5 theories surrounding Amelia Earhart mystery

Amelia Earhart disappeared on July 2, 1937 during an attempt to make a flight around the globe in 1937.

Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean – a feat that earned her the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. She was an American aviation pioneer, but her pioneering days presumably came to an abrupt and tragic end when she disappeared on July 2, 1937 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean at the age of 39.

The mystery of her disappearance has never been solved and has been the subject of fans and investigators alike. Theories ranged from alien abduction (any disappearance mystery has to be associated with this conspiracy) to espionage have revolved around Earhart's tragic end.

5. Crash and sink theory

This theory is not the most interesting theory, but it is the most practical and widely-believed among researchers. In a nutshell, the theory states that the Electra--the plane flown by Earhart and Fred Noonan (Earhart's navigator)--simply ran out of fuel somewhere over the Pacific Ocean en route to Howland Island. This is the most logical theory - albeit boring – simply because in her last known radio transmission to Howland Island Earhart said she was running low on gas. Researchers and experts believe the aircraft now rests in the ocean at a depth of 17,000 to 18,000 feet.

4. Espionage operation gone wrong

In 1943, a movie called Flight for Freedom premiered that hypothesized Earhart was actually a spy for President Franklin Roosevelt. According to the myth, Earhart was on an espionage operation in the Pacific, spying on the Japanese, when she disappeared after being caught. As glamorous as this theory is, in 1949, the U.S. government publicly stated that the rumor was false and that Earhart's disappearance had nothing to do with the Japanese, let alone espionage. But the theory has remained a popular explanation for her disappearance.


What do you think happened to Amelia Earhart?


3. The Japanese are blamed again

In 1966, a book was published that took on the "Japanese are at fault" theory and expanded upon it, claiming Earhart and Noonan were captured by the Japanese and executed. The book was authored by CBS Correspondent Fred Goerner, who strongly believed that evidence pointed to the Electra crashing on the island of Saipan while under Japanese occupation. Evidence included a letter from a daughter of a Japanese police official who claimed he was responsible for the execution. Then, Marines claimed to have found Earhart's briefcase in a safe on Saipan. Photographs surfaced that seemed to show Earhart during her captivity, but were later deemed fraudulent. Despite these "eyewitness" claims, no substantial evidence has been seen or found to give credence to this theory.

2. Assuming a different identity

In 1970, a new claim emerged by author Joe Klaas who claimed that Amelia Earhart survived the flight, moved to New Jersey and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam after remarrying. Bolam denied being Earhart, however, and even won a $1.5 million lawsuit in damages. Forensic experts who studied the photographs of the two women cite many differences in the facial features of Earhart and Bolam and concluded there was no way the two could be the same woman, even though they do look alike (see photos below).

Earhart, right (Getty images), looks very similar to Bolam, left.

And the number 1 theory involving her disappearance...

1. She crashed on Gardner Island

Gardner Island (now called Nikumaroro, pictured above) is a small island some 350 miles southeast of Howland Island. After Earhart and Noonan's disappearance, the U.S. Navy and Earhart's mother all believed that they had made it to this island, which was during that time uninhabited. The theory suggests that the aviators, after having been unable to locate Howland Island and running low on fuel, flew two and a half hours along the line of position noted in her last transmission and found the island where they lived out the rest of their lives before dying from starvation, disease, or the elements. Various expeditions to the island have yielded plenty of artifacts that point to confirmation of the theory, but have yet to substantiate the claims. Such artifacts as a female skeletons found on the island, an aluminum panel, and an oddly cut piece of clear Plexiglas give credence to the theory. Now, a recently uncovered photo (shown below) shows an aluminum panel similar to the one found on the island might solve the case once and for all. Attempts to match the rivet pattern to the photo are still ongoing while the world anxiously waits to hear the mystery of Earhart's disappearance has finally been solved – that she crash landed on a remote island and perished there shortly after.


FORUMS! Are the Japanese really to blame for the disappearance of Earhart?


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