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From her childhood in Kansas to her first flying experience, and all the way to her legendary solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart was a source of Inspiration for Women Breaking Gender Barriers.
The Technological Advancement of Aviation
Between the 1920s and 1930s, the world was going through a historical period in which the technological progress was increasingly becoming a symbol of great modernity and social change.
At the time, aviation was still a relatively new and poorly understood technology by the general public, but was rapidly gaining popularity and importance. It was primarily seen as a form of entertainment and transportation for the few privileged ones, but also as a military tool.
The Figure of Amelia Earhart
Always driven by the passion for flying, Amelia took lessons from Neta Snook, a pioneer of aviation, aboard a Curtiss Jenny. She took to the skies right away, successfully setting 7 female speed and distance records.
As a female pilot, Amelia had to face numerous battles and prejudices both in the aviation world and in society as a whole. Driven by her great passion for flying, Amelia broke down traditional barriers and became one of the most famous and respected figures of her time.
In June 1928, aboard a Fokker F7 “Friendship”, Amelia marked the beginning of many other achievements for female aviation. Together with her pilot, Wilmer Stultz, and her mechanic, Louis Gordon, Amelia flew from Newfoundland to Wales, completing the first transatlantic flight with a woman on board.
The Fly Across the Atlantic
In the following years, Amelia Earhart made numerous long-distance flights before her famous solo transatlantic crossing in 1932. Amelia began her transatlantic flight from Newfoundland on May 21st, 1932, and arrived in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 14 hours and 56 minutes later, cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd. She then flew to London, where United States ambassador to Britain Andrew Mellon awaited her to personally congratulate.
Amelia Earhart returned to America as a true heroine, with parades and rallies in honor for her record-breaking Atlantic crossing. She marked a historical moment for women and aviation, becoming an icon for the women’s emancipation of the time.
This was not the only extraordinary feat that Amelia accomplished, and on January 11th, 1935 she flew from Honolulu to Oakland, becoming the first person to fly solo across the Pacific.
The Last Flight
As she approached her 40th birthday in 1937, Amelia Earhart famously said “I have a feeling that I only have one more good flight in me”.
Amelia wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world and along with navigator Fred Noonan, they set out on the journey. On March 17, 1937, the ‘Flying Laboratory’ piloted by Amelia and Noonan attempted its first round-the-world trip. The journey, however, had to be cut short after the plane crashed during takeoff in Hawaii, where it was being repaired.
In June of that same year, Earhart, Noonan and their plane attempted the trip for the second time and left Miami, Florida, for a flight from which they never returned.
The two disappeared after a stop in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, 1937. Amelia was still only 7,000 miles into the journey when she vanished and neither their bodies nor their plane were ever found.
The Contribution of Amelia Earhart
Although Amelia’s disappearance remains shrouded in mystery, her contribution to aviation and civil rights have inspired people for over 80 years. Amelia not only achieved aerial successes, but also worked towards bringing significant change in aviation and society as a whole.
Through her international fame, Earhart helped to promote gender equality, and continued to soar and reach what many considered impossible.
With her unconventional character, her pants, and leather jacket, Amelia Earhart became the embodiment of new gender roles that seemed increasingly possible for American women of those years.
Creative and engaging, “Picturing the Past: A Photographic Journey Through History” tells powerful stories through iconic shots, bringing to light significant moments in history.
Join us on a journey back in time through the lenses of those who have experienced and documented the most significant moments in history: “Picturing the Past” explores the events and key personalities who contributed to changing the course of events through the most iconic photographs.
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