Amelia Earhart is famous for being the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, she was trying to circle the globe near the equator when she mysteriously disappeared. According to Biography.com, she was only the 16th woman to ever receive a pilot’s license.
In 1928 she became the first woman to ever fly over the Atlantic, as well as being the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the course of her career as an aviatrix, she made a number of notable flights, working hard to establish herself as a serious and respected pilot, and, by extension, to support the role of women in aviation.
Her final flight began on March 17, 1937, when she and her crew left California on their way to Hawaii. They had a few problems during their flight across the Pacific, and had to make some repairs once they finally arrived in Hawaii. When they tried to resume the flight, the plane they were using went out of control on the runway, and she had to loop it back. The plane ultimately had to be taken back to California for repairs.
By the time the necessary fixes had been made, the weather patterns had been changed, and Earhart and her crew decided to resume their trip by going east instead of west. They flew to South America and turned to the east, heading for Africa.
By June 29 they had made their circuit as fast as New Guinea, and had completed about three quarters of their circuit, with the remaining 7,000 miles left to go being over the Pacific again. On July 2, they resumed their trip, heading for Howland Island, located between Hawaii and Australia. That leg of the trip plagued by issues from the start, some the result of poor decision making, others relating to finding themselves off course.
The last message ever received from Earhart was to the Itaska, with which she was trying to rendezvous, it said, “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio.
We are flying at 1,000 feet.” When the Itaska realized it had lost contact with Earhart’s plane, they began searching immediately, but no sign was found of Earhart or her crew. It’s always been assumed that she ran out of fuel and her plane crashed in the ocean. She was legally declared dead in January, 1939.
Now, a researcher from the University of South Florida, Dr. Erin Kimmerle, has been asked to examine some bones that have been discovered at a museum on the Pacific Island of Nikumaroro and see if they may be from the missing pilot, according to a report by Fox News.
The bones were found on the island three years after Earhart disappeared. The Island is about 1,200 miles away from the Marshall Islands, in the area where they think her plane may have gone down, according to the researcher.
The bones had already been examined once before, but mysteriously disappeared in Fiji. It was thought that the bones had been found again, at the Te Umwanibong Museum and Cultural Center on an island in Kirabati, so National Geographic reached out to Kimmerle, to see what she could learn from them.
The bones were in a large box where several sets of remains had all been stored, one of those sets was female, and matched Earhart’s description. They’ve since been sent for DNA testing and comparison against the DNA of Earhart’s one living niece.
If the bones prove to be a match, then the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart and where her plane went down will finally be solved, adding a more clear-cut ending to a story which has long been left unfinished.
By Ian Harvey