Sunday, February 17, 2008

History group seeks to link zipper pull to Amelia Earhart

February 17, 2008

MEADVILLE, Pa. — An aviation history group is turning to a historical society to see if a defunct zipper maker made a zipper pull found on an island where they think Amelia Earhart may have disappeared.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery asked the Crawford County Historical Society for help in determining the date of a small brass zipper pull made by Talon, a hookless fastener company that operated in Meadville from 1913 through the late 1980s.

The aviation group members found the pull in 2007 on Nikumaroro, a coral atoll in the western Pacific Ocean.

The island sits along the flight path from New Guinea to Howland Island that Earhart was following when her Lockheed Electra disappeared on July 2, 1937. The aviation group members theorize that the plane crashed on or near the island.

"This is exciting stuff," said Ric Gillespie, executive director of Delaware-based aviation group. "Now we have this site on the island that is producing artifacts that speak of an American woman in her 30s, and the only one missing out there is her. So, this is solid stuff."

The aviation group members would like to know when the pull was made to see if it was available when Earhart disappeared.

Anne Stewart of the historical society said she learned that Talon didn't begin stamping only "Talon" on its products until Jan. 24, 1937.

But Stewart said she is skeptical the pull could have belonged to Earhart in part because Col. Lewis Walker, who brought Talon forerunner Automatic Hook and Eye Co. to Meadville, actively promoted his product.

He would probably have capitalized on the publicity from Earhart's use of his product, yet there is no evidence he did so, she said.

"I would say that it is quite possible that Amelia Earhart was wearing a suit with a zipper on it. I'm just not willing to say that the one they found was one of them," Stewart said.

Stewart said more research must be done because a lot of Talon information is scattered about the Meadville area.

Gillespie said he wants to go to Meadville to compare the pull to archived Talon items.