Saturday, 18 October 2014

Amelia Earhart

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. 

Earhart made great strides to open aviation for women and became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland in1935. This also made Earhart the first person fly solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Earhart joined the faculty of Purdue University the same year, which lead to Earhart purchasing a Lockheed Electra through the University. This allowed Earhart to fulfill her dream to circumnavigate the globe by air. 


Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly solo around the world; she wanted to fly at or near the equator, where the planet was its widest. Earhart planned to make the longest flight around the globe possible. 


On June 1, 1937, Earhart took off from Miami, Florida and flew towards Central and South America, before turning east to Africa. With her was Fred Noonan, who would serve as navigator, having had vast experience in marine and flight navigation. 


Earhart and Noonan landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29 and prepared for the last leg of the flight. They had already flown 22,000 miles, and the remaining 7,000 would be over the Pacific. 


Earhart and Noonan left Lae on July 2, and headed toward Howland Island; between Hawaii and Australia. They faced several problems that lead to disaster later on, including extreme overcast conditions, lack of radio equipment with short wave frequencies and maps that were later discovered to be inaccurate. 


Misunderstandings over the check-in times and confusion over which frequencies to use led to Earhart being unable to reach U.S. Coast Guard cutter, Itasca. Radio reception was poor and the messages were often lost or garbled. Two hours after Earhart was supposed to arrive in Howland, the Itasca, received a final static filled message that Earhart and Noonan were almost out of fuel and could not see the island. The crew tried to signal the ships location by sending up black smoke, but the plane failed to appear. 


The United States Navy searched extensively but no trace of the aviators or the plane was ever found. Amelia Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939. Some historians believe Earhart and Noonan flew without radio transmission for some time after their last radio signal and landed at Gardner Island (known today as Nikumaroro),  400 miles southeast of Howland Island, where the pair would ultimately die.


Over 70 years after she disappeared, Earhart’s legacy continues. A film about her life, entitled “Amelia” was released in 2009 and starred Hilary Swank as Earhart. Filming took place around the world, including at Acadia University in Wolfville. The film currently has a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Amelia Earhart - Biography 

Amelia Earhart Museum

Amelia Earhart - Facts & Summary

Amelia Earhart Famous Female Aviator

The Official Website of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart - The Last Flight

Oscar winner Hilary Swank earns her wings as she plays missing pilot Amelia Earhart

Women In Aviation And Space History

Amelia (2009) IMDb

Filming wraps in Nova Scotia for film about Amelia Earhart starring Hilary Swank

Acadia A Movie Set

Amelia - Rotten Tomatoes

No comments:

Post a Comment