Amelia Earhart Disappears: July 2, 1937

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan

On July 2, 1937, famous aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared along with her navigator while attempting an around-the-world flight at the equator. At the time of her disappearance, the 39-year-old Earhart was the most famous female pilot of her day.

Earhart had first learned to fly in 1921, at the age of 23. Although she had a passion for flying, it was largely a hobby until 1928, when she gained fame as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean while a passenger aboard the plane Friendship. After this, flying became Earhart’s career, promoted by her publicist and later husband G.P. Putnam.

In 1932, Earhart again shot to fame when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic—this time as pilot rather than passenger. In the following years, she also became the first woman to fly coast to coast nonstop (1932), the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California (1935), and the first person to solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City (1935).

In June 1937, Earhart began her biggest record-breaking attempt yet: to fly around the world at the equator. Flying west to east, Earhart made it about three-quarters of the way along her planned route of approximately 30,000 miles and landed at Lae, New Guinea. For the next and most dangerous leg, she would have to fly to the middle of the Pacific and land on tiny Howland Island, aided by her navigator, Fred Noonan.

Amelia Earhart mystery continues
Once Earhart and Noonan left Lae, there were problems communicating with them by radio. As Earhart neared where she thought Howland Island should be, she reported her plane’s fuel was running low and that she couldn’t find the island. The last she was heard from in the air was on July 2, more than 20 hours after takeoff. She and Noonan never arrived at Howland Island, and the massive search effort was finally called off after more than two weeks of searching.

The mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan remains unsolved today, though there are a multitude of theories about their fate. Perhaps the most common theory is that they ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. Also popular is the idea that, low on fuel, they landed on a small island in the Pacific and lived there for a time as castaways.

Interested in learning more about Amelia Earhart’s life and final flight? Start a search on Newspapers.com to find thousands of matches.

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22 thoughts on “Amelia Earhart Disappears: July 2, 1937

  1. As a commercial qualified pilot, I am very interested in aviation related stories, especially the pioneers that made modern aviation possible.

  2. My mother mother’s sister was my aunt Effie in Dayton, OH whose son Lucerne Custer , CEO , CUSTER SPECIALTY CO. , AN EARLY BALLOONIST with his dentist fr.who was an inventor also. He designed an early plane instrument for them. A fabulous uncle, wonderful sense of humor. Lucerne’s archives are at Wright St. in Dayton. (614) 237-0033

  3. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated with this mystery.

  4. All efforts to learn the truth have failed. Reminds me of the flight in 2014 over a route of the Pacific ocean . All passengers and crew were never found. As I recall the plane was flying to Beijing, China.

  5. This has always fascinated me because rumor has it that we are related to her. Are there any relatives out there willing to compare DNA?

    • Is your dna on ancestry.com could possibly be matched to her family that way.

      • I am on ancestry but so far have not been able to find a connection to Amelia.

        • In my
          Last experience, if you have a social sec. Number, the f b i has a file on your d n a. following this procedure carefully and considerately , legally is easily described with links to the united states con s tit utionution
          ..

  6. Amelia is a heroine of mine. As for “headhunters”…that doesn’t explain not finding any wreckage…the mystery continues.

    • I’ll bet that is where the headhunter cane up with the cliché, “two heads are better than one”.

  7. Along with this information it should be noted that Amelia Earhart’s Boeing Electra was purchased by the Purdue University Foundation in 1936 while she was on staff teaching and promoting women’s studies at Purdue! The Electra aircraft was outfitted at the Purdue Aviation Department according to archives in the Purdue Libraries. She was told to wait until more reliable ADF (automatic direction finder) gear was available from RCA or SPERRY but she did not want to delay her trip. The single band ADF was not reliable gear and when she lost the radio signal her fate was sealed. Purdue did not release these facts since $50,000.00 was spent on a failed project and I discovered this in 1984 while on staff at Purdue and a display of her memorabilia was put on display and a longtime faculty member showed me the documents that substantiated the purchase along with pictures of her and the plane at Purdue’s aviation hangar! Now you know the rest of the story! Go Boilers

  8. There are also theories related to Japanese Imperial efforts to assert ownership/hegemony over the islands in the central Pacific. Several scenarios have been advanced that advocated Earhart and Noonan being held prisoner by the IJN and eventually murdered.
    Reasonable theories in the absence of other data…

  9. How can a child be born tossed around to different people /not related. All the way to teen years and finally ( I can’t take the mental vital and physical abuse). So I go on my own adventure: run away 16yrs. Old . We’ll any way I skip all that drama …. Still as of today still Lookin for my ..Realllllll Name : I know I’m Debra Mae???? To long of story… Vitalchek: Debra Mae King/born: jam 14/1964/ baltimore,Md/Anne Arundel county..mother: Ida Mae love/ father????? Roy Edward Wooldrige Sr./aka:Steelstone. Can’t seem to get a birthcertifacate with King.. aka:Steelstone.. Where did these last names come from and how come I can’t find school records or any past ???? Am I Lost in System? And what kind of system is that ????Goverment experiment????Please if u think u can find my real father / and all the???? Help. Debra Mae?????

  10. PS: Culver is my third marriage name. The worse mistake of my Life / when I left my husband in Germany 1994. I’m Sorry Dylan & Tyler. Love you both Mom

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