Every few years, stories emerge about some new investigation into Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. This time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she’s interested in the latest search, which will last 10 days in July. Researchers will use underwater robotic submarines and mapping equipment in the waters off the remote island of Nikumaroro, in what is now the Pacific nation of Kiribati, according to the Associated Press. I wrote about Earhart a few years ago, when a biopic starring Hilary Swank was to be released. Earhart spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, specifically in the San Fernando Valley. From my story (Daily News, October, 2009).
Even today, the sepia-toned photographs of a short-haired, gap-toothed beauty leaning against a polished Lockheed Vega give Les Copeland the shivers.
In them, he can sense her love of adventure, can recall the enduring story of how man-made wings gave the young woman the freedom to be herself and the courage to fly farther and farther until one day, Amelia Earhart vanished.
“If Amelia had survived, I wonder what she would have accomplished,” Copeland said dreamily one recent morning as he flipped through donated photographs of Earhart that he keeps inside a shrine to aviation.
“I bet she would have been part of the space program,” added Copeland, who is president of the Burbank Aviation Museum. “I bet she would have gone to the moon.”
More than 70 years after “The Queen of the Air” disappeared while trying to fly around the world, Earhart remains a beloved local figure, an icon who still leaves a deep impression on the minds of those who met or were influenced by her.
And one who left deep footprints across the San Fernando Valley.
Earhart and her husband, publisher George Putnam, moved to Toluca Lake in the 1930s and lived in a Spanish colonial-style home at 10515 Valley Spring Lane. She flew out of Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale and of course, Burbank. While living in the Valley, Earhart played golf at the Lakeside Golf Course and did research at the North Hollywood library that would one day be her namesake.
It is believed she bought her last pair of shoes at Rathbun’sdepartment store, which stood on Lankershim Boulevard.
“All the records she basically set were done while she was living in the Valley,” said Guy Weddington McCreary, who served as president of the Amelia Earhart Bronzing Committee.
“We can claim her as ours,” McCreary said.