21 May 2022

Ninety years since Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean

On this day in 1932, pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart touched down in Londonderry, Northern Ireland after a 15-hour transatlantic flight that started in Newfoundland, off the coast of Canada.

Completing this formidable journey made her the first woman ever to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. 

About Earhart’s transatlantic flight

Amelia Earhart was 34 years old when she took off in her single engine Lockheed Vega plane from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland on 20 May 1932.

Her aim was to fly to Paris, France to emulate the first ever transatlantic solo flight made by Charles Lindbergh five years earlier. 

However, strong northerly winds, icy conditions, and mechanical problems forced her to land in Northern Ireland rather than continuing to her planned destination. 

The impressive feat took an exact time of 14 hours and 56 minutes and made Earhart a celebrity at the time.

And while she did not officially break any world records or win any FAI awards for the flight, it was an important moment in aviation that resulted in her receiving the United States Distinguished Flying Cross. 

About Amelia Earhart

Born on 24 July 1897 in Kansas, USA, Earhart went on her first flight in an aeroplane in 1920 and started taking flying lessons soon after, earning her pilot’s licence in 1923. 

Prior to flying across the Atlantic herself, she was the first female passenger to make a transatlantic flight, in an aeroplane piloted by Wilmer Stultz. For a time, she also held the FAI World Record for "distance in a straight line without landing".

Earhart wrote books about her many adventures and worked hard during her life to promote aviation to women and support other female pilots.

Sadly, however, her flying career was cut short in July 1937, when Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean during an  attempt at a circumnavigational flight of the globe.

Neither of the bodies has ever been recovered, but Earhart was officially declared dead a year and a half later, on 5 January 1939. 

Photo credit: ameliaearhart.com