Born, July 24, 1897 in a small town in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart learned early to rely on her own instincts and follow her own North Star. She was encouraged by her mother to go after the things that interested her and so she excelled in areas often assumed to be the domain of men. Amelia wanted to make her own mark in the world. She wanted to do something extraordinary.
Since her father was not a good family provider, she learned to take life in her own hands, finding ways to move her dreams forward. She believed the best job was the one that allowed you to work for yourself. As she grew through and passed professions that gave her a bit of celebrity status, becoming a fashion consultant, a teacher, a social worker, and an author, she became increasingly interested in the world of flight.
As a volunteer for the Red Cross, she had a chance to treat wounded World War I fighter pilots and she came to respect and admire their skills. She attended Columbia University in 1919 with the intension of becoming a medical professional, but at an air show in Long Beach, California in 1920, her life changed forever. Handing over her $1.00 to take a ten minute plane ride, Earhart discovered her passion, and headed for the big blue yonder.
In her first plane called “The Canary” Earhart set a world altitude record for female pilots by flying at 14,000 feet. On May 15, 1923, Amelia became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license. She continued to study and learn all that she could about aviation, and did some teaching and writing to earn money to fund her passions.
After Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in 1927, Earhart set a goal to become the first woman to cross the Atlantic. Dubbed by the press as Lady Lindy, Earhart continued to build on her dream to do things in aviation that no woman before her had ever done. She knew her own limitations and worked assiduously to become more skilled, more prepared for solo flights. Her desire to circle the equator became an obsession that ultimately claimed her life. After flying nearly 22,000 miles and with only 7000 miles left to go, she and her co-pilot went down somewhere in the Pacific, near Howland Island. Though some communication transpired between Earhart’s Electra and the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel, the Itasca, Earhart was never seen again. July 3, 1937 would end her dream, but not her legacy, nor the spirit that drove it.
Today, Amelia Earhart stands as a symbol for women everywhere to become all that they believe they are meant to become, to be driven by their own skills and passions, and not by the dictates of current trends or cultures. We celebrate her life, her drive, and her intention to leave a mark on this planet, and to create a trail for women where no path had been before.