Denver's Amelia Earhart plays down her connection to the famous aviator

Like the fictional character Michael Bolton in the movie Office Space, Denver's Amelia Earhart has a famous namesake. But unlike the surly Bolton (played by actor David Herman), Earhart has never shied away from the connection.

In fact, Earhart, a weather and traffic reporter and anchor for KUSA 9News, has played the name game to her advantage — first as the inspiration to become a pilot herself, according to her 9 News bio, and then to drum up some fame of her own. Last week, Earhart announced that she will try to re-create the original Amelia Earhart's 1937 attempt at flying around the world; the aviator's plane disappeared during the adventure and was never found.

Denver's Earhart will be joined by another pilot, Arkansas businessman Patrick Carter, on the two-week, fourteen-stop flight, in a Pilatus PC-12. The aircraft company, along with Jeppesen and the Wings Over the Rockies museum, will sponsor the flight, which is scheduled to happen in June 2014.

The story has gone national since the prospective trip was announced, landing in numerous newspapers as well as People magazine, and scoring Earhart a segment on the Today show on August 2.

And it was that segment that helped clear up some confusion: This Earhart isn't actually connected to the sky-navigating predecessor of the same name. In fact, she told the Today hosts, she merely claims to be a distant relative of the aviator, not a close relation or descendant:

"My dad's last name being Earhart, you know, it went back for generations, and our family shares a very, very distant common ancestry to Amelia traced back to the 1700s. But my parents didn't really name me Amelia Earhart because of our relation to her — it's very distant. But the point is, they wanted to give me an inspirational namesake, a good role model. I had no idea that I would ever actually fly."

What hasn't flown is the notion that this Earhart is a descendant of the other Earhart — although several media outlets, including 9News itself, mistakenly reported that.

Two days before the Today show spot, 9News anchor Kyle Clark apologized on Twitter for a report that referred to Earhart as a descendant of the original flyer. Earhart herself also confirmed there that her namesake doesn't have any descendants.

Those tweets have since been taken down. KUSA news director Patti Dennis didn't return a phone call seeking comment, but it's safe to assume that she wishes the issue would disappear into the Pacific Ocean somewhere northeast of New Guinea.

Whistle stop: Colorado hero Missy Franklin won six medals at swimming's world championships last Sunday — due, in no small part, to Denver mayor Michael Hancock. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.

But Hancock did record a message wishing the Olympic star good luck before the meets in Barcelona — a sentiment that played for a couple of weeks as part of "Train Call," the art piece/message that greets travelers who ride the train at Denver International Airport. And it appears to have been a good luck charm — not that the eighteen-year-old Franklin needed much luck.

While the messages, and the chimes that accompany them, have changed many times over the years, Hancock, who represented northeast Denver and DIA on Denver City Council before he became mayor, has taken a much more voice-on approach than previous mayors, having recorded several new announcements. And he's not finished yet: Two more recordings are already queued up, one "cheering on the USA's women golfers as they compete in the Solheim Cup at the Colorado Golf Club from August 16th through the 18th," and another wishing "all the cyclists from around the world a safe and enjoyable journey as they race 600 miles through our beautiful state in the USA Pro Challenge," August 19-25.

"It will continue as an art piece, but it can be changed and modified," says DIA spokeswoman Laura Coale, adding that original artist Jim Green approves each new "Train Call" recording before it goes live. "I can't say there is a specific plan set, but a lot of the messaging revolves around what is happening in Denver right now, information that tourists and locals alike will find interesting."

And it was the mayor himself who came up with the idea to encourage Franklin. "We hope that the wishing of luck did have some effect," Coale adds.

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