“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.”
“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”
At a time when aircraft were still something of a novelty and flying one was an activity left to men, Amelia Earhart broke all the rules by becoming one of the most famous pilots in the world.
- Amelia was a tomboy as a child. She hunted rats with a .22 rifle, climbed trees, and refused to wear dresses. She kept a scrapbook filled with articles about women who became lawyers, doctors, and scientists.
- Amelia first saw a plane at a county fair. She was 10 years old. She was not impressed by the rusty contraption of wood and wires.
- Ten years later, at a stunt exhibition, a pilot in a little red plane flew low over her head as she and a friend stood on the field. He thought she would flee or drop to the earth, but she stood her ground. As the plane zoomed over her head, she was hooked. She decided flying was for her.
- After high school, she attended Ogontz, a girls’ finishing school in Philadelphia, but left to become a nurse’s aide during World War I.
- She attended college and became a social worker.
- She took her first flying lesson in 1921; six months later, she had saved enough money to buy a little second-hand plane, painted bright yellow. She named it “the Canary.”
- Amelia achieved a world record for women, flying the Canary to an altitude of 14,000 feet.
- In 1928, she was invited to fly across the Atlantic Ocean with pilot Bill Stultz and mechanic Slim Gordon. Three women pilots had died attempting to cross the Atlantic the previous year, but Amelia said yes to the challenge.
- The team flew from Newfoundland to Wales in 21 hours. She came home to a reception at the White House with President Calvin Coolidge and a parade in New York City to celebrate her achievement.
- In 1931, she married George Putnum, a publisher and publicist who had interviewed her previously.
- George helped her devise a secret plan to fly across the Atlantic alone. She barely made it, but landed safely in a field in Ireland. She was the first woman to cross the ocean unaccompanied.
- Amelia continued to set new records for altitude. She was the first person to fly across the Pacific Ocean alone.
- Amelia wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. In 1937, she left with navigator Fred Noonan from Miami for the 29,000 mile trip. She landed in Noonan with only 7,000 miles left to go. As she headed to Howland Island, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, she lost contact with radio controllers.
- The United States launched a massive air and sea search for her, spending 4 million dollars, but without success.
- No one knows exactly what happened to Amelia.
Novelty: something unusual or unexpected
Contraption: a machine, usually of questionable quality
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Did Amelia Earhart understand the risk she was taking?
Answer: Yes. She knew that flying was dangerous, but she loved it and she believed women needed to do hard things just as men did.
Watch a video about Amelia Earhart.