“Everyone has oceans to fly if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” -Amelia Earhart
“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.” -Amelia Earhart
“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off! But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.” -Amelia Earhart
“There’s more to life than being a passenger.” -Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart (Lady Lindy)
Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. Amelia’s mother, Amelia “Amy” Otis, and her father, Edwin Earhart had a marriage that was constantly in a state of uncertainty. Edwin Earhart showed much promise but was an alcoholic, who was in a constant search to establish his career and put the family on a firm financial foundation. When the drinking would get really bad, Amelia’s mom would send her and her sister, Muriel, to their grandparents’ home. The girls spent much of their early years in the upper-middle class household of their maternal grandparents.
The family was reunited when Amelia was 10, but her father continued to struggle with finding and keeping a job, which led to a lot of moving around and attending many different schools for Amelia and her sister. Amelia showed early interest and aptitude in school for science and sports, but it was very difficult for her to do well in academically or make friends because of the constant moving. In 1915, Amy separated once again from her husband and moved Amelia and her sister to Chicago to live with friends. While in Chicago, Amelia attended Hyde Park High School, where she excelled in chemistry. Later in life, Amelia admitted the impact her father had on her outlook in life. Her father’s inability to take care of himself and his family led Amelia to seek out independence and life the mindset that she didn’t need anyone to “take care” of her.
In 1917, after graduation, Amelia went to visit her sister in Toronto, Canada. They attended an aviation expo, where a pilot flew his plane near her. Later, she said, “I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.” This was the beginning of her love of flying. Her interest in flying was solidified in December 1920. Earhart attended an air show in Long Beach, California where she took a short plane ride, “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said. Working at a variety of jobs, from photographer to truck driver, she earned enough money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita “Neta” Snook.
Just six months after she began flying lessons, she purchased her first plane, a bright yellow, second-hand biplane that she named The Canary. On October 22, 1922, Amelia Earhart flew her plane to 14,000 feet, the world altitude record for female pilots. On May 15, 1923, Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license by the world governing body for aeronautics, The Federation Aeronautique.
In 1924, Amelia’s parents finally called in off for good. Once their divorce was final, her family’s financial troubles forced Earhart to sell The Canary. She ended up working in Boston. However, her love for aviation never faltered.
In May 1927, pilot Charles Lindbergh completed a solo flight from New York to Paris, creating major interest in having a woman fly across the Atlantic. In April 1928, Amelia Earhart received a phone call from Captain Hilton H. Railey, a pilot and publicity man. He asked if she would like to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, without hesitation Amelia gleefully answered “yes!”
On June 17, 1928, took off from Trespassey Harbor, Newfoundland. She was listed as co-pilot but wasn’t allowed to fly. During this time, the belief was that such a flight was too dangerous for a woman to conduct herself. Approximately 20 hours and 40 minutes later, they touched down at Burry Point, Wales, in the United Kingdom. Earhart was quoted as saying she “was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes. Maybe someday I’ll try it alone.” The press dubbed Earhart “Lady Lindy,” a derivative of the “Lucky Lind,” nickname for Charles Lindbergh.
On February 7, 1931, Amelia Earhart married George Putnam, the publisher of her autobiography, in his mother’s home in Connecticut. On May 20, 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, in a nearly 15-hour voyage from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Culmore, Northern Ireland. Earhart and Putnam worked secretly on plans for Earhart to make a solo flight across the Atlantic. This would be the first woman and second solo person to make the flight.
Nearing her 40th birthday, Earhart said, “I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system…” Her plans were to be the first woman to fly around the world. On June 1, 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, departed from Miami. They began the 29,000-mile journey heading east. After 29 days of flight, they touched down in Lae, New Guinea. The remaining 7,000 miles would be done over the Pacific. The plans required landing on Howland Island, located between Hawaii and Australia and 2,556 miles away from Lae. However, this was going to be a difficult task. Howland Island is only 1.5 miles long and half a mile wide, making it a very difficult spot for landing. Because of this radio communication was established with U.S. Coast Guard ship Itasca off Howland Island. Earhart’s last communication with the U.S. Coast Guard was at 8:43 a.m.: “We are running north and south.”
Itasca began a rescue attempt immediately and the search continued for weeks, an estimated $4 million rescue authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but nothing was found. The official search ended on July 18th, 1937, however, Earhart’s husband, George Putnam, financed additional search efforts, working off tips of naval experts and even psychics. Sadly, in October 1937, he acknowledged that any chance of Earhart and Noonan surviving was gone and on January 5, 1939, Amelia Earhart was declared legally dead by the Superior Court in Los Angeles.
Since her disappearance, several theories have formed regarding Earhart’s last days. For quite a while the most likely explanation was that the plane ran out of fuel and the flyers ditched or crashed and then died at sea. Some investigators conclude that the Electra aircraft was not fully fueled. Recently another theory has gained some traction, Earhart and Noonan might have landed at uninhabited Nikumaroro reef, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean 350 miles southeast of Howland Island, where they would ultimately die. This theory comes from several on-site investigations that have turned up artifacts such as improvised tools, bits of clothing, an aluminum panel, and a piece of Plexiglas the exact width and curvature of an Electra window, even finding a jar of face cream that some believe belonged to Earhart. Another theory, less popular and a little on the conspiracy scale is that Earhart was on a spy mission to the Marshall Islands authorized by President Roosevelt and was captured by Japanese troops.
We may never know what really happened to Earhart and Noonan. We do know that Earhart dedicated much of her life to prove that women could excel in their chosen professions just like men and have equal value.
See you next week for another #InspirationalWomenWednesday. ❤
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31