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This is Amelia: Read the Story of Amelia Earhart

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THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION VIA GETTY IMAGES

Amelia Earhart, known as Meelie when she was a child, loved to be swept away on adventures. Her father was a lawyer who worked for the Rock Island Railroad in Kansas City, Missouri. As the daughter of a railroad employee, Amelia got to travel all over the country and see amazing sights.

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When she was 7 years old, Amelia visited the 1904 World’s Fair, in St. Louis, Missouri. Inspired by a roller coaster there, she decided to build one herself. She enlisted the help of her younger sister, Muriel, nicknamed Pidge. Meelie and Pidge gathered planks, a wooden box, and a tub of lard to grease the tracks. They built their roller coaster off the roof of a tool-shed. Amelia took the first ride—and crash-landed. Despite the bruises, she loved the experience, and told Pidge it felt like flying.

Amelia first saw an air-plane in person when she was 10. It was at a state fair in Des Moines, Iowa. She wasn’t too impressed: “It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting,” she said.

Another airplane she saw was a bit more exciting. Around 1918, she and a friend attended a f lying exposition in Toronto, Canada. While they were watching a pilot perform stunts, he suddenly dove right at them. “I am sure he said to himself, ‘Watch me make them scamper,’” Amelia recalled. She held her ground as the airplane swooped by.

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Amelia wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for her career. She nursed wounded World War I soldiers, trained to be a mechanic, and studied medicine and medical research. When she was 23, she attended an air show that offered plane rides. Amelia jumped at the chance, and flew in an air-plane for the first time.

When the plane got a few hundred feet off the ground, Amelia was filled with exhilaration. At that moment, she knew flying was exactly what she was meant to do.

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Famous Flier

Amelia Earhart is one of the most celebrated pilots of all time. She made history with her aviation feats.

In 1928, she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. That flight made her famous, but she’d been only a passenger. In 1932, she set off on another flight—this time in the pilot’s seat. When she landed, 14 hours and 56 minutes later, she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Three years later, she became the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to California.

Amelia inspired generations of girls. “Women must try to do things as men have tried,” she said. “When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

PASSING IT ON Earhart teaches a group of students in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933. They’re about the same age as she was when she first saw a plane.

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Fast Facts

  • Amelia’s first plane was bright yellow. She named it The Canary.

  • In 1933, she created a clothing line. Some of the pieces were made from parachute silk or from the fabric then used for airplane wings.

  • Amelia helped found an organization for women pilots called the Ninety-Nines. It’s still active.

  • She wrote three books about her flights, plus numerous articles for magazines and newspapers.

  • In 1937, Earhart took off on a flight around the world. She’d traveled more than 22,000 miles when she disappeared. She was never found.

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