Throughout world history, nothing has confounded people more than when people seemingly disappear into thin air. One such case occurred in 1937 to one of the most famous women the world has ever known: Amelia Earhart. One of the premier aviatrixes of her time, Earhart was the first woman to fly solo over 14,000 feet, the first woman to cross the Atlantic, achieved the Distinguished Flying Cross, and became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the US mainland. Suffice it to say, her exploits had become well-known and she was a household name by the time of her ill-fated flight to circumnavigate the globe.
Earhart and her navigator, Frank Noonan, were last seen alive on July 2, 1937 but soon lost contact with the US Coast Guard. After a vigorous and thorough two-week search authorized by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the pair were declared lost at sea. America had lost one of her greatest heroes.
During the search, the US Navy carefully tuned their radios to Earhart’s frequency, hoping to catch a distress call, get a location, anything to find her. They were flooded with so many calls that turned out to be hoaxes, there seemed to be no hope. But out of the 120 calls documented by both government and private individuals, researchers today say that about 57 seem to be credible.
On July 2, two Hawaii naval stations received several unintelligible messages, but could make out her name and a woman in Amarillo, Texas heard Earhart say: ““Plane down on an uncharted island. Small, uninhabited.”
On July 3, a woman in Kentucky heard a message from Earhart with phrases like: “down in ocean” “almost out of gas” and “we can’t stay here long.” On July 5, a woman in Florida heard both Earhart and Noonan calling for help, saying that their plan was about to slip off a reef.
Last, on July 7, a woman in Canada reported that she received a message where Earhart identified herself and said: “we can’t hold on much longer.”
This chilling timeline illustrates Earhart’s last days as she called desperately into the void, hoping for a response. These messages tell a different story from what the US. Navy thought happened to her and Noonan, that their plane went down in the ocean and sank immediately. Few people believed these reports at the time, but researchers are gaining traction in their theory that Earhart and Noonan survived for several days after their crash. They did not hear her then, but technology has given her back her voice. Amelia Earhart lives on in the memories of the many she inspired with her courage and bravery, something she held onto until the very end.
Written by Kimberly Kuntz