#sparkchamber 072919 — Amelia Earhart
Fussfactory is a 100% girl-powered enterprise — women-inspired, women-mentored, women-owned, women-fueled, women-run — and one of our shining lights is birthday girl Amelia Earhart who we honor today in #sparkchamber. Born on July 24th in 1897, she was legally declared dead January 5, 1939 after her mysterious disappearance — along with Navigator Fred Noonan — in 1937 while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator.
It’s always interesting when you start at the end of a story and work your way back through a life to find when and where the seeds were planted. As events are unfolding, the path is not always as obvious as history would later recount. She certainly was a bit of a daredevil child. And the family moved around a lot, shaping her strong self-reliance and fierce independence. But was it coincidence — or destiny — that after high school graduation in Chicago, she volunteered for the Red Cross in Toronto, tending to wounded aviators back from World War I? Happenstance — or fate — when three or four years later in 1920, at an air show in Long Beach, CA, she took a 10-minute flight fueling a desire to fly? Over the next three years, she bought a plane, flew to 14,000 feet, the world altitude record for a female pilot, and became the 16th woman ever to be issued a pilot’s license.
Then what? A cross-country trip in a car with her mother. A brief effort at medical school. A teaching job, a social worker job. Meandering, following opportunities, responding to circumstances. It seems thoroughly incongruous that the legendary aviator Amelia Earhart broke an aviation record and then … changed course for several years.
But her interest and experiences intersected with the moment at her next job, a sales representative for Kinner Airplanes in the Boston area. She wrote articles promoting flying for the area newspaper, and started to develop a following, becoming somewhat of a local celebrity. Not surprising then, after Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight from New York to Paris in May 1927, and as interest was mounting for a woman to fly across the Atlantic, she was offered the opportunity to be that woman — as a passenger.
The flight took place on June 17, 1928, a successful 20-hour-and-40-minute journey that further elevated her public renown, and definitively focused her career path. Ms. Earhart confided that she felt she “was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes.” And then added, “... maybe someday I'll try it alone.” She had found her purpose.
Four years later, on May 20, 1932 — five years after Lindbergh’s initial flight — she made that solo journey. Followed by a flight from Honolulu, HI to Oakland, CA, becoming the first person — man or woman — to fly solo across both oceans. She flew solo from Los Angeles, CA to Mexico City, and later, from Mexico City to New York. She set numerous speed and distance records in many different types of aircraft. And she began to contemplate a flight around the globe.
Equal parts fierce and patient, purposeful yet open, Ms. Earhart met each moment. She pushed the edges — both as a pilot, and as a dedicated fighter for the role and worth of women. Her shy smile belied her charismatic presence and the lasting impact she would have in history.
There are many sources of inspiration in her story, but the most accessible and applicable to everyone no matter what, is that life is full of moments, full of opportunities, full of choices. To take what we are given and make the very best of it. To listen for what is true in our own hearts and move closer and closer to that. History is told after the fact, but the real story is written at every fork in the road.
1.] Where do ideas come from?
The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
2.] What is the itch you are scratching?
You haven't seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.
Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.
3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?
Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.
4.] How do you know when you are done?
Adventure is worthwhile in itself.