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Amelia Earhart: Hawaii celebrates the great aviator - SFGate


Amelia Earhart: Hawaii celebrates the great aviator

By Jeanne Cooper

Published 4:00 am PDT, Friday, July 23, 2010
  • Photo: AP
Photo: AP Image 1 of / 18



Image 1 of 18 Photo: AP Amelia Earhart: Hawaii celebrates the great aviator 1  /  18 Back to Gallery

While no one may know exactly how — or where — Amelia Earhart's life ended, the pioneering pilot enjoyed two well-documented trips to Hawai'i before she disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

On her first, she met Duke Kahanamoku, sampled pineapple and flew to Maui and the Big Island for sightseeing before making her historic solo flight to the Mainland on Jan. 11, 1935; she arrived in Oakland the next day to a cheering crowd. Earhart's renown had only increased when she returned to Honolulu in March 1937 in her attempt to fly around the globe. A crash upon takeoff forced her back to California, though, and her next attempt took an easterly course from Miami. Still, Earhart would have landed in Honolulu on her way back, had not she and navigator Fred Noonan vanished along with the plane en route to Howland Island from New Guinea on July 2, 1937.

On July 24, 2010 — Earhart's 113th birthday — an exhibition of 65 recently discovered or little-seen photographs of the aviator's time in Hawai'i will go on display at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where Earhart once stayed. The photos come from the archives of the Matson Navigation Company, owners of both the S.S. Lurline, which transported the pilot and her Lockheed Vega to Hawai'i, and the Royal Hawaiian. Although Earhart spent a lot of time at Wheeler Field getting her plane ready for travel, she also relaxed in Waikīkī, as the vintage pictures reveal. They'll be on view in the hotel's Coronet Lounge through the end of the year.

If you can't catch the exhibition before then, a more detailed history of Earhart's time in Hawai'i, along with some of the Matson images and other photos, can be found on the Hawai'i Aviation website, created by the state's Department of Transportation, Airports Division. And though you may not be able to visit Earhart's final resting place, the banyan tree that she planted in Hilo on Jan. 6, 1935, now towering above Banyan Drive, is marked with a plaque. On O'ahu, a roadside lookout on Diamond Head Road in Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park also has a plaque commemorating Earhart, in honor of that first solo flight from Hawai'i to the Mainland. It's a fitting place to stop, gaze out to sea and remember the courage of the woman who crossed it alone.

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