1897 - 1937
"Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace with
yourself." These are the words of Amelia Earhart, one of the
world's most celebrated aviators, a woman who broke records and
charted new waters.
Amelia Earhart was the first child born to Edwin Stanton and Amy
Otis Earhart on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. Amelia and
her sister, Muriel, who was born three years later, had a
difficult childhood. Their father was an alcoholic and because
he often lost jobs, the family traveled a great deal. The girls
frequently missed school but still excelled academically. They
enjoyed books and often recited poetry while doing their chores.
Amelia and Muriel also loved sports, including basketball and
tennis. Their parents encouraged them to try new things, and
After graduating from high school, Amelia planned to attend
college, but her plans were put on hold after she met four
wounded World War I veterans on the street. After hearing of
their plight, Amelia decided to study nursing. During the war,
Amelia worked as a military nurse in Canada. At the war's end,
she became a social worker at the Denison House in Boston and
taught English to immigrant children.
Amelia enjoyed watching airplane stunt shows, which were quite
popular during the 1920s. One day, after taking a ten minute
plane ride, which cost $1, Amelia knew she must learn to fly. By
working several odd jobs and with the help of her mother, Amelia
earned the $1,000 fee to take flying lessons. Her first
instructor was nicknamed "Snooky." Ten hours of instruction and
several crashes later, Amelia was ready to fly solo. She made
her first solo flight in 1921. Except for a poor landing, the
flight was uneventful. By the next year, Amelia had saved enough
money to buy a plane of her own.
During the 1920s, Amelia lived with her mother and sister in
Boston and continued teaching at Denison House. Flying was
merely a hobby for her at that time. However, in 1928, Amelia
received a call from Captain Hilton H. Railey asking her to join
pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on a flight from America
to England. Although she was only a passenger, Amelia became the
first woman to cross the Atlantic on a plane called the
Friendship on June 17-18, 1928. A publisher named George Putnam
covered the story, and in 1931, the two married.
Amelia's 1928 flight brought her tremendous publicity, and she
subsequently endeavored to justify this renown. On May
20-21,1932, Amelia crossed the Atlantic on her own, establishing
a new transatlantic crossing record of 13 hours, 30 minutes.
Amelia was celebrated throughout Europe and the United States
and received a medal from President Herbert Hoover. Several
years later, Amelia became the first woman to successfully
complete the hazardous flight from Hawaii to California.
In June 1937, Amelia began what was to be her final flight.
Amelia and navigator Fred Noonan set out in a twin-engine
Lockheed Electra in an attempt to fly around the world. They
departed from Miami, Florida to South America, and then across
the South Atlantic Ocean to Dakar, Africa. After crossing the
Sahara desert, they flew to Thailand, Singapore, Java, and
Australia. However, after departing Lae, New Guinea for Howland
Island, the U.S. Coast Guard lost contact with the plane. They
received a final message on July 2 at 8:45 a.m., and Amelia's
tone was described as frantic.
The United States Navy searched extensively but never found a
trace of the aviators or the plane. The mysterious disappearance
of Earhart and her plane has raised considerable speculation
throughout the years. Some believe that she and Noonan were
captured and executed by the Japanese. Others speculate that
President Roosevelt sent Earhart on a secret spy mission.
However, none of the many theories for her disappearance have
ever been confirmed. In 1939, Earhart's husband published a
biography entitled Soaring Wings, in tribute to Amelia.
The American aviator Amelia Mary Earhart Putnam (1897-1937)
remains the world's best-known woman pilot long after her
mysterious disappearance during a round-the-world flight in
Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, the daughter of
Edwin and Amy Otis Earhart. Until she was 12 she lived with her
wealthy maternal grandparents, Alfred and Amelia Harres Otis, in
Atcheson, Kansas, where she attended a private day school. Her
summers were spent in Kansas City, Missouri, where her
lawyer-father worked for the Rock Island Railroad.
In 1909 Amelia and her younger sister, Muriel, went to live with
their parents in Des Moines, Iowa, where the railroad had
transferred her father. Before completing high school she also
attended schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Springfield,
Illinois, while her father fought a losing battle against
alcoholism. His failure and its consequent humiliation for her
were the root of Amelia's lifelong dislike of alcohol and desire
for financial security.
Amy Earhart left Edwin in Springfield in 1914, taking her
daughters with her to live with friends in Chicago, where Amelia
was graduated from Hyde Park School in 1915. The yearbook
described her as "A.E. - the girl in brown (her favorite color)
who walks alone."
A year later, after Amy Earhart received an inheritance from the
estate of her mother, she sent Amelia to Ogontz School in
Philadelphia, an exclusive high school and junior college.
During Christmas vacation of her second year there Amelia went
to Toronto, Canada, where Muriel was attending a private school.
In Toronto Amelia saw her first amputees, returning wounded from
World War I. She immediately refused to return to Ogontz and
became a volunteer nurse in a hospital for veterans where she
worked until after the armistice of 1918. The experience made
her an ardent, life-long pacifist.
From Toronto Earhart went to live with her mother and sister in
Northampton, Massachusetts, where her sister was attending Smith
College. In the fall of 1919 she entered Columbia University,
but left after one year to join her parents, who had reconciled
and were living in Los Angeles.
In the winter of 1920 Earhart saw her first air show and took
her first airplane ride. "As soon as we left the ground," she
said, "I knew I had to fly." She took lessons at Bert Kinner's
airfield on Long Beach Boulevard in Los Angeles from a woman -
Neta Snooks - and on December 15, 1921, received her license
from the National Aeronautics Association (NAA). By working
part-time as a file clerk, office assistant, photographer, and
truck driver, and with some help from her mother, Earhart
eventually was able to buy her own plane. However, she was
unable to earn enough to continue what was an expensive hobby.
In 1924, when her parents separated again, she sold her plane
and bought a car in which she drove her mother to Boston where
her sister was teaching school. Soon after that Earhart
re-enrolled at Columbia but lacked the money to continue for
more than one year. She returned to Boston where she became a
social worker in a settlement house, joined the NAA, and
continued to fly in her spare time.
In 1928 Earhart accepted an offer to join the crew of a flight
across the Atlantic. The flight was the scheme of George Palmer
Putnam, editor of WE, Charles Lindbergh's book about how he
became, in 1927, the first person to fly across the Atlantic
alone. The enterprising Putnam chose her for his "Lady Lindy"
because of her flying experience, her education, and her
lady-like appearance. Along with pilot Wilmer Stultz and
mechanic Louis Gordon, she crossed the Atlantic (from
Newfoundland to Wales) on June 18-19, 1928. Although she never
once touched the controls (she described herself afterward as
little more than a "sack of potatoes"), Earhart became
world-renowned as "the first woman to fly the Atlantic."
From that time Putnam became Earhart's manager and, in 1931, her
husband. He arranged all her flying engagements, many followed
by often strenuous cross-country lecture tours (at one point, 29
tours in 31 days) for maximum publicity. However Earhart did
initiate one flight of her own. Resenting reports that she was
largely a puppet figure created by her publicist husband and
something less than a competent aviator, she piloted a tiny,
single-engine Lockheed Electra from Newfoundland to Ireland to
become - on May 20-21, 1932, and five years after Lindbergh -
the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
During the scarcely more than five years remaining in her life,
Earhart acted as a tireless advocate for commercial aviation and
for women's rights. The numerous flying records she amassed
* 1931: Altitude record in an autogiro
* First person to fly an autogiro across the United States and
* 1932: Fastest non-stop transcontinental flight by a woman
* 1933: Breaks her own transcontinental speed record
* 1935: First person to fly solo across the Pacific from Hawaii
* First person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico
Breaks speed record for non-stop flight from Los Angeles to
Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey 1937: Sets speed record for
east-west crossing from Oakland to Honolulu
Honors and awards she received included the Distinguished Flying
Cross; Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor, from the
French Government; Gold Medal of the National Geographic
Society; and the Harmon Trophy as America's outstanding airwoman
in 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1935.
On July 2, 1937, 22 days before her 40th birthday and having
already completed 22,000 miles of an attempt to circumnavigate
the earth, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared
over the Pacific somewhere between Lae, New Guinea, and Howland
Island. The most extensive search ever conducted by the U.S.
Navy for a single missing plane sighted neither plane nor crew.
Subsequent searches since that time have been equally
unsuccessful. In 1992, an expedition found certain objects (a
shoe and a metal plate) on the small atoll of Nikumaroro south
of Howland, which could have been left by Earhart and Noonan. In
1997 another female pilot, Linda Finch, recreated Earhart's
final flight in an around the world tribute entitled "World
Flight 97." The event took place on what would have been
Earhart's 100th birthday. Finch successfully completed her
voyage, the identical route that Earhart would have flown,
around the world.
JACANA HOME PAGE
CLASSIC VIDEO CLIPS
JACANA ASTRONOMY SITE
JACANA PHOTO LIBRARY |
OLD MAUN PHOTO GALLERY |
MAUN PHONE DIRECTORY
FREE FONTS |
PIC OF THE DAY
GENERAL LIBRARY |
MAP LIBRARY |
HOUSE PLANS LIBRARY
MAUN E-MAIL, WEBSITE & SKYPE LIST
BOTSWANA GPS CO-ORDINATES
MAUN SAFARI WEB LINKS |
FREE SOFTWARE |
JACANA WEATHER PAGE
JACANA CROSSWORD LIBRARY |
JACANA CARTOON PAGE |
This web page was last updated on:
09 December, 2008