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Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 2 - Amelia Earhart Lost (+ The Flying Flapper)

Amelia Earhart in the year she died. This photo is displayed
 in the small Air Museum in the Melbourne, Fla. airport.
This day in 1937, Amelia Earhart's plane disappeared.

Earhart  first learned to fly in 1921, at the age of 23. Although she had a passion for flying, it was largely a hobby until 1928, when she gained fame as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean while a passenger aboard the plane Friendship.

After this, flying became Earhart’s career, promoted by her publicist and, later, husband G. P. Putnam.

First Woman to Fly Solo Across Two Oceans

When she was 34, in 1932, she became the first  woman to fly the Atlantic solo.

She took off from Newfoundland and landed in County Derry in Ireland. A puzzled farmer went out to see who it was and asked: "Have you come far?" She answered: "From America."

Then she was the first person to fly the Pacific solo, from Honolulu to Oakland. Her flight on a single-engine Lockheed Vega was routine - on her way in to Oakland she was listening on her radio to the broadcast of an opera from the Met in New York. She was called the female Lindy or "Queen of the Air".

National Woman's Party Member

Amelia Mary Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas, daughter of Samuel "Edwin" Stanton Earhart (1867-1930) and Amelia "Amy" Otis Earhart (1869-1962). She was married twice but did not take either husband's name. She was a member of the National Woman's Party.

Her plane disappeared in 1937 while she and a navigator were trying to circumnavigate the globe at the equator in an airplane with new equipment.

They were both assumed to be lost at sea. At the time of her disappearance, the 39-year-old Earhart was the most famous female pilot of her day.

Postscript on the Flying Flapper

Elinor Smith, the Flying Flapper.
Someone who read my post above on Amelia Earhart's disappearance alerted me to another famous early female aviator,  Elinor Smith Sullivan. She was known as the Flying Flapper of Freeport.

In 1927 she was the youngest U.S. Government certified pilot on record.

In 1928 she flew in one fell swoop under all four bridges on New York City's East River. Newsreel film documents her feat. No one apparently has ever duplicated it since.

The official reprimand from the Federal Government for her action was accompanied by a request for her autograph. (Mayor Jimmy Walker had sent a letter asking for lenience.)

She was a friend of Jimmy Doolittle, leader of the 1942 raid on Tokyo. Elinor Smith did the commentary on the famous Bendix Air Races.

She reportedly said that Earhart was a lousy pilot but a master of publicity. Watch a YouTube clip on the Flying Flapper and you will see why I am impressed with the FF.