The first fact of today is, it’s my mum’s birthday! Happy birthday!
On January 11, 1935, Earhart became the first person to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Although this transoceanic flight had been attempted by many others, most notably by the unfortunate participants in the 1927 Dole Air Race which had reversed the route, her trailblazing flight had been routine, with no mechanical breakdowns. In her final hours, she even relaxed and supposedly listened to the broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from New York.
Earhart was a widely known international celebrity during her lifetime. Her shyly charismatic appeal, independence, persistence, coolness under pressure, courage and goal-oriented career along with the circumstances of her disappearance at a comparatively early age have driven her lasting fame in popular culture. Hundreds of articles and books have been written about her life, and she is generally regarded as a feminist icon.
Earhart’s accomplishments in aviation inspired a generation of female aviators, including the more than 1,000 women pilots of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who ferried military aircraft, towed gliders, flew target practice aircraft, and served as transport pilots during World War II.
Personally, I find this fascinating simply because nobody knows what happened to her. Did she crash and die? Did she manage to land the plane but starved? Or land the plane but was attacked by wildlife or colonists? Better yet, did she survive and take on a new identity? It’s mind boggling really, especially when you think that this was 70 years ago and we still don’t have an answer. We might never have an answer.