“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others.” ~Amelia Earhart
The story of Amelia Earhart is not just a story of firsts; she was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, the first one to cross the Pacific, the first woman to fly at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Amelia’s story is that of determination. The story of a woman who kept getting knocked down but never failed to get back up.
Amelia’s childhood was not stable. Her father was an alcoholic unable to keep a steady job. In addition to her parents on again, off again relationship, the family was forced to move around a lot. Finally, her mother settled in Chicago, sans father, allowing Amelia to stay in one area long enough to attend high school.
It was while visiting her sister in Toronto that Amelia fell in love with flying. As a nurse helping the wounded WWI pilots that she got to listen to their adventures. She could often be found outside watching the Royal Canadian Airforce in their practice flights.
Amelia tried to settle down into a life in New York, enrolled in a medical school. However, when her parents decided to give things another go in California, Amelia left school to be with them. While in California, Amelia took flying lessons from the famed Anita Snook. Amelia devoted her life to aviation, even buying a bright yellow plane she called “The Canary.”
However, things fell apart, yet again. The money they were living off of ran out. Her father started drinking again and Amelia’s mother was ready to leave her father yet again. Amelia was forced to sell her plane, the Canary, and left with her mother for Boston.
Amelia gave up flying for a time.She tried going back to school but there was no money. She worked odd jobs and spent some time as a social worker. Amelia became a member of the American Aeronautical Society and became active in the Boston aviation circles. She even wrote articles in a local paper that gained her a small following.
In 1927 she received an offer to join a transatlantic flight as a passenger. Amelia begrudgingly took the position which propelled her to instant stardom. It was the foot in the door opportunity that she needed. She was soon discovered by Mr. Putnam and became the celebrity that we know today. There were endorsements, lectures, guest writing for Cosmopolitan and the ground breaking flights that we all know her for.
For more books on women reaching for the clouds check out these books:
- Circling the Sun This was definitely within my top five favorite books of 2015. The wonderful story of Beryl Markham and her aviation adventures.
- Powder Puff Derby: Petticoat Pilots and Flying Flappers Chronicling the early days of flying from World War I through the mid 1920’s.
- The Aviators Wife The life of Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindberg.