Today we celebrate “Women’s Day”. And I just couldn’t let this day pass without a little acknowledgement of one of the many women who made this country so great. This very humble attempt to honor one woman doesn’t demean the efforts of so many great women but this incredible women made herself known to me in this last week in a couple of ways. I just could not ignore that.
Amelia Earhart (1898-1937)
“On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave her a ride that would forever change her life. "By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground," she said, "I knew I had to fly."
Although Earhart's convictions were strong, challenging prejudicial and financial obstacles awaited her. But the former tomboy was no stranger to disapproval or doubt. Defying conventional feminine behavior, the young Earhart climbed trees, "belly-slammed" her sled to start it downhill and hunted rats with a .22 rifle. She also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in predominantly male-oriented fields, including film direction and production, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.
Earhart took her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921, and in six months managed to save enough money to buy her first plane. The second-hand Kinner Airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow. Earhart named the plane "Canary," and used it to set her first women's record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet.
One afternoon in April 1928, a phone call came for Earhart at work. "I'm too busy to answer just now," she said. After hearing that it was important, Earhart relented though at first she thought it was a prank. It wasn't until the caller supplied excellent references that she realized the man was serious. "How would you like to be the first woman to fly the Atlantic?" he asked, to which Earhart promptly replied, "Yes!"
Together they worked on secret plans for Earhart to become the first woman and the second person to solo the Atlantic. On May 20, 1932, five years to the day after Lindbergh, she took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Paris. Strong north winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems plagued the flight and forced her to land in a pasture near Londonderry, Ireland. "After scaring most of the cows in the neighborhood," she said, "I pulled up in a farmer's back yard." As word of her flight spread, the media surrounded her, both overseas and in the United States. President Herbert Hoover presented Earhart with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society. Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross-the first ever given to a woman. At the ceremony, Vice President Charles Curtis praised her courage, saying she displayed "heroic courage and skill as a navigator at the risk of her life." Earhart felt the flight proved that men and women were equal in "jobs requiring intelligence, coordination, speed, coolness and willpower.
In 1937, as Earhart neared her 40th birthday, she was ready for a monumental, and final, challenge. She wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world.
Nine short years later, she was went missing and died on that flight over the Pacific, in July 1937.
“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.”
“The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune.”
I happened to see the movie about Amelia last night and was particularly moved by her flight across the Atlantic and then over Victoria Falls in Africa, in 1936. Seventy three years later, little old (yes!) me, got to ride in a micro light (open air two seater) over those very same falls! If not for Amelia…… She opened so many doors!