Sunday, June 20, 2010

Amelia Earhart

I have always been fascinated with Amelia Earhart. I can remember being 10 or so, having to write a book report so I could get "C" privileges in school. And trust me, it was a big deal. I can remember at least once a year writing the same report from the same red encyclopedia. I giggled every time I would read the name Fred Noonan... Luckily they never caught on. It's amazing how I made it my entire academic career without the internet. There was no Facebook, or Myspace to communicate with my friends, that's what 3 way calling was for. I believe I read those encyclopedias beginning to end. For a while some of them where underneath my bed to keep the frame even. My mother was not pleased.
So anyway, I get a daily email from Discovery.com, and it was a couple of lines about how "new evidence" suggests her last days were a struggle. I went and found earlier articles, so I could make it "C" privilege worthy.
And I also slept til noon, and then napped for a couple of more hours, so more than likely I will be awake all night. Not that I need to justify my lack of any sort of life. I am enjoying it while I can..
And before I begin, let's note that I found the portrayal of her character in the movie "Night at the Museum 2" insulting. I know it's a lighthearted movie, but I was still insulted they made her boy crazy, ditzy, and calling everyone "fly boy" and "ace". Not to impugn Amy Adams who played the role. I haven't seen "Amelia" with Hilary Swank yet.

So here I go...


"Fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life, and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” -A.E.




Born: July 24, 1897

Died: July 1937 (?)
Nickname: Lady Lindy
Occupation: Pilot

Earhart was 12 years old before she ever saw an airplane, and she did not take her first flight until 1920.
Amelia Earhart was so thrilled by her first airplane ride that she quickly began to take flying lessons. She wrote, "As soon as I left the ground, I knew I myself had to fly."
In 1923, Earhart received her international pilot's license - only the 16th woman to do so.
In 1937, she attempted with a copilot, Frederick J. Noonan, to fly
around the world, but her plane was lost on the flight between New Guinea and Howland Island.
The U.S. Navy conducted a massive search for Earhart and Noonan that continued for more than two weeks.
Neither the plane nor Earhart nor Noonan were ever found. No one knows for sure what happened, but many people believe they got lost and simply ran out of fuel and died. Amelia Earhart was less than a month away from her 40th birthday.



~Nowadays, Amelia Earhart is remembered for her last, lost flight. But in her time, she was best known as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, an adventure that began on this day in 1928.

Earhart wasn’t the pilot, but a passenger. In the months after Lindbergh-mania hit America, publisher George Putnam, who eventually became Earhart’s husband, went looking for a woman to accompany two male pilots, Wilmer Stultz and Louis “Slim” Gordon, on a transatlantic flight. The trip’s sponsor was a wealthy aviation buff, Amy Guest, who originally had contemplated making the trip herself. Instead she hired the 29-year-old Earhart—an avid if mostly unknown pilot with a day job as a social worker in Boston.

Stultz, Gordon, and Earhart took off from Newfoundland in a Fokker F7 on June 17, and landed in Wales after “20 hours and 40 minutes” (the title of her book about the flight, published that same year). Earhart was instantly famous, toasted by royalty, honored with a ticker-tape parade, but never boastful. Downplaying her limited role in the flight, she sent a note to President Calvin Coolidge saying, “SUCCESS ENTIRELY DUE GREAT SKILL OF MR. STULTZ.”

Four years later she had all the glory to herself, becoming the first woman—and only the second person—to fly solo across the Atlantic.
By: Tony Reichhardt — History of Flight~




This image shows Earhart standing in front of the Lockheed Electra in which she disappeared in July 1937. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart did not begin flying until after her move to California in 1920. After taking lessons from aviation pioneer Neta Snook in a Curtiss Jenny, Earhart set out to break flying records, breaking the women altitude records in 1922.

Earhart continually promoted women in aviation and in 1928 was invited to be the first women to fly across the Atlantic. Accompanying pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon as a passenger on the Fokker Friendship, Earhart became an international celebrity after the completion of the flight. In May 1932 Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across in the Atlantic. In 1935 she completed the first solo flight from Hawaii to California. In the meantime Earhart continued to promote aviation and helped found the group, the Ninety-Nines, an organization dedicated to female aviators. On June 1, 1937, Earhart and navigator, Fred Noonan, left Miami, Florida on an around the world flight. Earhart, Noonan and their Lockheed Electra disappeared after a stop in Lae, New Guinea on June 29, 1937. Earhart had only 7,000 miles of her trip remaining when she disappeared. While a great deal of mystery surrounds the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, her contributions to aviation and womens issues have inspired people over 80 years.

Forty five years later on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly to space.
excerpt from NASA.gov~

~Tantalizing new clues are surfacing in the Amelia Earhart mystery, according to researchers scouring a remote South Pacific island believed to be the final resting place of the legendary aviatrix.

Three pieces of a pocket knife and fragments of what might be a broken cosmetic glass jar are adding new evidence that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed and eventually died as castaways on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited tropical island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. The island was some 300 miles southeast of their target destination, Howland Island.

"These objects have the potential to yield DNA, specifically what is known as 'touch DNA','" Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), told Discovery News in an email interview from Nikumaroro.

Gillespie and his team will be searching the tiny island until June 14 for evidence that Earhart's twin-engine plane, the "Electra," did not crash in the ocean and sink, as it was assumed after the futile massive search that followed the aviatrix's disappearance on July 2, 1937.

Tall, slender, blonde and brave, Earhart was flying over the Pacific Ocean in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator. In her final radio transmission Earhart reported that her aircraft was running low on fuel.

SLideshow of preparation pics

According to Gillespie, recent advances in the ability to extract DNA from touched objects might help solve the enduring aviation mystery.

"If DNA from the recovered objects matches the Earhart reference sample now held by the DNA lab we've been working with, we'll have what most people would consider to be conclusive evidence that Amelia Earhart spent her last days on Nikumaroro," Gillespie said.

The expedition marks TIGHAR's tenth visit to Nikumaroro since 1989. During the previous campaigns, the group uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.

The ongoing excavation is now focusing on the island's remote southeast end, in an area called the Seven Site. Densely vegetated in shrubs known as Scaevola frutescens, the site appears to be where the partial skeleton of a castaway was found in 1940.

Recovered by British Colonial Service Officer Gerald Gallagher, the human remains were described in a forensic report and attributed to a white female of northern European extraction, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, a stature consistent with that of Amelia Earhart. Unfortunately the bones have been lost.

Gillespie believes that many of the bones might have been carried off by giant coconut crabs, suggesting an unmerciful end for Earhart. However, parts of the skeleton not found in 1940 (the spine, ribs, half of the pelvis, hands and feet, one arm, and one lower leg) may still remain at the site, scattered in the bush.

The researchers have just carried out an experiment to test the hypothesis.

"In 2007 we conducted a taphonomy experiment with a small pig carcass to see how quickly the crabs would eat the remains, and how far, if at all, the crabs dragged the bones. The primary answers were 'pretty quickly' and 'all over the place,'" Patricia Thrasher, TIGHAR's president, told Discovery News.

"This trip, they went back to the site to look at the bones that were left. It's now been three years that these mammal bones have been out in the weather on Nikumaroro. If Gallagher found Amelia Earhart's bones, that's how long they would have been lying out," Thrasher said.

Indeed, the bones looked much older than three years, in accordance with Gallagher's report of gray, pitted, dry remains.

Gillespie dropped the pig bones on the coral rubble, and they virtually disappeared, to the point that it took some searching to find them again some 10 minutes later.

Apart from searching the coral rubble for bones not seen by Gallangher, the team is investigating an area around a big Ren tree. There, they spotted a rough ring of fire remains which prompted several questions.

Did the castaway construct a ring of fire to keep the crabs away at night? Was it an attempt to signal search aircraft?

Other questions come from the pocket knife and the glass jar fragments. Perhaps a cosmetic jar, the small container features some sort of embossing on the base, either letters or numbers now unreadable because of the dirt.

"The finds are indeed important. In the case of the knife, we found part of it in 2007 and have now found more. The artifacts tell a story of an ordinary pocket knife that was beaten apart to detach the blades for some reason," Thrasher said.

Was the castaway trying to make a fishing spear? Were the blades used for prying clams?

More questions are likely to come up in the next days. The researchers have just found another fire feature and are about to excavate the area, while other members of the team are exploring the Western Reef Slope, a strip of coral reef at the island's western end.

Using a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV), they plan to carry out an underwater search for the wreckage of Earhart's "Electra."

"Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace". -A.E.

According to the researchers, the steep nature of the reef slope makes it likely that any wreckage lies perhaps as far as 1,000 feet down.
~




Please know I am quite aware of the hazards.

I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, then failure must be but a challenge to others.




"Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done." - A.E.

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