Women who followed their dreams: Amelia Earhart

There have been women in history to which we owe most of the status we have reached today.




These reckless women who fought against countless stereotypes of their times, to deliver to us the world as we know it, pushed by no one but their courage. They were not afraid of dreaming, as there was so much to dream of during their days, so much to accomplish and so many goals to achieve. These incredible revolutionary pioneers, whose bravery changed society into a new pattern that could not be reversed, broke boundaries in fields of science, government, aviation and a lot more. They created mew opportunities for women by becoming a role model and left a lasting imprint in the minds of us all.


American suffragist Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to ever run for President of the United States in 1872. She made a fortune with her sister on the New York Stock Exchange and was one of the first women to open a Wall Street brokerage firm. Chapeau!


Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, was one of them.


Amelia Earhart posing in front of the Fokker F7 Friendship, Wales UK 1928

This morning I came across some interesting news regarding one of the most mysterious disappearance and unsolved cases in the history of the aviation. 

In 1937 the plane in which Amelia Earhart was attempting her second transatlantic flight suddenly disappeared in the Pacific after 25 days of solo flight. And after two weeks of research in that area, they thought she died drowned after a plain crash and that her remains were lost to the deep waters. That’s what they assumed. However, by reading the press of the time one can clearly see that people thought she was still alive. Scientists have been trying to discover the truth about her death for decades and since Amelia was very popular in that period, even the public started giving more and more attention to this unsolved case, creating an aura of mystery around the death of the young aviatrix.

But now the TIGHAR (International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) reports to us that the skeleton of a castaway that was found on the island of Nikumaroro in 1940 (the area where the aircraft disappeared) may belong to Amelia Earhart. And this is more than a theory, as “the morphology of the recovered bones, insofar as we can tell by applying contemporary forensic methods to measurements taken at the time, appears consistent with a female of Earhart's height and ethnic origin” the TIGHAR reported. The recovered bones would be similar to the measures of the Earhart body. And thanks to modern technologies it was noticed that the woman's arms and skeleton would be virtually identical.


“There is an entire final chapter of Earhart's life that people don't know about. She spent days - maybe months - heroically struggling to survive as a castaway," Ric Gillespie, TIGHAR's executive director told CNN on Tuesday November the 1st. 

Thinking about her energy, her bravery, her positivity towards life and with how much resistance she faced up stressful situations during her cross country’s flights, this is without any doubt an new chapter to be written about the most famous aviatrix of history! For we all know Amelia amazing adventures on her flights this makes us think about her last days all alone on that small island in the middle of nowhere and how she could survive for days and even months, like the TIGHAR assumes. 

This could be an unprecedented discovery as thanks to the forensic tools of nowadays the assumptions made in the past can be considered a clear evidence today. An impact news that makes me investigate more about the life of this pioneer aviatrix.



Looking at the world from inside the cockpit


“It has always seemed to me, that boys and girls are educated very differently ... too often little attention is paid to individual talent. Instead, education goes on dividing people according to their sex, and putting them in little feminine or masculine pigeonholes.”

— Amelia Earhart, THE FUN OF IT, autobiography, 1933



During the 1930s she was one of the world’s most celebrated aviators and a national heroin. As a woman, she dedicated herself in promoting women's opportunities both in aviation and other fields at public speaking. Women's opportunities were more limited than they are today. It was a popular thought that flying was not a lady’s activity and women taking flying lessons were frowned upon by the public. That’s why Amelia Earhart tried to fight against such stereotypes by encouraging women to become pilots. She believed women needed to be in solidarity with each other, to be happy for one’s achievement and cooperate to get the same opportunities as the men one day. She encouraged women to believe in their dreams and work hard to achieve their goals,  so that one day they would have been valued for their individual abilities.


Amelia Earhart, pioneer of the sky

Most of us may think her passion for airplanes comes from her childhood. In her book, The fun of it, she did not deny to have been somehow attracted by mechanicals things when she was a little girl. However, this is not what pushed her to fly. She has always been an adventurous soul attracted by new things: she loved exploring new places, meeting new people, playing typical men’s sports ect … She was thrilled by experimenting and involving herself in new activities.


During the Great War the streets of Toronto, were Amelia lived, were full of former soldiers without arms and legs. Shocked by this view, she decided to engage in arduous nursing duties to play her part. She used sometimes visiting the military airport apron and see the aviators coming out their planes and it’s there, in the winter of 1918 that she begun to be interested in aircraft. 


Amelia Earhart (right) with her flight instructor Neta Snook in front of Earhart's Kinner Airster, c. 1921

The war ended that year and the WWI experience was so touching for her that she decided to go to New York to study medicine. Her hobby for aviation meant still so much for her and during that period she also attended a course to learn how to repair engines, that laid the groundwork for all mechanical knowledges acquired later.  During her spare time, she loved to watch barnstormer’s show, a form of entertainment in which reckless stunt pilots used to make the craziest things in the air to attract an audience: dangerous spins, loops and the barrel roll, stall turns and wing overs. Show after show she became aware of her strong willing to learn flying. 


Although her family was wealthy, her father did not accept her wish to become an aviatrix. But Amelia was so determined to follow her dream that she found her first job at a telephone company to pay her flight lessons. She even worked as a professional photographer to earn some more money.


After her first solo flight test while she was studying for the licence, her mother understood how much Amelia cared about starting her own career in aviation and she helped her buying her first airplane, a secondhand Kinner Airster biplane which she nicknamed "The Canary”. She cut her hair short and bought a leather jacket to be taken in consideration by men as a real pilot.


On May 15, 1923, Amelia Earhart finally gained a pilot's license issued by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, though the aviation still remained an hobby for her.


The Kinner Airster biplane, “The Canary" she bought herself in 1921

This is Amelia Earhart’s first pilot’s license issued by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the governing body of sports aviation. Issued May 16, 1923

She moved to Boston, where her sister lived and worked, and she found a job as a social worker in a settlement-house.


Regarding the university, Amelia never got a degree, she attended medicine faculty in New York but she quit. She tried to study physics and she quit that faculty too. Perhaps her adventurous life and her constant curiosity for so many things in life did not allow her to concentrate on a single topic!


Amelia Earhart, pioneer of the sky

In May 1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first solo, transatlantic flight of history and the first ever non-stop flight between New York to Paris on board of his single-engine monoplane the Spirit of saint Louis. This sensational news was welcome with so much enthusiasm by the aviation that the interest grew for having also a woman flying across the Atlantic. And guess to whom was asked “Would you like to fly the Atlantic?”.


It was 1928 when Amelia Earhart was given the great opportunity to accomplish such an impressive feat that changed her life forever.  She was selected to be the first woman to fly transatlantic, as a passenger. Together with the pilot Wilmer “Bill” Stultz and the mechanic Louis E. "Slim" Gordon, they took off on June 1928 from Trespassey Harbor, Newfoundland on a Fokker F7 tri-plane model named “Friendship”. After 20 hours and 40 minutes they landed at Burry Point, Wales, in the United Kingdom. 


When the team came back to New York they were acclaimed by people in the streets with a ticker tape parade and met President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. But most of the attention was for Amelia Earhart, who became a true star. The public eye put her in the centre and wanted to know more about this pioneer woman. 


She became as popular as Charles Lindbergh that she was even given the nickname "Lady Lindy" (Lucky Lind was the nickname the press gave to Lindbergh). And, like her fellow aircraft enthusiast did, she started to write a book about this experience.  The idea of publishing Amelia’s memories of her first flight across the Atlantic came to George Putnam, who had already published several writings by Lindbergh. He thought Amelia Earhart could be seen as a potential star by aircraft amateurs as well as all the people who would recognise her a national heroin and a role model. A true bestselling story!


1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger in the Fokker F7 Friendship with two male pilots.

A newspaper report of Amelia Earhart's historic flight across the Atlantic, 18 June 1928

Front page from the Wisconsin News celebrates Amelia Earhart's pioneering flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928.

Amelia and Wilmer Stultz (pilot of the Friendship) being congratulated by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Moore after the transatlantic flight

Amelia Earhart wearing the wings presented to her in 1928 as an honorary major in the 381st Observation Squadron, U.S. Army Reserve, at Cressey Field, Presidio of San Francisco.

After this flight Amelia Earhart's love for aviation became a full time job and her main source of income. As a celebrity Amelia, together with editor George Putnam, started travelling around the US to promote the book "20 Hrs., 40 Min". Through lectures and public speaking the aviatrix used her celebrity to promote women in aviation, supporting their issues, talking about the opportunities for women to achieve their goals and the courage of taking control of their own lives. She promoted “airmindedness” at a time when most people were sceptical about airplanes as a form of transposrtation.







Like a movie star, she was also called to work as a testimonial for Transcontinental Air Transport and became the first woman vice president of the National Aeronautic Association.


In 1929 Amelia Earhart (first on left) participated in Transcontinental Air Transport’s first two-day cross-country service by train and Ford Trimotor from New York to Los Angeles. Along the way she met with Charles Lindbergh (first on right).

She modeled for woman’s fashion and became involved in developing her own lines of products (initially using her own sewing machine), aircraft apparels exclusively designed for women, which combined functionality with femininity.