Amelia Earhart rare photos on display in Hawaii

Amelia Earhart's visit to the historic Waikiki hotel will be seen in rare photographs from the 1930's.

By , Associated Press

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    In this January 1935 photo provided by Matson Navigation Company Archives, Amelia Earhart studies maps and charts at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. The historic Waikiki hotel is hosting an exhibition of rarely seen photographs taken of the pioneering aviator when she visited Hawaii and stayed at the "Pink Palace of the Pacific" during the 1930s.

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Amelia Earhart is returning to The Royal Hawaiian.

The historic Waikiki hotel is hosting an exhibition of rarely seen photographs taken of the pioneering aviator when she visited Hawaii and stayed at the "Pink Palace of the Pacific" during the 1930s.

The black-and-white images show a Earhart relaxing in a swimsuit and leaning against a palm tree while she gazes at the ocean. A few show her observing legendary surfer and Hawaii icon Duke Kahanamoku carve a pineapple for her.

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The photos show a side of Earhart many people might not be familiar with, especially those who have only seen her wearing a bomber jacket and aviator pants.

"They bring her to life," said Lynn Krantz, the archivist at Matson Navigation Co. which found the images in their files last year.

"For instance, when you look at this one and you see her smile — it's like whoa, joie de vivre," Krantz said, using the French phrase for "joy of living."

Matson, which operated a luxury ocean liner between California and Hawaii in the early 20th century, built the Royal Hawaiian in the 1927 to give its well-heeled passengers a place to stay in the islands.

One of the photos shows Earhart listening to guitarists on a lanai that's next to the lounge where the exhibit is being held.

Several shots show Earhart during a two-week trip to Hawaii that began in December 1934. She had arrived in Honolulu on Matson's S.S. Lurline from Los Angeles, with her husband George Putnam, a publicist, and a Lockheed Vega airplane.

The couple initially explained they planned to use the plane to tour the islands. A few days later they surprised everyone with the announcement Earhart would pilot the plane back to California, a journey no one — man or woman — had ever attempted. She completed the flight in 18 hours on Jan. 12, 1935.

Other shots show her on her last trip to Hawaii in March 1937 — several months before she vanished over the South Pacific during an attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world.

Earhart, then 39, and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared on July 2 en route to Howland Island from New Guinea.

Kelly Hoen, general manager of The Royal Hawaiian, said she's heard from longtime returning guests who are enjoying getting a glimpse of what hotel looked like when their parents stayed there.

Younger guests, meanwhile, are learning more about the heritage of resort, she said.

Hoen stressed everyone — not just those staying at the five-star hotel — are welcome to enjoy the exhibit.

"We encourage everybody to come and take a look," Hoen said.

The exhibit of 65 photos, which opened Saturday — Earhart's 113th birthday — is scheduled through the end of the year.

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