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Women have always struggled against marginalization and segregation from the male-dominated domain in terms of careers and jobs. They have asserted efforts that would see them being treated with equality and given equal opportunities as men. Amelia Earhart was one such woman among the few of a rare caliber whose ventures into the male-dominated sphere-like in flying and her success and contribution to aviation have gone down in history. Indeed, the name Amelia Earhart is mentioned and remembered by many due to her historically significant contribution to the field of aviation.
Amelia Mary was born to Amy and Edwin Earhart in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897. She attended Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois, Ogontz School for Girls in Rydal, Pennsylvania, and Columbia University in New York, where she prepared for a career in Medicine and Social Science (Susan W, 1994 pp11). As the World War 1 raged and the need for nurses increased, she was to join other nurses who served as military nurses in Canada.
It was during her service in Canada that she developed an interest in flying. She pursued this interest in California, became very successful and received her pilot’s license in 1922. Immediately afterward, Amelia took a temporal break from pursuing active flying but continued her association with aviation by entering numerous flying meets. Meanwhile, she spent several years as a teacher and social worker at Dennison House in Boston (Susan W, 1994 pp11).
Later, Amelia Earhart returned to active flying and it was through this flying that she gained considerable fame on June1928, as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. The Fokker trimotor (Her first voyage plane) piloted by Wilman Stutz and Louis Gordon flew from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, to Burry Port, Wales (Susan W,1994 pp 23). However, on this flight she would only serve as a passenger thanks to Amy Guest’s family (the heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune) who forbade her from flying hence giving up her place for Amelia. Amelia on the other hand was more than glad to have this chance and she never gave second thoughts about this chance. It was after this flight that Amelia’s contribution to world history began to take shape.
Another historical contribution of Amelia Earhart was the co-founding and establishment of the first organization of the women fliers in 1929. This organization is called the “Ninety-Nines,” It is an international organization of women pilots, which continues today to promote opportunities for women in aviation, and also sponsors All-women Transnational Air Race (also known as the powder puff Derby) and other proficiency building flying activities aimed at encouraging and improving flying skills. Amelia became the first president of this organization and served from 1930 to 1932 (Susan W, 1994 pp 24).
In 1930, Amelia was to add even more to her fame when she accomplished the Atlantic flight, as a solo female pilot when she flew from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonberry, Ireland. It was around this time that Amelia Earhart took an active role in the efforts to open the field of aviation to women and end male dominance in this exciting new field. She was to serve in the Liddington line, the company among the first airlines, which provided regular passenger services between New York and Washington, D.C. The company had just made efforts to involve females in its flight crew.
Amelia was to cement her name in the world history in January 1935 when she outdid her Atlantic solo by making another solo flight from Hawaii to California. The Hawaii California flight had a much longer distance than the Canada-England flight. She hence became the first pilot to successfully fly that route. She became the first woman so designated by the United States Congress when this and her other numerous accomplishments earned her the ‘Distinguished Flying Cross’ (Susan W,1994 pp 40).In addition, Amelia won the hearts of so many that in 1935, Americans named her the second best-known woman in the United States after Eleanor Roosevelt
Amelia Earhart’s passion for flying grew more and more that she set out in June 1937 to circumnavigate the world. She was accompanied by Fred Noonan her navigator with whom she was to fly her twin-engine Lockheed Electra. Unfortunately, this was to be the last of Amelia’s inspiring flight career. On the most difficult leg of the trip, Amelia and Noonan vanished tragically near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean. Even though an intense searching was Ordered by the then US president Roosevelt and some help from the Japanese forces employed, they found no trace of Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan, or their plane. Any more efforts and research about this accident have resulted in no more facts.
Lastly, Amelia also gave several beneficial lectures about flying in many US colleges and schools. She was also able to write many books that were published with the help of her husband George Putnam who was a publisher (Susan W, 1994 pp 43).
In conclusion, it can be argued that though few facts are known about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in the central Pacific near the International Date Line, few facts are certain; That Earhart’s message to the world is , there is no limit to those with the courage to test new boundaries. In addition, her contribution, especially to the aviation field has set a pace that for many years to come will remain unparalleled.
Susan Ware (1994). Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism. New York: Norton publishers. Pages 11, 23- 45.
The suburban advertiser. Mystery surrounding Earhart,s death. Web.
Dr. Bruce H. Charnov. Amelia Earhart, John M. Miller and the First Transcontinental Autogiro Flight in 1931. Hofstra University. 2003 (ISBN 1-56720-503-8).