Potential discovery of a historic tragedy

Autumn R.

Staff Writer

Little may be known by today’s young generation of a tragedy that happened 75 years ago to a young girl named Amelia Earhart. A heroine of the sky, her mission to be the first woman to fly around the world ended in an almost victorious accomplishment. Although Earhart was very skilled in the sky, she never made it back to America. In fact, she disappeared. Now, 75 years later, a research base in Honolulu, Hawaii, thinks they may have found wreckage from her crash. Some people are still skeptical, but the evidence is quite prevalent.

Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1869. Her parents described her as a young, red-headed, freckled girl, who had a spirit of adventure from a very early age. She used to run around her neighborhood and play games in the woods with her younger sister, Grace. They were both tomboys, and the other girls in the neighborhood thought they were weird because of the activities they would partake in. The Earhart sisters did not seem to care though because their family was so close. They were so close that even moving to Iowa, where her dad transferred jobs with a railroad company, did not have a significant impact on the sisters.

At the Iowa State Fair, Earhart was first introduced to planes at the age of ten by her father; at the time, she showed no interest in them whatsoever. As the years went on, family problems and Spanish Influenza had a real impact on Earhart’s life; being sick with the Spanish Influenza led to her reading extensively about airplanes, and once she recovered, she attended an air force fair and fell in love with a man named George Putnam. Her first airplane ride in 1920 is when she realized that flying was what she was born to do. She practiced and practiced and finally was the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license. In the meantime, she got married and was soon becoming famous for setting new height records while flying. In 1928 Earhart was offered to complete a solo flight across the Atlantic in order to set a record. Four years later, in 1932, she decided to do the flight across the Atlantic. In 1937, Earhart accepted the challenge to be the first woman to do the solo flight of not only the Atlantic, but a solo world flight. Earhart had nearly made it, but scientists miscalculated how much fuel she needed. Her radio stopped working, and people believe she crashed in the Bermuda Triangle. Researchers believe this because she was ¾ of the way to completing her mission, and the radio trackers figured she crashed when her communication was lost.  Rescuers tried to locate her, but Earhart and her plane had disappeared completely…or so the world thought.

In July of 2012, pieces of Amelia Earhart’s plane may have been located in the depths of the waters off the little island of Nikumaroro in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati. A high-definition video footage was taken in July at the uninhabited coral atoll, believed to be Earhart’s final resting place. The footage was carried out by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last fateful flight taken by Earhart 75 years ago. The underwater search started on July 12 and relied on a torpedo-shaped autonomous underwater vehicle and a remote operated vehicle. Located distinctly apart from the debris field of the SS Norwich City, a British steamer went aground on the island’s reef in 1929.

The images contained multiple objects upon the site. Several pictures appear consistent with the interpretation made by Glickmann, a part of the Hawaiian research team, of a grainy photograph of Nikumaroro’s western shoreline. Forensic imaging analyses of the picture found the mysterious object, which is consistent with the shape and dimension of the upside-down landing gear of Earhart’s plane. Another found object in this investigation was a freckle cream jar; researchers think the jar may be freckle cream, which Earhart was known to always have. Junior Lauren Nielly says, “I really do think that the jar was hers. Who else gets deserted on an island in the middle of nowhere and has freckle cream?” The jar contained mercury, which is found in the product of cream Earhart purchased frequently. The jar might provide further circumstantial evidence that Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan made an emergency landing on the island’s flat coral reef and eventually died there as castaways. With the help of the technological advances, these conclusions have been made by the Hawaiian researchers.

Why, all of sudden, 75 years later, do researchers think they have found Earhart? Why could they not find her remains 75 years ago? Technology, research strategy, and exploration of the ocean have come a long way.  In the late 1920’s scientists did not have computers or even boats as intricate as scientists in the 21st century do. Scientists have submarines that can see objects in the ocean in such high definition that they can go down thousands of feet and clearly identify the objects. Junior Madison McCabe says, “Our technology has come such a long way just in the last five years. With 75 years of time, I believe our technology is powerful and accurate enough to solve a mystery like Amelia’s.”  Some people still doubt that the current technology has progressed enough to determine if this is truly Earhart’s plane or not.

There will always be pessimists, and some believe that there is little evidence to possibly say these remains are Earhart’s. Junior Alexa Roberson says, “I don’t think it’s really her. They found plane remains, so what? It could be any plane that crashed.” Some of the public think there needs to be additional evidence to solve this case. Even if researchers find additional evidence, people still have their opinion of this great American mystery. Some doubt it will never be solved or think there is no point in trying to solve it since it occurred so long ago. However, this case is important because it reflects a significant era of American history and allows the people of today to reflect upon the first flights and drastic transportation changes in America.

Amelia Earhart’s tragic disappearance is one that the nation will never forget. Earhart is known for her bravery, determination, and courage. She is remembered as the heroine who risked her life to take the next step of America’s start in plane recognition and use. The red-headed, freckle-faced tomboy will always be loved and remembered in Americans’ hearts.

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