Perhaps no name is as symbolic of aerospace achievement as the American aviator Amelia Earhart. She became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air and the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone. She was also the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. Her accomplishments as a pilot set standards for all fliers for years to come.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. She referred to herself as “AE”. She served during World War I as a military nurse in Canada, where she developed an interest in flying. She pursued her interest in flying in California, where she received her pilot’s license in 1922. After receiving her pilot’s license, Amelia spent several years as a teacher and social worker at Dennison House, in Boston. While she was doing this she continued her association with aviation by entering numerous flying meets.
Amelia became obsessed with flying. She spent a lot of solo flying time in The Canary. She set a women’s altitude record in October 1922 by flying The Canary to 14,000 feet. Ruth Nichols broke the record a few weeks later, but the effort is what started Earhart’s fame.
In 1928, Earhart was asked to join Wilmer Stultz, a pilot, and Lou Gordon, a flight mechanic, as a passenger on a trans-Atlantic flight, called The Friendship. The flight went from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, to Burry Port, Wales a distance of more than 2,010 miles. Twenty hours and forty minutes after take off they landed safely in Wales, making Earhart the first woman to ride in a plane across the Atlantic Ocean. This accomplishment gave Earhart the nickname of “Lady Lindy”. On their return home, the three were greeted with a parade in New York and reception in Boston, Chicago, and Medford, Massachusetts. Amelia was also given a reception at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge. Earhart latter wrote a book about the flight, which she named 20 Hrs. and 40 Min.
On November 2, 1929 Earhart helped co-found the “Ninety-Nines,” an international organization of women pilots. The group was named for its ninety-nine charter members. Earhart served as the first president of the organization from 1930 to 1933. As more and more woman challenged the skies, the group grew to an international organization. The “Ninety-Nines” continues today to promote aviation education and aeronautical science to women.
On May 20, 1932,...