Sunday, March 04, 2012

What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?

Yesterday I left Delmar to go to the Delaware Public Archives to listen to the talk on "What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?". I had a miserable drive to Dover with rain, road spray, traffic and I hit every traffic light red so I naturally cussed Laurel (The town with more traffic lights per capita than any other town in Delaware) for the 15 minutes it took me to past thru it.

It was an interesting two hour talk given by Richard E. Gillespie, Executive Director of TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery).

A good crowd of about 150 people, most all over the age of 50 and 99.5% white were at the archives to listen to the talk. Not surprising about 40% of the audience were women and they did not seem to be merely accompanying their husbands. At the end of talk in the question and answers period most of the questions were asked by women.

In 1937, Amelia Earhart set out to be the first person to circle the globe by air in the area close to the equator. On July 2, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan failed to arrive as planned on Howland Island in the Central Pacific. Since that time, their disappearance has become one of the most baffling mysteries of the 20th century. At the time of her disappearance, Amelia Earhart was arguably the most famous woman of her generation and is, even today, certainly the most well-known woman aviator of all time.

This is the 75th anniversary of the last flight of Amelia Earhart. The three theories most accepted into the disappearance of Amelia Earhart are;
1)She ran out of gas and crashed into the ocean and sank.
2) She was a spy for the United states and was captured by the Japanese and eventually died
3) She was a spy but was recovered from the Japanese and entered a witness protection program and lived out her life in New Jersey disguise as Irene Bolam.

TIGHAR however feels Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan landed, and eventually died, on Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati. They have spent the last 23 years trying to prove it. At present a 3 million dollar underwater search is planned for this year, maybe.

The person sitting next to me was an Earhart/TIGHAR geek and he was showing me clippings from 1990 that said TIGHAR was very close to proving Earhart landed on a reef at Gardner Island. So 20 years later TIGHAR is still saying the same thing.

It was an entertaining talk but frankly TIGHAR isn't any closer than they were 20 years ago in proving anything. Altho I am interested in the Search For Amelia Earhart I have not spent that much time researching her, so a number of "facts" Gillespie spoke about were interesting. One item of interest was in 1934 she had written to her mother saying, more or less, if I die burn the papers in the suitcase. In 1937 one message received a couple of days after the plane disappeared said George (her husband) get the suitcase in my closet. So what papers and why did she want no one to find them after her death and if you were stranded on a reef on a deserted island why would they be so important to tell some one to find them? Oh well just more material for Earhart people to spread about.

Amelia Earhart visited Salisbury in 1929 and I posted the newspaper article back in 2007.

Needless to say with an audience of this age, once the 2 hour talk was over with there was a mad rush for the restrooms.

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