Amelia Earhart, nicknamed "Lady Lindy" because of her achievements comparable to those of Charles Lindbergh, is considered "the most celebrated of all women aviators." Her accomplishments in the field of aviation inspired others and helped pave the ways for those that followed. Born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart's parents encouraged her from a young age to participate in activities usually left to boys, such as football, baseball, and fishing. Their encouragement, watching numerous air shows in Los Angeles, and paying a pilot a dollar for a 10-minute airplane ride all contributed to her decision to become a pilot and join this predominantly male field. After her first ride, she wrote, "By the time I had gotten two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly." From 1921 to 1922, Earhart was taught to fly by Neta Snook, the first woman to graduate from the Curtiss School of Aviation. In October 1922, Earhart received her pilot's license from the Federation Aeronatique Internationale. Soon after, on October 22, 1922, Earhart set a women's altitude record of 14,000 feet (4,200 meters) in a Kinner Canary, an open-cockpit, single-engine biplane. Charles Lindbergh made his record-setting solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. One of the people inspired by his feat was flying enthusiast Amy Guest, who hoped to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic. She purchased a plane but her family vetoed the trip. Earhart went in her place and became the first female to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Leaving Newfoundland, Canada, on June 4, 1928, Earhart joined Wilmer L. Stutz and Louis E. Gordon in their bright red Fokker F.VII named the Friendship on their 2,000-mile (3,219-kilometer) trip to Wales. Earhart had no part in piloting the plane during the 20-hour, 40-minute trip and was, in her words, "just baggage," making her even more eager to cross the Atlantic on her own. In 1929, Earhart co-founded an organization whose goal it was to advance women's participation and opportunities in aviation. Called the Ninety-Nines, the organization was composed of 99 charter members, representing 99 of the 117 licensed women pilots in the United States at the time. Earhart continued setting records. On July 6, 1930, she set a woman's speed record of 181 miles per hour (291 kilometers per hour), in a Lockheed Vega, a single-engine monoplane. On April 8, 1931, she set an autogiro altitude record of 18,451 feet (5,623.8 meters). On May 20-21, 1932, Earhart accomplished her goal of flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She took off from Newfoundland, Canada, at 7:12 p.m. on May 20, in her Lockheed Vega. Her flight was filled with dangers, from rapidly changing weather to a broken altimeter so she could not tell how high she was flying, to gasoline leaking into the cockpit. At one point her plane dropped almost 3,000 feet (914 meters) and went into a spin (which she managed to pull out of) and flames were shooting out of the exhaust manifold. She brought her plane down on the coast of Ireland after a harrowing trip lasting 15 hours and 18 minutes The flight was the second solo flight across the Atlantic and the longest nonstop flight by a woman--2,026 miles (3,261 kilometers)--as well as the first flight across the Atlantic by a woman. President Herbert Hoover awarded her the National Geographic Society Medal on June 21, 1932, for her achievement, and the U.S. Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross, the first woman to receive such an honor. Earhart's accomplishment meant a great deal to the entire world, but especially to women, for it demonstrated that women could set their own course in aviation and other fields. Her next major achievement was to set the women's nonstop transcontinental speed record. On August 24-25, 1932, she flew from Los Angeles, California, to Newark, New Jersey, in a record 19 hours, 5 minutes, flying a Lockheed Vega, also becoming the first woman to fly solo...
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