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.