The Amelia Earhart Theory That Changes Everything

Female aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart is an American legend rivaling folklore for little girls. Her winged journey into fame was fueled by a love of the sky and an adventurous spirit. She is most known for being the first woman to successfully complete a solo flight across the glimmering Atlantic Ocean (via Britannica). Other notable achievements include being the first person to soar solo from L.A. to Mexico City, as well as founding and heading one of the first organizations for female pilots, known today as Ninety-Nines, Incorporated (via Ninety-Nines).

From clothing designer and corporate president to record-breaking pilot and social critic, it's safe to say that Earhart accomplished more in her 39 years on Earth than most. However, it was arguably her mysterious death that propelled her legacy and continued international intrigue for almost a full century following her disappearance. However, conspiracy theorists suggest that perhaps her plane did not simply sink into the depths of the Pacific Ocean in early July 1937 (via USA Today). Should this theory hold water, it would change her legacy in many ways.

Did Amelia Earhart live out her final days as a castaway?

One theory that has gained traction over the years would change the way we see Amelia Earhart forever. Not the way we remember her life, but the way we envision her death. According to some far-flung corners of the internet, this aviation icon didn't plummet from sky to sea and tragically drown. Rather, she survived on an island called Nikumaroro (via USA Today). This is a real place that exists just a few hundred miles away from the island authorities avidly searched when Earhart initially disappeared. The name of that island, incidentally, was Howland Island.

The thing that breathes life (or perhaps death) into this theory is the fact that a skeleton was uncovered on this mysterious, remote island. Anthropology professor Richard Jantz explained in an interview with The University of Tennessee Knoxville News that the skeletal remains in question "have more similarity to Earhart than to 99% of individuals in a large reference sample." Supporters of the theory claim that Earhart's final radio log coordinates put her within the vicinity of this island. Earhart as a castaway would likely become a backdrop for even more international intrigue. However, the thorough search conducted following her disappearance make this an unlikely scenario.