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tv   Amelia Earhart - Legend Legacy  CSPAN  February 29, 2020 10:45am-12:06pm EST

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next, images discussing the legend and legacy of amelia earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the atlantic ocean and the first to fly solo across the united states. she also discusses some of the theories behind her 1937 disappearance, while attempting a 29,000 mile flight around the world. the smithsonian associates hosted this event. >> good evening. i'm lauren rosenberg with smithsonian associates, and i'm glad you have joined us for tonight's program. to our members, i'm glad you are here. it is your support that make events like this possible. to any of you joining us for the first time, an equally warm welcome and an open invitation to explore the wide range of programs we offer. now is the perfect time to turn off your cell phones or anything else that might make noise
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during the program. thank you for doing that. 85 years ago this month, amelia earhart became the first aviator to fly solo from honolulu, hawaii to oakland, california. 1932,rse on may 21, exactly five years after american aviator charles lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the atlantic ocean, ehrhardt became the first woman to repeat that feat. we are thrilled to welcome dorothy cochrane, curator at the department. she curates the collections of the aircraft, flight material, aerial cameras and the history of general aviation and women in aviation. she is the co-author of "the aviation careers" as well as an essay on amelia earhart that is included in the published book smithsonian american women. she earned her private pilot
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license in 1994 in as a member of the aircraft owners and pilot association and experimental aircraft association. please join me in welcoming dorothy cochrane. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. thank you so much. it is supposed to be on. can you hear me now? it is a pleasure to be here. i thank the smithsonian associates for inviting me. as i walked in tonight, i realized i remember being here with some of the people i'm going to talk about later in the evening for a symposium about, i don't know, 25 years ago. was anybody else here then? [laughter] just checking. i don't want you to get a repeat. yeah, i did want to point out our book here that just came out, "smithsonian american
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i guess the part of course about amelia, she gets a four page spread in there. she is obviously still very popular and everyone wants to know about her. there are a lot of other exciting women in this book and i want to encourage you to go online and check it out and see who else is there. we have several other female aviators in there and women who of things in kinds all kinds of disciplines. it is really a cool book and i was happy to be part of it. so, let's see here, and that all has to do with the american women's historical initiative that the smithsonian is running all this year, which is of course the anniversary of the 19th amendment, women getting the right to vote, because of her story. and it is an ongoing program that you will see all year long. so, we will go on without further ado.
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when a media star disappears off the face of the earth, public speculation will run wild. january 11 as she mentioned was the 85th anniversary of the first solo flight from hawaii to the u.s. mainland, and amelia earhart was the pioneering pilot. few people know of this aeronautical milestone, but mention ehrhardt's name and most everyone perks up. yes, they know who she is. and they probably have an opinion about how or why she disappeared on her 1937 round the world flight. after all, her disappearance is one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. earhart was a decorated pilot and a major celebrity during the 1930's, second only to charles lindbergh in terms of sheer notoriety, but even after the largest maritime search of the era came up empty and amelia was declared legally dead, and even
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after nearly 83 years, people continue to think of her and wonder what really happened to her. with each new theory or book or expedition, her name remains in the public arena. but is that the only reason earhart is remembered? why do people continue to search and more importantly, why do they care? amelia earhart is the most famous american female pilot and arguably, the most famous one in world history. an accolade due to her aviation career and to her mysterious disappearance. as we mentioned on may 21, 1932, she became the first woman in the second person after charles lindbergh to fly nonstop and solo across the atlantic. i have to put an asterisk, the
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north atlantic, i guess. i found out a few years ago that there was a gentleman who flew the south atlantic. so i sometimes have to mention that. she left newfoundland, canada and landed 15 hours later near londonderry in northern ireland. the feet made her an instant -- this made her an instant worldwide sensation and proved she was a courageous and able pilot. yearhen in august of that she made her first solo nonstop , flight by a woman across the united states from los angeles to newark, establishing a woman's record of 19 hours and five minutes and setting a woman's distance record of 2447 miles. to be sure, amelia had courage and commitment. it takes courage to embark on a path that is so different from the norm, but earhart felt that
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tug all her life. she was born on july 24, 1897 in kansas, the daughter of edwin and amy otis earhart, and her sister was born two years later. she was a tomboy, no surprise. playing cowboys and indians, building and testing homemade roller coasters, the neighborhood leader, and she could handle a gun and made her own clothes. the family made moves due to her father's employment record, and eventual alcohol issues. they lived in minnesota and chicago, visited him when he was working in iowa where she saw her first airplane. her parents separated on-and-off, so she learned to depend on herself. she and muriel often spent happy times with their grandparents, a typical midwest society. she accepted most proprieties of
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the era and was throughout her life, nearly always polite and respectful. she was smart but also headstrong, and not afraid to speak up for herself, her friends or her fellow students. an avid reader, she scoured the newspapers and magazines for articles on accomplished women, cut them out and pasted them into a scrapbook. one entry was about a female doctor. however, i don't know if that article also mentioned that she was a pilot and had built her own airplane with her husband. we will never know. when her mother received a modest inheritance, she enrolled the girls in private boarding schools. amelia went to a school in suburban philadelphia. muriel went to a school in toronto. when she went to visit muriel at school in toronto at christmas, this was christmas of 1916, she was moved by the presence of the
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world war i wounded pilots who were up in toronto. and she decided that she was going to leave her school before graduation and to become -- and work as a nurse and a nurse's aide in the military hospital, tending to those who suffered from shell shock or ptsd as we know it today. she also took a visit to a flying club there and that ignited a spark in her, she thought about that. following her medical thread, she entered columbia university extension program, taking premed courses in the fall. she stayed for a semester and then joined her parents in los angeles for the summer of 1920. the following months, there were airshows at many airfields and she started to learn more about
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aviation, and on christmas day 1920, she and her father attended an opening for a new airport at long beach at rogers field, which featured many exhibition acts. she took a flight with a veteran flyer, frank hawkes, and declared, as soon i left the ground, i knew i myself had to fly. her first instructor was anita snook, who is shown here, a barnstormer herself from iowa who gave lessons. however, that did not last too long. she thought that amelia was a married and, but became pregnant and soon gave up flying. a second -- she
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did very well with him as well and to pay for her flight lessons, she worked as a telephone clerk, a photographer, and a truck driver. hersoloed in 1921 and took trials for the national aeronautic association license at that time. characteristically, in 1922, she felt secure enough to buy a plane from a local designer, flying shows, and then wasting no time in wet -- in setting a women's altitude record, of 14,000 feet. she barely knew how to fly, right, but she was determined to go up and do this. it was part of the exhibition, attitude, and what people did in the era. people were excited to see anybody flying really, and loved seeing the sport of it all. in 1923, she passed her flight test and became the 16th woman to receive an official federation international pilot
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license. when her parents parted for the final time, she sold the to bene and moved east near her sister, muriel. she was drifting for the next few years. she was not interested in marriage or motherhood, but she had not figured out what she wanted to do. she took time to go back to columbia, took some courses at harvard, did some short jobs here and there. eventually she took some coursework that led to a job at house in boston where she began working with immigrant families. at that time, once she was settled into that job and making some money, she was able then to locate the local flying school at denison airport, and got herself back into flying, joining the national aeronautic association. now she was starting to find herself again. she had a job. she had her evocation.
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she had friends. vocation.d her a she had friends. she was having a good time. however, opportunity came offered when she was the opportunity of a lifetime to become the first woman to fly as a passenger across the atlantic ocean. she passed an interview in new york city with people who had already promoted lindbergh and richard berg was part of the group. she passed it and was sworn to silence then until the group prepared for a flight. i think i keep hitting something here. what am i hitting? let's try that. there we go. i have to watch what i'm doing. stand-in.stand-ina -- a new york socialite who owned a plane and wanted to make the flight herself as a passenger, she was a socialite from new york. and her family strongly objected. so they set about asking around
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and looking for someone who could make the flight and they were trying to find the right sort of girl. she had to be smart, have a good background, and then as it turned out with amelia, she was a bonus because she already had some women's records. >> before leaving for newfoundland with pilots wilmer spouts and lou, she wrote a philosophical note to her family, just in case she might not return. she said "hooray for the grand adventure. i wish i had won." she accepted the challenge even though flying the atlantic in 1928 was very risky. 40% of the 1927 attempts failed. and 25% proved fatal. and the putnam group was not alone. it was a race. another woman named mabel ball was at harvard grace, waiting
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out weather. the race was on. the lindbergh aero was there, lindbergh had flown the atlantic. it was just air mindedness and everyone was interested in aviation. there were all kinds of records and flights being taken. everyone was involved in the game and the public loved it, they ate it up. it was a very exciting time. it brought about investment and interest and regulation, all the things aviation needed to actually become a form of transportation and grow into, of course, military flying, airline, and more of what we know today. so on june 17, 1928, earhart left newfoundland in the plane. she was promised time at the wheel, at the controls. but it was not to be.
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during the 20 hour, 40 minute flight, she got zero flight time. however, she was able to pilot the plane from wales to its final stop in southhampton, england. she said, i happened to be a woman and the first to make a transatlantic crossing by air, and the press and public seemed to be more interested in that fact than anything else. it was a tumultuous subsection at wales, england, new york, boston and pittsburgh. she hid her disappointment, except for one reference to just being baggage. stunned by the crowds, she managed to find the time to buy an evian aircraft from british pilot lady mary heath. before she could fly it, she was obligated to george putnam who was running the publicity to write a book. within two months, she wrote her book, her first book entitled "20 hours and 40 minutes" which talked mostly about aviation and
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women and people wanting to fly, and a bit about the flight itself. so then she came and flew her evian, came back from the east coast to california and back. the trip had a few breakdowns but everybody had those. it also gave her the opportunity to speak with people and learn to interact with them in the media. most importantly, it brought her to the realization that this fame that she was starting to get might give her the opportunity to earn a living in aviation, which is what she wanted to do. george putnam of the putnam publishing and publicity family, became her manager and she began lecturing and writing in aviation and learned how to deal with the press while guarding her privacy. one of her first moves was joining the editorial staff of cosmopolitan magazine. in her first column, it came out in november of 1928 titled "try
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flying yourself." [laughter] now, she was determined to succeed. so she acquired her transport license. she made sure she did more flying, that she got better at it, that she took the trials that were necessary to dedicate -- so she would be taken as a serious pilot. in august of 1929, flying a plane similar to the one we have in the collection, she placed third in the all women's air derby, behind louise baden and gladys o'donnell. this is the first transcontinental flight for women, and it was important. it was from santa monica to cleveland, ohio, where the cleveland air races were, and it was a race that she helped organize, but more importantly, it was a race that was closely followed by the press and public. and it proved that women could make a long and dangerous flight.
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they were capable of making these flights day in and day out, taking care of the airplanes, taking care of themselves, learning how to fly in all kinds of weather, make decisions, and a lot of men did not think women could do that and they were out to prove that they could. will rogers dubbed the flight "the powder puff derby." louise faden said we would rather just be called pilots, thank you. i forgot to mention, then there was the beach nut auto driver. she flew that around as well. that was a new plane that was kind of a short takeoff and landing plane with the rotor on the top. that was a whole different design. that took some time to learn how to fly that. she flew that across country and
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back. the second time she did it, she went up and did an altitude record in that. she was not afraid of technology, she was not afraid of a challenge. in fact, she is eager for it, it is what keeps her going. after the derby, the women who participated in it, they finally found all these other women who were interested in flying just like them. they didn't know each other. there were two different levels of flying in the derby. once they got to know each other, they did what all pilots naturally do, talk about opportunities and jobs in airplanes, and they decided that they needed to have their own group, so they created the group that would be for social and networking purposes, finding jobs, all of the above. female pilots obviously lacked the social and economic
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independence that men had and it was harder for them to get aircraft. they cannot get jobs -- could not get jobs. most of the jobs they had were very small and didn't pay well. a group of women organized, sent out letters to the 285 licensed american female pilots. 99 responded and 26 actually showed up at valley stream, new york to organize the club. that is the image of them here. amelia is in the back there on the left, three or four in. in the front, on the front right is faye bellis wells. when i came in this theater, i was saying i know we spoke a few
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years ago, i think faye belus wells was speaking about that about amelia because she knew amelia so well. she was a longtime friend of the smithsonian and a marvelous pilot herself. she is the one in the flight suit. ok. and then, now she was being managed by george putnam. flying seemed to be the easy part for earhart. she felt a far more personal risk from a stream of marriage proposals from her manager, george putnam. he was married when she first met him, but he and his wife divorced, and amelia had nothing to do with that. it was dorothy's idea, she had other plans, she had other interests, and she divorced george. george, i don't think minded too much because he really liked amelia. he started proposing to her not long after the divorce. though she liked him, and they were successful business partners, she really valued her independence. she was afraid it would
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compromise her life. on the other hand, george was her publicist, and he knew what she wanted to do, and he was good at it. so she finally married him on her own terms in february 1931, after delivering a letter of mixed emotions. she dismissed the "medieval code of faithfulness" and she also requested a cruel promise that you will let me go in one year if we find no happiness together. though some called it a marriage of convenience, they remained together. and while other husbands of women pilots often objected to their wives flying, george kept amelia on the treadmill. she chose the flights, he booked the lectures. putnam was demanding and not well-liked by any of her friends. i haven't found any of them that liked him.
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but bobby trout had to admit, she said, i might have been famous if i had a promoter like george. so she was still flying with friends, eleanor smith, and ruth nichols. ruth nichols was quite the competitor. one of them had won an air derby, nichols had an idea to fly the atlantic, and amelia was getting the idea to fly the atlantic. she had done it as a passenger but she felt she hadn't done enough flying yet. she was doing a variety of races, doing a variety of shows and things like that. but she felt she really needed to show the discipline and show that she could actually accomplish a flight like this. so she bought a different lockheed vega than the one she used in the derby. the lockheed five b, the red one that we have now in the collection of the national air and space museum. and determined to prove herself, she decided to fly the atlantic. she thought a transatlantic
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flight would bring her respect. ruth nichols had made an attempt in 1931, crashing in canada. she recovered and she was planning another flight within a few weeks of earhart taking off on her flight. so, earhart took off on a nonstop solo flight from harvard grace newfoundland to londonderry, northern ireland. this is what she said when she got there. she obviously realized when she was flying that the landscape, when she reached land, it didn't look like france. she had been thinking she wanted to go to france. she knew she had drifted to the north. and she realized that she was in northern ireland and she needed to land but she wasn't sure exactly where she was. so she asked and they said, you are in derry. it is a good thing she landed when she did, because if she kept going north, it could have
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been a problem. this was exactly five years to the day after lindbergh's flight. that was no accident. george putnam was her promoter. she managed to do that well for them too. on the flight, she fought fatigue, nausea from a leaky fuel tank that was leaking down her neck, and a cracked manifold that spewed flames outside of the engine. ice formed on the wings, and she caused an unstoppable 3000 foot dissent until she got down low enough where the ice melted and she was able to recover. a claim to london, paris and rome, she returned to home to a parade in new york, honors and washington, d.c. by july and august, she was back in the vega for a transcontinental flight where she set her female record, flying across the united states nonstop.
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through all of these accolades and flights, she received distinguished flying cross from the president, the national geographic metal, and the harmon trophy for women. she said of her flight, "it was a measure -- it was, in a measure, a self-justification proving to me and to anyone who was interested that a woman with an adequate experience could do it." so, here is the lockheed 5b, you can see what a gorgeous plane it is. a very beautiful plane, very speedy, fast, part of a streamlined design of the era. there are no struts that are going to cause drag. there are wheel pants on it. it has a one-piece wing. and it has got what is called a mono caulk fuselage which is stressed on its layers of wood
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pressed together and glued together into a very hard shell. and that takes the stress of the aircraft and it removes all of the inner bracing and wires that were on previous aircraft. of course, it is a hard shell so it is much harder than fabric and it is a terrific airplane of the era. of course, we are delighted to have it in the collection. and it is just a beauty. as you may know, our museum is undergoing restoration down there. unfortunately, this gallery is no longer there. the vega is in storage. but we will reopen, hopefully in three years, this gallery. it is going to be a while. it is a lot of restoration. anyway, this is her plane, surrounded by a lot of her objects. we have a flight suit, and some other things that i will mention. there is her trophy chest on the other site of this. there is some of her coins and medals she acquired, things like
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that, and just stories about her life. we are now in the process of refining that and we will put it back in the gallery in a few years. so, she was carving out a highly unusual career at a time when few american women worked. and only a few hundred flew airplanes. it is important to understand the era. most women of this time were tied to their families, with little or no self-determination. they didn't earn money and they had no economic or personal independence. women had only won the vote in 1920. these women pilots who were breaking records were breaking barriers, but it was still very tough. there were very few jobs for them, and they didn't have a lot of money. ruth nichols was a socialite, she had some family money. earhart worked every single day for her money. luis did too. and some of the others.
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luis was able to work with beach aircraft. she did end up marrying the boss, so that helped. louise married another gentleman who was designing aircraft. a lot of them ended up marrying pilots. that helped. earhart's business plan was ambitious but simple. it is a routine, i make a record, and i lecture on it. that is where the money comes from, until it is time to make another record. she spoke everywhere. civic and women's groups, schools and clubs, colleges, openings. she promoted new airlines by taking inaugural flights like the transcontinental air transport line where she took a train from new york to columbus, ohio. motor, the four tri-
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hopped across the country all the way to california where she met up with the lindbergh's and they flew back. doing that, promoting airlines, she became a vice president for the national aeronautic association and there she lobbied for more contests for women said they could gain experience. obviously, they could not compete against the men. the men had bigger airplanes, they had more money, they had been flying more. so she lobbied for more contests for women so they could get the experience. she was a busy woman. she was certainly committed to her own lifestyle and to her own career, but she wanted to bring other women along. all those women from the derby and everyone else she knew. she was very concerned about them. helen ritchie was given the chance to be a commercial airline pilot in the mid-1930's. but it turned out to be a promotional thing. they let her do a couple of flights and then the pilot team would not let her join. amelia, she knew jane goodall who was the head of the bureau
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of air commerce and she asked him if he could not find ways to employ these women pilots. they came up with something called the air marker program. there were not a lot of -- navigation was tough then. there were no instruments. when you are flying across country, you are flying mostly along railroads or ridges or geographic locations. this air marker program was developed to paint the names of towns and cities across the country as airways. until, while they were developing, starting to develop radio, navigation and that sort of thing. she was always working with people to help improve aviation, to bring airlines up to speed, and use them and promote them as a mode of transportation, and to help all of her fellow women. so she really had a lot of people in mind.
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here, in 1935, is a picture of her after she has come back from hawaii. she became the first person to fly solo from honolulu, hawaii to california mainland. other people had flown but in pairs or more people in the plane. she was the first one to do it solo. and then after this, she was criticized because some people thought, she's just out there trying to get publicity. it's true. she was also trying to earn a living. they also said, this was free advertising for the sugar plantation people, and what is the point of her flying an airplane like this and it is just too dangerous. in fact, many people had died trying to do this as well. but she said, i wanted the flight just to contribute. i could only hope that one more passage across that part of the pacific would mark more clearly
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the pathway over which an air service of the future will inevitably fly. of course, she was right. later that year, she made a record flight from los angeles to mexico city in april. from mexico city to newark, new jersey in may. she won a second harmon trophy. the last flight was 3100 miles. she was the first woman to do this. but she sold a lot of stamps along the way, a lot of covers with stamps and autographs on it. again, she was criticized for this. even though a lot of other people did the same thing. it is just kind of sour grapes, you wonder, she's just trying to make a living, basically. that's all she's trying to do. so her celebrity allowed her to support other passions and interests, including the national women's party and the women's peace organization.
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she was obviously for the equal rights amendment that the national women's party was promoting. she was a strong supporter of birth control. she was a pacifist. but she declared if there was going to be a draft, then women should be drafted too. she wanted true equality. after an evening -- we see a picture, the second from the left, of her and eleanor roosevelt. she and gp, george putnam was known as gp, they got to know the roosevelts from all of her different flights. and then they all started -- there were different things they were interested in together. they got involved in promoting the politics, they went to her for information or for things they wanted to impart to the public. it was a mutual friendship, a mutual admiration relationship. but in this particular case, they had been to dinner at the white house and george arranged
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amelia and eleanor could go flying in a curtis condor out of the hoover airfield. earhart flew for a brief time and then went back and talked to eleanor about it. and eleanor actually really thought about getting her student pilot license. her husband was not too excited about that. so that didn't happen. she also, seeking to expand their horizons, amelia and george created an early version of celebrity branding. after designing a flight suit of jackets, and we did have the jacket on display and we will again, earhart designed a line of functional women's clothing, including pants and jackets available as separates in separate sizes which was unusual. sportswear, blouses, dresses and suits and hats. she was comfortable in pants and
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leather jackets, and she projected an androgynous image in company with sports stars and actresses like katherine hepburn. she always wore dresses for public events. she photographed well, as you can see here, modeling one of her own designs for a promotional spread. in that picture i believe is one that was taken by edward steichen, a famous photographer. her clothes sold at macy's in new york and exclusive shops. who remembers that shop in d.c.? it was not a particularly lucrative and successful business. capturing only marginal sales. but she found a better market in a line of lightweight luggage, hand covered plywood luggage that was sold by orenstein trunks. anybody have an earhart luggage? yeah? my understanding is it was sold
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into the 1990's. she traveled on the edges of hollywood, you can see a picture there. and she was everywhere in print, radio, and newsreels. even though she is doing all of this, she did not embrace the high life and she did not succumb to the false solution that she was anybody special. she was just trying to earn a living and fly. at the top right, that is a streamline glass etching of her transatlantic vega flight that a sculptor created for one of the buildings at the new rockefeller center in 1932, 1935. of all the buildings at the rockefeller center, that particular building is the only one that is not still standing. no one knows, not even the rockefeller historians, what happened to it. it is so gorgeous, it is a shame it isn't there.
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let's see what else we have. she spoke at schools, you can see her with children and students there. up in the second from the top, in the first one, those are some of her friends in aviation. blanche is on the far left, and herself, and then ruth nichols and louise who were some of her closest friends. she was also very good friends with jackie cochran who was a bit younger, an up-and-coming racing pilot. they were very good friends as well. so, in 1936, earhart decided that making a world flight would make a difference, would be a good idea for her to do. and she also wanted to fly a route that no one else had flown before, as close to the equator as possible. most around the world flights, you had to do a certain amount
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of miles to qualify for it. but most people took a northern or southerly route because it was so far, and most airplanes frankly did not have the range to go hopping around the world at the equator. and that was a tall order. and it was something that she and george really had to work out, where her landing would be if she did take this route. she ordered a lockheed electra, another beautiful lockheed design, called the flying laboratory because perdue helped pay for it, quite a bit. it was equipped with a variety of new types of radios and transmitters and things like that, directional finders, that she was going to "test out" as she was making the flight. that is what all of these pilots did. a lot of the women and men, they tested out new equipment all the time. this would be powered by two 550 horsepower engines. the planned route would require
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a long overwater flights and a refueling plan across the pacific ocean. she and george asked the roosevelt administration for help with permits and weather reports and potential landing sites. the president directed everyone to help her. flying west from california to hawaii, george decided that she could next land, this was in the planning stage, if she flew west from california to hawaii, george decided she could land on three different islands beyond hawaii, she can make it to anyone of these three. they were under u.s. jurisdiction because the u.s. was interested in populating some of these islands that were out in the western pacific because of what was going on with japan and their aggression in asia. they were already on some of these islands.
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they were planning to build runways and take possession of them. so, she decided to land on tylee -- on a tiny island where a runway was already planned. so she flew the new electra in a 1936 transcontinental race and placed fifth. that is a picture of her there in front of it with her cord fee iton. is that how you say it? on march 17, 1937, she and her crew flew from oakland, california to honolulu, hawaii. she had her flight manager, a well-known air racing personality pilot, radio operator harry manning, and former pan-american navigator fred noon you in. manning and newman were going to accompany her on the flight. from hawaii on. three days later, earhart
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crashed on takeoff at luke field, honolulu, hawaii ending her westbound world flight. the electro was heavily damaged and returned to lockheed aircraft corporation in burbank, for extensive repairs. did she lose control, mishandle the aircraft? paul thinks she was jockeying the throttles. other people say no, there was debris or things on the runway. it didn't really matter. she was determined to keep going. she and putnam wanted to do the flight, they needed the money. but she did think maybe this would be one of the last big flights. that she didn't need to be doing this anymore because she was nearly 40 years old at this point. friends and perdue helped pay for these repairs. as she prepared for her second attempt, personnel changes and crucial decisions arose. her intended radio operator,
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manning, had to go back to his regular job. he couldn't go. faced with handling the radios herself and a new receiver, she received training, but really not enough. she was always so busy that she never really took enough of the training. she was still making appearances and tending to all the things that have to happen when you are starting a flight like this. and then, her flight manager, he departed as well. he never got along with gp, and he had other things to do. he had his own business as well. gp tried to step in as the manager, now he is the promoter, manager, not really a flight manager. most importantly, her communications plan got terribly flawed and compromised. and it compromised her ability to communicate with ships, and most especially, the one waiting for her at this tiny island, which was several thousand miles from honolulu.
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so, at this time then, she decided actually to go the other direction. it had to do with the timing, it had to do with the weather. so now she will be leaving through the united states and going around the world that way across africa, across the middle east, across southern asia, and then leaving from new guinea to now this tiny little island out in the middle of nowhere in the pacific. radio communication provided critical time checks that aided navigation, and her radios, she didn't understand them as well as she should. and there was trouble receiving and transmitting, she was constantly getting that looked at as she started her way through the flights. and neither she nor nunen knew morse code. that was a crucial mistake. because that is what other commercial and military aircraft used, and ships. it was a main form of communication.
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radio and voice transmission were just not good enough at the time. morse code was the way for you to tap out all of your messages, and also for your signal to be picked up and homing devices then, wherever you are going, they can home in on you and help bring you in, following your code that is coming through. that was a huge mistake that she didn't have that. she dropped a 25 foot trailing wire that would be required, that would have helped on this morse code. and when she dropped that and didn't have all of the information and all of the training she needed, she lost a lot of the ability to use her 500 kilos cycle emergency frequency and homing device. that made it very, very tough
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for the people who were waiting for her on the island to help bring her into this tiny little island in the middle of nowhere. there's more details on some of this issue, but basically, the coast guard ship was waiting for her off the island. fuel had been stored there for her, there was a runway, she was going to stay there overnight, a day or two to refuel. she would be coming from a lay, new guinea to the island, then had to hawaii, and then head home to oakland. at this point in time, she had actually already flown 22,000 miles and she only had 7000 miles to go. because they had departed oakland on may 21, then they left miami on june 1, they reached new guinea on june 29, and then on july 2, they departed new guinea for the next refueling stop.
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it was supposed to be about a 2556 mile flight. they estimated somewhere around 20 hours would be the time of the flight. there are reports that the airplane could fly further, a lot of these reports have to do with the best type of -- the best climb, or the best crews, allbest fuel consumption, did not things in the happen in a regular flight. something is always degrading the best mileage estimate. she hit squalls, she had hit headwinds. the folks on the island heard her call out radio signals as she went further east. but then they couldn't hear her anymore. and this is kind of the map of where she is flying. and then, no one heard her. there were a couple of other
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ships out there that were stationed that were hoping to hear her and her transmissions. most of them didn't quite hear her. then she was finally heard on the morning of july 2, now that she has crossed the international date line, it is still july 2 where the island is. they started hearing her at 2:45 a.m. and she had an estimated time of arrival of 6:30 a.m. so the facts of her flight put her within a 50 to 100 miles of the island when the time came, when they decided they really were not hearing from her and they didn't know where she was. but as she got closer and closer, her radio signals got stronger. the u.s. coast guard records of her approach including video communications logs and crew reports. they are available in the
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national archives and are available to researchers. she was heard at a strength of a strength of five meeting she was within 50 miles of the island. she knew that they were nearly there. at 7:42, she said we must be on you but we cannot see you. the crew were out on deck, starting to look for her. she already said the fuel was running low, and we can only surmise they just could not locate this very tiny island. it is a mile and a half long and-a-half milewide. it is absolutely crazy to try to find this plane in the middle of the ocean. they were blowing smoke. smoking was going along the water. unfortunately, most of it stayed on the water. it was supposed to rise, but it did not. they had been flying now for 16 or 17 hours. they were flying into the
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morning sun. they were exhausted. they were looking for this tiny little island. there were clouds. there was some weather they had just been through, and there were some other cotton ball clouds out there casting shadows and they are flying into the sun and trying to find this tiny little island. to show you how tiny it is, these are her last calls. and this is all recorded. we will get into some of the theories, but this is all fact. this was taken and recorded by the radioman. these are her calls and they clearly feel that they are nearby, and they are trying to find her. by the end, it is more of a desperation that we must be on you, but we cannot see you.
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this is hard to read, but this is the coast guard captain's analysis of how they were hearing the radio calls and how they stopped. then what he estimates happened and how he feels she must have come down somewhere northwest of the island. let's see, did i show the picture? there is the picture of howland island. you can see that this is a picture that was taken by a woman who flew with linda finch. who did a flight in 1996, commemorative flight, so you can see it is a great picture, because it shows the electra and how big it is in relation to this island. it was a tiny, small island and it was unfortunate they chose this island as a refueling stop.
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in the report, was the world flight too much? an old friend said she was caught up in a hero's stream of flyers, compelled to strive for bigger and greater feet necessary to the maintenance of her position. she had worked hard to get there, but maybe now weary of the mantle and planning the flight, it did not work out. both she and he were relentless about her doing it. aircraft accidents, like many others, are often a series of small, accumulating problems, errors, technical issues. i have mentioned some of those. in the end, it comes down to luck and her luck did not hold. fast preparation, advisability of a quick turnaround to fly in a different direction, putnam the promoter, the financial
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management,isk flawed communications, plans, no radio operator, all of these unfortunately combined to bring her tantalizingly close, but she did not make it. so her disappearance spawned countless theories, involving radio problems, poor communication, which i agree. navigational pilot skills. her navigator did have a drinking problem, but he was a former pan-american navigator, very well regarded, didn't drink the night of. he drank the night before they took the flight, so -- and then there are all the other ideas. did she go to other landing sites? was she on a spy mission? was she in prison? was she killed by the japanese?
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and then there are the more bizarre ones, that she actually survived the war and lived on a rubber plantation in the philippines. even worse, was living quietly in new jersey under the name of irene. poor irene bollem was hounded by this one gentleman. he saw her at a cocktail party and said, that is amelia. she said, i am not amelia. what are you talking about? she had to finally go to court to get him to stop harassing her. [laughter] as i said in the beginning, what happens when the most famous woman in the world simply disappears? female pilot. the movie there, "flight to freedom," featuring rosalyn
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russell was a thinly veiled story -- supposed story of amelia as a spy that sparked a rash of sightings during the war. after that died down, the 1960's, it came creeping back with a variety of people writing books based on sightings in the -- saipan and some other islands, the marshall islands. some people say she had a tendency when she went off course to go north. maybe she did go to the marshall islands. they are basing it on that and then capture or either died in prison or was executed. world war ii vets came back saying, i saw a twin engine plane and i saw a blonde woman. it could have been anybody. it could have been a japanese plane or american planes. it was not earhart as far as i'm concerned. some of these first-hand accounts that some people gave, they were more secondhand accounts. it was actually my father or so and so. there were some people who swore that they saw her.
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there were a few that say they saw her executed. we do not know who they saw. no public records held in the national archives, u.s. navy archives or coast guard records, point to a spy mission. none of her friends thought that she was on a mission. i have listened to many interviews from a man who was in that program i participated in 25 years ago, who has done the research, using the facts, believing that she knew what she was doing. he is an aviator who has flown around the world himself. he is 92 and firmly believes that she did come down somewhere near howland island. he has spent the better part of -- after he stopped flying, he spent searching, last 50 years has been doing earhart. he has a book out called the mystery solved, which is still
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for sale. he spent a long time looking at the facts and has given this to a group called nauticos, a group of oceanographers and engineers, who specialize in finding wrecks for the u.s. military and other countries. they have found submarines underwater, they have found aircraft underwater and a whole rash of things that they cannot tell me they found underwater. they are really smart and using the facts, feeding them into computers. we are using something called re-navigation. they are still at it. they made three trips themselves to an area that they felt was the area of uncertainty and the most probable areas of where she might come down. people talk about drift and fuel consumption. people on the communications,
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all these different things that feed in to the computer, and they spout out and decide, which are the most favorable areas? the first three they have chosen have not worked out, to their dismay and everyone's dismay. they hope to go again, but they do not know if they will be able to or not. it is a cottage industry. it is still out there. the lower right here is basically what i think. i think she crash landed due to lack of proper radio equipment, not having the morse code ability and not having a proper communications package. there were frequency misunderstandings and timing misunderstandings. they couldn't hear her all the time. she couldn't hear them. they never actually had two-way communication from howland island to her plane and back.
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we can talk about some of these, if you want. what more about some of these different theories. i firmly believe that she will be found someday. somewhere north and west. the electrode will be found. she probably will not be. i hope so. some people say leave it where it is. i get tired of all the speculation and i really want to focus more on her legacy. this is one of my favorite pictures. [laughter] how many theories do you see here? i do not even know. someone just brought this to me. it was two or three years ago. amelia is found on the dock in a picture of saipan. when you move lee harvey oswald
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out of the way and nessie, you can see in the middle, there is a picture of someone in a white shirt. that is supposed to be amelia sitting on the dock. over by the light, it is obscured, but there is a gentleman who is supposed to be nunez. the history channel brought this up with great fanfare. they actually came to myself and tom, the senior curator who is now retired, who has also worked long and hard on the amelia earhart story. they came to us and showed us this picture and everything about it, and they were going to run it and some of you may remember this from about two or three years ago. they showed it to us and we said, good luck with that. three days after it ran on television, a gentleman in japan
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found the picture and found that it had been taken in 1935. she flew her round-trip in 1937, so they did not quite do their homework. that is the kind of thing that happens with this. someone gave this to me because they knew how much i would enjoy it. to be a little more serious about all this, amelia resonated far beyond just being a pilot. her legacy is clear. her plane resides in our museum. many of the women who later flew domestically for the women air force service pilots in world war ii, they flew domestically ferrying aircraft. they remember when amelia came to their schools and to their civic centers. she was certainly an idol and role model for a lot of those
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women who ended up flying. this is 1000 women who ended up doing these flights. they flew over -- i can't remember now, 20 million miles or so ferrying aircraft all over the united states. she was a role model. she was also a role model for women who had no intention of flying but wanted to be more independent. they wanted to get an education. she encouraged women to do what they could to help themselves, to be educated and maybe find another way to do something if you want to. if there is something else you want to do, pursue that, either as a hobby or something further. we still receive endless queries from media students, conspiracy theorists. recent interest in female astronauts has grown and today, aerospace is actively recruiting women as pilots. still only 7%
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of the pilot population. engineers only 9% of the population. i might add that it is a great time to be a woman and getting into these fields. the doors are finally wide open. no astronaut or woman commands -- pilot commands attention like amelia. the public is still fascinated with her. she is also a cultural icon, as you can see here. i will say, artist judy chicago, who now has a show in town at the women's museum. she included earheart in her painting celebrating mythical and historical women, seated at the table. women now have a seat at the table. she is one of the women who is in the periphery of the table. in 1997, the gap clothing store awarded her one of 13 legendary adventurers with style along with ernest hemingway and ava gardner.
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steve jobs included her in his very successful apple campaign, think different, with some of the other great iconic thinkers and independent-minded people of the 20th century. there is a bevy of books out there. everything from doris rich, a nice biography of earheart, several others. there are books more about her feminist attitudes and what she and other women pilots did for feminism. there are many nice straight biographies and some that are little crazier. there was one book called, "i was amelia earhart," written by a woman who ended up on the
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island that rick gillespie thinks she is at. it is a whole thing. i didn't talk about rick gillespie and tiger. we can talk about him too. that is the international group for the historic aircraft recovery. his group has been searching for amelia earhart for at least 20 to 30 years. he first started looking for a pair of pilots who had flown the atlantic from europe to the united states, and went missing over maine. he started looking for them in bogs and lakes over maine and never found them. as he started thinking about earheart and mentioning earheart, he started perking up and became more interested. more money flowed in for a recovery effort, so he switched to looking for earhart. 25 years ago, tom crouch and i stood at the national press club where rick stood up and
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announced he had found everything for amelia and had it all laid out, including a shoe that was three sizes too big, a bunch of aluminum that could be any aircraft aluminum, and later he found freckle cream, which had to be hers because she has been known to have freckles. that is what he has been doing and he continues to believe that she is on an island that was further south than howland island. on that line of position that she called out on her last radio call. his has got the most -- she is on that line of position, but maybe she could have flown down there. the only problem is that she was out of fuel over howland island and this island is 350 miles further south. i don't think she had the fuel to get there. anyway, back to her legacy. i just realized i had forgotten to mention him. she is just a renowned woman for
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her courage, for her commitment to aviation, to women, to peace, all of these different things that were important to her in her life. here she is wearing wings presented to her in 1928 as an honorary major in the air force, 381st squadron. her disappearance remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century send often overshadows her legacy as a dedicated aviator and as an enduring inspiration to women. in the male-dominated world of early aviation, earheart defied gender roles by building a legendary flight career, earning the distinguished flying cross and consistently landing on the women's best dressed and best admired list. a complex combination that allowed her to have real and lasting impact.
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all told, her flying career, feminism, life, and death continues to inspire. thank you. [applause] dorothy: so, i think that we have time for questions. does anyone have any questions? yes? >> did she ever acknowledge or pay much attention to bessy coleman or coleman's feats in aviation? dorothy: that is a good question because i myself and another fellow are researching some of that now. there is a woman at the museum who only recently found out that she has a black aviator in her family history. a lot of people are discovering what is in their family history.
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she has helped me look into black aviation more for the same pioneers of flight gallery that earheart's plane is in and bessy coleman is in that gallery. we are trying to learn more about about bessy. i gave another talk on a separate angle, and i said, bessy and amelia both started flying in 1920 and 1921. i do not know if either of them knew of each other. i doubt it. bessy was from texas, but went to chicago. amelia was in chicago when she was younger, so i don't know if amelia knew about bessy. bessy had to go to france to get her license. she could not get one in the united states because she was african-american and a woman. she couldn't find anyone to train her, so she went to france, where she knew that female pilots had been trained.
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and there were black american pilots who had flown in the war there. i do not know if they knew each other or not, but i doubt it. any other questions? yes. >> on the decision on choosing howland island and the poor radio decisions, were those decisions mutual between her and her manager, to not have a radio operator on the plane? is there any accurate detail about whose decision-making to pick the island and chose to not go with the radio operator or a proper radio? dorothy: a couple of questions. they had a radio operator. after she crashed, he had to go back to work. they could have waited.
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they could have said, we will get the plane fixed and find another radio operator and we will do this right. but they wanted to get it done. they had a lot of money invested in this light. she had just cracked up the airplane. they had to ask for money. they needed to repay debts. they needed to get this done. they decided to go without the radio operator. i do not think it was one or the other, they both said we are just going to go ahead and do this flight. so, it probably was not the best decision, but i think that it was both of them. they pretty much worked pretty well as a team together like that, and i know that when they were first picking going west on the islands, gp had identified, he had first identified these
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three islands, howland and two others that would be in the range of flying from hawaii. she talked with other people in the government, who were managing those islands now, but in this case, i think he gave her the options of those three and she chose howland. that is what i was saying earlier about a mismanaged flight. it was unfortunate that they did decide to do a fast turnaround and not really sit back and plan it out properly. get her up to speed on radios, still try to find another radio operator and still manage it all better. any other questions? yes. >> can you tell us anything about tubman postflight? dorothy: they were living in
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california at the time. he was obviously very upset, devastated. he completely accepted that she had been lost at sea. he did not buy into any other ideas. there were some radio calls that people thought they heard for a while. if they came down in the water, they may have actually made a radio call, but nothing sustained. nothing that anyone could officially say that it was amelia, so they had a huge search, the coast guard and the navy scoured. it was the largest search ever at the time. after the search was over and it became apparent no one had seen any bit of airplane or had any idea of where she came down, she was legally declared dead within a few months and he accepted that. he went on with his life. he ended up getting married two or three more times. he promoted other endeavors. the first thing he did was he took the notes.
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when she flew the atlantic, she came back and she wrote a book. gp published it and they made a lot of money off of it. she would do the same thing here. he collected all of the material that she had sent back to him, and he finished the book for her, calling it "last flight." he did that right away. he went on with his life. heard an interview from his son. he had two sons and a myriad got -- amelia got along great with them. that son said gp really did love her and cared about her and did not buy off on the idea other
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had tried to fly around the world. any other questions? ok. thank you all. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] this weekend, we visit the campus of utah state university as maria angela diaz leads her class to the civil war conflict. >>the guerrilla war is an externally violent, personal, bloody war and away you don't see on the big fancy battlefields. these are communities against each other. sometimes it devolves into people against each other. >>watch lectures in history tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on
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american history tv on c-span3. listen to our lectures in history podcast. find it now where you listen to podcasts. you can watch archival films on public affairs each week on america.s reel is a quick look at one of our recent programs. [explosion] >>supporting ships live or point-blank fire. [explosions]
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>> after 72 hours of continuous pounding, our patrols moved forward. [explosions] >> a mortar barrage searches out hidden machine gun nests. [gunfire] [explosions] keep a sharp lookout for snipers. ♪ [explosions] >> admiral turner gives the
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order to cease-fire. our guns are quiet as they make the climb. we wait for a sign. sirabachi is- ours. ♪ >> sirabachi is ours. a toehold on the southern tip of the island. the main strength of the japanese garrison was entrenched in steel and concrete. the show was just beginning. [projector noise] >> you can watch archival films on public affairs in their entirety on our weekly series
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reel america, saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at four called p.m. eastern -- 4:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. next on the presidency, historians talk about the views of abraham lincoln and frederick douglass on emancipating those in slavery. they track their evolution from early in their careers through the civil war. the new york historical society hosted the event. louise: good morning, everyone and happy new year to everyone. welcome to the new york historical society. i am the president and ceo. i am thrilled to see all of you here in our beautiful auditorium this morning.


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