Mysteries surrounding the disappearance and fate of Amelia Earhart still intrigue people today. One mystery not often discussed is how Earhart successfully achieved her dream of flying. Ira Riklis dives into how her dream started and her early impressions of airplanes.
Amelia Earhart’s First Impressions Of Airplanes
Born July 24, 1897, Amelia Earhart saw an airplane for the first time at a state fair. Amelia, 10 years old at the time, was not impressed. She stated that it was a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting. The Amelia Earhart site also reveals that she later stated, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
Perhaps it was that belief in the thrill of adventure that changed her mind about flying a decade later. What followed after she became interested in flying not only changed her life but the lives of many people, women in particular.
Impressions And The Thrill Of Adventure
When Amelia Earhart dismissed the appearance of planes as not being at all interesting, she knew nothing about stunt-flying. Her first experience watching a stunt flying exhibition changed her view of airplanes and greatly intrigued her.
The Amelia Earhart site’s biography page explains that a stunt pilot caught a glimpse of Earhart and one of her friends and dove his plane right at them. Amelia claimed the pilot surely thought the two would scamper as he headed right at the two young ladies.
She felt her first thrill of the adventure of flying as the plane went right overhead.
Service And Education
Amelia Earhart grew up at a time when girls were brought up a certain way and were expected to continue their proper upbringing into adulthood. Proper girls and women cleaned house, took up sewing or reading a good book. They did not play sports reserved for boys and men and females certainly did not fly planes.
Perhaps it was her outgoing, maybe even defiant attitude and demeanor that made Amelia Earhart want to learn to fly and become a pilot herself. She once said that one should never do things others can do and will do if there are things others cannot do or will not do.
Once Amelia Earhart graduated from high school, she began her education at a finishing school, a proper path for proper young ladies. However, she left after a short while to work as a nurse’s aide during World War I. Her service took her to Canada, where airplanes and the art of flying intrigued her to the point that she became determined to become a pilot herself.
Becoming A Pilot
Amelia took to the skies as a passenger, with pilot Frank Hawks taking her over parts of California.
In 1921, Earhart took her first flying lesson, and soon took additional flying lessons with female aviator Neta Snook. The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) reveals that on her 25th birthday, Amelia Earhart bought her own plane, a Kinner Airster biplane. She set the women’s altitude record, flying at 14,000 feet in 1922. However, financial issues soon forced her to sell her beloved airplane. After returning home to live with her now-divorced mother and sister, she worked to help the family and also began flying in air shows.
Earhart received a telephone call one day in 1928 from publisher George Putnam who asked Amelia her if she would you like to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic.
She did not even have to think about it. Although she flew only as a passenger, she likely became determined to soon fly her own plane again, as the pilot.
Amelia and George fell in love and married in 1931.
Sensation And The Last Flight
A winner of numerous awards, Earhart was always determined to pursue her flying goals. She called her Lockheed plane her flying laboratory. Her effort to fly around the world would lead to her ultimate fate as the great female pilot became lost in time, yet living on in history.
On June 1, 1937, Amelia and navigator, Fred Noonan took off. On July 2, flying in less-than-ideal weather, the plane disappeared after several radio transmissions. Amelia Earhart went down with her beloved plane, doing what she loved best. Although mystery still surrounds whether or not she lived after the plane went down.