After hearing absolutely nothing on the news about Jessica’s amazing accomplishment, I finally came across this video on the MSN home page. Click Here to view the video of Jessica talking about her return to Sydney.
Congratulations to Jessica Watson who yesterday became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. I've been following Jessica's journey since it began and wrote a couple of posts about her on this blog. I expected to hear about her accomplishment on the national news, but I've been pretty busy and might have missed it. In any case, hers is an accomplishment to be proud of. It's also a record that should hold for a while; fellow sailor Abby Sunderland was trying to beat Jessica as the youngest but ran into some problems and had to put into shore. She is continuing her attempt and if she completes it will be the youngest person to make a solo circumnavigation, although with stops and assistance. Jessica's feat was nonstop and unassisted. The picture below is of Jessica and several other solo circumnavigators including the person Jessica beat for the title. I think it's the guy on the far left Mike Perham, but I'm not sure.
I've been following the progress of sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson as she attempts to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Now it appears that another contender has entered the race. Her name is Abigail (Abby) Sunderland. Her brother Zac held the record for a whole two months before another teenager, who was two months younger, took the title from him.
This story is interesting on a number of fronts. Jessica is almost half-way through her journey. If both girls complete the trip, Abby will take the title because she is five months younger than Jessica. Either way both girls are winners in my mind, and I wish them both the best of luck.
You can follow both girls' journey through the links below:
A few weeks ago I wrote a postabout Jessica Watson, the sixteen-year old Australian girl who is attempting to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. This morning she rounded Cape Horn. This is a major milestone. It's the first land she's seen in three months. The picture below was taken by Jessica. Later today her parents will be departing Chile and flying overhead. She's now making her way into the Atlantic and heading north for warmer temperatures.
As a writer, I'm always looking for great stories. Sometimes the stories come from the distant past. Other times the story involves a more recent event. For the past several weeks I've been following one story that is occurring right now and will not have a conclusion for another seven or eight months. As I write this post on my laptop, sitting in the comfort of my kitchen, sixteen-year old Jessica Watson is in the middle of the Pacific ocean. She is a month and a half into her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the globe.
One of the neat things about this journey is that you can follow Jessica through postings on her blog and a tracker on her web site. I've been checking in every couple of days to see how she's doing. The picture below is from one of her recent posts. I've enjoyed reading her posts about squalls, rough seas, visits from birds, and her daily routine. One recent post told the story about how after several unsuccessful attempts to catch a fish she finally succeeded, only to have a much larger fish take her catch from her.
One of my favorite stories of all time is the story of Magellan's attempt to circumnavigate the globe. He didn't make it, though a few members of his original crew did. While Jessica may not be facing some of the dangers that Magellan did, her journey is not without risk. In a week or two she will be rounding the southern tip of South America. The waters in this region are some of the most dangerous in the world. So I thought I'd write this post so that others can follow her progress and wish her luck.
Review of Amelia written by Ron Bass and directed by Mira Nair
Amelia is a solid bio picture that doesn't quite reach the same level as Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. Still, it is a movie worth seeing.
For the past few months I've been stuck in the late twenties and thirties. First there was the book The Lost City of Z, which told the story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest to find a lost city in the Amazon. Then there was the book Fordlandia, which also took place in the Amazon during the same period as Amelia. I've moved on now to the forties with Hunting Eichmann.
The film Amelia is about fame as much as it is about Amelia Earhart. Her story is an example of how publicity and the right slant can catapult someone into the spotlight. She was at the right place at the right time and happened to meet the right person, George Putnam. Her initial claim to fame was that she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. The fact that she was a passenger didn't seem to make much difference. She was promoted as Lady Lindy and a star was born.
Amelia was an aviator and could easily have spent time at the controls to lend the venture more authenticity. No one was more aware of the lack of credibility than Amelia. One way to alleviate her concerns was to do something spectacular. Her answer was to be the first woman to fly solo around the world. She relented on the solo part and agreed to allow navigator Fred Noonan to accompany her. The film is framed between this momentous flight.
Part of the problem with Amelia is the lack of conflict. What conflict there is comes across as manufactured. It isn't until she sets off on her around the world flight that the film picks up steam. Knowing that she doesn't make it adds a real sense of conflict.
Hilary Swank is perfect in the role of Amelia. She makes the most of what little the script gives her to work with. Richard Gere as George Putnam also does a fine job. Everything else about the film is top notch: the sets, period costumes, cinematography, and score. The flight scenes, however, look CGI.
So what happened to Amelia Earhart? As a pilot, I have a good sense of what was going on inside the cockpit. And the filmmakers got this part wrong. More on that in a minute. But the reality is that she was betting everything on her ability to find a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific ocean. If she were off just a few degrees on her heading, which is an almost certainty, she would have been miles off course. Flying low as she was would have made it even more difficult to spot Howland island. Once they reached the distance where Howland island should have been, she started flying a north south track in hopes of finding the island. What happened next is speculation. The most likely scenario is that she simply ran out of fuel and ditched. Another possibility, that has a level of credibility, is that she was able to ditch near a deserted atoll some 300 miles south of Howland. Some artifacts found on the atoll might prove to be from Amelia and her navigator. A search for more evidence is planned. Click here for more information.
The last few minutes of the film are of Amelia searching unsuccessfully for Howland island. The filmmakers portrayed this scene with Noonan sitting in back and with no communication between the two. I can tell you that Noonan would have been up front with Amelia searching for that island. This was a missed opportunity to ratchet up the tension. There's no way that he would have been sitting in the back looking through the small window that he had.
I do give the filmmakers credit for including actual archival footage of Amelia at the end of the film. The black and white footage was an appropriate way to bring the story to conclusion.
Lastly, while Amelia's attempt to fly around the world was admirable, there happens to be another solo attempt going on right now. Sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson is attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the globe. You can follow her progress on her blog.