Late, Great Geographers

Geographical, August 2000 | Go to article overview

Late, Great Geographers


Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

Inspirational woman aviator Amelia Earhart achieved much in her life, before tragically disappearing mid-flight

Was Earhart always fascinated by flying? Not after seeing her first plane at the age of ten at a state fair, she thought that it "was a thing of rusty wire and wood and not at all interesting". She explored several other interests and career options before aviation became her passion.

Such as? Earhart trained as a nurses' aid, serving in a military hospital during WWI. She enrolled as a pre-med student in 1919, but despite doing well at her studies, she dropped out the following year.

How did she get into flying? Having finally become interested in aviation, Earhart attended an air show with her father in 1920, and had a ten-minute ride in a biplane, of which she said: "As soon as we left the ground, I knew I myself had to fly". Shortly after, she took lessons under the tutelage of a female pilot, Anita Snook. Earhart loved her new sport so much that she bought her own aeroplane several months later.

How did she progress from there? Earhart joined the Boston Chapter of the National Aeronautic Association, which allowed her to promote the sport of flying and encourage other women to join her. It was through the Association that she came in contact with George Putnam. Putnam was searching for a woman to become the first to cross the Atlantic, even though this would only be as a passenger. Earhart was offered the opportunity, which she accepted. The flight was a great success and Earhart became an overnight star. …

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