1937 – Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan are last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight
. Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Many researchers believe the Electra ran out of fuel and that Earhart and Noonan ditched at sea. Navigator and aeronautical engineer Elgen Long and his wife Marie K. Long devoted 35 years of exhaustive research to the "crash and sink" theory, which is the most widely accepted explanation for the disappearance. Tom D. Crouch, Senior Curator of the National Air and Space Museum, has said the Earhart/Noonan Electra is "18,000 ft. down" and may even yield a range of artifacts that could rival the finds of the Titanic, adding that "the mystery is part of what keeps us interested. In part, we remember her because she's our favorite missing person." Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.