Amelia Earhart: Inspiration and Mystery

More of This Feature

• Part 2: Fame in the Air
Part 3: Bigger and Better Things
• Part 4: Her Final Flight
• Part 5: Her Legacy

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Book Review: Amelia Earthart, Young Air Pioneer

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Part 1: Early Years

Amelia Earhart is one of the most famous names in American history, because of her daring exploits as a pilot and groundbreaking work breaking down barriers against women but also because of the continuing mystery surrounding her disappearance.

She was born in the small town of Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. Her grandfather was an important man in that town, and she would spend many years growing up with him and her grandmother.

Amelia had a younger sister, Muriel, who was a constant playmate. The girls were curious about the world around them, and Amelia especially didn't want to take "no" for an answer, especially when the reason was "because girls don't do that sort of thing." She was always getting her pretty dresses dirty by playing in the street and climbing trees, and she once even jumped off a roof to see how it felt to fly.

In 1905, the girls' father got a job in Des Moines, Iowa, working for the railroad. Mr. and Mrs. Earhart moved to Iowa, but the girls stayed behind with their grandparents for three years, finally moving to Iowa in 1908. And it was in Iowa that Amelia saw her first airplane.

She wasn't very impressed, however, preferring to focus on other things at the time. But something about that airplane stuck in her mind and leapt back out years later, firing in her a desire to achieve what few others had: flying an airplane.

Amelia's home life was troubled because her father wasn't well much of the time and had a problem with keeping a job. In 1914, Amy Earhart and her two daughters moved to Chicago.

In 1917, Amelia decided to become a medical professional. She trained as a nurses aid in Toronto, Canada, and served with a unit in World War I, where she saw firsthand the terrible consequences of war. She continued her medical studies but decided to return to live with her parents, who had since reunited and were living in California.

In 1920, she was onboard a plane for the first time, as a guest of a pilot at an "aerial meet" in Long Beach, California. She was in the air only 10 minutes, but that experience changed her life. "As soon as we left the ground, I knew I myself had to fly," she later said.

Next page > Fame in the Air > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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