AMELIA EARHART, aka ‘Queen of the Sky’ (1897-1937) was an American pilot and author, famous for her mysterious disappearance in 1937 after attempting to become the second person ever to fly around the world. But Amelia should be remembered for more than her death; her life was a remarkable example of female transgression and courage.
Born in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia as a child liked to play ‘rough-and-tumble’, climb trees and hunt rats with a .22 rifle. She kept a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings about accomplished women. In her twenties, she began to fly, taking her first ‘joy trip’ as a passenger, aged 23: ‘As soon as I left the ground, I knew I had to fly’. In later life, she’d work as a teacher and social worker, including for poor immigrants in a Boston ‘settlement house’. Yet Amelia maintained her interest in aviation alongside her work. She did odd jobs to pay for aviation lessons, like truck driving. She managed to save up, eventually buying her own yellow plane, ‘the Canary’. In 1921, she flew over 14,000 ft breaking the women’s world altitude record.
Amelia's big break came in 1928 when she was invited to become the first woman passenger on a flight across the Atlantic. The event made her a celebrity. The following year, she set up the ‘99s society’, the first international organization for women pilots. By the 1930s, Amelia continued to push the limits of aviation, making her first solo long-haul journeys, most notably from LA to New York. She did this without a fuel stop and in record time. Although treated as a ‘babe of the sky’, hailed by the press for her good looks and quiet charisma, Amelia should be remembered for her outstanding technical skills, knowledge and bravery. She had an unusual capacity for calm and control in extreme conditions.
"Please know that I am aware of the hazards," she wrote to her husband George Putnam in her last letter. Her final voyage was a 40 day trip from Oakland to New Guinea, that would have made her the second person in the world to complete a world flight. "[But]Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others." - 1 day ago