Amelia Earhart – A Spotlight on Courage

Amelia Earhart a Spotlight on Courage

 Much has been written about Amelia Earhart, after all, she is a very interesting figure and a tragic one.  What many people don’t know about her is that she was a social worker by trade before she became a pilot. Always a tom boy, Amel ]]>

 Amelia Earhart was 21 years old when she earned her pi ]]>

 

In 1928 Amelia was asked if she wanted to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic.  She jumped at the chance and on June 17, 1928, Amelia was joined by Pilot Wilmer “Bill” Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis E. “Slim” Gordon.  They started their flight in Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland in a Fokker F7 named Friendship.  21 hours later they arrived in Burry Port, Wales, making headlines around the world.  Three pilots had died that same year trying to be the first woman across the Atlantic.  They were met with a ticker tape parade in New York and a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge at the White House.

 Amelia’s life from that point to the end revolved around flying.  Some of her accomplishments include placing third at the Cleveland Women’s Air Derby, which was later named “The Powder Puff Derby” by Will Rogers.  George Putnam, whom Amelia had met as she was preparing for her flight across the Atlantic became her husband on February 7, 1931.

George and Amelia worked in tandem to prepare for Amelia to be the first woman and the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic.  Five years to the day after Lindbergh, Amelia took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland to Paris.  This flight was plagued by strong North winds, icy conditions and mechanical issues and she was forced to land in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland.  Amelia was becoming quite the media sensation both overseas and here in the United States.  President Herbert Hoover presented her with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society, Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross, the first given to a woman.  At that ceremony, Vice President Charles Curtis praised her courage.

 Earhart continued setting records:

·         The altitude record for autogyros of 18,415 feet

·         First person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu to Oakland, CA

·         First to fly solo from Mexico city to Newark

 

Still yearning to be the first woman to fly around the world, Amelia set out to do just that in 1937 with navigator Fred Noonan.  They departed from Miami on June 1st.  By June 29th , they landed in Lae, New Guinea, with only 7,000 miles to go.  Maps were often inaccurate and made the flight difficult.  The next leg of the journey was to Howland Island and proved to be difficult.  Howland Island is a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide located 2,556 miles from Lae in the mid-Pacific.  Every unessential item was thrown from the plane to make room for additional fuel which earned them approximately and additional 274 miles. 

 

On July 2nd, Amelia and Noonan took off never mind the weather reports and overcast skies.  As dawn approached, Amelia called U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ITASCA, which was stationed just offshore of Howland Island telling them the weather was cloudy.  In later transmission Amelia asked ITASCA to take her bearings as they were having difficulty seeing.  Amelia could not hear ITASCA’s transmissions to her.  At 7:42 a.m. the ITASCA picked up a transmission from Amelia, “We must be on you, but we cannot see you.  Fuel is running low.  Been unable to reach you by radio.  We are flying at 1,000 feet.”  The ship tried to reply but were not able to reach her.  At 8:45, Amelia again radioed the ITASCA saying, “We are running north and south.”  That was the final transmission from Amelia.

 A rescue was immediately commenced and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history.  Finally, on July 19, after 250,000 square miles of ocean and $4 million spent, the United States government reluctantly called off the search mission.

 In 1938 a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in Amelia Earhart’s memory.  Her birthplace, Atchison, Kansas became a shrine to her memory.  Scholarships are given out each year in her name.

Picture of the Kinner Airster courtesy of http://www.aerofiles.com/_kinner.html

Photos of Amelia courtesy of http://www.ameliaearhart.com/about/aecophoto.html

Photo of the Lighthouse courtesy of http://www.uscg.mil/history/weblighthouses/lhpacific.asp

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2 thoughts on “Amelia Earhart – A Spotlight on Courage”

  1. Sarah (S.R.) MallerySarah (S.R.) Mallery

    Fascinating post, Patti! Much thanks for sharing.

    January 31, 2016
    • PJ FialaPJ Fiala

      Thanks Sarah, she was fun to research. A woman before her time, or maybe a woman who made it possible for others of us to follow our dreams!

      February 1, 2016

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