A First for Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer who mysteriously disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world, amazed the public with her daring feats in the 1920s and ’30s. She set many records flying solo, including being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, the first woman to fly nonstop across the U.S., and the first pilot—male or female—to fly from Hawaii to California. She seemed born to fly, and to set distance, speed and endurance records.
Earlier in her career she achieved an impressive first: on May 16, 1923, she became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license from the distinguished National Aeronautic Association. It is true that 12 years earlier, Harriet Quimby scored her own historic achievement by becoming the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States, and on April 16, 1912, Quimby set an amazing record by becoming the first woman to fly across the English Channel, which she accomplished in 59 minutes flying solo in a 50-horsepower monoplane!
However, although Quimby was the earlier pioneer, Amelia Earhart is the woman aviator who captured the public’s attention and remains a fascinating figure to this day, her fame enhanced by her mysterious disappearance in July 1937 (she was officially declared lost at sea on July 18, 1937).
Her 1923 National Aeronautic Association’s pilot license was reported in the following two newspaper articles. This first article was published by the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) on May 17, 1923:
First Woman Gets Aviator’s License
Washington, May 17.—Miss Amelia M. Earhart, of Atchison, Kas., today received the first license granted to a woman by the National Aeronautical Association after completing the test flights during which she piloted her plane to an altitude of 11,000 feet, believed to be the highest ever flown by a woman.
This article was published by the Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) on the front page of its May 18, 1923, issue:
Woman Aviator Scores
Atchison Girl Pilots Plane to Altitude of 11,000 Feet
Washington, D.C., May 17.—Miss Amelia M. Earhart of Atchison, Kan., today received the first license granted to a woman by the National Aeronautical Association after completing test flights, during which she piloted her plane to an altitude of 11,000 feet, believed to be the highest ever flown by a woman.
Atchison, Kan., May 17.—Miss Amelia Earhart, granted the first aeronautic license awarded a woman by the National Aeronautical Association, was born and reared in Atchison, but has not lived here for several years. She now resides in Los Angeles, where her father, Edward Earhart, is an attorney.
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