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2nd of July 1937

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

Today is mystery day on the V2 Aviation history blog. It is on this day in aviation history that Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared while attempting to circumnavigate the world in her Lockheed 10E Electra Special.

Amelia Earhart in front of the Lockheed 10E Electra Special, NR16020

She had started her second attempt to fly around the world on the 1st of June 1937 from Miami, USA. Flying via South America, Africa and South-East Asia they arrived at Lae, New Guinea on the 29th of June 1937. They completed approximately 3/4 of the trip around the world, what remained was 700o miles of flying over the Pacific.

On the 2nd of July 1937, at midnight GMT (10:00 am Lea Time) Earhart & Noonan took off from Lae Airfield, New Guinea. The Lockheed Electra was loaded with 1100 gallons of fuel for the 2221 nm (4113 km) flight. Several position and progress reports were transmitted and received, with the last one reporting they were near the Nukumanu Islands, ~700 nm (1300 km) into the flight. This was the start of one of aviation greatest mysteries.

An established fact is that they had problems with their Radio Direction Finder (RDF) The RDF had blown a fuse (which was replaced) on an earlier flight. They were able to hear transmissions via the RDF but were unable to determine a direction, possibly caused by the frequencies being used that were too high for the RDF in the Electra.

There are several theories regarding the disappearance of Amelia Erhart and Fred Noonan.

  • They landed somewhere and survived but were never found on one of the Pacific Islands

  • They crashed into the Pacific after running out of fuel when they were unable to find their destination Howard Island. Howard Island is only 1.4 x 0,55 nm big (2.59 x 1.02 km)

  • They turned on a southeasterly ( based on a received transmission they were flying a course of 157° and (crash) landed on one of the Phoenix Islands (Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro)

  • They flew into Japanese territory and were captured, although this is believed to be the least possible theory

Several myths have developed over the years with regards to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappearing. They vary from being spies on a special mission for American President F.D. Roosevelt (made into a movie called "Flight for Freedom, 1943) to disappearing and assuming a new identity.

What remains is the mystery and the records set by Amelia Earhart;

  • Woman's world altitude record: 14,000 ft (1922)

  • First woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean (1928)

  • Speed records for 100 km (and with 500 lb (230 kg) cargo) (1931)

  • First woman to fly an autogyro (1931)

  • Altitude record for autogyros: 18,415 ft (1931)

  • First woman to cross the United States in an autogyro (1931)

  • First woman to fly the Atlantic solo (1932)

  • First person to fly the Atlantic twice (1932)

  • First woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932)

  • First woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the U.S. (1932)

  • Women's speed transcontinental record (1933)

  • First person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Oakland, California (1935)

  • First person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City (1935)

  • First person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey (1935)

  • Speed record for east-to-west flight from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii (1937)

  • First person to fly solo from the Red Sea to Karachi (1937)

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