Missing! The unsolved mystery of Amelia Earhart's last flight

Earhart's plane vanished somewhere over the Pacific in July 1937. More than eight decades later, the quest to find her remains an obsession.

Amelia Earhart stands before her Lockheed Electra, the plane in which she disappeared in July 1937.
Photograph by SZ Photo/Bridgeman/ACI

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart flew toward Howland Island, one of the last stops on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Nearing the tiny Pacific island, she radioed the Itasca, a United States Coast Guard cutter sailing off Howland’s coast, to ask it to guide her onto land with radio signals.

“KHAQQ (the Lockheed Electra 10E’s call sign) calling Itasca: We must be on you but cannot see you ... gas is running low ... been unable to reach you by radio ... we are flying at 1,000 feet.”

Earhart’s last confirmed message indicated that she was flying on a northwest-to-southeast navigational line that bisected the island, but she did not indicate in which direction she was heading. After that communication at 8:43 a.m., radio contact was lost, and no one knows what happened next. (See also: How Amelia Earhart navigated the skies and society.)

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