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Amelia Earhart and Her Courage to Break Gender Stereotypes

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Amelia Earhart had the courage and integrity to break gender stereotypes and continues to be a huge mystery to many. Amelia did not fit the mold that most all women felt obligated to fill. Even from a young age Amelia was breaking major gender stereotypes, especially for the time period in which she grew up. Amelia Earhart was a fantastic role model for many young women because of this. From the day she flew her first plane to the day she flew her last she inspired everyone to reach for the stars and if they can’t reach then to spread their wings and fly.

Every great story has to start somewhere and for Amelia it was like every other girl in the Midwest. Amelia Earhart, nicknamed Millie, was born July 24, 1897. Her parents were Edwin, a railroad lawyer, and Amy Earhart. Amelia grew up in Atchison, Kansas with her grandparents and sister. Amelia was very shy in school and didn’t have many friends, but loved science and engineering. In Amelia’s yearbook they wrote “A.E. – The girl in brown who always walks alone.” She was a very tomboyish child and enjoyed all things dirty. In 1909, Amelia and her sister went to live in Des Moines, Iowa because of their father’s job. While in Iowa Amelia saw her first plane and strangely enough she didn’t think much of it. Edwin being an alcoholic premeditated Amelia having extreme trust problems and it also made her very dependent throughout her life.Overall Amelia Earhart had a pretty normal childhood that led to her being a huge influence.

Amelia Earhart is most known for her flying. Amelia’s first plane ride was at a Long Beach Air Show in 1920. The plane ride lasted 10 minutes and she got attached almost instantaneously. Amelia began studying aviation and learning everything there was to learn about it. She bought the infamous brown leather jacket and slept in it to make it look “worn in.” Amelia even cropped her hair to look like other aviators. In the summer of 1921, only a year after her first flight, she bought her first plane. Amelia named the plane “The Canary,” because of the bright yellow color. October 22, 1922 Amelia flew 14,000 feet high, breaking a world record at the time for women. And on May 15, 1923 Amelia Earhart became only the 16th woman to receive a pilot’s license! But soon after, in 1924, Amelia sold her plane because she felt there was no future for her in flying. Earhart slowly got back into flying in 1927 solely because she missed it. Amelia became a sales representative for Kinner airplanes and wrote many articles about being a woman flying and about flying in general. She invested a lot of her own money in Dennison Airports in Massachusetts. Needless to say she was a big part of aviation in many aspects. Amelia soon became a local celebrity in Boston, where she has been living for a few years now. Amelia loved being a part of the aviation community, but she still missed flying a lot and was ready to seize any chance she had to fly herself. In April 1928, Amelia received a phone call from Hilton Radley. Hilton asked her to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic top which she readily agreed. A New York newspaper asked her for an interview resulting in her being officially selected to be the first woman to be a passenger on a transatlantic flight. The flight was on June 17, 1928 and lasted 20 hours, 40 minutes which became the title of her book that she later wrote. She obviously became an icon for women all around the world resulting in many endorsement opportunities for her. Amelia went on to break 7 speed records for flying and was the first woman to fly solo across Pacific and Atlantic. 

Even with all of the records she broke she still wanted to go the extra mile, or thousands of miles. On June 1st 1937 Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan took off. Amelia’s goal was to be the first female to fly non-stop across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. While flying across the central Pacific Ocean they lost contact with people on land and disappeared. They were missing for 18 months before declared legally dead January 5, 1939. The only things that were a little bit off before and after their takeoff was there was no antenna taken, because they didn’t want to intercept radio transmission, and 2 dozen aluminum parts of their plane were left at the store house before they left to reduce weight. There was only 7 radio contact throughout the whole trip because they didn’t radio in at regular intervals. The Navy started searching for them right away. They only had a 1 in a million chance of finding them, but despite this they searched over 100,000 miles and spent over $250,000 a day. Some theories people have are that Japan captured them and enslaved them. Another theory is that Earhart was a spy on a mission from Roosevelt and went into witness protection program after the mission. The most realistic theory is that they crashed and sunk in a remote area. 

Amelia Earhart was an inspiration to everyone in the U.S. back then and continues to be now. Amelia broke not only many records, but many gender stereotypes. Many women continue to follow her example still today. Amelia Earhart had the courage and integrity to break many stereotypes of the 1920’s and continues to be an inspiration to us all. 

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