The Legacy of Amelia Earhart
By | June 21, 2019
One of the most famous female aviators, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean as well as the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. But it wasn’t just her flying records for which she achieved fame. Her disappearance during an attempted flight around the world in 1937 is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the twentieth century.
She was born Amelia Mary Earhart on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, the daughter of a railroad lawyer and an heiress. Even at a young age, Earhart’s interests lay in traditionally male-dominated fields, including basketball and auto repair. Due to her father’s alcoholism, the family experienced financial difficulties after the death of Earhart’s grandparents; however, her mother’s inheritance allowed Earhart to attend the Ogontz School in Rydal, Pennsylvania, having graduated from Chicago’s Hyde Park High School in 1916 . Her education was cut short in 1918 when she left college to become a Red Cross nurse’s aide in Toronto during the first world war.
It was during this time that Earhart developed an interest in aviation as she spent a considerable amount of time watching the Royal Flying Corps train at a local Toronto airfield. After the war, she briefly attended Columbia University in New York City as a pre-med student but left in 1920 to move in with her parents who were living in California at the time. She took her first ever airplane ride in December of that year and began taking flying lessons in 1921 with female flight instructor Neta Snook, working as a file clerk for the Los Angeles Telephone Company to pay for the lessons. Later in 1921, Earhart bought her first plane, a secondhand Kinner Airster which she nicknamed “the Canary.” She passed her flight test in December 1921, earning a National Aeronautics Association license, and two years later, received an international pilot’s license.