One moment history means one thing; the next it means something quite different.
History is whatever historians make of it. Don't ever forget it. Which means: Maintain a high level of skepticism when reading or viewing anything and you're better off.
I bring this up for a reason.
I was reading this morning some rather unkind reviews of the new movie Amelia, about America's most famous aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, and I was reminded of something I'd read a while back.
We all know the story about the attractive and gifted pioneer who braved the elements in her quest to become the first person to fly around the world. And you probably know of her mysterious disappearance in making that attempt.
What you may not know is this: Amelia Earhart may have been a lousy pilot.
The history book reads like this:
The world's most famous female aviator disappeared in 1937, as she attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. With her navigator, Fred Noonan, her Lockheed Electra was last heard from about 100 miles from the tiny Pacific atoll, Howland Island on July 2, 1937. President Roosevelt authorized an immediate search; no trace was ever found.What isn't generally known is this: Amelia Earhart had two navigators. Not one. The other, a skilled aviator in his own right, a man by the name of Harry Manning, refused to take off with her as pilot after a crash during take-off two months before.
Here's an AP photo of her first crash:
The caption with it reads:
"Amelia Earhart, navigator Frederick Noonan, behind her, and Capt. Harry Manning emerge from the Electra after it crashed on takeoff from Luke Field, near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on March 20, 1937."
Some history books have it that Noonan replaced Manning as navigator on the next leg of the flight so that the latter could go back to piloting his own ship. As the photo above shows, that isn't true. Manning and Noonan were on the plane together, serving different navigational roles for Earhart.
After the crash Manning simply refused to continue the journey.
There are various explanations given, by the way, for this first crash, including a blown tire. But others say it was pilot error.
Most telling, Manning abruptly departed.
And Amelia Earhart crashed her plane again on her next attempt. The flight that went into the history books. A crash that was due in part, some say, to pilot error.
Here's how the history books record the disappearance of Harry Manning from the saga:
"She set out on her second attempt in June, this time with only Noonan to assist her effort."
But time, and a need for a different narrative, altered that history.