In Wonder Women we talk about inspiring women who shape their own reality, stand against all odds for achieving their dreams, inspirational women, women running with the wolves. As our mission is to create community of sisterhood,of strong female voices and bold presence, we believe these weekly profiles will give you boost of energy, creativity and drive. Just like our drops.
“Kiss before flight”
“Kiss before the flight.” I’ve always observed the bright red keychain sticking out of my father’s aviation jacket pocket with a sense of superstition, especially on the days he’d get lost for hours on end with his plane. He often joked there is one basic rule in flying: filling the bag of experience before emptying the lucky one. That’s the harsh, beautiful reality when the air becomes thinner and thinner and your thoughts get lighter.
Luck is an essential element of the art of living, especially up in the sky. It could be disastrous to lean back and let providence pull you by the hair, just as it happened on July 2, 1937. The day Amelia Earhart exhausts all her credits of luck, while the glamorous Electra’s fuel tank remains empty. The world wakes up with a new legend and one of the most evolving themes of conspiracy theories to date: a logical, brilliant, but devastating finale for Lady Lindy.
Working hard woman in a man’s world
It’s been a year of working at two places – during the day, Amelia is a truck driver, and on weekends – a stenographer at the local radio.
“After we rose 100 meters above the ground, I was convinced that I had to fly”, Amelia recalls after an aviation fair. She needs $ 1,000 for a pilot course and has already set aside a hundred for a new leather jacket – she won’t take it off for days to get the worn look. Amelia doesn’t want to be just a rookie with shiny clothes.
The night before her exam, she walks ten kilometres to the airport, and her instructor decisively cut her hair, similar to the photos of other aviators. You have to live like your dream has come true to achieve it. Few hours of sleep and many hours of dedication – we have heard the “secret” of success, yet few are eager to walk this path.
The breakthrough moment
A week after receiving the call that will turn her life upside down, Earhart is in a meeting at George Putnam’s office. As Amelia herself later noted, her manager is middle-aged, with a stern expression and this particular New York charm. The proposal is irresistible – she will be the first woman to cross the Atlantic.
George finds his new sensation in the androgynous features of her face, her long legs, and her gaze. He has been looking for her for several months. The new face worthy of settling into the lap of history next to the charming Charles Lindbergh, whose achievements America is watching with short breath.
George has devised a plan for a new bestseller, just to find the right lady for the flight, sponsored by wealthy activist and feminist Amy Guest. Amy herself would have taken on the challenge if it weren’t for her wealthy family; by no means they would want to disturb the afternoon tea with extreme affairs. She had to find another person worthy of turning the notions of woman and pants upside down.
And here she is – with a bright smile that can conquer any heart: Amelia Earheart and her incredible ambition and perseverance fueling the tank of her dream.
The pursuit of happiness
Her dream of flying across the Atlantic, a mission in which many experienced pilots lost their lives, does not fit in the passenger seat. She starts setting world records in the first flying hours with her Canary – the old biplane. She reaches 4300m height – the new world record for women.
All the attention she receives just because she’s a woman is not at all in Amelia’s style. But her modest demeanour and rebelliously effortless short hair make her the perfect heroine for the golden years of aviation. And for a society in need of new media heroes.
She is perfect for an editor in the Cosmopolitan aviation column, an advertising face for cigarettes and a line of women’s fashion and suitcases, an interlocutor in talk shows, a lecturer, a “fair monkey”, as Amelia sadly describes in her diary. And the resemblance to Charles Lindbergh is another convenient coincidence that George manages to load into his marketing arsenal.
Quite logically, in the tone of Hollywood, Amelia will marry her manager. Not without a marriage contract, in which she insists that George wouldn’t stop her in future air challenges after she has already denied him the ring six times. Lady Lindy invests all her income in aviation – with Charles Lindbergh, they finance the first passenger charter from New York to Washington, and her experience behind the scenes is slowly growing. She is now the first woman to fly North America and back and third in an air race from Santa Monica to Cleveland.
Flight around the Earth
The most significant air challenge that Amelia is planning will be the longest flight around the Earth. Take off was on June 1, 1937, then the crew stopped in South America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Arrival in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, and only 11,000 km leftover of the Pacific Ocean.
It’s the most dangerous part because Howland island, their next destination, is flat and small, and difficult to locate; the US Coast Guard sent the ship Itasca nearby to help her. Due to a series of errors, the radio navigation from Itaska wasn’t working. Amelia has not received the appropriate training for the navigation system, and a critical component – the antenna, fell during take-off. Parachutes and lifeboats were missing.
The ship’s crew hears Earhart (and thus realises that its coordinates are incorrect), but she does not capture their transmission. After several hours of trying to connect, the connection is lost. The search lasted nine days and cost four million dollars. No physical remains were found.
As with legends covered in mystery, the world is still looking for answers. A true icon of the time, the only thing Amelia truly wanted was to be up in the air where thoughts get clean and freedom is absolute. A dream to die for.