Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways. Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women. There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them. Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include? I welcome your suggestions. Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women? Let me hear from you.
To read previous posts in this segment, there is a menu at the top of my site. I’ve written about her before as part of my post for July 2, 2013; however for this week’s post, meet Amelia Earhart again.
Infamous for her disappearance but famous for her groundbreaking contributions to aviation, Amelia Earhart was truly an outstanding woman.
Many of the photographs I have included below are from a website called Amelia’s Life in Photographs so I encourage you to view that site for some truly remarkable images of this outstanding woman.
- Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897.
- Took up aviation at the age of 24 and later gained publicity as one of the earliest female aviators.
- In the mid 1920s, Amelia had given up aviation to attend Columbia University but had to leave her studies due to family finances.
- Earhart gradually got back into aviation in 1927, becoming a member of the American Aeronautical Society’s Boston chapter. She also invested a small amount of money in the Dennison Airport in Massachusetts, and acted as a sales representative for Kinner airplanes in the Boston area. She also wrote articles promoting flying in the local newspaper and began to develop a following as a local celebrity.
- In 1928, the publisher George P. Putnam invited her to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The previous year, Charles A. Lindbergh had flown solo nonstop across the Atlantic, and Putnam had made a fortune off Lindbergh’s autobiographical book We.
- In June 1928, Earhart and two men flew from Newfoundland, Canada, to Wales, Great Britain. Although Earhart’s only function during the crossing was to keep the plane’s log, the flight won her great fame, and Americans were enamored of the daring young pilot. The three were honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York, and “Lady Lindy,” as Earhart was dubbed, was given a White House reception by President Calvin Coolidge.
- Earhart wrote a book about the flight for Putnam, whom she married in 1931.
- Gave lectures and continued her flying career under her maiden name.
- On May 20, 1932, she took off alone from Newfoundland in a Lockheed Vega on the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman. She was bound for Paris but was blown off course and landed in Ireland on May 21 after flying more than 2,000 miles in just under 15 hours. It was the fifth anniversary of Lindbergh’s historic flight, and before Earhart no one had attempted to repeat his solo transatlantic flight. For her achievement, she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress.
- Three months later, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the continental United States.
- In 1935, in the first flight of its kind, she flew solo from Wheeler Field in Honolulu to Oakland, California, winning a $10,000 award posted by Hawaiian commercial interests.
- Later that year, she was appointed a consultant in careers for women at Purdue University, and the school bought her a modern Lockheed Electra aircraft to be used as a “flying laboratory.”
- On March 17, 1937, she took off from Oakland and flew west on an around-the-world attempt. It would not be the first global flight, but it would be the longest–29,000 miles, following an equatorial route. Aboard her Lockheed were Frederick Noonan, her navigator and a former Pan American pilot, and co-pilot Harry Manning. After resting and refueling in Honolulu, the trio prepared to resume the flight. However, while taking off for Howland Island, Earhart ground-looped the plane on the runway, perhaps because of a blown tire, and the Lockheed was seriously damaged. The flight was called off, and the aircraft was shipped back to California for repairs.
- In May, Earhart flew the newly rebuilt plane to Miami, from where Noonan and she would make a new around-the-world attempt, this time from west to east. They left Miami on June 1, and after stops in South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, they arrived at Lae, New Guinea, on June 29. About 22,000 miles of the journey had been completed, and the last 7,000 miles would all be over the Pacific Ocean. The next destination was Howland Island, a tiny U.S.-owned island that was just a few miles long. The U.S. Department of Commerce had a weather observation station and a landing strip on the island, and the staff was ready with fuel and supplies. Several U.S. ships, including the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, were deployed to aid Earhart and Noonan in this difficult leg of their journey.
- As the Lockheed approached Howland Island, Earhart radioed the Itasca and explained that she was low on fuel. However, after several hours of frustrating attempts, two-way communication was only briefly established, and the Itasca was unable to pinpoint the Lockheed’s location or offer navigational information. Earhart circled the Itasca‘s position but was unable to sight the ship, which was sending out miles of black smoke. She radioed “one-half hour fuel and no landfall” and later tried to give information on her position. Soon after, contact was lost, and Earhart presumably tried to land the Lockheed on the water.
- If her landing on the water was perfect, Earhart and Noonan might have had time to escape the aircraft with a life raft and survival equipment before it sank. An intensive search of the vicinity by the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy found no physical evidence of the fliers or their plane. Additional searches through the years have likewise failed to find any trace of the Lockheed or of Earhart and Noonan, who almost certainly perished at sea.
- Considered by many to be the location that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan ‘landed’, having run out of fuel. The Atoll was called Gardner Atoll at the time of Amelia and Fred’s disappearance, it is now known as Nikumaroro. The images depict the central lagoon and surf breaking over a reef along the shoreline, circa 1937, a recent aerial image of the overall Atoll and a photograph reported to depict ‘inverted aircraft landing gear’.