Those of you who do not respect the scholarship of my Unsung History posts are now anxiously waiting for another one of my “crazy Angus” stories. Maybe something like “Amelia found an entrance into the Hollow Earth and is living out her days there as a barbarian queen.” Or, “Amelia didn’t crash; aliens abducted her.”
Well, I’m not going to do that. Instead of my usual Unsung History, I’m going to focus on History That Isn’t Sung Enough.
Amelia Earhart was of the finest pilots – of either gender – to ever fly. And that doesn’t mention Amelia’s pioneering work in the area of women’s rights. She pushed forth the cause of aviation, and the role of women therein, in a way that’s hard to imagine anyone else being capable of. All that is why we celebrate her on her birthday, July 24.
Bit with the flying bug by a dive-bombing World War I ace at an aviation exhibition, Amelia’s desire to fly was cemented by a dollar-a-minute flight that lasted ten minutes. She eventually took pilot’s lessons after doing a host of odd jobs to save $1,000 in 1921. Even then, she had to take a bus to the end of the line and walk four miles for the lessons.
We all know the details of Amelia’s transatlantic flights, one failed and one successful. Well, technically, the first one wasn’t a failure, she just didn’t have much to do. Most of the flight had to be done with instruments, and Amelia hadn’t yet trained for that type of flying.
But by 1932, Amelia, the United Press’s “Queen of the Air,” mirrored Charles Lindbergh’s epic flight across the Atlantic.
Amelia wrote many books about her experiences and became a successful author. She championed women’s rights by becoming a charter member of the 99s, an organization for female pilots. She worked as faculty at Purdue University’s aviation department and counseled women on possible careers.
Amelia joined the National Woman’s Party and became an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. She never stopped championing the cause of either her occupation or her gender throughout her entire career.
In a time when women had few options and fewer opportunies, Amelia Earhart became famous and successful just for doing what she loved. And she became an inspiration.
The Queen of the Air naturally said “today success, tomorrow…the world.” Amelia Earhart set her sights on circumnavigating the globe.
The flight around the world would also be attempted twice. A controversial ground-loop mistake grounded her first attempt almost before it could begin. But she tried again, and the second trip ended her life.
I encourage you all to read more about this amazing woman’s life and adventures. Gallons of ink have been spilled on reams of paper discussing what went wrong and where Amelia, her navigator, and her plane may have landed safely or crashed to bits.
They’re all wrong of course. Aliens abducted her. Or, more to the point, they saw her talent and recruited her for their own interstellar war against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.
Shut up. She was awesome and I wanted everyone to know it! We can all just agree to disagree on how Amelia’s story ended.