South Whidbey residents chat with artist Alexei Kazantsev (right) as they look over his recently-installed sculpture of Amelia Earhart near a small airstrip. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/South Whidbey Record)

South Whidbey residents chat with artist Alexei Kazantsev (right) as they look over his recently-installed sculpture of Amelia Earhart near a small airstrip. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/South Whidbey Record)

‘Case closed’: Amelia Earhart spotted in Whidbey Island forest

‘They’ve been looking on the wrong island all this time’ said the Langley resident who found her.

LANGLEY — A sighting of famed aviator Amelia Earhart was reported on Whidbey Island.

“I came through the woods and there she was,” said Fred Lundahl, a Langley resident and owner of the international store Music for the Eyes. “Apparently, they’ve been looking on the wrong island all this time.”

For decades, the search for Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, has centered on remote islands in the Pacific where she is suspected to have crashed July 2, 1937, while attempting to fly around the world.

Since human remains or pieces of the Lockheed Electra 10E plane have never been verified, theories about her mysterious disappearance abound:

Earhart was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II; she happily lived incognito among natives on a Polynesian Island. Last week, a researcher pronounced “the case closed” after his exhaustive study of radio transmission suggests Earhart’s plane landed on a reef near Gardner Island and she lived and died as a castaway.

Meanwhile, last week, Lundahl led a skeptical Record reporter down a South Whidbey trail to verify his exotic Earhart tale.

Walking at his usual can’t-be-late-many-things-to-do pace, Lundahl stopped and pointed from a small rise above Whidbey Airpark, a private air strip down Crawford Road.

“There she is, just like I told you,” he said before disappearing on another mission.

Indeed, a replica of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean now greets small planes and helicopters flying into South Whidbey via Whidbey Airpark, known as W-10 or Whiskey-10 on radio chatter.

The sandcasted sculpture was installed two weeks ago after Lundahl connected its artist, Alexei Kazantsev, with the air field’s owner, Sky Rudolph (yes, the airport owner is named Sky).

“She looks pretty good for being in the woods so long,” Kazantsev said.

“She’s taken on a nice patina. It mellowed her out, like a good wine.”

Kazantsev is a sculptor who lived on Whidbey until moving to Colorado in 2011. For one year, his tribute to the pioneering aviator stood as public art in Everett as part of the region’s celebration of flight.

Then she sat on his Whidbey property waiting under all kinds of weather for another public appearance.

“She was a great character, an American hero and a true pioneer,” said Kazantsev, who was born in Russia. His piece depicts Earhart with her famed aviator glasses atop her head and fitted into a small plane that appears to be ready to land.

“One lady from Boeing told me it’s bad luck to depict an airplane pointing down,” he said. “I decided not to state the obvious.”

Rudolph said he plans to make the sculpture a centerpiece of an outdoor reception area.

“Most private air strips have a tradition of an outside place to gather with a fire pit and picnic table,” he said. “I think she’s perfect for that.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Photo Caption: Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.
19th century farm families’ butter prints are coveted folk art

One example with a flower-and-heart design recently sold at auction for more than $5,000.

After two years of wellness, Covid finally hit this family, but thanks to vaccinations, the symptoms were mild. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Jennifer Bardsley’s fighting COVID-19 with vaccines and TLC

But even with vaccinations, the disease is scary for people like her with less than robust immune systems.

Turkey vultures’ pervious nostrils are among the features that help them feed on carrion. (The Columbian files)
In praise of turkey vultures, nature’s cleaning service

These raptors should be revered, not reviled, for their disposal of stinky, disease-laden animal matter.

close-up of gardener's hands planting a tomato seedling in the vegetable garden
This summer, it’s smart to go big or go home at the nursery

When buying annuals, vegetables or perennials, go for the 1-gallon pots. And don’t skimp on the soil amendments and plant food.

Most Read