This is an interesting column for me to write because of my early background in aviation. I used to fly under the Mississippi River Bridge, buzz the state capitol and landing in pastures and cornfields and on beaches. This was the age before restrictions and regulations.
It is not trite to say Amelia was an aviation legend in her own time. Above all, she was so appealing, courageous, glamorous and mysterious.
Earhart was a widely known international celebrity during her lifetime. Her shyly charismatic appeal, independence, persistence, coolness under pressure and goal-oriented career along with the circumstances of her disappearance at a comparatively early age have driver her lasting fame in popular culture. She is generally regarded as a feminist icon.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, situated on the banks of the west bend of the Missouri River. Defying conventional feminine behavior, she grew up as a “tomboy”. A young Earhart climbed trees, belly-slammed her sled to start it downhill and hunted with a .22 rifle.
She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields including film direction and production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.
She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone. She was also the first woman to receive the distinguished flying cross, which was awarded to her by the United States Congress.
It 1924, Amelia purchased her own plane and set an altitude record for women by rising to 14,000 feet. The second-hand kinner airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow - Amelia named her newest obsession “The Canary”.
In 1928, Earhart rode as an observer on a transatlantic airplane flight from Newfoundland to Burry Port, Wales. The flight made her the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air.
On May 20, Amelia took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Paris. Strong north winds, icy conditions, and mechanical problems plagued the flight and forced her to land in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland, thus becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone.
By 1934, Amelia had become involved in her various projects: lecturing, fashion designing, starting airlines, running the ninety-nines and signing on to teach at Purdue University. She became the friend of three presidents.
In 1922, she had been held in such awe that on the occasion of the official opening of the Franklin Institute Aviation Hall in Philadelphia, the twin attractions were Orville Wright standing next to the engine that had powered his epic flight at Kitty Hawk, and Amelia standing under the Vega, in which she had flown the Atlantic.
In 1937, Amelia was ready for a monumental and final challenge: to be the first woman to fly around the world. She and her navigator Fred Noonan took off in the twin engine Lockheed Electra from Oakland, California. After over 20,000 miles into their flight, they disappeared over the Pacific, never to be seen again.
There is no doubt, however, that the world will always remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision and groundbreaking achievements.