Amelia Earhart: Most celebrated American aviator
Amelia Earhart was an American aviator who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean.
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. Her father was a railroad lawyer, and her mother came from an affluent family. While still a child, Earhart displayed an adventurous and independent nature for which she would later become known. After the death of her grandparents, the family struggled financially amid her father's alcoholism. The Earharts moved often, and she completed high school in Chicago in 1916. After her mother received her inheritance, Earhart could attend the Ogontz School in Rydal, Pennsylvania. However, Amelia became interested in caring for soldiers wounded in World War I during a visit to her sister in Canada. In 1918 she left junior college to become a nurse's aide in Toronto.
In the late 1920s, promoters were seeking a woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, and Earhart was chosen for the flight in April 1928.
Following the end of World War I, Earhart enrolled in Columbia University's pre-medical program in New York City. However, in 1920, her parents requested that she live with them in California, causing her to abandon her studies. During her stay in California, Earhart went on her first plane ride in 1920, which piqued her interest in flying, leading her to take flying lessons. In 1921, she purchased her first airplane, a Kinner Airster, and earned her pilot's license two years later. In the mid-1920s, Earhart relocated to Massachusetts and worked as a social worker at the Denison House, a Boston settlement home for immigrants. She continued to pursue her passion for aviation during this time.
In the late 1920s, promoters were seeking a woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, and Earhart was chosen for the flight in April 1928. Some believed her selection was influenced by her resemblance to Charles Lindbergh, who had become the first man to fly nonstop solo across the Atlantic the year before. On June 17, 1928, Earhart embarked on the journey as a passenger on a seaplane flown by Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon from Trepassey, Newfoundland, Canada. After arriving at Burry Port, Wales, on June 18, Earhart became an international sensation. She recounted her experience in her book "20 Hrs. 40 Min." (1928) and went on a lecture tour throughout the United States. Publisher George Palmer Putnam, who had helped coordinate the historic flight, handled much of the publicity. Earhart and Putnam married in 1931, but she continued to pursue her career under her maiden name. In the same year, she also set a record for altitude by piloting an autogiro to 18,415 feet (5,613 meters).
With a strong determination to uphold the reputation garnered from her 1928 flight, Earhart took on the challenge of flying solo across the Atlantic on May 20-21, 1932. Despite facing several obstacles, including mechanical issues and harsh weather conditions, she completed the journey from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in a record-breaking time of 14 hours and 56 minutes. However, she could not land at her intended destination of Paris due to complications. In her book The Fun of It(1932), Earhart chronicled her life and passion for aviation. Following her transatlantic journey, she embarked on a series of flights across the United States.
Aside from her impressive flying accomplishments, Earhart was recognized for her advocacy in empowering women to break free from restrictive societal expectations and explore various opportunities, particularly in the aviation industry. In 1929, she played a crucial role in establishing an association of female pilots, which eventually evolved into the Ninety-Nines. Earhart held the distinction of being the organization's inaugural president.
Earhart accomplished a significant milestone in 1935 by completing the first-ever solo flight from Hawaii to California, covering a hazardous route of 2,408 miles (3,875 km), which was even greater than the expanse from the United States to Europe. Departing from Honolulu on January 11, she successfully touched down in Oakland after a grueling 17-hour and 7-minute journey the next day. Later that year, she also achieved another groundbreaking feat by becoming the first individual to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City.
In 1937, Earhart embarked on a mission to circumnavigate the globe, accompanied by navigator Fred Noonan, in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra. Starting on June 1, they embarked on their voyage, covering 29,000 miles (47,000 km) and heading east from Miami. Throughout the subsequent weeks, they made several pit stops for refueling purposes until they arrived at Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, covering approximately 22,000 miles (35,000 km).
Earhart accomplished a significant milestone in 1935 by completing the first-ever solo flight from Hawaii to California, covering a hazardous route of 2,408 miles (3,875 km), which was even greater than the expanse from the United States to Europe.
On July 2, they began their journey to Howland Island, which was about 2,600 miles (4,200 km) away. The flight was expected to be difficult due to the small coral atoll's hard-to-find location. To assist with navigation, two brightly lit U.S. ships were positioned to mark the route. Earhart was in intermittent radio contact with the Itasca, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter near Howland. Towards the end of the flight, Earhart radioed that the plane was running low on fuel. An hour later, she reported, "We are running north and south," which was the final transmission received by the Itasca. It was believed that the plane went down approximately 100 miles (160 km) from the island, and an extensive search was conducted to locate Earhart and Noonan. However, the search was terminated on July 19, 1937, and Earhart and Noonan were declared lost at sea. During the journey, Earhart sent various materials to her husband, including letters and diary entries, which were later published in the book Last Flight (1937).
Earhart's mysterious disappearance piqued the public's interest and sparked several theories and claims. Some people claimed that Earhart and Noonan had crashed on a different island after failing to find Howland, while others suggested that the Japanese captured them. Nevertheless, there was no conclusive proof to support these claims. Most experts agree that Earhart's aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed in the Pacific near Howland. A cultural icon, Earhart inspired numerous books and films.
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