Amelia Earhart. Just the mention of her name makes people think of both adventure and tragedy. Ms. Earhart saw her first airplane at when she was 10 years old but was not impressed and didn't think about it again until 1920. She was with a friend watching a flying exhibit from afar when the pilot spotted the friends and decided to buzz them. Ms. Earhart just stood there unafraid but interested. In late 1920, she took a plane ride and knew then that she had to fly.
No stranger to pushing the limits placed on women, she was still surprised at the problems she had reaching her goal. Finally, she saved enough money to purchase her first airplane, a yellow Kinner Airster biplane she named Canary. After that purchase and learning to fly, she was off setting records. Some of those records are as follows:
- Woman's world altitude record: 14,000 ft (1922)
- First woman to fly the Atlantic (1928)
- Speed records for 100 km (and with 500 lb (230 kg) cargo) (1931)
- First woman to fly an autogyro (1931)
- Altitude record for autogyros: 15,000 ft (1931)
- First person to cross the U.S. in an autogyro (1932)
- First woman to fly the Atlantic solo (1932)
- First person to fly the Atlantic twice (1932)
- First woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (1932)
- First woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the U.S. (1933)
- Woman's speed transcontinental record (1933)
- First person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii and Oakland, California (1935)
- First person to fly solo from Los Angeles, California to Mexico City, Mexico (1935)
- First person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City, Mexico to Newark, New Jersey (1935)
- Speed record for east-to-west flight from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii (1937)
On June 1, 1937, with rumors of war swirling about, Ms. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left for a flight around the world. Ms. Earhart made radio contact with the Coast Guard ship Itasca, upon leaving Lae Island on the way to Howland Island; however, between the two islands, they lost radio contact and never made it to Howland Island.
Ms. Earhart was a proponent of air travel and often spoke out in favor of air travel as a legitimate way to travel. She advocated more research into air options. She was also a supporter of equal rights for women and was a member of the National Women's Party.
Because she was so interesting, her life story was excellent for radio. Ms. Earhart's story was was featured on Cavalcade of America and on Lux Radio Theatre. Several of her speeches about air travel are available as well.