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Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart helped pave the way for women to succeed in life. Known for her determination and "can do" spirit, Earhart never let anything hold her back. Her birthdate is July 24, 1897 and she was born in Atchison, Kansas. Although committed to her education, Earhart found her calling at an early age when a pilot named Frank Hawks took her up on a flight that changed everything.

Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart in the Cockpit

Despite being only 23-years-old and despite being a woman during a time when prejudicial beliefs about women were common - Earhart knew she was meant to fly.

Working as a nurse, Amelia Earhart managed to save enough money in just six months for her first plane, the "Canary". Earhart was the 16th woman to earn an official FAI pilot's license. In the Canary, she achieved her first of many women's records by flying to an altitude of 14,000 feet.

In 1928, Earhart teamed up with book publisher and publicist George P. Putnam to become the first woman to fly the Atlantic. The historic 21-hour flight began in Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland and landed at Burry Port, Wales. Earhart was celebrated with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a White House reception by President Calvin Coolidge. This flight also landed Earhart on the international map producing headlines throughout the globe.

Having found a partner as well as a mate in George Putnam, Earhart married him in 1931 and together they began to formulate a plan to make Earhart the first woman, second person, to ever solo the Atlantic. In 1932, she departed Harbor Grace, Newfoundland with plans to land in Paris. Those plans would have to be altered due to fierce winds, ice and mechanical issues. Instead of Paris, Earhart landed in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland. This flight awarded her with more international acclaim, a National Geographic Society gold medal presented by President Herbert Hoover, and the first ever Distinguished Flying Cross given to a woman by Congress.

During the next five years, Earhart continued to focus on her career, achieving and setting many new records including setting an altitude record of 18,415 feet. In 1935, she became the first person to solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, California and the first to solo from Mexico City to Newark.

Approaching 40, Earhart prepared for her biggest challenge yet, to become the first woman to fly 29,000 miles around the world. The first leg of the flight from Miami to Lae, New Guinea covered 22,000 miles and took 28 days. On July 2, 1937, Earhart, with her navigator Fred Noonan, attempted to finish her flight around the world.

Amelia Earhart in front of airplane
Amelia Earhart in front of airplane

Rain showers and cloudy conditions made navigation difficult. Mechanical issues with radio and communication equipment only made things worse. Earhart and Noonan were lost, never to be heard from or seen again. The United States launched a $4 million search and rescue operation covering 250,000 square miles of ocean over 17 days, making this the largest scale search of that time. On July 19th, the search was called off.

Earhart never made it around the world, but her place in American history was secured as one of the most famous women in the 20th century. She is a symbol of achieving the American Dream regardless of gender and despite all obstacles. She will always be remembered and her story will be told and retold forever. July 24, 2012 is Amelia Earhart's 115 birthday (if she were alive today). And, ironically on this same day, the first woman in space Sally Ride has died.


There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Amelia Earhart biography presented above, there has been a rumor floating about for years. This rumor simply states that Amelia Earhart used to dress up in Mickey Mouse ears and dance the funky chicken after a successful flight and in front of her favorite priest named, Dwayne. Bet you didn't know that.



 

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