In the decades since, many theories have been put forth as to their fates. Did they crash? Abducted by a UFO? Were they spies?
An American Legend Aviatrix
In May 1923 she was the 16th woman to receive a pilots licence by the then aviation authority, after setting a world record for female pilots 7 months earlier. She was selected to be the first female passenger on a trans-atlantic flight five years later, writing a book on her experience which would see her being called the "Queen of the Air."
Earhart's fame grew when she became the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic in 1932, and during the early 30's began contemplating a circumnavigation of the world flight - in March 1937 she attempted to start said record flight but due to the plane needing repairs the flight was postponed.
On the 2nd of July they departed for a small piece of land named Howland Island, situated a little north of the Equator in the Pacific. However Earhart, Noonan and their aircraft were to vanish without a trace soon after. The US Coast Guard vessel assigned at Howland Island, to guide them via radio transmissions, received a final message indicating that the pilot could not locate the island, and that they were low on fuel, before all contact was lost.
A number of search efforts, beginning an hour after her last transmission, turned up nothing, even though search efforts lasted 3 weeks. Earhart was declared legally dead in early 1939, and the US Navy concluded that the Lockheed Electra plane ran out of gas and sank into the ocean near Howland Island – however, no wreckage was (or has ever been) found. The fact that a distress or mayday call was never made has fueled rumours over the years of some kind of conspiracy taking place, that the public have not been informed of the full "real" story.
So what did happen to Earhart and Noonan?
Theories and Conspiracies
A disturbing notion emerged that Earhart was a secret US spy who was working to gather evidence, during this flight of Japanese activity in the Pacific, and was to report back to the US Government when she returned. A WWII-era film named Flight for Freedom reinforced this myth, with the film ending with the Japanese becoming aware of the characters mission, forcing the heroine to ditch her plane off-course where nobody can find her. Did this scenario really happen?
In 1970 a book was released called 'Amelia Earhart Lives' and made the claim that Earhart had in fact finished the flight, moved to New Jersey, changed her name and re-married. She was named as one Irene Craigmile Bolam, but research showed that the woman could not be the famous aviatrix and she subsequently filed a lawsuit against the author and publisher!
Of course, it was also speculated that Earhart and Noonan were abducted by a UFO, or were found by the Nazis and held prisoners, maybe perhaps both were brainwashed into becoming double-agents, allied to watch American activity and after fulfilling their work, made new lives for themselves in another country?
Or perhaps Noonan killed Earhart, then himself, to fulfill some mysogynistic ideal to stop females advancing in a "man-orientated" world?
This mystery is sure to be one that will tantalize and stir the curiousity of generations to come. But what do you think?
(There have been reports of found wreckage said to be the Lockheed Electra but nothing substantiated)
Put together by Ashley Hall 2014