Amelia Earhart: In Her Own Words

It was 75 years ago today that Amelia Earhart van­ished. The famous Amer­i­can fli­er and her nav­i­ga­tor, Fred Noo­nan, took off on July 2, 1937 from Lae, Papua New Guinea in a cus­tom-made Lock­heed Elec­tra 10E air­plane on the most per­ilous leg of their attempt­ed round-the-world jour­ney.

Their goal was to reach tiny How­land Island in the cen­tral Pacif­ic Ocean, more than 2,500 miles from Lae. As Earhart and Noo­nan neared the end of their 20-hour flight (it was still July 2–they had crossed the Inter­na­tion­al Date­line) they planned to make con­tact with the U.S. Coast Guard cut­ter Itas­ca, sta­tioned just off the island, and use radio sig­nals to guide their way in. How­land Island is only a half mile wide and a mile and a half long. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions crew of the Itas­ca heard sev­er­al radio trans­mis­sions from Earhart, but for some rea­son she and Noo­nan were appar­ent­ly unable to hear the ship’s respons­es. “We must be on you,” Earhart said, “but we can­not see you. Fuel is run­ning low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are fly­ing at 1,000 feet.” They nev­er made it.

The pre­vail­ing assump­tion is that Earhart and Noo­nan sim­ply ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacif­ic. But there is some evi­dence to sug­gest they may have made it to Gard­ner Island (now called Niku­maro­ro), some 350 nau­ti­cal miles south­east of How­land. Tomor­row an expe­di­tion to Niku­maro­ro will set out from Hawaii on a mis­sion to explore the ocean floor around the small island, search­ing for evi­dence of Earhart’s plane. Expe­di­tion orga­niz­ers hope to final­ly solve the mys­tery. In the mean­time you can learn more about Earhart’s extra­or­di­nary achieve­ments, includ­ing her tri­umphant 1932 solo trans-Atlantic flight, by lis­ten­ing to Earhart her­self (above) in a fas­ci­nat­ing news­reel. And below you can watch the very last footage of Earhart, made as she and Noo­nan took off from Papua New Guinea on that fate­ful day exact­ly 75 years ago.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.