Amelia Earhart Highlights
Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. Much of her early childhood was spent in the upper-middle class household of her maternal grandparents. Amelia’s mother, Amelia “Amy” Otis, married a man who showed much promise, but alcohol became king. Edwin Earhart was on a constant search for stability, but was unable to find a financial footing. When the situation became intolerable Amelia and her sister Muriel would retreat to their grandparents’ home. They enjoyed many adventures like exploring the neighborhood, climbing trees, hunting for rats, and taking breathtaking rides on Amelia’s sled. After an exciting trip to St Louis, Amelia was so thrilled by the roller coaster she told everyone that she had gone flying. At home she built her own roller-coaster complete with wooden tracks attached to a shed roof, She repeatedly rode down the track on her home-built cart.
Although they moved many times and Amelia attended several different schools, she proved to be a fast learner and adept at sports. Because she could not count on her father, Amelia learned how to be independent..
She visited her sister in Toronto, Canada where she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse’s aide. She met wounded soldiers returning from World War I and especially admired the aviators. She became addicted to watching the Royal Flying Corps practicing at the airfield nearby. In 1919, Earhart enrolled in medical studies at Columbia University, but quit in order to re-unite with her parents in California.
At a Long Beach air show in 1920, Amelia Earhart took a plane ride that transformed her life. It was only 10 minutes, but when she landed she knew she had to learn to fly. Working at a variety of jobs, from photographer to truck driver, she earned enough money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita “Neta” Snook. Earhart immersed herself in learning to fly. She read everything she could find on flying and spent much of her time at the airfield. She cropped her hair short in the style of other women aviators. Worried what the other, more experienced pilots might think of her, she even slept in her new leather jacket for three nights to give it a more “worn” look.
She married the publisher George Palmer Putnam Sr. who had two sons from a previous marriage on February 7, 1931. During the ceremony she refused to utter the traditional promise of obey. She continued her extraordinary flying career.
Just a Few Notable Records and achievements
- Woman’s world altitude record: 14,000 ft (1922)
- First woman to fly the Atlantic (1928)
- Speed records for 100 km (and with 500 lb (230 kg) cargo) (1931)
- First woman to fly an autogyro (1931)
- Altitude record for autogyros: 15,000 ft (1931)
- First person to cross the U.S. in an autogyro (1932)
- First woman to fly the Atlantic solo (1932)
- First person to fly the Atlantic twice (1932)
- First woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932)
- First woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the U.S. (1933)
- Woman’s speed transcontinental record (1933)
- First person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California (1935)
- First person to fly solo from Los Angeles, California to Mexico City, Mexico (1935)
- First person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City, Mexico to Newark, New Jersey (1935)
- Speed record for east-to-west flight from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii (1937)
Books by Earhart
Earhart was a successful and heavily promoted writer who served as aviation editor for Cosmopolitan magazine from 1928 to 1930. She wrote magazine articles, newspaper columns, essays and published two books based upon her experiences as a flyer during her lifetime:
- 20 Hrs., 40 Min. (1928) was a journal of her experiences as the first woman passenger on a transatlantic flight.
- The Fun of It (1932) was a memoir of her flying experiences and an essay on women in aviation.
- Last Flight (1937) featured the periodic journal entries she sent back to the United States during her world flight attempt, published in newspapers in the weeks prior to her final departure from New Guinea. Compiled by her husband GP Putnam after she disappeared over the Pacific, many historians consider this book to be only partially Earhart’s original work.