This next post on our fantastic blog series for Women’s History Month is quite inspiring and up in the air. Are there any women pilots in the world today? Militaries? Yes. But not so many for commercial flights. We go back in time to remember the life of a woman who defied all odds.
Amelia Earhart: the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean
When we were given the opportunity to write about women who inspire us, my first thought was “of course, her”… but my second one was “oh crap, who has inspired me? Like really inspired me?” For about three days, I was in a state of panic. I really wanted to write this post, but I couldn’t think of anyone to write about.
At one point I even thought about backing out of the assignment, but then I started remembering women we had talked about in school and all of a sudden I realized how many inspiring women I actually know of.
One incredible woman in particular has taught me that to be great then you have to believe in your dreams, and that is Amelia Earhart. Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. She was a tomboy, who loved to climb trees and was often looked at with disapproval and doubt for her non-girly behavior.
I first heard of Amelia Earhart when I was in the 3rd grade. Our history teacher was telling us the names of all these male aviators, but at the end he said: “But none of them was as great as Amelia Earhart.” I remember that I hadn’t really been paying attention, because I was not in the least bit interested in airplanes or who flew them, but when I heard her name was like: “Hey! That’s a girl’s name!”
So 9 year-old me listened with great interest to the rest of the class, I even drew a picture of Amelia in a plane that my teacher asked if he could keep. I wonder where it is now…
When Amelia was 10 years old, she saw her first plane at a state fair, but it wasn’t until almost a decade later, when Amelia attended a stunt-flying exhibition, that she became seriously interested in aviation. On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks took her on a 10-minute plane ride that changed her life forever.
To be able to take flying lessons, Amelia earned $1,000 by working many different jobs and finally after 10 hours of instruction, Amelia was ready to fly alone. In six months she managed to save enough money to buy her first plane. The second-hand Kinner Airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow. Amelia named the plane “Canary,” and used it to set her first women’s record by rising 14,000 feet of the ground.
From June 17th to 18th, 1928, Amelia was a passenger on a plane called Friendship that flew from America to England, which made her become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Their landmark flight made headlines worldwide, because three women had died within the year trying to be that first woman. When the crew returned to the United States they were greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York and a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.
After that, Amelia’s life revolved around flying. She placed third at the Cleveland Women’s Air Derby, and was later given the nickname “Powder Puff Derby” by Will Rogers. Reporter George Putnam and Amelia developed a friendship during the preparation for the Atlantic crossing and were later married on February 7th, 1931.
On May 20, 1932, Amelia took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland to Paris, but because of strong north winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems she was forced to land in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland. President Herbert Hoover presented Amelia with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society.
Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross – the first ever given to a woman. At the ceremony, Vice President Charles Curtis praised her courage, saying she displayed “heroic courage and skill as a navigator at the risk of her life.” Amelia felt the flight proved that men and women were equal in “jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness and willpower.”
A few years after 1932, Amelia became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, California. Then, in 1937, Amelia and navigator Fred Noonan decided to fly around the world. On July 2nd, 1937, the pair took off. They left Miami, Florida, and passed South America, Africa, Thailand, Singapore, Java, and Australia. But when they left New Guinea for Howland Island, they disappeared. The only thing left was a frantic message to the US Coast Guard at 8:45 p.m. on July 2, 1937.
Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, and Amelia’s plane were never found.
Simone Luna, named after a Danish celebrity’s child and the moon is 23 years old, and lives in a small town in Denmark. She loves art, gymnastics, ballet, books and the color red. She sees the good in everything, at times she can be overly positive and she lives by the words: “There is always room for hope”.