Amelia Earhart (1897-1937 (probably)) was a famous aviation pioneer in an age when female pilots were extremely rare. She was decorated for her bravery and flying skill, and set many flying records of her time, both for women and for pilots of either sex. In 1932 she became the first woman (and only the second human) to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo.
Earhart is probably most famous today for her mysterious disappearance over the central Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, along with second navigator Fred Noonan, during an attempted circumnavigation of the globe. Although the most commonly accepted theory is that Earhart's plane either simply ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean, or made an emergency landing on an uninhabited island after which she and Noonan starved to death, numerous conspiracy theories abound, everything from failed espionage attempts or a violent encounter with Imperial Japan to secret identities to Alien Abduction. Recent archaeological excavations have most likely found her castaway site, but this will probably do nothing to halt the conspiracy theories.
Less well known is that Earhart was also a successful writer. She wrote many articles for Cosmopolitan magazine, and published three best-seller books on her experiences as a pilot and as a female pilot, 20 Hrs., 40 Min., Last Flight, and The Fun of It. She'd been a published poet since her twenties, using pseudonyms like "Emil A. Harte". Only one of her poems, "Courage", has her real name. Although many of her papers were lost in a fire that destroyed part of her home in 1934, her husband George Palmer Putnam had saved both personal papers and work-related material, donating the latter to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. He'd respected Amelia's wish to keep the personal stuff private, but his granddaughter Sally Chapman brought the entire collection to Purdue decades later.
Works that portray or mention Amelia Earhart in fiction include:
- She is a major character in G. Willow Wilson's comic, Air.
- In issue zero of the British Anthology Comic The Phoenix the character is featured in the strip, "Corpse Talk", which features an interview with a dead famous person.
- In one Empowered story, Empowered nearly gets abducted by an alien slaver to serve in an alien emperor's harem. The slaver mentions the last time he came to Earth, he abducted Amelia Earhart for the harem.
- The French manga City Hall − which takes place in an alternate reality where technological advances happened much faster, and features famous 19th and 20th century writers as protagonists −, makes her into a badass (and buxom) secret agent working for the White House and protecting Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. She uses a plane, of course, but also a motorcycle on land.
- Amelia Earhart was a Puella Magi in the fanfic A History of Magic, where it appears she faked her death and acted as a liaison between Puella Magi across Europe. She died trying to destroy Black Sabbath when it attacked Amsterdam.
- Amy Adams plays a wax figure of her that comes to life in the second Night at the Museum movie.
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Earhart is one of the abductees appearing at the end.
- Amelia: Biopic starring Hilary Swank that tries to play it straight and true to the facts, unfortunately suffered immense negative reception.
- The wartime film Flight for Freedom starred Rosalind Russell as Tonie Carter, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Amelia Earhart. The movie popularized the conspiracy theory that Earhart and Noonan were on a secret spy mission for the U.S. government when they disappeared.
- Is presented in Tomorrowland as a member of Plus Ultra. The prequel novel Before Tomorrowland has her as one of the lead characters. Earhart and Noonan's flight was actually a test for an experimental aircraft capable of punching between dimensions into the space that become Tomorrowland. However, just as they made the jump, the plane was fired upon and they were stranded in the other world for a period of time. When she was rescued, Earhart became more of a secret agent and security officer for the organization. Her survival was set to become public knowledge as part of a grand public reveal of Plus Ultra's technologies at the 1939 World's Fair, but the rising threat of the Nazis becoming too much to handle lead the organization to cancel.
- Jane Mendelsohn's 1997 novel I Was Amelia Earhart is a fictionalized first-person account of Earhart's life, including the time after her disappearance.
- A Cahill from the Mardigals branch in The 39 Clues.
- Star Trek: Voyager: In "The 37s," Voyager's crew discover Earhart and other people from her age preserved in suspended animation on an alien planet. Turns out she was abducted by aliens after all!
- Ross from Friends is enamored with her in "The one with the lottery ticket". He even planned to build a theme park dedicated to her if he won the lottery.
- JAG: In the Pilot Movie, when learning a missing female aviator aboard the USS Seahawk, Admral Brovo makes a reference about Amelia Earhart to his aide while watching The Tonight Show.
Rear Admiral Al Brovo: If Admiral Drake were smart, he'd make this RIO more famous than Amelia Earhart.
Lt. Commander Ted Lindsey: She's missing, sir.
Rear Admiral Al Brovo: Did anybody tell FDR?
Lt. Commander Ted Lindsey: Sir?
Rear Admiral Al Brovo: That Amelia Earhart was missing?
Lt. Commander Ted Lindsey: No, sir. She's not missing. well, I guess she is missing, sir. But that's not who I'm referring to: I meant Lieutenant Arutti.
Rear Admiral Al Brovo: Who's Lieutenant Arutti?
Lt. Commander Ted Lindsey: The female RIO that Jay Leno's talking about, sir. She disappeared at sea last night.
- Earhart's disappearance was the subject of an In Search of... episode. The special largely focused on the theory that she was an American spy captured by the Japanese. Earhart also appears in the show's opening titles, under the heading "missing persons".
- Her disappearance was also the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries episode. It gave much attention to the theory that she and Noonan were Mistaken for Spies by the Japanese.
- The captured by the Japanese theory was the subject of a widely-touted 2017 The History Channel documentary based on a photograph which experts contended showed Earhart in Japanese custody in 1937. Within a few days, researchers discovered that photograph appeared in a Japanese book published in 1935—two years before Earhart's final flight.
- An episode of the 1998 reboot of Fantasy Island had Earhart piloting the seaplane that brought the guests to the island.
- In The Orville, Pria Lavesque is a time traveler from the 29th century who captures famous vessels and vehicles and drags them back to her time. She sells them to the highest bidder while any passengers and crew have no choice but to live the rest of their lives in her time. She implies Earhart was one of her victims.
- In New Radicals' "Someday We'll Know", the narrator asks many questions that bother him (besides "Why aren't you here with me?"), and the first is "Whatever happened to Amelia Earhart?"
- A Mandrake the Magician storyline had him solving the disappearance of a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Earhart.
- In the monologue that starts Mystery Show, Starlee mentions Earhart's disappearance as a famous mystery that fascinates her, alongside D.B. Cooper.
- Amelia was the subject of much speculation by sound collage master Don Joyce, whose creative genius along with the rest of the Negativland team lit up the KPFA airwaves for over three decades on his show Over the Edge. Many of his dramatic works involved reclusive tycoon/inventor C. Elliot Friday and his base on Howland Island, which is much bigger and more lush than it might appear — it partially sinks under the ocean at intervals, which may have caused Amelia's difficulty finding it. In The Time Zones Exchange Project there's a bit from a Suspense radio play, recontextualized to suggest that Amelia is trapped on the island and trying to escape.
- The short play Chamber Music is about a mental hospital with a ward full of women who all believe themselves to be famous historical figures. One of them says she's Amelia Earhart, and there are hints that she might in fact be Amelia Earhart, put in the hospital by mistake. At the very least, she seems to be quite rational and normal otherwise, as opposed to the other women, who are all highly paranoid and homicidal.
- The Musical Take Flight tells three parallel stories about the lives of Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and the Wright Brothers.
- She pops up as a Spirit Advisor to the titular character in the somewhat obscure musical Flight of the Lawn chair Man.
- In the play Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth its revealed that she went into hiding on a Native American reservation, with a man she fell in love with. She's never seen, but between acts the two main characters get drunk with her (on character already knowing about her, the other still being in shock that she just met Amelia Earhart).
- The play Bob uses her as humorous Foreshadowing, in which the character Amelia "Not-Earhart" eventually dies by rafting out into the Pacific Ocean to avoid her arranged marriage.
- Baby Amelia Earhart makes appearance in Telltale Sam & Max: Freelance Police games. In Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space she is found on Easter Island, where she crashed and got addicted to Fountain of Youth water. In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse she travels wit Sammeth and Maximus to Egypt where she has numerous offscreen adventures. And tries to steal Devil's Toybox.
- According to one of the Team Fortress 2 Expanded Universe comics, Amelia Earhart crashed in Siberia, with her plane being full of jars of honey and a hot dog costume.
- Her ghost shows up in A Girl and Her Fed.
- This xkcd comic finally solves the mystery once and for all.
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour has among its segments "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer." In these episodes, Amelia faked her death to join a top secret government agency that uses time travel to stop Stupid Jetpack Hitler from changing history in the Nazis' favor.
- She's the focus of an episode of Time Warp Trio. Apparently, even in 2105 they still have no idea what happened her.
- In an episode of the Dilbert animated series, Amelia Earhart is found trapped behind a glass pane in a museum exhibit titled "The True Location of Amelia Earhart." See it here.
- In Time Squad the episode "Love At First Flight" had portrayed her as being so afraid of germs that she wouldn't even consider going outside, let alone fly a plane.
- According to The Simpsons, Charles Montgomery Burns was responsible for her disappearance.
- In a Family Guy Cutaway Gag, it is shown that Charles Lindbergh's baby was flushed down the toilet, so Lindy made up a story about him being kidnapped, and he did away with Earhart for being a witness.
- Amelia Earhart can be seen among the extras in the Mirror Universe episode "Flipside" of The Real Ghostbusters inside the Peoplebusters' containment unity (which is pretty confortable for humans with a paradise-like environment). The episode is about the original three Ghostbusters sent to Another Dimension via Vortex where Ghosts are the dominant species and humans (who get there unwullingly through vortex) scare people.
- She was featured in an episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.