Aviatrix Amelia Earhart, almost 40 at the time, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on an around-the-world flight in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra. She and navigator Fred Noonan’s last transmission was near Howland Island in the mid-Pacific. No trace of Earhart or her plane was ever found.
In recent years, though, Earhart and her plane are back in the news. Media reports in 2014 reported that the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) had what it believed to be a piece of the Electra. A photo showing a patch over one of Electra’s windows while it was in Miami before departure led to TIGHAR’s contention that they do indeed have the “Miami Patch.”
On June 30 of this year, a team of search dogs was dispatched to hunt for human remains on an uninhabited, but suspect island southwest of Hawaii, a place where many believe Earhart’s ill-fated flight ended. Then, on July 4, a new story contended that a historic photograph shows Earhart as a Japanese prisoner of war.
With all the renewed attention on this 80-year-old mystery, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West reminds visitors that it has Amelia Earhart artifacts of its own. Sometime between 1934 and 1936, Earhart and her husband George Putnam visited the Double Dee Ranch on the Upper Wood River, near Meeteetse, Wyoming, about 45 miles southwest of Cody. The Center’s collection has photographs of Earhart pictured there with Carl Dunrud, enjoying that western vacation.
Dunrud promised to build her a cabin in Wyoming where she could vacation, later recalling, “Before Amelia left on her last flight, she sent many of her personal belongings to be stored at the Double D Ranch until she could enjoy them at her cabin. One item was the leather flight jacket she had used in her flight across the Atlantic . It showed much wear because she also used it during the time she was roughing it at the ranch.”
“Earhart’s flight jacket, donated by the Dunrud family in 1966, reflects Earhart’s personal interest in the ‘Old West’ and her effort to conquer new frontiers,” says Dr. Jeremy Johnston, Buffalo Bill Museum curator. “We now have the Earhart jacket prominently displayed and invite visitors to see it in the Center’s Buffalo Bill Museum.”
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Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page. #100YearsMore