48" x 48"
Oil on wood, with mixed media propeller
Born in Atchison, Kansas, Amelia Earhart began her adventurous and independent life. Amelia and her sister Muriel were raised with wealth and privilege through their grandparents. They attended private schools and social events. They stayed on with their grandparents while their parents moved away following a job offer. Three years later the girls joined them. Their family life disintegrated as it became obvious that their Father was a drunkard.
The girls and their Mother left and moved to Chicago. Financial security was gone, and their position in society became a source of gossip and pity. Their Mother used income from a trust fund to send the girls to college.
Amelia served as a nurse's aid, and studied pre-med in college. But during a trip to Long Beach, California, visiting her reunited parents, she boarded an open-cockpit biplane for a ten minute ride over Los Angeles. As soon as she left the ground, “I knew I myself had to fly!”
Amelia took lessons, and accumulated nearly 500 hours of solo flying. She was an intelligent and competent pilot, but in the eyes of her contemporaries hardly a brilliant aviator. she was criticized as often being inadequate in her skills.
On April 26th, 1928, her life was forever changed. She was asked, “How would you like to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic?”
The first flight she accompanied Wilmer Stultz and co-pilot Louis Gordon. In her own words she “was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes.” It wasn’t until 1932, at the age of 34, that Amelia Earhart made her solo transatlantic flight, piloting her Lockheed Vega. Later she became the first to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California.
Her celebrity image and marriage to husband/manager/promoter George Putnam, turned her into an American icon. From promoting luggage sets to Lucky Strike cigarettes. Such endorsements financed much of her aviation endeavors.
On March 17th, 1937, she began her 29,000 mile world flight in her new Lockheed 10E Electra, out of Oakland, California. On July 2nd, with only 7,000 remaining miles, departing from Lae, New Guinea, The United States Coast Guard cutter Itasca was on station on Howland Island awaiting communication with Amelia Earhart’s plane. Through a series of controversial errors or misunderstandings, the radio navigation was unsuccessful. Beginning an hour after Amelia Earhart’s last recorded message, search efforts began.
From the crash and sink theory, a short survival on a nearby island, to being a spy and a prisoner of war, Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and death have provided lasting fame and mystery.