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Amelia Earhart Bio

Jul 22, 2014

This summer marks the anniversary of legendary pilot Amelia Mary Earhart’s disappearance, and July 24th , her birthday, is officially Amelia Earhart Day. Find out more about one of the most influential and groundbreaking American female aviation pioneers in Kidzworld’s Amelia Earhart Bio!

Amelia Earhart was the first woman (and second person) to cross the AtlanticAmelia Earhart was the first woman (and second person) to cross the Atlantic

Early Earhart

Kansas-native Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24th 1897, and even as a child was tomboyish and curious, which was encouraged by her mother who contrary to the times didn’t believe in raising “nice girls” and wanted her daughters to be fearless and adventurous. Amelia loved hunting, sledding and even had an uncle help her fashion a makeshift rollercoaster once. She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper stories about women who had been successful in male-dominated careers to give her hope for the future.

When Amelia was 10 years old she saw her first plane at an Iowa State Fair and claimed that she was not impressed, saying it was “a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting.” But Amelia quickly changed her tune when she and a friend saw a plane in action - it dove toward them, she was instantly fascinated and knew from that moment on that she wanted to fly!

Amelia's first plane was yellow and named CanaryAmelia's first plane was yellow and named Canary

Airborne Amelia

Amelia left college in Philadelphia to move to Canada and become a nurse’s aide during World War I while still going to school, and then moved to Boston to become a social worker. She fulfilled her childhood dream when she took her first flying lesson on January 3rd, 1921 and just six months after had saved enough money to buy  her own plane: a bright yellow second hand two-seater that she named “Canary”. She set her first women’s record in the plane by raising to the altitude of 14, 000 feet. She eventually became Vice President of the American Aeronautical Society’s Boston chapter.

One day at work Amelia received a call that would change her life, she was asked if she would like to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic! Naturally she jumped at the chance to join pilot Wilmer Stultz in his flight, even though three women had already died in previous missions. The flight took off from Newfoundland on June 17 1928 and 21 hours later landed in Burry Port, Wales. When they arrived safely home she was greeted by a ticker tape parade in New York and a reception by President Calvin Coolidge.

Amelia EarhartAmelia's plane disappeared during her attempt to fly around the world

Flying Solo

From then on Amelia’s life revolved solely around flying, placing in different competitions. She became fast friends and eventually married George Putnam in 1931 who was helping her with her next Atlantic crossing. Although he had to propose 6 times before she finally said yes! The two planned for her to be the first woman and second person ever to cross the Atlantic alone. Her first attempt to fly it alone didn’t go exactly as planned, after being plagued by icy winds and storms she landed unannounced in a field in Ireland; however, she still earned the first-ever Distinguished Flying Cross given to a woman and a gold medal from the National Geographic society. She continued to break records for years, trying flights that had never been tried before!

In 1937 Amelia decided she wanted to attempt one of the most daring and dangerous flights yet – to be the first woman to fly around the world and set out with her navigator in what was supposed to be her last major flight. The flight proved to have many challenges along the way due to bad lighting and incorrect maps, but they still managed to make it 7, 000 miles , all the way from Miami to Lae, New Guinea, but on their next foray they lost radio contact and their airplane mysteriously disappeared, never to be recovered.

In her last letter to her husband during the trip she wrote these inspiring words for all the girls in generations to come:  "Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others."

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