Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas on July 4, 1897 to Amy and Edwin Earhart. Her greatest ambition was to become the first woman to pilot a plane. Amelia Earhart succeeded in her goal and was the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic Ocean.
1. Early Life
Amy and Edwin Earhart named their newborn daughter after their mothers, Amelia and Mary. Two years after Amelia’s birth, the Earharts had another daughter, naming her Muriel. The two sisters lived in Atchison, Kansas with their grandparents, Alfred and Amelia Otis during the school year. They spent their summers in Kansas City with their parents. Amelia and Muriel moved to Des Moines, Iowa with their parents in 1908. While living in Des Moines, the family went to the Iowa State Fair and Amelia saw her first airplane. She was 12-years-old.
2. Troubled Years
When Amelia was about 13-years-old, her father became an alcoholic and lost his job, which was a difficult time for the family. At this time, Amelia’s grandmother with whom she had a loving relationship, died. Amelia was devastated by her grandmother, Amelia’s death. Her father, Edwin admitted himself to a sanatorium in an attempt to stop abusing alcohol. He remained there for one month. Amelia and her sister Muriel struggled through two years of turmoil and they were uprooted again in 1913.
3. Uprooting the Family Again
The Earhart family moved once again in 1913 to St. Paul Minnesota. Amelia was 16-years-old at the time and entered Central High School in St. Paul. She excelled in mathematics and Latin, and participated in basketball. One year later, Amelia’s father moved the family again for a job offer in Springfield, Missouri. When the family arrived in Springfield, the job Edwin Earhart was offered fell through. Amelia’s mother reached the breaking point and took the girls, moving to Chicago to live with friends. Amelia attended Hyde Park High School while living in Chicago. After high school graduation in 1915, Amelia, Muriel and her mother moved back to Kansas City, reuniting with Edwin.
4. Off to College
In the fall of 1916, Amelia entered Ogontz School just outside Philadelphia. Her first choice was Vassar but she filed her college application too late for acceptance. Amelia took advantage of what Ogontz School had to offer, joining the hockey team, studying both German and French, and excelling in all subjects.
5. College Achievements
Amelia not only excelled academically, she was also voted class Vice President and the local Red Cross secretary. As a member of Christian Endeavor, Amelia was voted treasurer. In her senior year at Ogontz, Amelia wrote the senior class motto, “Honor is the foundation of courage.” Despite her achievements, Amelia decided to leave school during her senior year, moving to Toronto to become a volunteer nurse at a military hospital.
6. The War Effort
During her time as a nurse at Toronto’s, Spandina Military Convalescent Hospital, Amelia cared for many British and French pilots wounded in World War I. Amelia began visiting the airfield observing the Royal Flying Corps do training exercises. In 1918, the war ended and Amelia moved back to the United States.
7. First Airplane Ride and Lessons
In 1920, Amelia experienced her first ride in an airplane with Frank Hawks at Daugherty Field in Long Beach, California. She began flying lessons with Neta Snook and bought her own airplane, a used Kinner Airster. Amelia named her airplane, The Canary. She began her flying lessons in January 1912 and received her pilot’s license from the National Aeronautic Association on December 15, 1921.
8. Early Flying Achievements
- Set the women’s altitude record, reaching 14,000 feet in 1923
- Participated in an Air Rodeo at Glendale Airport – 1923
- Earned a pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique International – 1923
- Director of company that built Dennison Airport in Massachusetts – 1927
- Captain Hilton Railey asks Amelia to fly across the Atlantic – 1928
9. First Woman to Fly Across the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart climbed aboard the Fokker F7 airplane on June 17, 1928. The pilot was Wilmer Stultz and Amelia was a passenger. The flight left Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland and landed in Burry Port, Wales on June 18. Amelia became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. At the end of the flight, Amelia went to London, meeting Lady Mary Heath who bought Amelia an Avro Avian plane. On her return to New York, the mayor honored her with a key to the city.
10. Final Flight
In June of 1937, Amelia made her second attempt at a round-the –world flight. The route started in Miami, Florida and traveled from the west to the east. Amelia and navigator, Fred Noonan completed 22,000 miles and left Lae, New Guinea to continue the journey. They lost radio contact with the Coast Guard on July 2 while flying to Howland Island. An extensive search was authorized by President Roosevelt but Amelia’s plane was not found. The search ended on July 18 and the Superior Court declared Amelia Earhart dead on January 5, 1939.
Learn more with these Amelia Earhart websites.