Amelia Earhart made headlines again this week, 74 years after she disappeared.A researcher at the University of Oklahoma said that DNA tests on bones found on a remote Pacific island were inconclusive and that further testing was needed. A diving team in Papua New Guinea is is said to be preparing to descend to an area where the wreckage of a plane rests. A Canadian scientist wants to see if he can extract DNA from two envelopes he believes she sealed.Whats the fascination here? Its a tragedy that Earhart, the most famous female pilot of her time, disappeared with her navigator, Fred Noonan, somewhere over the Pacific as she tried to become the first woman to fly around the world. Yet she wasnt a world leader or a brilliant personality; there seems little doubt about what happened to her (although there of course are theories ranging from capture by the Japanese to assuming a new identity).But the fact that were not really sure gives her case an aura of never-ending mystery. And though she was far from the most important woman of her day, Earhart was certainly the best-known. She flew for a living, and wherever she landed, whether in California or Ireland, admiring crowds rushed the plane to congratulate her. Its not surprising that such a popular cultural figure should interest us even today.
Earharts husband, G.P. Putnam, was a brilliant public-relations strategist, and following the record trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh, Earhart, who resembled Lindbergh, was promoted as Lady Lindy. And even after her death, Earharts exploits inspired a generation of female aviators. During World War II, several years after Earharts death, more than 1,000 women were chosen to be Women Airforce Service Pilots. Its safe to say that Earharts legend has been kept alive by those women and their families as well.
Overall, though, its the mystery that keeps us guessingand coming back for more news stories about possible information. Its not too much of a risk to say that the mystery of Amelia Earharts disappearance will never be solved, but even if it is, there will always be the conspiracy theorists who insist that were not being told the truth.
And so the mystery, and the interst,will continue.