May 21

This Day in History

General Interest

May 21, 1932:

Earhart completes transatlantic flight

Five years to the day that American aviator Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot to accomplish a solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, female aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first pilot to repeat the feat, landing her plane in Ireland after flying across the North Atlantic. Earhart traveled over 2,000 miles from Newfoundland in just under 15 hours.

Unlike Charles Lindbergh, Earhart was well known to the public before her solo transatlantic flight. In 1928, as a member of a three-person crew, she had become the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an aircraft. Although her only function during the crossing was to keep the plane's log, the event won her national fame, and Americans were enamored with the daring and modest young pilot. For her solo transatlantic crossing in 1932, she was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress.

In 1935, in the first flight of its kind, she flew solo from Wheeler Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California, winning a $10,000 award posted by Hawaiian commercial interests. Two years later, she attempted, along with copilot Frederick J. Noonan, to fly around the world, but her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific on July 2, 1937. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca picked up radio messages that she was lost and low in fuel--the last the world ever heard from Amelia Earhart.

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