Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MacReady’s Top 5 Disappearances: #2 – Amelia Earhart

If you’ve been following the post of Cleveland “It came out” Williams (which I highly doubt you are), you would know that my #2 pick is going to be Amelia Earhart. Not only does Cleveland specialize in the art of exposing himself (literally), but also the art of exposing the topics of my future post.

What was I talking about again? – Oh yeah… Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Mary Earhart was a legend in the world of aviation. Notable achievements include the Distinguished Flying Cross, which she was awarded for her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

With many accomplishments to her name, and without a doubt more to come, it all came to an end on July 2nd, 1937 during her final approach to Howland Island.

Through a series of misunderstandings or errors (the details of which are still controversial), the final approach to Howland Island using radio navigation wasn't successful. Fred Noonan had earlier written about problems affecting the accuracy of radio direction finding in navigation. Some sources have noted Earhart's apparent lack of understanding of her Bendix direction finding loop antenna, which at the time was very new technology. Another cited cause of possible confusion was that the USCG cutter Itasca and Earhart planned their communication schedule using time systems set a half hour apart (with Earhart using Greenwich Civil Time (GCT) and the Itasca under a Naval time zone designation system).

Motion picture evidence from Lae suggests that an antenna mounted underneath the fuselage may have been torn off from the fuel-heavy Electra during taxi or takeoff from Lae's turf runway, though no antenna was reported found at Lae. Don Dwiggins, in his biography of Paul Mantz (who assisted Earhart and Noonan in their flight planning), noted that the aviators had cut off their long-wire antenna, due to the annoyance of having to crank it back into the aircraft after each use.

Many believe Amelia’s plane crashed on the Japanese-controlled Saipan Island.

Regardless of what happened  that day, Amelia's life achievements and legend will continue to amaze us, and the mystery of her disappearance will continue to puzzle us.

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