As the time reached 10 a.m. (local time), Amelia pushed the throttles forward on her Electra and began the take off roll that would see them out of Lae and on their way to Howland Island, 2,556 miles away. At the end of Lae's runway the ground dropped away to the sea below, as Amelia took off the Electra began to sink until, according to eye witnesses at the time, she was just off the top of the water and the propellers were throwing spray into the air. After several seconds the Electra began to climb and soon disappeared into the distance.
At 0618 GCT Earhart came on the radio and reported: "POSITION 4.33 SOUTH, 159.7 EAST - HEIGHT 8,000 FEET OVER CUMULUS CLOUDS - WIND 23 KNOTS." This report would have put the Electra roughly 850 miles from Lae and near the Nukumanu Island, they were on course to Howland.
Hours later at 1515 GCT the U. S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca, who was stationed at Howland to help guide Amelia in, received another message: "ITASCA FROM EARHART - ITASCA FROM EARHART - OVERCAST - WILL LISTEN ON HOUR AND HALF HOUR ON 3105 - WILL LISTEN ON HOUR AND HALF HOUR ON 3105." Roughly two hours after this transmission Amelia announced that she was roughly 200 miles out and that she wanted the Itasca to take a bearing on them, and began to whistle into the mic.
Soon the sun began to rise and at 1815 GCT the following message went out: "PLEASE TAKE BEARING ON US AND REPORT IN HALF HOUR/I WILL MAKE NOISE IN MICROPHONE - ABOUT 100 MILES OUT."
Feeling that they they were nearing the island, Amelia began to descend and began to search for Howland Island. At 1912 GCT, while continuing to search, Amelia reported "KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE MUST BE ON YOU BUT CANNOT SEE YOU BUT GAS IS RUNNING LOW BEEN UNABLE TO REACH YOU BY RADIO WE ARE FLYING AT ALTITUDE 1000 FEET." 15 minutes she was on again, "KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA - WE ARE CIRCLING BUT CANNOT HEAR YOU GO AHEAD ON 7500 EITHER NOW OR ON THE SCHEDULE TIME ON HALF HOUR."
As Amelia turned on her receiver she finally managed to make out morse code 'A's the Itasca had been sending by request. She began to turn her direction finding loop coupler to try and take a bearing but was unable to get a minimum on the signal; eventually the A's stopped. At 1930 GCT Amelia picked up the microphone, "KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE RECEIVED YOUR SIGNALS BUT UNABLE TO GET A MINIMUM PLEASE TAKE BEARING ON US AND ANSWER 3105 WITH VOICE."
Fuel, as it inevitably does, began to run low and as there was still no island in sight realization, we, feel, began to set in. At 2013 GCT, with her voice pitched higher than it normally was and in such a way that those listening that day said they never forgot it, Amelia rapidly broadcast the following, "WE ARE ON THE LINE OF POSITION 157-337, WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE, WE WILL REPEAT THIS MESSAGE ON 6210 KCS. WAIT LISTENING ON 6210 KCS. ... WE ARE RUNNING NORTH AND SOUTH."
Nothing more was ever heard from Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Several hours after the last radio contact the Navy began the largest search every recorded for an aircraft lost at sea; however, no trace of the Lockheed Electra or Amelia and Fred was ever recovered. The disappearance has intrigued the world for generations.
The last know footage of Amelia and Fred on their takeoff from Lae
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, July 2, 1937
The Minneapolis Star, Friday, July 2, 1937
The Sacramento Bee, Friday, July 2, 1937
British Pathe Newsreel following the disappearance