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Amelia Earhart Essay

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Amelia Earhart

On May 21, 1932, in the little town of Londonderry, Ireland, the quiet evening was disrupted by the sound of an airplane that was obviously near to the ground. The plane landed in a surprised farmer's field and out stepped the pilot, Amelia Earhart. She had just arrived from America, and was the first woman pilot to ever cross the Atlantic alone.

Born in Atchison, Kansas, in her grandparent's house, Amelia Earhart came from a middle class family. Her father, Samuel "Edwin" Stanton Earhart, a railroad claims department worker, married Amelia Otis after he had proven to her father that he could provide for her. Years later however, he developed a terrible drinking habit, so young Amelia and her sister Muriel were often sent to live with their grandparents, Judge and Mrs. Otis.

When Amelia reflected back upon her childhood, she saw a life filled with happy times. One memorable time was when she and some friends built a roller coaster that went down the shed roof. Though they had some spills, they went on and improved it. At first, her parents did not know of this adventure, but when the children came to play with it the next day it was gone. Another childhood antic was "belly-flopping" onto a sled in winter time. In one incident when a horse and wagon happened to be going across the hill the children were sledding on,, Amelia slid down

anyway and went under the wagon right between the wheels and came out unharmed! Although her childhood was filled with moving around from place to place, she spent a good deal of time living in her grandparent's house because of her father's drinking problem.

Because Mr. Earhart's job required moving a lot, Amelia attended six high schools before she graduated. When she did finally graduate, it was from the finishing school called Ogontz School. After leaving finishing school she visited to her sister Muriel and while she was visiting she saw some crippled World War I veterans. The sight so touched her that she became determined to help them, and she did. She worked as a nurse's aide in a military hospital and with her cheerful personality did much to lift the morale of the injured soldiers.

Amelia Earhart had two main influences that helped shape her future. First, her parents encouraged imaginativeness, inventiveness, and independence. Growing up Amelia and Muriel were allowed the freedom to participate in "boy's" activities. Amelia's parents did not limit their children to what young girls in that era were expected to do and be. At that point in history, women were thought to be weak in most ways: in body, in intelligence, in determination, bravery and such things. Thus the Earhart children grew to be adventurous, bold, and daring; although not rude. The second main influence were many the wounded pilots in the military hospital she worked in.There was also an airfield nearby that the military pilots used for practicing. This is how she described it in her own words, "I believe it was in the winter of 1918 that I became

interested in airplanes. Though I had seen one or two at country fairs before, I now saw many of them, as the officers were trained at various fields around the city....I hung around in spare time and absorbed all I could.... I remember well that when the snow blown back by the propellers stung my face, I felt a first urge to fly."

Once she had flown, Amelia Earhart (AE) knew she had to fly. She worked hard to earn money for flight lessons which were not cheap, but she found a flight instructor, Neta Snook and took lessons from her. AE had her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921. Only six months later she earned enough money to buy her first plane! It was a second-hand Kinner Airster, two seater biplane that was painted bright yellow which she named Canary. In the Canary she set various records. One year after her purchase of the Canary she set the women's record of 14,000 altitude. After only 3 years of owning her yellow Canary, she had to sell it and go with her mother after her parents divorce, but it was not long until AE was back in the air flying again. In 1928, AE decided to fly across the continent, and so she did. Along the way she met several mishaps, some being false starts, getting off route, getting lost, and crashing (though no injury to Ms. Earhart herself). When she completed this feat, she was greeted with a "burst of publicity" for she was the first woman to fly solo across the continent and back again. In that same year, she received a phone call asking if she would want to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic, to which her response was yes. So, on June 17, 1928, she and two men by the names of Wilmer Stultz and Louis E. Gordon set off for Great Britain. With Amelia as a passenger, they arrived at Burry Port, Wales, about 21 hours later. On the way she wrote a detailed account of the journey which was later published as a book 20 Hours 40 Minutes. She promised herself to make that journey again only this time it was to be alone. In 1929, AE entered in the first women's air derby. There were 23 contestants in the derby. Although it was a race, the women usually ended up helping each other out. Amelia did not come in first but came in at close third. Later that year, she joined a women's aviator group called the "Ninety-Nines" and became their first president. Also, that year she was selected as an official for the Nautical Aeronautic Association. It was she that urged the Federal Aeronautic Internationale to establish separate world altitude, speed, and endurance records for women. Over the next few years she set many women's world records and had a high job at a prestigious airline: the New York, Philadelphia, and Washington Airways.

On the fifth anniversary of Charles A. Lindbergh's famous flight in 1932, AE took off for her second flight across the Atlantic, and this time she was alone. The weather was clear on take off, but as soon as she got further out on the ocean, the weather got rough. A storm had developed making it close to impossible to keep the plane on course, in fact all she could really do, and that with much difficulty, was keep the plane steady. On top of that, she was not able to tell whether she was near the ocean's surface or not because her altimeter was broken. When she tried to go higher, ice would form on her wings, but finally she made it, though she was a bit off course. She flew from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Ireland, in her plane, Lockheed Vega, in about 15 hours and



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