On 20 May 1932, Amelia Earhart set off solo in her red Lockheed Vega monoplane from Newfoundland, Canada, intending to fly to Paris, France. Fifteen hours later, she landed in a cow pasture in Ballyarnott, Derry, Northern Ireland. When approached by a farm worker and asked “Have you flown far?” She responded: “From America.”
Born in Kansas on 24 July 1897, Earhart made history by becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. The daughter of a lawyer and a mother from an affluent family, she took her first plane ride in 1920, an experience that prompted her to take flying lessons.
One year later she bought her first plane, a bright yellow Kinner Airster that she nicknamed “The Canary”. In 1922, she flew to 14,000 feet [4,267 metres], the world altitude record for female pilots. In 1923, she became the sixteenth woman to be issued a pilot’s license by the world governing body for aeronautics, The Federation Aeronautique.
British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown had made the first ever non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919, but the solo success of US-born Charles Lindbergh in 1927 had attracted such publicity that promoters sought a woman to fly over, too. In April 1928, Earhart successfully made the journey as a member of a three-person crew, but she found her passenger status annoying.
In 1932, Earhart attempted to cross again, this time solo. It was a dangerous trip; before Lindbergh, six well-known aviators had lost their lives attempting it. But she succeeded. Between 1930 and 1935, Earhart set seven women’s speed and distance aviation records. She became the first person to fly across both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, and to fly solo non-stop across America.
LOST OVER SEA
Earhart had long desired to circle the world by plane. On 1 June 1937, the aviator and the navigator Frederick Noonan took off from Oakland, California, and flew east over South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. A month on, with close to 7,000 miles remaining, Earhart’s aircraft lost radio contact somewhere over Lae, New Guinea, and disappeared without a trace.
The amelia sky race
During her lifetime, Earhart was determined to encourage women to follow their careers, too. She published a book called The Fun of It, describing her interest in aviation, and helped found an organisation of female pilots that became known as the Ninety-Nines. Today, still only 5 per cent of civil pilots in the world are women. The Amelia Sky Race is a female pilots race around the world in honour of Amelia Earhart that will take place from 3 June 2023. During the race, participating teams deliver humanitarian aid and medical assistance to women in each country. The educational mission of this competition is to narrow the gender gap by motivating young women around the world to pursue careers in aerospace sciences to become commercial pilots or aviation professionals.