Posts tagged pacific ocean.

July 2, 1937: Amelia Earhart disappears en route to Howland Island.

In 1932, this Kansas native became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic, just five years after Charles Lindbergh accomplished the same feat. In 1937, Earhart and flight navigator Fred Noonan set out to circumnavigate the globe; if successful, their trip would have them travel a total of 29,000 miles. 

The final stretch of the journey - a few thousand miles over the Pacific Ocean - would end at Howland Island. On the morning of July 2, Earhart radioed some of her last transmissions to the USCGC Itasca, which apparently received her transmissions but was unable to send any back. Shortly after receiving Earhart’s last transmission, official searches for the disappeared aviator and her navigator began. No trace of the aircraft or the occupants were ever found, and on January 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead. 

What happened to Amelia Earhart? The most widely-accepted theory is that her plane simply crashed into the ocean and sank, and that its wreck is simply sitting somewhere in the Pacific, waiting to be found. Another theory is that she and Noonan were left stranded on a deserted island, before perishing. And of course, others have thought up more far-fetched theories - shot down by the Japanese for spying, eloped with Noonan, crashed on the island from LOST (or is that just me?), abducted by aliens… The search and speculation still continue today.

September 25, 1513: Conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa reaches the Pacific Ocean.

Before embarking on his expedition across the Isthmus of Panama, Balboa was the governor of Santa Maria de la Antigua, a colony he helped found in 1510. In September 1513, he led a large group of Spaniards and Indians to cross the dense and dangerous rainforests of Panama in order to reach the Pacific.

On September 25, Balboa and his party became the first Europeans to look upon this ocean, which he named Mar del Sur (“South Sea”), later to be renamed Mar Pacifico by Magellan. Upon sighting it, Balboa immediately claimed the ocean (and all lands touching it) to be the property of the Spanish empire.