Original Hawaii Adventurer: Amelia Earhart’s Hawaii Romance Rebounds

Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviator known for groundbreaking aviation feats, left an indelible mark on both the history of flight and on Hawaii. Less known than other aspects of her career and life is the strong connection she had to Hawaii and the islands’ role in her legacy and travels.

A rebound of interest in Earhart relates to experts recently deciphering text found on an aluminum panel some believe was part of her fated aircraft. There remains hope of bringing to an end the nearly century-old question of what actually happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, after they left Honolulu and made a brief stop in New Guinea.

The panel actually washed up over thirty years ago on a remote island about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, Nikumaroro Island. It is not yet known if the cowling can be attributed to Earhart or instead part of a plane that crashed during WWII.

Human bone fragments were found on Nikumaroro Island (lead photo) three years after her disappearance.

That led to hope of finding Amelia’s remains. But that turned out to not be the case. In spite of that, people believe she may well have been on the island. There were distress calls from a radio that may have been on her aircraft, as well as calls that were received by the Coast Guard and Pan Am at the time that were believed to emanate from the island.

Earhart became one of the most respected and celebrated female aviators.

It began when she visited an airfield in a city well known for Hawaii flights to this day, Long Beach. There, she had an airplane ride with pilot Frank Hawks. That ignited her passion, which resulted in unparalleled global travel and adventure.

Hawaii figured early and throughout Earhart’s fame.

As she began a series of record-breaking flights, Hawaii was a launch pad for many significant adventures. In 1935, Earhart made a solo flight from Honolulu to Oakland. That was the first-ever female piloted transpacific flight and made her an instant aviation and travel icon.

  1. Frequent Hawaii visitor: Hawaii was a major way-point used by Earhart during her flights.
  2. Friend to Hawaii aviators: Earhart developed close relationships with Hawaii aviators, including Harry Brown, with whom she stayed frequently when in Honolulu. Brown was an Army Air Corps second lieutenant at Wheeler Field Oahu during the December 7, 1941 attack and a renowned aviator.
  3. Record-breaking Hawaii flights: In 1935, Earhart sought to complete the first solo flight from Hawaii to the US mainland, flying a Lockheed Vega. The plane was specially enabled for long over-water flights.
  4. Hawaii was the last place on earth Earhart spent time: She and navigator Fred Noonan departed Luke Field, Honolulu, in 1937. She was never heard from again after a brief stop in New Guinea.
  5. Enduring Hawaii legacy: Earhart’s legacy in Hawaii is strong to this day. Her memory is invoked both in the places that honor her in Hawaii as well as in the fields of aviation and the empowerment of women. Her spirit lives on in the islands.

The enigma of Amelia Earhart’s fate

In 1937, Earhart, in her Lockheed Model 10 Electra, attempted to circumnavigate the globe. That trip too, returned her to Hawaii, from which she intended to fly to Howland Island. It was on that flight that she disappeared from sight, creating what is still considered among the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries.

In the footsteps of pioneer Amelia Earhart’s Hawaiian legacy.

Honolulu’s Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor has dedicated an exhibit in honor of Earhart and her historic travels. On the other side of Waikiki, at Diamond Head, sits the Amelia Earhart Lookout, which is another tribute to her legacy. A time capsule is believed to be inside a marker there.

Ongoing inspiration for flight and Hawaii travel even in today’s era.

Earhart has been honored by the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Amelia Earhart conspiracy theories still abound.

These range from her being killed in the plane’s crash or subsequent thereto by powerful coconut crabs or cannibals, being a castaway, a la Gilligen’s Island, returning to the USA using another identity, or being captured. The plane may also have run out of fuel, or gone far off-course with her life ending elsewhere in the Pacific.

Some images courtesy of Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports.

Leave a Comment

Comment policy:
* No profanity, rudeness, personal attacks, or bullying.
* Hawaii focused only. General comments won't be published.
* No links or UPPER CASE text. English please.
* No duplicate posts or using multiple names.
* Use a real first name, last initial.
* Comments edited/published/responded to at our discretion.
* Beat of Hawaii has no relationship with our commentors.
* 1,000 character limit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

7 thoughts on “Original Hawaii Adventurer: Amelia Earhart’s Hawaii Romance Rebounds”

  1. To be more correct, Amelia Earhart did attempt to fly from Hawaii to Howland Island but her plane crashed on the runway in Hawaii while taking off from Hawaii. As a result Mrs Earhart did not fly from Hawaii to Howland Island. Both she and her plane returned directly to the United States from Hawaii.

  2. Your narrative will I believe give the reader the impression Amelia Earhart disappeared while flying from Hawaii to Howland Island. Mrs. Earhart never attempted to fly from Hawaii to Howland Island.

  3. “Hawaii was the last place on earth Earhart spent time” No. Your information is incorrect. The Earhart/Noonan round-the-world flight departed Oakland, CA on a EASTBOUND routing. Their final flight departed from Lae, New Guinea. This was also the last time they were seen.

  4. Your article was interesting and informative to read.
    Curious. Possible correction to statement about her being last seen in Hawaii. Google shows: Amelia was “last seen in Lae, New Guinea, on July 2, 1937, on the last land stop before Howland Island and one of their final legs of the flight,” and Biograph.com indicates: “last seen in Lae, New Guinea, on July 2, 1937, on the last land stop before Howland Island and one of their final legs of the flight.”
    Thank you for the article. I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Sue G: That is the best idea that I have ever heard as to what to re-name OAK when the subject of re-naming the airport has come up. Brava!!

Scroll to Top