Born In: Atchison, Kansas
Died On: 1937
Amelia Earhart was one of the most celebrated of all women aviators in the world . She was nicknamed as “Lady Lindy” because her achievements were comparable to those of Charles Lindbergh - the famous American aviator. She was a great inspiration for others and paved way for those who followed the same route, especially women. She is one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century, one whose tales vibrate and inspire people even today. Apart from being a great aviator, Amelia was an extremely passionate and ardent feminist, who fought for women rights.
Amelia was born on 24th July, 1897 in Kansas to parents Edwin and Amy Earhart. At the age of three, Amelia was send to her grandmother who looked after the little girl. Amelia as a child was more of a tomboy, hued with the sense of adventure. She would climb the trees, shoot rats and belly slam her sled downhill. She was a risk taker and would get into any adventurous activity just to experience the thrill of it. Amelia and her younger sister Grace Muriel were good buddies and had great times together. However, Amelia’s childhood was a bit troubled and distressed, as her father didn’t meet her expectations. She looked up to her father for everything, but Edwin was more interested in alcohol than the little girl. This left Amelia heartbroken and gave her an independent attitude. She started believing that a person can’t rely on anyone else, but self.
As a girl, Amelia went to Ogontz School in Rydal, Pennsylvania. At the age of seven, she visited the St. Louis World’s fair with her family, where she happened to experience the adventurous ‘Ferris Wheel’ ride. It was during this ride that young Amelia realized that she was meant for heights. However, fate had something else in store for her. She graduated from high school in 1916 and her desire to help the society led her to become a nurse in Canada. In November 1918, she enrolled herself into Columbia University as a pre-med student. Amelia, however, discontinue her studies, as she joined her family who shifted base to California.
Few months after they shifted to California, Amelia’s father took her to an aerial meet at Daugherty Field in Long Beach. The following day she was given an opportunity to board an open cockpit biplane with pilot Barnstormer Frank Hawks for a 10 min flight over Los Angeles. This flight experience not only revived her first love for heights, but also changed the course of her life completely. With her dedicated approach and parental support, Amelia started taking flying lessons. In October 1922, Amelia’s dream turned true as she was awarded her pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronatique Internationale. Six months later, Amelia bought a yellow Kinner Airster, nicknamed “The Canary”, which gave wings to her fabled career.
Soon after purchasing a personal plane, Amelia set a women’s altitude record of 14,000 ft in her ‘Canary’. The mid-twenties however came with its share of hardships for Amelia, as her family fell apart yet again, with her mother finally divorcing Edwin. Amelia started her studies in Columbia again and did well for some time, but lack of funds compelled her to move out of the school. However, these blows to her life did not stop her from doing what she loved the most. She remained an active aviator and a social worker. Her interest in social work and need for money made her join the Denison House in Boston as a ‘novice’ social worker, in 1925 where she got recruited as a staff member later on.
With little planning and saving, Amelia took a step towards her flying career. She joined the Boston Chapter of National Aeronautic Association and invested her savings in the company for it to build an airport and market Kinner airplanes in Boston. She took advantage out of the existing scenario to promote flying, especially amongst women. Her bold endeavors and fearless attitude brought her immense limelight with the Boston Globe quoting her as “one of the best women pilots in United States”. However, the high point in her career was when Captain H.H Railey referred her to George Palmer Putnam, a New York publisher, as the woman for transatlantic flight. Amelia accepted the offer instantly and created history, by becoming the first woman to fly over Atlantic. It was Railey who named Amelia Earhart “Lady Lindy” as he found resemblance of Charles Lindbergh in her.
The journey transformed the life of this daring young woman completely, as Amelia was appointed Assistant to the General Traffic Manager at Transcontinental Air Transport (later known as TWA) with a special responsibility of attracting women passengers. She organized a cross-country air race for women pilots in 1929 from Los Angeles to Cleveland Women’s Air Derby. In the same year she established “Ninety Nines”, an organization directed towards encouraging women to participate and seek opportunities in aviation sector. Amelia continued to work for the airline and was wrote regular articles for Cosmopolitan and other publications.
Amelia became an unstoppable achiever and her quench for more helped her set one record after the other. On July 6, 1930, she set a woman’s speed record of 181 miles per hour in a Lockheed Vega, a single-engine monoplane. The next year, on 8th April, she set an autogiro altitude record of 18,451 feet. Five years after the Lindberg’s flight in the month of May, 1932 Earhart took off in a ‘Lockheed Vega’, in an attempt to become the second person after Lindberg and the first woman to fly solo across Atlantic. Amelia was awarded the ‘Special Gold Medal’ from the ‘National Geographic Society’ by the then President of New York. Honors of all kinds and keys of various cities kept flooding in upon Amelia. She was also voted as the “Outstanding Woman” of the year, the title which she accepted on behalf of ‘all women’.
After the flight across the Atlantic in 1928, George Putnam was attracted to Amelia. The duo worked together which developed an intimacy between the two. The relation took a step further and resulted in marriage, on February 7, 1931. The couple tied the nuptial knot at Putnam's mother's house in Noank, Connecticut.
Though the exact date of Amelia’s death is not known, people often regard it as on July 2, 1937 en route to Howland Island. Amelia had apparently run into the storm after which her plane disappeared somewhere off the coast of the island and was never found. She was declared dead on January 5, 1939
1897: Amelia Earhart was born
1916: Became a nurse in Canada helping wounded soldiers in 1st World War
1919: Got enrolled in Columbia University
1921- 1922: Took flying lessons from Anita “Neta” Snook, former aviator
1922: Set women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet
1928: First woman to fly across Atlantic
1929: Placed 3rd in the First Women’s Air Derby
1929: Elected as an official for National Aeronautical Association and facilitated the FAI to establish separate world altitude, speed and endurance record for women
1930: Set women’s speed record for 100 km without load and 500 km with load
1930: Set speed record for 181.18mph over a 3k course
1931: Set woman’s autogiro altitude record with 18,415 feet
1932: First woman to fly solo across Atlantic. Received the Special Gold Medal from President Herbert Hoover
1932: Elected president of the ‘Ninety Nines’, a new women aviation club which she co-founded. Also, first woman to fly solo non-stop coast to coast, speed record of flying 2,447.8 m in 19hrs 5 min
1933: Broke her previous transcontinental speed record by making the same flight in 17hrs 7min
1935: First person to fly solo the 2,408 m distance across the Pacific Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California, carrying a two-way radio
1937: Took her last flight from Howland Island where she disappeared into thick clouds.