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Why is Amelia Earhart Famous?

May 23, 2022

The name is familiar, and it looms large in American history books. Here’s specifically what Amelia Earhart did, and why she’s so important and notable.

Amelia on couch
  • In October 1922, six months after purchasing a second-hand two-seater Kinnea Airster biplane she named The Canary, Amelia Earhart climbed to an altitude of 14,000 feet, at the time a record for a woman pilot.
  • When Amelia Earhart received her pilot’s license in May 1923, she was only the 16th woman in the world to do so, granted the documented by the worldwide aviation body at the time, the World Air Sports Federation, or the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
  • In June 1928, Amelia Earhart was onboard a flight piloted by Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon that traveled from Newfoundland to Wales, a trip of 21 hours. While she was a passenger, not behind the controls, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Amelia Earhart set multiple speed records for female pilots in 1930, including that of a distance of 100 kilometers without a load, 500 kilometers with a payload, and the women’s speed record on a three kilometer course, reaching 181.18 miles per hour.
  • In those early days of aviation, Amelia Earhart flew other kinds of sky-worthy craft, including a rotor-and-propeller-powered object called a gyroplane, or autogyro. In 1931, Earhart became the first woman to ever operate one, and a few months later, set the altitude record for autogyro flight (by pilots of any gender), getting all the way to 18,415 feet up.
  • In May 1932 (90 years ago this month) Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly a plane solo, and nonstop ,across the Atlantic Ocean, only the second person to do so following Charles Lindbergh. She departed Newfoundland and landed 15 hours later in Northern Ireland.
  • For that achievement, the U.S. Congress awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross to Amelia Earhart, the first American woman to receive that honor.
  • Later that year, over a two-day span in August 1932, Amelia Earhart piloted a plane from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, making her the first woman to fly coast-to-coast across the U.S. solo, nonstop, in a mere 19 hours and five minutes.
  • Amelia Earhart was a co-founder and president of the Ninety-Nines, the first international society of female pilots.

For much more on the incredible life of Amelia Earhart, check out Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of the Sky, part of Portable Press’s “Show Me History!” series of graphic novels about true life heroes and legends.

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