On the heels of the announcement of space flight pioneer, Sally Ride’s death, another trailblazing woman, Amelia Earhart, is being honored on what would be her 115th birthday with a Google Doodle. Pictured below, you can see the image of her Lockheed Electra, which was the plane she was in on the fateful day of her crash at sea in the Central Pacific Ocean.
According to her official biography website, Earhart became fascinated with flying the day she went to watch a stunt flyer. Apparently, the pilot thought it might be fun to dive his plane toward Earhart and her friend, but instead of giving her a scare, he planted a seed.
I did not understand it at the time,” she said, “but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by. – Amelia Earhart
This tomboy turned pilot would eventually set record after record in the field of aviation and would challenge the conventional role of women in her day.
In 1932, at the age of 34, she would set out on a journey of a lifetime, being the first woman to do a solo transatlantic flight. The 14 hour flight began in Newfoundland and would end in a farm pasture in Northern Ireland. After this heroic journey, President Herbert Hoover presented Earhart with a gold medal from the National Geographic Society, Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross-the first ever given to a woman, and she also received the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government.
In 1937, Earhart wanted set out to make a flight around the world. She, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, nearly made it around. In fact, she was only 7000 miles shy of reaching her goal, but something went wrong on her way to one her stops on Howland Island. A mixture of bad weather, poor radio transmissions, and equipment failure eventually led to the U.S. Navy losing track of Earhart. According to her biography these were the last transmissions heard that fateful day:
”We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45 Earhart reported, “We are running north and south.” Nothing further was heard from Earhart.
Since that day, Amelia Earhart has been the stuff of legends. Even today, several news outlets are reporting how the search goes on to find the remains of the wreckage. Millions of dollars have been spent, and many theories have been laid to out, but unfortunately, Amelia Earhart’s departure from this world is still a mystery. To this day Earhart’s spirit should be an inspiration for women to aspire to their dreams. Her last letter to her husband represents the kind of spirit she had when she writes:
“Please know I am quite aware of the hazards,” she said. “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
So today as we ponder the life and death of an amazing pioneer of aviation, the question becomes, “How will we honor her spirit and accept the challenge?”