About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2009 |
11 min read
Published: Aug 6, 2021
Words: 2009|Pages: 4|11 min read
As Amelia Earhart wrote in a poem as a kid, “I watch the birds flying all day long, And I want to fly, too.” Earhart is a familiar name and story to many people worldwide. She has accomplishments upon accomplishments showing off just how talented she is. A legendary tale who not only broke records but society’s current view on women at the time and changed it into a positive step forward. Amelia Earhart grew up to fulfill her lifelong dream of flying. Unfortunately, when she disappeared in 1937 that dream was over, although her effect on America was not.
Amelia Earhart often foreshadowed at what an amazing, talented woman she would become throughout her childhood. Earhart’s mother, Amy, would often write or speak of how independent and self-sufficient Amelia was even at a young age (Fleming 7). As a child, Earhart would happily stay with her Grandmother Otis during the winter months; the only problem was having to be ladylike. She had to wear dresses, have exceptional manners and was strongly discouraged from doing many activities meant for boys. Despite this, she was very much a ‘tomboy’ growing up, and her father always supported her whenever she did something meant only for boys. This included letting her bypass her grandmother’s disapproval one winter when sledding. Girls would go sledding in a sled with a chair built on top of it. This was more safe and slower than the boy’s flat sled that one had to lie down on. Earhart saw how the boy’s sled moved a lot faster and convinced her father to build her one to go sledding with. She was the only girl in town who went sledding on a boy’s flat sled and proud of it too. At the Iowa county fair, there was a roller coaster that immediately caught the attention and heart of young Earhart. Unfortunately, she was not allowed to ride it because it was seen as too dangerous for girls. After Earhart was restricted from going on the roller coaster at the fair, she made her own. Soon she had most of the neighborhood kids over in her grandmother’s backyard riding on her roller coaster until Grandmother Otis demanded she take it apart and act more ladylike.
Although imaginative, Earhart had some hardships as a child. Edwin, her father, became an alcoholic and ruined their relationship as well as deeply affecting Amelia’s life. His alcoholism caused the family to go from a well-off life to having to move around as he struggled to find work after showing up drunk and still drinking. He was not the same under the influence; he would snap and yell, and break all the promises he made while sober. This was heartbreaking for both the Earhart girls and their mother.
After high school and some college, Earhart visited her sister, Muriel, in Toronto and volunteered at a hospital. She was going to college for a medical degree before the visit, therefore she had many skills to offer the Canadian soldiers she was helping treat. While in Toronto, she also loved to go horseback riding whenever she was not with her sister or working. Earhart loved to watch planes take off and land when she went horseback riding by the Canadian Flying School. This is where she first discovered she wanted to fly.
The first time Earhart got to ride in a plane she could not sit in the cockpit by herself. There had to have another man besides the pilot go with her in case she was to jump out. Women were seen as weak and fragile at the time, but Earhart wanted to take flying lessons, so she got a job in the mailroom to pay for them. Earhart took flying lessons from Neta Snook, a female flyer at Kinner Field. She felt it would be best to learn from another woman who understood how difficult it was for women in aviation at the time.
Earhart was a big contributor to the breaking and setting of many records at the time. This period was called the Golden Years of aviation, lots of records were being set by both men and women (Kjos 6). After getting her own plane, a Kinner Canary, in October 1992, she wanted to see how high it could climb. She set a new women's altitude record by flying to 14,000 feet. “Miss Earhart wanted to prove that… women are quite as capable pilots as men, and quite as daring,” the Boston Globe reported. After beginning to gain a small reputation, Earhart was asked to see if she wanted to take the opportunity to be the first woman across the Atlantic. It would all be funded for her by someone who had the dream of advancing women in aviation. Earhart was the first woman to fly from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back in 1928. She flew on a plane name Friendship with a couple of other people on this daring journey. Earhart did not fly the Friendship; she only captained it. She was constantly pushing herself to break records, especially her own. “In her Vega she set the women’s speed record by flying 181 miles per hour. She set a new altitude record climbing to 18,415 feet”. Earhart set records, then worked to break them again all while tackling new challenges.
Earhart would not be the first person to fly around the world, but she would be the first person to fly around the equator. Several other pilots flew around north or south to the equator, but not around the world on the equator. Earhart insisted this was how to properly and poetically fly around the world. As she was preparing for her flight around the world she told everyone she was doing a test flight, or a “shakedown”. She did this to keep the crowds of fans and press out of the way for when she took off. Earhart was not completely alone throughout this difficult, never-been-done-before flight; planning their course, navigating, and determining their position was Fred Noonman. They planned to stop every thousand miles to refuel and to rest; she called this hopscotching. On Earhart’s first attempt to fly around the world, she crashed in Hawaii, delaying her flight with repairs for the plane (Fradin 2). The flight was delayed again when the left engine caught fire on the ground in Tucson, Arizona. After flying for a bit, bad weather was delaying them again. Eventually, Amelia and Fred had to take off during a sandstorm to continue their flight. While flying over the Bermuda triangle, it was raining so hard they had to fly blind for hours while the paint was being ripped off by the hard rain.
‘Flying blind’ is just as scary as it sounds. They could not see very far and could easily get off course and not be able to have enough fuel for the next stop. At the time, there were very limited and primary navigational tools to help them through the storm. It also did not help that Earhart had recently obtained this plane and did not know the controls as well as she should have. Amelia and Fred were headed for Howland Islands during the storm when they got lost. In Earhart’s radio messages to a ship near Howard Island, she says, “Cloudy weather, cloudy”. Then, “Gas is running low. We are flying at a thousand feet” (Fradin 3). After the storm ended, many ships and planes searched for them, but nothing was found. Even now, the details of the disappearance are still a mystery. It is widely accepted the plane probably crashed in the Pacific,
People were becoming bored by all of the big, flashy headlines about another record being broken. It was only because of George Putnam that Earhart’s fame was far from short-lived. What would happen was many fliers at the time had their big moment, but then someone else would break yet another record making the ‘big moment’ yesterday’s news. But, this was far from the case with Earhart, instead, she became a well-known, influential pilot. She was so influential that after writing to President Roosevelt, Earhart managed to get a landing strip built on Howland Island for her (Fleming 90). A private strip built to help her fuel up on one of her flights.
Before the 1930s, men were the only people to fly because it was thought to be physically impossible for women to fly. Earhart was apart of creating a group of women pilots, “Called the Ninety-Nine because it started with ninety-nine licensed women pilots, it provided support for its members and advanced the science of aviation”. After the creation of this group as well as the accomplishment of the talented women in it, there were nearly a thousand women pilots by the end of the 1930s. While she may not have been the first female flyer, her accomplishments and records earned her the title “First Lady of the Sky”. As remarked by Eleanor Roosevelt, “She helped the cause of women by giving them a feeling that there was nothing they could not do”.
Amelia Earhart was more than just a pilot; she also had a faculty position at Purdue University. Here she helped women take steps forward and break more barriers. “They centered around Miss Earhart’s belief that women… really did have choices about what we could do with our lives,” recalled one student. “Study whatever you want,” she counseled the girls (Fleming 84). “Don’t let the world push you around”. The students loved her and loved being told and supported in doing what they wanted. Earhart was so influential she increased the number of female students attending by fifty percent.
Earhart still has great lasting effects on America today. She has had movies made and books written about her. In her honor inside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., one of Earhart’s planes is on display. She continues to live on through her story being told countless times. Her work is still inspiring many to do what seems impossible, to take risks, and to break barriers. For example, Linda Finch, an American woman, recreated Earhart’s flight using the same plane and was followed by media around the globe. Finch had looked up to Earhart and wanted to be like her. “Your achievement is an inspiration to children across America. We’ve come a long way in the 60 years since Amelia Earhart’s flight. One thing hasn’t changed- the need to follow our dreams,” said Vice President Al Gore after Linda completed her flight. Finch also wanted to show the girls and women of today just how much they can do. “She’s my hero,” said Lashay Morris, a fourth-grader at Prescott Elementary School in Oakland. “She stands for women. They can do a lot of things that men can do too”. Evidently, she had the same effect on the young mind of girls like Amelia did.
Earhart’s effects on America were great and are still lasting today, from her feminist work to her outstanding flying abilities. She disappeared doing what she loved: flying and breaking records. Earhart worked hard to learn to fly and worked even harder to become an amazing pilot. She was a wonder, willing to take on any challenge regardless of the risks. Earhart loved the thrill of trying something new, especially if it has never been done before or something typically not done by women. It didn’t matter to her whether or not if it was a new record to break, using a “boy’s sled” in the wintertime, or building herself a roller coaster. Even when she was just a kid watching the birds, she knew she was destined to fly.
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