11-year-old Amelia Earhart saw an airplane for the first time at the 1908 Iowa State Fair, and from that day, had a clear vision of eventually becoming a record-breaking aviation pioneer.
Like today’s leaders, Amelia 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: Amelia Earhart Day.
Who was Amelia Earhart?
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. She almost became a doctor and an auto mechanic. She taught English as a second language and worked at Denison House to provide education and social services to newcomers. She was an innovative businesswoman with everything from a photography studio, a fashion line, an airport, and an airline all under her belt.
While exploring various careers, she learned how to fly under the tutelage of pilot Neta Snooks. She bought and borrowed several planes over the years (especially bright yellow ones), but also swapped them for cars when daily life demanded it.
Amelia racked up many lifetimes’ worth of aviation accomplishments, despite only ever pursuing piloting in her spare time. In fact, within months of receiving her pilot’s license, Amelia Earhart started breaking her first records.
Amelia’s Famous Achievements
When the world lost Amelia Earhart, she was still feeling the adrenaline from setting a fresh new record for the fastest east to west flight, partway through her epic round-the-world journey on The Flying Laboratory. She was:
- The first woman to fly an altitude of 14,000 feet
- The 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
- The first woman to pilot an autogyro and the first person to fly an autogyro across the USA
- The first woman to fly across the Atlantic (thanks to billionaire Amy Guest supplying the Friendship) and the first person to fly across it twice
- The first woman to fly solo across North America
- And a multi-record-breaking pilot who flew faster, higher, and longer than anyone, woman or otherwise, who had preceded her
A Champion for the Women Around Her
Throughout her life, Amelia found ways to support the women around her, both on and off the tarmac.
As a student, she advocated for the young women who were excluded from her school’s sororities. Later, as public recognition of her aviation achievements grew, she and her would-be husband, George Palmer Putnam, worked together to create a platform which she used to advocate for women pilots.
Amelia became a member of the National Women’s Party and a vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Then in her late 30’s, Amelia accepted an appointment at Purdue University, where she was both an esteemed advisor for aeronautics and a women’s career consultant. At the same time, she was proud to help found the first women pilots organization, The Ninety-Nines, and served as its first president.
Today, The Ninety-Nines still stands strong. It’s joined by countless organizations which celebrate women at the forefront of travel, including WomenWise, the global initiative that showcases opportunity, provides role-models, and offers structured support to create gender balance in business leadership teams across Flight Centre Travel Group.
We gladly celebrate the inspiring and multi-talented Amelia Earhart. But we also celebrate the Neta Snooks in our lives, for teaching us the ropes. The Amy Guests for creating opportunities for us. The George Palmer Putnams, for believing in us – better yet, partnering with us. And the amazing women we work alongside every day.