Amelia Earhart, Record-Setting Woman Pilot: An Enduring Part of the History of Aviation
Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others. —Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart is one of the most celebrated pilots to ever fly an airplane. She set many records in her short life (she was 39 when she mysteriously disappeared during a flight in 1937), and her accomplishments and legacy are an enduring part of the history of aviation.
Article continues after this newspaper image from the May 25, 1932, issue of the Dallas Morning News (Texas)
In 1928 Earhart, already an accomplished pilot, was invited to join Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on a transatlantic flight. After waiting for the weather to clear, the team left Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, on June 17 in a Fokker F7 named Friendship. They arrived at Burry Port, Wales, in approximately 20 hours and 40 minutes. Although only a passenger, Amelia Earhart had became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by plane.
Earhart was now eager to make the same flight on her own. On May 20, 1932, the fifth anniversary of Charles Lindberg’s famous solo Atlantic flight, Earhart departed Newfoundland in her Lockheed Vega. Her goal was to fly to Paris as Lindbergh had done, but mechanical problems forced her to land in a pasture in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Earhart became the second person, and the first woman, to fly solo across the Atlantic—at the same time setting a new record for the longest nonstop flight by a woman. For her accomplishments she was awarded the National Geographic Society’s gold medal by President Herbert Hoover and the Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress. In August of the same year she became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the continental United States, setting yet another woman’s speed record. In January 1935 she became the first to ever make a solo flight between Hawaii and California.
Ready for a new challenge, Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. In her twin-engine Lockheed Electra, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left Oakland, California, on May 20, 1937. After several stops in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, Earhart and Noonan reached Lae, New Guinea, on June 29 with 7,000 miles left to complete the journey. Their next stop was Howland Island, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean; the pair never reached their destination. To this day many theories exist about Earhart's disappearance, but no conclusive evidence has ever been found.
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