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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”.
Allison is one of the members of the #Original10. She opened her heart to us and all the community to show us that she is working hard and not giving up.
When I was in fourth grade I failed a state test. By failed I mean the school called my parents to offer me special learning services.
It was bad.
I was put in the LRC (Learning Resource Center). I did not understand why I was there. I mean, it was one test and why was that one test so important that I needed to have special services? The other kids that were in the LRC were there because they had learning disabilities. But I didn’t, right?
I forced my parents to take me out of the LRC because I felt I was there for no reason. That year I started really struggling with school. I knew something was wrong, and tried to convince my parents that I had a learning disability because to me, that was the only explanation. Of course they did not believe me because I was nine. But I couldn’t do a lot of things that most nine year olds could do which I knew wasn’t right.
By sixth grade I was very frustrated. I was really struggling with school. I was still trying to convince my parents that I had a learning disability but they told me to just stay after more with my teachers and I would get it. But I didn’t get it. I felt stupid. I felt like an idiot. I couldn’t tell time, I couldn’t graph, I couldn’t do geometry, and I didn’t know the difference between nickels, dimes, and quarters.
I knew something was wrong. In eighth grade I was struggling a lot with math and science. I came home one day to my mom in a panic because I had stayed after trying to go over a graph with my teacher and no matter how many times he showed me what to do, I couldn’t do it. I knew that this was more than just not understanding how to graph. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand it, it was that I couldn’t do it. She told me she had already been looking into having me tested for learning disabilities.
So I got tested. The testing took two days and was the most mentally draining experience I have ever had. The details of those tests aren’t really important, but it was four hours of tests, and it was clear something was wrong, because, before the end of the testing, the doctor called my mom in to tell her that something was definitely wrong. I did have a learning disability, and an eye problem. What I have is called a non-verbal learning disability.
That is pretty much a catchall phrase for so many things, but for me it means I do not understand visual information. When I learn verbally I’m in the 99th percentile, but when I learn visually, I’m in the 4th percentile. That’s why I wasn’t able to do all of those things I listed before, like telling time, graphing etc. I also have some eye problems. Not sight problems. I have 20/20 vision.
But, the muscles in my eyes do not work correctly. I can’t exactly explain the problems well because I don’t completely understand them, haha, but I have a convergence disorder, a divergence disorder, accommodation problems, and tracking issues. Pretty much my eye muscles don’t work right in so many ways. I have to go to vision therapy to correct these problems. It’s hard. School can be hard, especially math and science. But I’m doing okay. I’m getting through it. I need to re-learn what I have already learned. I need to learn how to learn basically.
I will have to deal with this my whole life, but it’s okay. It makes me stronger.
Jennifer Morrison once said, “be brave enough to be yourself” and that is what I intend to do.
Before I begin, I just want to say that my heart goes out to the families, friends and co-workers of the 19 elite firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona last weekend. I am overcome with emotion and gratitude for anyone who sacrifices their safety to save others.
My siblings are EMS workers. One works in extremely risky situations on a daily basis. This can actually be quite difficult for me sometimes; there are television shows I often can handle watching and I don’t listen to the news anymore. Over the past several years, I have written dozens of “Op-Eds” and “Letters to the Editor” to Canadian newspapers in response to stories that belittle or bash our local heroes or question the value of their paycheques. This has become a passion of mine. I have so much respect for heroes and I often wish they were given the public acknowledgement they deserve on a regular basis, not just when they die in the line of duty.
This blog isn’t just about fallen heroes, but I wanted to make sure I honoured them. I want us all to remember that when we’re running away from a situation, the heroes are the ones running into it. And they’re doing it for us. Heroes are some of the most important people in the world. Whether they are personal heroes or public heroes… whether they have fallen or still stand, heroes can impact our lives so drastically.
Heroes can be strangers who are there on the worst days of our lives and intentionally sacrifice themselves in some way to make it a little easier on us. Heroes can be the ones who just live their lives in such a way that they inadvertently give others inspiration and courage to live just bravely. A hero can really be anyone who impacts your life in a positive way, whether you know them personally or not.
My life is filled with heroes. I love hearing people’s stories and through that, I often learn about people’s heroic qualities, even if they don’t consider themselves to be heroes at all.
My siblings are my heroes. If you sacrifice family events, holidays, hours of sleep and your own safety to help others, you’re a hero to me.
If you’re someone who has overcome huge adversity in your life and now use your experience to help others who are struggling, you’re a hero to me.
If you’re someone famous and you decide to use your realm of influence to raise money or awareness for a charity or important issue, you’re a hero to me.
If you’re a singer who pours every vulnerability within you into your music then releases it publicly, not caring whether it makes money but hoping it changes lives, you’re a hero to me.
If you work solely to make money to help others, you’re a hero to me.
If you use your voice to speak out against injustice, you’re a hero to me.
If you’ve given your life to a cause worth fighting for, you’re a hero to me.
I can think of several examples of people for everything I just mentioned. And they are my heroes. They are living a heroic life and inspiring others to follow.
Who are your heroes? Who inspires you to live your life the way you do? Who has helped you through the most difficult time of your life and not asked for anything in return?
I want to hear your hero stories – And I want to honour the heroes in our lives.
When you think of these people, remember to thank them for what they’ve done for you or others. Write a card to your local police, fire or ambulance stations and thank them for their service and sacrifice. Write a thank you note to the people who started your favourite charity. Send a tweet to someone who has inspired you to change your life. Let’s live in a spirit of acknowledgement and gratitude!
“If you want your voice to be heard… you’ve got to use it.” – Jennifer Pastiloff
***Ducklings… we understand there is some concern about our song choice for this project, but please rest assured, if you give this your best chance and sing along with the melody in whatever range you can, we will take care of the rest. Give it your best and leave the rest up to us. This is a difficult song, but we feel that the song picked us. Please don’t try to hit note for note with Sara Bareilles unless you are a trained singer. Just worry about singing the melody. It will all work out!
Shortly thereafter, one of our recent followers on twitter sent us an amazing song that has since become like a theme song for us Ugly Ducklings (thank you so much @foreignlolly for sending us this song! Thank you Sara Bareilles for writing and singing it!).
Now, we have an idea. And we want you to be a part of it!
We are launching an Ugly Ducklings Virtual Choir! And we want YOU to be in it. That’s right, YOU… don’t slam your computer closed after reading that… Just keep reading.
Likely some of you are thinking something like “But I can’t sing” or “I’ll sound horrible”. But… here’s the thing. Let me be frank with you. It’s true… some people cannot carry a tune to save their life. Are you one of those people?! I don’t know. What I DO know is that… in a choir… ONE voice doesn’t stand out. That’s the whole point. We’re joining our voices together in one song.
I am not going to say I can’t sing… I will say I am not very confident in my abilities. And let me tell you, I’ve already done my recording for this song: we probably couldn’t have picked a more difficult song for the vast majority of people to sing (okay, you got me, if we picked “I will always love you” by Whitney, that would be a bit harder). BUT I know that with everyone singing, no one will be able to judge my maybe-not-so-great singing. No one will even be able to pick me out of a crowd.
So, here’s what we need you to do:
1. Learn the song. This is very important. You can’t sing the song if you don’t know it.
2. Find some kind of decent-ish quality recording device (computer mic, cell phone, iPod, etc).
3. Record yourself singing the song (NOTE*** We CANNOT have ANY music from the actual song in the background of your recording. We know you’ll want to listen to the song as you sing, but please do so with HEADPHONES so we don’t get feedback from it!)
4. Email us the file (email@example.com)… or post it on youtube marked as private and give uglyducklingsinc permission to see it so we can download it.
5. Keep checking back for us to post the final product.
Let’s do this, Ducklings.
Say what you want to say and let the words fall out.
Honestly, I want to see you be brave.
The Beaky One