A perfect and starter
Amelia was born July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, in the family of Edwin and Amy Erhartov. Her father was a successful lawyer, her mother was also involved in jurisprudence — she was the daughter of a local judge. Amelia's parents for their time were very progressive people, therefore both the future pilot herself and her younger sister Muriel had the opportunity of a wide choice of interests and entertainment.
Amelia was attracted to men's amusements - she rode perfectly, shot, swam, played tennis, adored adventure literature. The girl was not only accepted into the games of the boy, but she became their ringleader. With all this, Earhart studied well.
The holiday of childhood came to an end when my father started drinking. His career went downhill, and the family plunged into poverty.
Amelia Earhart, 1904
From nurses to pilots
The first plane Amelia saw at 10 years old, but at that moment she did not experience much interest in him. In 1917, on the street in Toronto, the girl saw seriously wounded soldiers who had arrived from the fronts of the First World War. The impression was so strong that instead of returning to school, she enrolled in nursing courses and began to think about a medical career.
That all changed in 1920, when, by that time, a student, Earhart came to an aircraft exhibition in Long Beach, California, where out of curiosity she set off on a demonstration flight as a passenger.
New sensations shook Amelia so much that she decided to learn how to fly herself and in January 1921 she began taking flight lessons from one of the first female pilots in the world, Anita Snook.
16th in the world
This is where the adventurous nature of Amelia Earhart manifested itself: Snook repeatedly had to take control in order to stop the novice pilots from trying to fly under the wires of the power lines passing by the airfield. In this case, the instructor noted the naturalness of his student, who calmly and confidently felt in the cabin.
Training in the early 1920s was an extremely expensive pleasure, so Amelia had to spin like a squirrel in a wheel - she played the banjo in the music hall, worked as a photographer, a cameraman, teacher, secretary, telephone operator and even a truck driver.
Amelia Earhart. Los Angeles 1928
In the summer of 1921, she acquired her first plane, the small bright yellow biplane “Kinner Eirster,” to the displeasure of Anita Snook. An experienced pilot considered that her student thoughtlessly at risk, since the Kinner was an extremely unreliable machine. Amelia had her own opinion - in October 1922 she climbed to a height of 4300 meters on a biplane, which was a world record among women. Piloting skills Earhart honed in the air rodeo - then very popular imitations of air battles, held at various airfields in the United States for the entertainment of the public.
In 1923, Amelia Earhart became the 16th woman in the world to receive a pilot license from the International Aviation Federation. True, the plane soon after that had to be sold due to financial difficulties. The girl with her mother moved to Boston, where she began to teach English in an orphanage.
“I was just carried like a sack of potatoes!”
Amelia worked as a teacher, and in her free time she increased her flying skills at the nearest airfield. In 1927, the pilot Charles Lindberg made the first successful flight across the Atlantic Ocean. On the wave of feminism, women needed their own heroine. That wanted to become a rich American Amy Guest. Together with the New York publisher George Palmer Putnam, they organized the flight: they purchased the Foker F-VII aircraft, hired the pilot Wilmer Stutz and flight engineer, Lou Gordon.
When everything was almost ready, Gest's relatives forced her to abandon the flight. Then she decided to find a replacement for herself: “an American woman who knows how to fly a plane and who has good looks and pleasant manners.” She was Amelia Earhart, whose name was already quite well known among the pilots.
June 17, 1928 "Fokker" with a crew of three people started from the island of Newfoundland and after 20 hours 40 minutes successfully splashed down near the coast of England. Newspapers enthusiastically wrote about the “first woman who committed the transatlantic flight,” but Amelia herself tried to divert press attention to the main “culprits” - the pilots. Due to the harsh weather conditions and the lack of experience in managing multi-engined aircraft, the Fokker was driven by men. “I was just carried like a sack of potatoes!” The pilot told reporters.
Nevertheless, this flight brought Earhart fame, popularity, money, and most importantly - the opportunity to continue to do what he loved. In 1929, she formed the first international organization of female pilots, named “Ninety-nine” by the number of participants, and began to participate in air races, setting new records.
In August 1929, Amelia took part in the first California-Ohio women's air race. Before the last stage, she successfully led, however, an accident occurred. When taxiing to the start, the female pilot saw that the plane of her main rival Ruth Nichols caught fire in the engine. Muting the engine, Amelia rushed to the plane of Nichols, pulled her out of the cabin of the burning car, and provided first aid. This act threw Earhart to third place in the race, but she never regretted it.
Amelia Earhart, 1935
In 1931, the aviator mastered the autogyro, which rose to a record height of 5,620 meters, and then first flew over it across America.
In May 1932, Amelia Earhart accomplished what she had long dreamed of - a solo flight across the Atlantic. This was not possible to anyone after Lindberg - several experienced pilots disappeared into the ocean during attempts to repeat his record. Amelia herself was a close to death - the flight took place in difficult conditions, due to the failure of a number of devices in a storm with a thunderstorm, her plane fell into a tailspin over the ocean. There was no connection, no support for the female pilot — she could only count on herself. By some miracle she managed to level the car over the waves. She reached as far as Northern Ireland where she landed successfully.
It was an incredible triumph, eclipsed the previous successes. Amelia Earhart became the national heroine of the United States. But she continued to fly and beat records - in January 1935 she flew alone over the Pacific Ocean from the Hawaiian Islands to Oakland, California. So many pilots died on this route that flights were forbidden. An exception was made for Amelia Earhart, and she coped.
Union of "Air Amazon" and a successful businessman
In early 1931, Amelia Earhart married George Putnam, her "press agent" and business partner. According to most friends and relatives, their marriage was successful and was based on the principles of equal partnership and cooperation that Amelia professed. Nevertheless, some were convinced that the union of the “Air Amazon” and a successful businessman is nothing but a “marriage of convenience”. However, this version was refuted in 2002, when Putnama and Erhart's personal correspondence, including their love letters, which were kept in a private family archive, were transferred to the Purdue University Museum.
Amelia Earhart with husband George Putnam, 1931
Since 1934, the couple lived in California, where there were the best weather conditions for flying all year round. In 1936, the celebrated aviator, friend of the wife of US President Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the most influential women in the country, began to work with Purdue University in Indiana, doing research on aeronautics. Here she organized her own flight school.
Amelia was about 40 years old and she was going to change her life. Reporters glorified pilots said that the century of “racing for records” in aviation is coming to an end, and reliability issues are coming to the fore, where the main things will not be the aerobatics, but the design engineers. Earhart was going to do research and devote time to family. But before her plans were to fly around the world along the longest route, keeping as close as possible to the equator.
The first launch of the Lokhid-Electra twin-engine monoplane L-10E with a crew of Amelia Earhart, as well as navigators Harry Manning and Frederick Noonan took place on March 17, 1937. The first stage was successful, but at the start from Hawaii the landing gear could not stand, and the plane had an accident. The crippled monoplane was filled with fuel, but it didn’t blow up by a miracle.
Superstitious people might consider it a sign from above, but Amelia would not be herself if she had not tried again. After major overhaul of the aircraft in the United States, Earhart began a second attempt on May 20, 1937, now with one navigator, Frederick Noonan.
By early July, Earhart and Noonan had successfully crossed 80% of the entire route. However, the most difficult flight was ahead. On July 2, the pilots' plane launched from the coast of New Guinea, and after 18 hours of flight over the Pacific Ocean was to land on Howland Island, a small piece of land 2.5 kilometers long and 800 meters wide, projecting only 3 meters above sea level. Finding it in the middle of the ocean with the navigation tools of the 1930s is a daunting task.
On Howland, for Amelia Earhart, a runway was specially built; there were officials and press representatives waiting for her. Communication with the aircraft was maintained by a guard guard ship, which served as a radio beacon.
By estimated time, the female pilot reported that she was in a given area, but neither the island nor the ship could see. Judging by the level of the last radio message received from the aircraft, Lockheed Electra was somewhere very close, but never appeared.
When the connection stopped and, according to calculations, the fuel in the plane ran out, the US Navy began the most extensive search operation in its history. However, a survey of 220 thousand square miles of the ocean, numerous small islands and atolls did not give any result.
On January 5, 1939, Amelia Earhart and Frederic Noonan were officially declared dead, although there is still no exact information about their fate.