Let be real here… the woman got lost.
It may be a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. The plane of Amelia Earhart, a feminist icon from the 1930s , went down somewhere in the Pacific over 80 years ago.
The mystery of her disappearance has been the subject of numerous books and film documentaries. Did her plane plunge into the sea? Did she survive a crash and end up on a deserted isle? Could she somehow still be alive?
This week the explorer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985 has embarked on a mission to find Earhart’s plane.
The decision comes weeks after investigators viewed long-suppressed16 mm film footage that appears to show Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane taking off from Papua New Guinea, en route to her doom.
The explorer, Robert Ballard, wants to revisit the nearby coral islands where some historians believe Earhart may have died a castaway after bailing out of her plane.
Some years ago, decaying human bones were discovered on that island, though they were never linked conclusively to Earhart.
Ballard also plans to use underwater drones to try to find the plane wreckage, assuming it’s nearby.
The controversy around Earhart and her disappearance have swirled for decades.
One documentary claimed to have found evidence that Earhart took office without having fully checked her plane for mechanical problems.
Some cite Earhart’s own penchant for crass publicity-seeking, which may have distracted her from performing a thorough pre-flight check of her plane.
There are also rumors of an affair between her and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan.
The bones found on the island of Nikumaroro were originally identified as those of a male, but in 2018 a forensic anthropologist disputed that claim. He said he was “99% sure” that the discovered bones belonged to the aviatrix.
Then, suddenly, those bones disappeared, adding more fuel to the controversy. They have never been found.
Darker conspiracy theories also abound. In 2018, a documentary by W.C. Jameson entitled “Amelia Earhart: Beyond the Grave” claimed that the doomed aviatrix was a US government spy and that her last flight was actually a reconnaissance mission intended to report on Japanese military installations.
According to this theory, US President Franklin Roosevelt knew of and approved the mission. Earhart and Noonan, the film argues, were captured and held in a Japanese prison for nearly eight years.
FDR didn’t want to admit that he’d enlisted the world-famous Earhart as a spy. Nothing was said at the time, and her seemingly inexplicable “disappearance” was concocted as a cover story.
Jameson claimed to have found evidence that Earhart’s plane was equipped with spy cameras. In addition, log books documenting her flights were altered to disguise their likely purpose, he said.
Jameson also interviewed the nephew of a former US military official in the Pacific who claimed that it was “common knowledge in intelligence gathering circles” that Earhart and Noonan were “involved in an intelligence-gathering operation.”
What happened to Earhart? According to Jameson, she was released by the Japanese after their defeat in in1945. She then returned to the US to live under an assumed name, Irene Bolam. The story of her pre-war spying became a state secret.
According to Jameson, Earhart/Bolam died in obscurity in 1982 at the age 86.
Others claim that Earhart probably died in Japanese custody.
However compelling – and sexy — these conspiracy theories are, they remain completely unproven. In fact, a photograph that surfaced in 2017 that alleged to show Noonan and Earhart in captivity with their crashed plane being towed (allegedly by the Japanese) turned out to be a hoax.
Feminists especially have a vested interest in portraying Earhart as a daring adventuress, a woman far ahead of her time.
In fact, most sober analysts believe that Noonan and Earhart simply miscalculated their flight path after leaving Papua New Guinea en route to Howland Island.
One analyst claimed they were probably off by 5 nautical miles, an abominable miscalculation.
Earhart, who had crashed once before, was considered an able pilot but knew nothing about aerial navigation. She preferred to wing it, hoping for the best.
And Noonan, it turns out, was a chronic alcoholic. After serving in the US Navy, he’d hitched onto to the flight with Earhart in the hopes of promoting his new flying school.
Most likely the plane ran out of fuel after Earhart kept circling in search of an island she could never find.
She’d also failed to establish two-way radio contact with transmitters on the ground, making effective search and rescue impossible.
Eventually, she ditched into the sea.
Let’s face it: Earhart was no Charles Lindbergh. She continually went off half-cocked and was prone to miscalculations and mishaps.
She was hoping to show that she was the equal of a man. But she was in over her head.
In the wide expanse of the unfamiliar Pacific, and with a useless rummy for a mate, she simply lost her way.
The truth is often less glamorous and flattering than the myth.