Amelia Earhart – What Really Happened to Her?

January 29, 2010

1963 U.S. Airmail Stamp for Amelia

Amelia Earhart was the most famous female aviator of her time, and arguably one of the most famous people of her era as well. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and only the second person to do so. Amelia was the first person to fly across the Pacific from Hawaii to San Francisco. She also set many speed and distance record for flying during the 1930’s.

She was attempting to fly around the world in 1937 when she vanished in the Pacific Ocean around the Phoenix group of islands.

With a major motion picture coming out called “Amelia” starring Richard Gere and Hillary Swank (as Amelia), I thought it would be interesting to speculate on one of the world’s greatest mysteries.

Her plane, navigator Fred Noonan, and Amelia disappeared on July 2, 1937 while attempting to land on Howland Island for refueling. Radio contact was maintained, albeit one-sided until the end. Amelia’s signal could be heard, but she wasn’t receiving radio transmissions. An extensive ground and air search was undertaken by the US Navy at FDR’s request. No trace was ever found of her or her plane.

There are two main schools of thought on what happened to her. The first is that she landed on Gardner Island SSE of Howland. This is an uninhabited coral atoll well out of the shipping lands and with no source of fresh water. The theory is she and Fred survived the landing and lived for a couple of months, then succumbed. In 1940 traces of someone’s camp and bones were found. Further archeological digs have been done on the island, but no direct evidence or smoking gun have been found. This theory maintains the Lockheed Electra she was flying broke up and pieces washed out to sea or were scavaged by local natives. Again no direct evidence supports this.

The other theory and more likely one is that the plane and its passengers ran out of fuel and ditched at sea in 17.000 feet of deep Pacific water. Deep sidescan sonar searches are done yearly to cover an area the size of Rhode Island in trying to find the plane. These searchers believe that eventually they will be successful, and that it’s only a matter of time.

There was also a theory she and Fred were captured by the Japanese, tortured and killed. Research by American and Japanese experts have disproved this one. No partial or direct evidence exists to support this. It is pure speculation, and highly unlikely.

Will one of the world’s greatest mysteries ever be solved? Stay tuned.

Inverted “Jenny” Sold for $970,000

November 16, 2007

jennysingle.jpgOne of the rarest and most popular U.S. stamps was sold at auction November 14, 2007 for a whooping $850,000 plus 15% buyers premium for total of $970,000!!

This was one of the famous 24c U.S airmail stamps issued in 1918. Yes that’s right the face value was 24c which was actually quite expensive in those days.

There was only ever one sheet of 100 of these stamps, the inverted error, sold to the public. The post office did find some others but they were defaced and then shredded to prevent profiteering.

I won’t go into the complete story because a book and many articles have been written which detail its fascinating history.

It was sold by the auction firm of Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, Inc. of New York City on behalf of the owner. In 2005 they also sold a plate block of four of the same stamp for a record of $2,970,000 for a U.S philatelic item. How much higher can these go? Only time will tell. Read more at the Robert Siegel Auction website:

The sale catalogue (sale #946A) has wonderful write-ups on the history or the invert error by Scott R. Trepel (“The Allure of the Inverted Jenny”) and a great introduction by Joe R. Kirker ((“…and my heart stood still”). The catalogue can be downloaded in PDF format.

StampShow 2007 – Stamp Collecting Heaven

July 27, 2007

Another of my interests besides writing is philately. What the heck is that many of you will wonder. Well it is the collecting of stamps and postal history. In a couple of weeks I am off to Portland, Oregon to attend the annual convention and show of the American Philatelic Society (APS).

The American Philatelic Society founded in 1886 is the largest nonprofit society in the world for stamp collectors. APS has 44,000+ members in over 110 countries. Membership benefits include a subscription to “The American Philatelist” (monthly magazine), ability to buy and sell stamps in their on-line StampStore, insurance for collections, and access to their American Philatelic Research Library. Just being a member gives opens doors with dealers and others because it means you are a reputable collector or dealer. APS requires references as part of their application process.

The show and convention is held annually at various locations in the United States. Usually it is held in the eastern U.S because that’s where the biggest population base is. This year it is relatively close to me, so I am taking the opportunity to attend. I am also exhibiting one of my collections at the show.

It will be held August 9 – 12, 2007 in the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon. The show will feature:

– about 150 dealers from throughout the U.S. and other countries

– public stamp auctions by major auction houses

– a couple of first day of issue for U.S. stamps

– more than 100 meetings and seminars

– 15,000 pages of exhibits

– unique block of four of the “Inverted Jenny” U.S. airmail stamp. This was sold at auction last year for 2.7 million US dollars. Other rarities from the Smithsonian will also be on display. The Inverted Jenny is presently owned by Donald Sunderland of Mystic Stamp Company.

Beginners and youth are especially welcome and there are many programs geared to them.

Admission is FREE and the public is welcome.

Further details or information about the APS is available on their website at:

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