Some people are hooked on sunsets...trip to Mexico...a good bourbon.
Me? I'm an Amelia Earhart freak.
Ever since middle school, I (and about a bazillion other people) have puzzled over what happened to this aviator, who disappeared on the next to the last leg of her around-the-world trip. (Talk about luck running out!) She and her navigator Fred Noonan were aiming for tiny Howland Island...they never arrived.
Some people think they ditched their plane in the ocean after running out of fuel.
Some think they were captured by the Japanese (it was very close to the outbreak of WWII), and executed. (Fred first, Amelia after she had been held in prison for some time.)
Some think she actually managed to sneak back into the U.S., and was living under an assumed name.
I spent a lot of time reading books and examining maps. I wrote a paper in high school about it -- and interviewed my Uncle Archie, who was in an aviators squadron, and remembered guys talking about the military discovering Amelia's plane. He didn't know what had happened after that.
Another book I read said that the author was eyewitness to AE's plane being torched. Why, he didn't really say. Because she was spying on the Japanese while she flew that world trip...and the U.S. didn't want anybody to know? I've heard that, too.
Ric Gillespie's organization,The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), now says they know what happened to AE...she was stranded on Gardner Island and died there. Bones were found about 1940...although they apparently have now disappeared, Gillespie has what he calls "early 20th century makeup" and two pieces of glass he argues are a makeup mirror. He says they'll be able to tell via DNA who used the makeup, thanks to a direct relative of AE being willing to provide her DNA.
I'd be thrilled to death, except:
*Although some radio transmissions could have come from Gardner Island, it was searched by air soon after the Electra disappeared in 1937. Although "recent habitation" was noted, there was no sign of the plane -- or Earhart and Noonan.
*Gillespie's group also said they'd found parts of Earhart's plane some years ago. (Oops. Construction didn't match Earhart's Electra, and the bits and pieces were inconclusive)
*Gillespie is sure a shoe sole found on Gardner Island is Earhart's...because it's a woman's size. (So guys don't have small feet?)
*He says that the bones of the castaway were definitively identified as a woman about Earhart's size. Oopsies. The long and drawn-out report about the bones -- posted on Gillespie's site, no less! -- initially mentions Earhart. They bring up the possibility it's her, but the medical examiner concludes by saying they're the bones of a middle-aged Polynesian man. In 1998, some researchers concluded the bones were really from a northern European white woman. (Mind you, they didn't examine the bones, which were just a small scattered collection, anyways -- not the full skeleton. They made this pronouncement based on the reports about the bones.)
AE's greatest skill seems to have been more her ability to reach people. She never promoted herself as the world's greatest pilot; in fact, some of her famous trips were made as a passenger, not the person flying the plane! But she had courage. She didn't hesitate to try, even if she was going to get dirty and tired and hungry.
Maybe it's her guts that I really admire the most.
For more about her, as well as many of the theories about her disappearance, read here.