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Amelia Earhart: Why is Hillary Clinton backing new search? (+video)

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The group is planning to return in July, during the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s ill-fated attempt to fly around the world. It’s this effort that Secretary of State Clinton pledged to support in a Tuesday speech from State’s Benjamin Franklin Room.

“Now it has been 75 years since she set out in that twin-engine Lockheed Electra to be the first pilot, man or woman, to fly around the world along the longest equatorial route,” said Clinton. “Her legacy resonates today for anyone, girls and boys, who dreams of the stars.”

Why the US support for this effort? Well, for one thing, Clinton herself is something of an Earhart aficionado. She said that when she was growing up in Illinois her mother was an Earhart fan and filled her ears with stories of the aviatrix’s derring-do. This led Clinton to dream of herself becoming an astronaut – so she wrote NASA when she was 13 to ask whether she could qualify.

“NASA wrote me back and said there would not be any women astronauts. And I was just crestfallen,” she said in her speech.

A second reason for today’s government involvement is that the US government was heavily involved with Earhart’s effort in the first place, in part due to its demonstration of American skill and technology during the Great Depression. State Department personnel arranged for visas and safe conduct for Earhart and Noonan and helped shepherd them along the way. On the day she disappeared, a US Coast Guard cutter, the Itasca, was in position off Howland to aid in radio direction finding and resupply.

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