Amelia Earhart - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Amelia Earhart

Few trailblazers capture the imagination like Amelia Earhart (1897-1937), a world-famous pilot who broke records weekly and led a group of revolutionary female aviators. After a nomadic childhood in the United States with her family, Earhart found her calling at the age of twenty when she took a ten-minute ride in a plane at an air circus. It cost her father ten dollars and started her legendary career. She worked odd jobs until she saved up one thousand dollars for flying lessons from Neta Snook—the first woman graduate of the Curtiss School of Aviation. Earhart was the sixteenth woman to be issued a pilot’s license. A year after her first lesson, she set her first record for highest women’s altitude flight in her first plane, the Canary. She would go on to set many more records, including first solo female transatlantic flight in 1932.

But before that, she made a name for herself as the first female flight logger to make a transatlantic flight, with pilot Wilmer Stultz and copilot/mechanic Louis Gordon. Her records from that flight became her first published work—20 Hrs., 40 Min.—and made her a star. She became the face of many promotional campaigns, including one for the Transcontinental Air Transport in which she endorsed the then-fledgling commercial air industry. Earhart also directed her celebrity status toward creating professional opportunities for women in the aviation industry. She formed and served as president of The Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots, and she became a visiting faculty member at Purdue University to mentor young female aviation students. When she married George Putnam, the publicist who brought her into her name-making transatlantic flight, she had a letter delivered to him on their wedding day, stating her terms for their marriage and demanding to retain their status as equal partners. She refused to change her name, even at the New York Times’ insistence on the proper etiquette format. Earhart’s life ended too soon when she vanished during an attempted record-making flight around the world in 1937. Her mysterious disappearance only cemented her legend.

First woman to fly sole across the Atlantic