As many of you may know, Tuesday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. And what better woman to talk about than the world-renowned Amelia Earhart! Earhart has been known for breaking many records and achieving what people thought was unachievable. Some of her most renowned achievements include woman’s world altitude record in 1922 (14,000 ft), the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean (1928), the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932), the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo (1932), and the women’s speed transcontinental record in 1933.
In The Beginning
In the summer of 1897, a tiny baby was born to parents Samuel “Edwin” Stanton Earhart and Amelia “Amy” Otis. Growing up Amelia and her sister Grace could often be found playing outdoors, climbing trees, keeping various bugs and worms, and wearing “bloomers” – something that was quite frowned upon during the time as girls were supposed to wear “appropriate” clothing such as dresses and skirts.
Despite her adventurous childhood, things began to take a turn for the worse when Samuel turned to alcohol. After the death of her maternal grandmother, the family had to sell their house, leaving them penniless. Things began to look up many years later when Amelia entered college. While she did not complete her program, she did gain training as a nurse’s aide from the Red Cross. After this, she began working at the Spadina Military Hospital, caring for soldiers returning from World War I.
An Eagle Spreads Its Mechanical Wings
It would be years later, in 1920, where Amelia rode on a plane. Frank Hawks, a famed air racer, gave her insight into a whole new world of air travel. This flight would be the one that put Amelia’s future career onto the runway. Her first lesson came from the hands of a pioneer female aviator named Anita “Neta” Snook. Amelia would work hard doing odd jobs in order to save up the money needed to pay for her flying lessons. It was in the summer of 1921 that Amelia purchased her first aircraft. A secondhand yellow Kinner Airster biplane that she nicknamed “The Canary”.
In 1922, Amelia flew her biplane to an altitude of 14,000 ft, where she set a world record for female pilots. That following year, she became the 16th woman in the United States to gain a pilot’s license.
Miss World Wide
In 1936, Amelia decided it was time to do something no other pilot had done before. Earhart wanted to, quite literally, take on the world. Many know of her due to this flight, as it was her last. In March of 1937, the first attempt at this record-breaking flight was made. However, due to issues with the aircraft, the attempt did not succeed.
The second attempt was the big one. Earhart and her crewmember Fred Noonan left Miami, Florida on June 1st and landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29th, 1937. The last leg of the journey was the Pacific Ocean. The pair left Lae on July 2nd, 1937 and the trouble began when they were nearing Howard Island. While Earhart was able to radio a ship to ask them to use their navigation equipment for direction finding, the ship was unable to radio back due to their own radio systems not being in tune with the aircraft’s systems. It would be shortly after this that Earhart and Noonan would disappear entirely.
While there are many hypotheses on what happened to the two, nothing concrete has ever been found out. The mystery of Amelia Earhart is still just that, a mystery.
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