Amelia Earhart Introduction (02:11)
The American pilot believed women should pursue "male" goals. Publicity gave her false confidence to embark on a dangerous journey.
Childhood and Early Adulthood (01:59)
Earhart was born in 1897 and raised in a wealthy Kansas family. She was an independent tomboy. During World War I, she volunteered as a nurse in Toronto.
Becoming a Pilot (02:37)
Earhart dropped out of Columbia University, rejoining her family in Los Angeles. She escaped a troubled home life through flying lessons and bought a plane she named "Canary."
Charles Lindbergh (03:23)
In 1924, Earhart became a social worker in Boston. After Lindbergh’s 1927 transatlantic flight, Earhart resumed flying, catching the attention of publisher George Putnam. She wanted to be the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; Putnam saw a publicity opportunity.
Lady Lindy (02:12)
Inspired by Earhart's physical similarity to Lindbergh, Putnam believed he had the perfect female candidate to cross the Atlantic. However, he omitted that Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon would copilot the plane. In June 1928, they took off for New Foundland.
First Transatlantic Flight (03:14)
Earhart kept a flight log while Stultz and Gordon co-piloted the plane; hear her description of stormy weather. After 20 hours, they landed in South Wales. The next day, they arrived in Southampton to a media reception—but her fame wasn’t based on personal achievement.
Building a Reputation (03:22)
Determined to earn a name based on merit, Earhart flew in competitions. In 1929, she helped form a female pilot association and in 1930, she set the women's flying speed record. She and Putnam became romantically involved; she married him reluctantly in 1931.
Commercial Sponsorship (02:16)
Earhart set autogiro records. Putnam arranged marketing deals and published books under her name. In 1930, English pilot Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia—reminding Earhart she hadn’t piloted her transatlantic flight.
First Solo Transatlantic Flight (02:34)
Earhart purchased a single engine Lockheed Vega and departed for Paris on May 20, 1932. She experienced bad weather and mechanical problems; navigational errors landed her in Northern Ireland. However, the flight was a publicity triumph.
Homespun Heroine (02:17)
Earhart was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for her solo transatlantic flight and befriended Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. She and Putnam launched a clothing brand and promoted commercial aviation.
Commercial Aviation Campaign and Pacific Flight (02:54)
Earhart worked with Lindbergh to promote air travel and establish a transcontinental flight service. She continued setting records and became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California in 1935.
Globe Circumnavigation Plans (02:43)
Jean Batten became the first person to fly from England to New Zealand. Despite Putnam's publicity, Earhart's achievements were modest. In 1933, Wiley Post's solo flight around the world inspired Earhart, who wanted to fly close to the equator.
Transpacific Flight Challenges (03:02)
In 1935, Earhart purchased a Lockheed Electra, which would be pushed to maximum fuel capacity across the Pacific. The Navy suggested she refuel at Howland Island. She appealed to FDR for assistance and chose Fred Noonan to navigate.
First World Flight Attempt (02:19)
Earhart's March 1937 trip was abandoned after an accident in Hawaii. The Electra was rebuilt and a new date was set for May; she reversed the route with Howland Island as the penultimate stop. Putnam was concerned for her safety.
Second World Flight Attempt (02:41)
In June 1937, Earhart and Noonan left Miami; view their itinerary. Monsoons and repairs delayed the journey, but they reached Papua New Guinea on June 22, with 7,000 miles left across the Pacific. Hear Earhart's last article for the Herald-Tribune.
Final Leg across the Pacific (03:02)
On July 2, Earhart and Noonan left Lae with 1,000 gallons of gasoline. Traditional navigational aids were insufficient to locate Howland Island, and weather conditions deteriorated. The U.S. Coast Guard clipper Itasca would guide them, but they were unfamiliar with radio navigation.
Communication Problems (02:38)
Radio equipment had been abandoned to lighten the Electra; Earhart couldn't receive Morse code from the Itasca. 19 hours after departure, the crew received messages that Earhart and Noonan couldn't locate Howland Island or the ship.
Lost at Sea (01:58)
Earhart was likely forced to ditch the Electra within 100 miles of Howland Island. The U.S. military mounted a search, but failed to recover Earhart, Noonan or the plane. Hear navigation and communication factors contributing to the tragedy.
Amelia Earhart Mystery and Legacy (03:47)
Earhart was officially declared dead in January 1939; hear conspiracy theories about her survival. Searches have been carried out without results. Her pioneering flights ensure a lasting popular appeal.
Credits: Amelia Earhart: Extraordinary Women (00:46)
Credits: Amelia Earhart: Extraordinary Women
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