Amelia Earhart: biography
Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviator and writer. She made a lot of accomplishments, including the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean as a female aviator. In 1937, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan attempted the world flight and disappeared in July somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Childhood and youth
Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas in 1897. Her parents were Amelia and Samuel Stanton who was a lawyer, and her grandfather was Alfred Gideon Otis, a former federal judge. Amelia was named after her two grandmothers, and she also had a younger sister, Grace Muriel.
As a child, Amelia used to spent a lot of time with her sister climbing trees, playing some “boy” games, that is why she was called a tomboy. In 1908, Amelia saw an aircraft for the first time in Des Moines, Iowa, where her parents moved in 1907. The sisters stayed in Atchison with their grandparents and got a home-schooling form of education there. They continued their education in public school in 1909 when the girls went to Iowa to their parents. When her adulthood started, Amelia went to Columbia University to study medicine but quit it a year later.
In 1920, Amelia and her dad went to the airfield where a famous pilot Frank Hawks gave the girl a ride. It was the moment when she realized what she wanted to do with her life. After that day, Earhart saved money and started taking flying lessons. Later, Amelia bought her first biplane of the brand “Kinner Airster." In 1922, she flew on it to the height of 14,000 feet which became a world record for female pilots. Next year, Amelia got her pilot's license and turned out to be the 16th woman in the U. S. who did that.
In the 1920s, when Earhart was staying in Medford, she became a member of the American Aeronautical Society in Boston, and later she was elected its vice president. In 1927, she made her first official flight out of Dennison Airport. During that time, Amelia also worked in the sales department of the Kinner aircraft and wrote articles about flying.
In 1927, the aviator Charles Lindbergh made a transatlantic flight, and after that Capitan Hilton H. Railey called Earhart and offered her to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. So, in June 1928, Amelia accompanied Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon on the flight. After this, she expressed her desire to do a similar flight alone someday. And she did! In 1932, Earhart set off from Canada and landed in Northern Ireland after 15 hours of flying. Amelia became the first woman who flew solo nonstop across the Atlantic, and she received several awards for that.
In 1928–1930, Amelia has written for the Cosmopolitan magazine on aviation topics. Besides, she wrote two books based on her life experience: 20 Hrs., 40 Min. (1928) and The Fun of It (1932). The aviator’s net worth was approximately $1.2 million, but it is tough to say because Earhart spent a lot of money on her flights.
World flight in 1937
At the beginning of 1936, Earhart began planning an around-the-world trip. Also that year, her airplane, Lockheed Electra 10E, was built. Captain Harry Manning was chosen as her navigator. However, during the flight tests, Amelia and her husband had some doubts about Manning’s competency, so they found a second navigator, Fred Noonan. According to the plan, Noonan was supposed to navigate from Hawaii to Howland Island, then Manning would change him and go to Australia, and after that step, Earhart would continue on her own for the end of the flight.
On March 1937, Amelia flew from California to Hawaii with Noonan, Manning, and Mantz, who was a technical advisor. Due to some problems, the aircraft needed service on Hawaii. After fixing the problem, the crew was supposed to go to Howland Island. However, there was a ground-loop, and the aircraft was sent for repairs. Manning left the project, so Earhart and Noonan stayed, and they both were not radio operators, unlike Manning.
By the summer, Amelia and Noonan were prepared for the next attempt. On June 1, they set off from Miami and landed on Lae, New Guinea on June 29. They passed 22,000 miles, and there were 7,000 miles left. On July 2, the pair departed from Lae. Earhart reported the altitude as 10000 feet and said that it would be reduced because of the thick clouds. Two hours later, the height was reported to be 7000 feet. The last known Amelia’s position report was near the Nukumanu Islands, about 800 miles into the flight.
An hour later, after Amelia's last message, the USCGC Itasca and the United States Navy started searching her. A week after this day, a lot of attention was paid to the Nikumaroro or Gardner Island. There was a possibility that Earhart had the chance to land the aircraft in the lagoon and swim to the shore.
Eventually, the official end of search was on July 19, 1937. After that, Putnam organized a private search. However, there were no bodies found. George wanted the status “declared death in absentia” to be removed so he could manage Amelia’s finances; in another case, he needed to wait for seven years. Legally, Earhart’s death date turned out to be January 5, 1939.
Speculation on disappearance
There was various speculation on the mystery of the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan. The most supported idea was about crashing, but some people suggested that the crew stayed alive and landed at some lost place.
One of the theories that have the most considerable credibility is about fuel in the Electra aircraft, that is was not enough to get to the coast of Howland Island. Also, it was suggested that the crew could fly without a radio signal and land at Nikumaroro. This theory was based on the investigations that led to the discovery of some artifacts (improvised tools, some clothing, etc.). In 2012, there was a jar of freckle cream found.
The movie Flight for Freedom (1943) helped to develop a myth about Earhart spying on the Japanese in the Pacific ocean due to the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the United Press and U.S. Army Intelligence called this rumor groundless. Besides, Jackie Cochran, a friend of Amelia and also an aviator, made her investigation and concluded that the Japanese were not connected to Earhart's disappearance.
Firstly, Earhart had a fiancé, Samuel Chapman, but in 1928, the engagement was broken off. At the same time, Amelia was close enough to George P. Putnam, a publisher. He had proposed to Amelia six times before she agreed. The couple married in 1931. They never had children together, but Putnam had two sons from his previous marriage, David Binney and George Jr.
The official date of Earhart’s death was January 5, 1939. Of course, the real date is unknown, and so is the cause of death. As we said before, there was no body or plane found. Thus, the death of a great aviator remains a mystery till today.
- 1922 – Woman's world altitude record: 14,000 ft
- 1928 – First woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean
- 1932 – First woman to fly the Atlantic solo
- 1932 – First person to fly the Atlantic twice
- 1933 – First woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the U.S.
- 1933 – Women's speed transcontinental record
- 1937 – First person to fly solo from the Red Sea to Karachi