By Laura LaVoie and Karen Malone Wright
In 2017, “missing woman” headlines are nothing new. Think Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway. That’s not the category for aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. You knew that, right?
In 1932, Amelia became the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean becoming the second person in history to successfully make this trip solo, five years to the day after Lindbergh. Amelia was also the first person to fly across the Pacific from Hawaii to California; the first woman to fly alone, nonstop, across America coast to coast. She achieved many other firsts as well.
But, Amelia is probably best known for the unsolved mystery around her disappearance over the Pacific in 1937. Eighty years later, her name is back in the news because a History Channel special claims to know what happened to her.
On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart challenged herself to be the first person to fly around the world. She took off from Miami with navigator Fred Noonan, and neither one was ever seen again. An expensive rescue attempt lasted several weeks, and theorists pose many ideas as to what happened. The latest claims that’s Amelia sitting back-to-camera in the photo below.
Yeah. OK. Maybe. We believe that whatever brought Amelia down isn’t half as interesting as the story of what took her UP.
To find Amelia Earhart, Role Model, go beyond the obvious. Examine the woman, not her records.
1. Be True to Yourself. Kansas girl Amelia was labeled a “tomboy” in childhood and was sent to “finishing school” to round out her rough edges. It didn’t work.
2. Honor Your Passions. A pilot gave Amelia a ride for the first time on December 28, 1920. She was 23 years old. She is quoted as saying, “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.”
3. Speak Your Truth. Amelia wrote two books about her experience of solo flight. The most honest title? The Fun of It.
4. Marriage? Kids? See #1. Amelia married her publisher, George Putnam, in 1931. She referred to the marriage as a partnership with “dual control” on their wedding day she wrote him a note: “I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.” Whoa.
As for children, we know that culturally, it was uncommon for almost 40-year-old married women to be childless. Of course, culturally it was rare for women to wear pants, too, as she did all the time. Did Amelia choose not to have children, or did it never happen for her? Assumptions come easy, and we’ll never know for sure.
5. It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over. When Amelia lifted off on what would be her final flight, it was just three weeks before her 40th birthday. Dream-chasing was the best way she knew to celebrate.
(Image Credit: Amelia Earhart/National Air & Space Museum)