“And they never thought it could be done,” I thought proudly as I listened to the steady humming of the plane engine behind me. I could just picture the headlines right then: “Amelia Earhart, First Woman Pilot, Flies Again”. I looked out toward the horizon, thinking of how I wouldn't want it any other way right then. The sky was clear and blue, the crystal sea distinguishing its deep turquoise as they met at what seemed, at least to me, the beginning of a new adventure.
I've always loved adventure. Even when I was little, I'd get lost in the woods, chasing some strange little animal I'd never seen before, or end up climbing trees with a skirt and swimming in creeks with all my clothes on. Needless to say, I also ended up in trouble a lot at my granny’s house, since one of my favorite things to do there was climb the roof of her house and swish down it like any other kid does on a slide at the park. I don't know why my granny was mad I didn't act like a normal little girl, but even as an adult now, I just can't resist the call of adventure.
So here I was, adventure calling my name loud and clear, in the cockpit of my plane, flying solo over the Atlantic Ocean. I probably sound like I'm insane, but I don't really care. I was having so much fun all by myself out where I could be who I was made to be-a girl who defeated unfair boundaries and chased her childhood dreams.
“By golly, I could do this every day!" I exclaimed to myself, knowing no one else would hear me. “Ms. Earhart, come in, Ms. Earhart,” Came a voice over my long-distance radio. “Captain Earhart reporting,” I replied, confirming my presence. I never liked to be called “Ms. Earhart”. I prefer Captain Earhart much better. “You're still flying at a southeast degree, roger?” The man asked. “Oooh,” I said, glancing quickly at my compass. “Something wrong?” The captain half-piloting over the radio questioned, concerned. “I don't think I'm going exactly southeast,” I replied, considerably embarrassed. “Well, do you know how to get back on course?” He asked, untimely worried. “I think so,” I said, now looking at my gas gauge. I tapped it, not believing the level the tank appeared to hold. “Captain, my gas seems to be low,” I reported over the radio. “What?!” He exclaimed unbelievingly. “That's impossible! There's no way. You must be joking. Come now, Ms. Earhart. This is not a funny joke.” He said seriously. I sighed. Why did no one ever believe me? “I'm not joking, Captain. It says right here, ¼ of a gallon, right here on the gauge,” I verified. “Well then, Ms. Earhart, I suggest you find somewhere to land so you can refill,” the captain said stiffly, a touch of restrained concern in his gruff voice. I peered out over the sea. “There’s nowhere in sight to land, Captain, and I don't have any gas left,” I told him, trying to hide my own alarm. “Fly a little farther to the south. There should be an island about ten minutes away from you in that area,” The Captain instructed quickly. “Yes, sir.”
I set in search of the small island, but even after seven minutes, I was getting very nervous. Still all I could see was the never-ending stretch of adventure painted out in front of me. For a split second I found myself panicking and becoming nervous. “Amelia, get it together,” I severely, silently scolded myself. Still seeing only water, I decided to buckle a parachute pack to my back in case I had to jump. As I did this, I also spotted a nicely-sized rubber raft that could automatically fill itself with air when unfolded. I put this in another compartment of the parachute pack, deciding to be ready for anything. From the little cabinet where packaged food was stored, I took some canned items, a can opener, some fruit, and an enormous Thermos jug of water. I then took a portable, waterproof, hand-held radio communicator, all of which I also put in the parachute pack. I walked back to the cockpit and took control of my plane again. “Anything yet, Ms. Earhart?& rdquo; The Captain kept asking over the radio every thirty seconds. “No,” was my answer every time.
Wait! “What is that over to the left?” I asked myself excitedly as I squinted to see farther out. At first it only seemed a sand bar, but soon I could depict a very small island one thousand feet ahead of me! “Anything, Ms. Earhart?” The Captain asked once more. “In front of me! I can't believe it!” I began, unable to contain my relief. “I'm sorry…what…the connection…ten four…” These haunting words came through hoarse, staticky, and crackled over the radio. Now I was frightened. What was wrong with the radio? Soon I realized I didn't have time to worry about that now.
Suddenly, I felt my plane jolt. I heard the engine sputter. I saw the island only inches in front of me. “Oh, no,” I thought. Quickly, within seconds, I thrust the door of the cockpit open and, almost forgetting to snatch a model plane figurine my parents had given me, I traded chances for adventure. I made one mighty, heaving jump.
Behind me, I could hear my plane sputter the last bit of fuel out of the tank, then fall downwards. It crashed in the ocean before I landed. During my drop downwards, I had found the raft and unfolded it while I was in the air. It had finished automatically filling up just as I reached the water. I put the raft under me just in time, holding on to the sides, as I splashed with force onto the water. The large ripples from the plane landing in the shallow water were still resounding, sending me gently up onto the sandy shore of the deserted island.
Deciding I might need shelter for the night, I took a chance and made the decision to pull my plane out of the water and onto the beach. Coincidentally finding a long rope in the parachute pack, I attached it to a hook on the front of the plane. I tightened the rope. I pulled. I heaved backwards. Needless to say, the plane was very heavy. I had a time trying to get it out of the shallow water, but I finally managed to. I lugged it up onto the shore, then climbed inside it to examine how much damage had occurred.
There was about as much damage as I anticipated, but I figured I could clean it up and last a while with the items I had. Things were sort of tempest tossed, seeing how gravity had taken a toll, but I hurried to clean it all up. Soon I had prepared a sort of bed with the captain’s chair and some blankets. I also prepared myself some dinner, since I was extremely hungry and worn out by that time, and settled down for some shut-eye.
When I woke up, the sun was streaming through the window of the cockpit. I had pulled the plane up under some tropical trees close to the edge of the beach, so when I stepped outside to get some fresh air, the scent was clean, salty, and sweet. I suppose you had to be there to know what I really mean.
By then, I had come up with a master plan of how to get off the island. I decided I'd better wait for a few weeks before I made any connection to anyone. I wouldn't answer the radio communicator unless it was a report of pirates in the area, and I would only listen to 20’s Hits and the weather on the radio. After a few weeks, I’d make myself known, and ask someone to come pick me up. I knew everyone in the world would be relieved that I was back safely.
That's why I wouldn't let them know! I would be in the headlines, “Amelia Earhart: Lost at Sea, Never to Return”. That was what I wanted. I mean, how many people return from being lost at sea? No one does. So I figured I'd keep it all a secret. I knew the right people who wouldn't tattle. I'd get private sponsors back in America, and be able to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills for the rest of my life. I was going to have a grand time. They'd all call me Ms. Everette Amherst, my new name. It would still contain some of my old name, but with a little twist.
A few weeks later, I was through with the whole island life thing. When I could stand it no longer, I finally radio-communicated the “right person”. “Mr. Kimberly, are you there?” I asked. “Roger. Who is this?” He asked from the other end of the line. “This is Amelia,” I replied. Mr. Kimberly was an old time family friend who would keep any secret I asked him to. “Mr. Kimberly, I'm in sort of a situation. You see, my plane ran out of gas almost three weeks ago, and I'm stuck on an island in the middle of, well, I'm not exactly sure where, and I'm fed up with being alone out here. I'm alive and well, but I'm getting a little lonely. Do you think you could send someone to get me?” I asked sweetly. “Sure. Now where exactly were you when your plane crashed?” Mr. Kimberly wanted to know. “At a southeastern degree, halfway across the ocean,” I replied vaguely. “Ok, Amelia. I'll see what I can do.” Mr. Kimberly promised. “Oh, and one more thing, Mr. Kimberly. Try not to get any publicity at all. I want this to be secret. Whoever sees me from now on will call me Ms. Everette Amherst. Thanks, Mr. Kimberly. Ten four,” I signed out, then began to prepare some lunch.
Thrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! The sound of a plane engine pierced through the quiet, dense, tropical air nearly a week later. I shot up, ran out to the beach, and began looking around. I spotted a plane flying high above the ocean, right above the beach. “Down here!” I began to yell and wave my arms. “Ms. Amherst, we are sending down a rope ladder. Please grasp onto the ladder when it reaches your level,” instructions from a plane hand came through a megaphone. I gave him a thumbs up, then anxiously awaited the ladder. After what seemed hours, the slowly descending ladder reached me. After making sure I had everything I needed in the backpack I carried with me, I began to quickly ascend the rope ladder. Finally, I reached the top. “Amelia!” Cried Mr. Kimberly when he saw me. I cleared my throat, as if to remind him of my new name. “Everette Amelia Amherst! Is it really you?” Mr. Kimberly corrected. I smiled. I liked the sound of “Everette Amelia Amherst”. “It's me,” I replied. I actually hugged him, since I was so happy to see an actual human after a month. “Your new home awaits you, Ms. Amherst,” Mr. Kimberly told me. “Mr. Kimberly,” I said, “thanks for keeping this all a secret.” Mr. Kimberly smiled. “You're welcome, my little adventure whisperer.”