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23+ Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Amelia Earhart

23+ Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Amelia Earhart April 29, 2024Leave a comment

Amelia Earhart aviator

Amelia Earhart, a name synonymous with courage, adventure, and mystery, captivated the world with her pioneering spirit and daring feats in aviation. As the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and attempt a circumnavigation of the globe, Earhart shattered barriers and inspired generations of pilots. Yet, her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 remains one of the most enduring enigmas in history, fueling speculation and fascination for decades. Let’s delve into the life and legacy of this trailblazing aviator!

Granddaughter of a Federal Judge

Amelia Mary Earhart
Wikimedia Commons / Underwood & Underwood

On July 24, 1897, Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas to Samuel "Edwin" Stanton Earhart and Amelia "Amy" née Otis Earhart. She was born in the home of her maternal grandfather, federal judge, Alfred Gideon Otis. Earhart was of German descent.

She was Known as a Tomboy

Amelia Mary Earhart
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Amelia had a younger sister Muriel. The two spent summers with their grandparents and loved to play outdoors. Amelia enjoyed hunting, fishing, and sledding in the winter and was known as a tomboy in her youth.

She Wasn’t Impressed with Airplanes

Airplane at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum
Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum / CC

At the ripe old age of 10, she saw her first airplane at the Iowa State Fair. She wasn’t sold on the idea at first, later recalling that it was just “rusty wire and wood” and didn’t look interesting at all.

She Didn't Grow Up Rich

Amelia Earhart's birthplace
Wikimedia Commons / Earhart's Birthplace / CC 2.0

As a child, she saw her father struggle with alcoholism and an inability to maintain an adequate job. Her parents almost divorced, seeing her mother move Amelia and her sister to Chicago, although the couple later reconciled.

She Worked as a Nurse During WWI

Amelia Earhart worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at Spadina Military Convalescent Hospital in Toronto
Wikimedia Commons / Harris & Ewing / CC0

She worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at Spadina Military Convalescent Hospital in Toronto. She often watched flights at local military airfields with her sister, which helped to build her own desire to fly.

She First Flew in 1920

Amelia Earhart's first plane
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

While it wasn’t Amelia controlling the flight, she was first in the air in 1920. Pilot Frank Hawk took her up for her first flight. According to her, she was in love with the idea of flying by the time she was “two or three hundred feet off the ground.”

Earhart Worked for the Phone Company

Amelia Earhart statue
Wikimedia Commons / National Statuary Hall U.S. Capitol / CC 2.0

Like many people, Amelia had to work hard to achieve her dreams. She took on jobs at the phone company and as a truck driver to pay for her flying lessons. This was all the more important because she demanded a female teacher for her instruction.

She was Taught By Anita “Neta” Snook

Anita “Neta” Snook
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Anita “Neta” Snook taught Amelia to fly. Snook was the first female aviator in Iowa. She had a laundry list of accomplishments including being the first female owner of an aviation business and the first woman to run a commercial airfield.

Her First Plane was Named “The Canary”

Amelia Earhart's plane “The Canary”
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

She bought her first plane when she was only 25 years old. She purchased the plane as a birthday gift to herself. Her mother and sister helped her to come up with the funds for the extraordinary purchase of the yellow Kinner Airster.

Earhart was a Fast Learner

Amelia Earhart in an old photo
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

She took part in her first air meet just shortly after her first anniversary of beginning to fly. After only one year of practice, she felt comfortable enough to showcase her skills in a competition at Los Angeles’ Rogers Air Field.

She Set the First Women’s Altitude Record

Amelia Earhart's plane in the Air and Space Museum
Wikimedia Commons / Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution / CC 2.0

Earhart flew to 14,000 feet in October of 1922 during the air meet at Rogers Air Field. While she would certainly set other records that would be iconic later in her career, this was the first record that she broke, and it didn’t take her long to do it.

She Received an International Pilot’s License

Amelia Earhart's Visit to Langley
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In 1923, Amelia Earhart achieved a significant milestone by obtaining her international pilot's license, a feat that marked the beginning of her groundbreaking career in aviation. Her dedication to mastering the complexities of flight laid the foundation for her future accomplishments and set her apart as a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry.

She Put Family First

Amelia Earhart and her father being serenaded by a band
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Despite her passion for aviation, Earhart took a hiatus in 1924 to address pressing family matters, demonstrating her strong sense of familial responsibility. This decision showcased her resilience and her ability to navigate personal challenges while maintaining her commitment to her loved ones and her own aspirations.

She Sold Her Plane for Her Family

Amelia Earhart in her plane
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Selling her aircraft to support her family financially showcased Earhart's selflessness and her willingness to prioritize the well-being of her loved ones over her own pursuits. This act of sacrifice demonstrated her unwavering dedication to her family and her willingness to make difficult choices for their sake.

She Moved Back Home in 1924

Amelia Earhart's home
Wikimedia Commons / CC 3.0

Earhart's decision to move in with her mother and sister following her parents' divorce highlighted her resilience and her ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. This period of transition allowed her to find strength in family support and provided a foundation for her future endeavors in aviation.

She Attended Columbia University

Columbia University's flag
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Even during her hiatus, Earhart pursued further education at Columbia University, demonstrating her commitment to personal growth and intellectual development. This decision reflected her insatiable curiosity and her desire to expand her knowledge beyond the confines of aviation.

She Had Many Jobs

Amelia Earhart in her plane
Wikimedia Commons / San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives / CC0

Taking on various jobs, including teaching and social work, illustrated Earhart's versatility and her willingness to explore diverse career paths beyond aviation. This period of exploration allowed her to develop valuable skills and experiences that would later shape her contributions to the field of flight.

She Always Loved Flying

Amelia Earhart in front of her plane
Wikimedia Commons / National Library of Ireland on The Commons / CC0

Joining the Boston chapter of the National Aeronautic Association during her hiatus underscored Earhart's enduring connection to the aviation community despite her temporary absence from flying. This continued involvement allowed her to stay connected to her passion for flight and provided a supportive network during a challenging time in her life.

She Got Engaged in 1924

Amelia Earhart in a photograph
Wikimedia Commons / Underwood & Underwood / CC0

Amelia Earhart's engagement to Samuel Chapman in 1924 marked a personal milestone amidst her burgeoning career in aviation, symbolizing a balance between her professional and personal aspirations. However, Earhart's decision to break off the engagement with Chapman showcased her unwavering dedication to her passion for flying and her desire for independence in her personal life.

Passenger Before Pilot

Amelia Earhart stamp
Wikimedia Commons / United States Post Office Department / CC0

Serving as a passenger on the first woman-led flight across the Atlantic in June 1928 marked a pivotal moment in Earhart's journey to becoming a household name in aviation and inspiring future generations of female pilots. This historic achievement not only solidified her place in aviation history but also paved the way for her future accomplishments as a pilot and advocate for women in flight.

She was Always Humble

Amelia Earhart standing next to 2 other pilots
Wikimedia Commons / CC0

Despite the acclaim she received, Earhart remained humble, referring to herself as "just a sack of potatoes" during the historic flight, demonstrating her modesty and down-to-earth personality. This humility endeared her to the public and earned her respect as a relatable and approachable figure in aviation.

Advocate for Women’s Rights and Aviation Safety

Amelia Earhart in front of a California home
Wikimedia Commons / CC0

Earhart's overnight celebrity status following her transatlantic flight demonstrated the immense public fascination with her daring achievements in aviation. This newfound fame propelled her into the spotlight and provided a platform for her to advocate for causes she believed in, including women's rights and aviation safety.

She was Hosted at the White House

Amelia Earhart in a fur coat
Wikimedia Commons / Harris & Ewing / CC0

Being invited to a White House reception hosted by President Calvin Coolidge affirmed Earhart's status as a national icon and a trailblazer for women in aviation, highlighting her influence on American culture and society. This recognition from the highest levels of government solidified her place in history and provided validation for her pioneering efforts in flight.

She Wrote for Cosmopolitan Magazine

Midwinter Cosmopolitan magazine
Wikimedia Commons / Stoddard / CC0

Accepting a job as aviation editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine showcased Earhart's versatility in combining her passion for flying with her literary skills. This role allowed her to share her experiences and insights with a wider audience and advocate for advancements in aviation technology and safety.

She had Endorsement Deals in the 1920s

Amelia Earhart in a Lucky Strike advertisement
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Endorsing products like Lucky Strike cigarettes reflected Earhart's savvy in leveraging her celebrity status for commercial opportunities, navigating the worlds of both aviation and marketing. This strategic partnership provided her with additional financial support and raised her profile as a cultural icon of the era.

Her First Book was Published in 1928

Amelia Earhart
Wikimedia Commons / Luciaroblego / CC0

Earhart's publication of her first book, "20 Hrs., 40 Min.," in the summer of 1928 provided readers with a firsthand account of her historic transatlantic flight and offered insights into her early experiences and motivations in aviation. This literary work not only chronicled her groundbreaking journey but also inspired readers with her courage and determination in the face of adversity.

Co-founded the Ninety-Nines

Footage of Amelia Earhart
NBCUniversal Media

She co-founded the Ninety-Nines in 1929 to advance opportunities for women in aviation and foster camaraderie among female pilots. This left a lasting legacy of support and mentorship for future generations. This organization provided a platform for women pilots to connect, share experiences, and advocate for greater gender equality in the field of aviation.

She Fought for Women in Flight

Amelia Earhart's plane
NBCUniversal Media

She was elected the first president of the Ninety-Nines because of her leadership and her dedication to promoting gender equality and inclusion within the aviation community. Her visionary leadership laid the foundation for the Ninety-Nines to become a powerful force for change and empowerment in the world of aviation.

She Set a Record for Speed in 1930

Amelia Earhart after getting off a plane
NBCUniversal Media

Setting the women's world flying speed record in July 1930 solidified Earhart's reputation as one of the foremost aviators of her time. This historic achievement not only shattered existing barriers but also inspired future generations of female pilots to push the boundaries of what was possible in aviation.

Vice President of Ludington Lines

Amelia Earhart speaking to reporters
NBCUniversal Media

As her influence grew, she became a respected leader in the aviation industry and was named the vice president of Ludington Lines, positioning her as an authority in commercial aviation. This leadership role provided her with a platform to advocate for advancements in aviation safety and technology and further solidified her legacy as a pioneer in the field.

She Married George Putnam

Amelia Earhart and her husband George Putnam
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Amelia Earhart's marriage to George Putnam in February 1931 reflected her unconventional views on relationships and her desire for autonomy within marriage. This union marked a partnership built on mutual respect and shared interests, including Earhart's continued pursuit of aviation.

She Flew Solo Across the Atlantic Ocean

Amelia Earhart Plaque at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, CA
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Making history as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in May 1932 marked another groundbreaking achievement in Earhart's legendary aviation career. This daring feat solidified her status as an aviation pioneer and earned her admiration and acclaim around the world.

She Received Many Accolades

Amelia Earhart in old video footage
Wikimedia Commons / BBC

Earhart received prestigious honors such as the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society which affirmed Earhart's status as a trailblazer in aviation and celebrated her contributions to exploration and adventure. These accolades recognized her extraordinary achievements and inspired future generations of pilots and explorers.

She Wrote an Autobiography in 1932

Old Amelia Earhart video footage
Wikimedia Commons / BBC

Publishing her autobiography, "The Fun of It," in 1932 allowed Earhart to share her passion for flying and her unique perspective on life. This literary work provided readers with insights into her adventurous spirit and her unwavering dedication to her craft.

She was Friends with Eleanor Roosevelt

Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

She formed a close friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933. This friendship not only enriched Earhart's personal life but also inspired collaboration on shared interests, including women's empowerment and aviation education.

She Completed Many Daring Flights of Distinction

Amelia Earhart with President Hoover
Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Completing the first solo flight from Hawaii to California in January 1935 further solidified Earhart's legacy as a fearless and determined aviator. This historic journey demonstrated her skill and courage in navigating long-distance flights and earned her admiration from fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

Teacher at Purdue University

Purdue University

Joining the teaching faculty at Purdue University demonstrated Earhart's commitment to empowering women and fostering the next generation of aviators. This role allowed her to share her knowledge and experience with aspiring pilots and advocate for greater opportunities for women in aviation.

Her First Flight Around the World

A photo of Amelia Earhart from the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Wikimedia Commons / San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive / CC0

She was willing to undertake daring challenges in aviation, and in 1937, she embarked on her first round-the-world flight attempt. This historic endeavor captured the world's attention and marked a key milestone in Earhart's career.

The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

A photo of Amelia Earhart from the George Eastman House Collection
Wikimedia Commons / George Eastman House Collection / CC0

The disappearance of Earhart and Noonan mid-flight on July 2, 1937, remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. This tragic event has sparked decades of speculation and investigation into their fate, leaving behind a legacy of intrigue and fascination. Amelia Earhart's declaration as legally dead in January 1939 marked the end of an era in aviation. Her untimely death was a profound loss for the aviation community, yet her legacy continues to inspire generations of pilots and adventurers around the world.