2015, Hopeful to Solve the Mystery
by Gail C. Tracy
As a young girl growing up studying American history, it became apparent to me that women were rarely considered to be historically important, unless their achievements far surpassed the men around them. Amelia Earhart is one of those women. To me she is a heroine, a woman of great bravery, with a pioneering spirit that could not be vanquished. I refer to her in the present tense because her spirit is still alive.
Fortunately for her, she been not been born a decade sooner, because she would have had to live by Victorian standards. Even considering that she was born in 1897, it is an amazing fact that she began her first flying lessons in 1921. She was a woman who knew what she wanted, and apparently she wanted it passionately. She worked as a photographer, truck driver, and stenographer to save up $1,000 for her flying lessons. Imagine the inflation on that price by the standards of 2014. Using an inflation calculator, by 2014 the total is $13,297.82!
Her mother also matched her $1,000, despite her reservations. Her aviation career was heavily financed by her grandmother’s inheritance. Amelia became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license (#6017) on May 15, 1923. On October 22, 1922, Earhart flew her own secondhand plane called “The Canary.” Imagine flying at the altitude of 14,000 ft., and setting the world’s record for female pilots.
By 1928, Amelia had become the first woman to fly solo across the North American continent and back. She began her first competitive air race in 1929, competing with her friend Ruth Nichols. She and her friend, Ruth, were tied for first place at the last intermediate stop when her friend hit a tractor on take-off, flipping over. Amelia never hesitated, and rushed to her friend’s assistance instead of taking off. Only after knowing her friend was ok did she take off, risking her ranking to come in 3rd place.
Amelia Mary Earhart married George P. Putnam on February 7, 1931. Amelia had very liberal views about marriage and considered her marriage a partnership of dual control. She kept her own name, and eventually her husband George (GP) accepted that he would become “Mr. Earhart.”
Amelia has a long history of long solo flights, which brings us to her second world flight with Fred Noonan, which took off on June 1, 1937. After numerous stops in South America, they landed in New Guinea on June 29, 1937. On July 2, 1937, midnight GMT, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lae, New Guinea in their plane. Their plane had lost communication on their approach to Howland Island in the Central Pacific Ocean. Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan had disappeared.
TIGHAR, is the acronym for The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, a non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting responsible aviation archaeology and historic preservation. In 1991, a group of investigators with TIGHAR, while researching the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan, found a sheet of aluminum on the island of Nikumaroro in the Western Pacific.
On October 28, 2014, the Earhart Project Research Bulletin was released with compelling evidence. The sheet of aluminum found on Nikumaroro proves to be a patch that was made over a window before her final take-off from Miami. Using a restored plane (almost identical to Amelia’s plane) for their involved research, they have proven that this piece of aluminum is like a fingerprint to the plane.
I have eagerly digested every fact that has been presented by TIGHAR, and I am thoroughly convinced that Amelia and Fred disappeared on that island. Using sonar data taken in 2012 at the base of the cliff of Nikumororo, there has been a shape identified on the ocean floor which could be a plane. Investigators plan to return to the island in June, 2015.
I am very hopeful that 2015 will bring an amazing discovery equaling that of the raising of the Titanic. Amelia Mary Earhart, what an inspiring 20th century woman you are!
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