Amelia Earhart: Queen of the Air
Early childhood and the First “Flight”
Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on 24th of July, 1897. The daughter of a Rock Island Railroad attorney, while she was young she spent her time in various towns, but her favorite place was always her grandfather’s house in Atchison. Here Amelia and her younger sister Muriel passed their days playing outdoors, climbing trees, and even hunting rats with a rifle. To the distress of Amelia’s grandparents, their mother Amy Earhart did not believe in molding her children into “nice little girls”, instead she raised her daughters as free-spirited and headstrong.
In 1904, Amelia convinced her uncle to help her build a ramp fashioned after a roller coaster that she had seen on a trip to St. Louis. Earhart’s well-documented first flight ended dramatically. She emerged from the broken wooden box that had served as a sled with a bruised lip, torn dress and a “sensation of exhilaration”, exclaiming that “it was just like flying!”
Family struggles and growing up
In 1907 Amelia’s father Edwin Earhart got transferred to Des Moines, Iowa, where Amelia was enrolled in a public school.
While family affairs seemed to go well, it soon became apparent that Edwin had an alcoholism problem, leading him to lose his job. Her father’s failure and humiliation made Amelia develop a strong dislike for alcohol and a great desire for financial security.
In 1915, after many struggles Amy Earhart left her husband, taking her daughters with her to live with friends in Chicago, Illinois. Here in 1916 Amelia graduated from Hyde Park School. The yearbook described her as “A.E.—the girl in brown (her favorite color) who walks alone.”
Beginning of a Long Love for Flying
In the fall of 1919 she entered Columbia University, but left after one year to join her parents, who had got back together and were living in Los Angeles, California.
Amelia’s life changed forever when on December 28th, 1920, her father took her to an airfield challenging her to take her first ride in an airplane. The flight lasted ten minutes and cost $10. Before the plane landed, Amelia knew she had to fly.
Working at a variety of jobs, including a photographer and truck driver she managed to save $1,000 for flying lessons that she took from Neta Snooks (a well-known woman pilot).
Six months later, Earhart purchased a second-hand bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane which she nicknamed “The Canary.”
However, despite her love for flying she was unable to earn enough to continue her expensive hobby.
In 1924 Earhart’s parents separated again. Amelia sold her plane and bought a car in which she drove her mother to Boston, where her sister was teaching school. Soon after this Earhart re-enrolled at Columbia University in New York City, but lack of money forced her to return to Boston. She joined the NAA (National Aeronautic Association), became a social worker and continued to fly in her spare time.
The big break
In 1928 George Palmer Putnam, editor of Charles Lindbergh’s book “WE”, about how he became the first person to fly alone across the Atlantic in 1927 (1902–1974), offered Earhart the opportunity to repeat Lindbergh’s achievement together with the pilot Wilmer Stultz and mechanic Louis Gordon. On June 18th and 19th the same year the crew successfully crossed the Atlantic (from Newfoundland to Wales). Although, Earhart never once touched the controls she became world-renowned as “the first woman to fly the Atlantic” and even the reigning “Queen of the Air.”
When the crew returned to the United States they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.
Putnam had officially become Earhart’s manager and in 1931 her husband as well. He proposed to Earhart six times and after substantial hesitation on her part she finally agreed. However, she always referred to her marriage as a “partnership” with “dual control.”
Across the Atlantic…
After Amelia’s marriage a rumor that she was a puppet figure created by her publicist husband spread like fire. To prove it wrong on May 20th, 1932 Earhart piloted a tiny single-engine plane from Newfoundland, Canada, to Ireland, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her landing in a pasture at Culmore was witnessed by two surprised farmers. When they asked her “Have you flown far?” without blinking an eye Earhart replied, “From America”. The site is now the home of a small museum, the Amelia Earhart Centre.
The Final Flight
By the age of 39 Earhart has broken several altitude and speed records and received numerous awards from around the world. But she did not stop at that. In June 1937, Amelia embarked upon the first around-the-world flight following the equator. On July 2nd, twenty-two days before her fortieth birthday after completing over 22,000 miles – Amelia vanished along with her navigator Frederick Noonan somewhere between Lae, New Guinea, and Howland Island.
The largest search ever conducted by the U.S. Navy for a single missing plane sighted neither plane nor crew. It is assumed that they were lost at sea. The life story of Amelia Erhart continues to live and inspire hundreds of women to pursue their dreams, no matter how strange or impossible they may seem to the rest of the world.
Amelia Earhart’s Quotes
• Never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.
• Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
• Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.
• The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
• A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.