Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, completing her historic journey in 1932.
Born in 1897 to Amy and Edwin Earhart, Earhart spend much of her childhood playing outdoors. Earhart visited the Iowa State Fair in 1908 and it was there she saw her first airplane. Earhart was, at the time, unimpressed, saying, “It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.”
Earhart had planned to attend college after finishing high school, but after meeting four wounded World War I veterans, she decided to study nursing. Earhart worked as a military nurse in Canada throughout the war.
During the 1920’s, Earhart enjoyed watching the popular airplane stunt shows. After taking a ten minute ride, she knew she must learn to fly. She began taking flying lessons with pioneer aviatrix Anita Snook and the two took to each other on site, having similar backgrounds. Earhart bought her first plane in 1921, and it was in that plane that she set her first women’s record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet in October 1922.
Earhart received her pilot’s license from the world governing body for aeronautics, The Federation Aeronautique in 1923 and was the sixteenth woman to do so.
In 1924, Earhart had to sell her plane since there were no immediate prospects of making a living flying. Earhart moved with her mother to Boston following her parents’ divorce, and she found work as a teacher, than as a social worker.
Earhart returned to aviation in 1927, and became a member of the Boston chapter of the American Aeronautical Society. She invested a bit of money in the Dennison airport in Massachusetts, and wrote articles in the newspaper promoting flying, and it was around this time she began to develop a following as a local celebrity.
In 1928, Earhart received a call from Captain Hilton H. Railey asking her to join pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on a flight from America to England. Earhart was only a passenger on this flight, but she was still the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The flight received headlines across the world, and the press began to refer to Earhart as “Lady Lindy”, after Charles Lindenbergh.
Earhart began to break aviation records on her own, becoming the first woman to fly solo across the United States and back in 1932. Later the same year, she flew solo across the Atlantic, and broke several more records for the flight. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, the only person to fly across the Atlantic twice; it was the longest non-stop flight by a woman and a record for crossing in the shortest time. Earhart received a Distinguished Flying Cross from the United States Congress, it was the first ever given to a woman.
Earhart was married to George Putnam in early 1931, although she kept her maiden name for the duration of her aviation career. Putman and Earhart formed a successful partnership and Putman organized several of her flights and appearances, notably her solo flight across the Atlantic in 1932.