Amelia Earhart: Aviator, Pioneer, and Activist
Updated: Mar 23, 2019
Born: July 24th, 1897
Disappeared: July 1937
First Flight: 1920
Began Flight Lessons: 1921
Most Notable Achievement: First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, 1932
Growing up, Amelia Earhart stood apart from most girls her age. She was considered a tom-boy and loved spending her time outdoors exploring the world around her. Throughout her childhood, Amelia’s family faced a number of financial issues. Her father, who was an alcoholic, depleted most of their family’s savings. This put a great amount of strain on her family, and took an emotional toll on Amelia. Despite these misfortunes, her taste for adventure never waned.
As she entered high school, Amelia developed an interest in science, film, law, engineering and more (all of which were male dominated fields). Once graduated, she briefly attended junior college and then became a nurse’s aide in Toronto, Canada during World War I. She tended to soldiers and veterans until the end of WWI in 1918.
In 1920, Amelia got her first taste of flying. At an air show she attended in southern California, she took her first flight with Frank Hawks. After that flight, Amelia knew she had to keep flying. In 1921, she began to take flight lessons. In order to pay for these lessons, Amelia worked numerous jobs, day and night, to save all of her money for her future in aviation. Amelia also faced push-back from other male aviators. They questioned if she would be able to become a competent pilot. But she proved them wrong. Later that year, her dedication and hard work paid off. She acquired her pilot's license and bought her first airplane. From then on Amelia Earhart began setting records and breaking barriers.
Some of Amelia Earhart’s most notable achievements include:
--> First woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, 1932
--> Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 1932
--> First woman to solo nonstop across the United States, 1932
--> First person to fly solo from Hawaii to the US mainland, 1935
--> First person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City, 1935
During her career, Amelia also was big activist for women's rights. She encouraged and supported women interested in flying and helped create opportunities for them. Amelia also aided in the creation of the Ninety Nines, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in aviation. Today, the Ninety Nines continue to provide resources, support and opportunities for female pilots in 44 countries.
Amelia Earhart was a pioneer in the field of aviation and opened numerous doors for women. But her career was cut short. In July of 1937, Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set out to become the first pilot to fly around the world. During her attempt to make this flight, she lost radio contact with a U.S. Coast Guard ship over the Pacific, and was never seen again. Scientists and others have theorized the cause for her disappearance, but no one knows for sure what really happened.
What we do know is that through Amelia’s determination, tenacity and hard work, she was able to achieve her dreams of flying. To this day she continues to inspire women around the world to do the same.