In the 1930s, American pilot Amelia Earhart set speed and distance records for airplane flight. Today, Earhart is remembered as an adventurous pioneer during the early days of long-distance aviation. Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment.
Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897. She worked as a military nurse in Canada during World War I (1914-1918). In 1920, Earhart moved to California and began taking flying lessons. She bought her first airplane at the age of 24.
In 1928, two American pilots invited Earhart to join them as a passenger on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The trip made Earhart famous. She was the first woman in history to cross the Atlantic by air! Earhart tasted the thrill of long-distance flight, and she wanted more.
EARHART’S FLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS
In 1932, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo (alone) across the Atlantic Ocean. She made the trip in 13 hours and 30 minutes, setting a new speed record for the flight. For her achievement, Earhart won special honors from the American and French governments.
Then, in 1935, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo over the Pacific Ocean. She took off from Honolulu, Hawaii, and landed in Oakland, California.
Earhart set another record in 1935 by flying from Mexico City, Mexico, to New York City in a record time of 14 hours and 19 minutes.
HOW DID EARHART PREPARE FOR A FLIGHT?
Earhart spent months preparing for each flight. All of her airplane’s mechanical parts were tested. She carefully calculated how much gasoline and oil she would need for a trip. She mapped out different navigational charts in case foul weather forced her off course.
WHAT WAS A FLIGHT LIKE?
Earhart wore warm clothes on her flights since the cockpit of her airplane grew cold at high altitudes. The hardest part was battling exhaustion on the long, lonely flights. Earhart admitted to being so tired in a flight’s final hours that she was “likely to see illusions of land.”
EARHART’S LAST FLIGHT
In June 1937, Earhart began what she hoped would be her greatest achievement: a flight around the world. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Miami, Florida, flying east. On July 2, with over half of the trip behind them, their airplane left New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and headed for the Howland Islands.
But somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, Earhart’s airplane disappeared. Navy airplanes and ships searched for Earhart and Noonan, but they found no trace of their airplane. To this day, the fate of America’s golden girl of flight remains a mystery.