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Chapter 10 - Amelia Lost

So unless you've been overwhelmed by all the political primaries recently you've probably read or heard that an exploration team thinks they have found Amelia Earhart's plane in the Pacific Ocean. Tony Romeo, of Deep Sea Vision, a South Carolina resident of Sullivan's Island, with his crew of 16 combed 5200 square miles of the ocean floor and came up with a sonar picture matching closely to the silhouette of Earhart's plane.

In 1937 attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan lost communication in the Pacific. They were headed to Howland Island where they were to refuel. They were never heard from again nor was their plane ever found.

Earhart was described by Romeo as America's favorite missing person and, in fact, was a rock star in her day endorsing clothing, luggage, chewing gum, and Lucky Strikes cigarettes as well as wrote books on her flying exploits and taught at Perdue University. These endorsements and books helped to finance her flying, as a woman she did not have the private funding which aviators such as Lindbergh had. Unlike Lindy, she believed women could do anything and spearheaded the organization of the 99's for women pilots. My mother-in-law Lois was a later member of the group.

There has been a lot of speculation as to what happened to Earhart and Noonan and some of the books mentioned below do address these theories. Deep Sea Visions will return to the spot in late 2024 or early 2025 when they will lower a camera to see if they can capture more information about the sonar image.

In the meantime here are some books to catch you up on all things Amelia.

East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Susan Butler (2009) - This is a very complete biography of a very complex individual. Using letters, journals, and diaries and delving into Amelia Earhart's childhood through her aviation years and partnership marriage to George Putnam, Butler gives a the reader a good understanding of Amelia in all her hardships and glory.

Amelia Earhart by Doris L. Rick (1996) - This is another really good biography of the great aviatrix and uses similar source material as the book above.

The Fun of It by Amelia Earhart - (1932) If you want to get into the brain of Amelia Earhart and find out why she went into aviation, this is the book for you. Written by Amelia Earhart herself it describers her ambitions to become a pilot and gives advice to those who wish to follow in her footsteps. It was reprinted in 2006.

Amelia Earhart: The Truth At Last by Mike Campbell (2013) - Mike Campbell has long been a denier of the premise that Earhart and Noonan went down before they reached the Howland Islands. He uses photographs and witness accounts to tell his tale of what he believes really happened to them.

Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance by Ric Gillespie - Ric Gillespie, who has recently debunked the theory that Earhart's plane was found, was the director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) when he wrote this book. While he presents different theories he leaves the reader to develop their own conclusions.

In an aside, about 10 years ago now Dave and I visited Amelia Earhart's childhood home in Atchison, Kansas. A seasoned docent (about 80 years old at the time) told us, as we were leaving, that a tall thin woman in her mid-70s came to the museum in about 1972. She pulled up in a dark car and was escorted by two men in dark suits who waited outside when she went in. As this woman was touring the house she made comments like ,"That's not the way it was when I was here." and "Look, they've changed that as well." The docent continued to tell us that there had been changes made to the house since the time Amelia lived there. After the tour, the woman got in the car with the two men and drove away. The docent was convinced that this woman was Amelia Earhart.

Who knows? Maybe Deep Sea Visions will come a little closer to the truth.


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