In May 1932, Amelia Earhart landed her Lockheed Vega in a cow pasture in Ballyarnett, Northern Ireland. When a local farmer asked, “Have you flown far?” the 34-year-old pilot replied, “From America.” In fact, she had just become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
Earhart’s historic flight made her an international celebrity. She received many honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross from the United States Congress, and became friends with many notable figures of the era, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Her story, however, ended in tragedy just five years later, when Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared while attempting to complete a circumnavigational flight of the globe.
The famed pilot’s disappearance — and the ongoing mystery surrounding it — has often overshadowed her other achievements. Earhart was a true pioneer of aviation: She was one of the first aviators to promote commercial air travel; fundamental in the formation of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female pilots; and an erudite author whose books about her flying experiences became bestsellers. She also became a feminist icon, although she didn’t see herself as such. “I cannot claim to be a feminist,” she once told a friend, “but do rather enjoy seeing women tackling all kinds of new problems.”
Earhart was and remains an inspiration, for her bravery and determination, her modern outlook on life, and her shining personality. As Walter J. Boyne, the former director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, once wrote, “Amelia Earhart came perhaps before her time… the smiling, confident, capable, yet compassionate human being, is one of which we can all be proud.” Through her writing and numerous interviews, Earhart left us with many inspirational words, on everything from the joy of flying to the empowerment of women, to the simple beauty of living.
There’s more to life than being a passenger.
After midnight, the moon set, and I was alone with the stars. I have often said that the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, and I need no other flight to convince me that the reason flyers fly, whether they know it or not, is the esthetic appeal of flying.
Decide… whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.
I’ve had practical experience and know the discrimination against women in various forms of industry. A pilot’s a pilot. I hope that such equality could be carried out in other fields so that men and women may achieve equally in any endeavor they set out.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.
It is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.
The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.
Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.
This modern world of science and invention is of particular interest to women. For the lives of women have been more affected by its new horizons than those of any other group.
I know a great many boys who should be making pies – and a great many girls who would be better off in manual training. There is no reason why a woman can’t hold any position in aviation providing she can overcome prejudices and show ability.
[The cross country air derby for women] was generally called the “powder puff derby” and those who flew in it variously as “Ladybirds,” “Angels” or “Sweethearts of the Air.” (We are still trying to get ourselves called just “pilots.”)
Who would refuse an invitation to such a shining adventure?
Please know I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.
Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.
Young people and old people, too, are too timid about experimenting, trying their little adventures, flying their own Atlantics. Step out! Try the job you are interested in! Use the talents which give you joy! There’s plenty of time.
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.
Photo credit: The Protected Art Archive/ Alamy Stock Photo