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Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, mysteriously disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
Watch a short video about Amelia Earhart and fly through her childhood as a daring little child to her mysterious disappearance as an adult.
After a plane ride at an air show, Amelia Earhart decided she would learn to fly. After becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, she embarked on her flight around the world and disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
Amelia Earhart embarked on the longest non-stop flight by a woman.
Remains of Amelia Earhart's plane lead to theories about her demise. From the "Biography: Amelia Earhart - Recovery Expedition" video.
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Noonan had vast experience in both marine and flight navigation, and was to be the second navigator. Mantz, a Hollywood stunt pilot, and was chosen to be Earhart's technical advisor.
The original plan was to take off from Oakland, California, and fly west to Hawaii. From there, the group would fly across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. Then they would cross the sub-continent of India, on to Africa, then to Florida, and back to California.
On March 17, 1937,
they took off from Oakland on the first leg. They experienced some periodic problems flying across the Pacific, and landed in Hawaii for some repairs at the United States Navy's Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. After three days, the Electra began its takeoff, but something went wrong. Earhart lost control, and looped the plane on the runway. How this happened is still the subject of some controversy. Several witnesses, including an Associated Press journalist, said they saw a tire blow. Other sources, including Paul Mantz, indicated it was pilot error. Though no one was seriously hurt, the plane was severely damaged and had to be shipped back to California for extensive repairs.
In the interim, Earhart and Putnam secured additional funding for a new flight. The stress of the delay and the grueling fund-raising appearances left Amelia exhausted. By the time the plane was repaired, weather patterns and global wind changes required alterations to the flight plan. This time Earhart and her crew would fly east. Captain Harry Manning would not join the team, due to previous commitments. Paul Mantz was also absent, reportedly due to a contract dispute.
After flying from Oakland to Miami, Florida, Earhart and Noonan took off on June 1st from Miami with much fanfare and publicity. The plane flew toward Central and South America, turning east for Africa. From there, the plane crossed the Indian Ocean and finally touched down in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, 1937. About 22,000 miles of the journey had been completed. The remaining 7,000 miles would take place over the Pacific.
In Lae, Earhart contracted dysentery that lasted for days. While she recuperated, several necessary adjustments were made to the plane. Extra amounts of fuel were stowed on board. The parachutes were packed away, for there would be no need for them while flying along the vast and desolate Pacific Ocean.
The flyer's plan was to head to Howland Island, 2,556 miles away, situated between Hawaii and Australia. A flat sliver of land 6,500 feet long, 1,600 feet wide, and no more than 20 ft. above the ocean waves, the island would be hard to distinguish from the similar looking cloud shapes. To meet this challenge, Earhart and Noonan had an elaborate plan with several contingencies. Celestial navigation would be used to track their route and keep them on course. In case of overcast skies, they had radio communication with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, Itasca, stationed off Howland Island. They could also use their maps, compass, and the position of the rising sun to make an educated guess in finding their position relative to Howland Island.
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