First Lady of the Sky
by Laura Conrad
Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas July 24th, 1887. At the age of 23, she went to an air show with her dad in California and so began her desire to fly. She took her first flying lessons and a few months later bought her first airplane. A Kinner Airster Aircraft. She worked odd jobs so that she would have enough money to continue flying.
In 1932 she crossed the Atlantic in a solo flight. She was the first woman to do so and set a new record for speed. It took her fourteen hours. Inflight she used smelling salts to keep awake and brought a thermos of soup and a can of tomato juice for food. When she returned to New York City there was a ticker-tape parade. President Herbert Hoover personally awarded her a medal for her contribution to aviation, which she accepted modestly on behalf of ‘all women’. She became the most famous woman in the world during her lifetime, however she did not like the publicity or fame. She was a private person and said “My ambition is to have this wonderful gift produce practical results for the future of commercial flying and for the women who may want to fly tomorrow’s planes.”
On June 1. 1937 Amelia and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from Miami, Florida to attempt the first around the world flight. It would be the first time for both man or woman to fly around the world at the equator. Some say the flight was doomed from the beginning. The first attempt to take off, the plane crashed. This didn’t stop Amelia, the plane was repaired and she took off successfully. Flying eastward, they stopped for fuel, repairs and rest in many cities along the way. On June 28 they landed in Lae, New Guinea. On July 2, they took off again with clear skies. After a stop in Howland, it would be straight to Honolulu then San Francisco and home. They’d completed 22,000 miles of the 29,000 mile trip. Only 7000 miles to go, when they vanished on July 2, 1937. The country was stunned and for weeks afterwards. There was full scale search for the plane. Nothing was found. Sadly the world began to accept the loss of Amelia Earhart.
The most probable explanation for her disappearance is that she and her copilot crashed into the ocean, dying on impact or drowning soon there after. However, there are a number of theories that believe she and her co-pilot survived. Was she a spy, sent by President Roosevelt? Was she then captured by the Japanese? Did she live out her life on an island in the South Pacific sipping coconut juice under the palms? There have been countless unconfirmed sightings and she could still be alive today. She would be 103! What ever happened to Amelia Earhart, our First Lady of the Sky, we honor her memory, her ambition and drive that opened the skies to women.
Laura Conrad was the Editor in Chief of HerTeen.com, a site for teenaged girls (no longer a website). It featured fashion, music, games, and her favorite, Herstory the history of women. She published a monthly newsletter HerTeen News.