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American pilot Amelia Earhart (1897–1937), the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, disappeared on July 2, 1937. She was last seen on July 1 and was last heard from on July 2, as she and navigator Fred Noonan (1893–1937) attempted to fly around the world along the equator. On July 2, U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific picked up radio messages from Earhart: She reported that her plane was out of fuel and no land was in sight. Investigators have presumed that she and Noonan crashed into the ocean. Despite an extensive search effort, no wreckage was ever found. Since that time rumors have suggested that she and Noonan were actually spying on Japanese activities for the U.S. government, but these claims have never been documented.
From childhood Earhart was interested in the new science of aviation, which was in its infancy at the time. During her lifetime she set many aviation records: first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger on an airplane (1928); first woman to fly solo both ways across the United States (1928); first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (1932); and first person to fly from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland (1935). During the 1920s and 1930s, Earhart was a well-known celebrity, and the mystery of her disappearance continues to keep her fame alive.
Further Information: Morell, Virginia. "Amelia Earhart." National Geographic. January, 1998, pp. 112–36; Morey, Eileen. Amelia Earhart. San Diego: Lucent, 1995; Parr, Jan. Amelia Earhart: First Lady of Flight. New York: Franklin Watts, 1997; Wood, Adam. Amelia Earhart. San Diego: Lucent, 1997.
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