Total Persons on Board:
Two - Amelia Earhart and Frederick J. Noonan
July 2, 1937
Clear to partly cloudy
Around the world. Starting in Oakland, California to Miami, Florida, across the Caribbean to South America, then across the South Atlantic to Africa. Flying over the Sahara, continue around the tip of Arabia and on up to India. From there, across the sub-continent and down though Southeast Asia, through what was then the Netherlands East Indies, to northern Australia and finally eastward to Lae, New Guinea. Then a 2,500 mile flight to Howland Island, a small coral outcropping in mid-Pacific where a runway had been carved out and the Coast Guard cutter Itasca was waiting to refuel the Lockheed for the flight to Hawaii. From there she continue on to Oakland to complete the world flight.
Area Believed Crashed:
South Pacific - It has been determined that the plane went down some 35-100 miles from Howland Island. A life raft was stowed on board but no trace has ever been found the raft. Some experts felt that the empty fuel tanks could keep the plane afloat for a period of time.
Reason for flight:
Set out to be the first person to circle the globe by air close to the equator.
Twin-engined Lockheed Model 10E Special "Electra" with added fuel tanks.
President Roosevelt authorized a search of 9 naval ships and 66 aircraft at an estimated cost of over $4 million. On July 18 the search was abandoned by ships in the Howland area. George Putnam (her husband) continued to seek help in the search, but by October he too abandoned all hope of finding them alive.
Perhaps no other missing person in history has had as many theories and sighting as Earhart has. Among them are:
- Amelia was on a spy mission authorized by President Roosevelt and was captured.
- She purposely dove her plane into the Pacific
- She was captured by the Japanese and forced to broadcast to American GI's as "Tokyo Rose" during WWII
- She lived for years on an island in the South Pacific with a native fisherman
- In 1961 it was thought that the bones of Amelia and Noonan had been found on Saipan, but they turned out to be those of Saipan natives.
- The TV series Star Trek "Voyager" had an episode in which Earhart (and Fred Noonan) had been kidnapped and placed on a planet many light years away and worshiped as one of the "37s," a group of 20th Century humans who were placed in suspended animation on the planet.
The latest effort to solve the mystery is the "Earhart Project," an investigation launched in 1988 by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) to conclusively solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance.
Click here to read the FBI file regarding her disappearance and TIGHAR's findings
Click here for more info on the current search efforts
Click here for more background and history