Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Amelia Earhart - Pioneer Women in Aviation: A-Z Challenge

Amelia Mary Earhart 1897-1937
Ask anyone today to name the most famous female pilot they know and they will likely say Amelia Earhart. Most at least have heard of this famous female pilot who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean attempting to fly around the world. Her disappearance in 1937 is an unsolved mystery that boggles the mind. Hundreds have written about her, if not hundreds of thousands, and the theories abound as to what happened. 

Was she a U.S. spy sent to monitor the Japanese based in the South Pacific at the time? Did the Japanese shoot down her plane, capturing Earhart and her co-pilot? Were they executed in Saipan? Did Amelia escape and return to New Jersey and assume another identity? Or, did she and Noonan simply run out of fuel trying to reach Howland Island? Researchers continue to seek answers to this baffling mystery.  

How did she become interested in aviation, a dream that took her life? Earhart's early years tell the story.

Born in Atchison, Kansas in the home of her maternal grandfather, Alfred Gideon Otis, Amelia was a child of privilege. Alfred Otis was a former judge, bank president and a renown citizen locally. Grandmother Otis had misgivings about Amelia's "modern" mother Amy, who gave Amelia and her sister unconventional freedoms playing outdoors. But Amy didn't want them just to be "nice little girls." She let them wear bloomers and romp around like tom boys, climbing trees and collecting moths, worms and katydids. They even kept a toad. The arrangement worked in the beginning, instilling a great love of adventure in Amelia. Later she recalled the ramp she and an uncle had built off of the old toolshed as a roller coaster. "Oh, Pidge, it's just like flying!" Amelia told her sister.


Amelia and her sister were home schooled till the age of twelve, when they enrolled in public school. Beyond that Amelia and her sister had a somewhat troubled upbringing. Jobs forced her parents to move but the marriage suffered and money was tight. In spite of all, Amelia finished high school in 1916 and briefly went to a junior college. Becoming a nurses aid in 1917 she worked for a time for the Red Cross during World War I, but in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, she developed pneumonia and sinus complications. A true setback, her recovery lasted nearly a year.

In 1919, Amelia was ready for a change. She began a course at New York's Columbia University in medical studies, but learning that her parents were back together and had moved to California, she quit the following year. It was in Long Beach that Frank Hawks (a soon to be famous air racer) gave Amelia her first airplane ride. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet [60–90 m] off the ground," Amelia later said, "I knew I had to fly." There was no turning back. Working several jobs, she saved $1,000 and started flying lessons in 1921 with female pioneer aviator Neta Snook. Amelia purchased a bright yellow biplane, a Kinner Airster, six months later and called the plane "The Canary." Flying the Airster to an altitude of 14,000 feet, Amelia set a world record even before her official pilot's license had arrived. 



Amelia, 1928
In 1924 her parents divorced and Amelia was forced to sell "The Canary" to help with finances. That plus a much needed sinus surgery, it was several months before she could start school again, a decision that had recently been made. Finishing college, she worked as a teacher and later as a social worker in 1925 in Medford, Massachusetts. Despite the setback, her interest in aviation never wavered. She joined the American Aeronautical Society's Boston chapter and wrote a newspaper column promoting flying. She also flew one of the planes at Dennison Airport in 1927 (the first for this airport).

In 1928, her flying dream took a strange turn. She got a phone call at work one day from a Captain Railey. "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?" he asked. I'm imagining Amelia must have choked on the words, "Excuse me. What did you just say?" Charles Lindbergh had just completed his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Publisher and publicist George P. Putnam was looking for a woman to do the same flight. The project already had a sponsor. Interviews were conducted, in which Amelia was told she would fly with co-pilot Wilbur Stulz (as a passenger). 


Untrained on the instruments, Stulz had to pilot the plane, but Amelia got all the credit as first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928. A New York ticker-tape parade, lecture tours, endorsements for products like luggage and sportswear, newspaper and magazine articles, and more resulted. Suddenly, Amelia Earhart was a name everyone knew and loved. Amelia next became an associate editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, but used her position to promote women's aviation. She also married George Putnam in 1928.


With husband George Putnam, 1931

More records for women followed:
--1928, first to fly solo across the North American continent and back
--1931, flying a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro, set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet
--1932, first solo flight across the Atlantic, landing in Ireland. A farm hand asked, "Have you flown far?" Amelia said, "From America."
--1935, first person to solo from Honolulu, HA to Oakland, CA
--1930 and 1935, seven speed and distance records
Promotion of flying for women:
--1929, a force behind commercial air travel to develop passenger lines.
--1930, became an official of the National Aeronautic Association
--Joined The Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots offering moral support and advancing the cause of women in aviation
 

Here are some of her honors received:
--Distinguished flying Cross from Congress (U.S.)
--Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor (France)
--Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society (from President Hoover)


Lockheed Electra 10E, 1937
Below is more on the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart's plane with co-pilot Fred Noonan. She and Fred had traveled 22,000 miles around the equator when the plane lost radio contact and vanished. They only had 7,000 miles left to go over the Pacific. So much has been written on the subject, you could spend hours studying the theories. Click on the links and videos and let me know what you think. Earhart's legacy is phenomenal enough had she not disappeared, but I hope we learn what happened soon.  She was a bright star in the midst of the Great Depression and the public adored her. 


T-H-E  M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y


Interviews of Eyewitnesses who either saw or heard about
Amelia and Fred in Saipan and surrounding area.

 Amelia, 2009: Hilary Swank as Earhart, with Richard Gere


Interesting links on what happened to Amelia:

https://earharttruth.wordpress.com/
(This promotes a book released in 2012 by a naval journalist supporting theories of a capture by
the Japanese; and withheld information by the U.S. government)

http://legacy.wkyc.com/story/news/local/cleveland/2015/07/21/amelia-earhart---parker-hannifin/30164275/
(A local Cleveland broadcast dated July 2015 about the latest findings in the Marshall Islands by a team of researchers; evidence is growing)



Sources:
http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/earhart/aa_earhart_learns_2.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart#cite_note-48

32 comments:

  1. Now this lady I heard about, You have done an excellent job in doing your theme. Well done.
    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. This was a difficult post. There is so much written about her!!

      Delete
  2. I have heard about her but not much in detail! She was really a lady with so much passion and determination for aviation!

    Another wonderful post :)

    Cheers,
    Srivi
    The Piscean Me | Twitter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only knew the big story in 1937. Learning about her younger years showed me a different woman.

      Delete
  3. Maybe one day we'll find out what really happened to her. Could be the Japanese shot her down.

    I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.
    E is for Epic Dreams
    Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, you believe that theory. I do too after hearing some of the eyewitnesses.

      Delete
  4. I wonder if she'd still be famous today if she hadn't disappeared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not as much I fear, but she certainly did enough to place her at the top. Her position in life allowed her to be a powerful voice for women in aviation.

      Delete
  5. What's astounding to me is how many flights have just vanished over the years. Where did they go? How can an airplane just disappear without a trace?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there are so many stories like this too!

      Delete
  6. I think there was a girl recently who repeated her flights... I remember reading about it. I also remember an article that talked about how her wreckage has been found...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I read about her. One other (probably more) repeated Earhart's flight.

      Delete
  7. Thanks Sharon, this was exciting and energising and excellent to receive this brief on Amelia Earhart. My goodness - how she pursued her dreams! Her story is gripping. I'd love to watch the clips you've given, someday ... I've never seen the film with Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, though I know about it - I'm making a note to get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Oh, I hope you do. Like I said, there is tons more on her life. One could do a theses on her!

      Delete
  8. Her story will always be a mystery and always be fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. but I want to know. Hoping they find something!!

      Delete
  9. I've always wondered if something else besides a crash happened to her. Interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, fascinating what might have happened. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  10. Yes, I know her. And for the reason you said: she's the forst woman to fly across the Atlantic.
    Remarkable life, like all the other ladies you talked about.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

    ReplyDelete
  11. You've done a fantastic job covering this subject! Like you, before this I only knew of her from the perspective of her disappearance and mystery surrounding that. The history of her childhood and diverse background of where she worked before flying is fascinating. Thanks for all the work you did to bring her story to us :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Appreciate that. Thanks! Once I got past all the media hype I felt I found a 'real' person :)

      Delete
  12. Amelia racked up quite a few firsts. She's the most popular women pioneer in terms of flying. Even I know about her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, she really did and I did NOT list everything!

      Delete
  13. A fascinating story to be sure. Thanks so much for this blog post and entire A-Z series!

    @HeatherJacksonW from
    WriteOnSisters - Masterplots from A to Z

    ReplyDelete
  14. Somebody I know about. Thanks for all the info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too :) I liked learning new details about her life!

      Delete
  15. Trying to catch up. She is the most famous and very sad that she disappeared. I believe they had faulty systems plus they were trying to land on a very small island. They may have made it but could have died from starvation or they died in the crash. I am not leaning to the conspiracy theories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you and others believe this. After hearing the eyewitnesses reports by islanders in the video, I'm no longer sure. Researchers need to consider the oral history in area. Thanks!

      Delete
  16. Hi. I meant to keep up with your posts during the Challenge, but I've been reading many posts, and just got back here. (Today is J day.) But, I had to read about Amelia Earhart. I watched the movie on my plane ride to Hawaii. I know. It seems bad luck to watch a movie about a plane crash while flying, but I like to tempt fate. The movie was so good. I like how they ended it. The signal just stopped. It was heartbreaking. She is famous for her moxie and forging the path for other women, for being unconventional and brave. I wish we could go back in time and talk to her.
    Mary at Play off the Page

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mary, i really appreciate your stop back. I'm in the same fix trying to read everyone's posts. Thanks for the tip on the movie--still haven't watched! Yes...maybe not so cool watching it in a plane. Ha-ha. I'm all for time travel too :)

    ReplyDelete

"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary
(A.B. Alcott). Stay and visit awhile. Your comments mean a lot to me.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...