"When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly." - Edward Teller
For more than 70 years, the greatest mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance has been why she was never found. In June, TIGHAR the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, will set forth on their eighth expedition to the tiny island of Nikumaroro to find DNA and/or other conclusive proof of their theory that Earhart and her navigator crashed and later died there.
Now it seems that even if the get the proof they seek, it won't answer the other perhaps even more haunting mystery of Amelia Earhart's last hours. Earhart didn't want it publicized, but she possessed a remarkable psychic gift, which is examined in the new book biography, The Thrill of It. Author Susan Wels told Public Radio's Forum that Earhart was a medium who used the table tipping method to communicate with the spirit world During one seance she delivered a message to actress Mae West from her deceased father. West later wrote about the experience in her book "On Sex, Health and ESP" and also spoke of it in a Life magazine interview. She said Earhart had a strong ESP ability that she witnessed on several occasions.
Ironically, Earhart also had an uncanny knack for locating missing aircraft. Columnist Drew Pearson even reported on her gift in "Washington Merry-Go-Round," Feb. 1937:
“Officials at first were inclined to laugh at Miss Earhart’s psychic messages. But her accuracy now has them mystified. When a United Airlines plane was lost just outside of Burbank, Calif. Dec. 27, Miss Earhart called the United Airlines office and told them to look on a hill near Saugus, a little town north of Burbank.
“There the wreckage was found.
“Again when the Western Air Express plane carrying Mr. and Mrs. Martin Johnson crashed Jan. 12, Miss Earhart reported the plane to be near Newhall, 15 miles north of Burbank, where it was found.
“In the earlier crash of the Western Air Express in Utah, Miss Earhart had a vision to the effect that the bodies of the dead had been robbed by a trapper. Two days later, a trapper near Salt Lake City reported finding the wreckage, but then suddenly disappeared without giving the location of the plane."
Earhart herself was lost only five months after the column appeared, and what happened next might have might have been Earhart's most daring solo flight, this one traveled via the astral plane. In the days, weeks and even years following her disappearance, Amelia's husband, George Putnam, received more than 3000 letters and telegrams from people--some professional psychics, but many people who'd never had an ESP experience before--claiming to have been contacted by the missing flier either in their dreams or from the "astral plane."
Putnam followed up on many of the psychic's leads, using their visions to direct the Navy's search, and he cooperated with the author of Is Amelia Earhart Still Alive?, the two extraordinary stories published in Popular Aviation magazine in 1939. The articles contain annotated transcripts--annotated by Putnam--of some remarkable psychic readings in which he is told details of Amelia's life that he alone knew.
Of course, despite the massive outpouring of ESP information, he never found his missing wife. Nonetheless, that failure did not make him bitter nor did he ever turn his back on messages from beyond the vale. Here is how he replied to one woman who expressed her own doubts and foolish feelings for bothering him her "psychic" conversation with Amelia via a Ouija board:
"I gather that you regard such manifestations much as I do. That is, with open mindedness and tempered curiosity. Long ago I became convinced, as did Miss Earhart, that there is much on the borderland of things psychic about' which we understand little or nothing. We were both always 'ready to be shown' I have had an extraordinary amount of this kind of communication for many months, coming from sincere people with no axe to grind, no favors to ask. I have told them what I am telling you: I honestly do not know how to explain these things...."
Many of the psychics' letters still exist. Therefore, should the TIGHAR expedition succeed in finding proof that Amelia Earhart died on that island it might also be possible to find out if one or several of the psychic "receivers" got the "sender's" message right and had provided the "address" of the island, which, alas, was flown over but never searched even though it showed signs of recent human habitation.
Of course, knowing a psychic had the answer of how to find her won't change the past nor bring Earhart back to our skies, but it would be an important piece of evidence in support of ESP, the power of the human mind and spirit. She never got the chance to finish her last flight, but if there's proof that her final message got through, she may be remembered for an accomplishment far more historic and profound than the world record she set out to make.