Explorers Heroes

Amelia Earhart

by Katelin from Iowa

Amelia Earhart is my hero because she defied all odds—and all those who doubted her—by becoming the first woman aviator to fly around the world. Amelia Mary Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 at her grandparent's home in Atchison, Kansas. She was the first of Edwin and Amy Earhart’s two daughters. Muriel, her sister, and Amelia stayed with their grandparents until she was ten, when they moved to Des Moines, Iowa to be with their parents. She saw her first airplane at the Iowa State Fair...

"It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting..."

It was more than a decade before her interest in flying would be acquired.

After many hardships during her teenage years, including her parent’s separation, Amelia decided to train as a nurse’s aid in Toronto, Canada and served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at a military hospital until the Armistice in November 1918. She then enrolled as a pre-med student at Columbia University. After doing well in her studies, she decided to join her mother and father in California—they had recently united. This gave her the opportunity to attend an “aerial meet” with her father at Daugherty Field in Long Beach, where she boarded an open-cockpit biplane for a ten minute flight over Los Angeles. After this she knew she had to pursue flying.

Amelia then began taking lessons with pioneer aviatrix Anita “Neta” Snook at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California. In July, she obtained a prototype of the Kinner airplane, which she named “The Canary.” By October 1922, she began participating in record-breaking attempts and set a women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet. It was broken only weeks later by Ruth Nichols.

On April 27, 1926 her life changed forever. She received a phone call from Captain H.H. Railey, who asked, “How would you like to be the first women to fly across the Atlantic?” She immediately agreed to meet with him, thus beginning her career.

For her first flight she was actually no more than a passenger, concerning the fact that she had no experience of multi-engine or instrumental flying. She was distressed that William Stultz and Louis Gordon—the pilots of the trans-Atlantic flight—were ignored by reporters, whereas she was given full attention and kept at the forefront of everyone’s mind and in newspapers by George Putnam—the New York publisher who had asked H.H. Railey to find his female pilot. The two eventually married, and he continued to lead her career in a positive direction.

After many solo flights, mounds of honors, and even a Special Gold Medal presented by President Hoover, she went on to begin schemes for a solo flight, circumnavigated at the equator—the longest possible route for an around-the-world trip. Although there was one failed attempt, she was not discouraged, and on May 27, 1937, she and navigator Fred Nooman began their epic flight. Even though many complications presented themselves during the journey, it wasn't until July 2 that tragedy really hit. About 20 hours after taking off from Lae, New Guinea—they had flown about 20,000 miles up to this point, with only 7,000 to go—the two were lost from any kind of communication, and no signs of her plane or the two were ever found. Her disappearance is still a mystery to this day.

Page created on 3/19/2008 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 3/19/2008 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Detailed Biography - A great biography
Flight Info - Information about Amelia Earhart and the records held by the Navy concerning her last flight
Museum website - A real museum..contains tons of fun facts about her
George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers at the Purdue University Libraries - The Amelia Earhart collection offers a rare glimpse into the life of America's premier woman aviator. The online collection includes more than 2,000 scans of photographs, maps, and documents relating to Earhart.
SPECTRUM biographies - A good place for information