Born July 24, 1897
Died July 2, 1937
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897. As a young girl, she and her younger sister Muriel were encouraged to pursue any activities that interested them. At the time, girls were not supposed to participate in traditional male activities, but Earhartís parents encouraged any constructive idea and went so far as to dress the girls in special play clothes with bloomers for outdoor play.
On Earhartís 11th birthday in 1908, her father took their family to the Iowa State Fair to celebrate. One display at the fair was an airplane. Although the Wright Brothers had built the first motorized glider five years earlier, this was the first plane Earhart had ever seen.
During World War I, Earhart served as a volunteer nurse in Toronto, Canada. Some of her patients were pilots and Earhart often spent her time off watching them practice their flying skills. Earhart later worked as a clerk at a telephone company to earn the money to purchase her own plane. In 1921 Earhart took her first flying lessons from a woman named Neta Snook. Then in July of 1922, she bought a plane, painted it yellow and named it Canary. She earned her pilotís license the following year.
In 1925, Earhart accepted a job as a social worker in Boston Massachusetts. She worked with immigrants, teaching them English and encouraging them in their education. Earhart believed that the best way to help these people improve their lives in the United States was through education. She joined the National Aeronautics Association, attending meetings and flying on her days off. It was through this association that she had the opportunity to make her first famous flight. In 1928, Earhart became the first female passenger on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1928, Earhart became the first woman to make a solo round-trip flight across the United States. She set three womenís world records for speed in 1930. Earhart also set an altitude record in an autogiro, a predecessor to the helicopter, in 1931. Then on May 20, 1932, Earhart flew a 13 Ĺ hour trip across the Atlantic ocean, leaving from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland and landing in Londonderry, Ireland to become the first woman pilot to make a solo transatlantic flight.
Earhart made an even longer flight in 1935. She was the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to California. That same year, Earhart flew from California to Mexico on a "goodwill" flight requested by the Mexican government. As Earhartís fame grew, she personally promoted commercial aviation and womenís rights. Her efforts in equal pay for equal work and the education of women were shared by her friend, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Earhart spoke to various groups about womenís rights and later became a career counselor for women at Purdue University in Indiana. It was under the management of the Purdue Research Foundation that Earhart began to plan a trip around the world. She planned to fly directly around the earthís equator, something that had not yet been tried.
Earhart left Miami, Florida on June 1, 1937, along with her friend and navigator, Fred Noonan. They headed east around the Equator and each stop along the way went well. On June 29th they landed in Lae, New Guinea, having traveled 22,000 miles. After leaving New Guinea on July 2 Earhart and Noonan were to land on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Because of the islandís small size, the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the ship, Itasca, planned to guide them in to land.
While the Itasca did receive several transmissions from Earhart requesting their location, she did not acknowledge their return signals. Five hours after Earhartís first message was received, the Itasca got a message acknowledging their signals. Earhart's transmission was brief and they could not get a bearing on the signal. Shortly afterwards, the men on the ship received a last message from Earhart and they attempted to signal her but got no reply. A sea and air search ensued, but Earhart, Noonan, and the plane they were flying were never found.
Books for Children
- Sky Pioneer: A Photobiography of Amelia Earhart by Corinne Szabo - A wonderfully descriptive biography of Earhart which brings this famous woman to life for children 8 years and older. (amazon.com has it)
- Amelia Earhart's early life, celebrity years, and the last flight are done in an olde-time photograph style. There are links on the last page that include related documents, aviation, and Amelia Earhart sites.
- The Earhart Project at the TIGHAR site contains a wealth of information, pictures, and maps.
- The Official Amelia Earhart page by CMG Worldwide. The biography and photo gallery sections are "under construction", but they do have a nice list of her quotes and a timeline of her life.
- The Flying Circus located in Bealeton, Virginia. Until this pas year, the show featured Charlie Kulp, The Flying Farmer, an internationally famous stunt pilot who has been flying for more than 65 years. I can personally reccommend the Flying Circus airshow as entertaining and historically educational, and a DVD of Charlie's performance is available.