Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amelia Earhart

After watching the video "Amelia" starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, I can't help but feel the sadness over the tragic loss of an excellent aviator, Amelia Earhart. Her accomplishments were astounding, some of which not even the male aviators had attempted.

In 1932 at 35, she had flown from Newfoundland to Ireland, two years later Hawaii to California and then Mexico to New Jersey but her round-the-world attempt in 1937 ended in her going missing towards the end of her 15-hour leg from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island. Her outdated radio could not receive the frantic transmissions from the ship "Itaca" which was supposed to guide her to the island. Ironically the ship's crew could hear her equally frantic transmissions clear as a bell. She had no ADF in her aircraft to locate the ship and apparently the ship's ADF ran out of battery making it impossible for either party to know from which direction she was flying. It was a risk that presumably had not been thoroughly considered before she commenced the trip. Howland Island is only 2.4km by 0.8km in size and 20 feet at the highest point making it almost impossible to locate from the air unless one is smack on top of it. Even then, flying into the glare of the morning sun as Amelia did would make it almost invisible. Missing it meant running out of fuel and ditching in the middle of the Pacific Ocean which she probably did.

Amelia was a dedicated Red Cross volunteer who attended to wounded soldiers and even studied for a year in the medical school of Columbia University. She is undeniably one of my most admired aviators.

Watch her last footage at:

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