It is not without precedent that a woman by the name of Amelia Earhart would develop a passion for aviation. What is ironic, however, is that the summer of 2014 would find a 31-year-old Amelia Rose Earhart tracing her predecessor’s route from 77 years earlier to become the youngest woman to successfully circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine aircraft.
Though unrelated to Amelia Mary Earhart (who disappeared over the South Pacific on the same voyage in 1937), today’s heroine absorbed the significance of her notable name at an early age. “My parents always wanted to give me a name that no one would forget,” she recalled last spring. “When your name is Amelia Earhart, you have reassurance that anything is possible.”
By the time she turned 21, Earhart decided the sky was her limit – she wanted to learn to fly. Her nonprofit, Fly With Amelia, was instrumental in helping her finance her dream. Through donations gathered via her website and social networking sites, the organization raised more than $100,000 in national scholarship funding in its first year. Her goal is to double that number in the charity’s second year.
“Scholarship amounts vary because we know each girl is on her own unique journey,” said Earhart, whose goal is to make personal connections with and inspire budding aviators.
Weather patterns were exceedingly cooperative during the 18-day trip, which began June 26 in Oakland. Fans greeted Earhart at 17 stops in 14 different countries, and she tweeted regular updates throughout her journey. Traveling with an in-flight copilot, Shane Jordan, Earhart took limited breaks to stretch her legs during the 28,000-mile flight, 80 percent of which was over water. “The flight was a total success. We brought Amelia’s spirit home safely to Oakland,” said Earhart, who made the trip in a Pilatus PC-12NG aircraft.
While passing over Howland Island near Honolulu where the first aviatrix disappeared, Earhart honored her namesake by awarding 10 flight training scholarships through her Fly With Amelia Foundation. The Colorado-based charity benefits young women ages 16-18 who are pursuing aviation with monetary scholarships and educational prizes such as training books and introductory flight lessons.
Raised in Downey, Calif., Earhart moved to Denver after high school and never looked back. A post-collegiate career as a traffic and weather television broadcaster riding aboard a helicopter inspired her to jump into the pilot’s seat. After her first flight in 2004, Earhart was hooked. Denver’s strong philanthropic scene inspired Earhart to found her charity in 2013. “When you’re passionate about something, putting in all those long hours doesn’t seem like work at all,” Earhart said, just days after completing her flight.
Passion is also what pulled Earhart through tedious, yet critical, flight preparations. Securing overflight permits and perfecting engine failure emergency procedures were vital, as she said most small landing cities planned on the route were unable to supply adequate fuel at all times.
“One cool thing was that we made every departure one hour before sunrise, so we watched the sunrise in 14 different countries,” Earhart said. “If we were to do it again, we’d plan more stops along the way. People were just so kind to us.”
Another notable parallel about this year’s flight is that it departed from the same hangar from which Amelia Mary did more than three quarters of a century ago. Except this time, a large crowd was waiting to celebrate a successful return.
Around the World in 18 Days
Pilot Amelia Rose Earhart
Co-Pilot Shane Jordan
Aircraft Pilatus PC-12NG
Initial Departure June 26, 2014
Final Landing July 11, 2014
Duration 108 hours
# of Stops 17
Fuel Expended 6,500 gallons