Friday, October 02, 2009

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She and the Lady Lindy (her airplane, named for Charles Lindberg, the first man to fly across the Atlantic) disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world. The last anyone heard from her was a radio transmission in which she noted that she was about to fly through a storm. Theories abound as to what actually happened, including the seemingly unlikely, such as her being a spy and faking her own death; but one theory is about to be tested by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR, pronounced "tiger"). In 1940 human remains were discovered on Nikumaroro Island, not far from where Earhart may have crashed, that officials determined could have been the remains of a Caucasian woman. Unfortunately, the remains have been lost, but another discovery of some 20th century makeup items have made a number of people hopeful that with a DNA test artifacts like this may reveal whether or not Earhart was stranded on Nikumaroro Island. TIGHAR is on a mission to explore the island for any items they can find for DNA testing using a DNA sample provided by a member of Earhart's family.

Despite what TIGHAR may or my not find out on their mission, Earhart's iconic status will not change. Her position as female in an industry almost exclusively made up of men, her attractiveness, and her flying adventures and ambitions are still appealing to us today. She was certainly a celebrated figure in her own time and challenges the image many had and still have of a woman in the 1930s. Despite her celebrated status, this quote, after one of Earhart's flights, printed in a 1932 edition of the New York Post, reveals what was surely a number of people's attitude at the time: "About all she has proved is that well-known phenomenon of nature that a girl can't jump quite as far as a boy can."

A wealth of information on Earhart and her disappearance exist in print, in our databases, and on the web. Check it out:


Amelia: Theatrical Trailer
Upcoming movie about Amelia Earhart's life and disappearance starring Hilary Swank who some claim looks just like Amelia Earhart. I'll leave you to be the judge of that...

The Earhart Project
TIGHAR webpage about the Earhart mission that includes links to all kinds of information, including images, about Earhart and the island.

George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers
An amazing archive of Amelia Earhart's papers, pictures, correspondence and more digitized by Purdue University Libraries.

The Last Takeoff
This is the full video of Earhart's last takeoff from Lae, New Guinea in 1937. This is the last time anyone would see Earhart and her flying companion and navigator, Fred Noonan, alive.

Newsplayer: Amelia Earhart
A video of Amelia Earhart discussing one of her recent flights.

On the Future of Women in Flying
Audio clip of Earhart speaking on women and flying.

Solving the Mystery of How Aviator Amelia Earhart Disappeared

Article about the TIGHAR mission from The Observer


Amelia Earhart: The Sky's No Limit

Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance

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