Amelia Earhart

Who is she?

  • Amelia Mary Earhart was born on 24 July 1897 in Atchison, Kansas (US). Amelia started her fascination with aircraft when she attended a stunt-flying exhibition and on 28 December 1920 she had her first ride in an aircraft that would start off her career in aviation (20091).
  • In 1921, Amelia had her first flying lesson and six months later she brought her first aircraft (a Kinner Airster) which she flew to gain her first women’s flying record (20091).
  • In 1928 she joined pilot Wilmer “Bill” Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis E. “Slim” Gordon on a flight from Trepassey harbour, Newfoundland to Burry Port, Wales in a Fokker F7 (Friendship) to become the first woman to fly the Atlantic (20091).
  • Amelia met her future husband (George Putnam) while preparing for the Atlantic crossing and later married him in 1931. Amelia wanted to become the first woman and the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic, and so in 1932 she took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland on a flight to Paris however, strong north winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems forced her to land in a farmers pasture near Londonderry, Ireland (20091). Amelia was presented with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society and Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross (first woman). Earhart felt the flight proved that men and women were equal in "jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness and willpower" (20091).
  • In the following years Amelia continued to break numerous records including: a new altitude record; first person to fly solo across the Pacific (Honolulu to Oakland, California); and the first to solo from Mexico City to Newark (20091).

Amelia’s Final Flight…

As Amelia approached her 40th birthday in 1937 she wanted to set herself one more final challenge – to be the first woman to fly around the world (20091). Her first attempt in March failed but she had her twin engine Lockheed Electra rebuilt. On 1st June, Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan set off from Miami to begin their 29,000-mile journey, and on 29th June they landed in Lae, New Guinea (7,000 miles left to go) (20091). Inaccurate maps made navigating harder for Noonan, and their next leg to Howland Island was very challenging. Howland Island is located 2,556 miles from Lae in the mid-Pacific and is a mile and a half long and a half mile wide (20091). All unnecessary items were taken out of the aircraft to make room for more fuel giving them about 274 extra miles, and as Howland Island is a very small place, the US Coast Guard cutter Itasca (their radio contact) was stationed just offshore the island along with two other US ships that were told to burn every light on board and were positioned along the flight route as markers (20091). At 10am local time (zero Greenwich Time) on 2nd July they took off from Lae and although the weather forecast was good they flew into overcast skies and intermittent rain showers which made it harder for them to navigate. As dawn approached Amelia called the ITASCA, reporting “cloudy, weather cloudy” and in later transmission she asked the ITASCA to take bearings on her position (20091). The ITASCA sent back a number of transmissions but she could not hear them and Amelia’s radio transmissions were irregular through most of the flight. At 7.42am the Itasca picked up the message "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet" (20091). The ship tried to reply, but the aircraft did not seem to hear. At 8.45am Amelia reported "We are running north and south” (20091). No more transmissions were heard from the aircraft. A $4 million rescue attempt started straight away and became known as the most expensive air and sea search in naval history to date. On 19th July after searching 250,000 square miles of ocean, the US government called off the search and rescue operation (20091). The following year, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory. There are also a number of streets, schools, airports, awards and scholarships which have been named after her, along with a virtual shrine at her birthplace in Atchison, Kansas (20091). Although there are many conspiracy theories about what actually happened to her, there is no proof of what her fate was. In a final letter to her husband (if the flight didn’t work out) she wrote "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards…I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others” (20091).

Aircraft of Amelia Earhart:

July 1921 she brought her first plane, a Kinner Airster which she called Canary as it was a bright yellow 2-seater biplane (20091).

Neta Snook and Amelia Earhart in front of Earhart's Kinner Airster. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

In the summer of 1928 she brought an Avro Avian (a small English plane) from Lady Mary Heath who had flown it solo from Cape Town, South Africa to London (20091).

Avro Avian. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

In 1929 she upgraded from her Avian to a Lockheed Vega (Lockheed Vega 5b) (20091).

Lockheed Vega 5b flown by Amelia Earhart now on display at the National Air and Space Museum. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

1931 flew a borrowed Pitcairn autogiro (Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro) (20091).

Amelia Earhart with the Beech-Nut Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro. (image embedded from Amelia Earhart on 26 October 2009)

1936 she brought a Lockheed L-10E Electra and had it modified to fly on her around-the-world flight (20091).

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed L-10E Electra. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

Flying Records Which Made Amelia Earhart Famous:

  • Broke women’s altitude record (14,000 feet) (1922) (20091).
  • First woman to fly across the Atlantic (20 hours 40 minutes in a Fokker F7, Friendship) (1928) (20091).
  • Third in the First Women’s Air Derby (Powder Puff Derby) (1929) (20091).
  • Set women’s speed record for 100km with no load, and with a load of 500kg, and the following month she set a speed record of 181.18mph over a 3km course (1930) (20091).
  • Women’s autogiro altitude record in a Pitcairn autogiro (18,415 feet) (1931) (20091).
  • First women to fly solo across the Atlantic (14 hours 56 minutes) (20-21st May 1932) (20091).
  • First woman to complete a solo non-stop coast to coast flight, set women’s non-stop transcontinental speed record (2,447.8 miles in 19 hours 5 minutes) (24-25th August 1932) (20091).
  • Broke her earlier transcontinental speed record (17 hours 7 minutes) (1933) (20091).
  • First person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Oakland, California, and the first flight where a civilian aircraft carried a two-way radio (January 1935) (20091).
  • First person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City (13 hours 23 minutes) (April 1935) (20091).
  • First person to fly solo non-stop from Mexico City to Newark (14 hours 19 minutes) (May 1935) (20091).
  • Began flight around the world and became the first person to fly from the Red Sea to India (1st June 1937) (20091).

Other Achievements:

  • 3rd January 1921 – Started flying lessons with Neta Snook (20091).
  • 1923 – 16th woman to get a pilot’s license from the FAI (License No. 6017) (20091).
  • 1928 – Published a book (20 hours 40 minutes), toured, lectured, and became the aviation editor of Cosmopolitan magazine (20091).
  • 1929 – Elected as an official for the National Aeronautic Association and tried to get the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) to set up separate flight records for women (20091).
  • 1930 – Vice president of public relations for new airline, New York, Philadelphia and Washington Airways (20091).
  • 1932 – President of the Ninety Nines (women’s aviation club). She also wrote a book (For The Fun Of It) about her journey and flying experiences (20091).

Videos of Amelia Earhart.

There have been a number of books, advertising campaigns and songs made about Amelia Earhart, now there has been a Hollywood movie made about her final flight.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 26 October 2009) (Video embedded from YouTube on 26 October 2009)
1. FAMILY OF AMELIA EARHART (2009). Amelia Earhart. Retrieved from Amelia Earhart on 12 October 2009.

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