Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean, a feat she did in 1932. She was also the first woman to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, there were not many female pilots. She is the symbol of fascination that aviation held for Americans in the 20s and 30s. She became a national celebrity because of her talent in aviation. But her modest demeanor is what made her the perfect heroine for the media-conscious age.
On May 20, 1932, Earhart broke down barriers as the first female to solo pilot a plane across the Atlantic. She intended to fly to Paris in her single engine, trying to emulate Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight five years before. At the time, she was 34 years old. The flight lasted 14 hours and 56 minutes. She landed in Culmore, North Ireland. The site is now home to a small museum.
When she disappeared in 1937, the US government spent $4 million searching for Earhart. Her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, and the search ended on July 19. There were many theories how and where she disappeared. At the time, the search was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Here are some quick facts about the first woman to pilot a plane.
The first time Amelia saw a plane, she was not at all impressed. In her diary entries, Last Flight, published posthumously, she recalled a feeling she had in 1908. At the time, she was visiting the Iowa State Fair, and she was not at all impressed by “a thing of rusty wire and wood”. She discovered her passion for flying and planes much later, when she worked as a nurse at the Toronto Spadina Military hospital. There, she spent time at the hangars and flying fields.
Amelia might be the first female pilot, but she was taught by another female first. Neta Snook, the first woman to own an aviation business and commercial airfield is the woman who taught Amelia to fly. She gave her flying lessons in 1921. She charged her $1 for every minute they spent in the air.
Six months after she took flying lessons, Earhart bought her first plane. She named the plane “The Canary”. She paid $2000 for a used yellow Kinner Airster birplane.
Earhart worked a lot of odd jobs in order to earn money. We mentioned already that she worked as a nurse. But she also worked as a telephone operator, tutor, and a social worker. She was actually invited to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger in 1928 when she was working as a social worker.
At the time, Cosmopolitan was not all about “how to please a man”. Amelia was the magazine’s Aviation editor. She published 16 articles. Some of them included “Shall you let your daughter fly” and “why are women afraid to fly”. She talked about her adventures, and encouraged women to fly.
Eleanor and Amelia became friends in 1932, just after Amelia made her first flight across the Atlantic. The First Lady was impressed and inspired, and she signed up for flying lessons. She got a student permit and a physical examination. However, she never followed through.
Amelia is one of the few civilians to own such an award. She was the first woman to receive the honor. And if you ever wonder what do George H. W. Bush, John Glenn and Amelia have in common, the answer is Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross.
We mentioned Amelia was one of the first women celebrities. As such, it was only logical that she owns her own fashion line. Amelia Earhart Fashions were sold exclusively at Macy’s and Marshall Field’s. The line included dresses, suits, hats, blouses, and pants made of cotton and parachute silk. They featured aviation-inspired details like propeller-shaped buttons. She made her own samples.
When Amelia talked about her flight across the Atlantic, she mentioned a funny story. During her 2,408 mile flight, she enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate to calm herself.