"Fascination with her life, career
and disappearance continues to this day."
and disappearance continues to this day."
Her being Amelia Earhart.
A fascination that manifested itself once more the just the other day.
A public TV broadcast, the topic of which was the last flight of Amelia - - a circumnavigation of the planet with her navigator Fred Noonan, the duo disappearing in the mid-Pacific Ocean, evidently running out of fuel, having to "ditch", perishing.
Amelia - - that famous American aviator of the era prior to World War Two [WW2], and an accomplished woman at a time when normally a female was consigned ONLY to the tasks of "kitchen, kids, kissin'"!
"Amelia Mary Earhart . . . a noted American aviation pioneer and author." "During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island."
From over seventy years ago now, the consensus opinion being that the disappearance of Amelia was nothing more than a navigational error. And this is quite reasonable an assumption. The mid-oceanic refueling point of Howland Island is an itty-bitty speck of land, a mile square at that, barely rising above the water level, not inhabitable, a wasteland more or less.
[Amelia possessed some pretty formidable flying skills. Was ONLY the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic, twenty persons prior to her having attempted the same feat and failed, in the footsteps of Lindbergh!!]
For some time, indeed, ever since the time of WW2, there has been speculation that this circumnavigation of the planet was a "cover" story for a private ESPIONAGE mission, done at the behest of President Roosevelt. Roosevelt personally favoring such endeavors, that of the inspired and talented amateur whose efforts exceed those of the professional!
This speculation was not touched upon during this particular TV documentary.
An ESPIONAGE mission, an overflight of Japanese occupied South Pacific Islands, a visual and photographic reconnaissance [recce] of those islands, occupied by mandate and believed to be fortified, the Japanese "making ready" in case of a Pacific war with the U.S.
"Spies for FDR - - a myth that Earhart was spying on the Japanese in the Pacific at the request of the Franklin Roosevelt administration. By 1949, both the United Press and U.S. Army Intelligence had concluded this rumor was groundless."
A "myth", "groundless" - - speculation without foundation - - etc. Speculation, however, perhaps NOT totally groundless, NOT totally without foundation?
ONLY in that following year, 1938, Vincent Astor, that man of means, a personal friend and confidant of Roosevelt, using his ocean going yacht during a voyage to the South Pacific - - his sailing having the hidden purpose of ESPIONAGE! Again, the intent was for a reconnaissance of those Japanese occupied islands, believed to be fortified, and of interest to the US Navy!
"While sailing the Nourmahal in the Pacific, the yachtsman was to seek out signs of a military buildup - - any bases, ports, airfields, or fueling facilities In the Marshall Islands . . . Astor would use the vessel's [Nourmahal] sophisticated direction-finding apparatus to ferret out the location of Japanese radio stations for the Navy"
[Astor was not very successful in this endeavor, the info he was able to glean being scant!]
Consider too in that same year - - 1938 - - the British began a series of aerial reconnaissance flights over Germany, as arranged by Group Captain Winterbotham, flown by the famous Australian pilot and adventurer of the era, Sidney Cotton. A LOCKHEED ELECTRA MODEL 12 MODIFIED FOR THE AVIATION RECCE, AN AIRCRAFT NOT AT ALL DISSIMILAR TO THE ONE FLOWN BY AMELIA!
"Frederick Sidney Cotton OBE . . . was an Australian inventor, photographer and aviation and photography pioneer . . . largely responsible for the development of photographic reconnaissance before and during the Second World War."
"Shortly before the Second World War, Cotton was recruited by Fred Winterbotham (then of MI6) to take clandestine aerial photographs of the German military buildup . . . He equipped a civilian Lockheed 12A business aircraft with three F-24 cameras concealed by panels which could be slid aside and operated by pressing a button under the pilot's seat, and a Leica behind a similar panel in the wings."
It should be noted too that the U.S. military was intimately involved during the last flight of Amelia and also during the search in the aftermath of her disappearance.
* USCGC Itasca. "Itasca is most famous as the "picket ship" that would provide air navigation and radio links for Amelia Earhart when she made her 1937 attempt to fly around the world."
* USS Colorado. "during an NROTC cruise . . . she assisted in the search for the missing Amelia Earhart."
The efforts of the Itasca and the Colorado both to no avail.
Amelia and Fred Noonan spies? Probably not, but the speculation is NOT without foundation!