Short 'last' film of Amelia Earhart surfaces

LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES- Amelia Earhart took off from Burbank, California in 1937 on her ill-fated round-the-globe flight. A photographer documented the journey's start, but the world was unaware -- until Tuesday -- that a home movie was also made that day.
A publisher released a grainy but extraordinarily well-preserved 3.5-minute film this month depicting the legendary aviatrix, smiling and self-confident, climbing aboard her plane the day before she departed on a trip that led to Earhart's mysterious disappearance over the Pacific six weeks later.

The clip does little to solve one of aviation's enduring riddles, in which Earhart, 39, and navigator Fred Noonan, 44, vanished as they were flying from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island on July 2, 1937.
But it provides refreshing, even haunting, new images of the pilot shortly before a disappearance that has entranced aviators and historians for eight decades.
The film was shot by John Bresnik, who tagged along with his brother Albert Bresnik, Earhart's official photographer, to the airfield where Earhart inspected her Lockheed 10 Electra.
Author and historian Douglas Westfall of The Paragon Agency, which is publishing the film clip "Amelia Earhart's Last Photo Shoot" along with a book of the same name, said he was approached a decade ago by John Bresnik's son, who revealed he had a potentially historic 16-millimeter film that his father had kept for decades in his office.
When the elder Bresnik died, the son kept the film untouched for 20 years, until Westfall coaxed him to let him make a digital copy.
"It was remarkable," Westfall told AFP about the black-and-white footage, which shows Earhart looking "coquettish, posing for the camera" in a stylish pants-and-sweater outfit.
"Looking at Earhart -- I mean, how many of those are you going to get in a lifetime?"
The photographs from the May 20, 1937 shoot, perhaps most notably the one of a smiling Earhart leaning against the tail of her Lockheed, have been seen by millions.
But history is "blessed" to have a moving-picture account of the day as well, Westfall said, adding that talks are underway for the film to be kept at an archive or museum.
"It was a man's world in the Thirties," Westfall said, explaining America's fascination with a female pilot who broke several records, including becoming the first person to fly non-stop from Hawaii to the US mainland.
"For a woman to be flying at all was special."
Her legacy continues to fascinate. This week, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery launches its 11th expedition in the South Pacific to search for more clues backing up the theory that Earhart crash-landed on Nikumaroro atoll.

Tuesday, June 9th 2015

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