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Current Events/Amelia Earhart – Lewiston Sun Journal

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Amelia Earhart (uh-ME-lee-uh air-heart) was a famous airplane pilot who lived in the early 1900s. She set many records, such as being the first person to fly from Hawaii to California and being the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1937, she disappeared while trying to fly around the world. What happened to her is still a mystery today.

Amelia was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. As a child, she loved to explore and have adventures. She and her younger sister, Grace, liked nature and collected insects and frogs. They also liked sports, even ones that at the time were thought to be for boys only, such as baseball and football. She also liked fishing.

Amelia wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. Even after graduating from high school, she didn’t now. She worked as a nurse’s aid, taking care of Canadian soldiers that had been wounded in World War I. Maybe she would become a nurse.

But then she changed her plans and began studying to become a mechanic. Soon, she changed again and went to school to study medicine, thinking she might become a medical researcher.

All those plans and ideas were left behind, though, when Amelia took her first airplane ride. In 1920, she and her father went to an air show in California. People got to watch airplanes take off and land and do tricks in the air. The pilots would also take people up as passengers so they could feel and see what it was like to fly in an airplane.

Amelia took a ride. Later on, she said that as soon as that airplane was just a few hundred feet up in the air, “I knew I had to fly.”

And so that’s what she did. She took flying lessons, something that very few women did at the time. When she could afford it, she bought her own airplane, a bright yellow one that she called the Canary. A canary is a yellow bird.

She got her pilot’s license and before long flew 14,000 feet high, which was higher than any female pilot had ever flown.

In 1928, she rode in a plane, piloted by two men,  Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Though she didn’t pilot the plane, she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane.

That was fun and made her famous, but she wanted to do it herself, flying a plane alone. Flying alone is called flying solo. At that time, only one person had flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean: a man named Charles Lindbergh. Amelia  became the second person to do it, flying the whole distance alone.

She continued to fly and broke many records. She received an award called the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, the first woman to get the award.

She became one of the most famous people in the world. She wrote articles and books, and gave speeches about flying. She encouraged women to be educated and adventurous.

But all that wasn’t enough. She wanted to be the first woman to fly all the way around the world.

On June 01, 1937, Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off from Miami, Florida in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra. No plane could carry enough fuel to fly the whole way (a distance of 29,000 miles!), so they had to stop many times for fuel.

The front pages of newspapers around the world had stories about the flight. People everywhere read them with great interest and excitement.

Earhart and Noonan flew across parts of South America, across the Atlantic Ocean, across Africa, across India, and across Southeast Asia. On June 29, 1937, they arrived at Lae, New Guinea, which is north of Australia. They had traveled about 22,000 miles and had only 7,000 miles left to go.

Their next destination was Howland Island, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, 2,556 miles away. Somewhere on the way to Howland Island, something happened. Nobody knows what. Earhart, Noonan, and their airplane simply disappeared.

A large search party of ships and planes went to look for them, but no trace of the crew or the plane could be found.

There are many ideas about what happened. Some think the airplane ran out of fuel and crashed in the ocean. Some think they were shot down. Some think they crashed, but survived on a deserted island. There are many, many ideas, but so far none of them have been proven, and no confirmed parts of the airplane have been found.

Amelia Earhart was a much-loved hero. Even today, more than 80 years after her disappearance, she is admired and sadly missed.

Fun Facts

•  Amelia had a gap between her two front teeth, so in photos she smiled with her lips together, not showing her teeth.

•  Her childhood nickname was Meeley. Family and childhood friends still called her that as an adult.

•  Amelia, whose middle name was Mary, was named after her two grandmothers, Amelia Josephine Harres and Mary Wells Patton.

•  She said that as a child, she was “exceedingly fond of reading” and spent many hours in her family’s large library.

•  It was recently announced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall that on July 27th, a statue of Amelia Earhart will be placed in the U.S. Capitol building.

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