Inspiring women series: Amelia Earhart

October 6, 2020

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. 

Inspiring women series: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Mary Earhart, was born July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937, and declared dead January 5, 1939. She was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator  to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences, and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-nines, an organization for female pilots.

Born in Atchison, Kansas,  Earhart developed a passion for adventure at a young age, steadily gaining flying experience from her twenties. In 1928, Earhart became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by airplane (accompanying pilot Wilmer Stultz),  for which she achieved celebrity status. In 1932, Earhart made a nonstop solo transatlantic flight,  becoming the first woman to achieve such a feat.

In 1935, Earhart became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University as an advisor to aeronautical engineering  and a career counselor to women students. She was also a member of the National Woman's Party and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.

 

When the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic reached Toronto, Earhart was engaged in arduous nursing duties that included night shifts at the Spadina Military Hospital. She became a patient herself, suffering from pneumonia. She was hospitalized in early November 1918, and discharged in December 1918, about two months after the illness had started.

After Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Amy Guest (1873–1959) expressed interest in being the first woman to fly (or be flown) across the Atlantic Ocean. After deciding that the trip was too perilous for her to undertake, she offered to sponsor the project, suggesting that they find "another girl with the right image". While at work one afternoon in April 1928, Earhart got a phone call from Capt. Hilton H. Railey, who asked her, "Would you like to fly the Atlantic?"

On July 2, 1937, midnight, Earhart and Noonan took off from Lea Airfield in the heavily loaded Electra. Their intended destination was Howland Island, a flat sliver of land. The aircraft departed Lae with about 1100 gallons of gasoline.

The official search efforts lasted until July 19, 1937.  At $4 million, the air and sea search by the Navy and Coast Guard was the most costly and intensive in U.S. history up to that time but search and rescue techniques during the era were rudimentary and some of the search was based on erroneous assumptions and flawed information.

Despite an unprecedented search by the United States Navy and Coast Guard, no physical evidence of Earhart, Noonan or the Electra 10E was found, several vessels searched the area for six-seven days each, covering 150,000 square miles.

Immediately after the end of the official search, her husband financed a private search by local authorities of nearby Pacific islands and waters, concentrating on the Gilberts. Back in the United States, Putnam acted to become the trustee of Earhart's estate so that he could pay for the searches and related bills.

In probate court in Los Angeles, Putnam requested to have the "declared death in absentia" seven-year waiting period waived so that he could manage Earhart's finances. As a result, Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939. 

Information from Wikipedia page

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