Recently discovered photos of Amelia Earhart show the famous pilot with a youthful grin, relaxing before she made the first solo flight from Hawaii to North America in 1935.
The photo display is in the lobby of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, sometimes called the "Pink Palace of the Pacific". The photos are from the Matson Navigational Company archives. Matson operated a luxury cruise ship between California and Hawaii in the early 1900′s and built the hotel as a place for their passengers to stay. A company archivist discovered the images last year.
Earhart and her husband arrived in Hawaii aboard a Matson ship in December 1934, purportedly for a two-week vacation. They brought along her plane, saying initially they planned to use it to tour the islands. Later, they made the surprise announcement that she planned to fly alone back to California, something no man or woman had yet done.
Earhart is relaxed and at ease in the photos, clearly enjoying herself. They show her watching hula, participating in a tea ceremony, sharing a pineapple with Duke Kahanamoku — and going over charts in anticipation of her historic flight. Some are from her final trip to Hawaii in 1937 before she disappeared over the South Pacific in her attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world.
You need not be a guest of the hotel to view the free photographic exhibit, which is set up in a lobby alcove. My mother and I happened upon it last night while exploring the hotel. The photo display opened July 24 on Earhart’s 113th birthday and will remain through the end of the year.
If you miss the display, you can still see the small memorial to Earhart on the lookout above Diamond Head beach. We encountered it on the historic trolley tour that includes Diamond Head.
And, because Earhart and my mother share a birthplace, I must mention that she was born in Kansas and spent her early childhood there. But they both have wide smiles they got in Hawaii.
August 10th, 2010