Ric Gillespie, Executive Director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is leading a search to locate the final resting place of Amelia Earhart, something no one has been able to achieve in over 75 years! Over the years there has been speculation that she and Noonan eventually found an island and crashed on or near that island; however, no one has ever found any evidence to support that theory. This latest one month expedition is going to search around the island of Nikumaroro in the open waters hoping to find some sign of manmade objects. Amelia Earhart was always strongly influenced by a feeling that flying was her destiny. This feeling began with her first real exposure to an aircraft when an unknown pilot flying a little red airplane buzzed Amelia and a friend and thought to herself
“… I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.” (quote from Amelia Earhart).She took her first flight on December 28th 1920 and decided right there and then that she “had to fly”. By January of 1921 she was taking flying lessons and within six months had purchased a second hand Kinner Airster two seat biplane painted bright yellow. While credited to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in June of 1928 the fact is that she was merely a passenger in the aircraft. Four years later she did fly from Newfoundland enroute to Paris; however, she wound up landing in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland instead. Strong winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems were claimed as the reason she wound up in Ireland instead of Paris. One wonders if this navigational error might be part of the reason she never found Howland Island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. No doubt over the years she set a number of records including an altitude record for autogyros, the first solo flight from Honolulu to California (hard to miss the West coast), and from Mexico City to Newark, NJ. In March 1937 Earhart botched her first takeoff attempt to fly around the world damaging her Lockheed Electra 10E aircraft. This accident was apparently the result of poor piloting and a lack of understanding of the effects of flying an aircraft over gross weight with fuel. Common sense would have dictated that she plan her flight and takeoff better. One wonders if she wasn’t more influenced by the thrill of being the first woman to fly around the world than approaching the flight in a more professional manner. She survived the accident, had the aircraft rebuilt and on June 1st, 1937 departed Miami on the first leg of their anticipated 29,000 mile flight around the world. Earhart and Noonan did manage to complete most of their journey, but it ended in disaster when they failed to arrive at Howland Island which sits in the mid-Pacific. Howland Island is but 1 1/2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, not a very big target in such a vast expanse of ocean. At 8:45am on July 2nd the last transmission from Earhart was received reporting that she was running North and South in an attempt to find Howland Island. She was never heard from again. Before her departure she left a letter for her husband in case she didn't return which said - in part -
"Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." No doubt this was a dangerous undertaking and one wonders why she didn't take a safer route, perhaps through Russia over to Alaska and on to her destination. Such an attempt requires meticulous planning, sufficient experience and skill, and a measure of good luck in order to be successful. The movie "Amelia" is a fairly accurate depiction of her life, and is quite interesting to watch. You can get a copy here: Amelia [Blu-ray] Or, if you prefer, read more about here in this book: Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch! Please share "Amelia Earhart - Competent Pilot Or Incompetent Aviatrix? with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!