Amelia Mary Earhart was born at
her grandparents' home in Atchison, Kansas. Amelia's nickname was
Millie. She had a younger sister Muriel, whose nickname was Pidge.
Both Millie and Pidge lived a very good life and attended private
schools thanks to the wealth of their grandparents. Amelia and her
sister lived with their grandparents until 1908 when they moved
to Des Moines, Iowa to live with their parents. Amelia was 10 years
old when she saw her first airplane at the Iowa State Fair. She
was not impressed.
Amelia did not become interested
in airplanes until many years later when she went to an "aerial
meet" at Daugherty Field in Long Beach. Amelia had an opportunity
to ride in an open-cockpit biplane and later said, "As soon
as we left the ground I knew I myself had to fly!" Amelia took
flying lessons from a woman pilot and eventually purchased a plane
of her own. She called the plane "The Canary" and began
to participate in record breaking attempts to set a women's altitude
record of 14,000 feet. She did not succeed. In fact, she had a couple
of flying accidents during that time, but was never injured seriously.
Amelia sold her plane
and bought a car so she could travel across the country to live
in Boston. She became a social worker and joined the Boston Chapter
of the National Aeronautic Association. She helped fund an airport
in Boston and continued to promote flying for women. The Boston
Globe called her "one of the best women pilots in the United
On April 27, 1926 Amelia
was asked whether she would like to be the first woman to fly across
the Atlantic Ocean. Amelia did not have experience using instruments
or flying a multi-engine plane so Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon
flew the plane and Amelia was given the official title of "commander."
Even though she was a passenger on the flight, people gave her credit
for flying across the Atlantic.
Amelia was very popular
with the public and she did fly solo from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Coast. She continued to fly and often organized air races for women
pilots. Amelia met her husband George, who was also a pilot. One
day she told him she was ready to fly across the Atlantic Ocean
again, but this time she wanted to be the pilot. She became the
first woman solo pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and was
considered a hero.
Amelia decided to break
another flying record. She became the first person to successfully
fly from Hawaii to California. People considered her one of the
most famous pilots in the world. Amelia decided she would like to
be the first woman to fly around the world. After a failed attempt,
she departed from Los Angeles, California for Florida on May 21,
1937. She continued her quest to fly around the world from Florida
along with a navigator, Fred Noonan. Amelia and Fred experienced
trouble with weather, Amelia became ill, and sometimes the airplane
needed repairs, but they continued despite these hardships. Sadly,
Amelia and Fred lost radio contact near Howland Island on July 2,
1937. President Roosevelt authorized a great search for Amelia and
her navigator, but they were never seen or heard from again.
One of Amelia's last
letters to her husband George stated, "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." The world mourned
the loss of Amelia Earhart, their American Hero.