Amelia Earhart was a pioneer in the sky. In 1928, she became the first woman passenger to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a plane. She was also the first female to fly solo across the U.S. without stopping. But as the world-famous pilot told reporters, "I think I have just one more long flight in my system."
Image of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan planned a pioneering round-the-world flight.
So on June 1, 1937, Earhart set off from Miami, Florida, with her navigator, Fred Noonan. She was beginning her most incredible trip yet. The two were headed around the world! For the next month the pair flew to South America, and then on to Africa, Asia, and Australia. By the time the plane reached Papua New Guinea, an island north of Austria, the two had flown 22,000 miles. The next leg of their journey was the riskiest. The flyers had to head for tiny Howland Island, a speck in the vast Pacific Ocean, and more than 2,500 miles away.
Earhart stands in front of the plane that she piloted on her ill-fated journey.
On the morning of July 2, Earhart and Noonan took off for Howland Island, on what they thought would be an 18-hour flight. The plane had barely enough fuel to reach the island.
Bad WeatherAs they drew nearer to Howland, the plane hit bad weather. Thick clouds and rain made it hard to navigate. Earhart and a Coast Guard radio crew were able to communicate for a while. They heard Earhart report that the weather was bad and plane's fuel was running low. She ended her final message with the words, "We are running north and south." She was never heard from again. She and Fred Noonan vanished somewhere in the Pacific.
Amelia Earhart Missing on a World Flight. Evidently overshooting their mark, Amelia and Fred Noonan, her navigator were believed down in Pacific near lonely Howland Island.
A huge search for the pilot and her navigator began almost at once. But no sign of Earhart, Noonan, or wreckage of the plane was ever found.
The red line shows the route that Earhart flew until her plane disappeared.
In 1940, some people working on an island not far from Howland, discovered a human skull, some bones, soles from both a man and a woman's shoe, and a box used to hold navigating equipment. Did Earhart and Noonan reach this deserted island and set up camp? The evidence vanished over the years, and Earhart's disappearance continues to be an unsolved history mystery. But the pilot will always be remembered for her courage and for her pioneering role in the history of flight.