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Pioneer in Transcontinental
And Ocean Flying
Born Atchison, Kansas
July 24, 1897July 3, 1937
As a nurses' aid in Toronto in 1918, Amelia Earhart became fascinated by flight while watching aerial exhibitions. She earned her wings in Los Angeles in 1925 and in 1928 was asked to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger. She again came into the limelight on November 22, 1929, when, in a Lockheed Vega, she established a speed record for women of 184 miles per hour and the next year established two more speed records. On April 8, 1931, she piloted an autogyro to a height record of 18,415 feet. However, she still wanted to fly the Atlantic as her own pilot. Just five years to the day after Lindbergh's triumph, on May 20-21, 1932, she accomplished this goal in a red and gold Lockheed Vega. In 1933, she set a new transcontinental record for women, flying from Los Angeles to Newark in 17 hours 15 minutes.
On January 12, 1935, she flew from Hawaii to California, becoming the first woman to fly this stretch of the Pacific. On May 8, she flew nonstop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey, in 14 hours 18 1/2 minutes, again a record. She was the first person to fly this route from South to North, and the only woman to do so.
Her greatest challenge came in 1937, when she planned an equatorial flight around the world. While many earlier world routes had merely traversed the middle of the Northern Hemisphere, Earhart's route measured more than 25,000 miles. The airplane she chose was a twin-engined Lockheed Electra. She flew the first leg from Oakland to Honolulu on March 17 without incident. During her attempt to take off on March 20, however, a tire blew, badly damaging the aircraft. Two months, later, she set out again, this time heading Eastward, crossing the U.S., Venezuela, Brazil, the South Atlantic, the African desert, and the Arabian Sea. She then flew on to Calcutta, Bangkok, Singapore, Australia, and Lae on the east coast of New Guinea. From there, her next destination was Howland Island, over 2500 miles away. On July 3, 1937 she disappeared, somewhere enroute to the island, along with her navigator Fred Noonhan. No trace of the airplane was ever found to solve the mysterious disappearance.
Invested 1967 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame
From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984
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Updated: December 02, 2007