Timeline of Events
An unconventional girl born into a turbulent family.
Amelia Earhart fell in love with flying at the age of 23. From that point until her disappearance, Earhart’s life is a long list of broken records and achievements, making her the most famous female aviator in history.
28th Dec 1920 – First flight
Earhart’s Father Edwin treated her to a short flight at an air show and she famously said, “As soon as we left the ground, I knew I had to fly.”
She began lessons with female flight instructor Neta Snook on January 3rd 1921 and by July she had saved up enough money to buy her first plane – a Kinner Airster, which she nicknamed “The Canary”, as it was painted bright yellow.
22nd Oct 1922 – Broke women’s altitude record, 14,000ft
15th May 1923 – Became the 16th woman to obtain a pilot’s license
17th-18th June 1928 – Became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic with ‘The Friendship Flight’
No women had ever made the flight across the Atlantic, and Earhart was chosen to accompany Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon in an attempt to become the first. Although Earhart would not partake in any actual flying, she was named ‘Commander’ of the flight. After 12 failed attempts to take off from Newfoundland, finally on June 17th they succeeded, landing just under 21 hours later in Burry Port, Wales. Following the flight Earhart became a media sensation which she utilised in order to fund her flying; she published a book ’20 Hours and 40 Minutes’ and toured the country giving lectures.
25th June 1930 – Set 2 speed records over 100k, with no load and with a load of 500kg
5th July 1930 – Set speed record of 181.1mph over 3km
1931 – Amelia Earhart was elected first President of the Ninety Nines
Earhart strongly believed that women should try and advance themselves and throughout her career she used her fame as a platform to further the cause. She once said to her husband George Putnam, “Women must try and do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
Earhart wanted an organisation solely for women pilots. Following the Women’s Air Derby on August 18th 1929, Earhart was able to help establish such a group. Formed on November 2nd 1929 it became known as the Ninety Nines due to the number of members, and Earhart was elected its first President.
8th April 1931 – Set women’s autogiro altitude record, 18, 415ft
20th-21st May 1932 – Became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic
Earhart described herself as a “sack of potatoes” during ‘The Friendship Flight’ because she had only been a passenger. No-one had achieved a solo Atlantic since Charles Lindbergh in 1927, and Earhart was determined to prove herself. The plan was to fly from Newfoundland to Paris and she took off at 7:12pm on May 20th. Earhart faced a number of challenges during the flight including storms and mechanical problems, but she touched down 15hours and 18minutes later, not in Paris, but in a field just outside of Derry, Northern Ireland. In doing so she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and the first person to fly the ocean twice. The response from the press and the public was sensational. She continued lecturing and she endorsed products such as Wasp engines. In 1933 she even designed her own fashion range – “Amelia Fashions”.
24th – 25th Aug 1932 – First woman to fly solo coast to coast, setting a new women’s distance record in the process
11th Jan 1935 – First person to fly solo across the Pacific, flying from Honolulu to Oakland
19th-20th April 1935- First person to fly solo from L.A. to Mexico City
8th May 1935 – First person to fly solo from Mexico City to Newark, setting a women’s speed record in the process
1937 – Two world flight attempts
Very few people had flown around the world and noone had flown around the world at its widest point, the equator. Amelia Earhart wanted to be the first. On March 17th 1937, Earhart flew her new Lockheed Electra 10-E Special from Oakland to Honolulu to complete the first leg of the trip. On March 20th she attempted to take off from Luke Field to make the trip across the Pacific Ocean to Howland Island, however, she lost control of the plane and it was badly damaged. Following extensive repairs, Earhart began her second World Flight attempt on June 1st 1937.