The Lockheed Model 10E Electra had been reconfigured with extra fuel tanks replacing the passenger seats, allowing the plane to travel further between re-fueling.
Her co-pilot was Fred Noonan. Landing in Miami, she announced her goal—to be the first woman to fly around the world at the equator. 27,000 miles in all. Aside from a little dysentary, there were no problems in the inital legs. They made it safely through to South America, Africa and India.
It had only been 15 years since she got her pilot’s license from the Federal Aeronatique Internationale.
“By the time I had gotten two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.”
And fly she did. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and nonstop from coast to coast. She set the women’s nonstop transcontinental speed records and autogiro altitude records.
Not bad for “AE, the little girl in brown who walks alone,” according to an inscription in her high school yearbook.
She still preferred brown. When she flew, she wore a dark brown suit or light brown dress instead of the “high-bread aviation togs,” a hat instead of a helmet, didn’t put on her goggles until she taxied to the end of the field and removed them upon landing. Ever the fashion icon, she would sleep in a new leather jacket for three nights to give it a more “worn” look.
A monsoon prevented her departure from Java. Repairs were made on some of the long-distance instruments. Parachutes were packed and shipped home; they would be of no use over the Pacific.
After flying 22,000 miles they reached Lae, New Guinea. Howland Island was next, some, 2,556 miles away. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca had been standing by to act as a radio contact. Communication, for some reason that was never determined, was poor.
Amelia Earhart was only 39 when she disappeared on July 2, 1938, some 80 years ago. Lady Lindy, it would seem, was not nearly as fortunate as Lucky Lindy.
President Roosevelt authorized a search of nine ships and 66 aircraft at an estimated cost of over $4 million. No wreckage. No rafts. Nothing.
Her last letter, documented in “Last Flight:”
“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”
“Please know I am quite aware of the hazards…I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
Speculation mongers have made the most of it; dozens of books have speculated—they were captured, imprisoned and possibly killed by the Japanese. Or she was running a spy mission for the U.S and her disappearance was staged to allow the U.S. Navy to conduct a search in the South Pacific.
She also said: “Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”
A code she lived and died by.
We all can’t move mountains. Or push those plucky horizons. But courage is demonstrated in millions of different ways, every day.
How is that most difficult to define word best demonstrated to you?