a bite-sized podcast about Newfoundland

Emelia Earhart’s connection to Newfoundland

Henry Ford Museum


Hello and welcome back to NewfoundPod, a bite-sized podcast about Newfoundland. I’m your host, Debbie Wiseman. Today I’m going to talk about Amelia Earhart.

Here in Newfoundland, we love when we can make a connection to a famous person or event. We have a couple of connections to aviation pioneer and one of my personal heroes, Amelia Earhart.

Amelia was born in 1897 and was not raised to be a “traditional” woman by her mother Amy, who did not believe her daughters had to be “nice little girls.” She had a bit of a rough childhood, and she always dreamed of having a career in a mostly male dominated field. After graduating from high school and attending some college, she became a nurse’s aide. This was during World War 1 when the demand was high for the care of wounded soldiers returning home.

In 1920, she took her first ride in an airplane, and she was hooked. She worked at a bunch of odd jobs to save up the $1,000 she needed for flying lessons.

I’m not going to run down her whole biography, you can read more at the links in the show notes. Here’s where those Newfoundland connections come in.

Charles Lindberg made the first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Amy Guest wanted to be the first woman to be flown across the Atlantic as a passenger, but changed her mind when she realized how dangerous it would be. She still wanted another woman to do so and she would sponsor the project. Amelia was recruited by Captain Hilton Railey to make the trip.

Amelia was to be a passenger, and also record the flight log. They left Trepassey Harbour on June 17, 1928 and arrived in South Wales 20 hours and 40 minutes later. When she was interviewed after the flight, she talked about how she didn’t know how to fly that kind of plane yet, so she really was just a passenger, but “maybe someday I’ll try it alone.”

Her chance came less than 4 years later. On May 20, 1932, she took off alone from Harbour Grace, with a copy of a newspaper to confirm the date of her flight. A little less than 15 hours later, she landed in Derry, Northen Ireland.

Being the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic, she received a few honours:
the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress
the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government
and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from US President Herbert Hoover.

In 1937, during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. They have never been found.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, join me again next week for another episode. Talk to you then!

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