WHY DOES AMELIA EARHART STILL FASCINATE US?
“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”—Amelia Earhart
Like today’s leaders, Amelia Earhart navigated many twists and turns (and a few false starts) on her way to building an outstanding legacy. Nevertheless, because of an unwavering passion for her most important values, and a few key individuals who supported her along the way, the world has much to celebrate every July 24th, which is Amelia Earhart Day. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, she saw her first plane at a state fair when she was 10 years old. However, she was not impressed with the plane and it was not until she saw a stunt-flying exhibition that her interest in aviation was piqued. A glance at Amelia’s resume would reveal that she juggled many pursuits. She was a poet, an author, an editor, and a public speaker. Defying gender roles for her time, she played basketball, took an auto-repair course and even attended college, during which she advocated for the young women who had been excluded from her school’s sororities. She almost became a doctor as well!
She taught English as a second language and worked at Denison House to provide education and social services to newcomers. While exploring various careers, she began taking flying lessons under the tutelage of pilot Neta Snooks right after Frank Hawks took Earhart on her first flight. She bought and borrowed several planes over the years but also swapped them for cars when daily life demanded it. Amelia racked up many lifetimes’ worth of accomplishments, despite only ever pursuing piloting in her spare time. Within months of receiving her pilot’s license, Earhart started breaking her first records. She may be remembered today for her last, lost flight but in her time, she was best known as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She created the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for the advancement of female pilots. Clearly, Earhart was determined to earn public adulation, and prove to men and women that women could accomplish what men could. Throughout her life, Amelia found ways to support the women around her, both on and off the tarmac. She was a celebrated pioneer—in the fight for women’s equality and the world-changing development of aviation. She bears the true mark of a Zontian, who left a legacy of inspiration and bravery not only for women but also for all those who seek adventure, and hope to change the world.