July 24, 2014
Amelia Rose Earhart finally lived up to her name. In July, she symbolically completed the around-the-world flight of her namesake, Amelia Mary Earhart, who disappeared over the South Pacific on a similar flight in 1937.
The current Earhart, 31, and her co-pilot, Shane Jordan, departed Oakland, Calif. on June 26, and after 17 stops in 14 countries, approximately 24,300 nautical miles and 16 days, landed back where they started, making Earhart the youngest woman to fly around the world in a single-engine aircraft.
Earhart says it wasn’t easy growing up with the same name as the aviation legend. In fact, for years, she went by the nickname Amy instead of Amelia, just to stop the teasing from other children.
“It took a long time for me to grow into it, and understand what a benefit my name could be,” she says. But at 18, while in high school debate competitions, she discovered using hear real name gave her an advantage. “Nobody ever forgot my name, and people seemed to listen more carefully,” she says. “I came to realize that my name was the best gift my parents could have given me.”
One of the questions people most often asked her was if she flew and if she planned an around-the-world flight. While Earhart always enjoyed going to air shows and was genuinely curious about flight, she first took a discovery flight at age 21 and realized flying was a lot of fun.
She started flying lesson in June 2004, and obtained her pilot’s license in February 2010. In 2012, she recreated her namesake's transcontinental flight from Oakland, Calif. to Miami, Fla. as a completion of her instrument training hours. Before her latest around-the-world trip, she had logged about 275 hours in the air.
A former Denver traffic reporter, Earhart says it took her about 1-½ years to plan and organize the trip, which cost about $2 million. Sponsors paid for much of the cost including Pilatus, which allowed Earhart to use a Pilatus PC-12 NG specially fitted with a 200-gallon auxiliary tank.
While her trip mirrored the original Earhart’s route as much as possible, it was meant to symbolically complete Amelia Mary Earhart’s flight around the world, while encouraging people to pursue their own adventures, she says.
The journey included other similarities to the original’s Earhart’s flight besides the route. For instance, the night before departing, her plane was stored in the same hangar space the original Earhart had used for her Lockheed Electra. She also stayed in the same Honolulu hotel that the original Earhart once stayed in, and brought with her a copy of Earhart’s passport and a piece of the seat of Earhart’s Lockheed Vega that she used to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932.
“It was exciting to have these little ties to aviation,” she says. “Even though I’m not related to her, it made me feel connected to her.” (As a child, she thought she was remotely related to the original Earhart, but recently learned there is no relationship.)
In 2013, Earhart started the non-profit Fly with Amelia Foundation, which grants flight training scholarships to girls ages 16-18 and fosters aviation and aerospace opportunities. It works in partnership with the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
“When I started flying, the biggest hurdle keeping me from getting my license was the cost,” she explains. She hopes to give 10 scholarships of $10,000 each year to young women.
To youth, she has this message. “When you’re young, you think every career is possible. But as you get closer to graduation and college, you start focusing on the safest route or the best-paying route. However, if you have a passion or curiosity for flight, start as early as you can. If you have an interest … get out and try it at least once.”
Around the World Flight,
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