Born on this day in 1897, Amelia Earhart is one of America’s most beloved pioneers in aviation and, today, on National Amelia Earhart Day, July 24, we celebrate her life and achievements. While many remember her for her mysterious disappearance in her internationally anticipated flight around the world, she had a life filled with achievements and trailblazing. Read on to learn about the many contributions she made to the world of aviation.
History of National Amelia Earhart Day
National Amelia Earhart Day celebrates the inspiring life of famous American pilot, Amelia Earhart. July 24 was chosen in honor of her birthday but no other details of how the holiday came about are known.
Amelia Earhart’s love of flying began in December 1920, with her first flight in California with World War II pilot, Frank Hawks. Soon after this life-changing experience, in January 1921, Earhart started flight lessons under female pilot Neta Snook. Later that year, she bought her first plane, a yellow Kinner Airster, which she named ‘The Canary.’
She received her National Aeronautics Association license in December 1921, just one year after her own first flight and, from there, the sky was her limit! Throughout her life, she achieved many records, the first one in 1922 when she became the first female pilot to fly solo at 14,000 feet.
Earhart was the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1932. To that point, Charles Lindbergh had been the only other person in the world to accomplish this. Earhart was the first female awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress.
In 1929, Earhart helped form The Ninety-Nines, an international nonprofit organization whose mission was to advance women in aviation. Launched by 99 women pilots at the time, The Ninety-Nines continues to inspire the new generation of women pilots through education, scholarships, mentoring, and general support linked by a passion for flight.
Earhart’s fateful flight around the world began on June 1, 1937, out of Oakland, California. She and navigator Fred Noonan left New Guinea on July 2 with 7,000 miles remaining of their journey. However, this would be the last day they’d be seen alive. Their disappearance remains a mystery to this day, although numerous theories have been proposed.
National Amelia Earhart Day timeline
Amelia sees her first airplane at a state fair when she is 10 years old.
Amelia flies for the first time with pilot Frank Hawks.
Amelia is elected to serve as the first president of The Ninety-Nines.
Amelia designs flight clothes that are advertised in “Vogue.”
National Amelia Earhart Day FAQs
Who was the first female commercial airline pilot?
Helen Richey became the first female U.S. commercial airline pilot in 1934 with Central Airlines, eventually part of United Airlines. Later, Emily Howell Warner became the first female captain of a scheduled U.S. airline.
How many female pilots are there today?
According to the FAA, there were over 25,000 certified (non-student) women pilots at the end of 2019.
Who was the first female pilot in the Air Force?
Jeannie Leavitt was the first woman to serve as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force in 1993.
How to Observe National Amelia Earhart Day
Learn about pioneers in women’s flight history
While Amelia Earhart is the most well-known female aviator, she is certainly not the only one! There have been many other women serving as pioneers in the industry and learning their stories is an excellent way to celebrate today.
Encourage your daughter to be a pilot
The number of women pilots grew rapidly from 1960 to 1980 but has plateaued since. It is always helpful for young girls to picture themselves as pilots in order for them to embrace that dream. This is where role models come in. But, even if you don’t personally know a female pilot, encourage your daughter, granddaughter, niece, or any other young girl in your circle of influence to consider this as an exciting career path.
A survey conducted in 2019 of 2,000 people revealed 13% had never flown. If you are in that 13%, today would be a great day to fly, even if you just take a small joy ride in a helicopter.
5 Other Mysterious Plane Disappearances
In 1947, a British South American Airways flight en route to Santiago, Chile messaged ‘STENDEC’ to air-traffic control and then disappeared — over 50 years later, plane wreckage surfaced along with a deciphered World War II code: “Severe Turbulence Encountered, Now Descending, Emergency Crash-landing.”
The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the Atlantic Ocean marked by Florida’s Atlantic coast, Bermuda, and the Greater Antilles where more than 50 airplanes and ships are claimed to have mysteriously disappeared.
Glenn Miller’s European flight
In 1944, the flight carrying Glenn Miller, a famous American big-band trombonist, disappeared on its short flight from Bedford (U.K.) to Paris.
Star Tiger & Star Ariel
In 1948 and 1949, British South American Airways had two flights disappear with no debris ever recovered from either incident.
Malaysia Airlines MH370
From more recent memory, Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370 en route to Beijing vanished in 2014 after being tracked by military radar for an hour upon losing communication with air-traffic control.
Why National Amelia Earhart Day is Important
She was a pioneer
The first person to do something inspires awe and admiration. Amelia Earhart clearly ranks in the category of pioneer for all women, not only in the U.S. but also around the world. She garnered international acclaim as a pilot while still living, and her impressive history and influence still touch people today.
She wasn’t afraid to fail
Earhart once said about flying around the world, “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. If they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” It’s difficult for anyone to embrace failure, even today, so her desire to chase a dream despite its success or failure is something we can all admire.
She is still shrouded in mystery
People are generally obsessed with unsolved mysteries. Sometimes, it’s our hope for closure, for justice, or simply to have the final answer to an ongoing question that keeps us on the edge of our seats when it comes to unsolved mysteries. Amelia Earhart’s final journey remains steeped in mystery and we can’t help but be drawn to hear more.
National Amelia Earhart Day dates