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Rare Home Movie Footage of Amelia Earhart in Action Surfaces in Texas

Ian Harvey
Amelia Earhart in the cockpit. Getty Images

Nostalgic and rarely seen footage of Amelia Earhart doing what she did best has surfaced in Texas. Just about everything concerning aviator Amelia Earhart’s final flight is a mystery. No one is absolutely certain where she put down her plane on that fateful day, July 2nd, 1937. Was it on a tiny, uninhabited island she was forced to land on when she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ran into trouble during their transatlantic flight?

And did they end as castaways on that island, their bodies never recovered? Or did they come to a more violent end, the plane plunging into the Atlantic Ocean where it rests to this very day? There are still many questions, and very few answers about this woman who seemed to know no fear.

Earhart dared to challenge stereotypes of her day that insisted women belonged in kitchens, not cockpits. She simply refused to play the game imposed by gender restrictions, and took to the sky, ultimately earning the respect of fellow aviators and the admiration of the American public as a whole.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra.

Now, those admirers have a chance to glimpse some never before seen footage of Earhart flying, headed for a landing at Dallas Love Field, in mid-June, 1931. The film runs for more than two minutes, and though it’s black and white and grainy, Earhart is clearly seen piloting her plane as it descends into Texas.

The footage of Amelia Earhart is now in the permanent collection of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image; it was donated to the institute by the film maker’s family, William B. Kendall Junior. Earhart had been invited to stop over in Dallas by the Aviation department of the local chamber of commerce, as she was flying back east. She agreed to an overnight visit, Kendall had the presence of mind to film her descent, and now those images are part of aviation history.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart, Los Angeles, 1928 X5665 – 1926 “CIT-9 Safety Plane”

There are some who believe Earhart survived after her plane crashed on July 2nd , 1937, as she attempted the very first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. That school of thought suggests that Earhart lived out her life as a castaway on Gardner Island, and that she continued trying to signal rescuers until she simply died of starvation and thirst. That theory was fueled when, three years after her disappearance, human bones were found on the uninhabited island, and after some back and forth between anthropologists, experts concluded they belonged to an American female.

Amelia Earhart

Portrait of American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart

Other tiny, tantalizing bits of evidence have been found as well. Small scraps of metal, a small container of hand cream that “spoke of” a woman’s personal habits in the 1930s, and other items. But nothing has been discovered – like the plane itself – that absolutely concludes Earhart and her navigator landed and spent their final days on Gardner Island.

The footage that has surfaced of Amelia Earhart in Dallas is below.

One group, The International Group For Historic Aviation Recover (TIGHAR) has been to the island more than 10 times in an effort to find conclusive proof of this theory. They run “The Earhart Project” which sponsors expeditions to the area each time they suspect more evidence is just waiting to be found.

It is a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania that seeks to, once and for all, put an end to the questions about Earhart’s disappearance. They think they’ve solved it, but other experts are less sure.

Related Article: Possible Bones of Amelia Earhart Sent in for Highly-Awaited DNA Testing

No matter what school of thought investigators subscribe to – that Earhart survived the crash or went down in the Atlantic – all agree that she likely didn’t realize how far she still had to fly and that her fuel was running dangerously low. But she did send rescue pleas over her radio – more than 100 of them, according to TIGHAR officials.

But did she land safely on Gardner Island and live for months, weeks or days? It is still impossible to say conclusively, as the plane itself has not been found, and neither has Earhart or Noonan. It is a mystery that continues to plague aviation enthusiasts of all stripes.