ATCHISON, Kan. — Where is Amelia Earhart and her plane? It’s a question that’s baffled historians for decades.
This week the man who found the Titanic, Dr. Robert Ballard announced he’s searching for the plane in a new National Geographic special.
But there’s another mystery concerning the famous aviator that’s left Kansans wondering “Where is Amelia Earhart?” for nearly 20 years.
In Atchison, Kansas, there are signs commemorating the achievements of Earhart everywhere.
In Washington D.C. the U.S. Capitol paid homage to two Kansans in its famed Statuary Hall, ironically both from relatively tiny Atchison, for more than a century. But neither were Earhart.
“Nobody knew who they were. Probably a lot of Atchison people that would walk through the Capitol and would say that’s Kansas? I don`t know who that is,” said Jacque Pregont, a board member of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation.
In 1999, Kansas voted to replace both its allotted statues in the U.S. Capitol of 19th Century politicians George Washington Glick and John Ingalls with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Earhart.
Eisenhower’s statue was dedicated in 2003. The path to Earhart’s statue is as murky as that of her final flight.
“The original fundraising process just didn’t happen. It just kind of got lost in the background,” Pregont said.
Pregont is building the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum that will also house the only remaining model of plane that Earhart flew. She was contacted nearly a decade ago by the group Equal Visibility Everywhere seeking to see more representation of women in marble and bronze.
“Everyone knows Amelia Earhart, and Amelia Earhart should be in Washington,” Pregont said.
So they started raising money to help the project take flight again.
Approximately $250,000 later, Earhart was cast in clay in Colorado and eventually in bronze. All they needed was the pedestal for the 7-foot-tall Earhart complete with her goggles to stand on.
“Thinking we had a grand idea, we wanted the base to be Kansas limestone,” Pregont said.
That’s led to more delays in Washington D.C., waiting on architectural approval from curators known as Architect of the Capitol.
But Pregont said she’s followed the example of one of her heroes, and has never given up. She expects a dedication date in D.C. could be announced any month now.
“Today she continues to be a inspiration for not just girls for young men too, if you have a dream you should pursue it,” Pregont said.