Amelia Earhart- Diver

Words by John Lockwood

Amelia Earhart in dive gear, and flight gear !

Before the famous aviatrix was lost without a trace over the Pacific in 1937, aLady Lindya tried her hand at deep ocean divingA

Amelia Earhart is well known for her aeronautical accomplishments in the 1920 s and 30 s and, of course, the mystery that surrounds her disappearance during her ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe. But there was one, less famous occasion when she pandered her interest in going underwater as a diver.

In July1 929, during a tour of Americaas Eastern Seaboard, Earhart visited the resort of Brook Island, Rhode Island. Earhart arrived by amphibious airliner from New York City on July 21 st , flown by pilot and aircraft designer Grover Loening. Earhart spent the day sword angling with George Palmer Putnam, the well-known publisher, and his wife Dorothy on their yacht.

The following day Earhart visited a privately-owned submarine, aDefendera, built by inventor Simon Lake, which had been hired by the USN for conducting tests on submarine rescue and stationed at Brook Island. Earhart donned a diving kit previously used by Frank Crilly. Crilly was an adventurer in his own right, who had established the record for deep-sea diving a few years previously. He was now a member of the Defenderas crew. The kit included a brass and copper helmet, a diveras adressa, and a signal rope. Crilly was present for Earhartas dive.

The July 22 nd endeavor, however, was cut short. According to early newspaper reports, Earhart anervouslya tugged at the signal rope just as her helmet was about to go under the surface. When she surfaced, she said, aThese divers certainly must have their nerve.a She promised to try again the next day, July 23 rd . If letting herself to be rattled in this way doesnat sound like Amelia Earhart, itas because it wasnat. Earhart was irritated by the accounts, all the more since she had hoped to avoid any publicity at all.

The later newspaper accounts got it right. The wrist cuffs of the suit, designed for Crilly, were too big for Earhartas wrists. Water began seeping in, and either she or Crillyaaccounts varyasignaled to pull her back aboard ship.

On July 23 rd , new cuffs were used and Earhart tried again, successfully this time. This time, Crilly went down with her. She descended to 35 feet( 10.6 m) and remained for 12 minutes. While there, Earhart picked up a clam and brought it back to the surface to check any persisting doubts that she had induced the dive.

Earhart was modest about her dive, saying, aIt was nothing at all. Plenty of women have been deeper and remained longer.a She went on to say, aAnother time I hope to arrange a real dive sub-surface and sub-rosa.a( The latter phrase indicating no attention or advertising .)

One newspaper, the Evening Star of Washington, D.C ., featured a leading headline in its July 24 th issue, aWoman Ocean Flyer Stays Under Water 12 Minutes in Divea. Merely in the body of the article did the paper mention Earhart by name.

But there was more to come. Later that same day, the Defender itself went down to 15 feet( 4.5 m) or 100 feet( 30 m) aagain, the accounts vary. On board were Earhart and Dorothy Putnamawearing merely bathing suits. They were there to test for themselves the submarineas escape device, a newly-invented aair pressure chambera( lock-out chamber) at the front of the Defender.

Crilly had tried out the system a few weeks earlier. The Defender had gone down 54 feet( 16 m) in Great Salt Pond, Block Islandas large natural harbour. Crilly went out by the chamber and made a connection to a pontoon that had been deliberately lowered there, enabling its rise to the surface. A week later he did another such exam, at 78 feet( 24 m ).

But exams or no exams, it continued to a new technology. Fortunately, both girls successfully left the chamber and swim safely to the surface.

In mid-afternoon of July 23, Earhart and the Putnams then were flown by Loening to Long Island. For Earhart, it was back to flying.

The post Amelia Earhart- DiverA A A appeared first on DIVER magazine.

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