Amelia Earhart

by Emily from San Diego

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The Woman Who Flew

"If there are things you don't like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different" (Dave Thomas). This is exactly what Amelia Earhart did. The world she grew up in was a web spun from threads of stereotypes, racism, and gender inequality. Earhart decided to make her own life different from others' through her love of flying, and perhaps make the world a better place. Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. She moved around frequently because her father, who was a lawyer and alcoholic, kept losing his job. After college, spurred by the need to help those injured by the Canadian World War I, she became a pre-medical student at Columbia University. The moment she discovered her love of flight was in December 1920, when pilot Frank Hawks took her on her first plane ride. Afterwards, she began earning her own money to pay for flying lessons. Later on, she set many flight records and became the first woman to fly solo both ways across the United States. Despite these impressive accomplishments, her greatest achievement was becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean by herself. However, Amelia Earhart mysteriously disappeared on her round-the-world flight. Amelia Earhart lived a life brimming with adventure, but it was not in vain. Her goal in life was not to be the best aviator or set the most records--it was to benefit humanity. In a world where women were seen as inferior to men, Amelia Earhart was a true pioneer and a source of inspiration through her courage, determination, and independence. 

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Amelia Earhart revolutionized the world's view of women through her courageous accomplishments in aviation. During Earhart's time, very few women dared to take to the air. Amelia Earhart not only decided to fly, she decided to her use skills and bravery to promote equality of genders: "Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others"(Amelia Earhart). Earhart's courage and optimism challenged people's expectations of women's rights and capabilities. She believed that women could do what men could do, and decided that she would not limit herself because of what others assumed of women. Instead of conforming to stereotypical assumptions, she tried to break gender barriers. Earhart undertook a perilous mission to fly solo across the whole world, something that nobody tried to do before, in hopes that one day there would be equality. Not only did Earhart become a role model for women, she also made a lasting impression on the future of humanity: "All kinds of minds in all kinds of schools and laboratories, or alone in cubby-holes, are trying to work out theoretical details of efficient flight. Helping them are those who put the theories to practical use. That women will share in these endeavors, even more than they have in the past, is my wish--and prophecy"(Amelia Earhart). Amelia Earhart believed that by demonstrating that women could be just as accomplished in flight as men, she could perhaps change the perception of her gender. Although Earhart mysteriously vanished on her round-the-world trip, her natural fearless personality encouraged women that they could overcome their social stereotypes. Amelia Earhart wanted to prove to the world that men and women were equal through her selfless bravery and by setting the bar higher for all females. 

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Another one of Earhart's dominating traits is determination. Her persistence led her to be one of the greatest female aviators in history and a prominent women's rights advocate: "It was clear in my mind that I was undertaking the flight because I loved flying. I chose to fly the Atlantic because I wanted to. It was, in a measure, a self-justification--a proving to me, and to anyone else interested, that a woman with adequate experience could do it" (Amelia Earhart). Earhart's mind was sharp and clear when she decided to fly solo across the Atlantic, which was a seemingly preposterous idea. However, through much hardship and danger, she completed the flight. This was not only a mark in aviation history, it also proved to the world that women could accomplish great things. Even though Amelia Earhart loved flying more than life itself, she flew for her beliefs: "Though she flew 'for the fun of it,' as she said, and left fragments of verse which suggest her romantic approach to flying, she undertook these flights also as a standard-bearer of her sex, for she was deeply committed both intellectually and by temperament to the cause of feminism" (Dictionary of American Biography). This shows that she enjoyed flying, but what fueled her will was to set an example, or to be "as a standard-bearer of her sex," to other women who felt inferior to men. Her determination allowed her to have an unwavering belief in feminism and therefore a reason to challenge stereotypes. The will, persistence, and determination Earhart manifested towards her flying career portrayed a woman with an unshakable belief in equality of men and women. 

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Independence played a huge part in Earhart's life. From her early ages to her mysterious disappearance, she was known for her fierce independence. Freedom was what Amelia Earhart valued, and freedom was what she wished for women: "I want to do it because I want to do it" (Amelia Earhart). This simple statement screams the independence of Amelia Earhart. She was described as a "tomboy" as a child, painfully different from other girls around her. However, Earhart recognized herself as an individual. Her decisions were her own and nobody could affect or change her. She valued her freedom so much that even marriage could not confine her fierce independence: "In 1928 she broke an engagement to marry because she was unwilling to lose her freedom. On Feb. 7, 1931, she married George Palmer Putnam, a book publisher and promoter and a grandson of George Palmer Putnam, having first obtained explicit consent to come and go as she pleased. They had no children" (Dictionary of American Biography). This shows that Amelia Earhart valued freedom over companionship. She could not bear the idea of being tied down and dependent on someone else, even if he was her husband. Earhart wanted to pave her own way and she didn't want any interference. Independence played a huge part in making Amelia Earhart what she is remembered today. Many people tried to stop her from flying, but since Earhart valued freedom and individuality so highly, she ignored them and became one of the most well respected women in history. 

Amelia Earhart lived a life set apart from others: "One of the best known women of her time, Amelia Earhart, as she continued to be known after her marriage, served with easy grace as an emissary of good will for her country and brought uncounted women closer to taking to the air themselves if not, indeed, closer to the perfect sex equality she sought for them" (Dictionary of American Biography). Earhart brought the world closer to gender equality by fearlessly flying through physical storms created by Mother Nature and also the emotional storms created by unfair stereotypes. She showed women that they were neither inferior nor superior to men--they were equal: "Today, though many theories exist, there is no proof of her fate. There is no doubt, however, that the world will always remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision, and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women."(The Official Website of Amelia Earhart). This shows the impact Amelia Earhart left on people: she restored ambition in women. I believe a true hero must stand firm even in the face of opposition and become pioneers that symbolize the hope, strength, and example that humans need to make world a better place.


Works Cited

"The Official Website of Amelia Earhart." The Official Website of Amelia Earhart. Family of Amelia Earhart, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. .

"Amelia Mary Earhart." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944. Biography In Context. Web. 28 Mar. 2013.

Earhart, Amelia. The Fun of It: Random Records of My Own Flying and of Women in Aviation. Chicago: Academy Chicago, 1932. Print.

Page created on 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

The Official Website of Amelia Earhart - The Official Website of Amelia Earhart gives a brief biography
Discovery News - This website includes one of the many theories of Amelia Earhart's final resting place
The Ninety Nines - This website has a timeline of Amelia Earhart's life