Amelia Earhart was a strong advocate for women. She kept a scrapbook of women’s accomplishments in business. Earhart had a lot of firsts in her life when it came to flying. She also popularized commercial aviation by writing a column in Cosmopolitan magazine. There are a lot of things she did correctly, but there are other things that she failed to do which proved to be near fatal and fatal. Earhart could have been an excellent aviator, but she didn’t keep up with her lessons because she was too busy on the lecture circuit. She also flew a plane that she did not have the technical skills to fly and crashed in the process. Fortunately for her, she survived this particular accident.
Let’s journey together as we learn more about the legend, Amelia Earhart.
Name: Amelia Earhart
Birth Date: July 1897 – July 1937
Job Functions: Aviator
Known For: Aviation, Feminism & Pacifism. She was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane, advocate of commercial aviation and equal rights for women.
In less than a decade – 1928 to 1937 – Amelia Earhart became one of the most famous women in the world. In a career of nine short years, she became America’s and the world’s most famous female aviator.
Earhart saw her first airplane at the Iowa State Fair in 1909, and made her first flight with veteran pilot Frank Hawks in 1920 at her first air show, in Los Angeles. At that moment, she decided that she had to fly. She took flying lessons in January 1921 – at Bert Kinner’s airfield on Long Beach Boulevard in Los Angeles – from her Neta Snook, the first woman to graduate from Curtiss School of Aviation. Earhart received her license from the National Aeronautics Association (NAA) in December 1921. She later received her Federation Aeronautique International License in May 1923. Her dream was to make a living as an aviator.
To pay for her flying lessons, she worked several jobs such as file clerk, office assistant, photographer and truck driver. With the money she earned from her part-times jobs and money from her mother, Earhart was able to buy her first airplane, but later had to sell it because flying was such an expensive hobby.
In 1928, publisher George Palmer Putman of Putman and Sons who had just published Charles Lindberg’s story of his 1927 solo transatlantic flight, selected Earhart because of her flying experience, to fly with pilot Wilmer Stulz and mechanic Louis Gordon to cross the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Wales. Though she was not the pilot of the flight, Earhart received much publicity because she was the first woman to fly the Atlantic.
From that time, Putnam became Earhart’s manager, and in 1931 her husband. George Putnam saw a promotional goldmine, and Earhart recognized a platform to promote her love for aviation, feminism and pacifism so they partnered. He had her on an intense schedule, which allowed her to become an accomplished speaker, writer and aviation editor for Cosmopolitan magazine. “He arranged all her flying engagements, many followed by often strenuous cross-country lecture tours (at one point, 29 tours in 31 days) for maximum publicity.” Putman also arranged various products for her to endorse via advertising.
Twenty-two days (July 2, 1937) before her 40th birthday, after already flying 22,000 miles in a round-the-world flight, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared between Lae and Howland Island in the mid-Pacific. This was her second attempt. On March 17, 1937, she crashed on takeoff and damaged her twin Lockeed Electra plane which she was not adequately trained to fly.
What Went Wrong
- Her demanding schedule left Earhart little time to upgrade her skills as a pilot, and she did not take the time to acquire technical skills in navigation and communication.
- Earhart left behind crucial radio transmission and code wireless equipment necessary for proper communication and position bearing.
- She had no knowledge of Morse code.
- The coast guard received intermittent and sketchy transmissions before Earhart and Noonan disappeared – never to be seen again.
- Prior to her second round-the-world flight attempt in June, Earhart had flown 21 out of 30 days and was battling fatigue and nausea.
- Besides suffering from lack of sleep, she also suffered from insect bites, sunburn and diarrhea and was physically and emotionally exhausted.
- Earhart was plagued with mechanical breakdowns of her Electra airplane.
- In a brief trans-Pacific call to her husband, Earhart mentioned “personnel trouble” which was probably code word that her navigator Fred Noonan had started drinking again. Noonan had been fired from Pan American airlines for alcoholism.
What Earhart Did Right
- Wrote magazine articles on her flights which popularized commercial aviation.
- Lived her life with passion, courage, determination, confidence and without fear.
- Used her lectures and interviews not only to support herself, but also as a platform from which to advocate her beliefs and equal rights for women, both politically and economically. She also promoted world peace.
- Strong belief in her own abilities.
- As president of The Ninety Nines, Inc, a flying organization for women, Earhart found jobs for female pilots, petitioned the NAA to establish separate categories for women pilot.
- In 1931, she became vice president of NAA, the first woman to hold office.
- She nurtured her relationships – Eleanor Roosevelt was her close friends and they supported each other’s projects.
- Financed new airlines, lobbied Congress for aeronautics, designed luggage and a line of clothing.
- Flew a lot so he had a lot of practical experience, though she lacked some of the technical experience.
What You Can Learn from Earhart’s Mistakes
Earhart was a legend, and her legendary status grew because she disappeared never to be seen again. In her short life, she packed a lot of living and made major contributions to the field of aviation and to women’s issue. But Earhart made some mistakes, which proved fatal. What can you take away from that?
- Make sure that lifelong learning is a part of your life.
- Stay on top of technology and update your skills.
- Have more than the minimum level of qualification.
- We can all do more than we think we are capable of doing, but it makes no sense to be reckless.
- When you show up, make sure that you are there 100 percent. That means be alert, rested and aware.
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Dictionary of Women Worldwide
American National Biography
Women in World History
Encyclopedia of World Biography