Amelia- first lady of the air

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Amelia- first lady of the air - AMELIA ^L Jf^ America's first lady of the air...
AMELIA ^L Jf^ America's first lady of the air JiL Ji^ By The Associated Press One was the first lady of the air, a daring, record-setting pilot. On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart was nearing the end of a round-the- world flight, running low on fuel and aiming for a speck of land in the central Pacific. She never arrived on tiny Howland Island. A 17-day air and sea search discovered no trace of Earhart, navigator Fred Noonan or their Lockheed Electra. Officially, the plane and its passengers were lost at sea. But 50 years later, the flier's disappearance still fascinates and puzzles people. Was she lost and did she run out of fuel? Did she land on another island? Was she imprisoned by the Japanese? Was she executed as a spy? Whatever the explanation, her disappearance closed a flying career that set more than a dozen records. By the end of 1935, Earhart decided to make what she said would be her last long-distance flight — a 27,000-mile trip around the world at the equator. She cared less about any records she might set than about the challenge itself. In articles she wrote about the flight, she looked forward to a "successful, happy adventure." After a failed attempt flying west from California, Earhart decided to fly eastward and took off from Oakland, Calif., on May 20, 1937. Five weeks later, she and Noonan landed in Lae, New Guinea. There they faced the next-to-last and most difficult leg of the trip—a 2,550-mile flight over water to Howland Island, a bare and flat piece of land a half-mile wide and less than two miles long. Without landmarks, Earhart depended on Noonan's skill as a navigator and on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca. The vessel, anchored at Howland, was to guide her to the island with a then- experimental directional finder. In transmissions to the Itasca, Earhart asked for bearings but did not broadcast long enough for the Itasca to get a fix on the Electra. She also apparently had trouble with her radio. In one of her last transmissions, Earhart told the Itasca, '.'We must be on you but cannot see you, but gas is running low." In her final message, she said she was flying north and south on a line but did not give a reference point. seeing two American fliers — a man and a woman — in Japanese custody on the island in 1937. Today, however, 21 years after publication of his book and since the release of formerly classified military documents, Goerner says there is no evidence Earhart was on a mission even though she and the government clearly cooperated on the flight. Goerner no longer thinks the Electra diverted from a straight- line Light from Lae. But he thinks Earhart couldn't find Howland Island and flew south to the Phoenix Islands, where she was picked up by the Japanese and was taken to Saipan. He is looking for military files he thinks may document Earhart's death on the island. B, Amelia Earhart: 1897-1937 AF A map of the route Earhart followed on her final flight. 0, "ne pilot who has studied Earhart's last flight, Elgen Long of San Mateo, Calif., thinks her disappearance was "just another aircraft accident." Long, who was a navigator and flier in the Pacific in World War II, thinks many key things that could have gone wrong did. "When you put it all together it was a tragedy, but it was not a mystery," he said. "They thought they were there, but they weren't." Working independently, Long and another pilot, Grace McGuire of Rumson, N.J., say they have discovered that Earhart's coordinates put Howland Island nearly seven miles northwest of its true location. McGuire is restoring a 1930s Electra in which she hopes to retrace and complete Earhart's flight. She thinks Earhart and Noonan could not find the tiny island in the glare of the morning sun in the short time her dwindling supply of fuel allowed. Earhart and Noonan, she thinks, headed for Baker Island, 38 miles to the south but ran out of gas and went down in the ocean. Long also thinks the Electra ran out of fuel but says a 3V4-degree error in the plane's compass put Earhart and Noonan even farther away from Howland Island. He says he knows where Earhart and Noonan crashed into the sea — 35 miles west-northwest of Howl- and. Long and his wife, Marie, are trying to arrange a scan of the ocean floor in an attempt to find the wreckage. Other researchers, however, believe these ideas are simplistic or a naive acceptance of the official explanation of Earhart's disappearance. "Sometimes I think people take a button and sew a whole suit on it," says Fred Goerner, a San Francisco journalist, of the wrong- coordinate theory. In the 1966 book, "The Search for Amelia Earhart," Goerner theorized that Earhart was on a government mission to fly over the Japanese-held island of Truk. He believed she went down in the Marshall Islands, was captured by the Japanese and died on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. In researching Earhart's disappearance, Goerner talked with natives on Saipan who reported »ut a retired aviation engineer who began investigating Earhart's disappearance five years ago says her entire final flight was a military intelligence operation. Jim Donahue of Inglewood, Calif., says Earhart flew over Jal- uit in the Marshall Islands and took night photographs of Japanese operations there. But, Donahue says, Earhart blew the mission by failing to maintain radio silence and was ordered to land on Hull in the Phoenix Islands. He says the U.S. government kept her and Noonan in "protective custody" while the government conducted the search and "put out the pretext that she was lost at sea." He says Earhart died in custody on American Samoa of dysentery and Noonan succumbed to the effects of alcoholism. Donahue, who is working on an Earhart book, says documents he's found in military and government archives in the United States and Britain sapport his theory, although "they never come right out and say it." But the people closest to Earhart scoff at the theories. "I think it was a tragedy of the sea," said Earhart's sister, Muriel Earhart Morrissey. "She simply didn't have the fuel in her tank to carry her where she wanted to go." Morrissey, 86, says the stories persist because "Americans enjoy a good mystery story.'' Earhart's stepson, David Putnam, thinks she "probably would have laughed" at theories of capture and imprisonment. "If she had been taken prisoner, I think we would have heard eventually," he said. The International 99s, a worldwide organization of pilots of which Earhart was the first president, does not discuss the theories. But on July 2, the 99s will conduct what it calls an "international flyover," an hour-long period on a certain radio frequency in which members who are airborne will report their name and position. They will end the message with: "Let the search for Amelia Earhart continue." Earhart: 'America's last great heroine' By The Anociated Preii hen all hope faded and Amelia Earhart was given up aa lost, hundreds of people gathered at Atchison's Memorial Hall to remember the neighborhood tomboy who became the world's beat-known female pilot. The mourning went far beyond her hometown in northeastern Kansas. In the 50 years since Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan vanished over the Pacific, there's been no waning of the international fascination with her life — from her exploits in the air to the list of conditions laid down to her husband when they married. "I think she was America's last great heroine," said Fay Gillis Wells, a pilot and friend of Earhart's. "She was exciting, she was beautiful, she had a wonderful wit. She was something very special," said Wells, who lives in Alexandria, Va. "There aren't too many people who've had that combination since." This town of 12,000 on the Missouri River bluffs, which Earhart left before starting her career as aviator, named its airport and high school stadium in her honor. A stretch of U.S. 73 is about to become Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan examine a map. Amelia Earhart Memorial Highway. E. larhart was born July 24,1897, in a Victorian home built by her grandfather in Atchison. "She always liked it," said the aviator's younger sister, Muriel Morrissey of Medford, Mass. "It was a beautiful place to grow up." When her parents moved to California in 1920, she abandoned her medical studies, joined them, and, at an air show near Los Angeles, began to feel the urge to fly. In 1924, she returned East following her parents' divorce, studying and working until she learned of a plan by New York aviation enthusiast Amy Phipps Guest to sponsor a transatlantic flight in which a woman would participate. Earhart was chosen for the flight June 17,1928, but two men were at the controls. She was only along for the ride, later referring to herself as "a sack of potatoes." The public didn't seem to mind. Earhart bristled when, in 1929, aviation officials In New Jersey allowed female pilots In a race as long u only one was In the air at a time. "It is the moat absurd thing I have ever heard," she aald. "It la ridiculous to make the standards on sex rather than skill." One proved her point. In 1931 she toured the nation In an Autoglro, a forerunner of the hell- copter. She flew the Atlantic alone In 1932. Three years later she became the first pilot, male or female, to fly from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. All the while she told reporters she flew "for the fun of it." Although she continued to set records, Earhart became known as much for her views on the role of women in America as her exploits in the air. "I believe a girl should not do what she thinks she should do," she once said, "but should find out through experience what she wants to do." "She felt that women put themselves down," Wells said. "She made women feel confident. That's her legacy. She has inspired women to carry on, have their independence and do what they want to do." The Salina Journal Sunday, June 28,1987 Page 6 Americans buy 'demilitarized' Soviet fighters By The Associated Press The Federal Aviation Administration is keeping an eye on an elite group of aviation enthusiasts who have the money and flight experience to buy and fly authentic M1G Jet fighters in the United States. Perhaps a dozen private citizens in this country own one of the Soviet- and Chinese-built combat planes, which have been "demilitarized," with weapons removed. But until each plane is certified as airworthy, the MiGs won't be allowed to roam free in the sky. "We're going to be very, very, very careful," said FAA spokesman Fred Farrar. "We haven't certified anybody. If we did do it, we're going to say you can't fly it over populated areas and can't carry passengers.'' Bruce Guessling of Unlimited Aviation in Chino, Calif., has sold four of five MiGs he acquired from the Chinese government. "In some respects (the FAA concerns) are kind of an overkill, but I can understand the caution the FAA is using here,'' he said. Guessling explained that for any aircraft new to this country, the FAA will designate an area where it may be flown for a certain number of hours until it is proven. "They're very prudent," he said. One of Guessling's buyers was Paul Entrekin of Pensacola, Fla. He planned to put his MiG in the air for its first American test flight this weekend. "It is completely licensed and has an (FAA) 'N' number assigned," said Entrekin, 32, whose MiG is as old as he is. The FAA concerns are "silly," said a Santa Barbara, Calif., real estate investor who recently purchased a Polish Air Force MiG-15 to complement his American F-86 fighter. He didn't want his name published because "I'm a sort of low-profile guy." "They're easier to fly than most modern jets because they are less complicated," he said. "It's very reliable and very rug- ged," said Bob Fay, president of Information Management Inc., a Las Vegas-based consultant to the Defense Department on Soviet aircraft. Most MiG enthusiasts are strapping themselves into the cockpits of MiG-15s, the first jet that Americans faced in combat in 1953 in the Korean War. The MiG name comes from the last names of its designers, Arten Mik- ovan and Mikhail Gurevich. The lowercase "i" is Russian for "and." The 15 model is the most readily available MiG and the cheapest. A restored MiG-15 equipped with a radio and a radar transponder tuned to U.S. frequencies can be purchased for 1175,000, said Al Redick Sr., president of Classics in American Aviation of Reno, Nev., known by its acronym, CIA. ; Redick has a dozen of the jets at his used MiG lot on the tarmac of the old Stead Air Force Base north of Reno. A later model, the sophisticated MiG-23, is harder to come by and much more expensive. "They're more closely held by countries that have them," said Fay, who estimated that a MiG-23 with a good engine would fetch $4 million. "The MiG-23 has a bad engine problem in terms of reliability." But the mystique of the MiG and the prestige of owning one is luring buyers who can pay. "It's an enemy aircraft that looks sexy and feels good," Fay said. 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Clipped from
  1. The Salina Journal,
  2. 28 Jun 1987, Sun,
  3. Page 6

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