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The Price Of Courage

The Price of Courage

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?

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Great article. ‘Have studied her last flight for two decades. How she managed to return anonymously was another great mountain she moved. History cannot recognize it though, or anything beyond Amelia being declared ‘dead in absentia’ in 1939. The website has remained unchallenged for over a decade.

  2. Courage is defined by the actions of men who, in caring for a disabled spouse, understand the importance of a promise made, a vow “…to have and to hold in sickness and in health til death do us part”.

    Courage is the ability to defend those who are unable to defend themselves, and offer comfort to the afflicted, though you may be afflicted yourself.

    And finally, courage is the ability…to listen.

  3. I served 23 years in the Army in Signals Intelligence and as an Electronic Warfare Officer. I understand the electromagnetic spectrum to a fair degree. The Journal of Electronic Defense, the professional journal of electronic warfare, ran an article several years ago on one possible reason for Amelia’s disappearance. During an overhaul of the Lockheed Electra prior to departure on the fateful flight, the aircraft’s primary radio antenna was modified. The resulting cut of the antenna left her aircraft right on the margin of not being able to receive the radio frequencies the US Coast Guard was using to contact her. Amelia and Fred may not have been able to receive the signals she needed to land and refuel.

  4. To me, that word “courage” is best defined by ignoring. The voice inside of me sometimes says that I’m not worthy, that I can’t, or that I have no chance to succeed. Courage is hearing that voice, ignoring it and pushing forward, regardless. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in life, and if you can do it, you’ve accomplished a great deal.

  5. A wonderful book about the early days of female pilots is Fly Girls, by Keith O’Brien.
    It includes well researched information about both men and women entering air races. My dad lived in Vermilion, Ohio, and saw some of the first air races in Cleveland.

    There are also thoughtful theories about the possible causes of Ms. Earhart’s and Mr. Noonan’s crash. (See Mr. Blanchard’s comments, above.)

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