02 July 2011

Last Flight

On this date in 1937 Amelia Earhart vanished over the Pacific, becoming one of the greatest mysteries in US history. The aviatrix, who had made a name for herself as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, was an international celebrity, a trendsetter, and an inspiration for countless young girls. Only the 16th woman to ever receive a pilot’s license, she helped to popularise flying and break down countless gender barriers.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

On July 2, 1937, she was on the last legs of her journey to become the first woman to fly around the world. Flying a Lockheed Model 10 Electra, she and navigator Fred Noonan were on route from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island, a tiny strip of land 2,556 miles away in the mid-Pacific. The Itasca, a US Coast Guard cutter, was stationed near Howland to serve as their radio contact. 

Unfortunately, something went wrong and while the Itasca could hear Amelia’s broadcasts, she could not hear theirs. At 7:42 am she sent the message “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.” An hour later she sent the following message, “We are running north and south.” Those were the last words received from the plane.

A huge air and sea search commenced (the most expensive in Naval history at the time) but no sign of the two or the plane were ever found. Countless theories exist as to what happened including crashing into the ocean, landing on a different island, being captured by the Japanese and executed. My personal view is that they eventually ran out of fuel and crashed, but we will probably never know the true story. Yet however tragic her ending, it shouldn’t take away from her many other accomplishments and her lasting importance as a role model for generations of women. Godspeed Amelia.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...