This Day in Tech History

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Aloha From Amelia

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Jan 11, 1935: Earhart flies from Hawaii to California

In the first flight of its kind, American aviator Amelia Earhart departs Wheeler Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, on a solo flight to North America. Hawaiian commercial interests offered a $10,000 award to whoever accomplished the flight first. The next day, after traveling 2,400 miles in 18 hours, she safely landed at Oakland Airport in Oakland, California.

Amelia Earhart with her Lockheed Vega surrounded by crowd after she became the first woman to fly solo from Hawaii to California in 1935. Courtesy Air and Space Museum. (AP Photo)Amelia lands in Oakland surrounded by admirers

On May 21, 1932, exactly five years after American aviator Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart became the first woman to repeat the feat when she landed her plane in Londonderry, Ireland. However, unlike Lindbergh when he made his historic flight, Earhart was already well known to the public before her solo transatlantic flight.

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Just before takeoff from Hawaii

In 1928, as a member of a three-member 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 modest and daring young pilot. For her solo transatlantic crossing in 1932, she was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress.

Two years after her Hawaii to California flight, she attempted with co-pilot Frederick J. Noonan to fly around the world, but her plane was lost on July 2, 1937, somewhere between New Guinea and Howland Island in the South Pacific. On July 1, she made her way from Lae, New Guinea, across the blue Pacific Ocean for Howland Island.

A radio report was received on July 2 from her plane that she was over the ocean with no land in sight, with about one-half hour’s fuel left on board. Deadly, sickening silence followed. Ships and planes of three nations were sent across the Pacific on a prayerful search mission. The world was stunned by the tragedy. There was to be no more word from the comely, heroic aviatrix.

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