Continuing with another journal entry in the admirable women series…I want to celebrate the adventurous spirit of Amelia Earhart. In July of this year, History Channel’s documentary “Amelia Earhart–The Lost Evidence” renewed interest in researching the mysterious disappearance in 1937 of Earhart and her flight navigator, Fred Noonan, when new evidence and pictures were found of the pair as she attempted to become the first pilot to fly around the world. Regardless of how she died, Amelia Earhart will forever be a lasting symbol of the tenacity and perseverance of American women!
I imagine any young girl who has studied the adventurous life of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to make a solo transatlantic flight, in history class, envisioned herself a little more daring…and a little more determined to follow her dreams, no matter what they were–I know I did!
The Adventurous Spirit Of Amelia Earhart!
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897. In reading about Amelia’s early life, you soon realize that she defied traditional gender roles at a fairly young age…she played basketball, took auto mechanics courses, excelled in chemistry, and served as a Red Cross nurse’s aid during World War I in Toronto, Canada, where she spent most of her spare time watching the pilots in the Royal Flying Corps train at the local airfields.
Ten Fun Facts About Amelia Earhart!
1. When Amelia Earhart was eleven years old, in 1908, she saw one of the Wright Brothers first airplanes at the Iowa State Fair. She didn’t think much of the plane at the time, and told her mother she had no interest in flying.
2. On December 28, 1920, Amelia and her father visited an air show in California and Amelia went on her first plane ride that day. She later said that she knew she had to fly as soon as the plane got a few hundred feet off the ground.
3. Another pioneering female aviator, Anita “Neta” Snook, taught Earhart how to fly at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California. Amelia worked hard at a variety of jobs from freelance photographer to being a truck driver so she could earn enough money to take flying lessons. According to the official Amelia Earhart biography website, Earhart immersed herself in flying and spent as much time as she could at the airfield. Not wanting to stand out from the other more experienced pilots, Amelia cropped her hair and even slept in her new leather jacket several nights to give it a more “worn” look.
“Flying is not all clear sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.” Amelia Earhart
4. Amy Earhart, Amelia’s mother, an adventurer herself, (the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado) encouraged her daughter’s passion for flying and even used some inheritance money to help Amelia buy a second-hand plane six month’s after her first flying lessons. It was bright yellow, so she nicknamed it “The Canary” and set her sights on establishing herself as a respected aviator, always displaying remarkable talent and bravery. In 1923, she became the first woman to get a pilot’s license from the National Aeronautic Association. (NAA)
5. Amelia Earhart wrote several articles that were published in Cosmopolitan magazine–ie. “Shall Your Daughter Fly” and “Why Are Women Afraid To Fly” recounting her adventures as a female pilot in an attempt to encourage other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially. (While commercial flights didn’t really take off until after WWII, they do date back to as early as 1914.)
“The most effective way to do it…is to do it! ” Amelia Earhart
6. In 1929, Amelia Earhart organized and then became the first president of the “Ninety Nines” a group of 99 women pilots that promoted advancement in aviation for women. The organization still exists today and provides scholarships and education for women who share the passion of flying.
7. The publicist, George Putnam, who had published several writings by the renowned pilot, Charles Lindbergh, proposed to Amelia Earhart six times before she agreed to marry him. Amanda Hess, of the New York Times, recently found a letter penned by Earhart prior to her marriage, where she states that she would not quit flying, and that she and George should not “…interfere with the others’ work or play.” In 1939, after Earhart’s death, Putnam authored Amelia’s biography, entitled “Soaring Wings” as a tribute to his beloved wife.
8. After a series of record-making flights, Amelia Earhart created flying clothes for women that were mostly comprised of loose trousers and zipper tops with big pockets. Later, she designed a fashion line that she described as being “…clothes for the woman who lives actively!” The clothing debuted with much anticipation and fanfare in 1933 at RH Macy & Co. in New York City.
“Nothing is achieved by people who give up!” Amelia Earhart
9. Although Amelia Earhart may be best known for being the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, she was also the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, and from Los Angeles to Mexico City, and from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey.
10. In June of 1937, Amelia Earhart embarked upon the first around-the-world flight. On July 2, after completing nearly two-thirds of her historic flight–over 22,000 miles–Amelia and her navigator vanished without a trace, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done!” Amelia Earhart
There are many theories concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart on her last fateful flight; some speculate that she ran our of gas looking for her next fuel stop on the Howard Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Others have thought she may have crashed landed on another small island and died as a cast-away. Some have even theorized that she and her navigator were captured by the Japanese and accused by their leaders of espionage.
Whatever your beliefs, I hope that Amelia Earhart is remembered most for being a strong female figure who encouraged the empowerment of women, in the best sense of the term, who radiated kindness, strength and independence and eschewed conventional female roles and forged new ones for herself and other women who would follow in the future! She truly was an admirable woman!
Here’s to each of us finding the courage to live out our dreams…no matter our age!
Do you have a favorite history book female role model? How did they influence your life. Please share!