What Amelia Earhart Ate Reveals Her Dedication to Aviation
Here's what the missing aviator consumed on board her marathon flights.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know that there’s been some pretty noteworthy discoveries made over the past week about the disappearance of aviation trailblazer Amelia Earhart. She’s been missing for over 80 years, and though the exact reason for her disappearance remains a mystery, historians have long stated that she likely died after her plane crashed. But a new photo may (or may not) depict her alive in Japanese captivity—and that notion has everyone captivated, from amateur history buffs to scientists.
We may never know with total certainty what happened to Earhart on that fateful trip. But we do know what she ate on it, thanks to a new report by NPR, which unearths several interviews and photographs depicting Earhart’s somewhat peculiar flying diet. Since flights could take up to 15 hours and all the items aboard the plane had to be carefully weighed, it does make sense that Earhart had to choose specific foods based on her flying patterns. In fact, as she told her husband, "Extra clothes and extra food would have been extra weight and extra worry. A pilot whose land plane falls into the Atlantic is not consoled by caviar sandwiches."
So, with caviar out of the question, what did she eat?
For starters, she’d enjoy tomato juice—cold in the summer, but "in colder weather, it may be heated and kept hot in a thermos," she explained in a radio interview.
Chocolate squares and raisins kept her company, too, and hard-boiled eggs were here “mainstay”: She affectionately called them "little clouds" and "white scrambled eggs." She also mentioned drinking hot cocoa in one particularly memorable interview.
More often than not, though, in order to maintain the minimal weight of the plane, Earhart would simply fast or subsist on tomato juice alone, and then enjoy tons of food and drink wherever she landed—to the point that she may have become unhealthy and malnourished. Her biographer notes she looked “emaciated and drained” in the last few photos ever taken of her. On her last flight, she reportedly boarded the plane with just a few cans of tomato juice.
While Earhart’s death—whether in on a Japanese-controlled island or due to a crash—was likely tragic, she was undoubtedly an extraordinary woman, subsisting on only tomato juice aside.