Amelia Earhart - Cold Case For a Hot Lady

Amelia Mary Earhart (24 July 1897 – missing 2 July 1937, declared deceased 5 January 1939) was a noted American aviation pioneer and women's rights advocate.

Amelia Mary Earhart (24 July 1897 – missing 2 July 1937, declared deceased 5 January 1939) was a noted American aviation pioneer and women's rights advocate.

In Jane Mendelsohn’s imaginative 1997 novel “I Was Amelia Earhart” she fictionalized what happened to the famous aviator, and it was a good read. There are countless non-fiction versions of “Lady Lindy’s” last days, some more bizarre than any fiction I’ve seen. But like the ghost of Elvis Presley, Amelia Earhart is back. All the mystery, drama and romance surrounding the beautiful woman who vanished over the Pacific Ocean seventy years ago, has returned to haunt us again. Strictly speaking, the case was never officially declared closed.


After taking off from Lae, New Guinea on the last leg of her round the world trip, Amelia Earhart and her navigator friend Fred Noonan disappeared while trying to find tiny Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Photos taken just before takeoff revealed an ailing and exhausted Earhart. It was July 1937. They’d already traveled 22,000 miles and had 7,000 miles remaining, all of it across the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve never crossed the Pacific—up close where you can see it—you cannot begin to imagine the sheer magnitude of this unforgiving sea.

(An Aside)

Once during a dark night aboard a large ship heading for Japan, I watched the birth of an exploding volcano as it thrust itself out of the sea to begin the formation of an atoll. It was one of those times that made you feel very small, when you cannot conceive of the audacity of someone who’d make this crossing in a tiny air or sea craft. Earhart wrote a book called “The Fun of It.” Maybe that explains her.

More Clues

Last fall, on a tiny Pacific atoll now called Nikumaroro, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) reported finding parts of an aircraft they say could be from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra; also a man’s shoe heel, a woman’s shoe with a 1930s Cat’s Paw heel of the type Earhart had been wearing when she took off from New Guinea. Since the islanders did not wear shoes back then, these are substantial clues. After eight previous visits, funds permitting, the team headed by Rick Gillespie will return to the island this July to search for human remains, which hopefully will reveal DNA.

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed L-10E Electra.

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed L-10E Electra

A Diary?

The most intriguing angle of this very cold case is the emergence of yet another clue, the diary of 23-year-old James Carey, an Associated Press reporter who took notes while the radio crew of the Coast Guard cutter Itasca was trying to contact Earhart and guide her to Howland Island. Included in the diary’s notes is a shortwave distress call. “This is Amelia Earhart …” Recently, a member of the TIGHAR team saw a copy of the diary for sale on eBay and bought it for $26. There are other quotes in the diary. James Carey has died, but his son Tim Carey verifies the diary, which he says is part of his family history. How’s that for destiny? The Itasca could hear Amelia’s distinctive Kansas voice, but she could not hear them or their code signals. Why? She and Fred Noonan were unaware they’d lost their outside radio-reception antenna during takeoff from the Lae Airport in New Guinea, and that would prove disastrous.

Rumors of a Legend

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan by the Lockheed L10 Electra during their World Flight, 1937.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan by the Lockheed L10 Electra during their World Flight, 1937.

As a young child I heard the Earhart buzz around the dinner table. Over decades the press churned out rumors. Amelia Earhart was sent by President Roosevelt to spy on the Japanese. Amelia and Fred Noonan were romantically involved; they crash-landed on an island and showed up in New Jersey. Natives reported seeing them captive in the hands of the Japanese. Their twin-engine Lockheed Electra ran out of fuel and fell into the Pacific. Noonan was a drunk and should never have gone with her.

As the stories grew, so grew the legend. Bones were found that eventually proved not to be theirs. As for Fred Noonan, he did have a drinking problem, but he was a veteran of Pan American Airways with a reputation for being the best navigator in the business.

Woman of Firsts

Feminist icon before there were feminists, aviation editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine, book author, first woman to solo the Atlantic (more than once), first woman to fly non-stop across the U.S., a zillion other firsts and groundbreaking awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross—Earhart was going to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Instead, she inspired books, motion pictures and people who wanted to believe she was alive somewhere—anywhere. My first set of luggage simply had to be—you guessed it.

She Married a Man Just Like Her

Earhart’s husband was explorer, author and publisher George P. Putnam. Rugged individualist and promoter par excellence, Putnam and Earhart had been lovers when she finally broke her engagement to another man to marry Putnam. He became her personal manager, organized all of her races and record-breaking flights including her last, for which he never forgave himself. A mid-1970s television movie about Earhart and Putnam featured Susan Clark and John Forsythe in a quite believable portrayal of their lives, and her role as an advocate for women in the work place. Not surprisingly, she and Eleanor Roosevelt whom she taught to fly, were pals.

Seventy years later, the Lockheed Electra’s radio remains silent but the mysterious melody lingers on.

A writer/editor, I work with one client at a time for a cost effective solution to your writing and editing needs. Visit me at My novel The Sword & The Chrysanthemum is available in paperback and in ebook.

Copyright © 2007 Susan Scharfman


K guys, if you're gonna say she's a lesbian at least do the research first. Like sarrah said, she dresses muscular. Thats because she was a tomboy when she was little because her parents encourage her to participate in activities typically done by boys because the women's rights amendment had just recently passed and now Amelia could do anything. Just because someone dresses on way doesn't mean you can label them. That's just their personality.

i belived that she died and there body's where never found because it's been eaten by a shark or some kind of animal in the ocean but i do belive the electra is still down in the oceaan but the pieces are seperated round the ocen

We all Die. She gets to be remembered...

i love what she did for the world. and she is not lesbian. she very much loved her husband. and anyone who doesnt agree is stupid. why even would u even consider that? she dress muscular cuz it was comfortable to her. i am not saying that everyone should dress like that but in my opinion dress to whatever suits your comfort zone. she is an amazing woman, and dont ever forget

i love what she did for the world. and she is not lesbian. she very much loved her husband. and anyone who doesnt agree is stupid. why even would u even consider that? she dress muscular cuz it was comfortable to her. i am not saying that everyone should dress like that but in my opinion dress to whatever suits your comfort zone. she is an amazing woman, and dont ever forget

i love what she did for the world. and she is not lesbian. she very much loved her husband. and anyone who doesnt agree is stupid. why even would u even consider that? she dress muscular cuz it was comfortable to her. i am not saying that everyone should dress like that but in my opinion dress to whatever suits your comfort zone. she is an amazing woman, and dont ever forget

I have always enjoyed reading about the story of Amelia Earhart and all her endeavors that she accomplished. She is a true inspiration to us all. Ever since I was a child, when I first read about her and her accomplishments I followed her story and admired all she was able to do. I dreamed of flying around the world just like she did and not be afraid of anything. I was thrilled to know that a movie was going to be produced for all to see and know about her. Although not everything is true and accurate in what you see at the theater, at least now, people will know and have an idea of who she is and hopefully be inspired to follow their dreams. It amazes me that for such a long time, scientists and researchers have yet to find and even have a small clue of what happened to her. I remember hearing stories of her and her companion falling into the Bermuda Triangle. Or others with spiteful speculations about her. The titantic was found, why not search a little more for her...
Long live Amelia Earhart, my true inspiration.

Although what she did was daring and foolhardy, she opened up the field of accomplishment in aviation and showed a pioneering spirit. She chose her own path instead of rolling over and doing what little was open for women even in 1937, when women were achieving many firsts.

We still need to have a woman president to break the sexism barrier in this country. We are a backward lot, and need to remedy this in the Senate, the Congress, the States' governerships, and all of the courts of the land, especially the Supreme Court, which has gone backwards and has yet to have a female Chief Justice and five out of nine Supreme Court justices.

I suggest we legally reserve half of all Senate and Congressional seats by Constitutional Amendment, and mandate that either the President or the Vice President must be female, and either that the Vice President must serve half of the term and that we nominate in such a way that the person with the most votes is President and the first runnerup of the opposite sex becomes Vice President.

I also suggest that all colleges and universities must make half of their full professors and associate professors women, and that all state legislatures must also consist of 50% women. Likewise, the president's cabinet must be fifty percent women, and half the armed forces generals as well, since they are the strategists and decisionmakers. I don't think we will have less war, just more imaginative and creative uses of our armed forces in winning our political situations.

It is only when we are a fair and balanced nation politically that we will have justice and equality for all. As long as we continue to discriminate against women, that is how long our society will be out of whack and unbalanced. Women will figure out for themselves how to balance society; they just need the voice and political clout to make it happen.

As for me, I would like to see women who bear children and raise them paid a good living wage and social security benefits plus a pension annually out of our taxes for their hard work making a home for them and their spouse. They should also have a pension of their own from a combination of their husband's earnings and her own income to supplement social security. That will give women an ultimate choice to remain at home during the children's formative years without sacrificing financially just when couples most need a good income. When women get paid for their work as mothers and homemakers, more men will marry them and stay in the marriage, especially when we change the divorce laws federally requiring that fifty percent of all their income be shared with the mothers of their children and they also pay one fourth more of their income among their children to support them, leaving them with only one fourth of their income to live on. Few men will take the divorce route out, and many of them will be much better behaved in their marriages when their financial lives are threatened like that. A few, of course, would try homicide and house fires to rid themselves of their entire menage, but there will always be cruel criminals among us.

Earhart, of course, did not have children. Whether or not she was bisexual remains unknown; apparently no one came forward to claim that she was a lesbian lover during her lifetime or after her death, and she was not known to have ever had a female roommate or "dates" with other women, or even to have been close to other women. It is more likely that she envied men their freedom and was determined to have her own freedom. She dressed more masculinely and seemed uninterested in makeup or frills. I know of many women who crop their hair short like a man after several years of marriage, and I, too, speculate inwardly whether they are angry about being women and wish they had been born male because of the difference in lifestyle and opportunities that still exists.

I like being a woman and always have; but I decry the blatant sexism of males and our society's laws that discriminate against women in every field of endeavor. I also cringe and am disgusted every time I see women dancing nearly naked while their male counterparts are totally covered up! Let's have some equality of sexual exploitation! Let's have crotch shots of men dancing in speedos! Or else, let's have some legislation mandating both men and women cover up with opaque material between the armpits and the knees! I, personally, am sick and tired of seeing Hollywood women's navels from the front and everything they have through sheer dresses with no underskirts or tops beneath. It's time to set some limits.

As for women wearing pants, and the jeans epidemic that afflicts both sexes, and high heels, I suggest legislation outlawing heels on shoes at all, since the natural walk of bare feet and mocassins prevents knee and hip joint and back problems from developing, and that people in general get a grip on what jeans are for: nailing roof shingles, farming, digging ditches, gardening, and heavy construction. Anyone else who wears them is dressed inappropriately.

About ninety percent of women look fat or too skinny and bulge in the wrong places in pants. Obviously, they should be wearing dresses and skirts covering their knobby knees that females have because of the way their pelvises are made and the angle at which the femur is inserted, giving us knock knees.

Women with skinny lower legs and women with thick ankles can wear longer skirts and either light tights or dark ones to make their legs look thicker or thinner. Some women also wear boots when seasonally appropriate with long tweed or plaid skirts in fall and winter.

Overall, let's try to balance out what women do for a living with the needs of their families, and demand more sacrifice in the workplace for the kids' interests and the homemaking by men who don't drop everything to pick up the kid at school when the kid is sick and who don't take the kid around to baseball practice and ballet lessons, and who don't do anything around the home to keep it clean and nice and well running on a daily basis, and who expect women to be their maids, sex partners and cooks and nannies for the kids and think bringing home an income is enough. I know older women who still iron their husbands' shirts for them when they are grannies and their husbands are retired! That is plain silliness! Let the old coot burn his own shirts for awhile before he gets the hang of doing it for himself!

I have no patience with men who drive women off of learning to change their own car's oil and work on their own engines. A friend of mine who is happily married to an egalitarian man learned to change her oil while brushing up on her Spanish conversational skills for her job by taking a mechanics course that was held in Spanish. She saves a lot of money and helped her own career skills. Smart lady!

Let's all, male and female, practice being full and responsible human beings first, not preying on one another and taking advantage of each other.

Amelia may have been foolhardy and ultimately lost her life daring to do something just for the fun of it, but she did open up previously closed doors and showed us that we can aspire to achieve any goal we choose.

Less well known women, scientists, doctors, inventors, and entrepeneurs, as well as talented homemakers, writers, managers and business owners, make daily contributions that benefit all of society. Let's highlight them in the news as well! I long to read of these women.

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Poor Amelia, ever since I was a kid I always wondered what happened to her. I always thought she just ran away with her lesbian lover. :o