The Disappearance of
July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart American icon, aviation pioneer and
author, disappeared over the Pacific. The first woman to fly
solo across the Atlantic, she set speed, altitude and distance records, wrote books
about her accomplishments and was instrumental in the formation of The
Ninety Nines an international organization dedicated to providing
professional opportunities to women in aviation.
It was during
an attempted circumnavigation of the globe (another first), in a Lockheed Model 10
Electra, that Earhart went missing on a leg to Howland
Island an atoll
located approximately halfway between Australia and Hawaii. 
attempt had been problem plagued from the beginning. On March 17, 1937,
Earhart and a crew, consisting of first navigator Harry Manning, second
navigator Fred Noonan and technical advisor Paul Mantz, flew the first
from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii; where after servicing,
the flight resumed with only Earhart, Noonan and Manning on board.
While attempting to take off Earhart ground-looped (a rapid rotation of
an airplane while still on the ground often due to a wing digging in).
Some said they saw a tire blow, others including Mantz cited pilot
Following repairs on the mainland a second try, this time
flying west to east and with only Earhart and Noonan on board. The pair
departed Miami on June 1, 1937, and after stops in South America,
Africa, India and Southeast Asia they arrived in Lae, New Guinea, on
June 29, 1937. The remainder of the trip (7,000 miles or 11,000
kilometers) would be over the Pacific
On July 2, 1937,
midnight GMT they took off from New Guinea, their destination, the
aforementioned Howland Island, a tiny spec of real estate 6,500 feet
(2,000 meters) long and 1,600 feet (500 meters) wide, 2,556 miles
(4,113 kilometers) away.
The American Coast Guard cutter Itasca was on station acting as picket
to guide them in when they got close.
last known position report placed the Electra some 20 miles southwest
of the Nukumanu Islands, approximately one-third of the way to their
What then went wrong, and why is a matter of
conjecture, all that's known for certain is that the Lockheed Electra
disappeared in an area a goodly fraction of the continental United
huge sea and air search was mounted but failed to locate either
Earhart, Noonan or the aircraft and it was assumed they were lost at
Some theorized they ran out of fuel, others they couldn't
find the island  or contact the Itasca for bearings; to still others
that they were captured by the Japanese, accused of espionage, and held
hostage to be later executed (a World War 2 movie “Flight For Freedom”
furthered a myth that Earhart was spying on the Japanese at the behest
of the Roosevelt administration).
To this day, in spite of tantalizing clues, the mystery remains.
Politically Howland Island is an unincorporated, unorganized territory
of the United States. Geographically together with Baker Island, a
second uninhabited atoll, it forms part of the Phoenix Islands a group
of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs.
 Apparently Howland's charted position was off by about 5 nautical miles (10
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