Today in history – Amelia Earhart lost

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

On July 2, 1937 Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on their trip around the world. First off, who is this Fred Noonan guy? I’ve never heard of him. Also, I had no clue Amelia Earhart was married – to some guy named George Palmer Putnam

When I was a kid I always imagined the trip around the world business to be one solid trip. Apparently when they disappeared, Earhart and Noonan were flying their last leg, a 20 hour trip that was to bring them back to Oakland, CA. She grew up as a tomboy in Kansas, Iowa, and Chicago, and her father was an alcoholic. Hm, I grew up as a tomboy in Iowa and went to college in Kansas, and my father enjoys his liquor. There’s a connection here…

I digress. Earhart survived the 1918 flu pandemic and went on to become a pilot, though she was scoffed at by many in her field. After Charles Lindbergh‘s feats captured the nation’s imagination, a woman named Amy Phipps Guest considered being the first woman to fly or be flown across the Atlantic. She decided the trip was too dangerous, but wanted to sponsor a girl with the “right image.” Enter Amelia Earhart, who many believed to have a physical resemblance to Lindbergh and was known as a tough cookie who stayed calm under pressure.

Celebrity endorsements, sponsorships, and press soon followed, and Earhart was an international sensation.  In 1931 she married Putnam, who was a book publisher and a coordinator of the trans-Atlantic flight project.  In a letter to Putnam  on the day of their wedding Earhart declared, “I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil ([sic]) code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.”  It seems Earhart enjoyed a little open marriage with her in-flight magazine. Who knew?

The search efforts for Earhart and Noonan went on until July 19, 1937 and cost over $4 million.  No evidence of either person, nor the plane, was ever found.  Amelia Earhart was declared dead on January 5, 1939.

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