Brave pilot Amelia Earhart: an aviation legend who disappeared in the sky
Categories: CelebritiesBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/brave-pilot-amelia-earhart-an-aviation-legend-who-disappeared-in-the-sky
One of the first pilots in world history, Amelia Earhart, disappeared at the peak of her fame. The record holder, writer, politician, social activist and just a beauty disappeared along with her plane and partner, and even after 80 years, the world does not know exactly where she found peace.
Before getting into aviation, Amelia had to go through a difficult winding path. Earhart was born in 1897 in Atchinson, Kansas, USA, in a family that has nothing to do with technology. Her father was a successful lawyer, and her mother was the daughter of a local judge. Amelia was the eldest daughter—her sister Muriel was born two years later.
The Earhart family was quite wealthy, so the sisters were not denied anything from a very young age. The girls rode horses, swam in the pool, shot rifles and played tennis. Amelia showed her firm character at the very tender age and became the ringleader of children from neighboring streets, which did not prevent her from studying well and reading a lot.
The girl saw the plane for the first time at the age of 10, but did not feel much interest in the car. Years later, she wrote that it was "a piece of rusty wire and wood, not at all interesting." Amelia was more interested in adventure novels and stories about distant countries and outlandish peoples.
When Earhart was already a teenager, the financial situation of her family seriously deteriorated — her father began to drink heavily, which destroyed his brilliant law career. The family descended into real poverty and was forced to sell the house and leave, first to Iowa, and then to Minnesota.In 1915, the Earhart sisters, who once had their own horses, went to school in dresses sewn from old curtains. Unable to stand such a life, Amelia's mother Amy took the children and, leaving her husband, went with the children to relatives in Chicago. In 1916 , the financial situation of the family improved somewhat — Amy received an inheritance and was able to send her eldest daughter to college in Pennsylvania.
In 1917, Amelia accidentally saw the wounded returning from the fields of the First World War, and decided that her vocation was to help these people. She dropped out of college and, after completing nursing courses, got a job in a hospital. Earhart worked there until the end of the war and found her life's work, which, unexpectedly, turned out to be aviation.
There was a military airfield near the hospital and the girl, when she had a free minute, went to look at amazing cars. She literally fell ill with the sky and did not see herself in the future anywhere but aviation. Later, already studying physics, chemistry and medicine at the university, Amelia went to pilot courses and became a student of one of the most famous pilots of the USA — Anita Snook.
Flight training was not cheap, so the student Earhart was forced to constantly earn extra money. The girl did everything for the sake of realizing her dreams, starting from playing the banjo and ending with car repairs. Perseverance and hard work made it possible for Amelia not only to successfully complete the courses, but also to purchase her own aircraft, not new, but quite suitable for flights.
The pilot's first aircraft was the experimental Kinner Airster, which had a capricious engine and complex controls. Amelia's mentor, Anita Snook, did not approve of her ward's choice, as she considered the car unpredictable and dangerous. But Earhart could not be persuaded and, spending long hours in the air, she learned to masterfully control a difficult technique that does not forgive mistakes.
But the fate of Amelia turned out so that soon she had to sell the plane — the family again became ill with money. The Earharts moved closer to wealthy relatives in Boston, where the girl got a job as an English teacher in a kindergarten for immigrants. Part of the money from the sale of the aircraft was spent on moving and arranging life in a new place, and on Amelia bought a car with the remaining money.
In the selection for one of these "advertising" flights in 1927, and took part Earhart. The first transatlantic flight with a female pilot was planned. At that time, there were already plenty of pilots and the organizer needed not just a specialist, but a beautiful young lady, charming and able to present herself to the public and journalists.
Amelia pulled out this lucky ticket, largely due to the fact that the organizer of the flight, the New York publisher George Palmer Putnam, fell madly in love with her. It got to the point that the man divorced and made the pilot an offer, which she accepted from the sixth time.
Earhart was insanely afraid that her husband would forbid her to fly and turn her into a sad housewife with whining children and dirty pots. To secure her career as a pilot, before the wedding, Amelia signed an official contract with the groom, which stipulated the details of their relationship and a possible divorce. But the marriage of George and Amelia, concluded in 1931, turned out to be for life — albeit short, but happy.
The affair with George coincided with active preparation for a difficult flight to Europe. For the record, a 3-engine German Fokker F-VII was purchased, named "Friendship" ("Friendship"). The sponsor of the flight, millionaire Amy Guest, wanted the flight to symbolize the warm relations between America and Europe.
Together with Amelia, pilot Wilmer Stultz and flight mechanic Lou Gordon participated in the flight. The plane took off from the island of Newfoundland on June 17, 1928 and 20 hours and 40 minutes later landed on floats off the coast of Wales, in the UK.Due to the lack of experience in managing heavy aircraft in difficult weather conditions, Earhart spent this flight almost as a passenger. She later told reporters, "I was just being carried like a sack of potatoes!". It was not at all what Amelia dreamed of, and when in 1932 she had the chance to make a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, she did not miss it.
On May 20, 1932, a single-engine Lockheed Vega of bright red color with Earhart on board took off from Newfoundland and headed for Europe. Before that, only Charles Lindbergh managed to cross the ocean alone in 1927. Subsequent attempts to repeat the record, of which there were more than a dozen, ended in an inglorious return back or the death of the pilot.
This time, a tragedy also almost happened — Amelia's plane was caught in a strong night storm and almost crashed into the waves. The car went into a tailspin and only Earhart's skill, combined with incredible luck, allowed the plane to level at the last moment. Lockheed Vega had no radio communication on board and the pilot could not count on help in the event of a disaster.
The woman was flying almost blindly, as the windshield of the cabin was covered with a layer of ice shortly after departure. At the end of the journey, another danger lay in wait for Amelia — due to a leak in the fuel line, there was a risk of an airplane catching fire. Despite this, the transatlantic flight was successful and 15 hours after departure, Earhart's car landed in Europe.
The final destination of the flight was supposed to be Paris, but a technical malfunction and the risk of fire caused by it forced Amelia to land in Ireland, in a farmer's field. The heroine was met on the ground by a lonely peasant who was not at all pleased with the guest. But Earhart still received her share of flowers and glory in the French capital, where she was soon taken along with her plane.
After the historic flight, Amelia Earhart became not only incredibly famous, but also in demand as a specialist. She was invited to lectures and seminars, invited to test unique planes and new parachutes, and even invited to try out the evacuation system from a submarine. Amelia was invited to teach aviation at the university and the woman's life became calm and secure.But Earhart didn't need all this — she dreamed of the sky and wanted to set records again. In 1936, the university presented a brand-new Lockheed Electra L-10E to a woman and Amelia lit up with a new record. She wanted to make a round-the-world flight and promised everyone that this would be her last major flight before retiring. After returning, Earhart and Putnam planned to have a baby and just enjoy family life.
The flight around the world required serious preparation, which took Amelia almost a year. On March 17, 1937, Earhart and her companions Harry Manning and Frederick Noonan launched from the Hawaiian Islands, but they were unsuccessful. The aircraft overflowing with fuel broke its landing gear and it drove along the runway on its belly. Lockheed was sent to the USA for repairs and returned only two months later.
The second launch, already successful, took place on May 20, 1937, and now the brave Amelia was accompanied only by navigator Fred Noonan. The plane followed a route designed by Earhart herself. The original flight plan was changed and now Earhart and her companion were flying from west to east.
In the first days of July, a female pilot and her companion covered 22 thousand miles. The plane of the brave pilots passed 28 flight stages, some of which themselves represented a world record. Earhart and Noonan crossed North America, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, Arabia, India and Southeast Asia.
More than 80% of the way was behind when the Lockheed Electra of record holders sat down to refuel at an airfield near the small town of Lae in New Guinea. It was there that Amelia and Fred were last seen. Filling full tanks, the plane took off on July 2, 1937 and headed for the next point - a small island of Howland, located almost in the center of the Pacific Ocean.
This was the most dangerous part of the route — it was very difficult to find a small coral island barely rising above the water in the vast ocean after an 18-hour flight. The small crew had no right to make a mistake, since there was simply no fuel left to continue the flight in case of a miss.To exclude accidents, on the instructions of President Roosevelt, the warship Itasca drifted near the island, whose powerful radio stations served as a reliable beacon for Earhart and Noonan. But, despite this, the communication with the pilots was very bad. The Itasca radio operators could hear Amelia well, but she could not answer their questions.
The last we heard from Earhart was a fragmentary message: "We are on line 157-337... I repeat... I repeat... we are moving along the line." According to the calculations of the greeters, the plane was supposed to appear over Howland at any minute, but this did not happen — Lockheed Electra and its brave pilots disappeared without a trace.
As soon as the greeters realized that there was no more fuel left in the plane, the US Navy began to search. It was one of the largest search operations in this region. Dozens of warships and civilian vessels took part in it, including the aircraft carrier Lexington and the battleship Colorado.
A flotilla of ships and 66 aircraft scoured the ocean for two weeks, exploring 220,000 square miles of water and dozens of islands. On January 5, 1939, Earhart and Noonan were officially declared dead.
In 1940, on the beach of the tiny uninhabited Nikumaroro atoll, a skeleton of a tall man was discovered, which was mistaken for a man, but could not be identified. In 2016, the remains were examined using modern technology and it turned out that the bones belong to a tall woman belonging to the European type.
Since by that time the remains of a flight jacket, a mirror, fragments of aluminum sheets and a cosmetic cream for freckles used by Amelia were found in the area of the atoll, it was decided that the unidentified body from Nikumaroro were the remains of Amelia.
The same picture with the prisoners
There are other versions of the death of Earhart and her companion. In 2017, an archive photo was published showing prisoners of the Japanese camp on the island of Jaluit. It clearly shows a man and a woman of the European type, very similar to Earhart and Noonan.
Finally, it is worth saying that the mystery of the disappearance of the brave pilot and her navigator has not been solved. The Pacific Ocean holds a lot of wreckage and remains, and so far, no one can claim with 100% certainty that the exact location of the death of the Lockheed crew has been found.