“I knew I had to fly” Those were the words of Amelia Earhart who would go on to become one of the world’s most celebrated aviators, after her first flight in an airplane at an airshow on December 28, 1920. Within months, she owned her own airplane, a Kinner Airster.
Once airborne, Earhart became a woman who broke barriers and set records. AE, as she called herself, was the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air — although as a passenger — in 1928.
She became instantly famous—to the point of promoting cigarettes and a line of luggage among many things. The media, noting her resemblance to Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to fly the Atlantic solo, dubbed AE “Lady Lindy,” much to her dismay. But she galvanized women’s interest in aviation and set the bar for other women pilots.
But she realized her next flight had to be by herself. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932; the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States later that same year; the first person to fly non-stop from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California, in 1935; and was the first person to ever fly non-stop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey—all in a red Lockheed Model 5B (later upgraded to a Model 5C Vega single engine, wood-and-fabric monoplane that is now seen by millions of people every year at the National Air and Space Museum in downtown Washington, D. C.
In 1937, Earhart, who, by then was a visiting professor of aeronautics at Purdue University, and her navigator, Fred Noonan, attempted an around-the-world record flight in a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra twin-engine, all metal, monoplane transport. Three-quarters of the way around the planet, the duo disappeared somewhere near Howland Island in the central Pacific. They were never heard from again. Conspiracy theories about her disappearance abound to today.
July 24 has been designated National Amelia Earhart Day. This day honors this famous aviation pioneer and celebrates her birth.
Note: Article and pictures originally published by Lockheed Martin (2018).