County commissioner searches for answer to Amelia Earhart mystery

The life and mysterious death of Amelia Earhart are the fascination of Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman.

Amelia Earhart holds several firsts in American history. She was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and North America.

But her life and mysterious death are the fascination of Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman.

â??I have a true deep love and passion for Amelia Earhart and some people have told me thatâ??s my girl," Inman said.

You could say Inman knows the history of Amelia Earhart like the back of his hand. But as much as he values the countless photos, records, and memorabilia that he holds of Amelia Earhart there is one thing that he doesnâ??t have. You wonâ??t find it in his collection or in American History books; Itâ??s the answer to the great mystery of what happened to her.

â??The other stranger piece is, that has drawn me to her is, what happened to her? She canâ??t just disappear,â?? Inman said.

Itâ??s something that Inman plans to spend the rest of his life trying to find out.

According to Inman, there are three theories as to what happened to Earhart. Some believe she ran out of gas, ditched her plane, survived for a short time and then died. Others believe she went North of Howland Island, doubled back, ended up on the Marshall Islands and was killed.

Inman and The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, also known as TIGHAR, believe a different theory.

â??Thereâ??s a pretty strong indication that she went down on Gardner Island, landed on the reef, called for three days and the plane went down in high tide,â?? Inman said.

There is one thing in his collection that could help them solve the mystery and itâ??s something that Inman says nobody else has.

They are copies of the original engineer prints to Earhartâ??s plane and if TIGHAR finds any plane parts on their expedition next summer, Inman says he is the only one who will be able to confirm if they are actually from her plane.

â??In the end, if I can play an integral part in working to identify those plane parts and to solve the mystery, and to be at the table saying I was part of the team that eventually solved the mystery it would be just a terrific achievement in my lifetime that I donâ??t think I could ever duplicate,â?? Inman said.