The Mysterious Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
By Shani Asokan Ceylon Today Features
This is the story of one of the world’s first female pilots who broke several records before mysteriously disappearing along with her plane.
Amelia Earhart was born in 1897 in Atchison Kansas. It was a time where girls were usually made to wear dresses and stay indoors, but Amelia’s mother let her wear pants so that she could go outdoors and play football or go fishing, two things she loved to do as a child. Her ability to pursue the activities she enjoyed helped her develop a passion for adventure at an early age. In 1920, at 23-years-old, Amelia attended her first air show in California. It was here that she first became interested in flying. Soon after, she enrolled in flying lessons and started training to become a pilot.
Eventually, Amelia bought her own yellow plane that she named ‘Canary’. Some years later, in 1929, a group of 99 female pilots from all over the United States of America united to create an organisation called the Ninety-Nines that celebrated female fliers. They elected Amelia as their leader.
Over the years, Amelia continued flying and excelled at it. In 1926, she became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. In 1932 she took it a step further as she became the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a non-stop flight. This was a solo trip, and one that further solidified her place in the history books. She also broke the record for the longest flight by a woman, and the record for crossing the Atlantic in the shortest amount of time.
Amelia was now famous, and travelled the world speaking to kids about her adventures in flying. In 1933, a year after her record-breaking flight across the Atlantic, President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor invited her to the White House. Amelia even took the First Lady for a ride on her plane!
In 1937, Amelia embarked on her biggest adventure yet, a flight around the world. It was during this flight that she and her plane vanished mysteriously, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. On the flight with her was navigator Freed Noonan. Her flight plan included several stops along the way for rest, repairs and refuelling and Amelia made almost all of these stops. It was somewhere between leaving Lae, New Guinea and Howland Island, her next to last stop that the plane disappeared altogether.
In preparation for her landing at Howland Island, the United States Coastal Guard even sent a ship, the USCGC Itasca to the waters near the island. The vessel that had radio equipment on board, meant to guide Amelia’s landing on the island. Sadly, Amelia and Fred were never arrived and were never heard of again. A massive search for her was conducted, but nothing was found.
Amelia Earhart was officially declared dead on 5 January 1939. However, even today, the search for Amelia continues as people try to find any clues as to what might have happened to this record-breaking pilot. Many have put forward theories, both scientific and otherwise to explain her mysterious disappearance but nothing has been confirmed. Despite her abrupt disappearance, one this is certain: Amelia remains a source of inspiration to pilots and women everywhere.