Amelia Earhart: Pilot

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Famous aviator Amelia Earhart is thought to ha...

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart is thought to have crash landed on Nikumaroro Island when she disappeared in 1937. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century is the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart. During her flight across the Pacific Ocean, Earhart and copilot Fred Noonan made their last radio transmission on July 3rd, 1937 and were never heard from again. Decades later, people are still searching remote islands in the Pacific Ocean in hopes of solving the mystery. Though Earhart’s disappearance made her a legend, it was her quest for equality that made her an international hero.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. Her mother, Amelia “Amy” Otis,  was married to Edwin Earhart, a man who drank too much and was always moving the family in hopes of finding a job. In 1915, Amy took Amelia and Amelia’s sister too Chicago to live with friends. Though it was tough changing schools, Amelia excelled in her science classes.After she graduated from high school, she volunteered as a nurse’s aid for the Red Cross. While taking care of the World War I injured soldiers, she developed a strong admiration for aviators and spent her free time watching the  Royal Flying Corps.  In 1920, she took a plane ride at a Long Beach air show and realized she wanted to be a pilot. She took lessons from Anita “Neta” Snook and on October 22, 1922, she flew her plane to 14,000 feet, a world altitude record for female pilots.

On May 15, 1923, Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license. In 1924, Earhart’s family ran out of money and her parents divorced. Earhart was forced to sell her plane and become a social worker to make money. In May 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The interest for having a woman fly across the Atlantic grew and on April, 1928, Earhart received a phone call from Captain Hilton H. Railey, asking her if she would like to. Earhart said yes and traveled to New York to meet the press. On June 17, 1928, Earhart took off from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland. Joining her on the flight was Wilmer “Bill” Stulz and Louis E. “Slim” Gordon. Due to the poor weather, Stultz did all the flying. Earhart returned to the United States and was celebrated as a hero at a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge. She later admitted to feeling like “ a sack of potatoes” on the flight and was determined to prove that women could fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amelia Earhart was now a celebrity with her own clothing line and job at Cosmopolitan magazine. While she traveled the country competing in Air Derbies, breaking world altitude records, and marrying George Putnam, she was secretly planning her flight across the Ocean. On May 20, 1932 – Lindberg’s 5th anniversary of crossing the Atlantic – Earhart took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. Due to the icy weather conditions, she had to land in a pasture in Northern Ireland. Her 15-hour flight made her an international hero – she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart’s flight proved that women had the courage and skills to be pilots. Earhart went on to fly from Hawaii to California, becoming the first person to fly across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Earhart made numerous flights and broke several records, but her major goal was to become the first person to fly across the world around the equator.


On March 17, 1937, Earhart began her flight in Oakland, California. She landed in Hawaii for plane repairs, but the plane was damaged again during take-off. By the time the plane was repaired, weather patterns had changed so she had to fly Eastward. She and co-pilot Frank Noonan flew from Hawaii to Oakland, to Miami, Florida, to Africa, and landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29, 1927. They were headed to Howland Island on July 2, but they never made it. On July 3rd at 8:43, a ship heard a Earhart’s last radio transmission: they couldn’t find the small island and were running out of fuel. Despite the efforts of 66 aircrafts and nine ships, the $4 million rescue attempt authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt (Earhart was supposed to return to teach Eleanor Roosevelt to fly) failed to find the pilots.On Jan, 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.

Amelia Earhart learned from a young age to be independent since her father could not support his family. When she married, Earhart kept her last name and she made sure that her husband knew they were a team since she believed that women were equal to men. Though she was part of a publicity stunt in 1928, she flew the route by herself, shattering the idea that women were too weak to fly planes. After she disappeared, theories quickly appeared trying to explain her disappearance, but there was no proof. Then in May, 2012, a jar of freckle cream was found on the uninhabited island Nikumaroro: Earhart was known to be using the cream…


Sources:

Amelia Earhart. biography

Amelia Earhart

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