Happy Tuesday and welcome back to a new edition of our history series! For this week’s history series, we will be highlighting Amelia Earhart’s aviation journey. As we know, Amelia Earhart was famous for becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, but what led up to her fame?
Born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897, Earhart grew up defying the typical gender roles imposed on young girls. She kept a scrapbook of accomplished women, took auto repair courses, and even attended college for a brief amount of time. In 1918, she attended her first flying exhibition in Toronto, Canada when she was serving as a Red Cross nurse’s aide during World War I. After the war, Earhart enrolled in Columbia University, where she focused on pre-med for a semester before transferring to the University of Southern California. In 1920, she took her first plane ride with WWI pilot Frank Hawks and was immediately hooked. She then began her flying lessons with female aviator Neta Snook. By the time she was 25, Earhart purchased a yellow Kinner Airster that was nicknamed “The Canary." December of 1921, she passed her flight test and two days later, sought out her first exhibition.
Within a short amount of time, Earhart had set multiple aviation records. In 1922, she became the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet. Ten years later, in 1932, she became the first woman and second person ever to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving Newfoundland, Canada and landed in a cow field in Northern Ireland a day later. Once she returned to the States, Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross- a military decoration award representing “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight”- becoming the first woman to receive that honor. Later that same year, she made her solo journey across the United States, starting in California and landing in New Jersey 19 hours later.
Not only did she achieve many goals for herself, Amelia Earhart also advocated for women in aviation. In 1929, she helped form the Ninety-Nines, an organization dedicated to supporting the advancement of female pilots internationally. She became the first president of the organization which still exists today and represents women aviators from 44 countries.
Once again attempting to become the first pilot to fly around the globe, on June 1, 1937, Earhart set flight from Oakland, California on a twin-engine Lockheed 10E Electra. Accompanied by Fred Noonan, they started their journey in Miami, down to South America, across the Atlantic to Africa, then to India and Southeast Asia, continuing their journey to New Guinea. They had flown a total of 22,000 miles and had only 7,000 miles left before they reached back to their starting point.
Although Amelia Earhart was known for her astonishing accomplishments, she was also known for mysteriously disappearing while ending her journey around the globe. On July 2, Earhart and Noonan departed New Guinea for Howland Island, where they would refuel and continue the flight home. This was the last time the pair would be seen alive. Once they lost radio contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized a massive two week search, ending in a declaration of the pair being lost at sea.
The public has never found out what happened to her or Noonan, but there have been many theories on what happened to them. This tragic ending does not disregard the fact that Amelia Earhart is one of the biggest inspirations in the aviation world, and her legacy as an aviator will continue to live on.
Read more about Amelia Earhart and the theories of her disappearance here: https://www.history.com/topics/exploration/amelia-earhart
Jenny Duong is a newly recruited Social Media Volunteer at Hera Aviation Group. She currently studies Global Business and Marketing at Southern New Hampshire University. Jenny enjoys traveling and often visits family in Vietnam during the summer. She also enjoys spending time with her dog, Macie, often binging reality TV together. Their current guilty pleasure is the Bachelor franchise! Her biggest inspiration are her two older siblings even after all the teasing.