News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 21, 2012

Liz Ciancone: Fascination with Amelia Earhart still strong

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I’ve always admired Amelia Earhart. I liked her haircut and admired that she lived her life on her own terms. Like the rest of the world, I’ve wondered whatever happened to her.

It was more than 70 years ago that she and her co-pilot disappeared over the South Pacific and what was to have been the first around-the-world flight by a woman.

There have been many guesses about what might have happened. At first it was assumed that her plane simply ran out of fuel leaving no place to land in the vast expanse of water. Then there was talk that she had been forced down by hostile Japanese aircraft trying to maintain secrecy as Japan constructed a military base on one of those tiny islands in the Pacific.

Even more recently, talk has accused her co-pilot who, rumor has it, was more dedicated to the bottle than to the task at hand. Who knows? Yet, people remain curious, and so do I.

Now another group has sailed to Nikumaroro, a tiny uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific’s Republic of Kiribati in an effort to find some answers and,perhaps a few remains of her aircraft. I eagerly read an article about the expedition hoping to find a plausible explanation or even a definite resolution to the question of what happened to Amelia. It didn’t happen

Ric Gillespie, founder and executive director of TIGHAT, led an 18-member research crew to the island hoping to find an answer, but if I hoped to find all revealed, I was disappointed. Gillespie is the author of “Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance” so I figured he had a new theory at the very least. Besides, his book was published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press which added an extra dollop of possibility. The article only whetted by curiosity. If I want my curiosity satisfied, the article suggested that I tune in the Discovery Channel and watch “Finding Amelia Earhart: Mystery Solved.”

You’d think the article would have given more of a hint than that! At the very least, it should be a fascinating program. There are no upscale hotels or grocery stores or gift shops on uninhabited islands, so the 18-member crew roughed it on a small boat. Their ordeal, if not Amelia’s, should make for interesting viewing.

I’ll be watching the television guide.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to