Why the World’s Most Famous Airplane Pilot Was Never Found

Why the World’s Most Famous Airplane Pilot Was Never Found


The incessant throb of the Electra’s engine
batters at my tired brain. I’ve been flying 20 hours and I’m exhausted–and
worried, we haven’t been able to get a position on the Itasca – the ship that’s supposed
to guide us on where to land. With a whirring sound the pulley system dangles
another navigation note in the cockpit. There’s no time to read Tom’s message. I twist in my seat and look back towards the
cabin. He probably can’t hear me, but I yell anyway. “Not now, Tom!” At this point, he’s no help, we should be
right on top of the Itasca, I just know it. I scan the horizon, hoping, praying to see
the ship, but there’s nothing–just sun glinting off the deep blue-green ocean. I turn the knob to change the wavelength before
speaking into the microphone for the transmitter again. My voice is thready with anxiety and I have
to force myself to speak up. “KHAQQ to Itasca. We are on the line 1-5-7… 3-3-7. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 62-10 kilocycles. We are running on north and south line.” The only answer I receive in return is static,
I haven’t been able to establish voice contact all morning. I’m tuning to 62-10 when an alarm on the
instrument panel rings. It’s a warning, we’re low on fuel. I tap the fuel gauge, the needle bounces around
before settling near ‘E’. My grip on the steering column tightens. We’re running out of time. We have only minutes before the engine cuts
out and the plane goes down. I am on a flight around the world that has
run into trouble. I am Amelia Earhart. Let me tell you about the moment I fell in
love. Well, actually the story begins long before
that. In 1918 I spent long, tiring months working
as a V.A.D.–Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at the Spadina Military Hospital in Toronto. Some of my patients used to talk about flying. When they recovered I visited them at the
airfield and marveled at the planes taking off, wondering what flying would be like. But of course as a civilian I couldn’t go
on a flight. Sometime after the war ended and I joined
my parents in Los Angeles, I asked Father about flying lessons and he arranged for me
to take a flight–thinking that I wasn’t really interested in lessons, but was just
curious about flying. Father took me to Rogers field on Wilshire
Boulevard. My flight was quite dear, $1 a minute for
10 minutes. I had to wear a helmet and goggles. I remember a strange tingle of excitement
skittering down my spine as the plane engine roared to life. Then we taxied down a dirt strip and lifted
up into the air! My heart pounded so hard within me as the
world dropped away. I could see so far! A tiny automobile whizzing down a street,
the taller buildings of downtown with citrus groves to east. Then we flew west and there were a few big
houses in the verdant hills of Santa Monica. Then we were over a sandy beach with waves
of the Pacific curling in. The flight was over much too soon. My legs were weak, I had to be helped down
from the cockpit. Father asked me how it was–I was tongue tied,
the blood racing through my veins. He patted me on the back, reading his answer
in my shining eyes. For a long time afterward I couldn’t speak,
I could hardly breathe. All I wanted was to be up there again. I fell in love with flying and my life would
never be the same. “SOS! KHAQQ to Itasca. SOS!” I don’t know what to do so I keep calling
the ship. Suddenly I see it! Just ahead! It’s not the ship, just a tiny scrap of
an island with a huge lagoon and trees. But there’s a strip of narrow beach where
it just might be possible to land a plane. I’ve no choice in the matter. I steer towards it. The engine is coughing, there’s a high pitched
whine. The plane shudders. Tom tries to crawl over the fuel tanks in
the cabin to join me in the cockpit. I yell at him to stay put. I have a tight grip on the throttle. The engine gives a final splutter and then
goes bone chillingly silent. All we can hear are tiny groans from the metal
and the rush of air over the wings. I lower the flaps and manunever the controls
best as I can, praying that we glide. We’re dropping. I yank the lever for the landing gear and
then we’re over the island. The beach rushes up to meet us and we jolt
down hard. The plane skids across the shore and into
the water, smashing up against some coral. My head snaps forward and hits the Bendix
receiver over my seat. “Watch out!” I move out of the way just in time as two
workman pass carrying propeller parts. One of them loudly remarks to the other about
how gals have no business being around airplanes. My cheeks get hot. “Halloo Millie!” It’s Anita jogging over to me and rolling
her eyes. One of the few female pilots at the field,
she’s use to incidents like this happening. “Ready for your lesson?” she asks. I nod. The lessons are expensive, I’ve worked many
long hours to pay for them as a truck driver, telephone operator, tutor– I’ll do just
about any job anyone will hire me for. It’s tiring, but I’m learning to fly. My face is hot. I drag my eyes open, squinting against the
bright sunlight slanting in through the cockpit window. I push myself off the instrument panel, the
plane’s tilted forward at an awkward angle. My head aches. I’m frightened of what I might find as I
feel my face with my hands. There’s a big goose egg dead center in my
forehead, but thankfully no blood. The rest of my body hurts too, especially
my left arm which I think got slammed into the door during landing. It comes back to me slowly–the last leg of
our trip around the world, not being able to find the boat, running out of fuel and
the crash landing on the island. I flip on the radio. It seems to be working. I send a message. “SOS. KHAQQ to Itasca. SOS.” I wait for a moment, but there’s nothing
but static. I switch it off. I suddenly realize that except for the waves
crashing it’s silent. I twist around to look into the cabin. “Tom! Tom!” There’s no answer. Oh God, is Tom hurt? I carefully climb out of my seat and crawl
over the fuel tanks into the cabin. The tight space is even harder to get around
than usual since I’m crawling upwards due to the tilt of the plane. I finally reach Tom, but he’s slumped over;
a large gash on the back of his head bleeds heavily. I have to slither over the fuel tanks all
the way back to the cockpit to reach the emergency kit. I try again to make a quick call for help. “SOS. KHAQQ to Itasca. SOS.” I’m crawling back towards Tom when a large
wave crashes into the plane and rocks it. The tide is coming in… The bouquet of roses they give me to hold
during the ticker tape parade is enormous. After a while it makes my arm ache, but I
won’t put it down. I love the attention for women in aviation
all this publicity is bringing…but it feels a little hollow. I was just crew on the flight across the Atlantic. Baggage, like a sack of potatoes. Stultz did all the flying. But I smile and wave to the crowd anyway. One of these days I’m going to redo that
flight. I’m going to be the first woman to fly solo
across the Atlantic. I flop onto the sand. Every part of my body aches. I didn’t know how much of the plane the
tide was going to cover so I rushed. I bandaged Tom’s head and then climbed to
the rear cabin bulkhead. The stowage door was jammed, but I was finally
able to force it open and got the life raft out. I inflated it using the CO2 canister and pushed
it out the cabin door. I still don’t know how I managed drag Tom
into the raft, but I did. After I got us to shore, I made a little shelter
from the raft, propping it up with the emergency food box and putting Tom under it so he’d
have some protection from the sun. “Tom? Can you hear me? Tom?” Still no response. I trickled a little water from my canteen
down his throat. I paddled back out to the plane twice more
to gather anything else I thought might help us. It looks like the tide isn’t going to rise
much higher, which is good. It only came about halfway up the plane, so
much of the cockpit is still dry. But there’s no way we could fly out of here,
even if we had fuel. The plane’s perched precariously on a coral
outcropping and it could slide deeper into the ocean any minute. Suddenly I hear it. An engine. There’s a plane flying over the island! I can hardly believe it, it’s finally ready! With all the modifications to make my plane
suitable for long flights, Lockheed ran over a month behind schedule with the build. I run my fingertips over the smooth, shiny
metal of the Electra’s nose. “If you looked at another man the way you
look at airplanes…” GP mock growls. He hugs me from behind and kisses the side
of my neck. Then he steps back and waves a hand at the
photographer. We’re at the hangar in Burbank, seeing for
the first time the plane built for my flight around the world. GP, being GP never misses an opportunity to
capitalize on a moment, so a photographer is here taking some publicity shots while
I explore the new plane. I open the cabin door, instead of the usual
seating for 10, there are huge fuel tanks. My plane can hold 1,150 gallons of fuel, enough
for more than 20 hours of flight time at normal cruising altitude. The only empty space is a little cramped corner
of the cabin where the navigator will sit. No way I’ll be able to hear them over the
engine we’ll have to figure out a way to pass notes and communicate. I look in the cockpit. So many gauges, knobs and buttons! The Electra’s far more technologically advanced
and complex then my little Vega. Elmer, the Lockheed pilot joines me. “Ready to take her up?” I take a deep breath and nod. I’ve never backed down from a challenge
and I’m not about to start now. I shouted and waved my arms, the plane was
high but they might still have seen me. Or caught a glimpse of sunlight reflecting
off of the wreckage. Surely someone had heard my distress calls
and was now out here looking for us? Surely. But there was no dip of the plane’s wings
to indicate that they knew we were down here. No low flyover of the island. They hadn’t seen us. And soon they were gone over the horizon. I collapsed next to Tom, disheartened and
eventually I napped. I woke up late in the afternoon, thirsty,
head still pounding. I had a drink from the canteen and some raisins. Thankfully we have enough food for a few days. However fresh water will be a problem soon. Tomorrow, I’ll go exploring in hope of sustaining
our supply. I spent the rest of the afternoon and into
the evening organizing our supplies and gathering driftwood. Using a blanket, I dragged Tom further up
the beach and made a little camp. He’s not any better, he won’t wake up. He mutters feverishly in his sleep, thinking
I’m his mom or perhaps his wife. The night is isn’t too cool on this tiny
island in the Pacific, but I make a big bonfire anyway, more in the hopes that someone will
see it than for warmth. I feel a little better after I wash my face
with a little of my precious fresh water and change out of my soggy, sandy clothes. Earlier, during one of my trips to the plane,
I rescued my half empty bottle of Benedictine. I sip it slowly, I need my wits about me. I don’t want to get drunk. But if there’s any day that I ever needed
a drink, it’s been today. I lay in the dark, next to the fire, thinking
about my favorite things to relax myself. The way the corners of GP’s eyes crinkle
when he smiles. The sweetest little letter I got from a 9
year old girl telling me that she was going to grow up and become a pilot just like me. Mother’s deviled eggs. Chatting over coffee and chocolate cake with
ladies from the 99. The snap and pop of the fire is soothing,
there are so many stars overhead. I could almost imagine that I am camping if
it weren’t for my sunburn, all my aches and pains and the nagging fear in the back
of my brain that I’m trying to ignore. Tomorrow when the tide is low, I’ll go out
to the plane and try calling on the radio again, hopefully it will still work. But no matter if it doesn’t. Someone will come find us, they have to. I’m one of the most famous women in the
world, the whole world is watching this voyage, they wouldn’t let me just disappear. Afterall, I am Amelia Earhart.

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Comments

  1. Wow this felt so real. I felt like I was her & when it ended. I honestly had a panic attack. Fearing that I’d never be found & seen again. Great story it really puts you in her shoes.

  2. Wow this felt so real. I felt like I was her & when it ended. I honestly had a panic attack. Fearing that I’d never be found & seen again. Great story it really puts you in her shoes.

  3. Very disappointed. You just made up the whole story. I really don't like it. Also the 3D models and textures was completely out of period time. You mixed airplanes and uniforms with modern ones. This video was very bad. Please don't do a better job next time…

  4. Could you do wars that are not known, or smaller wars,or less known events, I mean could you do wars that are not ww1 or ww2? Could also go back there your animation style, it's very very unique, this is unique but not as unique as you old one. The newer animation style might be more expensive.

  5. This is a stupid fucking episode.
    Do either "I am Ching Shih" the most successful pirate in history.
    Or "I am Genghis Khan"
    "I am John Gotti"
    "I am Jacklyn Lucas" the youngest marine to be awarded the medal of honor for WW2. At 14 he secretly boarded a U.S navy ship and was a stowaway heading for japan. He jumped off the ship at iwo Jima and stormed the beach without a weapon. He picked up a rifle from a dead marine and started shooting. He saved 11 other marines that were in a fox hole by jumping onto 2 enemy grenades & survived…

  6. I love this channel!!! I do wish he/she would give us more but I think it takes alot to do this good of a job. Thank you!!

  7. What about a "i am Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer"
    A woman who fought in the Dutch 80 years war she helped defend the city of Haarlem and was probably the first female soldier in the western world.

  8. I think the music is spot on during these presentations. It adds a level of depth and dramatic effect to the narrative.

  9. I AM THE LION OF PANSHIR/ THE MAN THAT REPEL IRON CURTAIN ARMY/ AHMAD SHAH MASSOUD

    It was the eve of Christmas 24 December 1979, the 40th regiment of soviet soldier launch a raid on Kabul, trying to over thrown Amin's presidency and take over Afganisthan. I am trying to defend my region, the Panshir valley. Soviet thought that it was a strategic place for a base. But i refuse! With a few thousand units of my party, I Ahmad Shah Massoud and my soldiers, fight mercilessly and strategically against +50000 Soviet armies. The war begins in Christmast eve, 24 12 1979. Afghanistan still have hope… (please make a video about this 🙂

  10. Don’t wanna sound dumb I know a little about this but not loads. Wasn’t she never found? How do they know all this is it just dramatisation

  11. Heeey just wanna say, you guys are doing a wonderful job!❤
    And a request from a fan:
    Do a episode on the last independent ruler of bengal,bihar,urissha. He was betrayed by almost everyone.

  12. Please do I am Zaldy Ampatuan or Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. Btw this is about the massacre of 58 (Maguindanao Massacre) people in Maguindanao Philippines.

  13. I AM the prison escape artist, story about Yoshie Shiratori who escaped prison 4 times due to the abuse from the prison guards

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