We think nothing of hearing news reports today about women astronauts, and female pilots aren't even newsworthy. We take it for granted now that women are just as capable of doing these jobs as men and can be just as (if not more) successful at it. However, that wasn't always the case. In the time period that Amelia Earhart was born into, women had very defined and very restricted roles in society.
Amelia Mary Earhart was born to Amy and Edwin Earhart on
July 24, 1897. Amelia spent most of her younger years living with her grandmother in an eleven-room house in . Atchinson, Kansas
Early in her life, it was clear that Amelia couldn't limit herself to traditional roles of the time. She played basketball in high school, excelled in math and science, and took pre-med classes at
. She was daring and loved adventures and excitement. She always had a determined spirit, and a natural curiosity that led her to adventure. Columbia University
In Amelia's childhood, boys were permitted to ride sleds down the hills of
while lying down, but girls were expected to sit up in a more ladylike posture. Amelia, not surprisingly, defied convention and lay down on her sled. At one point, she wrote, this posture saved her life. Atchison
"I was zipping down one of the really steep hills in town when a junk man's cart, pulled by a horse with enormous blinders came out from a side road. The hill was so icy that I couldn't turn and the junk man didn't hear the squeals of warning. In a second my sled had skipped between the front and back legs of the horse and got clear, before either he or I knew what had happened. Had I been sitting up, either my head or the horse's ribs would have suffered in contact -- probably the horse's ribs." (Source:
) Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum
When Amelia was asked why she wanted to fly, she replied "I want to be free." Later she said, “I want to fly around the world.” When told “it can't be done,” she said, "lets change that."
Amelia lived her life the way she wanted to live it, on her own terms--in her career and in following her dreams. She was instantly famous, some because of how dangerous flying was and how unsafe planes were, but mostly because she was a woman that went above and beyond what people expected of her. It was because of that that people made her their hero. She was ambitious and was always looking for thrills. She knew that it could be done and that she might never come back, but she felt that if she didn't come back, she had at least lived a full life. Amelia once said, "if I die, I want to die in a plane."
She started flying before parachutes were invented. Amelia first flew when she was in her early twenties, not married, her parents were struggling financially and in there relationship. Amelia said, "Once I got in the cockpit and the plane took off, we started heading toward the skies, and that's when I knew that that's what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
In 1938 she was the first person to fly across the
Atlantic twice and the first woman to fly across the Atlantic at all. She was listed as the captain of the flight, but was really only a passenger. She said that she didn't feel like a heroin sitting in a passengers seat. So, six months later on May 20, 1932, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo. In doing this, she became an American and world celebrity.