On this day in 1935, American pilot Amelia Earhart completed the first solo flight from Hawaii to California. The same route had claimed the lives of several pilots during the 1927 Dole Air Race, but for Amelia, the long lonely ride presented little challenge. She even listened to “the broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera from New York” as she cruised towards Oakland, and touched down safely having experienced no technical difficulties. For Earhart, breaking new ground was almost a routine at this point.
Amelia Earhart was born into a very wealthy family in 1897. Despite her privilege – which would have guaranteed an easy and comfortable life – Earhart sought out challenges and opportunities to help others, and, in the aftermath of WWI, worked in a hospital for returning soldiers in Toronto. In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Beginning in 1935, she lectured at Purdue university and worked as a career counsellor for women. She was politically engaged as well, supporting the controversial Equal Rights Amendments, an effort to guarantee equal rights for women at all levels. At the young age of 39, however, Earhart and her copilot Fred Noonan were killed when attempting a circumnavigation of the globe. Their bodies were never recovered, but Earhart’s legacy as a groundbreaking pilot lives on.