A First for Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer who mysteriously disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world, amazed the public with her daring feats in the 1920s and ’30s. She set many records flying solo, including being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, the first woman to fly nonstop across the U.S., and the first pilot – male or female – to fly from Hawaii to California. She seemed born to fly, and to set distance, speed and endurance records.

Photo: Neta Snook (left) and Amelia Earhart (right) in front of Earhart’s Kinner Airster, c. 1921
Photo: Neta Snook (left) and Amelia Earhart (right) in front of Earhart’s Kinner Airster, c. 1921. Credit: Karsten Smedal; Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier in her career she achieved an impressive first: on 16 May 1923, she became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license from the distinguished National Aeronautic Association.

It is true that 12 years earlier, Harriet Quimby scored her own historic achievement by becoming the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States, and on 16 April 1912, Quimby set an amazing record by becoming the first woman to fly across the English Channel – which she accomplished in 59 minutes flying solo in a 50-horsepower monoplane!

However, although Quimby was the earlier pioneer, Amelia Earhart is the woman aviator who captured the public’s attention and remains a fascinating figure to this day, her fame enhanced by her mysterious disappearance in July 1937 (she was officially declared lost at sea on 18 July 1937).

Photo: Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra – the plane she was flying when she mysteriously disappeared
Photo: Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra – the plane she was flying when she mysteriously disappeared. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Her 1923 National Aeronautic Association’s pilot license was reported in the following two newspaper articles.

An article about Amelia Earhart, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 17 May 1923
Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 17 May 1923, page 3

Here is a transcription of this article:

FIRST WOMAN GETS AVIATOR’S LICENSE

(Associated Press)

WASHINGTON, May 17. – Miss Amelia M. Earhart, of Atchison, Kas., today received the first license granted to a woman by the National Aeronautical Association after completing the test flights during which she piloted her plane to an altitude of 11,000 feet, believed to be the highest ever flown by a woman.

An article about Amelia Earhart, Oregonian newspaper article 18 May 1923
Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 18 May 1923, page 1

Here is a transcription of this article:

WOMAN AVIATOR SCORES

Atchison Girl Pilots Plane to Altitude of 11,000 Feet.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 17. – Miss Amelia M. Earhart of Atchison, Kan., today received the first license granted to a woman by the National Aeronautical Association after completing test flights, during which she piloted her plane to an altitude of 11,000 feet, believed to be the highest ever flown by a woman.

ATCHISON, Kan., May 17. – Miss Amelia Earhart, granted the first aeronautic license awarded a woman by the National Aeronautical Association, was born and reared in Atchison, but has not lived here for several years. She now resides in Los Angeles, where her father, Edward Earhart, is an attorney.

Note: An online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors – the old newspaper articles also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers.

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