, Frank Hawks, Wiley Post, dan ratusan pilot terampil, berani, inventif, dan pernah terkenal telah dibuang ke tong sampah sejarah penggemar penerbangan.

Mari kita jujur ​​dan mengakui bahwa di luar kelas sekolah dasar, di mana peran Earhart sebagai proto-feminis dan pahlawan Amerika masih diajarkan, tiga pertanyaan yang terus membuat kita terpesona tentang dia adalah: 1. Seberapa baik dia sebagai pilot? 2. Seperti apa kehidupan seksnya? dan 3. Di mana dan bagaimana dia meninggal? Kehidupan dan masanya telah dijelaskan secara mendalam dalam biografi—yang terbaik dari mereka oleh Susan Butler (Timur hingga Fajar: Kehidupan Amelia Earhart), Mary Lovel (Suara Sayap) dan Doris Kaya (Amelia Earhart: Sebuah Biografi)—jadi kita akan berhenti mengejar.

Jika saya memiliki satu keunggulan dibandingkan penulis biografi Earhart yang luar biasa, itu adalah bahwa sebagai pilot saya telah menghabiskan ribuan jam menerbangkan pesawat modern (dan vintage) dengan kinerja dan kompleksitas yang setara dengan yang dikemudikan Amelia. Dan sebagai pilot dengan keterampilan biasa yang memalukan, saya memiliki jendela kecil ke dalam perbedaan antara omong kosong dan daging sapi utama dalam apa yang telah ditulis tentang Earhart sang penerbang.

Jika dia memiliki kesalahan, itu adalah dia tidak akan pernah mengakui kurangnya bakat terbang. Dengan satu pengecualian, ketika dia mengakui menanam Lockheed Vega di hidungnya karena "aplikasi rem yang berlebihan," kecelakaan tidak pernah menjadi kesalahannya. Mereka selalu disebabkan oleh parit tersembunyi, "penonton mengatakan angin puyuh menghantam saya," roda pendarat melemah karena pendaratan terpental pilot lain, atau kegagalan mekanis. Ketika Earhart menabrakkan sebuah autogyro berat pada tahun 1931, dia keluar dari reruntuhan dan dalam sekejap berkata, "Ini semua salahku." Tapi dia kemudian menjelaskan itu, astaga, apa dia sebenarnya dimaksudkan adalah kesalahannya bahwa suaminya, George Putnam, tersandung dan patah tulang rusuk saat bergegas menuju bangkai kapal.

Akan lebih baik, mungkin, jika Earhart mengaku kadang-kadang mengacau, karena itu adalah saat ketika mesin sering mati, pilot tersesat karena mereka tidak memiliki alat bantu navigasi selain rel kereta api, dan mendarat di padang rumput karena hari mulai gelap. bagian dari permainan. Tentu saja dia jatuh sekarang dan kemudian. Siapa yang tidak?

Amelia belajar terbang selama suatu era, awal 1920-an, ketika Avro Avians dan Kinner Airsters yang pertama kali dia terbangkan jauh lebih sulit dikendalikan daripada Cessna 150s dan Piper Cherokee yang dia gunakan setengah abad kemudian. Dan dia dengan cepat berkembang menjadi kembaran mesin radial besar, penarik ekor Lockheed Vegas dan Electra yang hanya bisa dijalankan oleh beberapa kritikus pilot amatir modernnya, apalagi taksi—dan melupakan benar-benar menerbangkan binatang buas.

Faktanya, pilot uji Wiley Post menyatakan Vega pertama Earhart, yang dia terbangkan melintasi negara ke pabrik Lockheed di California untuk diperbaiki, "yang paling buruk yang pernah dia terbangkan," namun dia telah berhasil berjam-jam dengan aman di babi besar. Sangat buruk sehingga Lockheed menukarnya dengan yang baru daripada memperbaikinya.

Earhart menerbangkan Lockheed bermesin tunggal melintasi Atlantik pada tahun 1932, menjadi wanita Amerika pertama yang melakukan solo Pond. Penerbangan membutuhkan berjam-jam terbang instrumen malam, yang merupakan keterampilan baru dan relatif belum teruji baginya dan harus dilakukan dengan apa yang pilot modern akan mempertimbangkan instrumentasi "panel parsial" darurat saja. Pada saat itu, altimeternya gagal beberapa jam dalam penerbangan, dan dia menemukan cara untuk memperkirakan ketinggian pada dasarnya dengan pengaturan daya apa yang akan diterima mesin, yang merupakan langkah yang sangat cerdas. Dia berlari ke lapisan es di malam hari dan pada satu titik memutar Vega, pulih hanya setelah keluar dari awan cukup rendah untuk melihat whitecaps individu. (Siapa pun yang menganggap enteng ini tidak pernah menerbangkan pesawat, tentu tidak pernah memutarnya.)

Lebih buruk lagi, las cincin pengumpul knalpot gagal, dan dia terbang berjam-jam mengawasi tepat di depannya, melalui celah antara penutup mesin dan badan pesawat, nyala api biru yang berdenyut, mengetahui firewall mungkin tidak tahan jika knalpotnya retak sepenuhnya. Kemudian avgas mulai menetes di bagian belakang lehernya dari kebocoran pengukur bahan bakar tangki sayap di atasnya…

Tahun sebelumnya, Putnam, yang selalu mencari publisitas, telah mengantre Earhart untuk melakukan penerbangan lintas benua pertama dengan otogyro Pitcairn, badan pesawatnya ditempeli logo pemasok permen karet atau Beech-Nut, sponsor penerbangan. Amelia tidak tertarik dengan kemampuan STOL autogyro, tetapi menerbangkannya hanya sebagai semacam balon udara Goodyear, kendaraan iklan aneh yang menarik banyak orang di mana pun ia mendarat. Dia menabrakkan Pitcairn-nya tiga kali, sekali begitu dekat dengan kerumunan di Abeline, Texas, di mana dia menunjukkan bahwa Departemen Perdagangan mengeluarkan apa yang hari ini disebut pelanggaran FAA dan ingin menghukumnya selama 90 hari, hukuman besar. Hanya syafaat dari beberapa teman tingkat tinggi yang membuatnya tetap terbang, hanya dengan teguran resmi di berkasnya.

Tetapi Pitcairn sangat sulit untuk diterbangkan sehingga dikatakan tingkat insiden/kecelakaan setiap 10 jam terbang. Seorang pilot pabrik menabrakkan Pitcairn milik Earhart (pinjaman) tidak sampai lima jam setelah diperbaiki. Amelia tanpa disadari telah menjadi pilot uji coba.

Salah satu kritikus utama Earhart, pilot Hollywood Paul Mantz, mengatakan dia adalah pilot yang tidak sabar dan ceroboh. Banyak yang berasumsi dia pasti tahu apa yang dia bicarakan, karena dia telah terbang dan bepergian dengan Earhart secara ekstensif, dan tentu saja Mantz memiliki banyak pengalaman dan bakat terbang di balik kata-katanya. Tapi dia juga sangat jengkel karena Amelia, karena berbagai alasan, memutuskan untuk tidak menggunakan dia sebagai "penasihat penerbangan" pada malam upaya keliling dunianya. Kita harus bertanya-tanya seberapa besar niat buruk Mantz terhadap teman satu kali itu — mereka bahkan dikabarkan berselingkuh — adalah kebencian dan balas dendam yang sederhana.

Pencela Earhart lainnya, pilot muda Elinor Smith, adalah seorang kenalan tetapi juga pesaing, yang mungkin telah membumbui kata-katanya. (Smith yakin George Putnam telah memastikan bahwa dia tidak mendapatkan sponsor untuk proyek terbangnya sendiri, yang tidak akan membuatnya menjadi penggemar istrinya.) Smith adalah pilot demo untuk Bellanca, dan Earhart sedang mempertimbangkan untuk membeli sebuah Bellanca. Jadi dia terbang satu dengan Smith, yang bertahun-tahun kemudian menyebut bahwa Amelia telah melakukan pekerjaan piloting yang mengerikan—begitu mengerikan sehingga Giuseppe Bellanca diduga menolak untuk menjual salah satu pesawatnya.

Tapi itu masih awal dalam karir terbang Earhart, dan hampir semua waktu penerbangannya berada di pesawat ringan bertenaga rendah seperti Airster dan Avian miliknya. The Bellanca adalah single performa tinggi pertama yang pernah dia terbangkan, jadi mungkin Elinor Smith seharusnya mengurangi kelonggarannya daripada, bertahun-tahun kemudian, mengabadikan legenda Amelia-tidak bisa terbang.

Segera setelah itu, Earhart membeli Lockheed Vega pertamanya, yang mungkin sama menuntutnya untuk terbang seperti petarung lini pertama pada zaman itu. Bayangkan seorang pilot pribadi 250 jam hari ini membeli Mustang P-51D dan bermain solo. (Earhart mengklaim 560 jam pada saat ini, tetapi mungkin setengahnya palsu, yang oleh pilot disebut sebagai "Waktu Parker P-51," setelah pulpen populer. Amelia jarang mencatat waktu penerbangannya, dan sulit dibayangkan how she could have flown that much between 1921 and 1929, what with 1924 through 1928 being virtually devoid of flight time.)

The inexperienced Earhart had a hard time handling the big Vega, so Putnam initially hired a pro, Bill Lancaster, to do the actual flying. Lancaster was listed as Amelia’s “mechanic,” and the fact that he did much of the piloting was kept quiet. But Amelia couldn’t fake being at the controls during the original Powder Puff Derby, in 1929, and she ran off the end of the runway at a refueling stop in Yuma, Ariz., bending the prop. Characteristically, rather than admit she had misjudged the Vega’s hot landing speed, she said that “something had gone wrong with the stabilizers,” a nonsensical claim.

At the end of the race, in Cleveland, she made a horrendous landing, bouncing and porpoising and nearly ground-looping. Still, even critical Elinor Smith was awed that the low-time Earhart was able to survive flying the big Lockheed. And the famous Lockheed engineer Kelly Johnson, who helped check Amelia out in her next airplane, a special twin-engine Lockheed Electra 10E, thought her a good pilot, “sensible, very studious, and paid attention to what she was told.”

Earhart’s most notorious crash came as she was leaving Hawaii westbound in her Electra on her first round-the-world attempt. Something went bad during the takeoff, and she ended up ground-looping at speed, doing damage that required an extensive rebuild.

Some say a blown tire caused it. Earhart later hinted that Mantz was the cause, since he flew the San Francisco-to-Honolulu leg and made a rough landing that, Earhart claimed, weakened the starboard gear-leg oleo strut, which collapsed to initiate the ground loop. But Amelia had one bad habit as a twin-engine pilot: Even at speeds where the rudders were effective, she still tried to control direction with differential throttles. That can work at the beginning of a takeoff roll, but it’s a big mistake at 80 mph with the tail up and could well have caused the swerve that collapsed a gear leg on the heavily overloaded airplane.

Having twice flown the Atlantic in light twins and made countless transcontinental trips in everything from two-seaters to business jets, I’m awed by Earhart the aviator because she had the ability and temperament to fly day after day, week after week, for five to eight hours a day. Only somebody who has been there can comprehend how physically and emotionally wearying it is to be a single pilot totally in charge of navigating, aviating, weather-guessing and dealing with every aspect of an airplane’s needs in the air and on the ground. Earhart did it when navigation aids, weather forecasting and airport facilities were laughably primitive compared to what today even the rankest student pilot has at her disposal. To read Amelia’s own accounts of navigating across Brazil and the South Atlantic, then crossing bleakest Central Africa under the pounding sun day after day, can’t help but make a pilot admire her strength, intelligence and courage.

Certainly navigator Fred Noonan did much of the hard work, but Earhart was still in charge and, like any captain, bore the ultimate responsibility. She was a pilot who sometimes—and necessarily—was in over her head, urged by her promoter-husband to constantly push her own aviating envelope. Yet Earhart ultimately rose to the challenge and performed beyond the bounds of what far too many of her critics, both then and now, might themselves be able to accomplish.

Earhart grew up spunky and adventuresome, and as an adult she chose to keep her hair in a quasi-masculine tousle and wear pants (though skinny and lanky from the knees up, she felt awkward about her disproportionately heavy legs and ankles). She made her career in a man’s world of airplanes and oily engines, so she was inevitably lumbered with the term “tomboy,” in some circles taken as shorthand for lesbian. There is in fact zero evidence of that being true, though the myth still lingers, as it does around so many strong women. If anything, Earhart was somewhat asexual her emotional drive focused on adventure and accomplishment, not sex and marriage.

When she wed George Putnam in 1931, she presented him, hours before their marriage, with a bold prenup (though the term hadn’t yet been invented). Amelia required that both she and Putnam were to feel free to do as they wished, whether alone or with whomever they wished, and that neither should feel constrained by anything as archaic as marriage vows and monogamy. And if after one year of marriage Earhart decided she didn’t like being someone’s wife, the deal was off.

Earhart had been engaged, before her marriage to Putnam, to young engineer Sam Chapman. Her involvement with Chapman almost certainly was a relationship she agreed to because that’s what a conservative, proper young woman did in the 1920s: got engaged, planned a wedding and married. There was apparently no sexual involvement with Chapman they were just friends and indeed would remain so after she ended the engagement.

There would be whispers and gossip about several of the men with whom Earhart flew and traveled, not only Paul Mantz but also navigator Noonan. Earhart never had more than a friendly relationship with the happily married Mantz, and as for Noonan, just a month before he and Amelia left on their last flight, he’d married a woman who Amelia knew well and who obviously had no qualms about sending her new husband forth with the famous aviator for several weeks of enforced cockpit intimacy. Noonan spent every spare moment during the round-the-world trip posting letters home to his wife—hardly the conduct of a cheating husband.

Some suspect that Earhart was in fact pregnant with Putnam’s child during the round-the-world flight. Either she was susceptible to avgas fumes—her explanation—or Amelia was experiencing frequent morning sickness.

But one of the most tantalizing questions that has come down through the nearly 73 years since Earhart’s comet blazed brightest is whether she had a long-term affair with handsome ex–West Point football team captain, Olympic athlete, former Army Air Corps pilot, entrepreneur and government official Eugene Vidal—father of writer Gore Vidal. The film amelia spends much of its energy perpetuating the legend, with Hilary Swank (Earhart) and Ewan McGregor (Vidal) vigorously heating the cinematic sheets.

There’s ample evidence that Earhart had a crush on the married Vidal—they were involved in a number of business dealings together—but little to indicate a sexual relationship beyond the insistence of Gore Vidal that Amelia was his father’s mistress. Gore would have been about 10 at the time, so the affair was most likely the imaginings of a fertile young mind amplified over the years.

If Earhart hadn’t disappeared into the Pacific on July 2, 1937, she’d today be as obscure an aviator as Jacqueline Cochran, Louise Thaden, Blanche Noyes, Beryl Markham, Hanna Reitsch, Amy Johnson and a dozen other women pilots who were accomplished record-setters but today are little known to the general public. But tragedy created notoriety—particularly tragedy that took the life of an attractive, mysterious and strangely sexy woman, which was guaranteed to thrum the heartstrings of celebrity-besotted Americans.

How and where Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan died have fascinated everyone from conspiracy theorists to analytical calculators of Earhart’s known and assumed flight tracks, fuel consumption, possible power settings, potential groundspeed, wind drift, navigational sun sights, emergency options, what she had for breakfast and everything else that can be deduced—make that guessed—about her last flight. For the sake of simplicity let’s roll eyes editorially and ignore Elvis theorists who claim Earhart was alive and well in New Jersey, or died in Japan’s Imperial Palace or was beheaded as a spy. Without belaboring the excruciating details and the angry debate that has created an Internet cottage industry, the two leading theories of how she and Noonan vanished currently are:

That when Earhart and Noonan couldn’t find Howland Island, the navigator provided her with a northwest/southeast search track roughly perpendicular to their course toward Howland—capping the T, in effect—and that she took a chance and followed it on the southeast heading, which took her away from Howland, to an uninhabited atoll today called Nikumaroro. There she force-landed and survived, making several pleading radio calls while the Electra’s batteries lasted, until lack of fresh water and food brought them a slow and painful death.

This theory is espoused by the U.S. organization TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery), which has so far spent about $4 million searching Nikumaroro during four expeditions. TIGHAR has recovered some encouraging artifacts, but nothing that can unquestionably be connected to Earhart or her Electra. TIGHAR’s Richard Gillespie and a multitalented team will next attempt to find more artifacts on Nikumaroro that can be scrupulously recovered and preserved, then tested for an Earhart DNA match.

A second intriguing theory is that Earhart had a carefully considered fallback plan if she failed to find Howland: She would do a 180 and fly back toward New Guinea and hope to blunder across one of the substantially larger islands that lay to the east of it—perhaps New Britain, which had two airstrips at Rabaul.

Australian wreck-chaser David Billings, who is openly contemptuous of TIGHAR’s methodology, claims that in 1945 an Australian army patrol on New Britain stumbled across the corroded hulk of a radial engine and nacelle, plus the overgrown airframe of a twin-engine airplane of some sort. Busy fighting late-war Japanese holdouts, the soldiers had only enough time to retrieve a metal “repair tag” wired to the engine mount, and the tag—which has since disappeared—is said to have denoted the engine’s type and the serial number of the airplane for which it had been repaired. Both matched Earhart’s Electra, construction number 1055 with two Pratt & Whitney S3H1 Wasp engines. Billings claims to have a crude map of the patrol’s route, and penciled onto its margin are the very same numbers and letters.

Billings and volunteers have tramped the New Britain jungle hoping to stumble across the wreckage just as the Aussie patrol did 65 years ago, but so far no luck. He realizes they need an expensive helicopter-borne magnetometer search if the wreckage is still there, by now totally overgrown and perhaps even buried.

Actually, there’s a third theory that she searched frantically for Howland, found nothing and finally ditched or perhaps crashed into the Pacific. Having flown many hours in twin-engine aircraft in the Caribbean and the Bahamas—similar to the islanded areas of the Pacific—I can tell you that finding a tiny island on the sea when there are clouds in the sky (and there were many when Earhart arrived in the vicinity of Howland) is a fool’s errand: Every cloud creates a perfect shadow the size and shape of an island, for dozens of miles in every direction.

Once when I was low on fuel in a Shrike Commander twin, I radioed the airport operator at the tiny Caribbean island of Grand Turk and asked him to step outside and tell me if he could hear my engines. Just as Earhart begged the Coast Guard cutter Itasca to home on her, I begged Grand Turk to tell me yes, they could hear me. They couldn’t. So I know her terror, know what it’s like to fly from one phantom shadow to another. I survived. She didn’t, but I know what happened to her, because it almost happened to me.

So perhaps it’s time to stop, and leave the lady where she lies. The search for Earhart has become an expensive yet ultimately pointless exercise. Ric Gillespie of TIGHAR at least admits that it’s not the Earhart legend that drives him but the chase—the deduction and analysis, the footwork and fundraising, overcoming obstacles for a goal that is not gold bullion sunk in a Spanish galleon, or a rich-veined Dutchman’s Mine, or strange Nazi secrets entombed in a U-boat it’s the intellectual exercise.

Country singer Iris Dement certainly didn’t have Earhart in mind when she wrote “Let the Mystery Be,” but she might as well have.

Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where they all came from

Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go when the whole thing’s done

But no one knows for certain, so it’s all the same to me

I think I’ll just let the mystery be.

That might be the most meaningful way of all to honor Amelia: Let the mystery be.

Stephan Wilkinson is a former executive editor of Flying Majalah. For further reading, he recommends the Earhart biographies by Susan Butler, Mary Lovell and Doris Rich, and notes you can learn more than you need to know about her last flight at tighar.org and electranewbritain.com.

Originally published in the January 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.


Records Relating to Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared during their attempt at a round-the-world flight in July 1937. The National Archives contains records relating to the proposed flight and the search for their airplane.

"Amelia Earhart prior to last takeoff." Records of the U.S. Coast Guard, RG 26, NAID 6708612.

Letter from Amelia Earhart to President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarding her world flight. November 10, 1936. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. NAID 6705943 (3 pages)

Amelia Earhart, July 1936. Records of the Army Air Forces, RG 18, NAID 6708609.

U.S. Navy Report of the Search for Amelia Earhart, July 2-18, 1937. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, RG 38. NAID 305240 (96 pages)

Report, p. 1, dated January 7, 1939, on information that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, RG 38, Entry 81, General Correspondence, 1929-1942, File A4-3/Earhart, Box #70

Report, p. 2, dated January 7, 1939, on information that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, RG 38, Entry 81, General Correspondence, 1929-1942, File A4-3/Earhart, Box #70

Report, p. 3, dated January 7, 1939, on information that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, RG 38, Entry 81, General Correspondence, 1929-1942, File A4-3/Earhart, Box #70

The lists below provide more detailed descriptions of records in the National Archives in Washington, DC, College Park, MD, and San Francisco, CA.

National Archives in Washington, DC, and at College Park, MD

The list indicates records held in Washington with [DC] and in College Park with [CP]. Please note the location if you are requesting information about ordering copies.

Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group 24 [DC]

Includes the deck logs of the USS Colorado, Ontario, dan Swan, vessels engaged in the search for the lost Earhart plane in the vicinity of the Howland and Phoenix Islands during the period July 1-19, 1937. The total number of pages of log entries for the period of the search is 71.

Records of the United States Coast Guard, Record Group 26 [DC]
Available on Reference Microfilm – 4 Rolls

Correspondence File "601 Itasca" for 1937

1. Cruise report of the Itasca for the period during which it was searching for Amelia Earhart, together with a letter and two cables. 14 pages.

2. Track chart showing the area searched by the Itasca. 1 page.

Correspondence File "601 Amelia Earhart"

1. Copy of the radio log of the Itasca. June 9-July 16, 1937, with official remarks and opinions. 106 pages.

2. Copies of cables and radiograms, February-April and June-July 1937, relating to preparations for the flight and to the search for the plane. 159 pages.

3. Transcripts of the logbook of the Itasca, June 22‑26 and July 1-23, 1937. 57 pages.

4. Copy of the communications log of the Itasca. 43 pages.

5. Photographs of Amelia Earhart, the plane, and related subjects. 26 items.

Records of the Hydrographic Office, (Record Group 37) [DC]

Includes a 25-page file of correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to the proposed Earhart flight and the search for the plane. File Designation – A4-3 Box 22. General Correspondence.

Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, (Record Group 38) [CP & DC]

A1 entry 351 - 84 page "Report of Earhart Search by U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, July 2-18, 1937." Available online: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/305240 [CP]

Includes a file on Amelia Earhart among the general correspondence of the Office of Naval Intelligence. This file consists of 170 pages of correspondence and reports relating to the flight of Amelia Earhart but also includes a report, dated January 7, 1939, on information that Earhart was a prisoner in the Marshall Islands. Entry 81, General Correspondence, 1929-1942, File A4-3/Earhart, Box #70 [DC]

General Records of the Department of Commerce (Record Group 40) [CP]

General Correspondence Files 101232 and 83272/126 relating to Amelia Earhart. 45 pages.

General Records of the Department of State (Record Group 59) [CP]

Decimal File 811.76940 EARHART, AMELIA/1: Document dated June 17, 1928, concerning her flight from the United States to Europe with Wilbur Stulta. 6 pages.

Decimal File 841.413 EARHART/1: Document dated August 9, 1930, concerning dedication of a monument to Earhart at Burryport, Wales. 2 pages.

Decimal File 811.001 HOOVER, HERBERT/2629: Musical composition dated July 29, 1932, dedicated to "Lady Lindy" from two British composers. 5 pages.

Decimal File 124.023/33: Documents dated August 8, 1932, concerning an advertisement in the Keystone, a jewelry trade magazine, in which Earhart endorsed a Swiss-made watch in a letter written on American Embassy stationery. 5 pages.

Decimal File 093.115/111: Citation dated July 23, 1937, including a replica of a medal presented to Earhart at the Gimbel Brothers Banquet in Philadelphia, honoring her as "Woman of the Year for 1932," and cover letter to the Secretary of State with acknowledgement. The medal replica is bronze, 15/16 inches in diameter, inscribed "Amelia Earhart, First Woman in the World to Fly Alone Across the Atlantic Ocean." 2 pages.

Decimal File 862i.01/333: Letter dated June 17, 1939, from Senator Gerald P. Nye to the Secretary of State, and the reply. Nye's letter concerns allegations in an Australian weekly that the search for Earhart was used as a cover for espionage against Japanese possessions in the Pacific. There is a reply from the Secretary of State denying the story. A photographic copy of the newspaper articles is included. 9 pages.

Decimal File 800.79611 PUTNAM, AMELIA EARHART/1-212: File dated June 1936-May 1940 concerning Earhart's flight around the world. Many of the documents are despatches and instructions relating to clearance for her flight from countries over which she proposed to fly. Some material concerns her disappearance and the subsequent search for some trace of her or her aircraft. Also includes unverified reports of her whereabouts. 364 pages. There is also a 19-page index to this file.

General Records of the Department of the Navy, (Record Group 80) [DC]

Includes an 84 page "Report of Earhart Search by U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, July 2-18, 1937." There is also a 27-page file concerning her proposed round-the-world flight. File Code A4-5 (5) (361030-4) General Correspondence 1926-1940.

Records of the Office of the Adjutant General, (Record Group 94) – Army Records [DC]

Includes an 81 page file relating to the Trans-Pacific and round-the-world flight of Amelia Earhart.

Records of the Office of Territories (Record Group 126) [CP]

Central Classified Files, 1907-51, Equatorial Islands.

Aviation-General, file 9-12-21. December 3, 1936-May 12, 1938. Correspondence relating to Earhart's round the world trip stop at Howland Island and the Itasca's search efforts. 133 pages.

Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, (Record Group 165) [DC]

Includes 17 pages concerning Amelia Earhart among several files of the Military Intelligence Division. These consist of a 10 page summary of her flight, several reports concerning her goodwill flight to Mexico in 1935, and two letters dated July 8, 1937, and November 1, 1939, from civilians who claimed to have received messages from Earhart.

National Archives Gift Collection (Record Group 200) [CP]

Papers donated by Leo G. Bellart, a crew member of the Itasca:

1. Radio log of the Itasca. 3 pages.

2. Newspaper clippings relating to the search for Amelia Earhart. 20 pages.

3. Correspondence of Leo G. Bellart. 67 pages.

4. Scrapbook containing various types of information. 152 pages.

Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations and Commands, (Record Group 395) [DC]

Include among the records of the Air Officer, Hawaiian Department, the proceedings of a board of officers to investigate the crash of Amelia Earhart at Luke Field on March 20, 1937, and a report, dated July 27, 1937, on the search for her plane. The proceedings total 56 pages and the report 10 pages.

Records of the Federal Aviation Administration (Record Group 237) [CP]

Correspondence Files 805.0, 805.3 and 835 relating to Amelia Earhart. 329 pages.

National Archives at San Francisco

Records Relating to Amelia Earhart's Flight and Search Efforts

RG 181 Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, 14th Naval District, Commandant's Office

General Correspondence (unclassified) 1925-1942.

A4-3/Earhart "Report of Earhart Search by U.S. Navy & U.S Coast Guard 2-18 July 1937" (94 pgs)

A4-3/Earhart [1] [2/15/37 to 3/2D/37] (273 pgs) (This file contains correspondence and radio messages related to the earlier failed start.)

A4-3/Earhart [2] [4/4/37 to 7/6/37] (Radio Messages) (250 pgs)

A4-3/Earhart [3] [7/6/37 to 7/9/37] (Radio Messages) (181 pgs)

A4-3/Earhart [4] [7/9/37 to 7/12/37] (Radio Messages) (157 pgs)

A4-3/Earhart [5] [7/12/37 to 7/20/37] (Radio Messages) (162 pgs)

Commandant's Earhart Search Charts, 1937

AS Lexington Proposed & Actual Time Search Track (5 ft. long)

AS Colorado, U.S.S. Swan and U.S.C.G. Itasca Search Areas July 2-11, 1937 (4 ft. long)

Track of USS Lamson 11 July 19 July 1937 while engaged with Earhart Search Group (2 ft. long)

Photostat of above 8 1/2 X 11 (1 pg)

Howland Island layout 8 1/2 X 11 (1 pg)

USS Lexington and Attached Aircraft Tract Chart, Earhart Search 13-18 July 1937 (3 ft. long)

Track of USS Swan 3 July 21 July 1937 (3 ft. long)

Itasca Search for Earhart Plane 2-18 July 1937, 12" X 12" (1 pg)

Same as above 20" X 12" (2 pgs)

USS Drayton (366) Navigational Chart Earhart Search, 11-18 July 1937, 8 1/2" X 11" photostat (1 pg)

Tract of USS Cushing Earhart Search Group 11-18 July 1937, 14" X 11 1/2" photostat (1 pg)

Tract of USS Colorado, USS Swan and USCG Itasca

Earhart Search #2 1937 [Position Plotting Sheet showing areas searched by Itasca 2-6 July 1937& by Swan 6,8 July 1937] (4 ft. long)

Earhart Search #26 1937 [Plot Chart Showing Plots of Search Ships & Planes] (5 ft. long)

Earhart Search 1937 [Chart showing all planes and ships' tracks and search areas.] (5 ft. long)

[Earhart Search Chart] [Same as above some corrections] (2 ft. long)

Tract of USS Cushing Earhart Search Group, 11-18 July 1937 (2 ft. long)

12TH NAVAL DISTRICT - COMMANDANT'S OFFICE

General Correspondence (Unclassified) 1926-1939

(NM 72, Entry # 38) box 490 RA 3051 B

A21(1) General Correspondence [Earhart Flight & Search, [#1] [21 Jan. 1937 to 21 July 193/] (92 pgs)

A21(1) General Correspondence [Earhart Flight & Search Radio Messages 20 June-19 July 1937] [#2] (174 pgs)

NAVAL STATION #129 AMERICAN SAMOA - COMMANDANT'S OFFICE

General Correspondence (Unclassified) [313-D8G-3440, (V9723), RA 2268B]

File: A4-3 (1) Earhart Flight [15 Feb 1937 to 20 July 1937] (Messages & Correspondence) (114 pgs)

In the news . . .

PL - MARSHALL ISLANDS, JALUIT ATOLL, JALUIT ISLAND. ONI # 14381 JALUIT HARBOR. Citation: U.S. National Archives, Records of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Record Group 38, Monograph Files Relating to the Pacific Ocean Area, NAID 68141661)
View in National Archives Catalog

News reports and a television documentary in July 2017 suggested that this image, part of the National Archives' holdings, may show missing pilot Amelia Earhart and her navigator Frederick Noonan on the Marshall Islands after her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937. The National Archives' mission is to preserve and provide access to the historical records. We encourage you to review the records in order to form your opinions.


The Second Attempt

Earhart was eager to try again after her first failed circumnavigation attempt. On May 21, 1937, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan took off from Oakland, California to start the first leg of their trip around the globe. This time, they chose to travel the opposite direction: from west to east.

Their new route was necessitated by changes in weather conditions. This time, Earhart and Noonan planned to first fly from Oakland to Miami, Florida, before making their way across South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean, hugging the equator the whole way.


How Star Trek Explained Amelia Earhart’s Disappearance

Every few years, a new theory emerges that claims to solve one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries: What happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan during their attempt to circumnavigate the globe? The most recent theory, based on a photo that purports to show Earhart in Japanese custody, suggests that she didn’t die mid-flight, but instead as a prisoner. It’s already been debunked.

As with most mysteries of this kind, the public will likely never accept a definitive conclusion. But we can always wonder—and that’s exactly what lain version of Earhart’s end does. Here, then, is a fictional, but inspiring end to Earhart’s story pulled from the mythology of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek Universe, where the story of the pioneering pilot picks up 400 years later, on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy…

The Federation Starship USS Voyager and its Captain, Kathryn Janeway, seemed to have suffered a similar fate to Earhart. While on a routine mission, the ship, along with its 150 member crew, were whisked away to the Delta quadrant against their will and stranded almost 60 years of travel (at top speed) away from Earth. With no clues to their disappearance or any trail behind them, Voyager was marooned without any way to call home in a part of the Galaxy where no human existed or has ever travelled to. Or so they they thought.

One day, while traveling through the vast expanse of the Delta quadrant on a journey that many on Voyager would probably never see the end of, a strange material is picked up by the ship’s sensors: rusted metal. Given that there’s no oxygen in space, the detection was out of place. But not any stranger than finding a 1936 Ford pickup truck floating in the vacuum of space, which is what Voyager encountered a few moments later. The crew brought the vehicle into their loading bay and examined the 20th century relic. They also scanned for nearby wormholes and temporal anomalies to try and explain the extreme displacement, but found nothing.

NS Voyager’s crew examined the pickup and found a working AM radio. After turning it on, they received an SOS distress signal emitting from a nearby planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere. They quickly set course for the world, which sits in the third position from its host star, much like Earth. Upon arrival, they determined that the SOS signal came from a continent in the planet’s northern hemisphere. The crew established that due to the atmospheric conditions on the planet, they could not safely beam down an away team to investigate and couldn’t safely land a shuttle pod.

Desperate to figure out how a human-made object made it so far into the galaxy and who was sending out a Earth-native SOS signal, Captain Janeway decided to land Voyager on the planet’s surface. Such an action is rare due to Voyager’s massive size, but was justified given the possibility of determining how a human presence could possibly be so far from home. Why the urgency? Because their findings could help Voyager find a way back to Earth.

After touching down on the planet’s surface, two Voyager teams are dispatched to investigate a detected power source and the SOS signal, which is nearby. The team led by Captain Janeway pursued the signal and soon discovered another relic from the 20th century: a Lockheed Model 10 Electra twin-engine airplane. The plane was made famous after it was thought to have crashed and sunk into the ocean in 1937 along with its passengers, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Just over the hill, another team discovers a cave in the location where Voyager detected the emitting power source.

Amelia Earhart and her ill-fated Lockheed Electra airplane. National Archives

With Captain Janeway joining those in the cave, they came across a handful of cryostasis chambers, which are generally used to keep lifeforms alive in deep sleep for long periods of time. The crew determined that the chambers are still powered on and that their inhabitants are alive, but barely. Upon examining the first chamber, the crew finds a Japanese soldier still in uniform and next to him, an African-American man dressed like a farmer. A quick analysis using Voyager’s database determined that the clothing is from the mid 1930s. Further down the line of deep sleep chambers, they find another man and woman.

Upon further examination, Captain Janeway noticed that the female was wearing a leather jacket with gold wings pinned above the breast pocket and a name printed below it: A. Earhart. Janeway, taken back, immediately explained to her crew that Earhart was one of Earth’s first female pilots and the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic ocean. During a meeting back at Voyager , Janeway continued to explain that Earhart’s disappearance 400 years prior was one of history’s “celebrated mysteries.” She also mentioned that one of the most ridiculed notions surrounding the case was that Earhart was abducted by aliens. Janeway’s first officer, Commander Chakotay, quickly pointed out that may have been the case.

A decision is made by Janeway to wake Earhart and the others. She ordered a quick review of “ancient” Earth customs while only human members of the crew were selected to open the cryostasis chambers. This would prevent the abducted humans from being shocked or frightened. Before waking them, the crew disarmed the Japanese soldier for safety but little did Voyager’s crew know, another one of them was armed: Fred Noonan, Earhart’s navigator. The abductees soon regained consciousness and are baffled by what has happened. The last thing they remembered was going about their business in 1937.

Almost immediately after waking, an angered Noonan demanded answers. Janeway explained that it is the year 2371 and they are very far from home, likely following an abduction by an extraterrestrial species. Earhart didn’t buy it at first but when Janeway reasoned with her and offered to show her Voyager, she began to listen. The lost pilot described to Janeway the moments before losing consciousness. Earhart and Noonan saw a “huge light” before their Electra plane stopped mid-air and began moving backwards. An angered Noonan still doesn’t buy the abduction story and pulls out his gun. The now-awakened abductees took a few members of Voyager’s crew hostage in the cave and demanded answers.

Captain Janeway continued to make the case for what really happened and revealed that one of her crew members is of another species. Earhart countered by explaining that she’s travelled the world and has seen people do strange things to their bodies. She also argued that just because that crew member appears different, doesn’t mean that “Martians have invaded.” Another crew member gleefully interrupted and explained that actually, it was humans who invaded and colonized Mars in 2103.

Captain Janeway revealed to Earhart that because of her, generations of women became pilots and even inspired Janeway herself to pursue a career that would lead to commanding the Starship Voyager. Earhart argued that “starships” only existed in the writings of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Janeway pleas with the abductees that Voyager’s crew just wanted to help them and tells Earhart about the aftermath of her disappearance. Janeway explained that no trace of the Electra was ever found and that rumours surrounding the flight included the possibility that Earhart and Noonan were on a government-sanctioned mission to gather info on the Japanese. “No one was supposed to know about that,” Earhart responded.

A still-confused Amelia Earhart pulled out her compass but is left with more questions when it simply doesn’t work. Soon after, Janeway received a call from Voyager warning that other life-forms have been detected outside the cave and that a security team was being dispatched to investigate. Noonan heard this and grew angrier, demanding that they use their communications to contact the United States, and specifically, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was the first director of the FBI and held the position in 1937.

Outside the cave, weapons fire was heard. The team dispatched from Voyager was under attack. They all exited the cave to head over to Voyager when Noonan was hit by blaster fire. Janeway quickly cornered two attackers who were dressed in armored grey suits from head to toe. After disarming them, Janeway told the attackers that she is human and asked for an explanation. “We are human too,” said the attackers as they removed their headgear, explaining that they feared her and Voyager’s crew were members of an alien race called the Briori. Both sides agree to lay down their weapons and one of the attackers introduced himself as John Evansville.

Back at Voyager , Evansville accused Voyager of kidnapping the “37’s”–what him and his people who live on the planet call those found in the cryostasis chambers. He was also shocked to learn that they were actually alive. Evansville and his people had not entered the cave or “shrine” as they call it, in generations. The reason? Earhart and the other abductees were part of a group of 300 humans who were kidnapped from Earth in 1937 by the Briore. After being brought to the planet in the Delta quadrant, they were held as slaves and forced to do hard labor.

The humans eventually led a revolt against the Briore, killing them and seizing their weapons and technology. It seems the Earhart, Noonan and the others discovered by Voyager’s crew were never awakened after being abducted and probably slept through the slave revolt. Evansville explained that the 37’s are his ancestors and that 15 generations later, over 100,000 of the 37’s descendants occupy 3 human cities on the planet. The Briore never returned.

Captain Janeway asked if the interstellar starship used by the Briore to abduct the humans from Earth in 1937 still existed, but is disappointed to learn that it’s been destroyed. This crushed her and the Voyager crew because they were hoping to use it to return home.

Evansville explains to Janeway that life is great on their planet and that they’ve built 3 beautiful cities. This planted the idea in Janeway and her crew that maybe they should stay and continue their lives on this planet among fellow humans. In Janeway’s Captain’s log, she described the civilization as “thriving and sophisticated” and says her experience touring the cities was “amazing.” Now, the dilemma is whether to give her crew the choice to stay on the planet that reminded them of Earth or force them to continue on a risky journey that may never end. Janeway and her first officer make the decision to continue toward home but leave the decision of whether to stay or not up to each individual crew member.

Di dalam Voyager’s mess hall, Earhart and the other abductees sat around a table for a meal made by the ship’s cook, Neelix. Using the food replicator, he prepared them pot roast and green beans with jello for dessert. Noonan, who quickly recovered from his wounds and toured the human cities of the planet, said life there seems better than on Earth–indicating that he wouldn’t mind staying. The farmer, whose rusted pickup truck led to this series of events, enthusiastically said that he could fulfill his dreams of building a large farm on the planet and is excited about the prospect of a new frontier. The Japanese soldier explained that there are many Japanese descendant on the planet and describes the civilization as a “paradise.”

Amelia Earhart, now a mythological and heroic figure in human history, isn’t sure what to do. Should she attempt to return to Earth aboard the starship Voyager ? On the command deck, Earhart’s curiosity for flight is seen as her eyes lit up when exploring the ship’s many functions. A crew member informed her that Voyager can travel at warp 9.9 or 4 billion miles per second and easily hop from planet to planet. Earhart responded by asking if she could “take the ship out for a spin.”

Unsurprisingly, Amelia Earhart was enchanted by the idea of traveling through space and even learning to pilot Voyager. But ultimately, she saw the world that the descendants of the 37’s built as her home. This is where the Earhart mystery ended, and where her new life began. She decided to stay behind.

Not a single member of Voyager’s crew remained on the planet with the 37’s and among the civilization built by the generations of humans that followed them. Instead, they were willing to risk following Janeway on the seemingly never-ending journey home. Seven years, many casualties, and a few shortcuts later, Voyager would finally return to Earth.

Robin Seemangal has been reporting from the newsroom at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the last two years for the Observer with by-lines also in Ilmu pengetahuan populer dan Wired Magazine. He does in-depth coverage of SpaceX launches as well as Elon Musk’s mission to send humans to Mars. Robin has appeared on BBC, Russia Today, NPR‘s ‘Are We There Yet’ Podcast, and radio stations around the world to discuss space exploration.