Our third installment in the Groundbreaking explorer series is one of my daughter’s favorites – Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and the first person ever to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. Mainland. Amelia Earhart was the first book my daughter was given in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series by Isabel Sánchez Vegara and it completely captured her imagination. If you haven’t explored this series of books before, I would seriously recommend it. Before I go further about how great these books are (more will be featured later in this explorer series), let’s learn about this intrepid adventurer.
Name: Amelia Earhart
Born: July 24, 1987, in Atchison, Kansas.
Why is she featured as one of our top explorers:
Amelia Earhart was the most famous female pilot of the twentieth century. She set a whole host of aviation records in her sadly short career – she was the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet in 1922, in 1932 she became the first woman (and only the second person) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and the first woman to fly solo and non-stop across the USA.
What do we know about her childhood and education?
Amelia defied typical (of the time) gender roles and stereotypes. She played basketball, did auto repair courses, and attended college. During WW1 she served as a Red Cross nurses aid in Toronto, Canada before enrolling at Columbia University as a pre-med student.
When did she become interested in flying?
It was at an air show when she was nearly 20 years old. She took her first flight in California in December 1920 with a famous First World War Pilot, Frank Hawks, and from that point became infatuated with it! As she famously said from that moment on ‘I knew I had to fly’. She started lessons in January 1921 with flight instructor Neta Snook whilst working as a filing clerk to pay for them. Amelia then purchased her first airplane which due to its colour she called “the Canary”. She passed her National Aeronautics Association licence in December 1921.
What happened to Amelia?
Nobody knows – in 1935 she disappeared whilst attempting to be the first person to fly around the globe – a total of 29,000 miles. On July 2 she reported that she was running low on fuel when trying to reach Howland Island (mid-Atlantic Ocean). A massive rescue operation was mounted but no wreckage was ever found.
- Amelia worked tirelessly to create opportunities for women in aviation. She was the first president of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of licensed women pilots from 44 different countries. It is a membership organization for women to love to fly! They even have their own song composed in 1941 by Dick Ballou. Listen here: https://www.ninety-nines.org/our-history.htm
- There is a lighthouse on Howland Island dedicated to her.
- In Atchison, Kansas there is a museum dedicated to her life and achievements: https://www.ameliaearhartmuseum.org/
- Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others
- Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.
- Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
- Who was Amelia Earhart? By Kate Boehm Jerome and David Cain
- Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka and David Craig
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